The “War on Porn”

April 8, 2004 | 146 comments
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A recent article about the Justice Department committing new resources to prosecute a “war on porn” has started lots of discussion in the blogosphere. (See here, here, here). Many people think that setting up an office with 32 prosecutors, plus assorted investigators and FBI agents, is a misguided use of resources, given current budget deficits and the ongiong war in Iraq. And this isn’t child porn we’re talking about — some of the targets of the new investigation include soft-core cable programs on HBO, and adult movies offered at hotels on pay-per-view. What should we think of this effort,... Read more »

The Quandry of the Sugar Beets

April 7, 2004 | 90 comments
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I think that I have finally isolated the great symbol of a recent set of intellectual and spiritual quandaries that I have found myself working through of late. I am not talking about polygamy, Adam-God, or blood atonement. I have in mind an even more challenging remnant of our past: sugar beets. Read more »

Post of the Month Winner for March

April 7, 2004 | 2 comments
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The secret panel has convened, the judges have decided, the votes are in, and the Post of the Month for March 2004 is Nate Oman, How Mormons Became White, which narrowly beat out Julie Smith’s Why We Doze in Sunday School for the most points. Overall, I think that the event was a great success. There were a number of excellent posts nominated, and the whole process got me (and hopefully many others) to read back over and examine some of the very interesting posts of the last month. I had a lot of fun. Congratulations again Nate (I’ll... Read more »

Church News: Passing of Sister Hinckley

April 7, 2004 | 13 comments
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The church has issued a statement noting that Marjorie Pay Hinckley, the wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley, passed away yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family. For a description of Sister Hinckley’s life, please see the church press release. Read more »

Lessons in Representation

April 7, 2004 | 10 comments
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Today I was talking with an editor in my group about why she wouldn’t be in the office this afternoon. She was taking her two children to see the Wiggles. Now I admit that even though I’ve watched a bit of television in the past couple of years with my grandchildren, I’ve missed the Wiggles. Robin had been telling her daughter (I think her daughter is about four) that they were going to see the Wiggles. The little girl was excited and wanted to know whether the Wiggles would be on a big screen. Robin had to explain that... Read more »

Best Conference Blogging

April 6, 2004 | 9 comments
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With all due respect to others who tried their hands at Conference blogging, I think that the best commentary award goes to a string of posts over at Dave’s Mormon Inquiry Blog (See posts here, here, and here). Read more »

On the bearing of complicated and complicating testimony

April 6, 2004 | 229 comments
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In the comments thread of the post about Nate’s little problem, Ryan articulately described a related problem with Mormon liberals: “The reason I bring that up is that I believe the character and motivation transfer closely to the snark, which is simply the better-educated cousin of the simpler debunker. I have no problem with the beliefs of my less “orthodox” friends, who prefer to think more critically about church hierarchy, history, doctrine, etc. than I do. My problem is that they wish so often to be the cool, informed person that is able to show why the simple believers... Read more »

On Privileges, Growth, and Gossip

April 6, 2004 | 50 comments
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In the legal world, the concept of confidential communication is expressed in certain privileges. The idea being that the communication in certain relationships needs to be protected by law, even if that communication would be relevant to a court proceeding. An example is the attorney-client privilege. Barring some dramatic exceptions (like a confession that the client plans to murder someone) anything that a client says to his/her attorney is protected by the privilege and will not be revealed in court proceedings. Another privilege, that we don’t hear much about in the church, is the clergy-penitent privilege. A confession to... Read more »

Hello and Goodbye to Guest Bloggers: Julie Smith & Karen Hall

April 5, 2004 | 10 comments
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We would like to thank Julie Smith for a wonderful two weeks of guest blogging and we hope that she will continue to participate here in the comments. We also want to introduce our newest guest blogger, Karen Hall. Karen graduated from BYU where she studied Russian. She then went on to Harvard Law School. While there, she clawed her way to the top of the Latter-day Saint Student Association hierarchy, and ended her law school days as President of that illustrious organization. Needless to say, she ruled with an iron fist, and the LDSSA descended into chaos and... Read more »

