Sunday, August 31, 2008

Musings on the sacrament

You know, I’ve had some Sundays where I’ve felt up to (worthy of?) the sacramental covenant stated in the prayer for the bread, but not for the water. Not sure what to do about that one, since I’m still not certain whether the bread and water of the sacrament of the sacrament is/are two ordinances or one.

Sorry, a bit serious there. I’ll try to do better next day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Political neutrality

In honor of today’s primary elections here in Florida, a political thought.

The church has a statement on political neutrality on their website, which includes an interesting comment (and one that was read from a letter over the pulpit in sacrament meeting, at least here, a few weeks back):

Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated Church position. While the Church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent.
This is pretty densely phrased, so i will provide here, as a free service, a translation into normal language:

Please, please, please stop sending us letters demanding that we excommunicate Harry Reid!
Hope that helps.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Not quite as amazing

Just a quick note to say that “I Stand All Amazed” was way cooler before the changes in the 1985 hymnal eliminated the tenor/bass antiphony.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wheat? What wheat?

Haven’t been able to post the past few days, what with living in Central Florida, and therefore having to deal with more consecutive days of a tropical storm than is really ever supposed to happen.

Being in Central Florida ties in to my thoughts for tonight, though, because as much as people like to say the church is the same everywhere, it really isn’t—the differences may be small, but they’re real.

Case in point: food storage. Everywhere we’ve lived before Florida, the word on what to store for long-term storage (i.e., the stuff past your three months’ worth under the current program) has been all wheat, all the time.

Here in Florida, we’ve heard little to nothing about wheat—any time anyone from around here talks about the core grain for food storage, it’s rice. (I think there’s also a local preference for black beans over white beans, but I’m not as certain about that.) In fact, those few times people bring up storing wheat, the general reaction seems to be along the lines of “Well, you could store wheat if you wanted to, but why?”

(Of course, since we’re not fans of food storage wheat, and our meals are way more likely to feature rice than wheat, it only seems right to us…)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Stand up, all victims of oppression!

Could people please stop referring to Moroni’s title of liberty as a flag or a banner? Be straight about it—it was a revolutionary manifesto! A publicly displayed broadside, exhorting the people to rise up and destroy the establishment around them. (I mean, really, what was the message? Something like this: Xians of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains…)

Monday, August 18, 2008

A truth about parenting

Having small children means never, ever closing your eyes during prayers in sacrament meeting.

Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood

Serious comment: I have never really understood what the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood actually is. (For those needing a reminder, it’s a half-dozen or so verses in Doctrine & Covenants sec. 84.) I understand the beginning (you do good) and the end (you inherit eternal life), but I don’t get the middle—how does getting from A to B work? And here’s what feels like everybody else in the church, blithely talking about the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood like what it’s talking about is a simple given—and so I feel like I’m missing some blatantly obvious thing. So what is it, then? (Not to mention that it talks about living up to “this” oath and covenant, while I can’t figure out where exactly the antecedent is.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A panoply of prophets

How is it that so many sacrament meeting speakers have only ever managed to run across people who are uninformed enough that their answer to questions like “Who else [but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] has a living prophet?” is “Nobody”? I mean, even leaving aside the other LDS Movement religions, there’s a whole world of faiths outside of the USA, some of which claim prophets, too.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Overshooting for Zion

Quick question: If the early Mormon settlers of Utah were willing to travel so far to get to Zion, why didn’t they stop there instead of passing it up on the way?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How many church meetings can you have in one week?

Not wholly original with me, but I observe that, in the interest of honesty, we need a fourteenth article of faith: We believe in holding sacrament meetings, priesthood meetings, Relief Society meetings, missionary correlation meetings, welfare meetings, and in holding meetings for all imaginable purposes; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of the Correlation Committee—We believe in meetings, we hope for meetings, we have endured many meetings, and hope to be able to endure all meetings. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we will hold a meeting to discuss it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The pulpit as a folklore vector

Anytime I hear someone in a class (or especially in sacrament meeting!) preface something with “I heard a story, I don’t know how true it is”, I really start to worry…

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Death and the Mormon pioneers

Why did the Mormon pioneers go through such privations, people often ask? Why, so that later generations would be able to bore us all with endless repetitions of stories about the <5% of the groups that faced abnormal injury/mortality rates, that’s why!

Monday, August 4, 2008

On the power of the Spirit

I (probably) don’t mean this as flippantly as this sounds, but since when did God become powerless enough not to be able to cut through the noise and bustle of everyday life, and be limited to communicating with us only when we’re in some sort of quiet meditative state? (After all, this pervasive-within-Mormonism idea just could’t have any useful side effects, like allowing us to dismiss charismatic/Pentecostal/evangelical-type spiritual experiences out of hand, so it’s not like we get any rhetorical mileage out of the idea, right? Right.)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Are Mormons Xian?

Why do Mormons want so intensely to be perceived as Xian? Given the state of modern American Xianity, I’d think we’d want people to perceive us as non-Xian.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Congregational singing

What is it with some wards and commas in congregational singing? The most egregious are at the beginning of the fourth verse of “Behold the Great Redeemer Die” (where you get “Father [gratuitous eighth rest] from me remove this cup”) and the middle of the chorus of “The Spirit of God” (“Hosanna [gratuitous eighth—I’ve even been in wards where it was a quarter—rest] hosanna to God and the Lamb”).

My guess? It’s the legacy of overzealous choristers/organists who have internalized the rule of thumb that commas are places to pause and take a breath, and somehow can’t realize that it’s more important to not break the flow of the music. Score one for those faiths that have a tradition of professionally (or at least semi-professionally) training their musicians, I suppose.