My Wild Night in WeHo

A few months ago I had occasion to spend an evening in West Hollywood, California.  It was a Friday after work, and given that city’s reputation for flamboyant Gayness (I have an LDS friend who calls the place Hollyweird, Californicate), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  As a worst case, I anticipated scenes of unspeakable depravity — a TGIF-style, alcohol-fueled Pride Parade Bacchanalia with rainbow-haired people French-kissing, buff, shirtless men wearing leather chaps and holding hands, dogs and cats living together — in short, a shocking confirmation of the very worst of our conservative LDS suspicions about The Lifestyle.  And as we turned off La Cienega onto Beverly Boulevard, my very worst fears were realized.

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Prophets, Fourteen Fundmantals, and Section 107

Last week’s general conference featured two sermons which recapitulated the main themes of the speech given by apostle Ezra Taft Benson at BYU in 1980 entitled Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.  In response to those sermons, J. Stapley wrote two excellent posts in the past week (found here and here) which reviewed each of the fourteen points and gave some brief commentary. These blog posts generated more interest than usual, resulting in over 200 comments. There has also been additional commentary at various places around the LDS blogosphere. [Read more…]

On Fatherhood

“You don’t know whether you have succeeded as a parent until you see how the grandchildren turn out.”

– Mary Ellen Smoot

For the first twenty years of my life, I lived next door to my grandfather.  Grandma died when I was three so I don’t remember her much, but I remember grandpa as a very kind, very old, tall and skinny man who had to use a cane to walk and even then had a very severe limp.  Grandpa was born in the last decade of the 19th century and in many ways was a very old-school Mormon.  He wore the old wrists-and-ankles garments, and he personally knew cohabs who had been incarcerated for the practice of plural marriage.  He prayed aloud five times per day — morning and evening, and he also said a looooong, kneel-down prayer before every meal.  I know this because as a young boy I would wake early, get dressed, then go next door to eat an early breakfast with grandpa.  I would then go home and have a second breakfast.  Score! [Read more…]

Sunday Brunch

I recently heard from an LDS friend who has moved to a new city.  He and his wife were careful in their selections of neighborhoods and school districts, and were very happy to find a house they liked in the area they wanted.  The house was just right, budget-wise, and the new neighbors are terrific.  There are four homes on their cul-de-sac, and the other three families are residents of long-standing who have developed strong friendships with one another.  My friend reports that they have been welcomed and feel very much at home already.  Both he and his wife think it might be the best place they have ever lived.

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Talking About Talking About Stuff

Sometime married people get themselves into a situation that is hard to get out of.  An issue between them — how to raise the kids, how to spend the money, what to do about the future — becomes so contentious and difficult for them to talk about that they both get tired of arguing, throw up their hands,  and give up.  It’s easier in the short run — no more fighting! — but in the meantime the checkbook doesn’t get balanced, the kids don’t get any clear direction, and the future approaches anyway, whether they are prepared or not.

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Look Out, World!

At the recent FAIR conference in Utah, some interesting data were shared.  Guess what?  People don’t like us. No, let me rephrase that: people really don’t like us. According to the polling firm which gathered the data, LDS people have an unfavorable to favorable rating of 5 – 1. For every person who thinks well of us there are five who do not. To compare, notice that Jewish people have a favorable rating of 7 – 2 (seven likes for every two dislikes) and Catholics have a favorable rating of 2 – 1. Where are we going and how did we get in this handbasket?

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Mother’s Heart, Father’s Heart

A few months ago I was googling around on the Internet and happened to find an interesting discussion which might  be familiar to many Mormons.  There were two factions participating in the discussion.  The first group asserted that you could predict what kind of  person a baby would  become on the day it was born.  Baby A would grow up to be independent, assertive, and to value getting things done.  Baby B would become an adult who was non-assertive and more of a follower than a leader, but who would excel at empathy, listening, caring for others, and building inter-personal relationships.  The second group in the discussion claimed that this was all a display of confirmation bias and presented evidence which contradicted the claims made by the first group.

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On Futbol and Football

And on why they are both ultimately unsatisfying athletic endeavors.

