Month: April 2010

Are We Mormon, or Are We Dancer?


In my previous job, I served as co-chair on the college diversity council. It was not a position I was qualified for, but one in which I learned a lot. While there, I noticed that “black” is a culturally acceptable word again. I’m interested in the words we use to describe races, ethnicities, and cultures. When I was little, “black” was the only word I knew, but I remember being taught in middle school to use “African American” instead. As a black-and-white (no pun intended) conservative teenage thinker, I was bothered by this shift. It seemed like a pointless debate — why did anyone even care? Then, a few years ago, I heard statements from church leaders encouraging us to use “latter-day saint” rather than “Mormon” to describe ourselves. Suddenly I became very aware of the words people used to describe me, and I was sensitive to my own response to the question, “What religion are you?” Thinking back to my middle-school introduction to race and ethnicity, I was especially bothered that some people were offended by one term, while others were offended by the other. I felt that it put me in a no-win situation, and as a result,…

Do daughters make you more conservative?

Photo belonging to James Neeley via Flicker

Tyler Cowan revisits the topic in a post today (HT: Sheldon). I vaguely remember someone in the bloggernacle posting on this in years passed, but my cursory search didn’t turn up much. So, as I’m curious what others make of the research, I thought I’d throw it out to the wolves again. Cowan quotes a new article that states in relevant part: Washington (2008) finds that, controlling for total number of children, each additional daughter makes a member of Congress more likely to vote liberally and attributes this finding to socialization. However, daughters’ influence could manifest differently for elite politicians and the general citizenry, thanks to the selection gradient particular to the political process. This study asks whether the proportion of female biological offspring affects political party identification. Using nationally-representative data from the General Social Survey, we find that female offspring induce more conservative political identification. We hypothesize that this results from the change in reproductive fitness strategy that daughters may evince. (Perhaps this plea is laughably in vain, but let’s avoid the banal partisan tit-for-tat).

Priesthood Session in a Nutshell

President Eyring conducted, with music by a BYU priesthood choir (with an expressive and energetic conductor) and talks by Elder Oaks, Elder Rasband, YM President Beck, and the First Presidency. This was an amazingly upbeat meeting. President Monson called this one of the best priesthood meetings he ever attended.

Easter Sunday

"Empty Tomb," Interior View of the Herodian Family Tomb, first century AD, Jerusalem.

Because Easter is not a biblical term (and has pagan origins), some suggest that “Resurrection Sunday” would be a better term. The word itself only appears once in the King James Bible at Acts 12:4, where is is better translated as “Passover.” So significant was the event of that Sunday morning that Christians since have celebrated it as “the Lord’s Day,” and it has become our weekly sabbath, replacing the Saturday of the Old Testament. Still, for millennia the term “Easter” has come to be synonymous with resurrection, hope, and the joyful refrain “He is risen!”

April 4th

I’ve loved the Holy Week series that Eric has posted. I hope I’m not interrupting with this post. But I think it’s fitting this Easter to also remember other pioneers and prophets who have given their lives to help make men free — and especially so, when one such man died 42 years ago today. And so I hope you’ll permit a link to a hymn of a different sort, a poem which openly connects the lives of two people who lived and died . . . in the name of love.

The Choir Documentary “One Voice.”

Photo Shoot at the St. Louis Arch

This is a bit gratuitous (let alone a tad self-promoting), but this Sunday at noon, between conference sessions, BYU-TV will be airing a documentary on the Choir, focusing particularly on our tour last summer.  Entitled “One Voice: On the Road With the Tabernacle Choir” it includes behind-the-scenes and in-front-of-the-audience footage, as well as interesting interviews with Mack Wilbert, Choir leadership and administration, organist Rick Elliott, and others. There are also a handful of short interviews with me . . . Then, at 5:30 that same day, BYU-TV will broadcast out final tour concert at Red Rock outside of Denver.  For those who do not get BYU-TV, it can be streamed at A trailer of the documentary can be found at, and additional broadcast times of both shows can be found at

Saturday before Easter

Fra Angelico, "Christ in Limbo," c.1450.

D&C 138; 3 Nephi 9 and 10 Christian tradition relates the so-called “Harrowing of Hell,” wherein Jesus broke the bonds of Adam and Eve and brought them and other Old Testament saints from hell into heaven.  Although LDS doctrinal statements do not include statements such as “and he descended into hell” as do the Apostolic and other creeds, Restoration scripture does stress that “he descended below all things” (e.g., D&C 88:6, 122:8). The real state of the righteous dead before the Atonement of Christ and Jesus’ own activities among them during the time that his body lay in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea were revealed to Joseph F. Smith on October 3, 1918: As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great.  And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality; And who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and…

Good Friday

Harry Anderson, "The Crucifixion"

The day traditional associated with the crucifixion of Jesus, the Friday before Easter, is called “Good Friday” in English either because it is a “holy” Friday, or, more likely, because in English “good” is often an archaic expression for “God.”  Hence “goodbye” for “go with God.”  Accordingly it is “God’s Friday” because on this day was the culmination of God’s reconciling the world to himself through the death of his Son. Matt 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18:28–19:42; see also 3 Nephi 8 Jesus in the Hands of the Romans (Mark 15:1–21; Matt 27:1–32; Luke 23:1–32; John 18:29–19:17a) At Calvary (Mark 15:22–28; Matt 27:33–38; Luke 23:33–34, 38; John 19:17b–24) Activities at the Cross (Mark 15:29–32; Matt 27:39–44; Luke 23:35–43; John 19:25–27) Last Moments (Mark 15:33–37; Matt 27:45–50; Luke 23:44–46; John 19:28–30) The Burial of Jesus (Mark 15:42–47; Matt 27:57–66; Luke 23:50–56; John 19:38–42) Suggested Music: Suggested Music: “O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown.” (hymn 197) Suggested Listening: St . Matthew Passion; Handel, Messiah, Part II. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath…

Maundy Thursday

Carl Bloch, "The Last Supper," 1865-79.

“Maundy” is an early English form of the Latin mandatum for “commandment” and recalling “A new commandment I give you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye love one another” in John 13:34. The events of Thursday night, beginning with the Last Supper and extending through our Lord’s suffering in Gethsemane, his betrayal, his arrest, and his first hearing before the Jewish authorities, reveal his great love for us.