A query that I’ve gotten a surprising number of times is, “How do I set up a blog?” I’ve been answering these individually, which has resulted in some nice conversations with readers. However, I thought it might be best to streamline this process, as well as pre-emptively answer the question for anyone who doesn’t want to ask me by e-mail. My credentials, upfront: I can’t claim any special expertise (I have no advanced degrees in blogging), but I do run most of the technical side of T & S. If that’s sufficient credentials for you, and if you want to set up a blog, read on.
The votes are in on the Post of the Month ballots for April 2004. Kaimi has plugged the numbers into the Excel spreadsheet that knows all, and in a fun twist, Kristine Haglund Harris was narrowly edged out by . . . Kristine Haglund Harris! The top vote-getter was Kristine’s original, thoughtful, and alliteratively-titled post “Laundry, Lizards, and the Sisters of Lazarus” at By Common Consent. It’s an insightful discussion of Mary and Martha, and the difficulty of making time for gospel study among the many mundanities of life — I encourage everyone to go read it. That post narrowly beat out Kristine’s post at Times and Seasons, “On the Bearing of Complicated and Complicating Testimony.” (As we’ve all noticed, Kristine has a penchant for clever titles — not to mention clever posts). Congratulations Kristine on your excellent April post(s). I’ll be consulting with my co-bloggers to see if we can think of an appropriately wacky prize. And thanks to…
I disliked the recent Meridian article by Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse blaming all of the ills of the world on feminism, but I didn’t have time to sit down and explain why. Fortunatey, Kim Siever, over at his spiffy newly-refurbished blog, did have the time for such an exercise. He gives a nice critique of some of the flaws in the article. (Did he miss any potential critiques? I’m certain that if he did, our astute readers will notice and comment).
Today I went on the open house tour of the new Manhattan New York temple. It was, as expected, a great experience. The temple is in the old stake center building. The first and second floors and the fifth and sixth floors are the temple; the third and fourth will remain a chapel (that split layout seems decidedly odd to me). The anti-Mormons were outside, as expected: A half-dozen well-dressed professional-looking folks, one hippie-looking yeller, and a cute-as-a-button little girl, perhaps seven years old, who was cheerfully handing out pamphlets about why polygamy is bad. (If I have a moment, I’ll try to go get pictures one of these days).
I’ve just noticed a few goings-on today that may be of interest: The Sons of Mosiah have a new, snazzy layout. They also have a new guest-blogger, Robyn Goodwin.* John Hatch has posted an interesting discussion of post-Manifesto polygamy over at the polygamy blog, BCC. I can all but guarantee that there’s something for everyone — to disagree with, that is — in his discussion. Finally, I noticed that Universalist Unitarian (UU) blogger Philocrites has a new post discussing the question, “How universalist is Mormon theology?” Check out the discussion, and you can find out how universalist Mormons are. That’s all for today — happy reading! * Little-known fact: Mosiah had not only sons, but daughters. In fact, his daughter Eowyn went to the Lamanites as well, and famously struck down an evil Zoramite chief of whom it was said that no man could slay, as she cried out “I am no man.” Or, of you prefer the book text,…
A disturbing case, all around.
The last Post of the Month contest was fun, and generated some thoughtful comments. It’s that time again (actually, a little past that time — I’m running behind, as usual). We are now accepting nominations for Post of the Month for April 2004. Here are the rules (mostly the same as they were last time):
I can’t help but be impressed by the consistency and quality of Christopher Bradford (aka Grasshopper)’s new blog, Let Us Reason. Over just the past few days, there have been several high-quality posts. Grasshopper discusses covenanting, particularly the question of who sets the terms of the covenant. He also discusses the tension in the church between inclusiveness and exclusiveness. He has a post wondering why God would want to use evolution as a tool. And there’s also a post wondering in what sense the final judgment is final. This trend is rapidly moving Grasshopper’s blog onto my personal A-list of LDS blogs, which is pretty short — that is, blogs I try to read daily, even if I’m pretty busy (I read a lot more if I’m not busy). My list varies from time to time, I would say that at the moment it is comprised of T & S, BCC, Sons of Mosiah, and Dave’s. And now Grasshopper. Of…
I’ve touched on this subject before, but it’s on my mind again. I was just over on Eric D. Snider’s site, browsing and chuckling, and I read something that touched on a recurring theme. Eric wrote a column about boring sacrament meetings, and a reader (you’ve heard of her) wrote in to say, inter alia: For some non-members and less actives, your voice may be the only one they hear describing our Sacrament meeting, and if it is, they will have a very different impression than I have from attending. That statement sums up the sentiments I’ve heard often echoed by church members — that any statement which could be interpreted in a way potentially critical or embarrassing to the church is a violation of the member’s Duty to Present the Church in a Favorable Light at All Times, Just in Case a Non-Member Happens to be Listening. This rule, oft-invoked, seems preposterous to me, for several reasons.