I do not intend to rain on anybody’s parade here.  Viva Espana, Hup Holland Hup and all that.  I appreciate the love that many have for futbol, and yesterday’s post from gomez was both enjoyable and enlightening.  And when it comes to football, I am, of course, a fan of the SEC, which is the best conference in NCAA football.  One simply cannot argue with four of the past five national champions — Florida twice, LSU and Alabama.  (And I think all you fans in your cute little conferences like the Mountain West and WAC and PAC 10 or 12 or whatever they are calling it these days are just so cute when you argue among yourselves.  Please continue.)  I am also a fan of the reigning super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints.  I say all this in order to demonstrate that my ugly Americanism is not a factor here.  Both futbol and American football have a serious and I believe uncorrectable flaw. [Read more…]

The Public Octagon

This post started out as a comment on John C.’s excellent post from three days ago, but as my comment grew in length, I decided, with apologies to John, to write a follow-up post. [Read more…]

Living and Dying in 3/4 Time

But mostly dying.  Also in 4/4, 2/4, and 6/8.

I’ve been a church-goer for decades now, and thought I’d seen everything.  But yesterday I attended church (no, it wasn’t my home ward and I won’t tell you where) and saw something I have never seen before.  [Read more…]

Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, RIP

BCC notes the passing of an authentic Mormon hero.  Brother Karl-Heinz Schnibbe died on May 9, 2010, at the age of 86, in Salt Lake City.

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Are We Not All Mothers?

This is a passage from a sermon delivered for Mother’s day by Susan Harriss, one of the first women ordained by the Episcopal church in the United States.

Happy Mother’s day, everyone! [Read more…]

Mormon Buzzwords

Or, words and phrases we don’t need.

Have you ever listened to a presentation or speech and realized that you are hearing so much jargon and hype that the words themselves have become meaningless?  In my field of work I’ve listened to so many sales pitches which promise to synergize a new paradigm that will enable us to leverage technology so we can hit the ground running at the end of the day that my eyes now automatically glaze over.  The words are used to obfuscate rather than enlighten, and their very presence indicates that the speaker isn’t serious about what he is doing.

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The More Things Change

Fewer than 600 people lived in Hancock county, Illinois in 1839.  They were farmers, mostly, and frontiersmen.

By the end of 1840, over 1,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints had moved into the county, settling primarily in the newly founded city of Nauvoo.  They came across the river as refugees.

By 1844, over 11,000 Mormons lived in Nauvoo and the surrounding area.  The largest non-LDS centers of population were Warsaw and Carthage and the population of those two towns together totalled only about 1,000.  Mormons outnumbered the old settlers by a margin of at least 10 to 1.

The old settlers were upset about all these foreigners just showing up and taking over.  Many of them came from other countries; they talked funny, acted weird,  and looked different.  Financially, times were tough and the newcomers had no jobs and no skills.  Most of them had worked in factories in the old country and there were no factory jobs to be had on the frontier, consequently they were often unemployed.  If they did find jobs, they were willing to work for less pay than others, so they dragged down wages.  Some of the Mormon newcomers lacked proper documentation, and many of them broke the law by trying to vote in elections, even though they weren’t citizens and couldn’t produce a birth certificate proof of citizenship on demand.  They dragged down the economy of Hancock county, first by inflating real estate prices to the point that ordinary citizens couldn’t afford to buy anything, and then, when the bankruptcy laws were liberalized, their leader took advantage and immediately declared bankruptcy, thereby repudiating the debt on thousands of acres of land.  Some of the newcomers also were convicted in a court of law of the crime of counterfeiting.  It was clear that the newcomers were poor, unemployed, and prone to crime.  And they cast their (often illegal) votes for the wrong candidates and parties.

Eventually the old settlers were able to use their connections in the legislature to get the Nauvoo charter repealed, and the newcomers found that their very existence in the county was a violation of the law.

Am I a Christian Now?

You make the call.  Last week I bought a used car from my neighbor and it has this on the trunk:

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More Strange Loopiness

Or, putting some fun into our dysfunctional discourse on gender.  If you haven’t already ready read Cynthia L.’s excellent post, please read it now before proceeding.

This post introduces a new feature called the BCC Puzzler. Consider the following situations and the questions which follow.  If you think you know the answer to any of the questions, please write the answer on the back of a twenty dollar bill and send it in. And if you just paid your tithing yesterday and can’t find a twenty, please write your answer in the comments. [Read more…]

The Anthropology of Obituaries

In a writing class when I was a freshman in college, the instructor asked us to write our own obituaries as an exercise in autobiography.  It caused me to reflect upon what I would want people to remember about me if I were to suddenly turn up dead, and it also tuned me in to this obscure but interesting part of the daily newspaper.  We can discern different things from a few paragraphs, including what constitutes a life well-lived and how a community thinks of death.

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Virtual Church

Has anyone else in the BCC community besides me seen Worship Hour on KBYU TV?  It airs in the morning and again in the afternoon on Sundays.  Where I live it is only available on satellite TV, so I hadn’t seen it up until a few weeks ago.

