Author: Kaimi Wenger

A brief Hawaiian lesson

Recently, I’ve noticed a bit of bloggernacle discussion over a question of burning importance: How to pronounce “Kaimi.” Here’s the short answer: Ka-EE-mee. It has three syllables, you stress the middle one, and Hawaiian pronounces its vowels more-or-less identical to Spanish.

Happy Birthday, New York Stake!

Our former guest-blogger, the intrepid Claudia Bushman, has alerted me to the party of the year. It is (of course) the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the New York, New York stake. (What, didn’t you all know?) She writes: A special commemorative meeting of music, talks, and film will celebrate the organization of the NY NY Stake which began in 1934, and will take place on Saturday, November 13th at 7:15 as part of the Stake Conference.

Internet Interactions as Faith

It’s amazing the amount of time and energy we put into commenting or posting on the blog, interacting with people who we’ve never seen. And isn’t this a little like faith? I’m not sure; sometimes I think it is. I’ve never met Jim Faulconer, but I have faith that someone called “Jim Faulconer” exists. Through my internet interaction with “Jim Faulconer,” I get to know his quirks and attributes and ideas. As I see a pattern of posts from “Jim Faulconer” that share the same tone and style, I begin to feel that I know this person, even though we’ve never shaken hands. Other people who I have met (such as Greg Call) add their own testimonies that “Jim Faulconer” exists. I like Greg, and I don’t think that he would lie to me. On the other hand, I’ve never met Jim. Jim’s existence could be a well-orchestrated conspiracy between, say, Nate, Greg, and maybe Dan Peterson, all trying to…

How to treat that whole “no brandy” story?

I was discussing the Word of Wisdom with my wife Mardell, and she came up with a really good question. One of the things which surprises many members who look at all into church history is the discovery that the current Word of Wisdom was not strictly followed by early church leaders. Joseph Smith is documented (post-Word of Wisdom) to have drunk wine and beer with other church leaders and smoked pipes. He also drank coffee regularly (thus, the fight he had with Emma about his coffee). In the end, this turns out to be less shocking given the historical context; as pointed out in prior comments, the Word of Wisdom did not really achieve its current status until around the time of prohibition. It wasn’t enforced as a commandment, and early church leaders, including Joseph Smith, regularly took substances that would be banned today. That’s not a big deal so far; it’s just a historical misunderstanding, and makes sense…

An Early Halloween for Mormons?

That’s what this story says: Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will do Halloween things on Saturday, Arizona spokesman Don Evans said. “When a holiday such as this falls on Sunday, we automatically celebrate on the previous day,” he said. “One of the Ten Commandments is to keep the Sabbath holy.” Interesting. Is this official? I don’t remember doing this before, but maybe I’m just forgetful. (And I don’t recall hearing about that in church here — but perhaps it was mentioned when I was distracted chasing the kids.)

Nietzsche and Longfellow

I’m neither a Nietzsche-ologist nor a Longfellow-ologist, and it’s likely that this association has been made by others. Still, it’s something that I personally had never noticed till this morning, when it suddenly occurred to me: Nietzsche’s famous charge has already been answered (in a sense) by Longfellow — and the answer came a full decade before the charge was even made.

Bloggernacle Notes, October 8, 2004

A few goings-on in the bloggernacle of late: I just found two new Mormon blogs (via Grasshopper, the creator of the bloggernacle). One is Outer Boroughs, written by a bishop in Brooklyn. (Side note: There are sure a lot of New York bloggernackers. There’s me (Bronx), Logan (Bronx), Nine Moons (Brooklyn), BCC (mostly Manhattan), Celibate (Manhattan), and a number of our guests (Greg Allen, the Bushmans). Plus a number of commenters.) The second is By Study and Also by Faith. We’ve also added a journal blog to the sidebar — it’s a journal run by a sister named Kacy F., who is said to have friends in high places. And they’re not new blogs, but new looks — Arwyn and Bob-and-Logan have both recently adopted snazzy new templates.

(When) are bloggers permitted to criticize church leaders?

This topic has come up in recent posts around the bloggernacle. For example, Rusty at Nine Moons discusses an instance where a bishop committed all of the men in the ward to “1) To never watch an R-rated movie ever again. Also, to never watch a PG-13 rated movie without his wife’s permission. 2) To use the internet (at home presumably) only with his wife’s permission (by assigning a password on the computer that only the wife knows).” The comments to Rusty’s post include a number of attacks on him for posting criticism of the Bishop. (e.g., “did you pray [before posting this critique] . . . I can say with absolute certainty that you could not have“). Meanwhile, Steve at BCC wonders whether he is allowed to criticize conference talks for style. (The BCC commenters, perhaps inured to Steve’s views, haven’t yet asked him if he prayed before posting them, but I suppose it’s just a matter of time).…

Time for a Mormon Political Party?

