A recent article from the nefariousliberalmedia discusses the recent spike in Senate profanity. I’m proud to see that Utah senator and church member Orrin Hatch is one of the politicians who has been putting blue language to public use. Well I say, it’s about time. There ought to be more profanity in Congress, not less. After all, Senators are important public figures. If they swear, others might start swearing as well, and that can’t be a bad thing, can it? Civility is over-rated. Politeness is for the namby-pamby. Contention may be of the devil, but it gets the votes. And dammit, that’s what matters!
So suggests this somewhat disturbing column in the Christian Science Monitor. (Link via ecitsuJ, which also has some interesting follow-up commentary).
I just have a few minutes today, but there are some fun happenings in the bloggernacle: Ryan Bell asks if the system of church leadership and callings creates “limited spiritual jurisdiction” (and why we should care); Bob Caswell is blogging about Sex in the City (and maybe it’s just my observation, but I always thought that Sons of Mosiah gave T & S some serious competition for the title of most sex-obsessed Mormon blog); Jeff Lindsay has a very passionate and articulate post about the problems of pornography; Grasshopper has interesting thoughts about the question of why the restoration happened when it did; and Gary Cooper has a nice post about the importance of Isaac.
The church web site is reporting that church President Gordon B. Hinckley will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from national President George W. Bush. President Hinckley writes that: I will be deeply honored to receive this prestigious award from the President of the United States. I am profoundly grateful. In a larger sense, it recognizes and honors the Church which has given me so many opportunities and whose interests I have tried to serve. To the Church, to my associates, and to our people everywhere I extend my gratitude and with each of you share the honor of this recognition.
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad,* William Morris was to remember that distant afternoon when he blogged about the (potential) existence of a Mormon magic realism. . . I recommend William Morris’s excellent series of posts on this topic. The discussions can be found here, here, and here. Go read up, so that your children won’t be born with the tail of a pig! *Firing squad: Well this is Utah, after all.
Over at his blog, Davis Bell is wondering who the single bloggernackers are. Now I’m not going to harrass LDS singles for not being married yet — I’ll leave that to your meddling Aunt Melba. But if you’re a single bloggernacker or reader and want to let Davis know, drop him a comment. Off the top of my head, I think there are at least a half dozen or more single bloggernackers: Payne, Celibate, Arwyn, Eric Stone, Jan, hmm, there are probably several that I’m forgetting. (All of the T & S regulars are married, but we’ve had single guest bloggers, in Melissa and Ben).
I just noticed this post over at the Mirror of Justice, discussing an article by Monte Stewart and Dennis Tolley which suggests that scholars undervalue the scholarly production of conservative religious law schools, and (it appears from the post) the faculty of these schools. The findings are certainly interesting. The authors also note that their research indicates that BYU is the second most conservative of the religiously affiliated law schools.
The Old Testament gives us all sorts of strange stories. One that I’ve been thinking about lately is the delightfully wacky book of Esther. In particular, I’ve been wondering about the lessons on sex and morality that we can learn from this book. And I find the answers a little surprising, to say the least. We’ll start with lesson one from Esther: Use sex to get power.
We passed a small milestone (so small I didn’t notice exactly when it happened) in the past few days. We now have our first mega-commenter; Clark Goble has passed the 1000 comment mark. Next in line (barring a surge of comments from Brent, Steve, or Bob) is likely to be Lyle Stamps (proud operator of a newish blog, I should note), who about 300 comments shy of a thousand.
Are police really bringing felony charges against Utah players who (gasp!) painted the BYU “Y” red prior to a game? Apparently they are. This sounds like a terrible overreaction to me. If the news story is correct, someone (a BYU alum?) believes it proper to bring charges against these college kids, that could subject the nefarious Y-painters to up to 15 years in prison. Of course, some punishment for the painters may be appropriate. Perhaps they should have to repaint (under supervision) a few Y buildings that are in need of a new paint job — these kids certainly know how to paint! It also may be proper to make them pay for the repainting costs of the letter. I’m sure that there are other potential punishments that would fit the infraction. But it seems clear that felony charges do not fit the infraction here.
Let’s try a slightly different spin on the “Around the Bloggernacle” post. Below are four five questions and four five links to discussion and/or answers in the bloggernacle. Can you match them up? Have fun! Question 1: How many is too many in a baby blessing circle? Question 2: What should church members think of civil weddings? Question 3: How should we distinguish between rights and blessings? Question 4: How can we reconcile God’s perfection with his freedom? Question 5: Is it possible that eternal progression takes place through memetics? Answers (in mixed-up order): a: Link here b: Link here c: Link here d: Link here e: Link here (Answer key below).
Steve wants some fresh ideas for BCC, and he’s willing to let the best idea(s) be posted there. What does this mean? Simply that the time has never been better to polish up that ten-page masterpiece on the hidden connection between the King Follett Discourse, the Adam-God Theory, and Zelph, and then notify Steve. Perhaps your name will be on the next BCC post! (Details over at BCC).
