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…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
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.
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…]
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.
“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…]
The fall issue of Dialogue is printed. The following is a brief review of this issue’s scholarly articles: [Read more…]
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…]
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…]
I made the following remarks at a dinner celebrating Dialogue’s fortieth anniversary, held in Salt Lake City on September 22, 2006.
I consider it one of the signal honors of my life to serve as editor of this distinguished journal. I undertook the task knowing it would be a great challenge. I had no notion of doing more that leaving its tradition intact when I am through with my designated five years of service. That remains my ambition. I hope I have met the challenge so far. I recognize how completely dependent I am on others. I am deeply grateful for the indispensable contribution of my fellow workers on the editorial and production teams and for the support and encouragement of the members of Dialogue’s board of directors. Clearly, I am a part of a cooperative effort. My purpose is to be guided by collective rather than my private values. For one thing, I am appointed by Dialogue’s board of directors. Once a year, they exclude me from a half hour session of a board meeting to discuss my performance. For another thing, not only do I depend enormously on my subordinate editors and production workers but also on the expert reviewers who voluntarily referee submissions. Finally, all of us, the board of directors, the editorial team, our expert reviewers, and I myself try hard to judge what our readers value. Dialogue has a constituency. I judge that Dialogue’s subscribers share many of my personal biases–but by no means all of them. The goal is to appeal to a variety of interests, both liberal and conservative, without offending deeply felt taboos. In an attempt to achieve this balance, I have assumed a caution and conservatism as editor quite unlike what I will call the brash, friendly irreverence I often display in my essays and speeches. [Read more…]
Not to be out-gayed by T&S or M*, let me just say that there is a fantastic interview regarding Same-Sex Attraction over at the Church’s website. It deserves more than the mere link it received here. Public Affairs has seen fit to grill Elders Oaks and Wickman on homosexuality, the nature vs. nurture debate, same-sex marriage, civil unions, etc. Whether or not one agrees with every aspect of their views, it is surely signficant that Elder Oaks and Wickman were willing to go on the record with all this, and in such detail. I was particularly struck by how good the questions were that Public Affairs posed. The interview really covered all the hard questions, and didn’t sidestep any aspect of the issues, as my cynical self might have expected it to. I certainly hope this Q&A session is a harbinger of things to come. Wouldn’t it be great to read an interview like this concerning the Church’s views on evolution, the notion of “No Death Before the Fall,” or any number of other hot topics? Imagine the endless fodder for new blog posts in an otherwise burned-out Bloggernacle! [Read more…]
I wrote the Old Testament section, Ed Snow the New Testament section.
Clearly, Mormon sexual doctrine is influenced by the Bible. It would therefore seem important for us to understand what the Bible says on the subject of homosexuality. [Read more…]
The Church’s recent statement on the proposed federal marriage amendment has spurred threads at M* and a lengthy one (well over 300 posts at the time of this writing) at T&S. A lot of this discussion has focused on the politics of the proposal and the legalities of federalizing the definition of marriage. [Read more…]
I started out watching Big Love out of sheer morbid curiousity, coupled with the fact that I was watching The Sopranos anyway. I didn’t think it was very entertaining at first, and I figured I’d check it out for two or three weeks and then move back to Gray’s Anatomy.
But the show is getting more entertaining as the characters develop. It is still no Six Feet Under, but it has potential. So I’ll probably keep watching for now. [Read more…]
Yes, you read that right. I’m sitting in Sacrament Meeting today, feeling a little sick, wondering if the talks are going to bore me to death, thinking about hanging out in the hallway and playing with the primary kids (rather than sitting in the pew like a responsible adult) when it happens … the speaker starts talking about “Brokeback Mountain.” (For those of you who don’t know what “Brokeback Mountain” is, I invite you to leave your Montana cabin and come back to Civilization for a couple weeks, and then we’ll talk). “Oh goodie!,” I said to my wife. “This should be entertaining.” [Read more…]
My name is Stirling Adams. I’ve been invited to be one of the Dialogue guest bloggers.
