Recently I was waiting in line at a store, and noticed that the two couples behind me apparently knew each other from church. I was tempted to turn around and ask “Are you by chance Mormons?” (Because they were all blond, and between the two couples had a strangely large number of children….) I’m glad I didn’t, though, because it soon became clear that they weren’t LDS, and not having asked, I could eavesdrop. They were discussing some social upheaval at their church, leading to certain people joining their congregation, and others leaving. Apparently there is, to some extent, a “marketplace” kind of atmosphere among protestant churches in our area. I initially had that reaction that we all know a little too well, that “well, we don’t do it that way in our church” smugness. Then I woke up a bit, and realized sometimes we do it exactly that way. Let me introduce you all to a concept you “traditional…
The bloggernacle is humming lately. Some highlights: Newcomer Celibate in the city is an entertaining blog dealing with “The Misadventures of Urban Dating for a Mormon Woman Outside of Utah” (It looks like she’s writing from New York). She’s funny and she kisses — single LDS fellows in New York might want to consider e-mailing her. At BCC, Aaron Brown has thoughts on an area of concern — the apparently widespread perception that any members’ intellectual concerns “aren’t really intellectual issues at all, but rather indications of sexual sin.” Aaron also has a funny and insightful post about how to identify prophecy, while our own Kristine discusses the church perception that non-members don’t do service. Jeremy over at Orson’s Telescope rightfully takes Meridian Magazine to task for its shameful endorsement of Holocaust denial. The Sons of Mosiah have found a Himni to add to their Aaron and Omner (no one is Ammon, as their motto sometimes asserts). They are also…
A recent article about the Justice Department committing new resources to prosecute a “war on porn” has started lots of discussion in the blogosphere. (See here, here, here). Many people think that setting up an office with 32 prosecutors, plus assorted investigators and FBI agents, is a misguided use of resources, given current budget deficits and the ongiong war in Iraq. And this isn’t child porn we’re talking about — some of the targets of the new investigation include soft-core cable programs on HBO, and adult movies offered at hotels on pay-per-view. What should we think of this effort, as church members? I’m a bit conflicted. Porn is clearly a problem; it is clearly a bad thing; and I hate to go on the record as being in favor of porn. On the other hand, I’m skeptical of laws telling people that they can’t voluntarily watch adult movies. (Child porn is a completely different issue — those laws should definitely…
I think that I have finally isolated the great symbol of a recent set of intellectual and spiritual quandaries that I have found myself working through of late. I am not talking about polygamy, Adam-God, or blood atonement. I have in mind an even more challenging remnant of our past: sugar beets.
The secret panel has convened, the judges have decided, the votes are in, and the Post of the Month for March 2004 is Nate Oman, How Mormons Became White, which narrowly beat out Julie Smith’s Why We Doze in Sunday School for the most points. Overall, I think that the event was a great success. There were a number of excellent posts nominated, and the whole process got me (and hopefully many others) to read back over and examine some of the very interesting posts of the last month. I had a lot of fun. Congratulations again Nate (I’ll be in touch about your prize), and I hope to hear from everyone again at the end of April.
The church has issued a statement noting that Marjorie Pay Hinckley, the wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley, passed away yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family. For a description of Sister Hinckley’s life, please see the church press release.
Today I was talking with an editor in my group about why she wouldn’t be in the office this afternoon. She was taking her two children to see the Wiggles. Now I admit that even though I’ve watched a bit of television in the past couple of years with my grandchildren, I’ve missed the Wiggles. Robin had been telling her daughter (I think her daughter is about four) that they were going to see the Wiggles. The little girl was excited and wanted to know whether the Wiggles would be on a big screen. Robin had to explain that they would see the Wiggles in person—and perhaps the little girl would actually get to touch a real Wiggle. At this point in the conversation, I told Robin a story about my daughter Bevin and books. It’s surprising how often I find myself telling stories about Bevin to explain the meaning of life. Bevin, now in her twenties, is developmentally disabled.…
With all due respect to others who tried their hands at Conference blogging, I think that the best commentary award goes to a string of posts over at Dave’s Mormon Inquiry Blog (See posts here, here, and here).
