You should all want to know what kind of moisturizer I use, because a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to participate in the White House Roundtable with “Young” Mormons. You can read about it here. Paul Monteiro, who invited us and chaired the meeting, along with Kalpen Modi (yes, you’ve seen him somewhere before), will be guest-blogging here in the next little while about his work with religious communities. You can also read Chelsea Shields Strayer’s more detailed account at Exponent II. Also, if you’re curious about the background of this meeting and the other work the organizers do , you can subscribe to the Office of Public Engagement’s listserv–write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org with “LDS” in the subject line. [Read more…]
Scott B. hosts the first of a two-part debate between liberal wacko John C. and his older, wiser, more conservative brother Robert. Today’s topic: The U.S. Constitution, and what YOU can (should?) do to save it.
The angst being expressed over whether it is proper for a Christian to celebrate the death of an enemy reminded me of a story from the Book of Mormon. [Read more…]
I have before me the souvenir issue of the Daily Telegraph, awash with the colour and joy that was the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. For me, a favourite image is not the balcony kiss or that dress, iconic though they already are; rather, it is the image of the mass of people on the Mall. In all its massive yet polite reverie, this image offers a strong contrast with another scene from yesterday’s news, namely that of angry Syrians tearing down a poster of President Assad.
And so I am led to wonder: what is the secret of peaceful, consensual government? Part of it may be chronological. Where once English kings were reviled and even beheaded, the centuries have led us kindly to this happy place. The Syrian Arab Republic has existed for not much longer than Queen Elizabeth has been on the British throne. Still, the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom does seem to be a singular, remarkably robust thing. Let us explore what all this means. [Read more…]
Smart people make more money.
Smart people don’t reproduce.
High intelligence is genetic.
Dumb people make less money.
Dumb people reproduce a lot.
The rich get richer because there are less of them.
The poor get poorer because there are more of them.
Slacker Educated Mormon Men need to get married.
Gradually, smart Mormons,
(who reproduce a lot)
will take over all positions in the US Gov. requiring
The constitution is saved.
Corollary. The Devil fought polygamy, not Joseph Smith.
Now that Big Love is over with, I’ve started watching Sister-Wives on The Learning Channel. This is a show about a polygamous family: One husband, four wives, 16 kids. It’s actually very interesting and I’ve been enjoying the show. [Read more…]
[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…]
A week or so ago, as the US Federal Government was on the brink of a shutdown, William Howell, a public policy professor at the University of Chicago, discussed how the factions in the US government had become so polarized in an editorial for CNN. He noted the following:
The polarization of the two major parties has consequences for a great deal more than just the contents of legislation. It fosters a broader political environment in which compromise invites ridicule, in which pragmatists are presumed to lack conviction, and in which each political faction is convinced not merely that it is right, but that those who disagree with it are stupid, evil or both.
In my line of work, I am often in the position of having to disagree with what someone is saying. The fact is, I’m paid to disagree with people (who are also being paid to disagree with me). There are at least three kinds of disagreements that I am frequently involved in. [Read more…]
Imagine, if you would, the phrase ‘neener neener neener,’ sung to the tune of the Hallelujah Chorus…
The following is a submission from Ron Madson, written on February 23, 2011, the fourth anniversary of his father’s passing as a tribute to his legacy.
My father was a WWII veteran that served in Patton’s infantry in the European theatre. It wasn’t until he was 91 years old before he told me the details of his war experiences—and I am not aware if he told anyone else. My father was the most Christ-like person I have ever known. In the fall of 2002 I sat with my father listening to the war rhetoric seeking to justify our nation’s invasion of Iraq. This man, who rarely showed emotion and spoke seldom, emotionally told me that he did not believe that there was any scripture or Christian principle that would allow us to attack another country as we did in Afghanistan and were about to do in Iraq. He was certain that in our anger, fear and pride we, like the Nephites of old, were abandoning our covenant with the Lord by being the aggressor. He was hopeful that as a people we would surely denounce these wars. Knowing his character I am certain that if he were magically young again, he would have applied for conscientious objector status as to our current wars— as he would have in Viet Nam. [Read more…]
Voting is over, and the 2010 Gentile of the Year is Judge Vaughn Walker!
A BCC reader writes:
“A friend up in Idaho can get a handgun IF he is able to find a quote from a modern day prophet/leader that grants/encourages/blesses such an act (in order to appease his wife). Can the bloggernacle find such a quote?”
