We’re Number One!

. . . but don’t throw a party to celebrate, please. CNN reports that on the newly-released annual list of top “party school” colleges in the nation (compiled by the college-ranking company Princeton Review): “Brigham Young University kept its title as top ‘stone-cold sober’ school.” And BYU students don’t do the funky chicken, either. Or get tattoos. Such are the sacrifices required to be number one.

Welcome to Guest Blogger Jeff Lindsay

Our new guest blogger is probably a familiar name to people who hang around the bloggernacle. Jeff Lindsay, based out of Wisconsin, operates the LDS apologetics blog Mormanity. He also maintains a web site on LDS topics, including a Book of Mormon Evidences page and LDS FAQ. There is additional biographical information at Jeff’s website. Jeff’s discussions and comments are always interesting. We’re looking forward to reading his posts here.

Suicide

Not long ago, I sat in an emergency room with a friend who had been musing about suicide. My experiences with such matters are limited, but I wasn’t taking any chances. This man had lost his job and was being evicted from his apartment. He was at risk of losing custody of his children to his former wife. And he has a history of depression and bi-polar disorder. He claimed not to be suicidal, but I was worried for him.

12 Answers! for Ken Jennings, part two

Here’s the second half of our 12 Questions with Ken Jennings. (Click here for part one.) We thank Ken for participating in our 12 Questions feature, especially for his smart (but delicate) responses to the obnoxious, smart-aleck questions that seem to come with the territory. .

New Bloggernackers

I should note a few recent additions to the bloggernacle. -Frequent commenter John Fowles recently started a blog, which so far has mostly dealt with politics and religion. I disagree with John sometimes, but his blog is definitely not uninteresting. Check out A Birds Eye View. -Another new addition is Ebeneezer Orthodoxy, a blog about church “doctrine, organization, practices and its influence on and relationship to society.” So far, Ebeneezer has posted a series of interesting discussions on stewardship, priesthood, and obedience. Check out Ebneezer Orthodoxy. -In the “Journal Blogs” section (which I don’t always frequent), Jenna’s blog (self-description: “Don’t mistake me for one of those feminist nuts”) deals with life at BYU, and includes frequent discussion of other blogs in the bloggernacle. Check out “You Too!”

My Wife Has Noticed That I Am A Nerd

I have been reading Wallace Stegner’s wonderful novel Crossing to Safety this afternoon. The book tells the story of a friendship between two academic couples. It is beautifully written, with more than its share of gently wise observations about friendship and the academy. I understand why it was so tremendously popular among our friends in Cambridge. Definitely worth a read. The book contains the following snippet of dialogue, which I just read. A young graduate student has just driven four hours from Boston to the the cabin of his girl friend’s family in Vermont or New Hampshire. After sheepishly admitting that he forgot to pack anything, the assertive girl friend says: “. . . You must have brought something. Books? I never saw you without a green bag of books.” To her mother she says, “He reads everywhere — in the subway, between the acts at plays, at intermissions in Symphony Hall, on picnics, on dates.” In her copy of…

The Drama of Procedural Nonsense

I appreciate Kaimi’s post about the jury instructions in Reynolds. But I do object to his claim that the procedural arcana at the beginning of that opinion are of no interest today. The substantive law that they deal with — the number of grand jurors necessary in an Article II territorial court — are not of current interest, but the issue is the final chapter of a dramatic story that tells you something about the world of legal hardball that 19th century Mormons played in.

The Reynolds Jury Charge

The trial court in Reynolds v. United States gave the following jury charge, which the Supreme Court later found was proper and not inflammatory. I think it not improper, in the discharge of your duties in this case, that you should consider what are to be the consequences to the innocent victims of this delusion. As this contest goes on, they multiply, and there are pure-minded women and there are innocent children, innocent in a sense even beyond the degree of the innocence of childhood itself. These are to be the sufferers; and as jurors fail to do their duty, and as these cases come up in the Territory of Utah, just so do these victims multiply and spread themselves over the land. It’s a fascinating snapshot of the ideas and prejudices of the time — Note that polygamy (or is it the church itself?) is referred to as “this delusion.” The jury, not surprisingly, convicted, leading to the Supreme…

Happy Friday the 13th, Everyone!

I don’t have any belief in real effects caused by Friday the 13th. (Other than in Nethack, of course). But it is a fun reminder of more superstitious days and beliefs. Or is it something more? In any case, happy Friday the 13th!

Cutting Out Middle Management?

The Deseret News reports a “profound change” coming to Church administration. Beyond the substance of the changes, I find it somewhat interesting that this article centers on statements from a non-PR Church employee speaking at the Sunstone Symposium. Is this more evidence that the early-90s chill is thawing?

Time Is On Our Side

I’ve posted a version of this over at my new blog; I thought it might be appropriate here too. Enjoy. Melissa and I have been married for eleven years today. We were married on a Friday the 13th, back in 1993, in the Salt Lake City Temple, on a beautiful (though windy) day at the height of the summer marriage season. There were, during that whole day, there in the busiest temple in the whole church, exactly four weddings. Come 2:30pm, we had the place completely to ourselves. Never doubt that nervous Mormon brides and grooms aren’t every bit as suspicious as the rest of the population.

California Ruling

And now back to our regularly scheduled, “all gay marriage, all the time” programming: California high court voids same-sex marriages. UPDATE: Decision text here (via NY Times).

