News and Politics

Politics – Current Events – Media

Prodigal Artists

January 19, 2005 | 66 comments
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First, let me say thank you to my hosts. I feel like a celebrity. A couple of weeks ago, the Deseret News ran a column in its Religion & Ethics session about Mormons participating in the arts. The author, Jerry Johnston, put forward the theory that good Mormons will fail at convincingly portraying bad people. Read more »

Hooray for Dialogue! No, not that Dialogue

December 14, 2004 | 201 comments
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No, we’re not talking about the journal Dialogue—we’re talking about lines of dialogue from film, television, or books that creep their way into our homes and stick around for years, much like food supplies from the cannery. The lines that resonate with us can reveal a lot about ourselves and our families. Read more »

Stem Cells, part 1

December 7, 2004 | 294 comments
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Until recently I had the good fortune to be a member of Matt Evans’ Elder’s Quorum class. Matt asked me a question once that I couldn’t answer, and still can’t. I’m hoping T&S can help (and I hope Matt doesn’t mind!) Read more »

Modern Gadiantons?

November 30, 2004 | 81 comments
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One last post, before my non-philosophical blogging stint is done. One thing I’ve thought of with recent events in the middle east was the parallels to the Book of Mormon. I know that’s not exactly an original point to make, but I think the Book of Mormon has a lot of parallels both regarding our enemies as well as how we act towards our enemies. Dan Peterson has long written about the strong parallels between the Gadianton movement and various guerilla movements and insurgencies. I’ve listened to him describe extensive parallels, for instance, between Mao’s insurgency in China and... Read more »

Holocaust as Metaphor

November 20, 2004 | 60 comments
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I know it’s the weekend and blog activity drops way down on weekends. However I thought some might find this discussion interesting. I’ve been blogging about it on my website the past few days, but have primarily been focusing on abstract phenomenological and semiotic aspects of the problem. The basic issue gets back to the whole Sheri Dew Nazi reference. Over on LDS-Phil we had this (to me) extremely interesting discussion of why her comments were inappropriate. Quite a few people I really respect strongly suggested that to use the holocaust as a metaphor diminishes and denigrates the holocaust. Read more »

Political Lessons of Mormon History

November 19, 2004 | 11 comments
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One nice thing about blogging here is that I can talk about topics I don’t get to on my blog – specifically politics. However what I find interesting is what Mormonism can bring to the political arena. One thing that has long been on my mind are the lessons of our past. The example of Mormon history was often discussed back in the days following Waco and the tragedy there. However what has been little discussed is how the problem of Mormonism and pluralism in places like Illinois, Ohio, or Missouri can help us learn how to deal with... Read more »

The Senate Sits in Solemn Session and Considers the Questions Facing the Nation

November 16, 2004 | 17 comments
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This afternoon, one of my secret contacts on Capitol Hill (secret because he likes his current job and doesn’t want to lose it and return to K street) sent me the following message. I think it speaks for itself: Read more »

Dinner Theater, or Do We Consume Media?

November 8, 2004 | 89 comments
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It was late spring in London, and just as the weather outside started warming up, things inside started heating up, too. Read more »

Mormon Senator Harry Reid

November 3, 2004 | 290 comments
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One of the so-far-untold stories of the election is that Mormon Senator Harry Reid will almost certainly assume leadership of the Democratic Party in the United States Senate. Senator Tom Daschle appears to be going down in South Dakota, thus providing an opening for Reid. Of course, the Democrats are a minority in the Senate, but they are far from irrelevant. I assume this makes Reid the most powerful Mormon politician in the United States. (Will he be the most powerful Mormon politician ever?) Ironic, in light of the recent dominance of the Republican Party among Mormons, that our... Read more »

Utah presidential politics

November 2, 2004 | 20 comments
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Not that anyone needs any more suspense tonight, but I’ll be keeping a curious eye on Utah’s election results. Read more »

Brigham Young, Frontiersman

September 8, 2004 | 2 comments
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Brigham Young, Frontiersman

In 1940, 20th Century Fox released Brigham Young, an extravagant epic starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, a 29-year-old Vincent Price (as Joseph Smith), and Dean Jagger as the title character. The film’s world premiere was in Salt Lake City, and the studio spared no expense in promoting the film. The stars were flown into Salt Lake, took part in a parade down Main Street, and dined with President Heber J. Grant in the Lion House. The film premiered simultaneously in seven theatres in Salt Lake — unheard of at the time — and each was filled to capacity. When... Read more »

New Report on Abortion Deaths

September 2, 2004 | 20 comments
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A new report finds that 70,000 women per year die in unsafe abortions. It looks to me like that is a data point that should be easy for both sides to spin. For pro-life advocates, it is further proof of the harm caused by abortion. And for pro-choice advocates, it is further proof that women need better access to safe abortion services. Read more »

Sheri Dew at the Republican Convention

August 31, 2004 | 166 comments
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As many of us know, Sheri Dew was selected to give the invocation at the Republican National Convention. The prayer she gave, as transcribed, was rather simple and probably uncontroversial: Heavenly Father, we come before Thee as citizens who care about this nation to express our gratitude for this land of liberty where we have the freedom to live, vote, and worship as we choose. We are grateful for the evidence of Thy hand in the founding of this nation. We are grateful for every man and woman in uniform, and ask Thee to bless them and their families.... Read more »

