[Update 2:] The Church has responded, both with respect to Dr. Bott’s statement and with a statement on the Church and race. I’m adding the text of each to the bottom of the post, but I want to highlight these two excerpts: We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church. The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine. (In both, emphasis mine.) The first excerpt is wonderful, not pulling punches against our own. And the second, although it’s phrased in the passive voice, is pretty much as explicit a renunciation of previous thought as I’ve seen in the Church, and I know that I’ll be pulling these statements out when (or, I hope, if) I hear these repeated again. — Aaargh!!! I thought we were past this. I really did; I’d heard rumors on the internet for years of people teaching offensive racist folklore about the long-repealed priesthood ban. But I had never actually experienced anybody seriously making those arguments—I had only heard them in the context of, This is what some people claim. And I know that anecdote is not evidence, but I’ll put forward my anecdote anyway: Once, while I was in high school,…
Links – Blogroll – Notes from All Over
Romance, MTC Edition
Tomorrow morning, a bunch of Provoans (and presumably others) will wake up with a brand new ring on their left ring fingers. To all of you: congratulations and good luck! This, though, isn’t your story.
Misappropriation of email? or who owns an email list anyway?
Last Friday McKay Coppins, in an article titled Mitt’s Mormon Army: How It Works, looked at how grassroots Mormon support for Mitt Romney has managed to organize, despite the Church’s statements that its resources should not be used for election campaigns. Coppins points out, as most LDS Church members already know, that not everyone respects the Church’s wishes.
Alan Lomax and All the Good
Today, were he still alive, Alan Lomax would have celebrated his 97th birthday.
I confess that I wasn’t familiar with Lomax until after I got married. The long and the short of it: Alan Lomax was a folklorist and an ethnomusicologist.
Mitt Romney’s Tithing Problem (?)
ABC broke the news: Mitt Romney has donated millions of dollars worth of stock to the Mormon church. SEC filings disclose that a Bain partner donated $1.9 million of Burger King stock to the Church; in addition, the Church has received stock of other Bain holdings, including Domino’s, DDi, Innophos, and the parent company of AMC Theaters.
But why? Why would Romney give the Church equity stakes in bad fast-food chains, second-rate pizza chains, and other such holdings?
Interest Never Sleeps
Hypothetical:[fn1] Alex and Pat both want a Kindle Fire.[fn2] Alex goes to the local brick-and-mortar[fn3] Amazon store, pays $200 cash, and takes a Kindle Fire home. Pat goes to the bank, gets a loan for $200, goes to the local brick-and-mortar Amazon store, pays the $200, and takes a Kindle Fire home. Who made the better decision?[fn4] *** In the Church, we’re suspicious of debt. Sure, we get a pass on student loans, a modest house, a first car, but, as a general rule, our leaders discourage incurring consumer debt, and celebrate those who have escaped debt’s clutches. Having grown up a member of the Church, and having heard the various talks and lessons, I suspect most members would say that Alex made the better decision;Alex has the Fire and no debt. Pat, on the other hand, has both the Fire and the debt. *** Assuming you agree with my intuition that, in general, Mormons would think that Alex made the better decision, I want to push that intuition a little: (1) Let’s suppose, first, that Alex bought with cash because he has $200 just lying around. Pat, on the other hand, doesn’t, and the only way she can afford a Kindle is by borrowing. But assume Pat has a steady, if low-paying, job with amazing job security, while Alex, though making more money,has a 70% chance of losing his job in the next three months, with an uncertain outlook…
Harold Bloom, the Byrds, and Me
About a week ago, James posted a reflection on Harold Bloom’s (frankly awful) New York Times op-ed. Rather than directly responding, though (other than expressing his rightful disappointment), James engaged with Dr. Bloom’s allegation that Mormonism and Protestantism are converging. Though concerned about such a convergence, James ultimately (and rightly, I believe) doesn’t think we’re headed inexorably down that path. That said, Dr. Bloom is right that the Church has changed a lot between 1844 and 2011.[fn1] Change is inevitable and, as Ecclesiastes tells us, is to be expected. And, frankly, there have been a number of changes that, even if they risk our Protestantization, I’m really happy about. And I’m not talking Official Declaration 1 or 2 stuff—I’m going to assume that most of us are grateful that polygamy is no longer the sine qua non of the faithful member, and that all of us are grateful that we don’t live in the world of a racially-based Priesthood ban. And I’m also not talking about our wishlist of things we want changed. I assume most of us have one or two, even if they’re just wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if kinds of things. No, I’m talking about less-prominent practices that the Church once had that have left. And there are two that leap to my mind: Missionary Finances I’m actually not talking about the standardization of mission expenses, even though that’s pretty nice, too. I’m actually talking about going on missions with purse…
Things for Which I’m Thankful
1. My family. I haven’t said much about them on this blog, and will continue not to say much about them here, but I’m certainly thankful for them. 2. Social networks. And I mean this on all sorts of levels. Facebook has brought me back in touch with friends from high school with whom I otherwise wouldn’t have any contact. But I’m also thankful for IRL social networks: my colleagues, my neighbors, members of my ward, my kids’ friends’ parents. I’m thankful for the community that can happen when the guy comes out to repair your internet, and it turns out he has a kid the same age as your kid. 3. The eternal potential of (1) and (2). It adds that much more to these relationships to know that they can continue. 4. North Face. For this Southern Californian, it’s nice to know I’ll be able to survive another Chicago winter.[fn1] 5. Jim Henson. I remember watching the Muppet Show with my family when I was a little kid, every week. Today, I have Seasons 1-3 of the Muppet Show on DVD, a handful of Muppet movies, a couple episodes of Fraggle Rock, and tickets to the new movie. 6. My job. These days, having a job is a blessing; I’m lucky enough to have one I love. 7. A God who allows me to have all of these things.[fn2] How about you? — [fn1] Totally random story: when…
I shaved today. My beard (of at least the last two-and-a-half years) is gone.
