Should Mormons Avoid R-Rated Legal Opinions?

February 4, 2004 | 25 comments
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You remember the case: Mormon acting student at the University of Utah files suit because she felt that her free speech and free exercise rights were violated by her acting teachers’ requirement that she say f–k and g—–m in classroom performances. The federal district court tossed the suit, but the student just won her appeal, keeping the case alive (caveat clicker: the court’s opinion contains profanities) . Read more »

We Love You Pakistan!

February 4, 2004 | 11 comments
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We Love You Pakistan!

I was just checking over our site statistics. We seem to have settled into a groove of about 250 to 300 unique visitors per day. Our readership continues to be disproportianately concentrated in the Eastern United States. However, as the map below indicates, five percent of our recent visitors seem to be coming to us from Pakistan. Read more »

What is Church Doctrine?

February 3, 2004 | 88 comments
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As Mormons we often like to speak as though we have a well settled body of doctrine that provides determinate answers to some set of questions, but is silent as to other questions. Thus, someone makes some comment in Sunday School with which we disagree, and we are able to say, “Well that is your opinion, but it is not church doctrine.” My question is how do I figure out if something is church doctrine or not. Read more »

The Greatest Film of All Time

February 3, 2004 | 114 comments
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I’ve felt rather guilty about not posting more during my guest stint here. My e-mail has been on the fritz, I have been out of town, and . . . Well, anyway, even though it’s really late at the moment, I simply have to post something to salve my conscience. Read more »

Questions About Lucifer

February 3, 2004 | 23 comments
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We believe that Lucifer, the Son of the Morning (Isaiah 14:12), fell while still in the premortal existence. This fall resulted in Lucifer being eternally deprived of a physical body. Ultimately, he will dwell in Outer Darkness, where there is “weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” (Alma 40:13) In the meantime, Lucifer, and the spirits who followed him in the War in Heaven (Revelation 12:7), play a role in the Plan of Salvation, for “it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they... Read more »

Faith versus Proof

February 2, 2004 | 27 comments
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One thing that has always fascinated me is the tension in the church between faith and proof. We tell people they should pray about the Book of Mormon and receive a testimony of its truth and of the prophet Joseph Smith. And then we spend lots of time and energy trying to prove that they are true. What do we use as proof? The Lehi stone. Chiasm. The health benefits of the Word of Wisdom. The Civil War beginning in South Carolina. And a thousand whispered rumors like the idea that the Dead Sea scrolls contain the prophecies of... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 6

February 2, 2004 | 4 comments
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Lesson 6: 2 Nephi 1-2 If you know me or a little about me, such as that I’m a philosophy professor, you won’t be surprised to learn that I’m going to focus on chapter 2. I recognize that is a problem. Chapter 2 is full of such interesting material that chapter 1 gets overlooked and there are also interesting things to think about in it, such as what implications it has that the land to which Lehi was led is covenanted to “all those who should be led out of countries by the hand of the Lord.” In spite... Read more »

Mormon Monasticism

February 2, 2004 | 8 comments
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I have frequently heard people make the claim that there are no Mormon monks. This may be true, but as I was reading a book on medieval legal history this weekend, I was struck by the fact that Mormon monasticism is quite common. Read more »

Economic Growth Correlates Positively with Religiosity

February 2, 2004 | 2 comments
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According to researchers at Harvard, the religiosity of a country is a good predictor of it’s economic growth. The New York Times story is here. Read more »

Card beats Lund (a “Bushman beats Brodie” derivative)

February 2, 2004 | 68 comments
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Since we’ve been talking so much about Mormon art lately–particularly literature, but also in our liturgy and environment, and in our films–I thought it was time to drop the other shoe, set aside issues of aesthetics and ethics for the moment, and do what every likes best: make lists. Read more »

Good Examples

February 1, 2004 | 3 comments
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Recently, through Times & Seasons, I reconnected with a friend from BYU and Law School. Sean Lindsay is now working as an attorney for Qwest in Denver. We first met at BYU, where both of us worked as tutors in the Reading and Writing Center along with another law school classmate, Shawn Bentley. (Just a side note: the Director of the Reading and Writing Center at that time was a kind professor named William Shakespeare!) By the time that I was deciding where to attend law school, Sean had left BYU and was pursuing a Ph.D in English at... Read more »