If the Mormon wards you’ve attended in the U.S. are similar to mine, it’s likely you’ve heard periodic reports in sacrament meeting about a visit to another ward and the comfort in finding that the church is the same wherever you go.
For most of 2003, my wife and I and our 3 children (then 9, 7, and 3), lived in Buenos Aires. Based on our experience, my report is a little different. In case I take too long to develop my point below, let me summarize it now:
In Argentina, I felt like I experienced a Mormonism stripped of a heavy overlay of U.S. politics; a Church less burdened by assumptions of cultural superiority and institutional pride that I feel can be associated too often with the U.S. Church; a Mormonism with members more attuned to how individual and institutional actions fare when judged by scriptural teachings (particularly the injunctions towards social justice in the N.T. and BoM).
There’s been a lot of moaning and groaning in the Bloggernacle of late. Much of it has revolved around a certain nostalgia for a more youthful Bloggernacle of months past, when the community was smaller, and tighter, and supposedly more accessible. People actually used to respond to each others’ comments! People used to read all the comments! The place didn’t used to seem so elitist. There weren’t so many trolls hiding behind cowardly pseudonyms. (Yes, this means you, Ms. McPrude, whoever you are…). T&S has probably born the brunt of these criticisms. However, I think many of the complaints are misplaced. Yes, there is a growing dissatisfaction in the Bloggernacle, born of the realization that there was once a special quality to the community that has now been lost. But in my view, everyone has misdiagnosed the real source of the problem. What does the Bloggernacle really need to bring it back to its former greatness? Simple:
More posts about GAYS.
We’ve had the good pleasure of conducting a brief interview with Dr. Brian Birch, Director of the Religious Studies Program at UVSC. As you may know, UVSC has a vibrant Mormon Studies program, involving top-notch academics from a variety of fields. This week, on Feb. 3rd, the program presents its annual Eugene England Lecture, delivered this year by D. Michael Quinn on the topic: "’To Whom Shall We Go’: Historical Patterns of Restoration Believers with Serious Doubts." March 3-5 this year, the program will host a Mormon Studies Conference, touching on themes of mormonism and social justice. Like the Eugene England lectures, the conference promises to be of great interest.
We asked Dr. Birch about the program, its goals and aims, as well as challenges facing Mormon Studies. Rumor has it that he may reply to some commenters, time permitting.
[Cross-posted at OT]
The topic of Same-Sex Marriage has bounced around the bloggernacle so much it has taken on a universally-recognized acronym. The topic of gay adoption has received much less attention, and, as far as I know, has elicited little (or no?) specific ecclesiastical counsel (unless one counts Sheri Dew’s controversial speech, which was delivered after her tenure in the Relief Society General Presidency — and which, incidentally, was recently removed from the Meridian website.) I don’t have any eloquent doctrinal arguments or child-welfare statistics to posit, but I do have a story to share, one that I think speaks for itself.
We who are LDS believe that the President of the Church is God’s official spokesman on the Earth. It is widely assumed that the Prophet may, at least on occasion, speak directly with God, face-to-face. There are, of course, 1001 arguments as to what the prophetic mantle really entails. We could spend countless hours debating de facto prophetic “infallibility” whether and in what ways the prophet could ever “lead us astray,” the parameters for prophets having their own “opinions,” in what contexts prophets are or are not “acting as such,” etc. etc. etc. We could discuss the Proclamation and debate its “doctrinal” status with respect to gender and marriage, or Pres. Hinckley’s apparent endorsement of the Iraq War, and debate whether he was speaking only for himself, or for God Almighty. But wherever you all come down on these specific issues, one thing seems undeniable: There is a presumption in Mormonism that, at least some of the time, the Prophet is giving us insight into how God Himself feels about certain pressing issues. And I see no reason to reject the presumption just because the issue being addressed is arguably “political.”