Via Dave’s, I noticed a Dan Peterson FAIR Conference paper with a fun anecdote: Let me tell you about an experience I had a few years ago. I was invited to do a Muslim/Mormon dialogue up at Idaho State in Pocatello. . . . The closer it got, the more awkward I felt about this upcoming “dialogue.” There were just some things about it that didn’t add up, and I began to feel that something was seriously wrong. When I got there I realized that it was. The room was absolutely jammed with Muslim anti-Mormon tracts. I hadn’t even known that such a thing existed. I can report to you, by the way, that they weren’t very good. They need to take a page from some of our Evangelical critics who can mount much better arguments than the ones they had. Nevertheless, it was a first step and you have to admire them for trying.
Tag: Everything Else
The Three Degrees of Glory in New York City
And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony we give, concerning the three degrees of glory in New York City: The first and greatest kingdom is the celestial, or in other words, Manhattan. These are they who received the high salaries of law firms and investment banks. These are they who have overcome by faith the lousy housing market. These are they into whose hands the Father has given an understanding of Craigs List. They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of the locations of no-broker’s fee apartments; Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether rent control, or rent stabilization. These are they with ten-minute walking commutes and twenty-four-hour doormen. These shall dwell in the presence of Zabars and Citarella forever and ever. These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun.
Are we less righteous?
We often speak about the unrighteousness of our generation and nation, but what do we mean by that? (See here and here.)
Effects of the Ex-Mormon Lunatic Fringe
A few weeks ago, Jeff Lindsay posted a humorous discussion of the “Exmo” computer virus that turns otherwise sane people into spiteful, obsessive anti-Mormons. In the comments on his blog, many ex-Mormons offered thoughtful and reasonable discussion, and objected (politely but firmly) to his apparent characterization of all ex-Mormons. This in turn led to a revision, where Lindsay suggested that perhaps a better title would be the “Rare Former Mormon Who Becomes a Raving Anti-Mormon Quite Unlike Most Ex-Mormons Who Are Really Nice and Intelligent People virus.” I agree with the comments on Jeff’s blog, to the extent that they demonstrate that many former church members are reasonable, nice, intelligent, and happy people. I have friends who are former church members; we’ve got some very nice blog commenters who are former members, and at least one very nice commenter who may be in the process of leaving the church. It is clear to me that many former members are decent people. Which is why I’m always disappointed to see vivid demonstrations of the lunatic fringe, the ones Jeff Lindsay parodied, the ones who are spiteful, ranting, and clearly uninterested in any sort of intelligent dialogue. We got a slew of comments from one today, with all the usual trappings: Members referred to as “sheep”; glee in the death of apostles; suggestions that church members commit suicide en masse.
LDS-themed Bloggers Need Not Tolerate Anti-Mormon Google Ads
Jeff Lindsay has the scoop: When I first started this blog at Blogger.com, I was surprised to see ads for anti-Mormon sites appearing at the top of my page. I sent a complaint in to technical support. Wonderfully, they listened and upgraded my account to an ad-free blog. I have noticed some other LDS folks with blogs have anti-Mormon ads showing up. Don’t settle for that kind of abuse, brothers and sisters. It’s a route that Orson’s Telly (current ad: “Out of Mormonism: Tools for Reaching LDS Mormons with the True Christian Gospel”), By Steve’s Consent (recently graced with “Are Mormon Beliefs Biblical?”) might consider taking. Plus (though I haven’t noticed anti-Mormon ads on them), it’s something that other blogspot users like Grasshopper, Demosthenes, the Brothers Bell, and Motley Vision might want to keep in mind, should anti-Mormon ads start (or continue, as the case may be) appearing on their blogs.
Can a Good Mormon have a Drinking Game Named After Him?
