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…

Blogroll update

I’ve gotten a complaint that our blogroll is full of blogs that haven’t been updated in months or are now defunct. That’s a definite possibility, alas. I haven’t been keeping up the blogroll particularly well. I’m going to do a little bit of pruning over the next week or so. I’ll be removing blogs that don’t appear to be updated regularly (at least monthly). In the mean time, you’ve got a blog you would like us to consider adding to the blogroll, please let me know. If I mistakenly remove your active blog, let me know. And ditto for any other comments or complaints.

We are Weird

About a week ago I went to the wedding of one of my nieces. As I sat waiting for the wedding to begin and watching people arrive, I suddenly had a glimpse of how we look to many who either are not attending church with us or are completely outside our community. In short, we look weird.

And Thanks For All The Fish

I enjoyed blogging here. Thanks for reading and the excellent comments. Also, many thanks to those who ignored the drool coming out of the corner of my mouth as I wandered slowly about the blog muttering incoherently. Today ends my stint and I leave shortly to go frolic up at the infamous Bear Lake. I have high hopes that it is raspberry season.

The Plight of Mormon Women, as (Accurately?) Described by Non-Mormon Women

I’ve noticed two different posts recently in the bloggernacle that touch on the same theme: Non-Mormon women think that Mormon women are repressed and considered inferior to men, while educated and articulate (and believing) Mormon women are horrified at these broad characterizations. Janelle at Let Your Mind Alone writes of a conversation with a co-worker who told her that “Mormon women are bred to consider themselves inferior to their husbands.” Janelle was appalled at a broad characterization that potentially includes her, but discusses in her post how many Mormon women do seem to give an impression of inferiority. Jennifer Jensen at BCC writes of a conversation she had with a woman she met while traveling. “When I told her I am Mormon she was quite shocked. She asked me how I could be so educated and part of such a sexist church, thus allowing myself to be repressed.” Jennifer, of course, replied with a strong rebuttal — an argument which…

Ethics for Three-Year-Olds

So we checked out a retelling of The Little Red Hen from the library. For those of you not up on your kiddie lit, the aforementioned hen asks her friends to help with every step of the process of breadmaking (planting the seeds, tending the wheat, cutting and grinding the wheat, and baking the bread) but they always refuse to help. At the end, she refuses to share the bread with them.

BYU SSM Symposium issue

The Winter 2004 issue of the BYU Journal of Public Law will include articles presented at a recent symposium on same-sex marriage. Apparently, some of the articles are pro-SSM. The Journal’s web page contains the disclaimer: We wish to remind our readers that the viewpoints expressed in the articles, notes, and comments published in the Journal of Public Law are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Journal, Brigham Young University, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For information about the official position of the LDS Church on this subject, please visit The symposium issue looks like it may be interesting for people who follow the SSM debate — which judging by our sidebar includes many T & S commenters.

A Few Facts on Religion in America

I have been reading papers that I may use in a Fall class, and one is a survey of the economics of religion. As best I can tell, this field largely consists of sociologists applying rational choice modeling to questions of religion. As subject matter it is very interesting but the modeling is not terribly well-developed or convincing. In any case, I though I would share the facts of religion, as culled from this paper. Note that this is all from a 1996 paper by Laurence Iannaccone. I should almost put quote marks around it, but it isn’t verbatim so I won’t. 1. American Church membership has risen throughout our history, from 17% in the beginning to 60% today. 2. We have, in the U.S., about 1.2 clergy per thousand people. This number has been about the same for 150 years.

Eliade: Mormonism and Theories of Religion V

Unlike the other thinkers we have reviewed so far, Mircea Eliade was a religious person himself. Perhaps for this reason his sympathetic approach to religion has been extremely well accepted by Mormon scholars. When reading his books for the first time, I couldn’t help but feel a strong kinship with him, as if his interpretation of religion was written about Mormonism itself. I once advocated in an EQ lesson that Eliade was essential reading for all Mormons.

Two Warnings to Readers

A reader e-mailed in to say that he’s received e-mail spam for the Nigerian scam on an e-mail account that he uses exclusively for Times and Seasons posting. Two warnings are in order for readers. First, if there was any question about whether spam spiders (programs used to harvest e-mail addresses off the web) would find T & S, that question has been concretely answered. Spam spiders will harvest addresses from anywhere they find, and they’ve found us. There’s not anything that we can do about this on the blog side. As a general matter, you shouldn’t put an e-mail address on the web if you’re not prepared for it to eventually become known to the public, including spammers. To avoid spam, many people use a separate e-mail account — you can open free ones at places like Hotmail and Yahoo, and many ISPs, like Earthlink or AOL, will give you a bunch of free extra addresses. Also, make sure…

Krakauer, Polygamy, and the Lost Boys

Both Dave’s and the Mormon Wasp have noted the recent press accounts about Krakauer (yes, that Krakauer) working to assist the teenage boys who are routinely expelled from the polygamous FLDS community in order to keep the proper male-to-female ratio. The plight of the “Lost Boys” who are expelled from the FLDS is troubling, and it’s nice to see that Krakauer is doing what he can (along with others) to help them make the transition into the real world.

The Iowa Electronic Markets

As we move through election season, the polls start coming fast and furious; the pundits punditorate, the politicians spin, the news media pretend not to spin, bloggers blog, and everybody offers the inside scoop as to the outcome of the election. How is one to aggregate all this information into the best possible guess as to who will win the presidential election? One excellent way to do it is to pay people to be right. This is exactly what is done at the Iowa Electronic Markets. If you are sure that John Kerry is going to be the next U.S. President, you can got to the IEM website and buy Kerry stock. Currently, for 46 cents one can buy an option to get $1 if Kerry wins. Bush costs about 54 cents. If you are sure Kerry is the man, this is an easy way to make money, $46 now will get you $100 in just a few months.

International Mormon Sites

In one of our threads, WilfriedDecoo, a European Latter-day Saint, was kind enough to draw our attention to, a very nicely done web portal for French Latter-day Saints. I would like to add this and similar sites to our collection of Mormon links. If you are aware of any other Mormon dedicated sites, please post URLs in the comments section, regardless of language. I realize that there are a fair number of non-English language anti-Mormon sites. I am not especially interested in these. I leave it to readers with the proper language skills to judge for themselves what is or is not an anti-Mormon site. Thanks in advance for your help!