12 Questions for . . . Armand Mauss

April 5, 2004 | 21 comments
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We are pleased to announce that Armand Mauss has agreed to be the first participant in the newest regular feature at T&S, “12 Questions.” In this feature, we will be “interviewing” some of the bright stars in the Mormon firmament. And you, dear reader, may participate by submitting the questions. Read more »

Mission Reunion

April 5, 2004 | 11 comments
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I enjoy conference because I always feel the Spirit during some talk or another, and usually during several. This time, in the Saturday morning session, Elder Todd Christopherson struck a note that I heard several more times in other sessions when he spoke of grace and of our lives as a gift to give the Savior in response to his grace. And I was touched by President Hinckley’s very personal talk, as well as by what seemed a farewell from Elder Maxwell. But for me the most important part of conference this time was something outside of conference: my... Read more »

The Church as a Corporation: Part III

April 5, 2004 | 3 comments
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This is Part III (see Part I and Part II) of my post on the legal history of the Church as a corporation. Read more »

Reminder: Post of the Month Submissions

April 5, 2004 | no comments
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Moses as a Key to Theology

April 4, 2004 | 8 comments
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We tend to think of theology in discursive terms—as a collection of ideas or propositions. When we talk about the development of theology we are apt to trace the history of abstractions such as faith, hope, love, priesthood. With Joseph Smith, I’ve come to believe it is much more enlightening to attend first to characters and to the plots, language, discussions that collect around them. Again and again these characters inhabit stories that preview and explore situations very like those facing Joseph and the community of faith gathering around him. Following key characters thus becomes a tool for tracing... Read more »

A General Conference Thought

April 4, 2004 | 2 comments
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Conferences is over, and I have to say that I very much enjoyed it this year. Rather than blogging about this, however, I would like to simply post something that I wrote in my journal two years ago: Read more »

General Conference: Sunday Afternoon Session

April 4, 2004 | 11 comments
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Last session. Do any of you look for themes in Conference? Sometimes I think that the talks are part of an integrated whole, and other times I think that Conference is like a smorgasbord, with talks on various topics so that everyone can find something. If Conferences have a theme, what would it be this year? How about this: the role of families in the last days. Read more »

General Conference: Sunday Morning Session

April 4, 2004 | 19 comments
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Do people attend the chapel to watch this session of Conference, even when they get it in their home? That has been the custom in some places where I have lived, but I stayed at home, not wanting to discover any such custom here. Not to diminish any of the talks, but I thought the highlight of this session was Liriel Domiciano. Wow! Read more »

General Conference: Saturday Afternoon Session

April 3, 2004 | 6 comments
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Ok, I am back with the afternoon session and more penetrating insights … Read more »

General Conference: Saturday Morning Session

April 3, 2004 | 4 comments
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I love General Conference! This morning/afternoon, I watched it from my home in Wisconsin. Modern technology is wonderous to me. I recall President Kimball talking about the Lord’s hand in developing technology that would spread the Gospel to the whole earth. We have seen that development in a most dramatic way over the past few decades. The following are some thoughts generated by the Saturday morning session: Read more »

To What End Blogging?

April 3, 2004 | 22 comments
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I’m curious about the function that blogging serves for you. The blog is such an interesting, borderland genre. (And I will candidly admit here that the bulk of my personal experience with blogs and blogging has turned on a certain motherly voyeurism of my very verbal, bright, and prolific son.) A really great blog can read, it seems, like a well-honed, mini essay. A continuing interchange can take on the shape and the heat of a spirited conversation, or an argument. I’m often impressed with the quality of the writing and thinking I see. (And sometimes, of course, blogging... Read more »

