Tag Archives: Short Posts

Them’s Chores

I heard a story yesterday originally from a preacher who grew up in Detroit. He’d spent his whole life in the inner city, and when he was still young he went to visit his grandparents on their farm in northern Michigan. He heard the birds like he’d never heard them before. He saw the blue skies like he’d never seen them before. It was wonderful.

The next morning, his grandpa woke him up at 6 o’clock (he hadn’t ever seen that before either). They walked outside, and his grandpa handed him a metal pail. There was a chicken coop across the way, and his grandpa pointed to it and said, “Take this pail, and go and collect any eggs.” He did.

When he got back, his grandpa gave him a bucket of slop. “Take this and go feed the pig.” He did.

It went like this all morning, before the young boy had even eaten breakfast. Finally, his grandpa took him inside where breakfast was waiting for them. After eating his fill, he threw himself on the sofa in the living room. Continue reading Them’s Chores

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“I couldn’t fathom why the Church supported Boy Scouting”

I love scouting.

That may be why I appreciated Mac’s comments here. I encourage you to read them. It’s a wonderful story.

Scouting had a tremendous impact on me, and introduced me to a host of great men who helped guide me through my teenage years. My love for scouting is likely due, in fact, to then. Continue reading “I couldn’t fathom why the Church supported Boy Scouting”

Today’s Mormon Molehill/Mountain

Folks like to give the LDS Church grief. Arguably, much of it isn’t deserved, but I think this is especially ludicrous.

Fancy Luda thinks your accusations of impropriety need to “get out the way.”

Headline from the Salt Lake Tribune – “Mormon discount? When it comes to car rentals, faith matters.

You gotta love the Trib. Continue reading Today’s Mormon Molehill/Mountain

Camp. With Girls.

I didn’t have many close Mormon friends in high school. There were a few of us, of course – California is no Utah, but neither is it the Eastern U.S. – but us Latter-day Saints didn’t really hang out in the same circles.

This is by no means a lament – I had wonderful friends, inside and outside the Church, and I’m all the better for them. Being part of a diverse crowd, however, did give me the chance to see how other churches did things. Continue reading Camp. With Girls.

#livingauthentically

Kate Kelly was informed on June 8 that there will be a disciplinary council trying her for apostasy. Holy Bloggernacle explosion!

Holy Kate Kelly, Batman

For my part, I’m saddened by this, just as I would be saddened by any person being potentially deprived of the blessings of Church membership. Neylan McBaine expresses that sentiment quite perfectly, I think. I’ve read her post a number of times, and there’s really nothing I would object to or add my own nuance to. Because of that, I really encourage you to read her post.

Still, I wonder if McBaine’s tears are in vain. Continue reading #livingauthentically

Christians, Muslims, Mormons, and the Press

Man, that title sounds like the start of a bad joke. If only.

Eliza Wood recently authored an article on the Huffington Post, a news outlet that tends to stray farther left that right (but that matters little for Latter-day Saints, who have trouble finding allies on either end of the political spectrum). Her question was this:

“Are Mormons any closer to Christians than Muslims?”

And her thesis?

“Short answer: No.”

A Few Problems Up Front

There are a number of things in this article that make me wonder, including why we are asking the question in the first place. Why are we looking to tie Mormons to Muslims?

I would wager that it’s based on the fact that Islam creates a knee-jerk reaction of fear and distrust in the American public. Tying Mormonism to that same knee-jerk reaction, however illegitimately, is something that will prove problematic for Mitt Romney and his candidacy for President (not to mention it’s impact on Latter-day Saints in general). I wonder why anyone would want to achieve that, especially given the fact that there is little to no unique connection between the two theologies.

Another problem is that Wood never really defines what Christianity is. It seems difficult to answer the question she poses without examining such a fundamental question as what makes Christianity Christianity. I’ve done a far better job at examining this question, and I don’t even get paid for it (see my posts “Calling us Cultists”“Mormonism and Robert Jeffress”, and “Mormon Observations on Mere Christianity” for starters).