In the comments thread of the post about Nate’s little problem, Ryan articulately described a related problem with Mormon liberals: “The reason I bring that up is that I believe the character and motivation transfer closely to the snark, which is simply the better-educated cousin of the simpler debunker. I have no problem with the beliefs of my less “orthodox” friends, who prefer to think more critically about church hierarchy, history, doctrine, etc. than I do. My problem is that they wish so often to be the cool, informed person that is able to show why the simple believers are foolish.” While I don’t think I’m (usually) boring or insulting, I did feel brought up short by Ryan’s critique, and I’ve been thinking about why.
In the legal world, the concept of confidential communication is expressed in certain privileges. The idea being that the communication in certain relationships needs to be protected by law, even if that communication would be relevant to a court proceeding. An example is the attorney-client privilege. Barring some dramatic exceptions (like a confession that the client plans to murder someone) anything that a client says to his/her attorney is protected by the privilege and will not be revealed in court proceedings. Another privilege, that we don’t hear much about in the church, is the clergy-penitent privilege. A confession to a spiritual leader is protected and confidential.
We would like to thank Julie Smith for a wonderful two weeks of guest blogging and we hope that she will continue to participate here in the comments. We also want to introduce our newest guest blogger, Karen Hall. Karen graduated from BYU where she studied Russian. She then went on to Harvard Law School. While there, she clawed her way to the top of the Latter-day Saint Student Association hierarchy, and ended her law school days as President of that illustrious organization. Needless to say, she ruled with an iron fist, and the LDSSA descended into chaos and apostacy upon her move to Washington, DC, where she practices law and wastes time on the internet. Welcome Karen!
We are pleased to announce that Armand Mauss has agreed to be the first participant in the newest regular feature at T&S, “12 Questions.” In this feature, we will be “interviewing” some of the bright stars in the Mormon firmament. And you, dear reader, may participate by submitting the questions. [See here and here for the questions and answers]
I enjoy conference because I always feel the Spirit during some talk or another, and usually during several. This time, in the Saturday morning session, Elder Todd Christopherson struck a note that I heard several more times in other sessions when he spoke of grace and of our lives as a gift to give the Savior in response to his grace. And I was touched by President Hinckley’s very personal talk, as well as by what seemed a farewell from Elder Maxwell. But for me the most important part of conference this time was something outside of conference: my missionary reunion.
This is Part III (see Part I and Part II) of my post on the legal history of the Church as a corporation.
We tend to think of theology in discursive terms—as a collection of ideas or propositions. When we talk about the development of theology we are apt to trace the history of abstractions such as faith, hope, love, priesthood. With Joseph Smith, I’ve come to believe it is much more enlightening to attend first to characters and to the plots, language, discussions that collect around them. Again and again these characters inhabit stories that preview and explore situations very like those facing Joseph and the community of faith gathering around him. Following key characters thus becomes a tool for tracing developments in early Mormon history. Viewed within this context. Moses becomes a key to Mormon theology (or at least a prime exemplar of what I’m talking about).
Conferences is over, and I have to say that I very much enjoyed it this year. Rather than blogging about this, however, I would like to simply post something that I wrote in my journal two years ago:
Last session. Do any of you look for themes in Conference? Sometimes I think that the talks are part of an integrated whole, and other times I think that Conference is like a smorgasbord, with talks on various topics so that everyone can find something. If Conferences have a theme, what would it be this year? How about this: the role of families in the last days.
Do people attend the chapel to watch this session of Conference, even when they get it in their home? That has been the custom in some places where I have lived, but I stayed at home, not wanting to discover any such custom here. Not to diminish any of the talks, but I thought the highlight of this session was Liriel Domiciano. Wow!
