Who is Desensitized?

Every six months at General Conference, we hear about how the world is degenerating into more and more wickedness.  This is evident from the flood of pornography, the words people use, the way they dress and the movies and television programs people watch.  Never mind the fact that important statistics, such as murder levels, abortion rates, as well as things like teen sexual activity, actually show declines.  If people are watching Desperate Housewives, then we must be pretty close to Sodom and Gomorrah.

While I don’t think The Book of Mormon is the greatest musical ever to grace Broadway (although I still have to see the actual play), I have been voraciously devouring the soundtrack over the past few weeks.  I honestly expected that I would be turned off by the level of irreverence and profanity used in the production.  Instead I found that much, if not most of the soundtrack, gave me basically the same exhilarating feeling I may feel listening to the MoTab singing “Come Thou Fount of Ev’ry Blessing.” More

A Lay Ministry?

The word “doublespeak” is often misattributed to one of my favorite authors and essayists: George Orwell. While he did create new words in his novel, 1984, he never used that particular one. It’s not to say it didn’t evolve from the numerous terms he produced: Newspeak, Doublethink, Crimethink, Duckspeak, etc. etc. Regardless, doublespeak’s first known use was in 1952, three years after 1984, and is defined as “Language used to deceive usually through concealment or misrepresentation of truth.”

If you’re particularly in need of doublespeak material, allow me to introduce The Doublespeak Award. If, however, you’re looking for Mormon doublespeak, allow me to introduce you to the idea of a lay clergy.  In 2004, President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote the following in his book What of the Mormons?:

There is no paid or professional ministry. Thirty-nine general officers and the presidents of missions are given living allowances. More

The Island’s Old Mother and Kolob’s Heavenly Father: The Big-Little Problem of Ad Infinitum

*Warning! If you’ve never seen “Lost,” please turn back. Here be spoilers, as well as personal opinions, which may or may not be deemed blasphemous.

My wife and I recently finished watching “Lost,” J.J. Abrahm’s smash-hit TV series. We were admittedly a little late to the “Lost” train, but through a tender mercy subscription to Netflix and numerous good-natured coercions by friends and coworkers, my wife and I finally settled into the storyline. It was fun, at first. Engrossing, even. My wife and I were scrambling for the “next” button on the screen the moment the “Lost” logo appeared on screen with a “pwaa!” We raced through late-night marathon watching sessions until we realized, with a shock, that the writers may or may not have been stringing us along a very successful ABC cash cow, with no true end in sight. Now, as any “Lost” layperson knows, ardent fans have strong opinions on exactly “what happened” in the final season of “Lost,” and whether or not said finale season was satisfying. As for me, I left the series a bit disappointed. Now, I’m not here to debate any Losties, but a turning point for me in the series occurred while watching season six, episode 15 “Across the Sea.” More

Mother’s Day

His stated message was nice enough — mothers are important. He used many uplifting stories, about President Hinkley and soldiers buried on Iwo Jima, and the Apostle Paul and Timothy, and Helaman and his stripling warriors and he mentioned presidents of the United States and prophets and heros . . . And not once did he quote the words of a woman or tell the story of a woman.  The only female names in his talk came in a list of biblical women he spouted off in his conclusion.  His stated message was nice.  The unstated message — that a woman is a success because of her children, and not only because of her children, because of her male children — boys who grow up to be presidents and prophets and warriors — wasn’t nice and isn’t true.

Thermodynamics and Epicurus

Mike Tannehill recently posted a succinct piece on Mormon creationism and the idea of suffering.

His appeal to apocryphal writings, the Pearl of Great Price, and Joseph Smith offered a concise explanation of Mormon creationism, summarized below:

What this means is that both we ourselves and the elements around us have always existed. Our natural state being one of chaos until our Father in Heaven brought light and knowledge to us both.

Of course, he could have shortened the introduction by simply appealing to the first law of thermodynamics, particularly the conservation of energy. It states, essentially, that while matter can be manipulated, it cannot be created or destroyed. Anyone taking a chemistry or physics class will remember learning this law, and then spending hours in the lab applying it. The law is not necessarily new, and can be traced to one of the less popular Greek philosophers Parmenides, who stated in his philosophical poem, On Nature, that “Nothing comes from nothing.” Today, we learn Parmenides’s words as “Matter can be neither created nor destroyed.” More

Fundamentalism

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a fundamentalist religion.

What Would Have Happened . . .

(Before I begin this post, let me be clear — I do not believe that the LDS Church is a secret Nazi organization, nor that the general membership of the LDS Church did then or do now support Nazi Germany.  I do not believe that the church or its members support genocide or war for wars sake.  I believe the LDS Church is, for the most part, a good organization run by well-meaning people.  BUT, many good men and women have tolerated slavery, racism, sexism and other injustices of many kinds for much of our human history.  In this post I am asking whether the LDS Church, as an institution, would morally oppose evils like the holocaust, or would other interests and other kinds of “being good” or successful keep the church from standing up in the face of evil.  I am asking, do those other interests stop the church today from standing up against evil in the world?  And I am asking, are there moral reasons for not taking a stand?  —  )

Friday was holocaust remembrance day.  Spurred by a discussion on my local NPR station and Facebook posts from Jewish friends, I started thinking about what the world would have been like if the Axis powers had won WWII and what the moral cost of holocaust is for all of us.  Osama Bin Laden’s death added memories of 9-11 to my already deep and troubled thoughts.  The world is filled with terrible events.  People do horrific things.  It is common to ask where God is in all of this.  I am more troubled by the question, “Where is the church?” More

Chaos vs Order

In various Apocrypha there are accounts of the Savior speaking about the creation of the Earth with the Apostles. In one such account the Lord tells them that various elements are gathered together for the creation of the earth, but that first they must be purified and cleansed. He speaks about theses elements being cleansed and decontaminated through a crucible. Only after they have been made clean are they then acceptable for use in creating a world.

