Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Church naming practices

All my decades in the church, i’ve heard the claim that when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in 1830, there were no churches already in existence that had the name of Jesus Christ in their names.

Even leaving aside the fact that that wasn’t the name of our church until a few years later, is that claim actually true? I’ve never seen any solid evidence for it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Imaginary sinners

Serious thought: Yeah, there is greater joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the ninety-nine who don’t need to repent. But you know what? The ninety-nine who don’t need to repent don’t actually exist.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

There’s Marmons on the carner

So i just spent a little bit of time listening to L. Tom Perry, and i’m just wondering: Does anyone else want to work up a petition to get the Utah legislature to declare him a state linguistic treasure? I mean, i know we’ve got a pretty good case to make on his behalf…

Sunday, February 19, 2012


If you know followers of Jesus Christ “by their fruits”, and if the usual interpretation of that verse is correct (that those who truly do good are therefore true followers of Jesus), does that mean that we’re claiming that, say, atheists or Muslims who do great good are actually Christians? ’Cause if so, there’s all sorts of weirdness afoot.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Workers, unite!

You know, the first verse of “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel” wouldn’t be out of place at a meeting of a cell of your local Communist Party, right after the singing of “The Internationale”.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mixed messages

Absolutely true story: Right now, my 12-year-old daughter is at a stake youth activity. The fun part? It was advertised as a “casual church dress” activity.

So that means she was supposed to wear…what? Anybody care to parse that one for me?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Watching movies

So this past weekend my family sat down and watched the movie The Singles Ward. (Jeanne and i had seen it before, but it was the first time any of our kids had seen it.) If you haven’t seen it before, it’s not world-shatteringly great but it’s also not a bad little movie, and you should watch it if for no other reasons than (a) it has a really fun soundtrack that would drive some of our more, um, intensely artistically conservative church members absolutely insane* and (b) the rest of this post assumes you’ve seen the movie and at least somewhat remember it.

Anyway, as i watched this movie for the first time in several years, i was struck by two things. One is that the Discman shown at the beginning and end of the movie certainly dates it, even though it’s only just over a decade old. The other is more substantial: The big important turning point of the movie involves the female lead becoming severely angry and hurt because the male lead makes jokes about Mormons in his stand-up routine.

This reminded me of what i thought was the really, really major flaw of the movie:** Was the female lead character really worth chasing after? I mean, anyone who would be offended by such mild jokes, well, i don’t think such a person is worth it, you know?† But no, she gets held up as this amazing ideal, and we’re supposed to feel empathy for her. Sorry, folks, but if someone can’t watch others poke fun (mildly, even!) at a group they’re a part of, they really need to grow a thicker skin before they’re such the ideal.††

* Seriously—find Rooster’s version of “Popcorn Popping” from the movie’s soundtrack and download it now. You will be happy.

** Also, in the same sequence, a minor flaw: The evil female character’s use of the verb “to play” in a way that i’m still trying to figure out—it almost but not quite matches any of the (slang) meanings i’ve ever heard, or that i can find even on Urban Dictionary.

† There’s an irony of sorts, too, in that one of the stock characters that the movie uses to make fun of singles ward folks is a woman who is offended by patently non-offensive things.

†† I think i’m going to use the rare “Mormon-oriented literature” tag on this one, just to annoy the kind of people who don’t think literature departments should teach courses in film.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

More lockstep claims

So in my last post, i wondered aloud where the idea that Mormons are a lockstep people comes from. Wherever it comes from, though, it’s become a part of the narrative, and as evidence for that i give a line from one of Aaron Blake’s recent columns in the Washington Post,* this one about how the Mormon vote has helped Mitt Romney in the past, and how it was expected to help him in today’s caucuses. Here’s the line:

Because Mormons vote in unison and because they turn out in large numbers, a state like Nevada is virtually impossible for any of Romney’s opponents to win.

Did you catch that? “Because Mormons vote in unison…” Interesting phrasing there—it presupposes that Mormons vote in unison, rather than trying to establish whether that’s actually the case. It certainly is the case that Mormons have tended to vote for Romney at rather amazingly high rates in the past, but how would one know that Mormons voting for Romney at such high rates isn’t simply a case of identity politics, rather than the group voting as a (near-)monolithic bloc?

* I grew up near Washington DC, and a lot of the Mormons i grew up around were convinced that the Post was an ardently anti-Mormon newspaper. I never really got that, myself—rather, the newspaper, like very many newspapers, was intensely after the merest whiff of scandal coming from any large organization, and that occasionally meant they reported on negative stuff about the Mormon church. There is a difference between that practice and being anti-Mormon, though—if you’re an equal-opportunity muckracker, i don’t think the charge of being anti-anything-specific can actually stick, you know?