What might save us, me and you, is if the gentiles love their children too.

I love political songs from the cold war era, they are so grounded in the moment they were created and capture a vivid bite of anger or paranoia or gallows humor.  Who doesn’t love Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”, or Metallica’s “Don’t Tread on Me”, or the giddily inappropriate atomic bomb ode “Thirteen Men and Me the Only Gal Around” by Ann Margret?  I think the one that sticks the most with me, though, is Sting’s “Russians” with its industrial scoring, the Prokoviev themes, and the jarring, plaintive, and retrospectively over-dramatic rhetorical wish “What might save us, me and you, is if the Russians love their children too.”   Of course, having served a mission in St. Petersburg, Russia, I can unhesitatingly confirm that indeed, the Russians love their children too.  Phew.

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On Comparative Law

Many of my recent posts have been a call for more ecumenicalism in our interactions with others.  The recent events in the Middle East have brought home to me that the point of that kind of cross-cultural empathy is not merely a feel-good response to our neighbors.  It can be critical, even vital, to understand fundamental philosophical differences when trying to chart a way forward.  I think that some basic understanding of comparative law could be helpful in framing the events in the Muslim world right now. [Read more…]

Religious Privilege and Religious Freedom and Roughage

Before I go any further, I need to tell you something about myself.  I’m a firm believer that every person should get enough fiber in their diet every day.  Current recommendations are that women under age 50 need about 25 grams per day, and men under age 50 need about 38 grams.  Most Americans get about half that much in the average day.  So, let’s reiterate, I’m a fiber fan.  Go fiber.  Great.

Now let’s talk about you.  Who are you?  Well, in this piece, you are a rhetorical you.  [Read more…]

The Codification of Morality

A few months ago, I was attending a university level criminal law class in a Muslim country that recognizes sharia law in the constitution.  The class was lively, the students were prepared, and it was incredibly enjoyable listening to these students chew through topics like the presumption of innocence and burden of proof.  At one point, during a discussion of the country’s penal code, a student raised his hand and asked why drinking alcohol was against the law in that country, when it was not criminalized in America.  “How can one act be a crime in one country, and not in another?”  The teacher, probably not willing to be waylaid by a philosophical discussion of “what is crime” punted the question and briefly talked about sharia before moving on.  I think it’s too bad that the teacher didn’t delve into the question of “what is crime” because approached from a comparative law standpoint, it is pretty fascinating. [Read more…]

My Decision to Boycott Lowe’s

This week, Lowe’s pulled advertisements from TLC’s show “All-American Muslim” about several Muslim families in the Dearborn area. I don’t watch the show.  I don’t need to watch a television show that “normalizes” Muslims.  My Muslim friends and co-workers are normal enough to me without television.  Frankly, I don’t shop at Lowe’s all that much either, but I won’t be shopping there at all any longer. The people urging Lowe’s to pull the ads had a message to share.

I have a few messages to share here: [Read more…]

What to Make of Abish?

There are only four women mentioned by name in the Book of Mormon, and three of them are pretty straightforward female archetypes: the virgin, the whore, and the nagging wife. While they may serve the purpose of fleshing out the larger story that they appear in, they are not fleshed out themselves. I’m sorry about that. I wish more women’s stories were included. The fourth woman, however, is a bit of a surprise. [Read more…]

Mom Activism: Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the World

Whenever a child in Utah is born with PKU, an inherited (genetic) metabolic disorder where the body cannot process the amino acid phenylalanine, the health department (with the permission of the parents), notifies my friend Amy Oliver so she can step in to help.  Phenylalanine or “phe” is found in every type of food, and the higher the protein content, the higher the phe content.  If phe is allowed to build up in the body of a person with PKU, it causes irreversible brain damage and results in severe mental retardation.  People with untreated PKU are unable to function on their own and end up living in institutions.  PKU occurs in about 1 in every 15,000 births.    [Read more…]

