A conference announcement that makes me wish I were closer to Utah:
When I first heard about Twitter, I thought it was one of those truly dumb ideas that couldn’t possibly catch on. Now it is an infotsunami, sweeping over the world in a growing horde of 140-character snippets [see “People Are Flocking to Twitter” at LDS Media Talk for a quick update]. So do you join the wave or run for high ground?
The question becomes not if our policies and teachings will adapt, but rather how. And further, what statements are we making today – strident and bombastic – for which we will be judged tomorrow? Statements and positions that our future generations will be pressed to reconcile, to explain, or to disavow?
With the past two months, I have read — for various reasons — four different novels laying out apocalyptic events within the United States. Here are the novels, in the order I read (or re-read) them, and with the reasons why I read them: — Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (1977): a comet fragments and strikes the Earth in numerous places, collapsing much of world civilization, including the United States. I’ve read this several times before; I saw it cited on a blog (Samizdata) in a discussion on “the best end-of-the-world novels” and decided to dig it out and read it again.
Even as our current guest blogger continues to post, Times & Seasons is happy to welcome Bruce Webster as our next guest blogger.
Last year, several General Authorities, including Elders M. Russell Ballard and Marlin K. Jensen, waded into the immigration debate in an attempt to influence and moderate the policies being discussed. Given the large number of undocumented immigrants in the Church, especially out West, and the dramatic effect that immigration crackdowns have on our membership, the reason for such action is understandable. In recent weeks, additional developments underscore why, in my mind, Church members ought to support comprehensive immigration reform that, while seeking to better secure our borders and enforce immigration law, also allows otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants who are currently here a chance to normalize their status.
A week ago, the New York Times joined the growing chorus of commenters calling for Judge Jay Bybee’s impeachment. Is impeachment really going to happen? And what should we think about the issue?
Here’s the place to make your comments on our ‘Notes from All Over’ for last week.
Does it have a future? Some people view religious liberty as a civil and constitutional right; increasingly, others see it as a problem to be dealt with. The Mirror of Justice post “Securing Religious Liberty in an Age of Growing Intolerance” is a short reflection on what this means for the future of religious liberty.
Religion can be divisive. We read of historical confrontations and we witness the divisiveness in the world around us – between major world religions and among the sectarian branches they foster. But while religion and faith claims can be divisive, it needn’t be this way. There are ways to approach faith and differences of faith in constructive, expanding ways. One example is carried on over 200 public radio stations each week, a program called Speaking of Faith. The host, Krista Tippett, explores faith in a narrative approach that draws out the complexities of, the power in, and the wisdom gained from a life of faith.
Its tempting to shrug off the news that Deseret Book has taken Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books off the shelves because of customer complaints. After all, Deseret Book has a right to run its business how it pleases. And as Clark Goble observes, in his comment on Beliefnet on this issue, it may be Deseret Book trying to differentiate itself from other bookstores. But I see a problem.
Looking through the news over the past few days, I was surprised at the number of ponzi-schemes perpetrated by Mormons in the news these days. I’ve seen three in the news in the past week, two of which involved men who were Bishops at the time.
It happens every year. I’m walking past the library, or some other building loaded with windows, and one of my students bursts out the door and runs toward me with eyes dilating, hair frazzling, nerves fraying, arms waving, and body quaking to ask, out of breath, did these things really happen? “Things” referring to the miracles and visions we have been reading about in the sixteenth-century autobiography assigned that week. What the student means is this: did the miracles or visions happen in an objective sense, so that if I or other witnesses would have been there we would have seen them too? Or was the author just Nuts? For how else to explain that she saw Jesus everywhere she went, including at the breakfast table?
Me: Have you practiced piano today? Son2: I just finished. Me: But you only did your exercises. You need to practice your songs, too.
I heard the following story at Sam Wellers about some local LDS Church units and selling books. I don’t know when this happened or who it was — no doubt someone here knows the story better than I do, or knows of a similar story — but it strikes me as the kind of thing that happens sometimes among LDS Church members. It seems some stake along the Wasatch Front did their stake history, and after selling copies to everyone in the stake who wanted one, had a lot of leftover copies. So they packed them up in someone’s pickup and came into Salt Lake to sell them to the various book dealers, knowing that people who lived in their stake were now located all over the Wasatch Front. When the dealer asked how much the books cost, the stake representative quoted the retail price.
We know there are good times and bad times, but are there good people and bad people? Common sense says yes, as does virtue ethics, a branch of philosophical ethics that attempts to identify virtues worth having and tell good people how to get them. Alas, the story is not quite so simple.
Presidential campaigns aside, one of the first political races I can remember paying attention to growing up was the 1990 congressional race between Karl Snow and new comer Bill Orton to fill retiring Rep. Howard C. Nielson’s 3rd District congressional seat. I was 12 at the time and delivered the Utah County Journal, a free area newspaper.
Here’s the place to make your comments on our ‘Notes from All Over’ for last week.
Sunstone West included a panel titled This I Believe, where panelists presented short pieces (3-5 minutes) about their beliefs. My talk is here.
Lesson #3: Our Savior
This morning I woke up to find my youngest child wearing accurately-buttoned church clothes and eating a hot breakfast that he had made without help. He might as well have handed me a pink slip.
It isn’t easy to be inconvenienced, especially when we are asked to tolerate the views or the actions of the other, and love them too! It would be easier to ignore them, cast them out, keep things easy and pure. But that isn’t the plan.
We’d like to give a warm, hearty welcome to Rory Swensen, who has agreed to guest blog here for a week or two.
Today I gave a presentation to the William & Mary chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Society on “Mormons as Minorities” in which I discuss some of my research on Mormon legal and political history (and other stuff). If you are interested, you can listen to the presentation here.
”Aviva Levine” is the pseudonym used by a woman who told of her conversion to the Church almost 50 years ago. Because I do not know her real name, I cannot update the story she told in 1964, and can only hope that her new life continued as it began. [UPDATE: Justin identifies her as Annette Tilleman Lantos, whom Researcher recognizes as the widow — still LDS — of U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos.] Aviva was born in Hungary in 1932, the daughter of an observant Jewish father and a non-religious, possibly Gentile mother.
For the first time ever, I’ve read a defense of the anti-same-sex-marriage movement that didn’t make me cringe. HT: Nate Oman.
I linked yesterday on the sidebar to Stanley Fish’s latest editorial in the New York Times, which takes as its occasion the possibility that President Obama will revoke the “conscience clause” allowing health care providers the right to refuse to provide certain services. I thought I’d add a few thoughts here.*
The Obama administration announced yesterday that it is easing a handful of restrictions imposed by the U.S. embargo against Cuba. Among other things, Cuban-Americans will now be allowed to travel to Cuba as much as they like and will be free to send money and gifts to friends and relatives without securing travel or export licenses from the Treasury or the Commerce Department.
For those who are interested in Mormon legal history, my article “Preaching to the Court House and Judging in the Temple” was just published in the most recent issue of the BYU Law Review. (You can download a copy of the article here.) This article provides my own take on the rise and fall of civil cases in church courts in the nineteenth-century. Of course the story of how nineteenth-century Mormons took lawsuits over broken contracts, wandering cows, disputed property lines, and the like to their local bishops has been told before, most elaborately in Ed Firmage and Collin Mangrum’s book Zion in the Courts, which was published about twenty-years ago. Here is where my take differs from previous interpretations.