Go forth, bloggernaclers! Let us work to arm this faithful brother! [Read more…]
Yesterday, in a heated comment thread, a reader made the following statement:
Bycommonconsent.com used to be a blog that actually [had] interesting and meaningful content, since so many others have jumped the shark. Not anymore. Now it’s a [race] to the bottom between this and feministmormonhousewives.com.
Being a relative newcomer to these parts, this sort of comment–and they do appear from time to time–always make me curious: How do readers here view the path that BCC has taken? Has BCC become more thoughtful? Less so? More political? More Liberal? More Conservative? Stayed basically the same? Here is your big chance to weigh in on these extraordinarily important questions.
Please vote below, and add clarification below. [UPDATED POLL QUESTION]
I’ve recently been embroiled in a debate regarding the value of the thoughts of Cleon Skousen. My debate partner, citing the endorsement that President McKay gave Bro. Skousen’s work, The Naked Communist, in the Friday session of the 1959 General Conference (I’d post a direct link to the address, but the only place I can find it without loads of commentary is at scriptures.byu.edu and I can’t link directly to it there), feels that Bro. Skousen and his works should be given a modicum of respect. Not that they should be treated as scripture or anything, but things that the Brethren mention positively should be paid attention to. I, on the other hand, think Skousen was crazy and can, therefore, be safely ignored. [Read more…]
One of our All-Time Favorite politicians and made news this week.
“Former Idaho gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell has been charged with poaching an elk in eastern Idaho.
“Idaho Fish and Game said Rammell was in illegal possession of an elk on Dec. 8. When an officer asked Rammell for his hunting permit, he produced one for a different zone that expired in October.”
I have twice been mistaken for a homeless person. Once was funny, the other devastating. Both happened in college. The first time, I was wandering from my dormitory to the Student Union for breakfast, when a pleasant middle-aged woman started chatting with me about the Boston area. After several minutes of gentle circumlocution that left me uncertain what she wanted, she revealed that she needed advice on where best to solicit donations (“panhandle”). I was so delighted that she had thought I was homeless and been such a pleasant companion on my walk, that I tried to take her out to breakfast (she was embarrassed despite my reassurances, so I brought her breakfast outside the Union).
The second experience was devastating. [Read more…]
Republican Senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell appeared on Politically Incorrect many years ago, and opined on honesty and the moral imperative to avoid telling lies:
If the Constitution ever hangs by a thread, the Elders of Israel will save it. But how will we know for sure that it’s “hanging”? How exactly will we “save” it? When will this long-awaited day come to pass? No one knows.
This is regrettable, for we Elders of Israel are always anxious to exercise our mad saving skillz, but we know not where to do it. And unless the beneficiaries of our skills are literally “hanging by a thread,” we sure as heck aren’t interested in lifting a finger on their behalf. No, we reserve our salvific energies for episodes of high drama! Therefore, as we await the anticipated constitutional apocalypse, it’s worth considering other ways to exercise our talents.
And so I ask you: What other holy documents are literally “hanging by a thread” in these Latter Days, threatened by neglect, misinterpretation, or whatnot? To which other sacred text should we Elders of Israel direct our sustained attention, so we can ride in heroically on a White Horse to save it?
(Poll beneath the fold)
On Tuesday, BYU’s student newspaper, the Daily Universe, published a letter to the editor from pre-med student Cary Crall about Prop. 8 and the ensuing Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial. Crall noted that many of the arguments that were used during the campaign were never even presented at trial, and those that were presented did not stand up to Judge Walker’s scrutiny. Crall’s letter concludes that, “The real reason [for supporting Prop. 8] is that a man who most of us believe is a prophet of God told us to support the amendment.” His letter has since been removed from the Daily Universe website (the above link is to google cache), with this explanation:
I hope that Kevin Barney will forgive me for slicing the lunch meat deli-thin by using his post on tithing practices as a springboard for this related post. In my defense, I’ve been meaning to write something like this for months, but just haven’t gotten around to it until I saw a comment from reader Martin in Kevin’s thread and feared my window was closing quickly.
