Three Against Hitler: Questions for Our Day

When does one stand up against a tyrannical government, when speaking out may cost you your life? What role should organized religion play when a once-free country becomes subject to tyrants who do not hesitate to crush all opposition? How should the Church at least at a local level deal with tyrannical governments: get along and survive, confront and perish, or some other path? These are issues implicitly raised in the fascinating book, Three Against Hitler by Rudi Wobbe and Jerry Borrowman (American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communications, 2002). This well-written account gives Ruddi Wobbe’s experience as a young Mormon teenager in Nazi Germany who had the courage to speak out against the Hitler regime.

Fellowship of the (Blog) Ring

I just noticed that a “BYU blogs” blog ring has been established by Nate Cardon. It’s currently a rather small blog ring, with three member blogs, but likely to grow (it’s only a few days old) and it sounds like a potentially interesting development in the bloggernacle.

Face Cards

Over on the unwritten rules thread, rabble-rousing Randy made a short comment about face cards: A couple of years back, a couple of kids brought some face cards to youth conference. (The audacity!) One of the stake youth leaders objected and asked a member of the stake presidency to confiscate them. This counselor in the stake presidency (a convert to the church not familiar with the so-called evil of face cards) consulted his GHI and quickly determined that there was nothing addressing the issue. He then told the youth leader that he had no intention of taking away the cards in the absence of some directive in the handbook. I must admit lack of knowledge in this area. I’ve heard from numerous church members that face cards are banned, or are evil. Randy’s comment seems to indicate that there is no official policy. What is the rule (if any) on cards? (No, not just suicidal kings). And does anyone have…

Politics Redux

Davis Bell has posted a political breakdown of frequent bloggernackers. (Along with a few remarks about how T & S used to gross him out, but we’ll let those pass). Davis’s assessment is in, and it may (or may not) surprise anyone: I’m a liberal; Matt is a conservative; Nate is a cipher. The list includes quite a few well-known bloggernackers. Check out Davis’s list and (of course) register a complaint (with him, not me!) if you were left off or mischaracterized (he promises, err, prompt responses). A useful comparison tool may be found in this old T & S post, where many people posted their scores from a political quiz.

Q: When is a policy not a policy?

A: When noone knows about it? A couple of Sundays ago, in the hall during Sunday School time, I was talking about vasectomies with a woman in my ward. (What?! What do *you* talk about in the hall during Sunday School?) She was telling me quite matter-of-factly how glad she was that her husband had been willing to have one when they were sure their last child had arrived. This woman is fairly conservative, and I’m sure she would never knowingly do something contrary to Church policy. In any case, she would not discuss it openly if she had. She just had NO IDEA that the Handbook of Instructions “strongly discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control.” Moreover, unless she or her husband had been prompted to consult with the bishop about the surgery, there’s no way they *could* have known about the policy. So I’m wondering what the usefulness of such policies is. It’s true, of…

Movies About the Afterlife

There have been some particularly heavy discussions here lately, so I thought I’d offer up something ultralight. Now I like books as much as the next person, but I’m not one of you bring-a-book-on-a-date-so-I-have-something-to-read-while-she’s-powdering-her-nose guys. I will, however, admit to viewing some 37 movies in the last six months (according to my Netflix records). Anyway, I was ruminating this morning about the best movies about the afterlife.

Temptation

In the thread on suicide below, several comments have raised this idea from 1 Cor. 10:13: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” What does this mean? When BRM states, “Persons subject to great stresses may lose control of themselves and become mentally clouded to the point that they are no longer accountable for their acts,” isn’t that an example of being tempted beyond one’s ability? Is Paul’s statement just “rah! rah!” talk?

Remembering the Lord’s Love for the Suicidal

Yesterday’s post on suicide by Gordon Smith stirs several memories of experiences I have had with friends and ward members who struggled with suicidal tendencies. I appreciate the quote he provided from Bruce R. McConkie about the Lord’s mercy for those struggling with suicidal tendencies. I have seen a variety of small and sometimes very large miracles in the Lord’s dealings with those who have suffered greatly and are considering suicide.

Link to a Sunstone Report

Over in a galaxy far, far away, rumor has it that a strange woman* has posted a brief report of her activities at the Sunstone symposium, along with sundry thoughts about Sunday School and correlation. Just in case anyone was wondering. *Not necessarily in the scriptural sense, but more in the sense of (to use her own term) “exceedingly weird.”

The Oddity of Comfort

Comfort is a concept that holds pride of place in the gospel. We learn that an important part of our baptismal covenants is the promise to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” Elsewhere, we learn that one of the reasons for Christ’s suffering and atonement was so that he could “know how to succor his people.” This leads to the question: Why is comfort important?

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.