Big Love: Res Publica


Last week, for probably the first time in history, TV Guide broke controversial news. And this week, it came to pass; Big Love showed a portion of the LDS temple ceremony; specifically, a fraction of a prayer circle and a portion – probably the most sensitive portion – of the veil ceremony. The consequent and rather predictable Mormon uproar has taken the form of a rally to protect the temple; tiresome email petitions and facebook groups and YouTube videos abound. But what, beneath the surface, is this debate really about? Big Love is a complicated show, and deserves an interpretation that scratches below the surface. [Read more…]

Liveblogging Big Love

I’m watching the episode now. The bishop and SP just came to visit Barb at home. They mentioned that she and Bill haven’t paid tithing for seven years. She says yes, they’re “inactive now,” they went through a bad time, and she was very sick. So the bishop just comes right out and asks if she’s living in a polygamous relationship. She’s shocked by the question, but after a pause acknowledges that she is. She explains that Bill got a testimony of it. She didn’t at first, but she thinks she does now. They informed her that they were there to determine whether they needed to take action regarding her membership.

I’ll post this now and then in the comments describe the further developments as the episode unfolds.
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The fallacy of appealing to intellectualism

We hear repeatedly throughout our educations that appeals to emotion are forms of argumentative fallacy.  In many cases, they are exactly such, and the interjection of emotion obscures the underlining problem and makes it difficult to resolve productively.  However, in other cases appeals to emotion operate as (the only) viable forms of evidence.  In these cases, the interjection of emotion into an argument should not be seen as a fallacy, but as evidence needed initially to push a conversation forward.  Of course, we are familiar with the risks that come when we voice emotion, and, as a strategy, we should strongly consider looking for non-emotional forms of evidence in order to avoid these problems.  But in this post I’m not interested in the good reasons to avoid emotion.  Those are discussed enough.  I’m concerned with the often-overlooked phenomenon that occurs when emotion used as evidence is dismissed by the fallacy of appealing to intellectual tones or modes of argument. [Read more…]

Big Love 3.6

I’m watching the latest episode of Big Love, and boy is there a lot of Mormony stuff in this one. [Read more…]

Richard J. Neuhaus, RIP

Richard Neuhaus, the founder of First Things magazine, a Lutheran pastor-turned-Catholic priest, a writer, thinker, and provocateur of extraordinary range, chief ideologist of the theoconservative movement in America, one of the primary architects of the Catholic-Evangelical rapprochement which has given conceptual shape and electoral strength to the Christian right (and, by extension, has provided the basic intellectual architecture of almost every public political move which institutional Mormonism has made in regards to homosexuality and same-sex marriage over the past fifteen years), passed away early yesterday morning after a long battle with cancer. He was 72.

My own (warning: lengthy) ruminations on his theoretical, philosophical, and moral legacy and mistakes, as well as his powerful witness of Christ, can be found here. Below the fold, a few BYU and Mormon-centric thoughts. [Read more…]

James Dobson is my homeboy

Between the Republican primary and Proposition 8, 2008 afforded us a lot of opportunities to ponder the wisdom of us Mormon folk joining forces with conservative evangelical Christians. “Broad faith coalitions” are all well and good, but do we really want to be getting in bed (so to speak) with people who think we’re going to hell? Shouldn’t that give us just a teensy bit of pause? [Read more…]

Prop 8 Redux: Afterthoughts

Without touching on any of the merits of one or the other side of the same-sex marriage/marriage equality debate, I’d like to suggest a possible answer to the following question: How can Mormons who feel that the Church is wrong about the threat gay marriage poses to families reconcile their doubts on this particular question with their faith in the restored gospel, and in the identity of Church leaders as prophets, seers, and revelators? [Read more…]

Civil unions

In response to the accusation that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposed “gay rights,” the church’s online “Newsroom” made the following statement: [Read more…]


Short(ish), possibly accurate answers to some legal questions about Prop 8.