I just noticed that Dana Stevens at Slate.com has created a set of rules for the Ken Jennings Jeopardy drinking game. (Scroll down, it’s the second item on the linked page). Among the rules: 1) If KenJen misses a question, everybody drinks once. If one of his opponents gets that same question right, drink again. 2) If KenJen misses a Daily Double, drink twice. . . Everybody drinks once whenever: a) Alex Trebek mentions Ken’s affiliation with the Mormon church . . . This creates some fun questions. Can Ken get in trouble for any drinking that he inspires? (Does this create a religious duty not to answer wrongly?) And does anyone else think it’s kind of strange to have a drinking game inspired by a Mormon? On the other hand (given that we can’t exactly support Ken in this particular manner), perhaps we need to adapt the idea. It could become the LDS KenJen Ice-Cream game, or perhaps the (non-alcoholic) Jello game. Or, maybe the cheese game. If KenJen misses a question, have a piece of Gruyere. If he misses a daily double, have some Gorgonzola. Hmm, I think I could live with that.
In 1994, to the everlasting shame of the Clinton administration and the then-Democratic congress (which would be replaced later that year), the United States stood by and watched as three-quarters of a million people were killed during a three-month period in Rwanda. After the fact, the whole world was willing to call this an act of genocide, but while the killing was actually taking place, we did nothing to stop it. A similar tragedy is taking place today, a decade later, in the Darfur region of Sudan. It is being brilliantly documented by New York Times correspondent Nicholas Kristof, whose columns focus on individuals who have suffered horribly, being displaced, raped, and mutilated, watching their families killed. The most optimistic statistics are that 30,000 people have been killed and a million displaced thus far, and that by year-end, an additional 300,000 will have been killed. More pessimistic statistics suggest up to a million dead by year-end. President Bush, understandably wary of another foreign humanitarian situation since taking heat from the Democrats over Iraq, has thus far declined to call Darfur an instance of genocide. (President Bush has, to his credit, been instrumental in brokering a peace accord that ended another destructive civil war in Sudan). Which brings us to our Senators, some of whom are Mormon, and seventy-nine of whom could use a good, swift kick in the pants over this.
Unexamined Life and Faith
Kaimi refers us to a well-written and interesting piece by Chris Walton. In that piece Chris refers to one of his favorite Unitarian sayings, “An unexamined faith is not worth having.” That is an obvious re-writing of Socrates’s claim, “An unexamined life is not worth living” (Apology 38a). Few sayings are as well-known as the latter one; it can be found in any book of quotations and in the beginning sentence of many graduation addresses.
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.
I Hope They Call Me On a . . . National Guard Mobilization?
From junior companion to squad leader. From 6 a.m. scripture study to 6 a.m. reveille. From a demanding zone leader to an even more demanding sergeant. Talk about a transfer to a new area. Welcome to active duty, Elders. Your National Guard units have been called up. Have a safe trip.
Gordon B. Hinckley to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom
The church web site is reporting that church President Gordon B. Hinckley will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from national President George W. Bush. President Hinckley writes that: I will be deeply honored to receive this prestigious award from the President of the United States. I am profoundly grateful. In a larger sense, it recognizes and honors the Church which has given me so many opportunities and whose interests I have tried to serve. To the Church, to my associates, and to our people everywhere I extend my gratitude and with each of you share the honor of this recognition.
I just noticed this post over at the Mirror of Justice, discussing an article by Monte Stewart and Dennis Tolley which suggests that scholars undervalue the scholarly production of conservative religious law schools, and (it appears from the post) the faculty of these schools. The findings are certainly interesting. The authors also note that their research indicates that BYU is the second most conservative of the religiously affiliated law schools.
Book of Mormon FHE: Lesson One
In our family, we tie our FHEs to our daily scripture study. We go through the standard works sequentially, study one story per week, and base our FHE on that story. We’ve made it through the OT and NT this way and it has been great. We’re starting the Book of Mormon, and I have decided to post my lessons here in case anyone is interested.