There has been a great series of posts at Mirror of Justice about whether Catholics should create, or demand, their own political party — one that incorporates Catholic ideas and rejects the baggage that both major parties bring to the Catholic voter’s table. The discussion starts here with a discussion of Catholic politics and kicks into high gear with Mark Sargent’s call for a new party. The lengthy follow-up posts include Rick Garnett’s doubts; Rob Vischer’s suggestions for clarification; Mark’s revised statements; and further questions and discussion from Michael Scaperlanda, Stephen Bainbridge, and Vince Rougeau. It’s a fascinating idea, and of course one that is easy to translate into terms I’m more familiar with. Let’s ask the question — is it time for a new Mormon political party?

Quick note on Wikipedia

Reader Jeff Cook writes in to suggest that we mention Wikipedia. That’s a good idea. Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia which is edited by its readers. For example, if you think that the page on Mormons is inaccurate, you can edit it yourself. Or if you think that something is missing — note the lack of information on Zelph, for instance — you can create such a page yourself. Since a number of people use Wikipedia, updating and expanding its information about church topics seems like a useful (not to mention fun) investment of time.

Mormons and Government Benefits — Bloggernacle discussion

The relatively new LDS blog Nine Moons continues to roll, as Amy discusses the ethical and spiritual issues with Mormons who accept the financial benefits of government “loopholes.” She suggests that this behavior may be particularly common among church members. (I won’t way that she’s wrong). It’s a very interesting question: Is it honest to strain to take advantage of legal loopholes that allow one to save taxes or receive benefits, even if such practices are legally acceptable?

What is the Religious Reason for Gender Differences in Orgasmic Tendency and Ability?

We believe that we were created by God, in His image (or the image of Heavenly Mother, for women). And we believe that our physical bodies are an important part of our eternal progress, a part that will be with us for eternity. As pointed out in an earlier thread, we have strong religious reasons to believe in the sacred nature of our bodies as created. The significance of bodies raises an interesting question: What is the religious reason for the gendered differences in ability to experience orgasm?

Crash Davis at Rameumptom

Sure, we like to engage in good-natured ribbing with our beloved minor-league affiliate, (umm, like this post?) but every once in a while, I have to admit that, in the best Crash Davis style, they do hit some dingers over there.* Recent posts of note discuss the difficulty of church attendance, the problem of embellished spiritual experiences, a topic I won’t mention by name since we discuss (variations of) it too often; there is also a personal, moving discussion of a difficult time in one person’s life. So stop by and support our minor league affiliate today! Tickets are only half the cost of T & S, and Crash is hitting a lot of home runs lately.

Ebenezer’s “Recent Comments” script for blogspot blogs

Quite possibly the single most annoying thing about blogger/blogspot blogs is the lack of a “Recent Comments” function. Recent comments greatly facilitates comment discussions. And until now, it hasn’t been possible for blogspot blogs.* That’s why Ebenezer’s new Recent Comments script is such good news. It’s now up and running at some bloggernacle sites, including A Motley Vision and Our Thoughts. Blogspot bloggers — this means you, Grasshopper, BCC, Ryan Bell, Orson, LYMA, Celibate, et al, et al — should strongly consider adding this feature. It is available at Blogger Hacks.

Contemporaneous Reactions to the First Vision

We’ve all read about the first vision, and the negative reaction that many contemporaries had to Joseph Smith’s account. We read in the prophet’s words: Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them. I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was…

Hitting the nail on the head

Jeff Lindsay has some spot-on commentary at Mormanity: Boy, am I ever grateful that Genesis was NOT part of the Book of Mormon. If Genesis were introduced to the world as restored scripture from the Mormons, the critics would have attacks ten times as powerful as anything they’ve levied against Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon so far. And he doesn’t even mention Tamar . . .

Perpetual Immigration Fund, Perpetual Education Fund, . . . Perpetual Dating Fund?

The bloggernacle likes to talk about dating. We already know that JL over at Celibate in the City provides the bloggernacle’s version of reality TV, with adventures in dating 24/7. Now, the (sane?) folk over at Let Your Mind Alone are tackling the subject too. Chris Potter wonders about the prevalence of non-committal dating practices and suggests that (gasp!) “Mormon dating practices, on average, aren’t as morally superior to the dating practices of the rest of the world as we would all like to think.” Chris Patton follows up with a comment guaranteed to endear him to Mormon women everywhere: “Why can’t the lonely-heart club girls of the church quit their whining and actually do something other than invent theories about why they aren’t going out with anyone?” (Ouch!) Finally, Doug Spencer caps it off by reminiscing about being told that dating was a priesthood responsibility, and suggesting that the church therefore establish a Perpetual Dating Fund: “Turn in all…

A good cause

Everyone’s favorite (or tied-for-favorite) LDS serviceman (formerly) in Iraq, Chief Wiggles, is looking for help save an Iraqi girl who needs lifesaving medical care that she can only receive in the United States. She’s nine months old and not likely to live much longer without surgery, which will almost certainly allow her to live. Chief Wiggles is an LDS serviceman who founded the Operation Give charity (along with some help, including from T & S’s Matt Evans) to provide toys for kids in Iraq. He has details about the girl’s condition here. They’ve located a hospital and surgeon, Dr. Marcelo Hochman of the Hemangioma Treatment Foundation, who are willing to operate for free. They’re currently collecting funds and frequent-flyer miles to get this little girl and her family here for the operation.

