Saturday, July 31, 2010

Again with the skirts and trousers

One more thought on skirts: I know this isn’t limited to Mormons, but what’s the deal with skirts (not miniskirts here, i’m talking about knee-length things) and dresses being perceived as more “moral” than trousers on women? I mean, i always thought of skirts and dresses as somewhat less moral, what with sexual access being quite a bit easier with them and all. So what am i missing here?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It…It was the trousers, really.

We get weird about clothing in our church. Consider, for example, the one i’ve run across more than once that holds that women must wear skirts to go into the chapel. Why?

Weirdest instance of this i’ve ever run across: Some years ago, Tuesday or Wednesday or whatever youth activity night, and a handful of women huddled outside the entrance to the chapel, trying to figure out how to get the child of one of them who was running around in the chapel. The problem? All of the women were wearing trousers. I walked by with a (male) friend, and they asked us to go fetch the child, which was then done.

The weirdness? We were wearing jeans. At least some of the women were wearing dress slacks. So what was up with it being okay for us to go in the chapel but not them?

p.s. Ten bonus points for whoever gets the obscure film reference in the title of today’s post.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Is this really a covenant?

Is Mosiah 18:8–10 a summary of the baptismal covenant (as it’s usually referenced), or is it a summary of the qualifications and results of an effectual baptism? I think there’s a difference, and i suspect the difference would be important (not to mention that i suspect that it’s the latter, not the former), but i can’t put my finger on exactly how and why.

p.s. I actually like Blogger as a blogging platform, but my biggest annoyance with it (aside from the lack of decent photo placement tools, though that doesn’t really affect this blog) is that the buttons for publishing a post and saving it as a draft are right next to each other, making it really, really easy to think you’re scheduling a post to go up one afternoon, when you’re actually keeping it invisible to your readers. That is all.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

For all the Mormon MBAs out there

It's worth remembering that the plain text of the Word of Wisdom says that Mormon-made sacramental wine is acceptable. There's gotta be a Mormon entrepreneur out there who sees a money-making opportunity in that.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On fear

Just an interesting point a sacrament meeting speaker made recently: The word fear is problematic in religious contexts, because it’s ambiguous. Therefore, it becomes necessary to contrast what i as a linguist might call fearreverence and fearshame (with reverence and shame being the words the speaker used).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Again, the gathering is over

Okay, so i completely understand people singing and loving “Come, Come Ye Saints”—it’s not my musical preference (it’s in G major to begin with, never a good choice), but fine, whatever works for you.

But could we please have a rewrite on some of the lyrics? Especially that bit in the third verse, which starts

We’ll find the place which God for us prepared
Far away in the West…

I mean, this isn’t accurate anymore on two counts.

First of all, this is a clear reference to the “gathering” to Utah. However, it hasn’t been the policy of the church to have church members move to Utah for a long, long time—so why make it sound like it’s still in effect in one of our most commonly-sung songs? (I suggest replacing “Far away in the West” with something like “Near at hand, where we stand”.)

Second, isn’t “in the West” a bit relative? I mean, now that i live in Alaska, far away in the west is Moscow, if it’s anywhere. (In fact, when i was growing up in Maryland, i started refusing to sing that line on the principle that the gathering was over, and the land that God had prepared for me was right where i was. On the other hand, of course, during my exile in Utah, i made it a point to sing that line with vigor.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

The ‘gathering’ is over. Repeat, the ‘gathering’ is over.

What’s up with “gathering” songs like “For the Strength of the Hills” being in the hymnal? The gathering to Utah ended about a century ago, after all, and with a very few exceptions (like “Israel, Israel, God Is Calling”) the lyrics of that sort of song are painfully didactic and the melodies are boring. Really, not a good combination, especially when it goes along with a message that goes against current church practice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Spirituality and boys

I’ve gone back and forth on posting (well, reposting, sort of) this, but i want to get people’s reactions on it.

