Tag: Mormon

Key to the Culture of Mormons

Last Saturday I gave a walking tour of Mormon history sites in lower Manhattan, one of the services our stake history committee offers regularly. One stop on the tour is the location where an early LDS newspaper, The Mormon, was published by John Taylor. That newspaper featured an interesting statement in its masthead–what it called The Mormon Creed.

Mormons Like the Suburbs

For my last post as a guest blogger, I have written something a lot more dough headed than the stuff usually posted on this blog. This is a flavor of what I am up to on my own dough headed blog. While I hope you enjoy it, I also want to thank Times & Seasons for the chance to post here. I have enjoyed the change of pace. So, here we go…

M Gets a Joke

A while back our household sat down to watch an episode of Monk. We like Monk because not only is it funny, it’s also sad and tender and offers good – sometimes very good – cultural satire. As I fed M she kept turning her head to look at the TV, watching whatever it is she sees when she’s watching something. We’re not sure what that is because doctors have sent mixed messages about her eyesight. But she does see.

“Mormonism”: A Perfect Storm

Library Journal this month ran an interesting article offering a big-picture perspective on the world of LDS and LDS-related publishing, highlighting close to 40 books on doctrine, history, sociology, comparative theology and devotional topics, as well as periodicals, video, and internet resources. The article’s aim is to help librarians choose recent, reliable books about Mormonism, whether they work in a public or small academic library.

The Great Unity

Last weekend I went to the penultimate game in Yankee Stadium, and the next night watched the last game on television, complete with its post-game wake. Over nearly 20 years I’ve attended meetings there, letting a place and a culture become an almost religious part of my life. Its a Temple of baseball.

Shame

Every medium has an inherent vice. While any form of media can be misused, there is a flaw lurking in the fundamental nature of each medium. Television exaggerates fear, as it transmits the worst events or most scandalous entertainment from the outside world into our homes. Movies indulge our self-deluding fantasies of escape or celebrity. Radio encourages the presumption, in the secrecy of our private chambers, that we sing and dance every bit as good as Milli Vanilli. The inherent vice of the Internet is shame

Morality, Legality and Alcohol

The church issued a statement about alcohol laws in Utah. The last paragraph reads: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that Utahns, including those who work in the hospitality industry, can come together as citizens, regardless of religion or politics, to support laws and regulations that allow individual freedom of choice while preserving Utah’s proven positive health and safety record on limiting the tragic consequences of overconsumption of alcohol.”

BYU in the Memory of the AAUP

Among the other academic spam that I get are regular emails from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which is always eager to remind me of their fights for academic freedom, higher salaries for professors, and various trendy and hip progressive causes. Today, the AAUP sent out an email commemorating the ten year anniversary of its censure of BYU. I thought that readers might enjoy a trip down memory lane to the bad-old-days of Mormon intellectual life in the 1990s and a view of events through outside eyes:

Stewardship and Politics

With elections coming up and my time as a guest blogger running out, I like to take up the topic of Mormonism and voting. First, what should we make of the many Mormons who seem completely disengaged in politics?

The Epitome of Not Forgetting

I linked to an article earlier that I have since decided is to good to leave just to the newsfeed. It’s from a Chicago Tribune religion reporter who is Jewish with Mormon relatives. In it, the reporter describes a rift that formed in her family after her great-uncle Al married a Mormon and then later converted to Mormonism himself. To a deeply Jewish family, this was difficult news to absorb, and, as a result, each side of the family ended up imputing bad motives and intents on the part other, leaving bitter feelings that took decades to reconcile. In the wake of all of this, the reporter writes about learning recently that her late (and staunchly Jewish) grandfather had been baptized in proxy by her Mormon relatives and her struggle to come to terms with this revelation: “I imagined my grandfather downright mad at the arrogance of presuming he would abandon what he had devoted his life to preserving. But…

Visions and Enivison

I am sorry I have not been posting more regularly. Hurricane Ike slowed me down a bit. However, everything is starting to get back to normal. So…. Here we go. If the nineteenth century Mormon experiment in planning claimed anything, it claimed to be founded on revelation.

Are we not funny?

