28 August 2007

NO Larry Craig is NOT a Mormon

Larry Craig, the "distinguished gentleman" from Idaho, recently arrested for "lewd behavior in an airport bathroom (George Michael-style) is NOT a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Don't let the fact that he is from Idaho fool you. He is closet homosexual #2 for the Republicans in the past year though (see also Mark Foley).

Democrats have to be careful in the way they handle these scandals. They cannot come out too hard on Larry Craig for his alleged homosexual activity. They risk alienating one of their own constituencies. So yes, I am LDS and support a party populated and supported by homosexuals, but in my defense, if I were Republican, it appears that the same would be true.

24 August 2007

My thoughts on the torture thread over at BCC

See first this post at one of my favorite Mormon blogs. After 234 comments, some of which had wandered far afield of the original topic, one of the blog moderators closed the thread. For those who don't follow the link, the gist is the following: not only did a Mormon write the memo that arguably justified the use of torture on alleged terrorists for interrogation purposes, but it was two Mormons (and moreover two guys who were well-known among their peers for being Mormon) who actually came up with the tactics that American interrogators have used to torture suspects.

Most of what I wanted to say has been said by others and better than I could. Nevertheless, not having had the opportunity to respond directly to that post, I feel like I needed to add my two cents' worth here.

I am appalled at what these three men did, especially if they had knowledge of what it would be used for. It is shocking the degree to which many of us (Mormons and non-Mormons alike) are capable of compartmentalizing what we do during the day and the beliefs and warm feelings we share with our families and our fellow Church members at our meetings and in our home. I am further shocked at how we can get all of these warm fuzzies talking about how God is our Father in Heaven and that all of us here are his children, created in His image, and yet miss the radical implications of that doctrine for how we treat our fellow man (and most particularly those who are not like us or who have done us some wrong).

17 August 2007

Next Apostle?

Any hardy souls willing to speculate on who might be the new Apostle called to replace the recently deceased Elder James E. Faust?

Who becomes the next Counselor in the First Presidency is not really interesting to me. It will almost certainly be one of the existing Apostles (though I am aware that it technically does not have to be), and I don't think there will be much shaking up.

However, my short list for next apostle would be:

1. Merrill J. Bateman (because being president of BYU seems to put you on some kind of short list)
2. Richard Bushman (my dream pick, but slim-to-none actual chance; he may actually be able to do better not being an "official" voice of the Church)
3. A non-white male (anyone will do- this would be my other preference, though I will sustain whoever is called)

Any other ideas?

16 August 2007

Missing the point

I guess that it is about time that I write what I originally thought would be the inaugural post of this endeavor-namely, what does my chosen title mean? I included a quote from the NT in the caption as a clue, but the gist goes towards what I hope our common aspiration as Church members is-both to keep the Lord's commandments and be good people while doing it. No really, they aren't the same thing. I am including links to several of the other posts around the Bloggernacle that got me thinking about this topic and finally convinced me to get off my butt and start blogging (or is that to get ON my butt and start blogging?). Anyway here are a couple (though not a complete list by any means):

"Dear Loyd You Are Not Welcome
My Dreams of a Future Mormonism
Temperate in All Things.

I could go on, but that should whet some appetites. I should also say that I don't agree 100% with what the above authors said in their posts. I would not have gone as far on some points, and maybe farther on others. I am interested them inasmuch as they indicate that at least a couple of other people are thinking about the same kinds of things as I am.

I think what Jesus was saying to the Pharisees and scribes here was something like this, "Look, you are focusing so hard on making sure that you believe in the right things, and do the right things relative to God, but you aren't even nice people." That's watering it down somewhat, but I think that the basic accusation is "You're missing the point." The reason we keep the commandments is that they should naturally lead us to become people who are more merciful, more just, and more faithful. If our obedience leads us away from those virtues, it has accomplished very little. I bring this up because I see a lot of people missing the point these days, both in and out of the Church. I have probably been guilty of the same thing myself on a couple of occasions. But I believe we all generally worry too much about whether so-and-so is active/inactive, orthodox/NOM, Democrat-liberal/Republican and whether we have the right thoughts and believe in the right doctrines. Church members sometimes exclude or are rude to those that they don't feel "fit in" with Church doctrine (or culture)-whatever that means. I would rather see a return to the "big tent" ideal that David O. McKay and Joseph Smith had. My wife recently attended the Yale Mormon Scholars conference and one of the participants there remarked that as their faith and knowledge of the Gospel mature and increased, their testimony tended to shrink and coalesce around a few core principles, leaving the rest as details that are up for discussion. This is an ideal I would like to see put into place. I also think it is a "true" principle; and if not, at least a helpful and productive one for a community as large and diverse as the Church is and aspires to be.

One of the things that got me thinking about this was the death of Jerry Falwell, someone for whom I am not inclined to shed a tear. I don't know whether his abrasive and somewhat unhinged public persona was reflective of his private behavior or not. (Just because somebody goes on Larry King and says that you were a really nice person after you die does not mean that it was so.) But I was struck by the idea that here was a person who was deeply and passionately concerned about whether TinkyWinky (one of the Teletubbies) was gay or not since being gay is wrong (ex. of correct doctrine or belief) but seemed unable to muster compassion or mercy for those who might be toiling under the temptations that he condemned. I just kept thinking, "he missed the point." Perhaps it was uncharitable of me to make such judgments of him, but there it is.

Anyway, I hope that this has given my few readers an insight into what I've been thinking about recently and why I started this blog in the first place.

14 August 2007

Sorry for the delay...

I have been absent from my computer for the past two weeks it seems so I have not had much opportunity to post anything. My wife and I drove back to NC from TX a little over a week ago and then took a long relaxing weekend trip to the Outer Banks. Between that and trying to move in and gear up for the beginning of the semester, time has been in short supply. I do have a couple of ideas for good posts and should be putting at least one up later tonight. Keep your eyes peeled.