STQ: Sustaining Church Leaders

January 31, 2004 | 3 comments
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My Seminary class just completed 1 Samuel, which tells the story of Saul’s reign over Israel. As you know, the people of Israel demanded a king to replace the corrupt judges. (1 Samuel 8:19-20) Samuel was inspired to choose Saul. On the day before they met for the first time, the Lord told Samuel, “To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel.” (1 Samuel 9:16) Samuel does, in fact, annoint Saul, and the people accept him as their... Read more »

The Iago Problem

January 31, 2004 | 40 comments
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A while ago we had some discussion about a popular question among church members: why there are not more great LDS writers, more “Mormon Shakespeares.” Various ideas were suggested, among them that church callings take up too much time for a nascent Mormon Shakespeare to begin filling up her folios. Let me articulate another reason, hinted at (but not explicitly discussed) in the earlier thread: Church members have an Iago Problem. We are generally incapable of creating believable truly evil characters. We just don’t have the skill set to breathe life into an Iago. And without Iago, there can... Read more »

Welcome to the New Place

January 30, 2004 | 8 comments
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Hi everyone. We just switched servers — what a headache! Hopefully this looks exactly the same as the old place. A few things to note: 1. Timesandseasons.org e-mail will be temporarily down. You can e-mail me at kaimi *at* wengerfamily.com . Look for everyone else’s e-mails (if you want to e-mail them) on their personal blog site or description. 2. The domain name (DNS) is not fully resolved, and it seems to still be pointing at the other site sometimes. Since the DNS was being wacky, I set up a redirector at the old host, so you should end... Read more »

A Society for Mormon Philosophy

January 30, 2004 | 2 comments
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It looks like “The Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology” has finally decied to go public. You can check out their new website (very slick) at www.smpt.org. In addition, they will be sponsoring a conference at UVSC on March 19-20 on Mormon Theology. (link here) As a lawyer, I thought it is interesting that one of the things that they cite as spurring the formation of their society is the increased awareness of the importance of the 19th century Mormon experience for the constitutional interpretation of religious freedom. Note: T&S’s Jim Faulconer is the chairman of this august organization. Read more »

Guilt

January 29, 2004 | one comment
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There has been an interesting discussion of guilt over at Bob and Logan’s blog. In response to some comments that I made, Russell makes the following intriguing remark: Read more »

Will Russell Support Bush?

January 29, 2004 | one comment
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Our very own Russell Arben Fox, who has endorsed Dick Gephardt on this site, is flirting with not thinking that Bush is the Great Satan. If I may over simplify Russell’s comments in a really gauche way, it seems that since Bush has been coming out in favor of spending lots of money on good stuff, that he seems (in policy terms) to be migrating toward Russell’s preferred position of social conservatism and economic egalatarianism. Of course, Bush isn’t quite there, but Rusell (and my friend David Bernstein) make an interesting point. Read more »

A Mormon Image: Fremont’s Map

January 29, 2004 | one comment
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A Mormon Image: Fremont’s Map

Shortly before his death Joseph Smith began making plans to move the main body of the Saints to someplace in the American west. After his assination, Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve continued to flesh out these plans, ultimately choosing to move the Saints to the Great Basin. In making their plans they depended on the reports of John C. Fremont and on the maps of the American west that his expeditions had created. Here is one of them. Read more »

Of interest

January 29, 2004 | no comments
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From My Cold, Dead Hands?

January 28, 2004 | 12 comments
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Some discussion has come up in recent threads over how members are to reconcile church teachings with political beliefs. To date, the political beliefs examined have been largely liberal ideas which are seen by at least some as conflicting with church values. However, the church also takes positions that may be seen as counter to conservative ideas. One recent example is the church’s decision to prohibit members from bringing guns into church, even where the members are licensed concealed-carry permit holder. (See the BYU article about the policy, link via the Pollyanic Steve Evans). What is a strongly pro-Second... Read more »

What if?

