Mormon Life

Mormon Life – Family – Personal Reflections

School’s Back (pt. 1)

August 22, 2011 | 6 comments
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In just less than 2 hours, I’ll teach my first class of the 2011-2012 school year. Which means that summer’s over. (Yes, I realize that it may not be for you personally—I know some places have been in school for the last couple weeks, while the Chicago Public Schools don’t start for another two weeks. And many of you have graduated, anyway. But go with me here.) Because of the impending classes, I’ve been thinking recently about memorable classes and teachers I’ve had. And one moment keeps sticking out in my mind: 11th grade English. We had just finished... Read more »

The Look of Temples

August 22, 2011 | 33 comments
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The Look of Temples

This weekend I got to drive past the Ogden Utah Temple, which is currently surrounded by a high fence as it undergoes a major renovation. While there is nothing new with renovating a Temple, as far as I can tell, this is the first time that the outside appearance of a Temple has had such a significant change. What does this mean? Read more »

USF: A Tribute

August 15, 2011 | 14 comments
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USF: A Tribute

Last week I took my family to the Utah Shakespearean Festival for our annual visit with friends. For those who don’t know, the performances and presentation at the festival are first rate (we frequently go to the theater at home in New York City and we have often found the plays at the festival better than those both on and off Broadway). But what is even more impressive to me is that the festival exists because of the vision of a returned missionary fifty years ago. Read more »

14.1 Million

August 12, 2011 | 107 comments
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In the comments to Dave’s post discussing Joanna Brooks’s discussion of myths about Mormonism, the conversation is getting hung up on whether her citation of 14.1 million members is disingenuous or not. That discussion, I believe, misses the point. Why? Baseline. First, because 14.1 million is as good a number as any. Sure, in a real discussion of how many Mormons there are, you need to do a whole lot more work to define what you mean by “Mormon.” There are some areas that are clear: for example, it’s hard to argue that a person who has been baptize... Read more »

Affiliation and the Good Cause

August 8, 2011 | 16 comments
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Affiliation and the Good Cause

Earlier this year I decided I wanted to put together a list of charities and other “good causes” that were either founded or run by Mormons. Of course, it shouldn’t matter at all the religious background of a charity’s founder or management. If they are doing good work, then they deserve support regardless. But in reality affiliation matters to many people. Read more »

Mission Finances, Part 1.5

August 7, 2011 | 40 comments
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(Note: this is part 1.5 of series that looks to be running at least 4 posts long at this point. Part 1 is here.) In the comments, Naismith pointed out that the $400/month is not the sole expense potential missionaries face. In order to go on a mission, a potential missionary needs a dental exam (including, at least in my case, getting his or her wisdom teeth removed) and a medical exam. There are also clothing costs—for my mission (IIRC), I needed 10 short-sleeved white shirts, 2 long-sleeved white shirts, a bunch of ties, two suits, a couple pairs... Read more »

Student Review, Redux

August 1, 2011 | 33 comments
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Student Review, Redux

The announcement this week that a group of BYU students is starting a new Student Review raised a lot of memories for me. Twenty-five years ago I was one of the group “tired of the universe” which was doing the same thing—starting an off-campus student newspaper for BYU students. Read more »

Mission Finances, Part 1

July 30, 2011 | 65 comments
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(Note: this is part 1 of an at-least-3 part series.) During the 19th century, missionaries often travelled without purse or scrip, relying, instead, on the hospitality of the very people they were trying to teach and convert. And the practice apparently continued, at least in part, until the mid-20th century: until as recently as 1952, missionaries would spend at least some of their time traveling and teaching without purse or scrip. But, as missionary work became urbanized, and as the world became what it is today, missionaries (with the help of their families and their congregations) began supporting themselves,... Read more »

Rhetoric v. Practice

July 26, 2011 | 60 comments
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By the time I was, say, 15, my hair was long. Not long-for-a-good-Mormon-boy, but legitimately long. (Also, I listened to heavy metal and grunge–there may have been a causal relationship there, but I’m not sure which way it ran.) Both my music and my hair probably violated the Church’s rhetorical standards. That is, per statements in various Church publications and general Mormon cultural rules, both were probably inappropriate. But, even though I braced myself for the inevitable condemnation, it never came. Seriously. I participated in the administration of the sacrament throughout my long-haired days. No young men’s leader, teacher, bishop,... Read more »

Pioneer Meaning

July 25, 2011 | 52 comments
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I’ve always felt quite ambivalent about Pioneer Day, although in recent years I’ve spent it in Utah rather frequently and am descended from the gentleman who proclaimed “this is the place.” In my case, I’m not only separated from the Mormon pioneers by more than 125 years, but also by 2,200 miles (I live in New York City). Read more »

Summer 2011 Syllabus

July 8, 2011 | 31 comments
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Part of my job as a law professor is to model to students what a transactional attorney does. As part of that, I include in my syllabus a list of things media that they ought to consume in order to understand the world a business lawyer functions in. The list is not exhaustive, by any means, nor should they necessarily read or listen to all of it, but it provides a slice of intelligent commentary on the world I’m teaching them how to enter. If you were preparing people to do what you do, what resources would you recommend?... Read more »

A Patriotic Chosen People?