I freely admit that I’m not the funniest person in the world, but I do think I have a sense of humor. I like a good laugh as much as anyone. Or perhaps I should say, “I like a good laugh as much as anyone who is LDS.”

Missions, art, and surveillance

One unique aspect of the missionary experience, quite distinct from life before and after, is the feeling that someone is always watching you. It’s probably the one aspect of my mission that I could have done without, although I wouldn’t say that it was entirely unproductive.

Mormons, Politics, and Morality

Some of the thoughts of a commenter on my last post, got me thinking about Mormons, politics, and morality. My observation is that the issues that set off moral alarm bells for most Mormons are those that deal with issues relating to what I would consider “freedom to sin” or “prohibitions of obvious sins.”

Changing Conceptions of Zion

The Mormon conception of Zion has changed dramatically over the past century. Today’s members of the church are likely to define “Zion” as wherever the members of the church are: LDS homes, congregations, and stakes. While the conception of Zion in the 19th century may have included these elements, these Saints were determined to literally be Zion communities

Returning to Zion

Given all that might be said of Mormonism, it should not come as a surprise that a lot of interesting topics sit pretty much neglected. One of these, I would argue, is the Mormon contribution to building settlements in the United States.

Brigham Daniels on deck

We’d like to extend many thanks to Kent Larsen for a variety of interesting and thoughtful posts. We also would like to welcome our newest guest, Brigham Daniels. Brigham works as a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center, where he teaches environmental law. He has been involved with LDS community, environmental law and policy, and politics for many years. So not surprisingly, Brigham intends to use his guest blogging stint to talk about Mormonism and the environment. We look forward to his posts. Welcome to the party, Brigham!

Doctrines of Localization

In April, 1998, President Hinckley visited New York City to speak at a special fireside held in Madison Square Garden, and our stake provided a 100+ voice choir for the event. I remember thinking at the time that with all of the talented Church members in New York City, the choir should be permanent.

Only a Clerk

Soon after I was made a ward clerk 20 years ago this month, I walked into the clerk’s office to find a xerox copy of an article posted there. The article was the text of a letter, sent by one of my predecessors, to the Church’s membership department, and had somehow found its way to Sunstone. It was titled “A Religion of Clerks.” The author, Randal Quarles, has since served as Undersecretary of the Treasury.

Moderation in all Salt

Like in many Mormon families, my siblings and I helped fix dinner. On Sunday’s I loved to fix the mashed potatoes. It was in making mashed potatoes that I learned early that though a little is good, a lot is not necessarily better. Early on, I served a large bowl (there were 8 of us) of mashed potatoes after thinking that if a little salt was good, . . .

Mormon Language

I can’t resist telling this one again. Last May in priesthood meeting the photographers collecting photos for the ward directory suggested that the photos might end up on the “Blogosphere.” After they mentioned the word “Blogosphere” three times, I replied: “In the Church, we call it the “Bloggernacle.” To my surprise, this drew gaffaws from the entire room, as if I had invented the term there and then as a joke of some kind.

The Way to Translation

Several years ago bookseller Curt Bench put together an annotated list of the 50 most important Mormon books published before 1980. While I won’t claim that everyone will agree with his assessment, I’ll be very surprised if anyone objects to more than 25% of the list.

What to do about Deseret Book?

For the past decade, I’ve suggested that Deseret Book is one of the significant impediments to the growth of Mormon culture outside those elements involving worship. LDS books, music, film, art and other cultural products, especially innovative ones, are hampered by Deseret Book’s size, focus and control of the market for LDS materials. What can we do about it?

Unsubstantiated Rumor #2

Over at MAD-Board, there is rumor about a policy change, to the effect that women may now be sealed to more than one (deceased) husband (just as men may now be sealed to more than one deceased wife). Can anyone confirm or un-confirm this one?

What is an Association Worth?

This past week I received a card in the mail from the BYU Alumni Association, asking for my help in “editing” my biographical information in an “Alumni Directory” in preparation. While I’ve certainly given the Alumni Association biographical information in the past, for some reason this time I started asking myself “is this worth my time?” and, in the Mormon context, “is this worth anyone’s time?”