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 www.lds.org. 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 www.idumea.org, 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!

Illegal Work and the Minimum Wage

Last Saturday my advisor informed me that he never wanted to read my dissertation again, which was his way of saying he was ready to sign off. So I thought I would amuse everyone (well, me anyway) with a very brief recap of my findings. Let me assure you that there is no Mormon angle to this work, so if you are offended by the secular, feel free to move on.

This Post Is Mostly True, +/- 3%

There is a maxim that the man with two watches never knows what time it is. The funny thing about this is that the man with one watch certainly doesn’t know any better than the man with two, he just thinks he knows what he does not. The man with two watches can maintain no such illusion of certainty because he has two watches with two (possibly ever so slightly) different times. He has been forced to recognize the existence of error. Socrates would be proud.

Marx: Mormonism and Theories of Religion IV

My titles were too long and hard to distinguish in the “Recent Comments” section, so I have switched the order around. The next theory in this series is that of Marx, just in time for the lifting of the ban on socialism! Like the others, Marx’s theory is reductionist. As a former Marxist myself, I find this particular kind of reductionism unpersuasive. However, this theory of religion became more than just a theory. For a good part of the 20th century a huge portion of the earth’s population subscribed to this theory. For this reason alone it derserves to be seriously considered.

Bloggernacle Notes: Clark’s Reading Club

We’ve probably been remiss not to note this new bloggernacle development: Blogger and uber-commenter Clark Goble has started a reading club. He’s working through chapters of McMurrin and Ostler at the moment. He’s given these works a nicely detailed discussion so far. Clark’s first installment, covering pages from McMurrin, is available here. His second installment, covering the beginning of Ostler, is here. And Dave, over at the Mormon Inquiry blog, has posted his own responses to Clark’s McMurrin post here. Readers who are interested in philosophy or theology of Mormonism are likely to be interested in Clark’s and Dave’s discussions.

We have, ahem, lifted the restriction on commenting about socialism

And I’ll bet you didn’t even know that it was there. But it was — inadvertently –for just under a month. Here’s why: We got spammed about a month ago, with a glut of comments advertising web sites that sell drugs. (Mostly, the kind of drugs Gordon previously discussed here). There were a whole bunch of web sites listed, many of which included the word “Cialis” (which is the name of one of the drugs advertised). Rather than individually block a whole bunch of web sites (the names were all along the lines of free-cialis.com or get-cialis.com or the like), I set the blacklist to automatically block any comment with the word cialis in it. I mean, what legitimate commenter would want to put that drug name in a comment anyway, right? And there were no complaints (this is not that unusual of an event; we update our blacklist often to keep out spammers), until last week. A perfectly innocent…

World Religion vs. Global Religion (and Brain Drain)

I have been thinking about the international church lately. This is a field that has practically been ignored by LDS and non-LDS observers alike. This is pretty sad since we are growing so much more quickly internationally than domestically. There is a marked increase in attention paid to such areas by church leadership, but since we have really only begun this process of introspection, we have a long way to go. I have two thoughts on the international church right now:

The Return of Frank

We are pleased that Frank McIntyre has returned to finish his guestblogging stint. Just to refresh everyone’s memory, Frank is a professor of economics at BYU and has the distinction of saving me from ruin in my first philosophy class at BYU. (Full story here) Enjoy the show.

Will the Real Mormonism Please Step Forward

Mormons are efficient. We are a large, hierarchical faith that runs like a corporation. The Brethren are powerful leaders with the ability to dictate the minutiae of members lives and call forth vast resources at the drop of a hat. Mormon congregations are well oiled machines. They even have so-called “home teachers” that visit members each month just to check up on them and insure that they are serving their proper roles in the Mormon juggernaut. Something like this image frequently appears in media accounts about the Church, and we as often as not like to repeat some version of it to ourselves. How many times have you gleefully heard members discuss the swift efficiency with which Mormons have sped relief supplies to disaster ridden areas. I have to confess, however, that I don’t really buy this image. The reason is that I actually go to church every week.

Effects of the Ex-Mormon Lunatic Fringe

A few weeks ago, Jeff Lindsay posted a humorous discussion of the “Exmo” computer virus that turns otherwise sane people into spiteful, obsessive anti-Mormons. In the comments on his blog, many ex-Mormons offered thoughtful and reasonable discussion, and objected (politely but firmly) to his apparent characterization of all ex-Mormons. This in turn led to a revision, where Lindsay suggested that perhaps a better title would be the “Rare Former Mormon Who Becomes a Raving Anti-Mormon Quite Unlike Most Ex-Mormons Who Are Really Nice and Intelligent People virus.” I agree with the comments on Jeff’s blog, to the extent that they demonstrate that many former church members are reasonable, nice, intelligent, and happy people. I have friends who are former church members; we’ve got some very nice blog commenters who are former members, and at least one very nice commenter who may be in the process of leaving the church. It is clear to me that many former members are decent…