Saturday, September 27, 2008

A breathtaking idea

Given all the people who go all out of breath/creaky in testimony meetings, maybe the church should do like the National Football League and install oxygen masks on the sidelines.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Are Mormons evil?

Lots of people think Mormons are somehow inherently evil—and Mormons, for their part, have been running from such claims since before the church was even organized in 1830. However, it’s time to come clean on this—and so here, finally, is the truth about Mormons in the United States, in convenient field guide format:

  • Utah Mormons are evil and know it, but cover it up frantically.
  • California Mormons are evil but don’t know it.
  • Mormons in the rest of the US West are evil and know it, and would cover it up if only they knew how.
  • Mormons in the Midwest are evil and know it, and are constantly ashamed about it.
  • Mormons in the deep South are evil and know it mainly ’cause everyone else tells them they are, but they cover it up to the extent that they can to keep the neighbors quiet.
  • Mormons in the East are evil and know it and glory in it!

Hope this helps.

Yes, i’m an easterner. Why do you ask?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pointless Sundays

Later today in my ward we have what is either my least or second-least favorite day on the Mormon liturgical calendar: the Primary program.

I mean, what is the actual point of this annual exercise? From what i understand, Mormons are commanded to ”meet together oft” (that’s a scriptural text, making Mormons one of the very few religious groups required to attend church meetings by canon) so that we can instruct one another in the mysteries of God. Well, unless one of the mysteries of God is that small children mumble (or, occasionally, shout painfully loudly) when they deliver lines that grown-ups have written for them, then the Primary program isn’t really serving any discernible religious purpose I can see.

(And no, before anybody says it, it is not cute to watch my own or anybody else’s children mumble incoherently in front of a sacrament meeting crowd. If you think it is, then sorry, but you need a good taste transplant.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lesson manuals

My youngest sister recently wrote on her blog that she has now finished reading the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manuals. I thought i might as well reproduce my reply to her post here (edited slightly for context), since it seems to fit the general spirit of this blog, even though it’s a bit serious:

The Joseph Smith manual has been my wife’s and my least favorite of the series. We’re not entirely sure why (though it certainly seems that the editors seem to have chosen blander quotes than they needed to, maybe because of the cultural importance Mormons attach to anything Joseph Smith ever said). I think most of our botheredness about it, though, is the editorial insistence to try to shoehorn all the quotes into a chronological “life history of Joseph Smith” framework (even though the quotes aren’t chronological), rather than doing the pure topic-by-topic approach that has worked so well with the others. Maybe church history lessons should be left to church history classes, you know?

I wouldn’t mind seeing the Brigham Young manual redone with the pedagogical lessons learned since then (most particularly, that there’s no reason to be afraid of extended quotes—sometimes it felt like there was no single quote of more than two sentences in the entire Brigham Young manual).

And my favorite in the series so far? The Heber J. Grant manual, which surprised me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Washing cars

From the i’ve-heard-it-too-many-times-in-church-meetings file: I really don’t like the “nobody washes a rental car”/​“nobody paints a rented house” claim. After all, everybody who rents a car washes it, and everybody who rents a house paints it—the rental charge includes payment for those things. Actually, given the way some non-rented cars and houses I’ve seen lately look, a lot of renters are doing a better job at upkeep (or at least paying for the upkeep that gets done) than owners are.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The sound of silence

Today was testimony meeting, and we had a lot of silences—nothing in the minutes-long range, but several of those pauses that run just noticeable enough to make people in the congregation nervous.

Why do those silences make us nervous? I mean, is it really so wrong for us to enjoy hanging out in silent communion with the Spirit? Or are we afraid that if someone’s not up there talking we might actually start having to think through stuff for ourselves?

I’m thinking that most Mormons would simply explode if they went along with a friend to a Quaker “unprogrammed” (i.e., silent worship) service.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Reverence begins with…

You’ve heard it, too: “Reverence begins with me.”

No, it doesn’t—reverence begins with re. No wonder the kids can’t read these days!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Not an American church, eh?

So i found out that the good folks over at Worldmapper (an absolute nirvana for a demographics geek like me) have come up with a map of the world’s distribution of Mormons. The map follows, but you should look at the page it’s from to get all the background and such:

I plan to point to this map anytime somebody tries to say that we’re not an American church—really, we’re not that strong outside the Americas (with the minor exception of the Philippines), and the sooner we admit it, the sooner we can get to improving our preaching elsewhere.