Gender, Authority and Strange Loops

I want to expand on thoughts expressed by commenters in the Sunday PM General Conference Open Thread, specifically, “…Or maybe, if we’re going to talk about how wise mothers are, and what good teachers, and read sentimental poems about grown men longing to hear their mothers’ voices, we could just, y’know, hear their voices….”

The immediate context of this comment was Brother Foster’s talk, “Mother Told Me,” but the point applies to the entire conference, and more broadly to women’s influence in the church. I’d like to delve deeper into an analysis of some details in Brother Foster’s talk. I want to emphasize that this should not be read as a condemnation of the whole talk. It is both much narrower (a quibble with just one particular example he selected), and much bigger (the whole situation of women in the church), than his talk. Also, on some level, this is just a golden opportunity for me to geek out on some of my favorite geeky topics: logic, paradox and feminism.
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Marie Osmond, Mormondom’s Princess Di

Like so many other women, who didn’t think they thought much about Princess Di while she was alive, my grief at her death surprised me. Many in the media expressed confusion that average people would care so much about a woman who spent more on cosmetics in a year than many of us earn. A woman who, even before marrying into a royal family, and after divorcing from it, had a life of great privilege. I myself couldn’t understand it. But just as the news from Paris thirteen years ago cut an unexpectedly personal wound in me, so too did today’s news of the death of Marie Osmond’s son.
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Intra-Building Conflict: A Plea for Peace

First, watch this video: (Prose version here.)

I assume that we are in total agreement that this is outrageously inappropriate behavior between brothers in Christ, and in a church. Good. Now watch this video:

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Boggs-Doniphan Award 2009 – Voting

Update: Reader opinion poll now open! Voting is closed.

If T&S is running Mormon of the Year, it must be time for the BCC Boggs-Doniphan Award for the non-Mormon with the biggest impact on Mormonism in 2009, be it positive (Doniphan) or negative (Boggs). Let’s discuss candidates and we’ll vote later.

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In Memoriam: The Cambridge (Mass) Chapel

The LDS Chapel on Longfellow Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts started on fire this morning. Various eyewitnesses have emailed alumni/ae of the wards that meet and have met in the building over the years. As of 12:34 EST, none of us knows anything about cause. While I’m sure that the details will soon be sorted out, I wanted to open this post as a space to remember that chapel. While I know this sounds melodramatic, I’m feeling really quite sad about this and suspect there are others mourning today. Go ahead and share your memories.

Updates: FPR had initial Blogdom coverage, the roof has collapsed but the brick walls still stand, many though not all of the library books are being preserved, area churches have graciously offered their support, and the current best guess is an electrical fire that started in the attic. One memorable moment was the retrieval, intact, of a painting of Jesus counseling with the rich man, by firefighters.

The Biggest Loser Makes Me Cry

Every time. It’s embarrassing. I only ever see it at the gym, so I’ll be galumphing along on the treadmill with tears streaming down my face. I suspect this is mostly leftover ugly-kid-jr.-high-school trauma, but there might be a Mormon element, too, in the stark conflict between the “natural man” and the will. The communal aspect of the struggle resonates somehow, too–a small (er, in numbers) band of the righteous fighting together against the powers of evil and donuts, casting out the wicked from their midst as necessary (but afterwards showing forth an increase of love!).

I’ve probably overthought this. But it’s Friday–seems like a good day to talk about TV if you want to.
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Good News for vegans

In his latest column, Robert Kirby lists numerous parties who have (or should have) grievances with the church. He’s looking for someone to replace gays who, despite email rumors to the contrary, won’t be protesting outside General Conference next weekend. Among the aggrieved parties are vegans [emphasis mine]:

Vegans should have a real bone to pick — oh, sorry — with the LDS church. Mormons are serious carnivores. The church owns huge welfare farms including some with cows. The bread we use in our Sacrament is made with real dairy products.

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SCIENCE!

BCC Labs is always working on innovative ways of maximizing the upsides of your online Latter-day Saint information consumption, interaction, and generation experience. Studies have shown that the marginalization of insufficiently critical approaches to the theological exploration of appropriate ethical behavioral actualizations by means of negative sporting and humorous contumely are market desirable. Therefore it is with great excitement that BCC Labs presents to you its latest innovation: the Daily Universe Letter to the Editor, deconstructed by Science!

BCC Lab’s methods of examination are explained below:
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Stem Cell Research and BYU

by Emily Updegraff

Emily Updegraff is a BYU alum an holds a PhD in Biology. Emily submitted this wonderful post to us, which we are excited now to share with you.

Last week President Obama issued an executive order removing a lot of restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. Federal funds can now be used to support research using hundreds of stem cell lines, not just the 21 lines President Bush approved in 2001. Over the past eight years, embryonic stem cell research has been limited to private research institutions that have sufficient support to run without NIH grants, and a few academic labs that have carefully partitioned themselves into NIH funded and privately funded domains. Research at universities across the country will be significantly impacted by the executive order, both in the long and short term. I believe Obama’s executive order is the beginning of a new era of stem cell research, one that will likely require the Church to re-examine its position on stem cell research, and consequently its position on when life begins.
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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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Astrid grills a phone-missionary about evolution

The following is a dialogue my friend Astrid sent me between herself and a Missionary (both names changed) manning the church’s live chat at Mormon.org:

    Astrid: Do you believe in Evolution?

    Charles: hi, how are you

    Astrid: do you believe in Evolution?

    Astrid: is anyone there? [Read more…]

Some things too sacred to share

Too sacred to share. I’ve been thinking about that for a few days as I readied a post on my faith-science blog that for a long time fell into the category for me. I changed my mind. There was some discomfort with it because we run across the words ‘too sacred to share”, but I’m not sure what they mean. Here are a couple of uses I pulled up on a search on the Church’s web site: [Read more…]

The Dead Thing in My Can of Tuna

Guest Blogger, Steven Peck is an associate professor and evolutionary ecologist at BYU who blogs on issues of science and faith at the Mormon Organon. He is currently doing a year sabbatical with the United Nations in Vienna, Austria working on African tsetse fly population ecology.

After class one day, I guiltily grabbed one of those over-packaged lunches so indispensable for those in a hurry to gulp down something quickly. This one was canned tuna salad and crackers. I felt guilty at the amount of unnecessary material piling up as I squirreled through the packaging to find my meal. [Read more…]