I ordained my son a deacon a couple of weeks ago. The first thing he did when we got home was to facetiously wave his hands toward a chair and attempt to move it with the power of his mind and/or Priesthood. I immediately told him, “The Priesthood is not a superpower.” It is something that, I suppose, bears repeating. [Read more…]
I was recently listening to the Mormon Stories podcast with Ralph Hancock. I haven’t really been enjoying it, because I don’t really enjoy listening to either Brother Hancock or Brother Dehlin (for varied reasons) and my irritation with both frequently spikes into fantasies about throwing my mp3 player across the room. I’m sure that if I sat down with either in a room alone I would get along with them just fine (in fact, I did meet Dehlin in a social setting once and he was nice and soft-spoken). But their public personas frequently get under my skin and, whenever I do listen, I frequently wonder why I’m listening, when I could obviously do it all much better.
This is, of course, it’s own sort of fantasy. [Read more…]
I am not really a philosopher. I once taught in a philosophy department, but it was always a sort of ad hoc arrangement. I’ve never taken a philosophy course and my initial graduate program was not particularly interested in critical theory. So, whatever I’ve picked up, I’ve picked up along the way. I note this initially, because I’m going to say some things with a bit of authority below that I haven’t actually earned. Skepticism on your part may be necessary. If nothing else, my title is sincere.
As I understand it, Divine Command Theory is a form of Moral Relativism. [Read more…]
I’m a big fan of cracked.com, particularly the writings of David Wong there. I recently read a post by him that strikes me as the beginning of a more effective path to teaching our young men and women about sex (Warning: in the article, there is graphic language and some discussion of arousal and sex). In the interest of sparing our more sensitive readers, I’m going to summarize the keys points of the article and then explain why I think they relate to us.
We don’t know much about Omni. In fact, the following is what we know:
1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Omni, being commanded by my father, Jarom, that I should write somewhat upon these plates, to preserve our genealogy—
2 Wherefore, in my days, I would that ye should know that I fought much with the sword to preserve my people, the Nephites, from falling into the hands of their enemies, the Lamanites. But behold, I of myself am a wicked man, and I have not kept the statutes and the commandments of the Lord as I ought to have done.
3 And it came to pass that two hundred and seventy and six years had passed away, and we had many seasons of peace; and we had many seasons of serious war and bloodshed. Yea, and in fine, two hundred and eighty and two years had passed away, and I had kept these plates according to the commandments of my fathers; and I conferred them upon my son Amaron. And I make an end. (Omni 1:1-3)
So the question is, do you think he is repentant as he writes this? If so, what do you think is the effect of that? [Read more…]
In his recent General Conference address, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom made the following observation:
“Some have come to think of activity in the Church as the ultimate goal. Therein lies a danger. It is possible to be active in the Church and less active in the gospel. Let me stress: activity in the Church is a highly desirable goal; however, it is insufficient. Activity in the Church is an outward indication of our spiritual desire. If we attend our meetings, hold and fulfill Church responsibilities, and serve others, it is publicly observed.”
In the same conference, Elder Robert D. Hales said the following:
“Worthiness to hold a temple recommend gives us the strength to keep our temple covenants. How do we personally gain that strength? We strive to obtain a testimony of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the reality of the Atonement, and the truthfulness of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration. We sustain our leaders, treat our families with kindness, stand as a witness of the Lord’s true Church, attend our Church meetings, honor our covenants, fulfill parental obligations, and live a virtuous life. You may say that sounds like just being a faithful Latter-day Saint! You are right. The standard for temple recommend holders is not too high for us to achieve. It is simply to faithfully live the gospel and follow the prophets.”
Now, these two quotes aren’t in direct contradiction, but they illustrate two trends within the church that I think need to be addressed. [Read more…]
I am not qualified to write this post: A response to Ralph Hancock’s response to a critique of his review of a book I’ve never read
Ralph Hancock recently wrote a post in which his main point is that people were so interested in his obsession with Joanna Brooks that they never addressed his argument. I’ve not read Sister Brooks’s book, nor have I read Brother Hancock’s initial responses to it, primarily because I don’t care. I like Joanna’s online persona well enough; I don’t particularly like Ralph’s, but that’s not terribly important (to each their own). So why respond? Because Brother Hancock felt it was appropriate to defame me (by means of defaming this here blog) in the larger process of explaining why his response to Joanna was appropriate. He appears upset that no-one is taking him seriously enough. So, because I aim to please, I will herein attempt a response to Brother Hancock. We’ll see how it goes. [Read more…]
People sometimes wonder why I bother. By which I mean bother writing blog posts or thinking about the church obsessively or trying to interact with people with whom I hold strong disagreements. In some cases, I’ve had to stop because folks were just driving me crazy (Hi, M*). So why bother? Does being involved in this community give me joy or not?
First of all, I’m sorry for writing this post at all. I’m sure you all are sick to death of the discussion of race and of Professor Bott’s reported views thereon. I know I am and I’ve only followed the situation peripherally.
Second of all, I’m sorry for oversharing, as I’ll undoubtedly do over the course of this post. There is a reason behind it, I think, but I’ve noticed that all of my posts tend to be heavy on confession and probably you all don’t care.
Third, and probably most importantly, I’m sorry because I’m going to accuse every single one of you of being racist or, at least, prejudiced.
I’m from the South. [Read more…]
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” ― Anne Lamott
Recently, I was involved in an online discussion regarding the usefulness of the Church Educational System, which was really about the usefulness of how we teach things in the church, which is, as you may know, a topic I think about. Part of the conversation involved speculation regarding how many people would leave the church if the bowdlerized version of church history that we currently receive stopped. To some degree, this is a moot point; the internet has rendered attempts to sanitize history for widespread internal consumption counter-productive. Certainly, there are umpteen thousand exit narratives online where ex-members express their sense of betrayal and frustration when they learn x, y, and z about the church (note: umpteen thousand is an exaggeration; there cannot really be more than a gajillion out there (note: I’m not trying to get you to go looking either; I’ve pretty much summed up every single one with this sentence here)).
