Years ago, I responded to one of those philanthropic commercials inviting viewers to request some â€œno obligationâ€ information about their charitable organization. I requested it and soon received the photograph of a little girl in the Philippines, along with the invitation to sponsor her. How could I say no? There she was, looking right at me, calling me to responsibility. I had the means to provide for her, and surely I had to do itâ€“and did. But a change has happened over the years. I now have a daughter with an eating disorder. On her binder, she has put a picture of a young woman who appears to have just been released from a concentration camp. She is more than gaunt; she is cadaverous, and sheâ€™s wearing absurdly incongruous make-up. She is povertyâ€™s clown, an emaciated pied piper, a grim reaper of teenage souls.
From the day she learned it was part of her Relief Society calling, my mother lived in dread that she would need to prepare the body of a ward member for burial.
The Democratic electoral strategy for 2008 and Mitt Romney’s candidacy might just give Mormons more political influence than they will ever have again in a presidential election. The combination of the two will certainly give the McCain campaign a bad case of indigestion.
Damon Linker’s TNR article “The Big Test” came out last Friday. Despite the holiday, his argument about Mitt Romney’s all-but-certain presidential candidacy and the problems which at least some Mormon beliefs pose for people looking to decide who to vote for has already caught the eye of many, and will no doubt be talked and argued about for some time to come. If you’re looking for a lengthy take on his argument…well, I’ve put one up on my blog here. But here, writing for T&S’s Mormon audience, let me pick out one paragraph of Damon’s article, and see what I can make of it.
I have a tendency to envision Christmas as a time of quiet joy, peaceful awe, hushed delight–the snow, the candlelight, the embers on the hearth, the distant stars, the bells and choirs reverberating into silence, the baby in the manger who “no crying makes.” Very New England, very northern European, very medieval, very traditional.
So asked my oldest daughter, Megan (now 10) yesterday morning, as Melissa and I were discussing our Christmas Eve plans.
Thanks to Mitt Romney’s candidacy, I suspect that the Mormons-as-bizarre-ridiculous-and-perhaps-dangerous theme will be increasingly with us in the months to come. There are two reasons for this: one parochial and one fundamental.
Cursing, it would seem, forms something of a theme in Mormon legal history. Not only was it a way of dealing with unsolved crimes, but it also seems to have been used as a way of controlling frivolous litigation.
The westbound stagecoach upset near Gold, Colorado, in October 1866, tossing its passengers violently to the ground.
I have posted before on the now largely forgotten Mormon tradition of cursing. As you would expect, I have found that Mormon cursing also has a legal angle.
Feminist Mormon Housewives is having another one of those unexpected conversations that seem to appear only on that blog.
Near the end of her life, Malinda Conder was described as â€œsteadfast and happy in the faith.â€ That faith had been tried by one of the most horrendous events in late 19th century church history.
You purists can scoff, but I think Christmas with the Cambridge Singers is a great Christmas album. “What sweeter music” never fails to bring me back to the first time I heard it: December, fifteen years ago, when I was broke and desperately unhappy
Events affecting Mormon proselyting abroad can be traced directly to the 1879 State Department circular of William M. Evarts
One of Einstein’s great discovery was that time and space were intimately related concepts. It is an insight that one ought to keep in mind when thinking about Mormonism.
I was still single when I was sent to Central Africa as an international aid worker, to work as a teacher in a slum suburb of Kinshasa, capital of Congo. I got a room in a frail school building, part of a convent of Catholic nuns. The space had a bed, a table, a toilet, and a sink.
In 1847, the Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and set up a frankly theocratic government. The highest legal authority was the High Council, which had the right to promulgate laws, as well as to try and punish criminal offenses (usually with fines or public whippings). Just as one would expect from a fanatical theocratic despotism, the High Council spent most of its time legislating about cows. Initially this was done by passing a law whereby all stray livestock was impounded and the owner of the strays was required to pay a fixed fine. The rule was enforced by either the High Council itself or else by a bishopâ€™s court. The initial rule, however, gave bishops very little flexibility in deciding cases, and the High Council ultimately decided that the fixed fine should be dropped in favor of a rule giving the bishops that right to decide each case â€œas justice requires.â€ The main effect of this seems to have been to reduce the fines paid for straying cattle. This is the point in the story where it gets interesting.
Secretary of State William M. Evarts informed American diplomatic officers overseas of the Hayes Administrationâ€™s policy to discourage Mormon emigration from Europe to the United States.
“Revolutions” is probably not the right word: what I’m getting at is turning points, watershed events, or paradigm shifts. What got me thinking about this was the “Mormon Culture Tournament” over at By Common Consent. It’s basically just a fun exercise (go ahead: vote!) but there’s an interesting project lurking within it: the attempt to identify which, out of many historical habits, references, and signifiers, really are the most telling, the most unique, the goofiest markers of the truly, authentically “Mormon.” And if you look at the answers and comments, a pattern is made clear….
The bulk of federal action against Mormon polygamy took place in Congress and in the courts where it was subject to public scrutiny, won public support, and permitted the Mormons an opportunity to defend their rights within the constitutional system.
Well, apparently the Teacher Improvement Coordinator and Teacher Improvement Meeting are no more.
The Church today jealously guards its tax exempt status, and I suspect that there is a group of lawyers whose sole job it is to sit around worrying about the ways in which the IRS might assess taxes against the Church. It turns out that the feds have tried to tax Church properties and income in the past.
Are you bothered that Old Man Potter doesnâ€™t get his just desserts in _Itâ€™s A Wonderful Life_?