Sunday, January 29, 2017

On the Muslim Ban: The Church Will Not Save Anyone

Last night I joined a few hundred people at the Salt Lake City airport to protest Donald Trump's ban of Muslims from a number of Middle Eastern countries. I won't delve into the technicalities of that here; information is easy to find. As things currently stand, an ACLU lawsuit led to the order being stayed nationwide late last night, but there are reports that the Department of Homeland Security may not respect the court. How that will resolve itself, and what the implications will be, remain to be seen.

Instead, I want to focus on the role the LDS church has played in this, or rather, not played. Across Facebook I've seen a number of progressive Mormons lament the church's passive role as hundreds of incoming immigrants and refugees nationwide have been detained without due process or sent away for the crime of being members of the wrong religion, of being born in the wrong country. On Saturday the Mormon Newsroom released a statement that reads:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned about the temporal and spiritual welfare of all of God's children across the earth, with special concern for those who are fleeing physical violence, war and religious persecution. The Church urges all people and governments to cooperate fully in seeking the best solutions to meet human needs and relieve suffering."
Whether you regard this as adequate most likely depends on whether you believe there was a problem to begin with. My goal, however, is not to change anybody's mind about that. If fear and prejudice have rendered you incapable of empathizing with the innocent people being targeted by our government, if your beliefs do not compel you to welcome the immigrant and the refugee, I have nothing to say to you. Your religion is nothing to me.

Instead, this post is directed at members of the church who, like me, are horrified and infuriated by what's happening, but who, to some degree or another, still maintain some kind of faithful church affiliation. I mean this as a call to action and hope I don't come off as condescending, because I know a lot of you are doing a hell of a lot more than me. But as it relates to the church, I have this to say:

The church will not stand up.

The church will not join us.

The church will not save anybody.

We have to do it ourselves.

The church may eventually release a more specific or strongly worded statement, or it may not. It will continue its admirable charity efforts, and individual leaders may give inspiring talks next April. But the church will not join any protests. It will not take part in any resistance campaigns. It will not take an adversarial role against the United States government. It will not condemn the Trump administration and the politicians who enable it.

My point is not that the church should do any of these things. I'm long past trying to argue that, though I respect those who are trying. I'm not trying to say that anyone should disaffiliate or distance themselves; that is entirely a personal matter.

But if what we see bothers us, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a vessel for change. We have to do it ourselves. We can protest, strike, call representatives, donate to good causes, and talk to people who are more involved in activism. We should enlist other Mormons wherever we can. I'm just beginning to try and be more than a keyboard warrior, and I have much more to learn than to teach.

But we cannot expect the church to lead us anywhere on this issue. We cannot expect it to follow. We cannot wait for it. We should not expect anything at all. The church will not save anyone. It's okay to be upset about that, but let's not stop there: let's find likeminded people and join them in doing something. These are dark days, but if I have faith in anything, it's that, despite my pessimism about the church and the country as a whole, we can still make a difference. We have to.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Ten Bulletproof 2016 Election Predictions

Only two days left, no time for an introduction.

1. Hillary Clinton will win by a comfortable electoral margin, as Trump's armed poll watching patrols, fearful of leaving the suburbs, fail to stop the most flagrant voter fraud operation in human history.

2. Donald Trump will refuse to concede, continuing to hold rallies for his increasingly justified grievances, but things will go terribly awry when, at an event organized by alt-right hero Milo Yiannopoulos, he brags about the numerous women he's slept with and compares John Podesta to "one of those retarded gamer losers living in his parent's basement." He will be cruelly turned on and beaten by the furious crowd of awkward twenty-somethings wearing Titanfall shirts, who accuse him of being an anti-GamerGate shill. Humiliated, Trump will disappear from the public eye for years before making a final, anticlimactic appearance at the 2025 Royal Rumble, where will be eliminated in ten seconds by an evergreen Undertaker.

His eulogy will read: asshole couldn't even sell a stunner

Monday, October 17, 2016

Uhh, We Have a Podcast, and It's Good

Hi everybody, Casey here. A few months back I wrote about the future of this blog, which is definitely not dead yet (we've even managed to pump out a few posts since!)

Meanwhile, our creative energies have been focused on other projects. First, Brooke and I are still running a movie discussion blog called Brooke and Casey at the Movies, which is updated periodically as we watch new and classic movies. It's fun, give it a read.

More recently, we started a podcast called Not Quite Right, in which we each select one topic for the other to explain to us (often badly), before we set each other straight. It's also great fun, You should listen to it immediately via iTunes, Google Music, or your podcast app of choice. Or give it a try right now: here's the latest episode, in which we discuss Metallica and CPR. We're just doing this for fun and for our own benefit, but hey, more listeners means we're more likely to stick with it. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Corianton, Mormons, and Sex

If you attend the mainstream LDS church and you go to Gospel Doctrine for Sunday School, then you're probably in Alma right now, close to the Corianton chapters. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can read Alma chapters 39 through 42 online or just keep reading for a brief overview.