Some people would argue that we won’t lose that many people if we start teaching history using the Richard Bushman model (or some such). What they are actually saying is we won’t lose many of the right people if we change our teaching model. [Read more…]
My Grandmother died this past year. So did Kim Jong-Il, Sarah Jane Smith, Christopher Hitchens, Vaclav Havel, Anne MacCaffrey, Muammar Gaddafi, Al Davis, Steve Jobs, Tom Wilson, Cliff Robertson, many Russian Hockey players, and Betty Ford. Also, my friends Giuli and Rich had their first baby a couple of weeks ago. They named him Christopher. He is named, of course, after Saint Christopher. Do you know the legend behind the saint?
According to Wikipedia, Christopher was a big, tough guy, who wanted to serve the most powerful king. So, he found the most powerful human in the world and served him, until he saw the king cross himself at the thought of the devil. So, Christopher went to serve the devil (who was obviously more powerful). But then, one day, the devil shuddered at the invocation of the name of Christ. So, Christopher left his service to devote himself to Christ.
He stationed himself at the side of a wide and treacherous river. When folks needed to cross it, he’d carry them along on his back. One day, a babe (somehow) came to him and (somehow) requested passage. Christopher picked up the child, who has quite a bit heavier than he seemed. He placed him on his back and strode into the waters. With each step, the child grew heavier. Christopher grew worried that he wouldn’t be able to complete the journey, because the burden of the child was overwhelming. Finally, with the last of his strength, he made it to the far side. He asked the child its name. It was, it turned out, the Christ child. It is from this legend that Christopher became the patron saint of travelers (it is also likely the origin of his name, which means Christ-bearer).
The Book of Mormon also tells the story of a group of travelers (several of them, actually). [Read more…]
Because I’m interested in the different schools of thought on this issue and because I wonder how compatible (and accurate) it all is, I provide the following poll. Just choose the one that best suits your approach. I realize that you would like to choose more than one (I sure would), but don’t. Choose the one that best encapsulates your understanding of the most important aspects of the process of the atonement. [Read more…]
We all know Moroni’s most famous quote in Mormon 8:
Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. (Mormon 8:35)
I predict that you will justify your responses in the comments. It’s like I’m there with you, but I’m not.
Two polls this time. Answer both please.
Please justify your comments below. I promise I won’t turn you in to the bishop for anything you say. [Read more…]
As it is used now in the church, we don’t use the word “modest” to mean “modest” or the word “immodest” to mean its opposite. [Read more…]
Consider the following statement and whether you, and other Mormons, believe it.
Give your answers below. If you have more than one, we understand.
Bonus Poll: I was told that I got the first poll slightly wrong. Here is another, related, possibly corrected poll. [Read more…]
This can apply to all sorts of reality-ish contests, but I want to focus on Vocal Point for two reasons. [Read more…]
Casual listeners* to general conference may have come away with the impression that the Church, as represented by Elder Neil L. Andersen, really wants us to have more babies. There is plenty of reason for this, but I’m going to suggest that Elder Andersen was making a subtler and more nuanced point. The target of the post was not childlessness; it was selfishness. [Read more…]
Welcome to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the Saturday afternoon session of the 181st Semi-Annual General Conference! Don’t forget to check out our minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter in addition to coverage on the blog. We also encourage you to (if you’re not already doing so) watch Conference live, streaming from LDS.org.
We ate (lousy) teriyaki for lunch. What about you? [Read more…]
The U.S. Armed Forces have a problem. Particularly since the advent of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the incidence of sexual assault within the armed forces is high. Perhaps more disturbing, the majority of these assaults are perpetrated by fellow soldiers. As this link indicates, in the middle 00s 6 of 10 women in the military were victims of sexual assault or harassment. [Read more…]
A week or so ago, a friend directed me to this link. It discusses the notion of rape culture and, in particular, how bystanders may often be complicit in rape, even if it is never something they’d do themselves. The blog begins by linking to a video, which I’m going to summarize because most folks will find it very offensive (and as the link notes, it may be a trigger to victims of sexual assault (If you want to watch it, here is a link; the relevant portion is from 37:36-47:22)). [Read more…]
I just wanted to share with you the best thing I read about 9/11 in its aftermath. It is from the Onion. As you may know, the Onion often features language people around here find offensive. So I’m going to post a link to the original article, and the 9/11 edition, but I’m also going to post the text of the article (which contains no offensive language) here. I can’t attribute it, unfortunately, because I don’t know who wrote it. Please don’t sue me.
Not Knowing What Else To Do, Woman Bakes American-Flag Cake
SEPTEMBER 26, 2001 | ISSUE 37•34
TOPEKA, KS—Feeling helpless in the wake of the horrible Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed thousands, Christine Pearson baked a cake and decorated it like an American flag Monday. [Read more…]
When I was serving my mission in Russia, almost no-one I met had heard of the Mormons, but those who had had learned of us from a particular source. Leo Tolstoy? President Benson? or Premier Kruschev? No. Our mediator, it turned out, was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
A Study in Scarlet is the first Sherlock Holmes novel and most of the Russians I met were avid Holmes fans. Upon hearing our Mormon connection, they almost always cheered up. We were twice exotic, once for simply being Americans living amongst Russian, twice for belonging to a secretive, woman-kidnapping, polygamous cult. They were rarely interested in learning about the gospel, of course, but the Russian mindset is attracted to the grotesque and they hoped talking to us would provide an ample supply. Sadly, we more often than not disappointed them. [Read more…]