According to Scott Trotter, a spokesman for the Church, the LDS Church has “a long-standing policy of not profiting from alleged ill-gotten gains.” In general, this means that the Church does not knowingly accept tithing or other donations which come through unclean hands. What exactly “unclean hands” means in this context is a subject we could probably spend days talking about, but there is (likely) at least some level of common agreement about what would constitute ill-gotten gains among Latter-day Saints. For example, I doubt that many would dispute the ill-gotten nature of funds received through a bank robbery or street-mugging, and most of us would certainly be uncomfortable with the idea of building a temple, distributing welfare care, or sending humanitarian aid to disaster areas with funds that were obtained through such channels. However, those examples aren’t particularly useful to the average Mormon in the pews, since most of us are a) not bank robbers/thugs and b) most of us don’t really even know anyone who is. Thus, our chances for glaring judgmentally and wagging our fingers in disapproval at our neighbors are horribly diminished unless we expand our definition of ill-gotten gains. [Read more…]
Todd Compton is an independent historian, having published many articles and books. He is perhaps best known for writing In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith. He has two forthcoming volumes; the first, co-authored with Leland Gentry is due out soon: Fire and the Sword: A History of the Latter-Day Saints in Northern Missouri from 1836 to 1839 (Kofford Books). The second volume is a biography of Jacob Hamblin. This review was originally given by him at Sunstone West, March 27, 2010.
Does the Park51 Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan (also known by the misnomer “Ground Zero Mosque”) present an opportunity for Mitt Romney to assume and evince leadership in the Republican Party, possibly even ousting populist Tea Party Anti-Federalist demagogues based on fundamental Federalist principles in the process? [Read more…]
The BCC Zeitcast returns from a short summer vacation! In this episode, Scott B. is joined by DKL and a random John for a discussion of too many topics to list, including Glenn Beck, Church block programs, thinking evil of your fellow saints, chocolate, and a fractured [BLEEP]. Download this episode here or subscribe to the BCC Zeitcast in iTunes. (And don’t forget to leave a rating/review in iTunes!)
Links for your convenience:
Everyone has been talking lately about whether or not President Obama is a Muslim or a Christian, or at least talking about what other people think he is. While his beliefs may influence his actions behind the scenes, it’s my understanding that President Obama doesn’t regularly attend church anyway, on the grounds that to do so would be disruptive. This seems like a pretty good reason to me, and I understand that President Reagan didn’t attend church during his terms either.
My question is, what would a hypothetical President Romney do? Wouldn’t it be pretty disruptive if he did attend a DC ward?
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.
Any general arguments against the safeguards provided to all religions by the maintenance of a secular public sphere should take into account whether it is better to live as a Christian in Saudi Arabia or Turkey. [Read more…]
This guest post comes from frequent BCC reader Erich S.
An article about the LDS Church and its members appeared in the Financial Times last week. I have now received it from 5 independent sources, all LDS, and I can only assume you have either already read it or will receive it soon. While it is nice to see these kinds of articles giving us largely positive press, I believe they may also be problematic.
This is another post from the Dialogue editorial board. Many of you know Matthew Bowman from Juvenile Instructor. He is a graduate student in History at Georgetown, and is the Associate Editor of Dialogue.
Related article at Dialogue
If there’s anything that, in comparison, might normalize polygamy to that vast majority of Americans for whom Mormons are but cultural curiosities, it’s probably blood atonement. I’ve earlier written in this space about the ways in which representations of Mormonism in HBO’s Big Love reflect a certain religious ethos on the part of the producers; the show is in a lot of ways a leap forward in the cultural normalization of Mormonism precisely because it is capable of imagining its Mormon (and by ‘Mormon’ I mean followers of Joseph Smith; this strikes me as a more useful definition of the term than any other) characters as basically normal people, who take their SUVs to the hardware store and have kids with part time jobs. And indeed, this normalization of people in previously exotic marriage relationships is in all likelihood the producers’ agenda. If their ratings are any indication, they may be succeeding; indeed, it appears that members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, can come into the very heart of their adversary, to the shadows of the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, and garner sympathy. Religious freedom and all that. [Read more…]
W V Smith returns with some thoughts about battling socio-religious entropy.
One of the difficulties Joseph Smith struggled with, both in himself and in the Church he founded was the tension between a doctrine of “opened heavens” and creating a functioning hierarchy in Mormonism. There are a lot of issues here, I’m just touching on a few.
The enthusiasm of early Mormonism had a down side: it was difficult to control in terms of the creation of a commonly held system of belief. There is an element of trust that is necessary in funding a knowledge base of doctrine. But if anyone has free access to the heavens, since the canon is not complete, how do you establish consistency? The answer has always been, you create bureaucracy! But this is easier said than done. [Read more…]