Hi, My name is Karen NMN

I just found out that one of my best friends is a closet revolutionary.  I like her even more now. [Read more…]

Helpful Youth Activity

In the comments to the recent post on modesty, it was pointed at that many of the young women are receiving guidance on modesty, but that the young men aren’t.  To even things out, should the young men be included in the trend?  I have an idea:  [Read more…]

Feminism in the Age of Disney Princesses

A new crop of women is coming of age, matriculating into the universe of higher education, and entering the workforce.  They grew up in an age of intense marketing towards children, and an age of specialty marketing towards girls.  The Disney film franchise was entering a Renaissance period with the release of “The Little Mermaid” in 1988–with a wide-eyed plucky mermaid dreaming about growing up and becoming part of the world, and then “Beauty and the Beast” in 1991 with a wide-eyed plucky village girl dreaming that there must be more than her provincial life.   In fact, Disney made a fortune on remaking the image of girls in movies.  The old Disney films were filled with beautiful but vapid, lifeless girls who needed to be saved by even more vapid, lifeless princes.  This new crop of heroines were defined in a different way:  pretty, plucky, adventurous–they were corporate packaged junior feminists.  They got into scrapes, they got out of them, they learned to love, and everything came up roses.  Ever wondered how Ariel would fare in corporate America….

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Either Little Provo or the Red Light District

“So can I ask you a question?” This is a fairly awkward phrase, right?  If the question is truly innocuous, no one will precede it with an implicit warning.  When you hear the question “so can I ask you a question?” you brace yourself, you take a breath, you smile and say “of course.”  If you’re a Mormon and you hear this, you know you have about a 50% chance of someone asking about polygamy, your mission, or your underwear, so you try extra hard to stick on that super pleasant smile that says “you betcha.”

My boss walked into my office a couple of years back and said “so can I ask you a question?”

“You betcha.”

“My wife and I have been noticing something kind of strange at this house in our neighborhood.  There are a lot of young women living there, and they move in and out fairly often.  And pretty often some guys in suits will come over and visit.  And the girls are all really pretty.  And they dressed really skanky at Halloween.  We think it’s a brothel.  But this morning, when I was waiting at the bus stop I saw one of them, and she asked me about the bus schedule, so I started up a conversation and asked where she was from.  She just graduated from BYU.  So, apparently she’s a Mormon.  Do you know what’s going on?  Is this normal?”

“Ah.” I said, realization dawning.  “So, here’s the thing, you live smack dab in the middle of a single mormon mecca, and you don’t know it.  All of that is perfectly normal.  They’re looking for husbands.  Pay them no mind.”  (aka “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.  Move along.”) [Read more…]

A Rapturous Poll

Discuss your choice below, or tell us what you’ll be doing in the comments. 

Come Ye Poets of the Bloggernacle!

[Note: Due to the unforeseen martyrdom of Jon McNaughton’s art sales in the BYU Bookstore at the hands of Teh Godless Libruls, we feel the need to eugooglize this fine art, and thus we have resurrected this thread. Haiku only, please.]

Originally posted on September 29, 2009

Art inspires art.  This art, found on the sidebar, inspired me.

I choose to respond in haiku.  You may respond as well, but we will only accept comments in haiku.  (5-7-5 for those of you who don’t remember high school English….)  Here are some thoughts to get you started: [Read more…]

Women of Courage

Happy International Women’s Day to BCC readers.  This is, unfortunately, a rarely celebrated holiday in the U.S., but is recognized around the world as a moment to celebrate the achievements of women, appreciate the women in our own lives, and most importantly think about women’s issues and what work remains to be done to achieve safety and equality for women.  Today, ten women from around the world were honored at the U.S. State Department as Women of Courage.  In the case of some of these women, “courage” is an understatement.  [Read more…]

