Saturday, June 29, 2013

Women, Feminism, Jesus, and You

Here's another excellent guest post, this time from our friend Samantha. She is proud, revengeful, and ambitious—like Hamlet! Just kidding, but we're not kidding when we say she is a brilliant person who is always on an adventure. Her next adventure will take her to Cuba, and soon after she will graduate from BYU.

Feminism is a pretty stigmatized topic even though it shouldn’t be. I like what The Encyclopedia of Mormonism says: Feminism is the philosophical belief that advocates the equality of women and men and seeks to remove inequities and to redress injustices against women.

Feminism in this light can be universally accepted in the church as something morally right. Doctrinally, it makes sense that before an omnibenevolent God women and men are, though different, completely equal. For the record, I firmly believe that He does not send one category of His children to the earth spiritually impaired thus requiring the bestowal of priesthood responsibilities to compensate for said impairment. Also, there is no monopoly on certain virtues depending on whether you are male or female. Men and women play different and equal parts in God’s great Plan of Salvation. We cannot come into this life without the combined power of a woman and a man and we cannot fulfill the requirements of the Gospel without that same combined power.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Goodbye, DOMA and Prop 8

Gay marriage is already legal in 13 countries, and not one of them has burned to the ground or begun persecuting straight couples. Two more countries will allow same-sex marriages starting in August, and an additional 11 are working towards it (12 if you count Wales) besides the US.

This is the world we live in.

When I was teaching US History to 5th graders last semester, the volatile topic of gun control came up. Nearly all of these kids have been raised in very conservative homes. When one little girl announced proudly that she was OK with gun control, the entire room was whipped into a frenzy, and one very sweet boy asked me, "Well, why don't all the people who believe the same things move to the same place? Like if you like guns you can move here and if you don't you can move to California."

I thought this was a brilliant response, but I've been thinking about that simple suggestion for months now. At the time, my co-teacher and I made some good points about diversity being a good thing, and he agreed that it's probably hard to move so far and not know anybody. But the real answer is so much more complicated.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Cruelty of the "Like"

I'm going to bring up a pet peeve of mine that seems to be spreading like the plague. It's the facebook "like".

The like is a way of minimizing major events from the amazing moments they are to one click. It's one word that doesn't even begin to cover the emotions associated with said events. It works okay with simple, funny statuses, but what about marriages? New relationships? Pregnancy announcements? Birth?

I have so much excitement I don't even know how to tell you on this social networking site!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Scripture, Ethics and Law: The Coexistence

Friend of the blog Jacob wrote us a guest post. He also writes for his own personal blog, The Experience Free Opinion.

Outside the most avid religious enthusiasts, nobody knows all scripture off the top of their head.

None but the keenest of ethicists espouses a consistent ethical code by which they rigorously abide.

Sure as your phone's been big-brothered, there's not one soul on Earth to recite every written law for the land of the "free."

And yet, uncertain as the lot of us "normal" folks remain, most- at least, among the Christians- have got a rough idea of what the Bible tells them; most have got some sketch of what they see as "good" and "bad"; most have got a pretty good idea about what gets them arrested-- and what they wish didn't.

It's trying to combine the three-- scriptures, ethics and law-- (or perhaps just a given two) into a single, unified, logical, consistent and self-representing philosophy that's got most of our thinking minds in a big, messy, politck-y knot.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Habermas and Mormonism: Speculation in Private and Public Spaces

Some mornings, while preparing my Sunday school lesson, it will occur to me how Habermas' discussion of the creation of public and private spaces can inform how correlated Mormonism polices speculation (suggesting you do it on your own time and not in church) as an effort to demonstrate or perform the faith's assimilation into a more traditional American Christianity ... Like you do.

I posted this status on Facebook a few days ago. After explaining my thoughts a little more, Casey suggested I share my sentiments as a blog post. I have tried thinking of a clever introduction--one that might include some commentary on recent NSA controversies--but honestly the Facebook post still seems like the best approach. I mention the NSA because the controversy hinges on some basic ideologies regarding how we as an American society think about public and private spaces as separate spheres. Ostensibly, there are public institutions and conversations or debates and then there are private spheres where information or organizations operate distinct from the public sphere. While I don't feign a commanding knowledge of the recent controversy, one source of dismay surrounding the topic is rooted in a sense of the violation of those spheres. While I am not going to downplay the implications of the controversy, the academic in me that loves social theorists like Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser believes that post-Enlightenment state apparatuses always already create not just public spaces but also the notion of their being a private space. In other words, you might take comfort in the notion that you have a private part of your life or private spaces to operate, but such space and time is always already generated by the public or the state to create subjectivity of citizens or other members of society. In other words, the distinction is not only an illusion but a somewhat purposeful strategy in order to make society function. As one character in the movie In the Loop proclaims, "Now, you might not believe it; and I might not believe it. But my God, it's a useful fiction."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Uniqueness of the Sacrament

Friend of the blog Cory, who contributed to our epic election roundtable a while back, has returned with more musings and ponderings for the benefit of all:

Priesthood ordinances are very ceremonial and regimented in the church. Some must be said word-for-word, such as the baptismal ordinance or the sacrament ordinances. Other ordinances like priesthood blessings or confirmation have more freedom of wording, but still specify that certain things must be said in a certain way. Suffice to say, the wording of priesthood ordinances in the church seem to be very carefully considered by church leaders (and by extension, God, since his order comes through His representatives).

Monday, June 10, 2013

Reflections on Eight Funerals

The first funeral I remember attending was on my mission. My companion and I had an investigator, Chris, who was a week away from baptism. Chris was wheelchair-bound and somewhat sickly, but seemed healthy enough that we were shocked when we visited one day and his brother, with whom he shared an apartment, told us that Chris had died the day before. We got permission to leave our area to attend the funeral at a nearby AME church, where we were the only white faces in attendance. After a very brief eulogy the pastor announced, "I'm not here to talk about Chris -- I'm here to preach to you!" before launching into the type of sermon that made ladies in the front row stand up while fanning themselves and men call out from the pews "That's right!" and "Preach it!" That night, when a zone leader asked how the funeral was I said something like, "It was a waste of time. Chris definitely wasn't there." Looking back I'm slightly ashamed of that attitude, which combined a self-righteous blend of missionary zeal and disappointment.