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Ranking Sins — A Poll

In the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gave his hearers a higher law.  In verses 22 and 23, we read (KJV): 

 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt  not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 

Then, a little later in verses 27 and 28, we read: 

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 

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Women, Men, and The Fall

Last week there were several interesting posts in the bloggernacle about Adam and Eve, the garden of Eden, and the Fall.  Mormons have not only the Genesis account, but the Pearl of Great Price and the temple, and it is interesting to see how we harmonize the various versions.  I don’t have a background in ancient scripture and I go to the temple more to find peace of mind that doctrinal insight, so I have nothing to add to the discussion.  But I am interested to see that we LDS people want to believe strongly that the Fall wasn’t really a fall but a jump, or whatever you call it when you fall upwards.  I think this has led us to believe simultaneously in two different versions of the Fall.

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Pogo Was Right

We have met the enemy and he is us.  In a religion which teaches us to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers, in which we at least theoretically bear one another’s burdens, and in which we share some communal responsibility for one another’s well-being, I wonder how much responsibility we bear for one another’s transgressions?  This question brings us to the matter at hand.

There is low-hanging fruit, and then there is Senator Chris Buttars.  [Read more…]

Black Holes and Mars and Venus

If you came to this post because the title led you to think this would be something cool about science by Steve P., you are out of luck.  Instead, it is a riff on John Crawford’s post from last week entitled The Black Hole. Crawford explains convincingly how our tendency to just throw up our hands when it comes to understanding male sexuality is unproductive. We apparently are content to stumble along thinking that every single man on earth is just a hunka hunka burnin’ lust, so what are ya gonna do about it?  It’s really no mystery why we continue to struggle with the same problems over and over, with no measurable progress.

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The Scriptures Won’t Save You

LDS people place a lot of confidence in the scriptures.  We believe that the answers to most of our questions and challenges can be found in the pages of the canon.  If you are faltering in your faith, you need to read the scriptures more.  If you are struggling with temptation, read the scriptures more.  If you are experiencing difficulties of any kind in your life, you will find guidance in the holy scriptures.

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Let The Women Keep Silence In The Campaign

Now and then you see something which makes you think that the writers for The Onion have outdone themselves.  But some things are beyond parody, so we are forced to conclude, yet again, that life is strange.  Brothers and sisters, read it and weep:

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Succeeding in a Y/M-Scout calling

Hey gang, now and then we get the chance to actually help one another in the online world.  A participant in the BCC community has recently been called to serve as Young Men’s president in his ward and he is feeling a little overwhelmed by it all.  He requested assistance and advice, and this is our opportunity to pitch in.

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My Mormon Thanks, Part II

I was pleased and inspired when I read the posts some of my co-bloggers wrote on Thanksgiving.  I’ve decided to contribute my own version.

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David O. McKay and the Priesthood Ban

In 2005,  David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism was published.  It is a great book, filled with details and insights into the way our church became what it is today.  We learn that during his tenure, President McKay prayed on several occasions for enlightenment concerning the policy which denied the priesthood to black men and temple ordinances to all black people.  His prayers apparently went unanswered.  We often take that to mean that it was God’s will for the ban to remain in place.  [Read more…]

You Make The Call: Marriage Counseling

You just moved into this branch 3 months ago and last Sunday they made you the branch president. During the week  sister X(*), a woman in the branch whom you barely know, made an appointment with you and shared some sad, shocking news: her husband has been unfaithful to her and broken his marriage vows. She offers as evidence the fact that she observed him entering a “house of ill repute” (her words) twice during the past week. She even has the dates and times written down.

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Triple Play, or How the Gospel Imitates Baseball

One of the really appealing things about the Mormon worldview is the way that it handles wrongdoing so adeptly.  Our ideas about agency, transgression, redemption, and eternal progress combine to help us see things we do wrong as learning opportunities.  We don’t think about cardinal sins or venial sins; we think about improving, and form Mutual Improvement Associations.  We see bad choices and failure as necessary parts of mortality.  Our restoration scriptures make it clear that the Fall was not an impediment to our salvation, but an important part of it.  We must taste the bitter so that we may learn to prize the good.  We are presented with a challenge and when we master it, all previous failures are forgotten.  Christ’s grace is sufficient, and a loss becomes irrecoverable only when we make a fully conscious, fully informed, deliberate turning away from that grace.  We believe we will be judged according to the true desires of our hearts, so it’s hard for Mormons to blunder their way into hell.

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On Re-reading Scripture

I recently read through the Book of Mormon again.  I was interested in how the experience this time was different from other times, and also how it was the same.  Perhaps you have also noticed some of these points in your own reading.

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