The Motive

Wood gives explanation for this important investigation as such:

“As the media shapes our understanding of the Mormon faith, now that we Americans consider electing our first Mormon presidential candidate (Mitt Romney), it might be wise for us to better understand the similarities and the differences among Christianity and these two faiths.”

I’m not sure why any Presidential race merits examination of the candidates’ religion. I know there are some who believe that Obama is a closet Muslim, but were that the case I’m not sure I would have a problem with it. As a Latter-day Saint, I’ve never had my faith represented in this political office, but that’s not really an issue for me. I’m concerned that it’s an issue for Wood and those of similar disposition.

What’s more, why is Christianity our yardstick? Or rather, why is Wood’s version of Christianity our yardstick?

Awful Journalism

There are a number (read: not a few) of blatant errors about Mormonism in the remainder of the article. In pointing them out, I will defer to Daniel Peterson’s post. While I am pretty savvy on catching the Mormonism wrongs, Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University, and is quite qualified to speak on the subject. I agree with his assessment that Wood is

“attempting, in a not very subtle and not very ethical way, to demonize Mormonism and to damage Mitt Romney by linking them with Muslims and terrorism.  Which, if true, is both disingenuous and irresponsible.”

Backing up this asserting are a number of comments Wood makes on her own article, including one that says:

“Readers may enjoy other research and perspectives on this subject”

And then she links to a number of other sites, including the Christian Research Institute (which constantly, constantly bashes on the LDS Church) and Wikipedia (do journalists not use primary sources anymore? I couldn’t cite Wikipedia in high school…). It’s tacky at best, and more likely (as Peterson suggests), incredibly unethical.

But Peterson’s analysis is more than sufficient, and since my post would be more or less a copy-and-paste from here on out, I commend his post to you.

Find it here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2012/07/are-mormons-closer-to-muslims-or-christians-by-ms-eliza-wood.html

I will be the first to admit that Latter-day Saints sometimes have a persecution complex, but can you always blame them, especially when you encounter drivel like this?

Eliza Wood, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Money and the Mormon Church

Opposition to the LDS Church can be pretty virulent at times. Considering that, if financial criticism had any merit, it would have gained traction long ago. As it is, people have to stick to 200 year old stories of polygamist kidnappings or gold-digging prophets.

But that doesn’t stop people from digging into Church financials every now and then. Recently, this role was played (just as poorly as it has already been played) by Caroline Winter. The response to her article is the same as President Gordon B. Hinckley’s response to a 1997 Time article. He said,

“The money the Church receives from faithful members is consecrated. It is the Lord’s purse. Our Church facilities are money consuming and not money producing. We are not a financial institution. We are The Church of Jesus Christ. The funds for which we are responsible involve a sacred trust to be handled with absolute honesty and integrity, and with great prudence as the dedicated consecrations of the people.

“We feel a tremendous responsibility to you who make these contributions. We feel an even greater responsibility to the Lord whose money this is.”

Winter’s article may have garnered her some attention, but it will only be remembered as another failed attempt to discredit a spiritual institution that exercises an exactly honorable stewardship when it comes to finances.

For more, see the LDS Church response to the article, or this article about the criticism Businessweek and Winter are facing.

Calling us Cultists

I’ve written before on the unfortunate habit of labeling Mormonism a cult, and my disappointment when that label comes from the lips of Evangelical or mainstream Christians. I enjoyed this piece on the subject, and hopefully not just because I agree with the author (human beings have a habit of doing such things).

There’s a mistake that people make when they call Mormonism a cult. The mistake goes something like this:

These attacks inevitably abandon any definitional rigor and load the dice to reach the desired result. Thus, Sullivan adopts a handful of suspiciously on-the-nose criteria for cultishness— secret places sealed off from outsiders, pressure not to leave, and effective “enforcement” of tithing. In other words, Sullivan looked at some elements in the Mormon tradition that he finds unsettling, exaggerated them for effect, and decided that those are the characteristics of a cult. It’s an easy game to play.

