Not long ago, I sat in an emergency room with a friend who had been musing about suicide. My experiences with such matters are limited, but I wasn’t taking any chances. This man had lost his job and was being evicted from his apartment. He was at risk of losing custody of his children to his former wife. And he has a history of depression and bi-polar disorder. He claimed not to be suicidal, but I was worried for him.
Archeologists have excavated a cave some believe was used as a baptistry by John the Baptist. AP story is here.
I appreciate Kaimi’s post about the jury instructions in Reynolds. But I do object to his claim that the procedural arcana at the beginning of that opinion are of no interest today. The substantive law that they deal with — the number of grand jurors necessary in an Article II territorial court — are not of current interest, but the issue is the final chapter of a dramatic story that tells you something about the world of legal hardball that 19th century Mormons played in.
BMS: A New Home in the Promised Land MBM: The Promised Land–The Nephites
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 (just look at those emails he got [about seeing The Passion]!). What’s my point with all this? Well, Millett only has a theory, but it is apparently a theory that “the brethren” seem to have as well (at least according to Millett). This may be second or third hand information, but I think there is enough of it to suggest that the term “Utah Mormon” is not without some strong support. It may not be a very accurate use of…
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.
I recently finished Jon Krakauer’s book about Fundamentalist Mormons, called Under the Banner of Heaven: The Story of a Violent Faith (I know, I know, I am about a year behind in my reading list). The book was a fascinating read, though often frustrating for its reductionism, historical inaccuracies, and sometimes sophomoric view of religion. However, he does seem to make an interesting point about what I like to call the Anarchy of Revelation.
I suspect that I am destined to spend my life feeling inferior to those with Ph.D’s. The summer after my junior year in college, I worked for a law professor and decided that he had about the coolest job in the world. I have been working toward an overpaid tenured sinecure at a law school ever since. One of the disadvantages of pursuing the law is that I am more or less condemned to perpetual dilettantism, constantly dabbling in the disciplines of others. I try to overcome these nagging insecurities by reading books, but I find that this is not working. I am still basically ignorant about pretty much everything. And it looks as though this condition is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
I think there is an unexamined assumption that polygamy in general is misogynistic, as if there were an equation in our minds and three or four or five women were needed to be ‘equal’ to one man in a polygamous worldview. I am wondering if we might explore that assumption.
I joined the Church in February of 1962, as a teenager living in San Antonio, Texas, where my father was stationed at the time. (He was in the Army, studying hospital administration at Fort Sam Houston, in a Baylor extension program.) My parents and my younger brother joined at the same time. My parents were both from Knob Noster, Missouri, near Warrensburg, in Johnson County, about fifty miles east of Independence. Many of my ancestors were living in the area when the Saints were in Independence and probably took part in the persecutions. If I understood my mother correctly, I am related, collaterally, to Governor Boggs. As a result, genetically my heritage has something to do with the Saints move west to Utah, but it isn’t the kind of relation to the Utah pioneers that would qualify me to join the Sons of the Utah Pioneers.
March 26, 2005, will mark the 175th Anniversary of the printing of the Book of Mormon. Our ward is using this event as a catalyst to challenge every member of our ward to read the Book of Mormon. Reading just one chapter per day, the entire Book of Mormon will be finished by its 175th anniversary if one begins reading by next Saturday, July 31. Our sacrament meeting topic for August 8 will be the Book of Mormon, and we will stress the importance of the Book of Mormon and its blessings. To keep the program at the forefront, and to build on the collective preparation, we are going to have several sacrament meetings organized around a theme from that weeks reading. On October 10, the theme will be King Benjamin’s sermon, as Mosiah chapters 2 through 5 were part of that week’s reading.
About two weeks ago, the Church announced that Doubleday would be publishing a new edition of the Book of Mormon for general readers. How does it differ from the one that you and I use? “The new hardcover edition will reflect design changes introduced by Doubleday to make the volume more easily read and understood by a non-Mormon audience, but will remain faithful to the text itself. For example, the new edition will not include the exhaustive cross-references and index included in the volume used by Church members.” The list price of this new book is $24.95 (though you can pre-order on Amazon for $16.97). Hmm … less for more. Not the usual marketing pitch, but Sheri Dew, who played a crucial role in getting the project off the ground, believes that the new book fills a niche: The purpose of this project is to extend the reach of the Book of Mormon. I have wished a dozen times for a book to give away that is more substantial than the standard blue softback BOM, but less expensive and less intimidating than the leather-bound set. This edition fills that gap. Furthermore, if you’re not a Church member, aside from calling the missionaries where do you get a Book of Mormon? This commercial edition will be on shelves in Barnes & Noble, in airport shops-all over the country. It’s there with the Bible, the Koran, and the Talmud as real religious…
Over at Philocrites, Chris Walton, a knowledgeable UU and a sometime T & S visitor and commenter, discusses that very interesting question.
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.
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 . . .
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.
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!
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.
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, even knowing that its all just a trial and a probation. Could we stand to think that even the probation was unfair? No. Everyone will have their equal chance to choose God and salvation. We can’t ruin it. Frank McIntyre brought this up today. “It should not be the case that I am punished for being what God (or other people) made me. I am only responsible for that part of me that is eternally me. And what is that?…