Mormon Life

Mormon Life – Family – Personal Reflections

Facebook Memes and the Property Tax

November 27, 2012 | 39 comments
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Facebook Memes and the Property Tax

There is, I've been told, a Facebook meme going around, juxtaposing a decaying house and the San Diego temple to support the argument that churches should not be exempt from taxation. And, like Facebook memes everywhere, this one is dumb. Dumb primarily because it is a tautology that doesn't say anything. Because of course a tax-exempt organization does not pay taxes that a non-exempt individual pays. That's pretty much the definition of tax exemption. Of course, saying that a Facebook meme is dumb and tautological makes for a pretty short and boring post. Far more interesting, imho, is to take seriously... Read more »

Every Sunday

November 14, 2012 | 30 comments
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Our Sunday of recovery from food poisoning was delightful because it was a one time surprise. But missing a couple of Sundays with our new ward family only made me feel less inclined to get back in the saddle. Read more »

Frequently in the NFL, Barely in the NBA

October 26, 2012 | 19 comments
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Frequently in the NFL, Barely in the NBA

I”m late in updating my list of Mormons in professional football. Its not because last year’s post was hijacked by those talking about playing sports on Sunday. But it may be in part because I’ve focused more on baseball recently. But, I’ve finally got my act together, and here’s the current list, along with the now due list of Mormons in professional basketball — including an additional Mormon playing in the NBA preseason Read more »

Religious Music

October 18, 2012 | 12 comments
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Religious Music

I'm a big fan of religious music. Some, at least. Read more »

Potential Effects of the Missionary Age Announcement

October 7, 2012 | 92 comments
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If you had any doubt about the impact of the announcement yesterday that missionary service for men and women can begin earlier, just read the reactions in the bloggernacle, on facebook and twitter and even in major newspapers. The largest of the blogs in the bloggernacle have already weighed in on the change… multiple times… in less than 24 hours. I have to wonder; has anyone not put in their two cents? Read more »

An Immodest Proposal

October 3, 2012 | 54 comments
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As Sarah noted, Saturday and Sunday bring us our Fall semiannual General Conference. As part of our twice-yearly ritual, we'll hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir up to three times: one session of Conference Saturday, one session Sunday, and the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast before the first Sunday session. Read more »

A Mormon Holiday

October 2, 2012 | 10 comments
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Sometimes I am a little envious of my friends whose religions involve a year full of meaningful religious holidays that strengthen and define them both culturally and spiritually. Ramadan, for instance, is a sort of month-long holiday for Muslims, complete with special foods and lots of family time. When we lived in Tunisia, I was amazed at the community cohesiveness produced by a holiday that disrupted people’s lives so much for so long. Not much work of any kind was accomplished during the month of Ramadan, but family ties were strengthened, religious convictions deepened, and there was a palpable feeling that... Read more »

Entirely Privately

September 6, 2012 | 41 comments
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When I lived in New York, I could have told you what virtually all of my friends paid in rent. It was a fairly common topic of conversation, and the conversation was one of two types: the can-you-believe-I-pay-$2,000-for-this-dump, or can-you-believe-I-only-pay-$3,500-for-this-apartment. I didn’t really think much of it; I didn’t put much stock in financial privacy. And it wasn’t just the amount I paid in rent—as an attorney at a big firm in New York, if you wanted to know how much I made, you basically just needed to know the year I graduated from law school, the firm I... Read more »

The Upside of Returned Missionaries

August 29, 2012 | 16 comments
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I want to note, upfront, that although this post was inspired by Rachel’s and Alison’s excellent recent posts, it is not meant in any way to respond to them. I fully agree with them that there are returned missionaries—even active, temple-attending returned missionaries—who do bad things. And those bad things can, physically, spiritually, and emotionally, hurt people around them, especially where the people around them (reasonably) believe that returned missionaries should not do bad things. Moreover, being male, my relationship with (male) returned missionaries did not have the same structural inequities Alison and Rachel describe, even when I was... Read more »

Elliot’s Vagrants

August 22, 2012 | 8 comments
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Coreen Johnson has graciously provided this personal story of Mormon Life, which I loved and thought would be a great addition here. Coreen is a stay-at-home mother of 4 who now lives in New Mexico. Enjoy! Elliot’s Vagrants by Coreen Johnson, FMHer “Hey lady! Do you have a dollar?  Just a dollar!  Please lady! Just a dollar! Please, ma’am!” Read more »

Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza, Brazil (part 3)

August 16, 2012 | 9 comments
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Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza, Brazil (part 3)

. Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza by Emmanuel Santana The 2004 race for mayor was more exciting. The “Juraci Era” had put Fortaleza’s voters in the mood for change. Inácio Arruda and Moroni... Read more »

Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza, Brazil (part 2)

August 15, 2012 | no comments
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Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza, Brazil (part 2)

.  Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza by Emmanuel Santana Out of the books and stories of their elders. I can not remember anything of Moroni’s first election, since occurred just a few years... Read more »

Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza, Brazil (part 1)

August 14, 2012 | 6 comments
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Moroni Torgan and the Church in Fortaleza, Brazil (part 1)

The following is a translation from an article written by Emanuel Santana and published on the Brazilian group blog, Vozes Mórmons. I have divided it into three parts because the post is so long and raises so many questions about politics and the Church—things that strike me as repeatedly-covered issues in the U.S. and perhaps Canada, but which are new territory in Brazil and elsewhere around the world. This first part covers background information, from the introduction of the Church in Fortaleza to Moroni Torgan’s arrival and rise to prominence as Brazil’s first Mormon Congressman. Read more »