“Here is another reasonable-sounding list of cultish characteristics: belief in the infallibility of a supreme leader, a system prohibiting clergy from normal family life, and a network of the especially devout who vow to totally remove themselves from society. No one believes Sullivan’s own Catholic Church—a global faith that has inspired some of the world’s greatest art, thought, and philanthropy — is a cult. But using Sullivan’s tactics, it isn’t hard to cast it in a dark, suspicious light.”

The author concludes that using the term in reference to Mormonism is inaccurate. They write:

“Ultimately, calling a religion a cult is a cowardly act, because the vagueness of the word provides plausible deniability to any who use it. While Sullivan or Jeffress may say they use the word in a specialized, limited sense, for the average person it evokes images of federal agents surrounding the Branch Davidians in Waco, not of a vibrant, growing religion some 14 million strong. If Sullivan does not intend to equate Mormons with brainwashed sycophants in a suicide pact, he should choose a less inflammatory word—one that actually means what he is trying to say.”

After reading the article (or just the above conclusion), what do you think? Is it fair to label Mormonism a cult?

Throwing Out the Tree with the Christmas Lights

With the title, I was trying to make a play on the common saying, “Throwing the baby out with the bath water”.

It’s a stretch, I know. What are you gonna do?

(That reference should make sense by the end, at least.)

A friend posted this article on Facebook, and I thought it went nicely with the news about the recent “mass” exodus. I won’t recap the whole thing – it’s a short article, and an interesting read – but I figured that I can paraphrase enough of Inouye’s argument to wet your appetites.

Inouye contends that there are two ways to think about religious tradition. The first way (and the inaccurate way) is to think of it like a string of Christmas lights –

“If one junction along the string is flawed, then the whole string is dysfunctional. Or, if the whole string is functional, then every single junction must be perfect”

The other way, the more accurate way, is to think of it like the process of baking sourdough bread –

“From start to finish, it’s all a process of fermentation-what we would normally call “food going bad.” It begins with the starter, an unruly colony of wild yeasts and bacteria swimming together in starchy soup. There is nothing lovely or pure about sourdough starter. Its exuberance makes it sour on the verge of stinky, fermented bordering on decayed. Yet, when introduced into a properly balanced supply of flour, water and salt, the starter is a catalyst for building a complex, living community that results in heavenly bread.

“Religious traditions, like sourdough, are complex, living things. They are both organization and organism, created and sustained from many different processes and actors, shaped by time and their environment. They even can be naturally subject to corruption.

“And yet they are also susceptible — through this same process of leavening — to producing goodness. Appreciating this goodness, and engaging productively with the complex processes that create it, is a project of intellect, not ignorance.

What do you think? Do we throw an entire religion out with the bathwater if something seems amiss? Or is there something more complex to it?

Lying for the Lord?

I think this uploader believes a clip like this will bring the Mormon Church to its knees. Spoiler: not so much.

If you’d like to talk about the accusations he makes in his pop-ups at the bottom of the screen, let me know (just identify which one, (1), (2), or (3), that you want to discuss). Those accusations are these:

  1. Millet says, “That’s why I group this under Answer the Right Question. The uploader says, “Don’t be honest – this is how you deceive people”. (0:12)
  2. Millet says, “In the spring of 1820, there was a young man named Joseph Smith, Jr., who was concerned about the subject of religion and wanted to know which church to join…”. The uploader says, “Not talking about sin and Jesus – Mormons are not Christ-centered, they are man-centered”. (1:10)
  3. Millet says, “The issue facing the religious world today is “Was Joseph Smith called of God?” The uploader says, “Is this the most important? No it is not!” (2:13)

Still, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see past the spin. I actually love this little segment. I hope at least that the Latter-day Saints appreciate it.

And the title of Millet’s talk was not “Lying for the Lord”. I know – shocker. But just in case…

For those who want to see another place where this same principle is discussed, read Preach My Gospel, the section entitled “Use the Book of Mormon to Respond to Objections” starting on page 108. Trust me – it makes sense.