I am Orthodoxy

Most Mormons, especially those who grew up in the Church, labor under the delusion that they know what constitutes Mormon orthodoxy, typical Mormon beliefs, and the like. I am increasingly of the opinion that we are basically wrong about this. Here is why:

Limits of the Law of Chastity

Wendy’s comment in the latest SSM thread provoked an interesting discussion between my wife and I yesterday. Wendy wrote: Is same-sex kissing a sin? What about same-sex flirting and dating? Can a same-sex couple live together, love each other, come to church holding hands and sit together in the chapel, hold callings and be okay church-wise, as long as they don’t have sex? This comment relates to the broader issue: What exactly does the law of chastity prohibit?

A Practical Matter

I’ve been trying to put my finger on what is so troubling to me about some of the recent discussions of abortion. Aside from the distressingly obvious lack of female participants in the discussion, I think the thing that makes me twitchiest is the discussion of whether or not rape victims should be *allowed* to hear from a compassionate bishop that abortion is an acceptable course. I’ve been thinking a lot about how a bishop could provide appropriate and helpful counsel in that situation, and I have to say that I think the odds are stacked against him, even before he opens his mouth.

Looking on a woman to lust

I ought to avoid making a mountain out of a molehill and derailing the current discussion (though one more argument about same-sex marriage is the last thing I’m interested in, so I don’t really mind if it gets derailed). Nevertheless, I think I should explain some of the cryptic remarks I made about lust more fully. Besides, I’m an academic. What else could I do but make mountains out of molehills.

Still More “Around the Blogs”

Jeff Lindsay is up to it again, explaining about the use of occult symbols (or are they? cue scary music) in LDS temples. (Next up: Do church members really sacrifice goats inside the temple? Or is that only done in stake centers?). Mormon Wasp has some interesting history about church statements on government regulation of marriage. There are more statements than you thought, and they make fun reading. Finally, the unsinkable Aaron Brown has a new post up at BCC. The title: “More MTC Antics.” Need I say more?

The Nature of Satan, as Explained by a Seven Year Old

Seven-year-old: Satan doesn’t have a body. Me: That’s right. 7-YO: So he’s a Spirit. Me: Yes. 7-YO (getting more excited): That’s kind of like a ghost. Me: Yep. 7-YO (who has been playing a lot of pac-man lately) (very excited): So if you eat a power pill, then Satan turns blue, and then you can EAT HIM! Me: (trying very hard not to laugh) Umm, not quite . . .

The Meaning of the Mormon Republican Majority – Final

This thread is about played out, but a couple of final comments. 1. Clinton was one of the most gifted politicians of our time, and moved the national Democratic Party towards the center–think intervention in Bosnia & Kosovo, welfare reform, NAFTA & free trade–where it needs to be if it is to escape longterm structural minority status. Had Gore been able to run on Clinton’s record, Election 2000 would have been no contest . . .

Church Supports Amending Constitution to Preserve Marriage

From the church’s website: The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement today. This is a statement of principle in anticipation of the expected debate over same-gender marriage. It is not an endorsement of any specific amendment. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints favors a constitutional amendment preserving marriage as the lawful union of a man and a woman.”

Around the Blogs, July 7

I’ve noticed a few items recently: The Baron has a series of posts explaining why you don’t really have to burn all of your Metallica CD’s (or tapes, as the case may be) to prove that you’re a good Mormon. Can Mormons really listen to (gasp!) “heavy metal”? Read the Baron’s post on “Evil Music” to decide. Also, Jeff Lindsay is on a roll. First, he notes a recent announcement by that well-known group, Saints Alive Total Anticult Network about a surprising (?) new cult. Then, he delves into a subject near to my own heart — the threat to society caused by lawyers. (Though no mention is made of the danger from lawyers who listen to heavy metal). Demosthenes wonders if there are theological problems with the idea of space colonization (which Adam discussed earlier here at T & S). In particular, he wonders if LDS scriptures relating to the celestial glory of Earth suggest that we shouldn’t just…

Catholic Thought

As Latter-day Saints, we often see the world in the terms given to us by Protestants. That isn’t surprising because they are those with whom we’ve had the most interaction as well as those from among whom most of us have been converted. I’m a prime example; before I joined the Church I thought about studying to become a Protestant minister. But the Protestant view of the world isn’t the only one and it isn’t necessarily the best. We often adopt that understanding of the Reformation without reflection, not only because Protestantism is, for us, a major intellectual inheritance, but also because we recognize the important role that the Reformation played in preparing the world for the Restoration.

Sunday School Lesson 26

Lesson 26: Alma 23-29 Those who may not have a printed lesson manual can find it here. At the heart of this material we have the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, converts of the sons of Mosiah. That story has a great deal to teach us today, but it may not be what we expect, whether we read it as a story of pacifism or as something else.

Welcome to SLTrib Readers

Hello, readers of the Salt Lake Tribune. You’re probably here because of Peggy Fletcher Stack’s recent story. Dan Burk’s original post is more than a week old, so it’s in our archives rather than the main page. CLICK HERE to go to that post. Feel free to look around, to read over other posts, and to make comments about the posts. Please bear in mind that the blog’s Comment Policies prohibit comments that personally attack or insult other commenters. Welcome, and we hope you enjoy the blog!

