Monday, March 30, 2009

Wondering what a thy looks like

True story: I recently heard a sacrament meeting speaker whose intonational pattern made it clear she analyzed thy will be done not as NP[thy will] VP[be done], but as NP[thy] VP[will be done]. (That is, she clearly used will as the future aspect marker, not the subject of the sentence.) Further proof that we really ought to give up on the whole thou-thee-thy-thine thing (and maybe adopt a more Modern English-type Bible translation), when members of the church start thinking that there’s such a thing as a thy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sunday shopping

It’s not unique to Mormons, but a lot of us Mormons have this thing about businesses being open on Sunday, and very loudly say that all (or at least nearly all) businesses ought to be shut that day. Myself, i just wonder why they have something against observant Seventh-Day Adventists and Jews having a convenient day to shop.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Doin’ it

The Nephites apparently did it. The book of Doctrine and Covenants seems to say that we should be doing it. Roman Catholics even do it nowadays. So why don’t we kneel as a congregation during the blessing of the sacramental emblems?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Can’t we just finally give up on the “thou” thing?

Sorry, but i’m still not convinced that God really cares whether or not we use selected portions of the Early Modern English second person pronominal and declension system when we pray.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


When i was growing up, i sometimes felt like half of all of the sacrament meeting speeches were lectures on how we needed to set goals. I grew to loathe them.

Goal-setting was a big deal when i was a full-time missionary, as well. (Well, at least it allegedly was—in reality the goals were pretty much set for us.)

Lectures from the pulpit on goal-setting are thankfully rarer in my life now, but they still occur. Therefore, i propose that anyone who delivers a sacrament meeting address on the importance of setting goals should have yesterday’s Pearls Before Swine tattooed on their forehead:

p.s. Pearls Before Swine is a really amazing comic strip—if you haven’t ever seen it before you should definitely look it up.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Keeping secrets sacred

I for one have gotten tired of the “sacred but not secret” throwaway line we Mormons tend to use when talking about the temple ceremonies,* since if you don’t talk openly about something it is secret, even if that’s not the core reason you’re not talking about it.

* Yes, temple ceremonies, not temple ceremony—there’s more than one.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Maybe “vague hills” would work better

Should we really ever sing “Carry On” (a.k.a. “Firm As the Mountains Around Us”) in Florida?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Nephite cycle

The “Nephite cycle” discussed so often in Gospel Doctrine classes goes as follows: success→​pride→​cursings→​repentance→​blessings→​success→ (lather, rinse, repeat endlessly). The David B cycle looks more like this: success→​stunned shock→​self-doubt→​nebbishness→​determination→​success→ (repeat endlessly). Same thing overall, I suppose, it just doesn’t make for as compelling a narrative.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Church as family?

People often talk about how they feel like church is a family. I don’t feel that way, myself. That there’s a set of shared assumptions that gives a head start on decent friendships, sure, but family?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Modesty’s unintended consequences

I was going through old email, and i found something that i posted to USENET a few years ago, after i moved from my exile in Utah to Florida. It’s a bit long, but i think it deserves a place here. (There were a few other things i found that’ll probably go up in coming weeks, as well.) Anyway, it was in response to

…When women are required by culture or custom to keep everything covered but their face, then a glimpse of an ankle may bring forth “strong desire” but when women are dressed as many now dress, bare midriff, almost bare breasts, bare except for the “bikini area” which gets smaller and smaller, is the lustful desire greatened?…

Going in what i think is a somewhat different direction than what the previous poster intended, this ties in to one reason i so desperately wanted to move away from Utah—and it’s a reason i don’t think i’ve mentioned here before: The local emphasis on modesty (in the current usual Mormon sense) was pushing me to some sort of immodesty (at least in thought).

I have always taken pride in the fact that i can look at an attractive human being and appreciate their attractiveness without any sort of lust taking over.* Therefore, seeing a woman in a miniskirt might lead me to the thought “Nice thighs”** but without anything sexual attached to it.

However, living in Utah County, Utah and surrounded by BYU students adhering to a strict dress code as i was for four years, this ability started to slip away from me—if i saw attractive legs shown by a miniskirt or short shorts, or a well-muscled or well-breasted*** chest shown by a low-cut top, or whatever, my sex drive and therefore tendencies toward lust would start to kick in.

This bothered me greatly—and i recognized the connection between not being constantly surrounded by bits of attractive skinx on the one hand, and the tendency toward inability to appreciate those bits of skin dispassionately on the other. This was an ability i did not want to lose, so it gave me another reason to want to move to an area where skin is more often visible.

So i’m now in Florida, where skin is much more visible, and i find myself much more able to appreciate what i see without my sex drive/lust kicking in.xx This is (in my opinion) a Good Thing.

It has led me to think, though—and here i think i circle around to what the original poster was after, though in a somewhat different way—that the call for modesty^ you often hear among Mormons may arise out of a recognition that looking at attractive people, and particularly attractive bits of their bodies, may lead to lust. However, getting people to cover up those bodies may well, for people like me, make the fight against lust more difficult, not easier.^^

In other words, a push for modesty (in that sense) may well have the effect of saving some people from condemnation due to their lusts at the expense of leading some people (like me) toward condemnation.

I don’t think a happy medium is likely to emerge, given current rhetorics and such, but i know i’m not alone in this—it’s just that you don’t hear from my side very often on youth standards nights (or whatever the equivalent is these days). I just wanted to put it out there for people to think about, and maybe to get some reactions, particularly from those who disagree with my take on things.^^^

* My appreciation for this trait is probably related to my deep appreciation for incongruency—i have a very high sex drive, but i’m able to appreciate sexual items without my sex drive kicking in. That’s worth serious points in my reality.

** Or, alternatively, “Someone with thighs like that shouldn’t wear a miniskirt” or “Not a good cross-dressing choice”—but i’m dealing with attractive people (or at least features) in this discussion.

*** Depending on the sex of the chest, of course. ☺

x Not always visible—a well-cut pair of jeans, after all…

xx Making it less likely that i’ll be condemned for lust, i think. Of course, if you don’t have the same semi-paradoxical tendencies as i do, Florida may not be the place for

xxx Especially if you’re a leg man. If you’re a leg man in Florida, you’re on the express train to hell. ☺

^ Once again, in the usual Mormon sense, even though that means we have to ignore what i feel is the more important part of modesty (not to mention the definition the Book of Mormon uses): a lack of ostentatiousness.

^^ Leading to a vicious cycle, really—lustful desires at visual stimuli leads to a push for reducing those stimuli, which leads to less such stimuli, which leads to stronger lustful desires at visual stimuli, which leads to a push for reducing those stimuli, which leads to less stimuli, which leads to stronger lustful desires at visual stimuli…

^^^ And yes, i recognize that this simply proves (once again) that i’m evil. No need to mention that one.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Starting too late

New pet peeve: Please, folks, don’t start reading Ephesians ch. 5 at v. 22. That completely ignores v. 21, and that’s a necessary lead-in!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

We’re in good hands

Actual testimony meeting quote: “Our ward is in good hands.” Did we just fall into an Allstate ad?