January 28, 2004 | 47 comments
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Latter-day Saint worship services and chapels are rather plain and utilitarian. How much of that do we owe to early Latter-day Saint conversion patterns? What if those patterns had been different? Read more »

Office, Oaths, and Sins

January 27, 2004 | 14 comments
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I work as a law clerk for a federal appellate judge. As part of my work, I routinely assist in the enforcement of legal rules that I think are unwise or even unjust. Of late I have been wondering about the morality of what I do every day. Read more »

Is it okay to be a Pro-Choice Mormon?

January 27, 2004 | 77 comments
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We’ve had some extended discussions of abortion here in recent threads. One topic has not been discussed in any detail, and it’s one that I find interesting. Are church members required to be pro-life? (That is, opposed to legal availability of abortion). Or may they be pro-choice — (in favor of allowing abortion under the law)? The church has taken a solid position on the morality of abortion itself. The church web site makes clear: “The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion except in rare cases.” However, this does... Read more »

The Mormons Take Manhattan

January 27, 2004 | 4 comments
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The New York Daily News discusses the recent influx of Mormons into New York City. (Via my colleague Wendy Cassity). The numbers are interesting — up from 1700 to 4000 members over the past 10 years alone. And there are apparently 25,000 members in the five boroughs. (Though as a member of a Bronx ward, I have to wonder what percent of the 25,000 are actually active). The article also discusses the new buildings, which have to be an exciting development for Manhattan members. (See Claudia’s earlier post mentioning the choreography of multi-multi-ward buildings in Manhattan). Read more »

It (Still) Seems So BIG

January 27, 2004 | 5 comments
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What first caught my attention with respect to the Gospel was the sheer size of it. For my first ten or fifteen years of consciousness, growing up in a semi-active part-LDS home, the Church, to me, represented boring meetings, lackluster hymn-singing, and little more. Other things in 1960s California seemed much more exciting, and, frankly, there was little home pressure to think otherwise. Read more »

Poverty and Inequality

January 27, 2004 | 22 comments
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Rusell’s post below leads me to post a question that I have been meaning to throw out for some time. When we look at the plight of the poor, what is the evil that we see: poverty or inequality? Read more »

1 Nephi 13

January 26, 2004 | 30 comments
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I don’t get to attend Sunday School often, but yesterday I was able to attend an interesting lesson taught by Logan. The major topic was the great and abominable church. The discussion made me wonder about one thing (which we discussed briefly in class). The scripture talks about removal of plain and precious things from the Book of the Lamb (which appears to be the Bible). I was wondering — how exactly did / does this occur? Read more »

The Poor Oppress Me

January 26, 2004 | 15 comments
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A week and a half ago, Jennifer (I don’t recall her last name) came to our door. It was raining out and Jennifer, who was wearing jeans and an old knit sweater, was soaked and shivering from the cold. I’d never met her before. She was short and fat, had tattoos on her forearms; her hands were calloused and her face had heavy lines–she looked to be in her late 40s, but poverty (and abuse) can age you prematurely. She was desperate for $13 so she could afford a bus ticket to Oklahoma to visit her ailing mother, and... Read more »

God and the Movies

January 25, 2004 | 41 comments
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Larry Ribstein, a corporate law professor at the University of Illinois, has an interesting blog on the treatment of business in the movies. He argues, among other things, that the generally negative portrayal of business is in film does not reflect some ideological bias against commerce. Rather, it is a reflection of the tension between the “creative types” who make movies and the studio executives who control them. I wonder if there is not a similar economic explanation for the generally poor treatment of religion in the movies. Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 5

January 25, 2004 | 2 comments
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1 Nephi 16-22 (1 February 2004) As usual, I’ve not written questions on every chapter or for every verse in the chapters I’ve covered. Chapter 16 Verses 1-2: Nephi’s brothers tell him that the things he has said are too hard to bear (verse 1). What have they heard that has caused that response? In verse 2 Nephi explains why they find the truth to be hard. Which meaning of “hard” is relevant, “difficult to understand” or “difficult to bear”? What does the fact that the wicked are cut to their center by the truth tell us about wickedness... Read more »