Most Embarrassing Moments, Gospel Style

April 3, 2004 | 9 comments
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As an adult convert to the Church, I had plenty of embarrassing moments of adjustment along the path to integration. Mostly, these were caused by excessive zeal, rather than lingering bad habits. For example, there was the formal meal when I realized that I had just taken one bite of a dessert that contained trace amounts of alcohol. I excused myself from the table, dashed from the restaurant, and drove to the house of my “mentor” (a young returned missionary), who assured me that I wasn’t going to hell … at least for that. This was a bit embarrassing,... Read more »

My Problem with “Liberal Mormons”

April 2, 2004 | 118 comments
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I am currently suffering from extreme sleep deprivation, which puts me in a caustic and curmudgeonly mood. This means, of course, that I shouldn’t blog. I am likely to say mean and indefensible things, like what follows. Read more »

The Church as a Corporation: Part II

April 2, 2004 | 18 comments
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What follows is a continuation of my earlier thoughts on church legal histroy (see Part I). Despite the absence of comments, I hope someone is reading this stuff. If not who cares. I have access to the Moveable Type software, therefore I get to post what I want to. Read more »

The State of the Women

April 2, 2004 | 31 comments
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Sherrie Johnson, a sociologist at BYU, recently presented findings of a study concerning the satisfaction levels of LDS women. I haven’t seen the study, but there is a Deseret News article about it here. Read more »

The Church as a Corporation: Part I

April 2, 2004 | 2 comments
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I have been doing a bunch of research of late on the history of corporate law. As I was doing so, I was struck by how much of early Mormon history could be illuminated by the evolution of corporate law. What follows in this and subsequent posts are essentially my research notes. We have enough lawyers and law geeks visiting this site, that I hope there will be at least some audience for this stuff. I even think that this stuff could be interesting to non-lawyers, and none of what follows is technical. Read more »

Blessing the Food

April 2, 2004 | 50 comments
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Adam has raised an interesting point about preparation for prayer, which reminded me of a question I’ve wondered about for a while: why do we bless our food? Read more »

Revelation, Regularity, and Monotony

April 2, 2004 | 41 comments
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In a few days, we will have the privilege of hearing from our leaders in General Conference. And they will discuss . . . well, we can’t say for sure, but it’s a pretty good bet that they will mostly discuss the same things that were talked about at the last General Conference. (Though Russell may think otherwise). Every month we also get the Ensign. It is extolled as the words of the living prophets. And every month, it seems to repeat, more or less, many of the same messages and ideas as it did last month, or the... Read more »

General Conference Predictions*

April 2, 2004 | 8 comments
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Six months ago, just before the October 2003 General Conference, I e-mailed the following statement to several friends of mine: “I predict at least one complete sermon addressing nothing but the necessity of defending ‘traditional marriage,’ with possibly multiple others touching on such topics as ‘legalizing morality,’ treating people with same-sex attraction with sympathyand so forth. Furthermore, I’ll go out on a limb and make a further, more dubious, prediction: someone, or several someones, will either implicitly or explicitly link the final passage in the Proclamation on the Family (‘We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere... Read more »

Do Dogs Go to Heaven?

April 1, 2004 | 29 comments
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We recently had to put our dog down. It has been a traumatic experience in our family and has given rise to the inevitable theological quandry: What is the precise spiritual status of animals? I have repeatedly heard people cite to Moses 3:7 — “all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word” — as a proof text for the claim that animals have souls (or at least dogs; I don’t think that anyone believes that cats have souls). However, if you look carefully at the scripture, it won’t really bear this... Read more »

Mormon Literature Won’t Be Left Behind Again!

April 1, 2004 | 11 comments
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Once I brought up the issue of Mormon literature, asking for recommendations and opinions about fiction written by and for the LDS audience. (The thread rapidly turned into another throw-down about R-rated movies, but that’s neither here nor there.) I haven’t been able to do much fiction reading since then, but I still like to keep up on what’s available via the Deseret Book catalogue, as much as I gripe about it, if only to know what I’m missing. (Hey, Sam and Charly’s son is all grown up and serving a mission!) The latest catalogue made one thing pretty... Read more »