I Wanna Shake Your Hand

Last year I was hanging out with Steve Evans and Aaron B.  Steve’s dog had recently died, but they were dogsitting another wee pup.  The new dog walked in and Aaron B. did a double-take.  “I thought your dog died!  Is that a ghost dog?”  I immediately shot back:  “You should ask to shake its paw.”  [Read more…]

Murder, Mayhem, Sin, and Voyeurism

Like many Americans, I consider murder to be a form of entertainment, and I’m a bit ashamed by that.  I can’t really survive international flights without a good gripping murder mystery in my hand.  The more creative and depraved, the more I can count on it to keep me occupied, make the flight seem short, and stave off air sickness.  I spent the new years holiday watching a marathon of “Castle” on cable.  More murder.  Somehow it doesn’t seem like such a horrible sin and terrible tragedy when it is presented as a “whodunit” or when it’s presented by characters who quip chirpily as their flirtation weaves its way through crime scenes, witness interrogation, and visits to the medical examiners and their corpses.  [Read more…]

The Choice to do Good and the Choice to Integrate

The article featured on BCC’s sideboard found here has inspired me to inner musings.  I like the idea that a community’s choice to exceed the mark, to communally do good simply for the sake of rightness has a lasting legacy, even if that legacy is only on a few individuals.  I also like the common theme of integration that weaves through such stories. [Read more…]

Spirituality through Sentimentality: Heresy or Praiseworthy?

I’m getting very sentimental this year.  Next week, I’m leaving on a jet plane for South Asia (India and Sri Lanka) where I’m spending Christmas with a couple friends instead of my family.  It made sense this year.  My parents are on a  mission, and my (0nly sibling) brother is spending Christmas with his in-laws.  I have a friend who lives in the middle east, and is not coming back to America for Christmas, so we’re meeting on the other side of the globe to do some touristy things and celebrate Christmas together.  It sounded like a great idea in September.  Now I’m getting a little weepy and sentimental.  I’m listening to Christmas music every chance I get, spending more time at public celebrations (hello Nutcracker and Santa Lucia at the Swedish Embassy!) and trying to find the perfect presents to put in the mail this week before I go.  Trying to deconstruct these feelings is a bit interesting.  What am I going to miss?  Is it sentimentality over missing my family and the trappings of Christmas, or is it a suspicion that celebrating Christmas in a hotel and on a beach will make the day less special, less focused on the spirituality of the event, and tantamount to skipping the holiday altogether?  [Read more…]

Sit in Holy Places

I sat outside St. Peter’s Basilica twice this week.  Too late to get in the building, I made do with sitting in the square and remembering.  I could not be in Rome and not pay some kind of homage to this holy place.   [Read more…]

Twinkling: What should I have said?

Here is a fairly accurate transcript of a recent conversation I had:

Friend A:  I think I’m going to visit Jerusalem this year.

Me:  That sounds fun.  I’ve always wanted to go.  I asked my Dad if he wanted to go with me and he said he thought the Second Coming was too near so it wouldn’t be safe.

Friend A:  Your dad doesn’t think he’s righteous enough to be taken up into heaven?

Me:  Mormons don’t believe in twinkling.

Friend A:  You mean you don’t believe in Revelations?

Me:  Uh….

Friend B (studying to be a Priest):  Maybe they just believe that it’s more metaphorical.

Me:  Uh….

Friend B:  Or maybe they think John the Revelator was crazy.

Everyone laughs and smiles–thinking to themselves: “yeah I’ve thought that before…”

End Scene [Read more…]

Is modernity antithetical to serenity?