And now, from the “science imitates Andrea Dworkin” department, an interview today in the New York Times science section discusses, inter alia, the genetic problems caused by the relatively unstable Y chromosome: Unlike all other chromosomes, the Y doesn’t get a chance to mix with any other chromosomes. . . . It gets passed on from one male to another, and it cannot repair mutations through genetic recombination. Moreover, the Y chromosome is subject to a higher mutation rate than other chromosomes because it is perennially confined to the male germ line. Male germ line cells and their DNA divide very, very fast to keep up with sperm production. Most mutations occur when DNA divides. So the Y is intrinsically unstable. By my estimate, in about 5,000 generations – 125,000 years – male fertility will be roughly 1 percent of what it is now. Mutations in Y chromosomes are already known to reduce male fertility. So I see a slow…
The appearance of new, interesting LDS-themed blogs is becoming a weekly occurence. This week (today, actually, via technorati) I noticed two new bloggernackers that I thought I should point out: Dallas Robbins promises a “Latter-Day Slant on Art, Religion, and Culture.” That sounds like a fun new voice in the bloggernacle. (As long as he’s not trying to horn in on the gay-marriage-commentary market — we’ve got that one cornered here!). And the Mormon Wasp is a blog by Justin Butterfield (any relation to frequent commenter Randy?) that aims to provide “a barbed take on all things Mormon offered in the spirit of The Wasp, a short-lived (April 1842-April 1843), sharp-edged, Nauvoo, Illinois, newspaper.” Welcome to the bloggernacle!
There are some recent entrants to the bloggernacle. Here are a few: A Motley Vision is a blog on “Mormon literature, criticism, publishing and marketing — plus film, theater, music, and pop and folk culture” by William Morris (who is also a frequent commenter here at T & S). Jeff Lindsay has a new blog dealing with Mormon apologetics, called Mormanity. Provo Pulse is a blog about life in (you guessed it) Provo, Utah. Also, Gary Cooper has started his guest stint at Doctrinal.net and if his first post is any indication, his contributions will be well worth reading (as most of us know anyway, having read his frequent comments here). The bloggernacle is growing quite fast. (I’ve probably missed more than a few new entrants; if so, let me know by comment or e-mail). The most comprehensive list that I’ve seen is in (you guessed it) another new blog, called DeserNet, which is actually a sub-blog, maintained by David…
The New York Daily News has a fun little story about LDS missionaries in New York City. CNN has an interesting story about legal issues arising from churches using public parks for baptisms. Is the ACLU involved? (And on whose side?). Check the story to find out. The New York Times has a short article on the debate over abstinence-only sex education.
A year ago, Gregg Easterbrook articulated the interesting idea that “dark matter” (a substance most scientists now believe exists, and is a major component of the universe) may be a manifestation of the spiritual world. He wrote: Suppose it turns out to be correct that the preponderance of matter and energy in the universe occurs in a form that’s around us everywhere, and yet we cannot sense or see it; that there is a pervasive physical reality that passes through ours with hardly any direct interaction. This is practically a definition of the spiritual plane. Easterbrook’s position has been criticized by others, but has always sounded like a nice theory to me. In particular, I was just thinking how we can understand this as church members, because of certain verses in the section of the Doctrine and Covenants we call the Olive Leaf.
There’s a fun article in yesterday’s New York Times about bloggers. It has some nice observations. Such as: Blogging is a pastime for many, even a livelihood for a few. For some, it becomes an obsession. Such bloggers often feel compelled to write several times daily and feel anxious if they don’t keep up. As they spend more time hunkered over their computers, they neglect family, friends and jobs. They blog at home, at work and on the road. Yikes! I hope I don’t meet that description, at least not too well. (He says as he takes a moment’s break from working to blog). And perhaps the best lines of the article: Sometimes, too, the realization that no one is reading sets in. A few blogs have thousands of readers, but never have so many people written so much to be read by so few. By Jupiter Research’s estimate, only 4 percent of online users read blogs. Indeed, if a…
Bloggernacking Opportunity: Over at Doctrinal.net, DP is looking for “aspiring conservative bloggers” to potentially guest blog. While this probably rules out some commenters and readers here — such as any of the BCC folk — it may be an opportunity that some T & S readers would want to look into (note: e-mail or comment to him about it, not me, thanks). Music and Art: Organist extraordinaire D. Fletcher brought to my attention a new Mormon art and music CD called Mormoniana. It’s a project involving original art and composition by a great group of Mormon artists. If you like music and art (and who doesn’t like music and art?), you may want to check out their web site for more information. (Sticker-shock warning: The new CD is a bit on the pricey side).
Kristine raises some interesting points in her discussion of modesty. The comments (which have been very interesting so far) have made me reflect on an argument I often hear raised by church members: Women shouldn’t wear revealing clothes, because that will make men think unchaste thoughts about them. (This particular argument isn’t in the comments to Kristine’s thread; Ben Huff comes somewhat close, when he argues that women have a heavier modesty burden than men, due to the sinful nature of the world). As I’ve suggested before in comments on this blog, I don’t find this reasoning to be particularly convincing.