Ok, I am back with the afternoon session and more penetrating insights …
I love General Conference! This morning/afternoon, I watched it from my home in Wisconsin. Modern technology is wonderous to me. I recall President Kimball talking about the Lord’s hand in developing technology that would spread the Gospel to the whole earth. We have seen that development in a most dramatic way over the past few decades. The following are some thoughts generated by the Saturday morning session:
I’m curious about the function that blogging serves for you. The blog is such an interesting, borderland genre. (And I will candidly admit here that the bulk of my personal experience with blogs and blogging has turned on a certain motherly voyeurism of my very verbal, bright, and prolific son.) A really great blog can read, it seems, like a well-honed, mini essay. A continuing interchange can take on the shape and the heat of a spirited conversation, or an argument. I’m often impressed with the quality of the writing and thinking I see. (And sometimes, of course, blogging is far less than this.) Also there’s a continuing quality to a blog that is closer to a journal or diary, or soap opera, as it charts the ins and outs of personal and communal experiences.
As an adult convert to the Church, I had plenty of embarrassing moments of adjustment along the path to integration. Mostly, these were caused by excessive zeal, rather than lingering bad habits. For example, there was the formal meal when I realized that I had just taken one bite of a dessert that contained trace amounts of alcohol. I excused myself from the table, dashed from the restaurant, and drove to the house of my “mentor” (a young returned missionary), who assured me that I wasn’t going to hell … at least for that. This was a bit embarrassing, to be sure, but it does not hold a candle to my most embarrassing moment.
I am currently suffering from extreme sleep deprivation, which puts me in a caustic and curmudgeonly mood. This means, of course, that I shouldn’t blog. I am likely to say mean and indefensible things, like what follows.
What follows is a continuation of my earlier thoughts on church legal histroy (see Part I). Despite the absence of comments, I hope someone is reading this stuff. If not who cares. I have access to the Moveable Type software, therefore I get to post what I want to.
Sherrie Johnson, a sociologist at BYU, recently presented findings of a study concerning the satisfaction levels of LDS women. I haven’t seen the study, but there is a Deseret News article about it here.
I have been doing a bunch of research of late on the history of corporate law. As I was doing so, I was struck by how much of early Mormon history could be illuminated by the evolution of corporate law. What follows in this and subsequent posts are essentially my research notes. We have enough lawyers and law geeks visiting this site, that I hope there will be at least some audience for this stuff. I even think that this stuff could be interesting to non-lawyers, and none of what follows is technical.
Adam has raised an interesting point about preparation for prayer, which reminded me of a question I’ve wondered about for a while: why do we bless our food?
In a few days, we will have the privilege of hearing from our leaders in General Conference. And they will discuss . . . well, we can’t say for sure, but it’s a pretty good bet that they will mostly discuss the same things that were talked about at the last General Conference. (Though Russell may think otherwise). Every month we also get the Ensign. It is extolled as the words of the living prophets. And every month, it seems to repeat, more or less, many of the same messages and ideas as it did last month, or the month before. This can be embarassing to us as church members. We eagerly explain to our non-member friends that we have a living prophet who tells us what God is saying. The inevitable question is then, “What has he prophesied lately?” And the letdown answer is, “Well, um, we need to pray, read the scriptures, and do our home teaching.” Are…
Six months ago, just before the October 2003 General Conference, I e-mailed the following statement to several friends of mine: “I predict at least one complete sermon addressing nothing but the necessity of defending ‘traditional marriage,’ with possibly multiple others touching on such topics as ‘legalizing morality,’ treating people with same-sex attraction with sympathyand so forth. Furthermore, I’ll go out on a limb and make a further, more dubious, prediction: someone, or several someones, will either implicitly or explicitly link the final passage in the Proclamation on the Family (‘We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society’) to the current effort to pass a federal marriage amendment, thereby making it essentially official church policy to actively oppose any efforts to block the passage of that amendment. And that means that supporting or endorsing efforts to legalize same-sex unions will, again, be…