Changes

August 8, 2012 | 53 comments
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We talk about our Heavenly Father loving us, and our leaders say they love us, but sometimes it feels like they mean “us” in general, and not “me” in particular. We are told that almost any righteous man and woman can have a successful marriage if they are both committed, if both of them have enough faith to do everything right. The particulars of the individuals, the quirks and preferences that make up our personalities, don’t much matter. And many couples in contented arranged marriages can testify to the viability of this idea. In the same way, any... Read more »

Missions, 15 Years Later

August 6, 2012 | 21 comments
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Today is the 15th anniversary of the end of my mission. (Note that I can’t entirely remember what I mean by that—I’m pretty sure that August 5, 1997, was my last day of proselytizing, the 6th I got on an airplane, and the 7th I arrived home. But it has been 15 years, and I’m not 100% sure.) And what does that two years mean to me, 15 years later? On one level, not a whole lot. I don’t think about it a whole lot; my days are much more likely spent occupied by the Internal Revenue Code. Or... Read more »

Dam Comments

August 1, 2012 | 34 comments
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Dam Comments

Too much attention to those awkward stones just adds to them and makes a dam, and I seriously don’t want to have to bring out the dynamite and blow it away. Read more »

The Way We Teach Our Children Modesty

July 26, 2012 | 94 comments
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At the age of two, my daughter Axa could point out an immodest outfit in a shop window. At five, she added sleeves to the dress on the princess picture her babysitter had drawn for her. Although I don’t recall making any special effort to teach her about modesty, I was surprised and gratified that she understood the concept at such a young age. However, lately I’ve been having disquieted feelings when she brings up modesty, as I realize that something in the nuance of what I’ve taught has gone awry. And then just a few weeks ago, something... Read more »

On Stephen Covey and Self-help Books

July 19, 2012 | 41 comments
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On Stephen Covey and Self-help Books

  As most readers here no doubt know, Mormon academic and author Stephen R. Covey died earlier this week. Covey was best known for his highly popular self-help book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which earned him fame and fortune, as well as some detractors. His death, together with the fact that my bookclub is currently reading Viktor Frankl’s influential book Man’s Search for Meaning and that I came across an old conference talk drawn from a self-help book, led me to ponder a bit about Covey’s influence and self-help books in general and the influence that... Read more »

Imagining Mormonism

July 12, 2012 | 10 comments
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So after several recommendations, I finally got around to reading Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities. The book examines a simple question: how do institutions or nations (the book’s focus is on nationalism) create a sense of identity in their membership or citizenry? It’s one thing to feel a sense of identity with a group whose membership one knows personally: an extended family, a village, a small company. But what about churches or corporations or countries whose members, workers, or citizens number in the millions? The more you ponder that question, the more interesting it becomes. In that light, let’s talk... Read more »

Globetrotting, Mormon-Style

July 8, 2012 | 14 comments
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Globetrotting, Mormon-Style

One of the things almost sure to be heard in testimony meeting after someone has traveled (whether it’s across the ocean or just to the next town over) is an expression of gratitude that “the Church is the same no matter where you go.” To a certain extent, it’s true. We all sing the same hymns, although every ward congregation seems to have its particular favorites. We all read the same scriptures. Sunday meetings follow the same general format, even if the meetings are in a different order. Thanks to Correlation, Sunday School and other lesson manuals are standardized... Read more »

The Boundaries of Independence

July 4, 2012 | 6 comments
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The Boundaries of Independence

As my children have grown and started to leave home, I find myself conflicted by the idea of Independence. Of course I want them to be independent, to go off on their own, make their own choices and even, to be frank, to require less or none of my support and effort. Its not that I’m not willing to give them support and effort, but more that just as they need to be independent, my wife and I would like fewer requirements. We, too, would like a bit more independence. Read more »

Practical Apologetics: Help, I want to go back to church

June 28, 2012 | 50 comments
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Seismic changes at the Maxwell Institute have prompted reflective blog posts on the fate of FARMS and Mormon apologetics in general (The Rise and Fall of FARMS | The Legacy of FARMS | Explosive Tensions within MSR). My view: the FARMS approach has become outdated. Mormon apologetics will become more decentralized and more social as people (both LDS and non-LDS) turn to Google and Facebook rather than the bookstore, the library, or journals to get answers to their Mormon questions. Apologetics will therefore become more personal and more practical. People still want answers. Mormon.org, blogs, and Mormon Stories are... Read more »

Gendered Unity

June 27, 2012 | 27 comments
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Every ward or branch I’ve lived as an adult has struggled with the dilemma of how to increase a sense of unity among the Relief Society sisters. In some places, demographics have dictated a natural split between the transient (a few months to a few years) young college and graduate age students, wives, and mothers and those who live in the ward on a more permanent basis: more established families, families with grown children, and retirees. We’ve also lived in a branch split by language differences in which about half of the members spoke English as a native language,... Read more »

Taxing Churches: A Response

June 21, 2012 | 27 comments
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Oh no—somebody on the Internet is wrong while I’m on vacation! But duty calls. Recently, Ryan Cragun, a sociology professor, along with students Stephanie Yeager and Desmond Vega, argued that the government subsidizes religion by about $71 billion a year. He thinks this is wrong, and that religions should pay their fair share. I have no problem with his making this argument—tax exemption costs the government significant revenue (though his $71 billion is based on really, really poor assumptions—more on that later), and should be examined carefully and critically. But Prof. Cragun’s analysis is not the careful and critical... Read more »