July 4, 2011 | 58 comments
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Yesterday in the Sacrament Meeting I attended, we closed singing the Star Spangled Banner (I managed to suppress the urge to yell “Play Ball” at the end). While going through the typical sacrament meeting in the U.S. before the July 4th Independence Day holiday, I couldn’t help thinking about what role patriotism should play in my life. Read more »

Handbook 2: Chapter 1—the Plan

July 3, 2011 | 15 comments
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Handbook 2: Chapter 1—the Plan

Last week I began a series of posts that will examine Handbook 2, the policy handbook that the Church put online last Fall. Since so many local leaders are urged to read and study the handbook as part of their callings, I hoped to provide an interesting forum to do that. Chapter 1 of the Handbook is an overview that tries (I believe) to put the Handbook’s policies in procedures in the context of the plan of salvation. I encourage you to read the chapter before commenting, since you may have more topics to discuss: Read more »

defining ‘Oh My Heck’

June 27, 2011 | 39 comments
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defining ‘Oh My Heck’

So, is “oh my heck” really a Mormon term? If you hear someone use it, can you assume that they are Mormon? Do Mormons use it more than others? And where did it come from anyway? Read more »

Handbook 2: Introduction

June 25, 2011 | 29 comments
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Handbook 2: Introduction

After the Church posted the text of the 2nd volume of its administrative handbook (formerly known as the Church Handbook of Instructions—CHI) last fall, a few bloggers looked at the handbook, including our own Dave Banack. Read more »

Objective Measures

June 20, 2011 | 14 comments
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Objective Measures

Yesterday’s priesthood lesson opened with what turned out to be a provocative question: How do you measure obedience? How do we know when we are being obedient?And, perhaps most difficult, how do we know that we aren’t fooling ourselves? Read more »

Taking Section 89 Seriously

June 2, 2011 | 107 comments
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Taking Section 89 Seriously

Which revelations we cherish and consider central, and which one’s we sideline and (sometimes literally) forget is surely a result of a complex host of variables. Local culture and politics are obviously a huge deal. The Word of Wisdom is a revelation that is particularly interesting Read more »

Who reports crimes confessed to a Bishop?

May 23, 2011 | 61 comments
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Who reports crimes confessed to a Bishop?

Last week the Pinal Arizona County Attorney decided not to charge two LDS Bishops with failing to report the sexual abuse of a minor in the case of LDS Church member Susan Brock, who is now serving a 13-year prison sentence for the crime. While I tend to agree with the county attorney’s position on the bishops, I have to ask the question, who should have reported the crime and when? Read more »

Church Discipline in the Internet Age

May 12, 2011 | 69 comments
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Sometimes technology changes everything. First came writing, then television, now the Internet: Instant global publishing by just about anyone on the planet. You. Me. The guy who just got called in for a chat with his stake president. Read more »

Mormon filmmaker explores sex and singleness at Duck Beach

May 4, 2011 | 8 comments
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Mormon filmmaker explores sex and singleness at Duck Beach

The topic of sex and the Mormon single is a perennial favorite in the bloggernacle, and recently it has drawn national attention as well. No treatment of the topic would be complete without a look at the Duck Beach phenomenon, an informal annual gathering of east coast LDS singles in North Carolina that is equal parts Jersey Shore and Temple Square. LDS filmmaker Stephen Frandsen (my cousin) and his production company Big Iron Productions have trained a thoughtful lens on this singular affair, and are currently in the process of financing and producing a documentary exploring its relevance. We’re... Read more »

Is there a hierarchy of service?

May 2, 2011 | 26 comments
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Is there a hierarchy of service?

To start out I should say that I like parks. My wife and I are raising three children (1 down, two to go) in a New York City apartment, so instead of a back yard, we have the park. But unlike the backyard, we have to escort our children to the park. So, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in parks. And how clean they are does make a difference. But I’m not sure that cleaning the park should be our first choice for service projects. Read more »

Influence, Reflecting Badly and Mormon Culture

April 29, 2011 | 34 comments
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Influence, Reflecting Badly and Mormon Culture

The news yesterday that artist Jon McNaughton had pulled his artwork from the BYU Bookstore led me to ponder once again the influence that Church-owned businesses and institutions have on Mormon Culture. While these institutions seem focused on how what they carry and produce reflects on themselves and, ultimately, the Church, I worry that the variety of books, art, music and other Mormon cultural materials aren’t as available as they should be. Read more »

Mormon Funerals

April 25, 2011 | 80 comments
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Mormon Funerals

How different are Mormon funerals than those done by other religions? For some strange reason I actually enjoy funerals (at least Mormon ones), despite the sadness of losing a loved one. We’ve had a couple of memorial services in our ward in the past few months, and while sitting through the most recent I wondered how our funerals are different from those of other religions. Read more »

Inoculation for Mormons Behaving Badly

April 14, 2011 | 44 comments
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Last June Dave Banack discussed the idea that LDS Church members should be inoculated for troubling LDS doctrinal and historical issues. I don’t think that idea has been completely explored, but I do think inoculation might be useful in one area where our (i.e., Mormon) sub-culture doesn’t use it: the news. Read more »