Ethical Incoherence and Abortion

You’ve all apparently already had a long conversation on this site on abortion and the ethics (or lack thereof) of a Mormon pro-choice position, so let me just make two brief points with respect to those who brought the issue into their responses to my Mormon Republican Majority post. First, consider the sin of adultery. . . .

The Meaning of the Mormon Republican Majority II

Well, it’s not often I get called a sneak and sophist at the same time. :) But I have a thick skin. As to trying to sneak something by anyone–as if that would actually be possible with this group!–I meant only to suggest that one possibility for the almost uniform dislike of President Clinton by Mormon Republicans might be that Mormons consider marital fidelity an indispensable quality of their public servants, because of the Church’s teachings. . . .

Oman as Evidence of the Book of Mormon

No, not Nate Oman or David Oman McKay. I’m talking about the country of Oman — in fact, the entire Arabian peninsula. Jeff Lindsay explains over at Mormanity: Some of these photos help demonstrate the plausibility of the place Bountiful in First Nephi, said to be due east of Nahom/Nehhem, which puts Bountiful on Oman. Remember, it’s a place the anti-Mormons have said simply couldn’t be there. (They also denied the possibility of the River Laman in the Valley of Lemuel, and now we’ve got photos of an entirely plausible candidate for that, thanks to the Nephi Project.) Does Oman provide evidence of the Book of Mormon? Check out Lindsay’s site and decide for yourself!

The Meaning of the Mormon Republican Majority?

Some years ago, a friend of mine working in Pres. Clinton’s White House counsel’s office asked me why Utah in particular and Mormons generally gave Clinton no credit for his efforts to protect religious free exercise. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act languished under Bush 41, but was one of Clinton’s highest priorities, as was its narrow successor, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. It was also the Clinton DOE and DOL that adopted guidelines attempting to preserve a zone of individualized religious expression by teachers in public schools and by employees generally. Bush 43 has pushed initiatives that would make it easier for faith-based organizations to receive federal funds, but on the core issue of religious freedom has done little.

Spirituality & Fundamenatlism II

Hi, sorry to have dropped out for a few days (what do you call a guest blogger who doesn’t blog?). A friend from the philosophy department has been helping me (actually, I’ve been helping him) work on a home construction project that is taking longer than expected (proving, I suppose, that between the two of them, law and philosophy can confuse pretty much anything). I enjoyed the comments. Some thematic responses.

Individual responsibility?

Frank McIntyre says “I am only responsible for that part of me that is eternally me.” Adam Greenwood agrees and wonders how to makes sense of that claim in light of the teaching that God oversees everything and brings about his purposes. Kristine Haglund implicitly assumes, I think, that despair, acedia, etc. are really individual psychological disorders because, like Frank and Adam, she assumes that individuals are the basic units, the units at which responsibility occurs. Of course that assumption is the norm. But why should we believe it is true?

Belated Good-Bye

I missed it at the time, but last month Rhee Ho Nam died. The name probably means very little to most of you, but Brother Rhee was one of the noble and great ones. A very early convert to the Church in Korea, he served as the first Korean stake president, and at one time was the president of the mission where I served: Korea Pusan. When I was a missionary, you would still lots of Rhee Ho Nam stories from members in Pusan. After I returned from my mission and re-enrolled in BYU, Brother Rhee taught one of my Korean classes. He was a warm, funny person, and one who provided tremendous service to the Kingdom and to the Korean saints. A heroic Mormon has passed on.

Do we matter at all? Are we stones that leave no ripples?

We love God because he’s just. We look at children in bad homes and console ourselves with knowing that their day will come. Every blessing God has offered us he’ll offer them and through grace he’ll clear them of whatever would impede their choice. We see the cemeteries full of people the gospel never reached and we’re pleased to think of baptisms for the dead. When we ourselves have sinned in our parenting or our friendship or our calling and it seems very much like we’ve made it harder for our children or our husband or our friend to accept Christ and the Gospel we remember that men are punished for their own sins and not for ours. If we mess up, someone else will fix it, or God will offer grace if only our victims will accept it. We are comforted. We can hardly even bear all the inequity that natural disaster and inexorable history and wicked men do,…

Hopelessness

I’ve mentioned before that I’m working on a paper on hope. That was, in fact, the topic of my first post (which I do not know how to find and, so, do not know how to refer you to—but it doesn’t matter). The truth, however, is that next month I’m presenting a paper on the loss of hope. Doing that required that I spend a lot of time thinking and reading about hope, and I’ve been writing about it. Now I’m down to the last one-third of my paper, and I’ve got to stop talking about hope and say something about its loss. Perhaps, dear readers, you can help me. I trust that my situation is not hopeless.

No Rest for the Wicked?

I’ve always thought that one of the more interesting scriptures is the verse in Isaiah that states, Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! After all, the somewhat humorous way to read this is: If you’re going to be an alcoholic, sleep in.

Who We Are and What We Are Judged For

In a recent post, there was a bit of a debate about what we are or aren’t allowed to be judged for. For example, suppose I honestly don’t believe the Church to be true. I even pray about it. To what extent can I be punished for my lack of faith? In one sense, this is moot as a judgment tool for us because we never observe others’ sincerity and it is not for us to judge other’s eventual salvation or lack thereof. But we do need to know where we stand, so the the question may be worth thinking about. I would claim that we cannot rightly be blamed for anything that is done to us, only for what we do. Further, that we can only be blamed for something to the extent that it is of our own accord. To the extent that we are behaving as we have been conditioned by others, then that can’t be our…