Abraham was actually shown this process. His account talks about his spirit visiting a sun, the elements being brought in and refined. The whole experience was overwhelming and frightening for him. Abraham’s astronomy lesson was shown to him with a side lesson, namely that Spirits are organized in a similar manner. (see Abr. 3:18 “..as also..”) Indeed Joseph Smith taught that  ”The spirit of man is not a created being; it existed from eternity, and will exist to eternity. Anything created cannot be eternal; and earth, water, etc., had their existence in an elementary state, from eternity” (HC 3:387) More

It’s too late to…Apologize*

In preparation for the backlash against Muslims following the September attacks in 2001, the Los Angeles Times published Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl’s article What Became of Tolerance in Islam? In answering his own title question, Abou El Fadl outlines two dilemmas facing the Muslim community:

First… Islamic intellectuals have busied themselves with the task of “defending Islam” by rampant apologetics. This produced a culture that eschews self-critical and introspective insight and embraces projection of blame and a fantasy-like level of confidence and arrogance. Second, Muslims got into the habit of paying homage to the presumed superiority of the Islamic tradition but marginalize this idealistic image in everyday life…

The reality of contemporary Muslims is unfortunate…Easy apologetics, easy puritanism, easy appeals to the logic of necessity have all but obliterated the incentive for introspection and critical insight…

Similarly, the Mormon church espouses Dr. Abou El Fadl’s critique– namely, that it is “a culture that eschews self-critical and introspective insight…” More

A Law unto all things

I was doing some study for a different blog post I want to make and came across some commentary that really got me thinking and has caused me to view things in a completely different light. I thought I might share it here and get your comments and thoughts about this subject. It comes from Deseret Books “Revelations Of The Restoration” pg. 634-635. It is commentary on D&C 88:42-45

“A common Latter-day Saint heresy is that we become as God through education or the mastery of laws. The notion being that God  became God by identifying  the laws of nature and learning to live in harmony with them and how to harness them for His purposes. Our present text refutes such a notion. God is the author of law, not the co-partner with it. We do not worship law. Law, like the sectarian god, is without body, parts, and passions; it knows nothing of justice or mercy, or good or evil. It has no power to determine or change its own course. More

The Female Divine

(This is a recent post from my personal blog (http://howwegotfromheretothere.blogspot.com/) that I thought would fit in here as well.  Enjoy.)

God, the bearded-man-in-the-sky version — tall, heroic, old, bearded, male.  The in-my-mind version of him is (usually) compassionate, kind, loving, good.  He is very much like my own father who is, not coincidentally, kind, loving, good, tall, heroic, bearded and male.  This God is someone I could talk to (usually).  Whose care of me was consistent (most of the time).  Our relationship was made in the pattern of my relationship with my father — full of love, open and positive.  I was ok with that.

Sometimes I wondered about my mother in heaven.  I was glad my religion acknowledged her existence, yet it bothered me that we couldn’t know anything about her.  I thought about thinking more about her, but I “knew” that was wrong and I wanted to be right.  Besides, if my relationship with God was patterned on my relationship with my father, my relationship with His wife might parallel my relationship with my mother — constrained, fraught, difficult.  And so I didn’t pursue it.  And I felt discomfort with those who did. More

Tattoo or not Tattoo . . .

Back when Freud was talking about the id, the ego and the superego I wonder if he ever imagined the voices that would hang out in the head of a conflicted Mormon mother like myself — the “mormon” and the “supermormon” still in there whispering commands and threatening consequences at me long after my rational mind told them to get lost.

I had a “supermormon” moment just yesterday.  The kids and I made a visit to my favorite local Goodwill store. While there the two-year-old found a package of temporary tattoos — Dora tattoos.  I have mentioned before the important role that Dora the Explorer plays in our house, once those tattoos found their way into his little hands, there was no getting them back out without a huge fight.  And I wasn’t about to engage battle over a matter of 25 cents.  Rational decision. And that is when good old “supermormon” reared her immaculately groomed head. (Sorry – but “immaculately groomed head” reminded me of a day, early in my marriage, when I returned home with a new haircut and my sweet, clueless husband told me I looked like “a Mormon mother”.  He meant it as a compliment.  My sister (who at the time sported a hairdo one primary girl said, breathlessly, looked “just like a mermaid’s” — in that it was streaked in turquoise and rose pink) was quick to assure me that  he did not know what he was talking about and that I was not, after all, sporting a Molly-do — back to the post). More