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[fn1] or not. That discussion, I believe, misses the point.[fn2] 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.”[fn3] There are some areas that are clear: for example, it’s hard to argue that a person who has been baptize in the LDS church, attends church every Sunday, and self-identifies as Mormon should not be counted as a Mormon. It’s also easy to say that a person who grew up in a devout Catholic home, who has never met a Mormon, been to a Mormon church, or heard of Stone and Parker’s Book of Mormon musical, and who, moreover, self-identifies as Catholic, shouldn’t be counted among Mormons. But somewhere in between, whom to count becomes murky. What about the person who was baptized, doesn’t go to any church, but self-identifies as Mormon? What about the person who has never been baptized, but goes to church every week and mans the barbecue at the the ward’s annual picnic? Figuring out the grey area certainly belongs in a discussion of how many Mormons there are, but it didn’t really fit in Brooks’s post. Common Journalistic…
Blogging on the Road to Damascus
Transcripts of the recent General Conference have been posted at LDS.org, including President Uchtdorf’s talk “Waiting on the Road to Damascus.” The talk was mostly a word of encouragement to those members of the Church who, for various reasons including self-doubt, are not full participants in their local wards. The focus of the talk was on the invitation to get past or around whatever the issue is, not on the details of the difficulties or doubts some people face. Of course, his comments on blogging and social media were the most interesting part of the talk. He made these comments in the context of how members of the Church ought to be more open about sharing the gospel. With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before. In fact, I am almost afraid that some listening have already sent text messages like “He’s been speaking for 10 minutes and still no aviation analogy!” My dear young friends, perhaps the Lord’s encouragement to “open [your] mouths” might today include “use your hands” to blog and text message the gospel to all the world! But please remember, all at the right time and at the right place. Brothers and sisters, with the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan…
The hidden apologetics of Banner of Heaven
Scott at Bloggernacle Times has been putting on a very impressive Behind the Music retrospective about the old Banner of Heaven blog. The hair, the women, the trashed hotel rooms — it’s all there, complete with interviews with band members (Brian G. comes clean about the infamous “no brown M&M’s” contract), groupies band aids, and even the occasional critic. In fact, about the only point that Scott seems to have missed so far is the group’s hidden apologetic purpose. What apologetic purpose, you ask? Only that a widely read book — also widely perceived as hostile towards the church — was google-bombed halfway into oblivion. Now, curious souls who google “Banner of Heaven” are as likely to read about X-boxes or the speculation train as they are to learn about Mountain Meadows. Apologetics, meet Web 2.0. And the apologetic stone cut without hands will roll forth virally, until it has overcome the entire Googleverse. Amen.
New Mormon Blog at Beliefnet
Jana Reiss, former T&S guest blogger and author of Mormonism for Dummies, is running a new Mormon blog at Beliefnet: Flunking Sainthood. Put a link in your blogroll (do people still do blogrolls?) and visit often. Having myself previously hosted a Mormon blog at Beliefnet, I have some idea of the challenge the new blog is facing. The problem can be put very simply: (1) few people who aren’t Mormon have much to say about Mormonism, and (2) there aren’t too many Mormons hanging around the Beliefnet site. But it just seems wrong that one of the most popular Internet religion sites doesn’t host a Mormon blog (they host just about everything else), so I’m happy Jana is taking on this project. I hope she is the surprise hit of the year at Beliefnet. As the author of What Would Buffy Do: The Vampire Slayer as Spiritual Guide, I’m sure she has a few tricks up her sleeve. You can help by visiting FS on a regular basis and leaving friendly and informative comments.
Testimonies of the Bloggernacle
A friend asked whether I was aware of any good collections of testimony or “Why I Believe”-type posts in the Bloggernacle. Nothing really sprung to mind, so I thought I’d issue a call for people to share their favorites here. I’ll compile a running bullet-point list below of the suggestions.
Mission Websites — Mission.net or what?
Its been 25 years since I returned from my mission, and this past week I got an email from a friend asking me to join a new website for my mission. The first thing I asked myself, before joining, is ‘why do we need another mission site?
Anonymity as Virtue or Vice
Online anonymity is a topic that comes up regularly. Does if facilitate public discussion of controversial issues or just allow anonymous commenters to spread rumor and innuendo with no accountability? Does real-name posting or commenting improve quality via reputation effects or lead to self-censoring? These are valid questions for all online forums, not just blogs or the Bloggernacle.
A Mormon Advice Columnist?
Could there ever be a Mormon advice columnist, dispensing advice to a Mormon audience? Or is that what Bishops are for?
Going Social and Open Source
The LDS Church’s Chief Information Officer, Joel Dehlin, called for help Wednesday in a post titled Mormon Open Source Open for Business. The project seeks help with a number of LDS Church projects, including, first on the list, a rewrite of the software that runs the Stake and Ward Websites.
Compassion for the Unworthy
Can I remind us of something? The rhetoric here and elsewhere on the bloggernacle, the Internet, and evidently in the personal lives of some of us, seems all too often to be based on the idea that there is a worthiness test for compassion.
To Tweet or Not to Tweet
When I first heard about Twitter, I thought it was one of those truly dumb ideas that couldn’t possibly catch on. Now it is an infotsunami, sweeping over the world in a growing horde of 140-character snippets [see “People Are Flocking to Twitter” at LDS Media Talk for a quick update]. So do you join the wave or run for high ground?