I recently found myself on a 14 hour non-stop flight from Dubai to Washington D.C.  I don’t travel well.  I have a tendency to get airsick, I can’t sleep on planes, I get dehydrated and stuffed up, and wind up with jet lag and more often than not, a cold.  Ironically I love to be in foreign places, and frequently find myself wishing for transporter technology.  On this trip, not only was I coughing, slightly nauseous, bleary/sand-paper-eyed, but my legs were swollen and covered in bruises from climbing in and out of helicopters.  Long story. [Read more…]

Fond Thoughts of (Fill in Your Mission Here)…and Recipes

I’ve often wondered how much of an effect foreign missions have had on the culture of the church and its members.  I know that for individuals, two years or eighteen months living in a different culture is life changing.  Often missionaries return to change their majors, career plans etc.  I also know many returned missionaries who have chosen to live overseas, recognizing from their mission experiences that they enjoy the adventure of it. [Read more…]

Big Finale: Sunshine is the Best Disinfectant

This post will discuss the season 4 finale of Big Love, HBO’s series following the lives of a polygamous family in Salt Lake City.  Enter the spoiler zone at your own risk… [Read more…]

“Dances with Shrek” or “Why You Shouldn’t Crown Yourself King of the World”

Like many other Americans, I recently spent $14 to witness a truly amazing 3-D spectacle.  Some people are calling this visual masterpiece “Avatar.”  I call it “Dances with Shrek.”  [Read more…]

Remembering Fear

I just cleaned out a cupboard in my kitchen that was full of food storage water.  I wanted to put away some small appliances in a more convenient place, so I decided to start drinking the water, but it was disgusting.  I checked the dates, wondering when I bought it, then realized it was about 8 years old.  Oh yeah.  I remember.  Living in Washington D.C. in the season of fear.  [Read more…]

Hey Kids! Who wants a Mocktail??

Tonight, the world celebrates the coming of the new year with clinking champagne glasses, eventual slurred speech, and possible DUIs.  You, my teetotalling Mormon friends?  For you, I present the great mocktail recipe exhchange.  Eat, drink, be merry, and wake up tomorrow without a hangover, contemplating how you don’t need to set goals, because you constantly strive for anything virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy (including virtuous–or rather virgin–beverages).  [Read more…]

Surprise! How I became the person I wanted to marry….

I had a flash of deja vu a week or so ago, something triggered a childhood memory and I was struck by the oddest thought…I’ve somehow become the person I wanted to marry.  I guess I’ve always been a planner, and I had a very clear vision of what I wanted as a child.  I wanted to live in Northern Virginia, married to a man who was a lawyer, and who did international work.  (What that actually meant was a little hazy to me, but that’s what I wanted.)  I now live in Northern Virginia, and am a lawyer who facilitates criminal justice reform in other countries.  (I have a better grasp now of what the job actually entails, which I’m sure is a relief to my boss.)  [Read more…]

The Sum Total of My New Smarts

I signed up for my comprehensive exam today.  October 31.  Halloween is my favorite holiday, so I figured it would bring me good luck, and I’m going to need it.  See, I’m in trouble.  In order to graduate this December, I have to write my culminating paper this fall and pass the exam.  Normally, this program is one and a half or two years, but I took a couple of years off to move to Afghanistan, and so I took the introductory courses four years ago.  Apparently the exam is based on the introductory courses.  Right now my plan is to befriend some young, innocent, smiling grad student and cajole their notes out of them.  The fact that I go to class at night when I’m cranky is kind of a road block to this plan, but I’m cagey and tenacious, so I figure I can pull it off somehow.   [Read more…]

Modern Day Proverbs

I’ve been at my current job for four years.  During that whole time, there has been a homemade sign hanging up in the bathroom stall:  LADIES PLEASE REMEMBER THAT OTHERS USE THE RESTROOM BEHIND YOU!! PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS AND CLEAN UP BEHIND YOURSELVES.  ALSO THE AIR FRESHNER (sic) IS HERE TO USE.  THANKS TO ALL.  [Read more…]

Conversation with my Great-Grandmother

I don’t dream much. When I do dream, they tend to be vivid and memorable. The other night I had a surprising vivid dream that I’m still thinking about: I had a conversation with my great-grandmother who died six months before I was born. [Read more…]