Dave Underhill over at Mormon Inquiry has a fun idea: A Mormon Blog Club. He notes: What are the benefits and duties of club membership? Simple. A club member must visit each of the other club sites once a day (weekends optional) and leave a comment (as simple as “Nice post. Love the lawyer joke.”). That’s it. Think about it: if there are 8 club members, that’s 35 comments per week on your solo blog. Oh, and members must post a blogroll of fellow club sites. Zero cost. Quit anytime. Hmm, that sounds fun! (Note: If interested, sign up in his comments section, not here). (Too bad I’m ineligible; T & S won’t work, and my old solo blog has been shelved for a newer small group blog). Dave plans on future expansion as necessary, to potentially accomodate themes like “Mormon Law” or “Mormons and Science.” (Hey, as long as he’s not planning on starting a “Club for Baby Seal…
Slightly-older-than-breaking (“already broken”?) news: The ACLU’s suit against the church has been dismissed at the district court level; an appeal is probably likely. (Via A Soft Answer).
How time flies! It seems like just yesterday Steve Evan’s stint as a guest blogger was starting (wudn’t he a cute widdle bwog-baybie!), and now, Steve’s guest time is over. We’ve enjoyed having Steve here as a guest (and as the #4 commenter according to the latest scoreboard). Of course, he won’t be quitting his commenting duties (and only 600 to go till he passes Clark!); for regular blog posts, he can be found at By Common Consent.
On another thread, BCC contributor and Sunstone editor managing editor John Hatch makes a very interesting observation. He writes: I’ve spoken to plenty of Church members who are more than willing to accept the Adam and Eve story as a metaphor. I recently spoke to a friend who is a bishop who told me he loved Abraham, even though he may not have existed, and if he did exist, the stories the Bible attributes to him most likely didn’t happen. Yet I suspect my friend would be most uncomfortable saying the same thing about Nephi, or Alma, for example.
So now it’s not just the limited geography and the hemispheric models anymore, now there is the Malaysian model. (Link via Dave). The Malaysia idea is certainly novel, and presented as well as I think it possibly could be. The author, Ralph A. Olsen, notes that it avoids a large number of standard Book-of-Mormon location problems, like use of Egyptian, and presence of animals and crops. (For example, he writes that “Wheat, barley, and other cereal grains have long been cultivated in Southeast Asia. There is no evidence of their cultivation in Mesoamerica.”) I’m not convinced.
One of the more disturbing images from General Conference was in Elder Packer’s use of a story (a version of which I’ve heard before elsewhere) about chicken pox and smallpox. Elder Packer stated: “When I was in the seventh grade, in a health class, the teacher read an article. A mother learned that the neighbor children had chicken pox. She faced the probability that her children would have it as well, perhaps one at a time. She determined to get it all over with at once. So she sent her children to the neighbor’s to play with their children to let them be exposed, and then she would be done with it. Imagine her horror when the doctor finally came and announced that it was not chicken pox the children had; it was smallpox. The best thing to do then and what we must do now is to avoid places where there is danger of physical or spiritual contagion.”
Recently, I’ve been thinking about the topic of elite religion versus popular religion. In particular, it seems that the development of FARMS and other intellectual centers of Mormon studies has resulted in a division of sorts. On the one hand, Mormon studies scholars believe in a world where the Nephites lived in a tiny section of Central America, where the Hill Cumorah is somewhere in Guatemala, where the flood was a localized event, and where Joseph Smith was polygamous and polyandrous. On the other hand, most church members believe in a world where the Lehites covered the Americas, the Hill Cumorah is in New York, the flood was worldwide, and Joseph’s polygamy is never mentioned. Common church members believe the prophet is never wrong; elites believe the prophet may have opinions that are incorrect (such as men on the moon). Common members believe that women have never held any type of priesthood; elites point out early church instances of women…
Apparently, longtime T & S commenter and BCC contributor Aaron Brown has been doing something most members would never imagine — he’s been officiating (along with some LDS missionaries) at a Catholic Mass! He writes about this experience in his latest BCC post. An excerpt: About a year ago, Father Hans approached me with an unusual request. Convinced that LDS missionaries are ‘angels,’ and that they obviously love and follow Christ more than anyone in his congregation could ever hope to, Hans wanted to organize a Catholic-Mormon ‘hybrid’ Mass. He proposed that my four full-time missionaries and I (the Ward Mission Leader) play an active role in his services. He would conduct as usual, waving the incense, reciting the liturgy and preaching a short sermon (complete with occasional Book of Mormon or D&C quotations – without attribution). We would stand on the stage with him as representatives of Christ, read excerpts from the Bible at key junctures and offer the…
I hear conflicting statements about the propriety of using alcohol in cooking. For example, chicken marsala, which is one of our family’s favorite dishes. Some members say that alcohol evaporates during the cooking. I am sure that at least some of the alcohol evaporates during cooking. At the same time, I am doubtful that it all evaporates. I also hear that some de minimus amount is probably allowable, since homemade bread contains trace amounts of alcohol (from the yeast fermentation) and that’s a Mormon staple. Again, I’m not sure of the veracity of this tale. Does anyone know of an official statement about this? Alternatively, does anyone have information to support or discredit the Mormon myths about cooking with alcohol? What think ye?