Q1. What happens to the 18,000 same-sex couples who married in the interim?

A. Nobody knows. [Read more…]

Excavating a Sense of Pride over Certain Aspects of the Prop. 8 Win

You all know me and know that I did not favor Proposition 8. I was sorely disappointed when it passed, although my sense of disappointment was tempered by an Obama win–very exciting, particularly here in Chicago! And the fact that it took awhile for the result on 8 to be called gave me an opportunity to get used to the idea of it passing. Also, I thought of Derrick Rose, the NBA no. 1 draft pick of the Chicago Bulls. He has won at every level, but now he is going to have to get used to losing much more than he has experienced in his life. But, as the veterans have taught him, in the NBA the next game comes so quickly that there’s no time to obsess over the losses; you’ve got to keep focused on the next contest. I don’t doubt that this is just one step along the way in a process, and eventually when the culture catches up there will be gay marriage, in California at least. [Read more…]

Pictures at a Demonstration

Last night, thousands of people gathered in the cold across from the Church office building in Salt Lake City for a hastily organized demonstration. While I do not know who organized it or how it came together, I do know that Thursday night text messages flew along networks announcing the rally and march for the next day. One, from a former student who was forwarding it arrived late at night and woke me from my sleep. [Read more…]

Am I Adequately Outraged?

At a recent screening of _Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons_, a very bright audience member said that Mormons were pretty silent during the pre-1978 years about what most would now view as clear discrimination.  A few were adequately outraged, but not many–not enough.  He wondered if he in this day was not outraged enough that his daughter would be excluded from the priesthood. [Read more…]

Real Americans, Reality Checks, Kenyan Last Names

During the just-concluded U.S. presidential elections, various Republican candidates drew opprobrium for referring to “the real America,” “the real Virginia,” and so forth. Presumably, the “real” versions of these various geographic and political entities were basically Republican, made up of people with center-right ideology and conservative Christian faith. Such rhetoric is not particularly new; as a former resident of the San Francisco area, I have over the last decade routinely encountered dismissive comments about the Americanness of people like me who live in major metropolitan areas, have worldwide social networks, and occasionally eat spring mix salads in the place of iceberg lettuce. [Read more…]

JRCLS Fireside

Consider it your chance to interrupt Kaimi having fondue with the legendary (yes, he really exists!) Greg Call. Also, to discuss same-sex marriage. Really! [Read more…]

UPDATED: Sex and Natural Law…AND SSM!

Aristotle taught that everything has a purpose, its “final cause.” Things are moral if, and only if, they serve this final purpose. Adapted by Aquinas, this idea of ethics became Christian “natural law.”

Let’s talk about sex, as natural law theorists inevitably do. [Read more…]

You Make the Call (Conference Weekend Edition)

In case anyone would like to cleanse the palate from all of the conference discussion, one of my mystery correspondents just sent me another “you make the call,” which is based on an actual situation: [Read more…]

Astonishing and Humbling Contrasts

Neal Kramer rides again!. See his earlier posts here, here, and here.

I am reeling from the vast contrasts I have experienced in the past 10 days. [Read more…]

Mormons in the Next Congress, Part I – Senate: A Tight Race in Oregon

Part I of a series by Guestblogger Bob King

Two Latter-day Saints are candidates for the U.S. Senate this year. One is a Republican incumbent in a tough race to hold on to his seat. The other is Democratic congressman running hard for an open Senate seat. Ironically, the two Mormons are second cousins. Their success on November 4th will determine whether there will be four, five or six Latter-day Saints serving in the Senate in January 2009. [Read more…]

What’s a Newsroom for?

Many have highlighted the LDS Newsroom’s very interesting coverage of the discussions surrounding Proposition 8, in particular the document entitled, “The Divine Institution of Marriage.” The analysis of this document and the arguments and doctrine it contains I leave to more talented and audacious bloggers than myself (suffice it to say that like any other political document, it contains things that I find convincing and things I do not), but what I find infinitely more interesting than the immediate squabble over Prop 8 is the nature of the Newsroom itself and this document in particular. “The Divine Institution of Marriage” gives us an opportunity to revisit and microwave one more time that most rewarmed of topics, that of defining and delineating our notions of what constitutes doctrine. [Read more…]

A change on Domestic Partnerships?