The Muslim Anti-Mormons are Catching Up

Via Dave’s, I noticed a Dan Peterson FAIR Conference paper with a fun anecdote: Let me tell you about an experience I had a few years ago. I was invited to do a Muslim/Mormon dialogue up at Idaho State in Pocatello. . . . The closer it got, the more awkward I felt about this upcoming “dialogue.” There were just some things about it that didn’t add up, and I began to feel that something was seriously wrong. When I got there I realized that it was. The room was absolutely jammed with Muslim anti-Mormon tracts. I hadn’t even known that such a thing existed. I can report to you, by the way, that they weren’t very good. They need to take a page from some of our Evangelical critics who can mount much better arguments than the ones they had. Nevertheless, it was a first step and you have to admire them for trying.

The Efficacy of Condemnatory Prophecy

Bob Caswell has an interesting comment over at Meg Kurtz’s new Book of Mormon blog. Bob writes of Lehi: Wouldn’t you be angry if a random person in your town claiming to be a prophet came to you and “testified” of your “wickedness and abominations”? Maybe this is the way the Lord wanted it, but I have to think there could have been a more tactful way if Lehi REALLY wanted people to listen to him. Bottom line: I’m glad I didn’t live in Jerusalem at the time because I probably would have been annoyed at Lehi (big mistake!). Bob has a point — where is the commitment pattern, the “building relationships of trust,” the rest of the missionary toolbox that we use today? Condemnatory prophecy — “Hey, Bob, I testify to you that you are wicked!” — doesn’t seem to be the most effective missionary tool. Why do they seem to use it so much in the scriptures?

Elie on Faith and Ecclesiastical Selection

This month’s Atlantic brings an interesting article on papal succession. Paul Elie discusses (paid subscription required) the politics, factional infighting, and expectations governing papal succession — a topic which may be becoming increasingly relevant, nearly thirty years after the election of John Paul II. Elie, however, concludes by discounting all of the other factors and suggesting that: The cardinal electors . . . will ask first of all how authentic the faith of that man of faith is — how high his hopes, how deep his depths. They will ponder his character . . . . They will ask, What kind of believer is he? We believe, of course, that there are worlds of theological difference between the election of a Pope and the choice of a new apostle. But it seems to me that, when the church leaders meet to select two new apostles, many of the same questions will be asked. Politics may be relevant, and factional support…

Dead Man Walking

Sister Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun, published Dead Man Walking in 1993. I am just finishing the book, which reinforces my long-held disdain for the death penalty. I have not seen the movie, but the book is a powerful accounting of Sister Helen’s experiences counseling death-row inmates in Louisiana.

New Blog Announcement

I know that we’re all in the middle of something here, but I thought that I should interrupt everything in mid-action to announce that T & S blogger Russell Arben Fox has moved his solo blogging from his old digs at Waldchem vom Philosophenweg to a spiffy new place called: In Medias Res. That’s Spanish, by the way, for “in stockings beef.” (Really, it is.) I’m told it has a Latin definition too, and if I weren’t in the middle of something right now, I might try looking it up. Anyway, welcome to your new home, Russell! (And good luck keeping that beef in stockings — doesn’t sound like the best storage system, if you ask me!).

144,000: The Select Have Been Chosen, and the Rest of You Can Now Return Home, but Thank You for Participating!

Those who pay attention to our Site Meter on the sidebar may have noticed the passage today of a milestone: 144,000. Why is this important? Well, as we all know, the Apocalyse tells us that: “I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” What does this mean for latecomers? It means, quite simply, that the quota has been filled. Thanks for playing. But wait!

Sunday School Lesson 32

Lesson 32: Alma 53-63 Many people find it difficult to read the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon. Though I certainly understand why they have difficulty, for me the most difficult chapters are those on war at the end of Alma. I understand that they show us what happened to the Nephites, an important part of the Book of Mormon’s message. But I don’t find a lot of spiritual meaning in them, so I find myself just reading through them, not stopping to think, wonder, or meditate. I am interested in what others might contribute to helping me think about these chapters.

Welcome Again to SLTrib Visitors

For those visitors who have come here because of Peggy Fletcher Stack’s story in the Tribune, our earlier discussion about apostolic succession has moved off of the front page, and the post is located HERE. Feel free to look around and comment on any of the posts. (Note: Abusive comments are not permitted, see here for our comment policies.) Thanks for visiting!

Nice people

Today I had to repair our sprinkler system–something unneeded by those in large cities living in apartments, or those in places with rainfall, but something absolutely essential living in Utah, especially if you’re leaving for two weeks and would like the tomatoes to be alive when you return.

The Three Degrees of Glory in New York City

And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony we give, concerning the three degrees of glory in New York City: The first and greatest kingdom is the celestial, or in other words, Manhattan. These are they who received the high salaries of law firms and investment banks. These are they who have overcome by faith the lousy housing market. These are they into whose hands the Father has given an understanding of Craigs List. They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of the locations of no-broker’s fee apartments; Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether rent control, or rent stabilization. These are they with ten-minute walking commutes and twenty-four-hour doormen. These shall dwell in the presence of Zabars and Citarella forever and ever. These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun.

Conflicted Thoughts about Hyper-Righteousness

Over at Sons of Mosiah, Bob Caswell shares Bob Millet’s theory on why some members of the Church get so darn hyper about little things: “Millett had another story of a relatively new member coming to him and asking if it was normal for a bishop to require no facial hair in order for a person to be worthy to receive a calling. Millett suggested that the person meet with his stake president. Well, this person did so only to find out that is was his stake president who instigated it! Millett posed the question: What does a person do in that situation? How do you tell a stake president he is wrong? It’s not that easy, especially not in Utah County. Millett gave more examples of Utah County issues he’s dealt with and continued to explain that when a population in a certain area is more than 80 percent Mormon, hyper-righteousness tends to occur, which eventually translates into self-righteousness…