Over the past few days, I’ve noticed (inter alia): Steve Evans (Thurston-Evans?) musing about hyphenation of last names in the LDS world; Mat Parke discussing having Elder Eyring in the class he taught; David Sundwall noting news items about the new Manhattan Temple; Jeremy Grimshaw discussing (unreasonable?) abortion regulation in Utah; and finally, not in the Bloggernacle but over in neighboring St. Blog’s Parish, an incredibly interesting series of posts (1, 2, 3, 4) over at the Mirror of Justice, dealing with laws against religious conversion in India, and of issues that proselytizing creates more generally.
Yesterday — exactly five months after the counter started — we received our 50,000th visit. I guess we must be doing something right, because folks keep on coming back. We’re getting between 800 and 900 visits per day. I want to say thank you, to all of our readers. Reader participation has made this site what it is today. Oh, many or all of us — Nate, Gordon, Matt, and certainly myself — are quite capable of chatting on for hours, with or without an audience. But this blog has become more than Kaimi or Nate chatting on about issues we find interesting. It has become a community of sorts. And it has done that because of our readers. So thank you, thank you all, because I really enjoy participating in the community that T & S has become.
I just noticed the recent debate raging (again) in the blogosphere about baptism for the dead. Not that there are a lot of new ideas on the topic, but it’s somewhat interesting to see the same ideas get kicked around again. (See here and here; see also Adam’s recent post on the same subject here). And, while I was noticing this little debate, I also noticed that one of the members of Begging to Differ is a self-identified Mormon (who also, I should note, has stated that he does not intend to blog much about religion).
I haven’t a lot of time today, and the bloggernacle keeps getting bigger (and harder to keep track of). Here are a few things I’ve noticed over the past few days: Jordan Fowles’ interesting discussion of the topic “Is God a Retributionist or a Utilitarian?” (spoken like a true law student); DP’s comments on why church members should turn off the TV this week; Discussion of garments for sale, by Kim Siever and DP; The Baron of Deseret comments about how we should view polygamy today; he also discusses recent LDS-mainstream movies; Sunstone editor and BCC contributor John Hatch asks, “What can Mormonism offer to young people?”.
We’ve been happy to have Karen Hall as a guest for two weeks. Her posts have been thought-provoking and interesting. We’re also happy to announce a new guest blogger, who will also be here for two weeks. He’s someone who may be familiar to readers who frequent the bloggernacle. He is the inimitable Steve Evans. Steve was a law school classmate of mine. He is a proud resident of Babylon — err, Manhattan — and a “big law firm” attorney as well. In addition, he is the driving force behind By Common Consent, a liberal LDS group blog. And, as a glance at the sidebar shows, he knows how to use the comment button. Rumor has it that Steve speaks French; he is also known to associate with Canadians. Welcome, Steve!
I’ve been silently stewing for the past few days about Meridian Magazine’s endorsement of Holocaust denial. (I know, there are ways to read it that make it look marginally less ugly — it’s still problematic, I think). And then, today, a family member forwarded me a Meridian article (“look at this cool article!” — not the same one, I should add) and I finally flipped, and decided to act. I get a _lot_ of forwarded e-mail protest letters from friends and family. Protest this, protest that, write a senator, write CNN. I usually ignore them. But I’ve become quite familiar with the form. And I put that familiarity to use.
We’re very happy to add another name to the list on the right of the page. Julie Smith, whose stint as a guest-blogger included terrific posts like The Talk I’ve Never Given and Why We Doze in Sunday School, has agreed to continue casting her pearls before, well, us. We hope that with two women speaking, Times and Seasons will seem more like General Conference. [ ;>)] Welcome, Julie!!
The bloggernacle is humming lately. Some highlights: Newcomer Celibate in the city is an entertaining blog dealing with “The Misadventures of Urban Dating for a Mormon Woman Outside of Utah” (It looks like she’s writing from New York). She’s funny and she kisses — single LDS fellows in New York might want to consider e-mailing her. At BCC, Aaron Brown has thoughts on an area of concern — the apparently widespread perception that any members’ intellectual concerns “aren’t really intellectual issues at all, but rather indications of sexual sin.” Aaron also has a funny and insightful post about how to identify prophecy, while our own Kristine discusses the church perception that non-members don’t do service. Jeremy over at Orson’s Telescope rightfully takes Meridian Magazine to task for its shameful endorsement of Holocaust denial. The Sons of Mosiah have found a Himni to add to their Aaron and Omner (no one is Ammon, as their motto sometimes asserts). They are also…