I just noticed that we have gotten a few visits from the internet search engine query “colleges with lots of LDS people” and similar searches. I don’t think that there’s currently anything on the site that answers that question. And it’s certainly a potentially useful thing to know. Here is my two cents on the subject, and if enough commenters weigh in, maybe we can get a good idea of where colleges are that have lots of LDS members.
Over at Sons of Mosiah, commenter Kent Bailey made a comment that has gotten me thinking. He writes: Compare the number of hours you spend in Church meetings each month to the number of hours you spend out in the community giving service. For me, the ratio is about 20 to 1. If it is ok to do the Lord’s work on the sabbath (actually more than “ok”), wouldn’t our sabbath be better spent, say working at the DI or in a soup kitchen — as opposed to sitting in meetings all day? If the Savior were here, I doubt he’d be spending his entire sabbath in church meetings or at home. It’s an interesting question: Do we spend too much time meeting and not enough time doing?
Every night (whenever I can) I tell bedtime stories to the kids. They’re largely improvised, from a blend of mythology, literature, movies, and whatever else I’ve thought about lately. They’re usually serialized (“And tomorrow we’ll find out how they fought that giant. . .”). In any given night, our intrepid adventurers are likely to come across giants, dragons, witches, balrogs, castles, jedis, hydras, medusa (a favorite), robots, spaceships, invisibility, magic potions, magic wands, lightsabers, and lasers. I enjoy telling the stories, and the kids enjoy hearing them. This leads to some fun conversations with Sullivan, our oldest (almost seven), about the nature of God. He’s been told that Heavenly Father is eternal, and that that means that Heavenly Father can’t die. This morning our discussion went along these lines:
There are some fun goings-on over at Sons of Mosiah. Bob Caswell wants to know how big is too big when it comes to blogging. It’s a good question and a good post, and it has generated some interesting comments. (A related question is “how big is too big” for a comments chain — I certainly have a hard time keeping up with the uber-chains of comments we sometimes see around here. By way of illustration of “how big is too big?”, perhaps everyone should hit the Sons of Mosiah comment thread, so that we can see at what point Bob posts “Enough! Stop the madness!”). Also, just when I was despairing of ever having enough time to put together an “around the blogs” thread, Cooper (aka Daughter of Mosiah) went and made one herself. It’s a useful collection of links to some recent goings-on inside and outside the bloggernacle. Enjoy!
I’ve been working on discovery lately, and in reviewing of documents (board minutes, internal e-mails) I often come across the term “quorum.” Of course, for a board meeting, a quorum has a particular meaning: It is the minimum number of board members who must be present for the board to make decisions. We use the word a little differently in the church (or do we?) — we typically refer to the word’s second definition of “a select group.” But beyond that difference, what exactly do we mean when we talk about quorums?
Recent comments elsewhere have discussed the question of the media: Whether it is reporting properly, whether it is politically impartial, and whether the answers to those questions are a problem. There is clearly a diversity of opinion among T & S readers on these topics. This thread is everyone’s chance to air their views about the media. However, I really don’t want this to become a mudfight. And, it has been my observation that people are (more so than usual) willing to speak without support on this topic. So, for this thread alone, I’m asking for an added set of comment procedures to be followed. The usual set of comment policies applies. (No personal attacks and so forth, see here for details). In addition to the usual rules, I would like to keep out broad, unsupported stand-alone statements — “The New York Times always publishes anti-American articles” or “Rush Limbaugh always makes incorrect statements” or “The media always . .…
I’ve been hearing and reading about what a great player Kobe Bryant is, since he is putting up good basketball numbers while also defending himself at trial. I haven’t been particularly impressed with that feat. And I just noticed an ESPN column by writer Jason Whitlock that is more in line with my own feelings. He writes: “As good as [Kobe] played Tuesday, just think: If the idiot hadn’t stepped out on his wife and slept with a teenage woman he didn’t know, he might have been even better Tuesday night. . . . These are the dangers of a high-profile, married man sleeping with a teenager he’s only known for 30 minutes.” I agree. Writers should not be making this man out to be a hero because he is being forced defend himself from rape allegations — a position he is in only because he either made a horrendous decision (rape) or merely a very bad decision (“mere” adultery).…
Since some readers may lack the stamina to wade through 200 comments on the Elite Religion thread, let me make a separate note of a gem of a website mentioned by Dan Peterson. Dan writes: For those who’ve wondered — and (let’s be truthful) who hasn’t? — whether the Church is actually controlled by demonic entities in the form of reptilian humanoids, or lizard men, you’ll find the evidence you’ve been seeking on this explosive Web site. The web site is at This Link, and is mostly links to other sites with more, err, evidence. And don’t let anyone fool you — decide for yourself whether or not “Brigham Young was a reptilian shape-shifter that totally brainwashed founder Joseph Smith”! (Perhaps this explains Eric’s Stone’s Star Trek enthusiasm (recall the Kirk-versus-the-Lizard episode) — and doesn’t Eric look just a little bit like a lizard-man in that picture with Mr. Scott? Also, note that the Post of the Month for April…