And now, from the “science imitates Andrea Dworkin” department, an interview today in the New York Times science section discusses, inter alia, the genetic problems caused by the relatively unstable Y chromosome: Unlike all other chromosomes, the Y doesn’t get a chance to mix with any other chromosomes. . . . It gets passed on from one male to another, and it cannot repair mutations through genetic recombination. Moreover, the Y chromosome is subject to a higher mutation rate than other chromosomes because it is perennially confined to the male germ line. Male germ line cells and their DNA divide very, very fast to keep up with sperm production. Most mutations occur when DNA divides. So the Y is intrinsically unstable. By my estimate, in about 5,000 generations – 125,000 years – male fertility will be roughly 1 percent of what it is now. Mutations in Y chromosomes are already known to reduce male fertility. So I see a slow decline in men’s fertility until, eventually, men can no longer breed naturally. . . . I feel sure that humans will one day be able to reproduce by the fusion of two eggs. The children will always be girls, and they will have the same genetic mix as any other girl. This is very feasible, and I think will happen in my lifetime. Wow. If this is right, the human race may only have another 125,000 years of life as…
Colleges with Lots of LDS People
I just noticed that we have gotten a few visits from the internet search engine query “colleges with lots of LDS people” and similar searches. I don’t think that there’s currently anything on the site that answers that question. And it’s certainly a potentially useful thing to know. Here is my two cents on the subject, and if enough commenters weigh in, maybe we can get a good idea of where colleges are that have lots of LDS members.
Shape-Shifting Lizards — Could They Be in Your Ward?
Since some readers may lack the stamina to wade through 200 comments on the Elite Religion thread, let me make a separate note of a gem of a website mentioned by Dan Peterson. Dan writes: For those who’ve wondered — and (let’s be truthful) who hasn’t? — whether the Church is actually controlled by demonic entities in the form of reptilian humanoids, or lizard men, you’ll find the evidence you’ve been seeking on this explosive Web site. The web site is at This Link, and is mostly links to other sites with more, err, evidence. And don’t let anyone fool you — decide for yourself whether or not “Brigham Young was a reptilian shape-shifter that totally brainwashed founder Joseph Smith”! (Perhaps this explains Eric’s Stone’s Star Trek enthusiasm (recall the Kirk-versus-the-Lizard episode) — and doesn’t Eric look just a little bit like a lizard-man in that picture with Mr. Scott? Also, note that the Post of the Month for April was the only submission with the word “Lizard” in the title. Coincidence? You decide.)
So You Want to Be a Blogger . . .
A query that I’ve gotten a surprising number of times is, “How do I set up a blog?” I’ve been answering these individually, which has resulted in some nice conversations with readers. However, I thought it might be best to streamline this process, as well as pre-emptively answer the question for anyone who doesn’t want to ask me by e-mail. My credentials, upfront: I can’t claim any special expertise (I have no advanced degrees in blogging), but I do run most of the technical side of T & S. If that’s sufficient credentials for you, and if you want to set up a blog, read on.
Anyone interested in capitalism . . .
Since my time as a blogger is drawing to a close, I am going to riddle you with all the ideas I jotted down for possible entries. To permit people to respond to them individually, each one will occupy an entry but with no development. You can develop them as you wish. The first on my list: How does this group come down on the classic questions of God’s power? Is he an absolute God who created everything, knows everything, and has all power? Or is he a contingent God who a) learned to be God, b) is eternal but so are we, c) organized the earth out of pre-existent matter, d) is teaching us to be gods like himself.
Nate Oman suggested I tell you a little about the Sacred Space conference we are planning with the Columbia Religion Department and the Auburn Theological Seminary to help note the dedication of the Manhattan New York Temple. It originated last spring when I asked Robert Millet, Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding at BYU if he would be interested. The Evans chair has money for sponsoring just such enterprises. He thought it worthwhile and so I talked to the chair of the Columbia Religion Department. They are wary about denominational programs but after making various pleas and taking advantage of the fact that the chair lives downstairs from us, we received their approval. Meanwhile I ran across the Auburn Theological Seminary, an independent group that is embedded within the Union Theological Seminary building. Auburn does not train students, but they specialize in multi-faith education. Though Presbyterian in origin, Auburn’s director of such programs is a Jewish rabbi. He thought a tour of the temple before it is closed would be the icing on the cake.