In chapter 39, Alma lays out some serious allegations against his son, Corianton. Alma says that Corianton fled his missionary work with a harlot named Isabel and... *gasp* had sex with her. Alma goes on to explain that sexual sin is the worst kind of sin (okay, unless you're killing or denying the Holy Ghost), then he goes into a huge lesson on the resurrection and plan of salvation, and that's the way we usually talk about Corianton. He's Alma's kid who couldn't keep it in his pants.

Friday, July 22, 2016

How To Deal with Donald Trump: 10 Responses from Worst to Best

Now that  Donald Trump has officially accepted the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, many of my left leaning friends, along with a decent number of conservatives, are wondering how best to handle it. I can't say I have all the answers (I, like everybody else, pegged him as a laughable no-hope candidate last year), but I have a few ideas of what to do, and what not to do. Therefore I humbly offer:

How to deal with the Donald: ten responses ranked from worst to best.

10. Blame "too much democracy" or extol the virtues of elite leadership
Say what you like about the walking tangerine in a toupee currently representing the GOP, but don't pretend that the endless parade of elite, wealthy warmongering doofuses who typically represent the political class on the left and the right aren't responsible for this mess to a large degree.

Doofuses in their natural habitat

Sunday, May 8, 2016

On a Hard Day

Today was a hard day.

Mother's Day is hard not because of my mother or my mother-in-law. They are both fun, strong, sweet women and I'm lucky to have them.

No, what makes today hard for me personally is the celebration of the status quo.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

We Are Not Alone: Eliza R. Snow and Women's Shared Trauma

Today's guest post comes to you from Eliza N. She is an editor who lives and works in Salt Lake City. She grew up in the Midwest and misses the cornfields. When she's not working, reading, or watching Netflix, she enjoys running, playing volleyball, and hanging out with her dog.

Ed. Note: Trigger warning for discussion of rape.

I have some things to say.

Last week I attended the Church History Symposium co-hosted by the Church History Department and BYU's Religious Studies Center. I attended Dr. Andrea Radke-Moss's presentation that has been quite the talk over the weekend in the Mormon Studies world because of new information that she presented identifying Eliza R. Snow as a victim of rape in Missouri during the persecution of the Mormons there in 1838. Her write-up at the Juvenile Instructor as well as this one at By Common Consent by my friend Kristine A. give excellent overviews of Dr. Radke-Moss’s presentation and explanations of her sources and reasoning.

Since Thursday, there’s been plenty of pushback in the comment sections of pretty much every article and post that’s discussed the bombshell regarding the validity and credibility of Dr. Radke-Moss’s source, the validity of her conclusions, and whether or not this information should have been revealed. Dr. Radke-Moss handily rebuts this criticism in her JI post, but here are my thoughts about her presentation and some of the pushback I have seen.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Evaluating the Republican Presidential Candidates Once Again (aka Cruzin' to the Trumpocalypse)

A while back I introduced an exhaustive yet succinct graphical representation of the Republican presidential field. Well, a lot has happened since that requires an update, including the implosion of Scott Walker, the rise and fall of Ben Carson, the surprising ineptitude of Jeb Bush, Chris Christie still hanging around for some reason, Marco Rubio doing who the hell knows what, and the emerging battle between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump [shudder] I need a shower here's the chart:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

You Have Two Big Strong Hands That (Surprise!) You Have Control Over

A friend of the blog since before she was born, today's contributor Madelyn is Brooke’s baby sister. Madelyn is in her second year of college and spends most of her time working and singing in her institute choir.

My great-great-grandmother, Bertha A. Kleinman, wrote the adorable children's song "I Have Two Little Hands." I grew up being fond of the sweet tune and clever words. This morning, my father, the great-grandson of Bertha A. Kleinman, sent this photo to me and my sister.

It is a shot of a slide shown in a seminary class. He expressed disgust with this desecration of the song, and I'm going to express my own feelings here. In case you can't read the image, the twisted version of our family's favorite primary song reads:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Rejected Millennial Star Posts

Regular readers may be surprised to learn this, but Expert Textperts is not the only blog that occasionally touches on Mormon topics. In fact, in spite of blogging losing the "cool" factor it used to have, there are still dozens, nay, tens of dozens of blogs about Mormon stuff.

One such blog is called Millennial Star, best known in certain circles for its..shall we say... selective...commenting policy. It's also an online home of proudly rigid orthodox and conservative Mormon thought (FINALLY), although for some reason that doesn't extend to reviving discredited RLDS apologetics...but I digress. The more perspectives the merrier, says I!

This guy's view is a valid as anyone's.

What you might not know is that M*, as it's colloquially known, actually rejected me as a permablogger, for personal reasons (specifically, that they technically don't know who I am and I think I misspelled my email on the application). Still, I had a lot of great topics to pitch them, so as a service I now offer them to the world.

You're welcome.