News and Politics

Politics – Current Events – Media

100 Celebrities Can’t Be Wrong

April 14, 2004 | 4 comments
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Apparently the huge DC rally for abortion isn’t materializing as planned. The major pro-abortion and feminist groups, plus the ACLU, have been preparing a huge demonstration in Washington to protest the Bush administration’s policies protecting fetal life. I signed up on their mailing list early on and have received impassioned letters pleading for money. One letter said they were organizing the largest march on Washington — ever. Apparently they thought the original title, “March for Choice,” wasn’t getting the emotional response they sought, so it’s now called the “March for Women’s Lives.” (No, not the lives of the 1800... Read more »

Chariots of Fire

March 31, 2004 | 22 comments
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This morning in Seminary, I showed my students some clips from Chariots of Fire. We have been studying Isaiah, and I love the scene where Eric Liddell is preaching to a congregation in Paris while taking Sunday off from the 1924 Olympics. (Do they understand what he is saying with his Scottish accent?). During that scene, interposed with images of athletes stuggling to compete in slow motion to the haunting music by Vangelis, Liddell quotes from Isaiah 40:29-31: He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint... Read more »

Faith, Works & Presidential Politics

March 29, 2004 | 73 comments
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Yesterday, John Kerry spoke in a chuch and invoked biblical support for an attack on “our present national leadership.” Kerry alluded to the following passage from James 2:14-17: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it... Read more »

Figuring Out What God Thinks

March 25, 2004 | 61 comments
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Aaron Brown has an interesting post (re-cycled from the ldslaw list) on whether or not we can draw inferences about God’s political priorities from institutional church involvement. Although Aaron is (needlessly in my opinion) coy in his post, the bottom line is that he thinks that the disjunction between Church political priorities and what was really important has been so wide that we shouldn’t draw inferences about God’s preferences from Church statements. (See Aaron’s comments here) Read more »

Is Religion Offensive to Non-believers?

March 25, 2004 | 10 comments
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This from Richard John Neuhaus at First Things (scroll way down): recent national survey asked administrators and students about the First Amendment. Only 21 percent of administrators and 30 percent of students knew that the First Amendment guarantees religious freedom. Only six percent of administrators and two percent of students knew that religious freedom is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment. Only 41 percent of administrators and 32 percent of students believe that religious people should be permitted to advocate their views by whatever legal means available. On the other hand, 74 percent of students and... Read more »

Brigham’s Attack on Communal Economics

March 24, 2004 | 16 comments
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One of my most prized worldly possessions is a complete set of the Journal of Discourses. I love these books. I love the way that they look. It probably has something to do with my fascination with law books, which they closely resemble. I also love the sermons. They are a wonderful mass of exhortation, speculation, advice, brow beating, and occasionally sublime testimony. They also have a wonderful ability to surprise you. A couple of Sundays ago, I pulled down a volume at random and started reading a sermon. (I do this from time to time.) While I was... Read more »

Today’s News

March 24, 2004 | no comments
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CES on The Passion

March 21, 2004 | 32 comments
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I received an email from my CES coordinator today. Attached to the email was a letter from the CES Administrators’ Council about The Passion. It reads: We have received questions about Mel Gibson?s new movie, ?The Passion of the Christ.? The Church has not made an official statement regarding the movie. We have been given the pamphlet, For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God. We should encourage the youth to follow the standards explained in the pamphlet, including those regarding movies. Also, it would not be profitable to spend class time discussing the pros and cons... Read more »

March Madness

March 14, 2004 | 20 comments
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Earlier tonight the NCAA announced the men’s basketball tournament bracket, and BYU barely made the field for the second year in a row. Also for the second year in a row, BYU will be playing the defending national champion, though most “experts” give BYU a better chance this year against Syracuse than they had last year against Connecticut (which was a fairly close game, by the way). Some of my best memories from my time at BYU are connected to sports, but I will confess to being surprised when Merrill Bateman, then President of BYU and member of the... Read more »

Political Leanings

March 13, 2004 | 82 comments
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Steve Evans and Mathew Parke recently set up a new blog for discussing LDS thought from a liberal perspective. I hope to weigh there as well sometimes. In the inaugural substantive post, Steve made the interesting observation that even liberal Mormons are pretty conservative in general. Using the imperfect indicator of the online Political Compass test, Steve and I both turned out to be more-or-less left-leaning centrists (as did Steve’s wife Sumer). I’m curious as to how our group of readers places on the spectrum (I’ve seen Russell’s score somewhere on his blog, but I don’t know anyone else’s).... Read more »

Gays!