A couple months ago, Heather the Mama Duk related this story in a comment to a post on this blog:

Not really on your point, but it reminded me of something I found totally weird.

My former visiting teaching companion in my old ward once said she felt people who were given several boys were the more spiritual people in the church. She said that she knew I must be a wonderful person because I have 3 boys. She wasn’t so much because she only had one boy.

Um, yeah. I seriously had no response. Totally speechless. It was the strangest conversation I’ve ever had with another Mormon. I mean, I’d had almost the exact same conversation a few days before with my next door neighbor, but she was Muslim so culturally her point made a lot more sense.

For the record, I do not believe at all that Mormons with lots of boys are any better than those who have lots of girls…or no kids at all.

I’m (re)posting this to find out if anyone out there has had similar experiences, or has heard similar things from other Mormons. Is this widespread and people just don’t say it to my face ’cause i have all daughters (and so therefore must be unspiritual)?* Or is this the sort of thing that comes about ’cause we’re gathering our converts from all the wrong neighborhoods?** Or is this actually an integral part of Mormon doctrine, and i’ve just managed to miss it in my readings of canon over the years?

* I mean, unspiritual for that reason, not for things like that i run a vaguely snarky blog.

** Not that i’d blame relatively-recently-appeared-in-Mormonism social attitudes that are clearly borrowed wholesale from evangelicalism on such things. No, of course not. Never.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Obscuring a distinction

For several years, the Mormon church has used the term ‘less active’ to refer to those who don’t attend church meetings. This has replaced the term ‘inactive’ to describe such people, and the terminology shift seems to have caught on among the general membership of the church, at least in places i’ve lived.

The problem i see, though, is that ‘less active’ and ‘inactive’ actually, at a literal level, describe two very different things. After all, among church members there’s (at least) a three-way distinction to be made in activity levels: Some Mormons are fully active in church activity, some are fully inactive, and some are in between. Why not use all three terms to describe these groups, where ‘active’ and ‘inactive’ mean exactly what they look like, and ‘less active’ refers to those who have some degree of activity in church, but aren’t really fully involved?

No, seriously—why not use the terms that way?

Friday, July 9, 2010


Section 4 of the book of Doctrine and Covenants does not say (as is commonly claimed) that faith, hope, love, &c. qualify you for the work—it says that the desire to do the work qualifies you, and that’s a far more intriguing claim.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In which David B makes an unpatriotic statement

So there’s all sorts of commercial sites out there running scamstours of “Book of Mormon lands”. The thing i find really interesting about this is that, as far as i can find, all of these sorts of tours involve destinations in Mesoamerica,* but, at least among Mormons in the United States, the same sort of people who swallowaccept Mesoamerican claims for Book of Mormon locations also seem to believe that when the Book of Mormon talks about promises for “this land”, it means the United States specifically, or maybe (if they’re feeling generous) all of the Americas.

What i want to know is: Why might those promises not be intended for, say, Costa Rica? Or Nicaragua? Or the Andean highlands? Or anyplace else that doesn’t include the United States?

* Yes, even though we don’t actually know where any of the locations—and there are multiple named locations, something a lot of people forget—in the Book of Mormon might actually have been.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Excluding folks from heaven

The very early Mormons (before what people often mean by “the early Mormons”—i’m talking about the late 1820s and early 1830s) tended to believe pretty firmly in a very inclusive, almost universal heaven. What happened to push us away from that?

(Couldn’t be a need to feel better than others, i’m sure. Right?)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Considering lessons from the scriptures

A sacrament meeting speaker recently told us to consider the lessons we can draw from 3 Nephi 1:4–13.

The main lesson i draw? God has a thing for the dramatic.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Going through the logical possibilities

I wonder about 3 Nephi 11:33–34—it says the unbelieving who aren’t baptized are damned, the believing who are baptized will be saved. It say nothing about the believing who aren’t baptized, but i guess they get hit by not fulfilling the law given to them. The remaining case of the unbelieving who are baptized is interesting, though, and their fate is left tantalizingly undefined.