Today’s statement from the church about marriage is intriguing because of what it says about non-marital legal rights. [Read more…]

BCC Zeitcast 23

Season 1 Album Artwork [display_podcast]

This week: Brad, Amri, and Cynthia on the horrors of domestic violence, the value of reality TV, the fun of speculating about plural marriage, and the sheer, rapturous joy of Mormon blogging.
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Same-sex marriage and hypocrisy?

This post started life as a comment at Chino Blanco’s TPMCafe blog. However, the comment never cleared moderation there, clear evidence of a conspiracy to keep Mormons out of the discussion wacky technical glitch. Given the conspiracy glitch, I thought I’d post a slightly modified version of the comment here. In it, I try to address Jason’s suggestion at TPMCafe that the church’s published statements against same-sex marriage shows “blatant hypocrisy and shameless disregard for Mormon history.” [Read more…]

Historical Footnote: The Church’s Contemporaneous Explanation for its Opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment

The Church’s opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment (the ERA) in the 1970s and early 1980s periodically comes up in discussions of the Church’s involvement in political or social issues. For those of us who were in pre-school in 1980, the substantial paper insert contained in the March 1980 issue of the Ensign (posted below) is instructive about this episode in the history of the Church. I stumbled upon it while browsing through old Ensigns I came across at my ward building a couple of weeks ago and figure that many members have never seen it even though they might occasionally be confronted with questions about the Church’s involvement in opposing the ERA. [Read more…]

Gay and Mormon: Such Diversity!

Affirmation is in the news lately. It is standing up and actively using the words Gay and Mormon in public statements that are getting press.

The issue of same-sex marriage and LDS Church involvement with it is a much-ventilated one that I am not going to engage here. [Read more…]

The Easy Way Out

I’ve skimmed the last few years of general conference talks, and a clear pattern emerges. We are repeatedly admonished by church leaders to “love and honor”, “reach out the hand of fellowship”, “seek out and befriend”, and “welcome into church” a particular group of people. Our leaders are speaking about gays and lesbians.

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“We conclude that retention of the traditional definition of marriage does not constitute a state interest sufficiently compelling, under the strict scrutiny equal protection standard, to justify withholding that status from same-sex couples. Accordingly, insofar as the provisions of sections 300 and 308.5 draw a distinction between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples and exclude the latter from access to the designation of marriage, we conclude these statutes are unconstitutional.”

California Supreme Court decision, In re Marriage cases.

How should we feel about this? [Read more…]

Dialogue 40/3 (2007)

The fall issue of Dialogue is printed. The following is a brief review of this issue’s scholarly articles: [Read more…]

Call for Essays on Same-Sex Attraction

I am posting the following call for papers on behalf of Ty Mansfield. (Those of you who attended the recent Sunstone Symposium saw an extract of his interview with Helen Whitney.) [Read more…]

Big Love Comes Out

From MikeInWeHo

HBO kicked off the new season of Big Love with big hopes that it will replace The Sopranos as its primary moneymaker. The series has received excellent reviews, lots of positive buzz, and a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. The executives at HBO are good at what they do.

If HBO succeeds and the show is a hit, it may present PR issues on a scale never-before encountered by the contemporary Church. Why? [Read more…]


So I’m sitting here with the windows open on a beautiful Spring day in Chicago, and indulging in one of life’s great pleasures: reading the Sunday paper. My wife is off with her boyfriends this weekend to see Golden Smog and Soul Asylum in Rochester, Minnesota; I’m just getting over a cold, so I’m playing hooky from church; and I’ve got the Chieftains playing on my iPod. Life is sweet. [Read more…]