March 12, 2004 | 51 comments
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The Filmody of the Latter-Gays

March 12, 2004 | 55 comments
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Having bled dry the secular culture, filmmakers have had to find new wine to fill the old bottle of liberating oneself from convention. They’ve found a homegrown subculture juicy enough to do it. Transgressively moral Mormon, I present you to yourself. You’re the wine. An alert reader ran across a film called Latter Days and suspected it might have something to do with, well, us. As this sympathetic article shows, it does. Read more »

Using Religious Arguments

March 11, 2004 | 25 comments
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The discussion of the PETA ad has got me thinking about another question: Is it proper to use religious arguments to persuade a religious believer when you yourself do not accept the religion in question? Read more »

Reality TV, Morals and Marriage

March 11, 2004 | 7 comments
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I just read an article in the March 2004 issue of Harper’s Magazine by Francine Prose titled, “Voting Deomcracy Off The Island: Reality TV and the Republican Ethos.” It’s a rather long, impassioned exploration of the messages and influence of reality tv programs that I found quite disturbing, especially given the popularity, growth, and perceived innocuousness of such programs. She notes incentives for deceit and dishonesty; institutionalized deceit on the part of producers; cruelty and humor at the expense of others; “morality as an albatross or obstacle” to success; that “every human being can and will do anything for... Read more »

Enhancing Nature

March 10, 2004 | 41 comments
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At first blush, this may not seem like a serious entry, but it is. (Well, mostly serious anyway.) The other night, I was watching television just before midnight. I don’t remember the program for sure, but since I have a limited palate, it must have been Law & Order, Monk, or a college baskeball game. In other words, nothing that would have signalled to me that I should be especially cautious about the commercials. Suddenly, I was assaulted by a commercial featuring a woman talking about “that special part of a man’s body.” I could not believe what I... Read more »

State v. Bell and Changes to Marriage

March 5, 2004 | 17 comments
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Bob Herbert’s New York Times column cites to an 1872 Tennessee case that upheld a law prohibiting interracial marriage. See State v. Bell, 66 Tenn. 9. The Tennessee Court wrote that: Extending the rule to the width asked for by the defendant, and we might have in Tennessee the father living with his daughter, the son with the mother, the brother with the sister, in lawful wedlock, because they had formed such relations in a State or country where they were not prohibited. The Turk or Mohammedan, with his numerous wives, may establish his harem at the doors of... Read more »

More on the Passion

March 5, 2004 | 10 comments
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Greg Easterbrook has a great comparison of Gibson’s Passion with Frano Zepherelli’s Jesus of Nazareth. I am a huge Zepherelli fan and I quite liked Jesus of Nazareth, although I haven’t seen The Passion. Easterbrook’s conclusion is that the Zepherelli’s is a better movie because it has more narrative and characterization and sticks more closely to the Gospels. Easterbrook writes,”The Christ story is among the most compelling ever told, yet directors can’t resist adding invented characters who are unnecessary.” The same can be said of the Church’s recent film Testaments, which is supposedly about the Book of Mormon, but... Read more »

Marriage According to Biblical Principles

March 1, 2004 | 41 comments
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A February 25 statement by Congressman Jim McDermott highlights some of the potential problems of arguing that marriage should be (as the Presidential prayer team has suggested) based on “biblical principles.” Such as: A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. Ouch! (See also this blog providing further textual support for the passages the Congressman didn’t give verses for). (Link via Heidi Bond). Read more »

S.T.D.’s – Sexually Threatening Discussions

February 29, 2004 | 10 comments
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Stake visitors amble through the hallways during Sunday School time of ward conference in an urban Chicago ward. Suddenly, bellowing from the young women’s classroom, comes the teacher’s mighty voice: “Chastity means NO SEX, NO SEX, NO SEX!” Just how do we communicate sexual standards in understandable, meaningful, practical ways? Read more »

“Good Books”

February 29, 2004 | 13 comments
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How are we to understand the injunction to “study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people”? More to the point, how do we choose the books we will or will not read? This post was inspired by The Da Vinci Code, which I have been reading with my wife. One of my vices is that I love a well-written mystery. While this book has occasional moments of suspense, Dan Brown is a clumsy writer who makes the story as tedious as it is implausible. But I am not here to do... Read more »

What Disturbs Me About Dale-Era Boy Scouts of America

February 26, 2004 | 47 comments
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I’m sure most readers of this blog have heard of Boy Scouts v. Dale, the case holding that the Boy Scouts had a First Amendment right not to admit homosexuals as Scout leaders. Read more »

Christian Kitsch – We Are Not Immune

February 24, 2004 | 23 comments
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A new fashion statement – crucifixion spike jewelry? Read more »

Legislative Judgments of Morality

February 12, 2004 | 32 comments
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Randy Barnett has an interesting post up at the Volokh Conspiracy, giving a persuasive argument about why legislative judgments of morality are not a particularly good basis for legal punishments or restrictions. Barnett makes the very interesting initial assertion that: “A legislative judgment of ‘immorality’ means nothing more than that a majority of the legislature disapproves of this conduct.” Responding to a critique of this position by Rick Garnett, Barnett then elaborates: Consider the claim that homosexuality is immoral. I strongly disagree. Now what? In a contest between a majority of state legislators and me and those who agree... Read more »

The Importance of Gay Marriage to Conservatives

February 11, 2004 | 33 comments
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This recent New York Times article discusses how important gay marriage has become for conservatives, providing many conservative groups with a new focal point. Indeed, gay marriage (or the specter of it) is probably a more important issue to conservatives than it is to liberals. For many liberals, the issue is relatively unimportant, compared with, say, war in Iraq, federal judiciary appointments, drilling in Alaska, and deprivation of civil liberties under the Patriot Act. Meanwhile, for many conservatives, gay marriage seems to be the most important issue. And that difference in relative importance influences how politicians approach the question. Read more »