Insight on Babies

Yes, that’s T & S blogger Matt Evans in the New York Times (all the news that’s fit to print), talking about his business, Baby Insight. (Alert reader Matt Horlacher was the first to point it out to me). Matt’s business allows customers to take voluntary, often very high-definition ultrasound images of fetuses in the womb, usually at around 30 weeks. The article points out that some medical organizations oppose the taking of voluntary ultrasounds, but Matt counters by noting that there is no evidence of harm caused by these ultrasounds. And I suspect that as a pro-life advocate, Matt probably appreciates the pictures of smiling babies in the womb, which can only help advance his political cause. (Though I wonder — perhaps Matt or Adam can weigh in on this one — if the ultrasound is a good development, net, for pro-life advocates). Anyway, I’ll stop pretending that I have something profound to say on this topic, and just…

Speaking of Mormon Studies . . .

Jason Knapp over at Let Your Mind Alone is looking into the possibility of establishing a student-edited journal of Mormon studies, possibly in conjunction with BYU Studies (he mentions informal discussions with Jack Welch). It all sounds very tentative and gestational at the moment, but it sounds like a potentially interesting development. Students (or others, for that matter) who are interested in Mormon studies may want to check out Jason’s post, where he also gives contact information.

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Sometime T & S and BCC commenter Jim Lucas points out this interesting story. Daniel Arkell, an LDS student at Washburn University Law School in Kansas, joined the Christian Legal Society. When the group decided to start a Bible study program, he was one of the volunteers to lead the study. However, the group then decided that he could not lead the Bible study, or become an officer of the group. Arkell filed a discrimination complaint with the university, which then revoked the CLS’s charter. The CLS is now suing the university in federal court.

JL (of Celibate in the City fame) goes PoMo about bloggernacle dating

Just how PoMo is the celibate one? Here’s a sample from her post on the topic: Because of my internet blogging activities I ‘meet’ other people online. We have no real life interaction, just email and blogging comments. Then, one reader of my blog-about-dates invites me on a real date with one of his real friends. So I go out and meet in real life this stranger that I first met in cyberspace. (My simulacra world has now spilled into my real world). We have a real nice time. Then I go home to blog about the date, so I can create a simulacrum of this real event. However, I know that the people who experienced that same real event will read the simulacrum of it. This knowledge affects the way I report the event online. Yikes. JL’s observations make me happy that I dated and married entirely outside of the blogosphere — I just don’t know if headache-inducing PoMo…

Mormon Creative Outlets

I was just thinking that I keep stumbling across LDS creative outlets, and that it might be useful to put a list of these in one place. Here are a few that I’m aware of; please let me know, by comments, of any others that I’m missing and they’ll be added to the list: The church music contest. The screenwriting and movie making contest at LDS Box. Irreantum contest (possibly not continuing). AML unpublished novel contest. Meridian, I’m told, may accept submissions if you ask nicely and have something to say. Deseret Book for music, novels, etc (though perhaps less accessible, as there is not a “contest” or other easy breaking-in point). Sunstone. Dialogue. BYU Studies for poetry, and an essay contest. Okay, folks, what am I missing? If I want to write a poem, novel, hymn, rock song, opera, short story, essay, play, musical, or screenplay; paint, draw, lithograph, or sculpt a piece of art; or make a film,…

Minority Report and the Normative Use of Slippery Slope Arguments

Some of my co-bloggers are big fans of the slippery slope. I’m a skeptic. I’m not suggesting that it is not possible to, in a descriptive way, construct some sort of progression between events that makes some sense. (I have separate doubts about descriptive use of slippery-slope arguments, particularly with the problem of cherry-picking). But my biggest concern with slippery slope arguments are when they are employed normatively: “We shouldn’t do X, because that might lead to Y, and then Z.” Or the ever-popular framing: “Wow, so-and-so suggests we do X. What’s next, Y?” And thus are proponents of some position X called to task for positions Y and Z, which they have never advocated. Meanwhile, self-appointed “pre-cogs” roam the political landscape, charging their opponents with all manner of future offenses. And of course, such charges are as inherently subjective and unprovable as any of the pre-crime charges in Philip K. Dick’s famous story, The Minority Report. This doesn’t strike…