National Abortion Federation v. Ashcroft and the Strange Career of Partial-Birth Abortion Bans

August 28, 2004 | 71 comments
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By now, most everyone has probably seen the district court decision invalidating the partial-birth abortion ban. It’s no surprise that the judge in that case invalidated the law. The law did not include an exception for cases where the health of the mother was threatened, and was thus (under pretty clear Supreme Court precedent) unconstitutional. There has been some interesting internet commentary about the propriety of the decision. Rob Vischer at the Mirror of Justice comments on Judge Casey’s role, as a Catholic judge, in the case. Vischer suggests that Judge Casey’s findings of fact may be helpful for... Read more »

Recent Change to the Political Neutrality Statement

August 25, 2004 | 83 comments
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Over at BCC, John Hatch points out an important new change to the church’s political neutrality statement. The statement has an additional new sentence, and it reads: In addition, members who hold public office should not give the impression they represent the Church as they work for solutions to social problems. John gives a detailed breakdown of some of the recent incidents of church legislators invoking church doctrine to justify legislation, and of the numerous statements issued by the church over the last year repudiating those legislators. This change drives home the point the the political neutrality statement is... Read more »

Countering Pornography

August 25, 2004 | 47 comments
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My impression is that pornography is a widespread problem among members of the Church. While women sometimes fall prey to its enticements, the overwhelming majority of pornography consumers are men. The perils of pornography are of particular concern for those who work with the young men, but many Elders and High Priests also suffer from a so-called “pornography addiction.” As I have encountered members of the Church who are dealing with this problem — whether as Church leaders or as parents — one thing has become depressingly clear: we are not very effective at countering the magnetic force of... Read more »

That Darn Political Neutrality Statement: Now What Am I Supposed to Do?

August 21, 2004 | 125 comments
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Last Sunday morning, I was just starting to feel comfortable with the presidential election, having carefully completed my “lesser of two evils” analysis to make my decision about which of the two leading Skull and Bones members I wanted for President. And then during sacrament meeting, the bishop got up and read the Church’s political neutrality statement. It said something about not endorsing any party or candidate – sure, I was OK with that – and THEN came the catch: it said we were under a “special obligation” to seek out and uphold “leaders who will act with integrity... Read more »

Movies About the Afterlife

August 17, 2004 | 41 comments
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There have been some particularly heavy discussions here lately, so I thought I’d offer up something ultralight. Now I like books as much as the next person, but I’m not one of you bring-a-book-on-a-date-so-I-have-something-to-read-while-she’s-powdering-her-nose guys. I will, however, admit to viewing some 37 movies in the last six months (according to my Netflix records). Anyway, I was ruminating this morning about the best movies about the afterlife. Read more »

We are Weird

August 6, 2004 | 31 comments
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About a week ago I went to the wedding of one of my nieces. As I sat waiting for the wedding to begin and watching people arrive, I suddenly had a glimpse of how we look to many who either are not attending church with us or are completely outside our community. In short, we look weird. Read more »

Krakauer, Polygamy, and the Lost Boys

August 4, 2004 | 16 comments
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Both Dave’s and the Mormon Wasp have noted the recent press accounts about Krakauer (yes, that Krakauer) working to assist the teenage boys who are routinely expelled from the polygamous FLDS community in order to keep the proper male-to-female ratio. The plight of the “Lost Boys” who are expelled from the FLDS is troubling, and it’s nice to see that Krakauer is doing what he can (along with others) to help them make the transition into the real world. Read more »

HBO drama about Utah Polygamist Family

August 4, 2004 | 20 comments
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HBO has ordered 10 episodes of a serial drama series, produced by Tom Hanks, about a polygamist family in Utah. The story is here. Thanks to Renee for the tip. Read more »

The Iowa Electronic Markets

August 4, 2004 | 11 comments
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As we move through election season, the polls start coming fast and furious; the pundits punditorate, the politicians spin, the news media pretend not to spin, bloggers blog, and everybody offers the inside scoop as to the outcome of the election. How is one to aggregate all this information into the best possible guess as to who will win the presidential election? One excellent way to do it is to pay people to be right. This is exactly what is done at the Iowa Electronic Markets. If you are sure that John Kerry is going to be the next... Read more »

Utah and Massachusetts

July 26, 2004 | 15 comments
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I’ve noticed a few interesting statements linking the two states lately. The Boston Globe notes that: In Massachusetts, 16 percent of poll respondents said that they belong to “no religion,” only slightly above the national average of 14 percent (and below Utah’s 17 per cent). (Link via Philocrites). Meanwhile, Danithew notes John Kerry’s recent statement of how Mormonism is mainstream (and how that affects Massachusetts): “I think that over the course of this convention, people are going to see a Massachusetts that’s very much like America,” he said. “It’s interesting: the last four governors of our state have all... Read more »

Inspired Jeopardy

July 17, 2004 | 51 comments
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Inspired Jeopardy

We would be remiss if we didn’t tip our collective hat to Ken Jennings, who is setting records on the Jeopardy game show. Many of the news stories about Jennings discuss tithing or his Church affiliation generally. My favorite is this spoof: According to a source within the Mormon church, a team of investigators have started looking into the life of this bright young husband and father of one…. “This is bad, real bad,” our source said. “Mormons do best when they are flying under the radar. At our core we are a fragile, shallow religion. One tremor like... Read more »