Monday, May 30, 2011

Cars

It continues to amaze me, the degree to which the policies and expectations of the Mormon church* assume that all families, or at least all families with children, have (at least) two cars. This ranges from the expectations of certain church callings to various church programs.

Consider the extra-special bonus meetings that members in administrative callings (such as members of the bishopric and organizational, group, and auxiliary presidents) have to attend before and/or after regular Sunday meetings while their families have to sit around and wait, often hungry, unless they have another car. Perhaps more extreme is the situation of members of stake high councils, who are expected to drive all over the place to attend various units’ sacrament meetings while their families need to drive to the meetings in their home wards.

Another case: Fathers of teenaged girls are usually asked to help out with young women’s camp.** However, since these events are usually held some distance from the girls’ homes, these fathers have to be able to drive to the campsite (and, just because of the way the logistics work, carpooling isn’t usually an option)—while the part of their family that remains at home still has to get around somehow.

So, the questions:
  1. Is this a good, or at least a reasonable, assumption for the church to make?
  2. If not, how can it be changed (if, in fact, it can be)?
  3. Might this have any sort of effect on the activity or devotion level of families that, by choice or by necessity, only have one car?
* In the United States, at least. Given social norms outside of the United States, i suspect that this is less true elsewhere.

** This, i have recently learned, is the event formerly known as girls camp.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Temporary eternities

Multiple times, i’ve heard people say that everybody should wear clothing that covers the outlines of the temple garment, whether one wears the garment or not, because what the temple garment covers is “the Lord’s eternal standard of modesty” (to use one particularly memorable phrasing).

Um, yeah. You know, anyone who’s going to claim that the lines of the temple garment have anything to do with eternal principles should be more aware of the ways that the design of the garment has changed over the years.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Couldn’t get an extension

So i heard a sacrament meeting speaker recently say that the Mormons were “evicted” from Missouri in the 1840s. Wow, thought i—i hadn’t realized that they hadn’t paid their rent on time. Well, such are the evils of cashflow problems.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Drawing lines

Quick question, in case anyone out there knows: Is there an easy way to find out what ward boundaries are? I mean, i know that for my own ward it’d be easy* to ask the ward clerk, and for wards in my stake or nearby ones i could maybe ask a stake clerk, but is there a way i could just randomly check how many wards there are in, say, Munich, Germany and where the boundaries between them lie?

And i know i could go to the church’s website and repeatedly plug in addresses until i find addresses on either side of the boundary line, but that just seems astonishingly painful. Maybe—maybe!—it’d be worth it to find the boundaries between a single pair of adjacent church units, but for the wards in even a single city? No way.

(And yeah, yeah, i know, disappointment all around on two posts in a row with the serious tag. Back to more casual observations next time, i promise—but at least this one’s not the thoughtful type of serious, it’s just a request for information!)

* Really easy, in fact.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sustaining and agreeing

A serious question today, one that’s been rolling around in my head for quite some time but that’s been indirectly crystallized by some interesting discussions going on over at Faith-Promoting Rumor lately:

When we vote* to sustain our church leaders, are we promising to agree with them?

There are a lot of people in the church who would say that the answer is yes—the whole “when the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done“ sort of approach.** This has been supported by some church leaders, too.*** On the other hand, there are declarations that go in the other direction—see, for example, all the stress in current policy on participants in ward council being open about their opinions including if they disagree with the bishop, and the importance of consensus decisions rather than top-down directives.

It’s an interesting tension—and maybe it’s there on purpose, and there’s no actual complete answer to my question. I don’t know, to be quite honest. Y’all’s thoughts?

* Yeah, i know, it’s the wrong word, but i’m going with it anyway.

** And yes, i know the history of that quote, and that the initial introduction of the line didn’t put it in a positive light. Doesn’t keep people from saying that’s the way we should be going about things, though.

*** See, for example and perhaps most famously or infamously (depending on your position on the issue), Ezra Taft Benson’s Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet address.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Violence and missionary work

I once heard a full-time missionary speak in sacrament meeting about people “getting hit with” the Book of Mormon, something completely new to them. I got this incredibly vivid image of missionaries bopping people over the head with Books of Mormon, causing the people to then fall into baptismal fonts.

Something about the “converting power of the Book of Mormon” should probably come here…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hierarchies

I have come to a decision about administrative callings in the church:

Mission or temple president > stake president or bishop

Not because they’re more important or anything, but rather because even though they have to sit on the stand during church meetings, they get to hang out with their wives while they’re up there.

Friday, May 13, 2011

If it’s inside it doesn’t count

A friend of mine reports on her blog* that the women in her ward got chocolates this past Mothers Day.

All really very unremarkable—chocolates are a very ordinary default Mothers Day gift in our church, after all.

Well, unremarkable except for the latte fillings the ones from her ward had, that is.

* Which i’m not linking to, since she regularly includes details about her children on it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shall the youth of Zion tripfalter?

So the church has released a bunch of videos to go along with this year’s youth program theme. In one of them, a teenage boy talks about how passing the sacrament is the most wonderfully amazing feeling in the world for him.

I feel very happy for him, i really do—perhaps not least because when i was a teenager, you know what passing the sacrament felt like for me? Constant fear that i’d trip over my still-outsize-for-my-height feet and spill the bread or water all over the place. Not really the height of joy for me, you know?

Apparently i was already in training to be evil back then.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fitting songs

Today for Mothers Day my ward didn’t sing “Love at Home”. Clearly, our bishop is now to the point of attempting outright heresy in order to get released.

p.s. Seriously, though, do we have a more grating song in our hymnal? It wouldn’t be so bad, i suppose, except that the musical setting lends itself to absolutely horrific congregational glissandos on the “love at home, love at home” lines. Maybe if we sang it as it was actually written it would be better—but i’m not entirely convinced of that.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The importance of place

I’ve heard people in church say—and often!—that the Restoration had to occur where it did geographically so that the Book of Mormon could come along as part of it. Was the timeline as it occurred really so necessary, though? Could the Restoration have occurred in, say, China with the Book of Mormon coming forth later (or maybe with the Restoration in China being accompanied by a record we don’t have yet)?

Really, i think it’s fun to imagine an alternate present in which Mormons bear testimonies about how blessed they are to live in China, the only place where the Restoration could have taken place, rather than in a less bless├ęd place like, say, the United States of America.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Being weepy

So this past Sunday was my ward’s testimony meeting. At one point a woman went up front to the podium, offered her testimony for a couple minutes, and then sat down. As she left the podium, my youngest* leaned over to me and said, softly but with clear surprise in her voice,

Oh! She didn’t need any kleenexes!

I’m glad to know that my child is learning all of the requisite cultural markers she’s going to need to survive the Mormon world as an adult.

* Three years old, which i think adds something to the story.