Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In search of simplicity

Not limited to Mormons, but we do it at least as much as any other group, so: People who wish they lived in times past, when life was “simpler”, have no concept of history.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Utah != Mormon

It amuses me when people equate Utah quite so intensely with Mormonism as some tend to do. Utah’s liquor laws, for example, are frequently attributed to Mormons’ influence on the state legislature—and Utah’s liquor laws certainly are byzantine,* and i suspect that the local preponderance of Mormons does have something to do with that, but maybe not as much as people like to think. I mean, when i lived in Utah, it used to blow my mind every time i walked into a grocery store and saw that beer was freely available on the store shelves. After all, i’d just moved from Pennsylvania, where that would have been completely illegal—beer had to be bought at warehouse stores scattered across the state.**

Of course, we all know that Mormons actually secretly control the Pennsylvania legislature, so…

* Though they are currently in the process of becoming less so, as the pursuit of the elusive tourism dollar becomes ever more intense.

** I don’t know if this is still the case—when i left Pennsylvania there were rumblings about changing the system.

Also, a note on the title: Several years ago some net.friends of mine started calling the equation Utah != Mormon “Bowie’s Inequality Constant”, in honor of my incessant work on doing everything i could to quash those arguments that spuriously (that is, most of them) attempted to base their claims on some factoid about Utah that they then extended to Mormons and Mormonism generally.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brownies with a meaningless difference

So i got a really, horribly, stupidly silly email forward a bit ago. It’s one i’ve seen before (several years ago—nearly a decade, if i recall correctly), and i’ve even heard this story related in some form or another a couple times in church, but it’s worth reprinting here so that i can point out the fatal flaw in the object lesson. My response follows the story.

(Oh—and it seems that the stupid-email-forward fairies are getting stricter with age. When i first saw this, it was about a movie with an R rating. Now PG–13 is apparently out. Go figure.)

Brownies With a Difference

Many parents are hard pressed to explain to their youth why some music, movies, books, and magazines are not acceptable material for them to bring into the home or to listen to or see.

One parent came up with an original idea that is hard to refute. The father listened to all the reasons his children gave for wanting to see a particular PG–13 movie. It had their favorite actors. Everyone else was seeing it. Even church members said it was great. It was only rated PG–13 because of the suggestion of sex—they never really showed it. The language was pretty good—the Lord's name was only used in vain three times in the whole movie.

The teens did admit there was a scene where a building and a bunch of people were blown up, but the violence was just the normal stuff. It wasn’t too bad. And, even if there were a few minor things, the special effects were fabulous and the plot was action packed.

However, even with all the justifications the teens made for the PG–13 rating, the father still wouldn't give in. He didn’t even give his children a satisfactory explanation for saying, “No.” He just said, “No!”

A little later on that evening the father asked his teens if they would like some brownies he had baked. He explained that he’d taken the family's favorite recipe and added a little something new. The children asked what it was.

The father calmly replied that he had added dog poop. However, he quickly assured them, it was only a little bit. All the other ingredients were gourmet quality and he had taken great care to bake the brownies at the precise temperature for the exact time. He was sure the brownies would be superb.

Even with their father’s promise that the brownies were of almost perfect quality, the teens would not take any. The father acted surprised. After all, it was only one small part that was causing them to be so stubborn. He was certain they would hardly notice it. Still the teens held firm and would not try the brownies.

The father then told his children how the movie they wanted to see was just like the brownies. Our minds are us into believing that just a little bit of evil won’t matter. But, the truth is even a little bit of poop makes the difference between a great treat and something disgusting and totally unacceptable.

The father went on to explain that even though the movie industry would have us believe that most of today’s movies are acceptable fare for adults and youth, they are not.

Now, when this father's children want to see something that is of questionable material, the father merely asks them if they would like some of his special brownies. That closes the subject.

The flaw? When presented with something like this, i’d probably be evil/​stubborn/​brazen (pick your favorite word) enough to have eaten the brownies. After all, the heat of baking would have killed any of the bacteria present, and it’d be like me to point out the flaws in such a hideously stupid object lesson…

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Playing cards

It’s not as big a thing as it was when i was younger, i think, but as i recall a lot of Mormons got really into the idea that face cards are evil, so that not just games like poker and blackjack are out, but also go fish and war.

Myself, i simply adhere to a religious prohibition against number cards, thus saving me from the evils of Skipbo and Uno.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Asking it it’s untrue?

As a full-time missionary, i always told people that Moroni 10:3–5 says that you should ask God if the Book of Mormon is true. It actually says, though, that you should ask if it’s “not true”. Not sure if there’s a difference, but it feels like there may well be.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The will of the Spirit

Serious question: Does the Holy Ghost have any independent volition? If the Holy Ghost is God, one would think the answer is yes—but we don’t generally describe it that way.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Patriartichal blessings

I’ve decided that my patriarchal blessing must not be true, since nearly everyone i’ve heard testify of the truth of theirs has called it a patriartichal blessing. Apparently they all got the true one, and i’m left with a poor imitation.

(Semi-seriously, what is a patriartich, anyway? Maybe it’s actually patriarctic, meaning that they’re from snowy regions? Or maybe it’s a sort of a compound word, patri-article? Where in the world does that pronunciation come from?)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

On this Easter morn^H^H^H^Hafternoon

No snark today, just a nod to the reason we worship.

(And for those who aren’t nerds enough to get the subject line, ^H refers to an old widely-used keystroke for a backspace-delete.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What to focus on

I have a child approaching eight years old, and so she’s been getting lots of Baptism Rocks! messages in Primary. You know, baptism does rock—in fact, it’s even necessary. Long term, though, what really rocks is the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Harder to get that across to seven-year-olds, i suppose, but i feel like we ought to try more at it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Things i don’t understand: General Conference edition

Today’s puzzler: Why can’t church members watch the priesthood session of General Conference in their own homes?

It is, after all, one of the “general sessions” of General Conference (the first Saturday session is the “first general session”, the first Sunday session is the “fourth general session”—you do the math). It’s not like secret stuff gets taught during them, and it’s not even like non-Mormons or women or any such group aren’t supposed to ever see any of the meeting, since you can go to the church’s web site and watch previous years’ priesthood sessions for yourself. (I mean, you can even subscribe to a podcast of it there!)

And i haven’t even mentioned people who live where access to meetinghouses isn’t readily available. (Hellooo–oooo, Anchorage Alaska Bush District!)

So what’s the deal with this particular bit of church policy? Anybody have any explanations? (Other than inertia, of course, which is the only workable explanation i’ve been able to come up with.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Burnings in the bosom remixed

Why is it that any time i hear people going on about feeling a burning in the bosom, i halfway expect it to be followed by “And i know that the plate of sausage and peppers i had last night is true”?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

With a nod toward the day

What, you expected a practical joke here today? No, if you’re after that, you really ought to go looking for the experts.