Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Letter to a Muslim Youth Education Director: A Response to Jeremy Runnells

by Shawn Tucker:

Jeremy Runnells’ Letter to a CES Director has been a fairly popular topic for some time. People I respect, like Jacob and others have responded to it. I don’t know why you should care what I think, but apparently you are still reading, so here goes.

How Would You Read a Letter to a Muslim Youth Education Director?

So that’s my first question. If the same book were written about Islam or Buddhism or Catholicism or Presbyterianism, how would you read it? I can think of many different approaches, but personally I would never bother reading such a book. The point of the book seems to be to apply fun house mirror-like exaggerations to every flaw or thing that could be seen as a flaw. After this fun house mirror exaggerates lots of little flaws, the next step seems to be to convince you that all of those little flaws or seeming inconsistencies add up to something big. From what I can tell, next you are supposed to get the message that the church is untrustworthy. This untrustworthiness is supposed to seem so big, so absolute, and so “true” that you “must” abandon it. This untrustworthiness then becomes the lens through which you view everything in the chuch, and this cynical approach reinforces the untrustworthiness. Finally, in order to act with “integrity” and “in good conscience” to the cynical, exaggerated view you have adapted, you must end your participation.

What would you think of a book that did the same thing about any other religion? Again, I would never bother to read such a book. It would not tell me anything useful or good about those faith traditions. Instead, it seems like it would try to use different exaggerations to convince me that something evil is behind them and that they should be avoided if not fought against. To put it another way, such a book would not tell me what is virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy about any of those traditions.

Who Would Read Such a Book?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Suffragette: An LDS Perspective

by LJ:

This is me and Holly Washburn at a Suffragette screening. I'm holding up two Vs for Victory in a nod to Winston Churchill. It's not two peace signs, though peace is a good thing too.

I went with my friend Holly to see a screening of "Suffragette" about the women's rights movement in Britain in the late 19th century, and cried myself dehydrated.

Frankly, I was confused why this movie affected me so deeply. My life is embarrassingly good, compared to a washerwoman in 19th century London. My parents were middle-class, loving people with good education. My mother was (and still is) a powerhouse who taught me I could accomplish anything with enough hard work and elbow grease. I graduated from college. I married a man who brings home the bacon, then comes home to wrangle three kids, cook dinner (sometimes) and mop the floor (always) so I have time to write fiction.

But those tears, people. The tears. I am usually good at muscling them down when Hollywood throws an emotional potshot. But there's one scene where Carey Mulligan's character [SPOILER ALERT] finds out her estranged husband is adopting out their son to another family, and she has no say in the matter. I broke down into quiet sobs and Holly kindly slipped me the stack of napkins, originally intended for popcorn grease. I used all but two of them.

Monday, October 19, 2015

'Doubt,' 'Cult' and the Stigmatizing of Words

by Rob T:

When I finally told my parents that I had been investigating the LDS Church and taking lessons from the missionaries, it was agreed upon that I would talk about these matters with our Catholic priest.

I went to him and told him what I’d been learning. His first words in response about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were, “But they’re a sect, almost cultic!”

Let me first say that he is a good man, a kind priest, and a fair-minded leader. I hold no animosity toward him or my former faith - and disagreement with doctrine does not mean animosity, I think that’s important to this discussion.

But I do believe his response comes from a human tendency and a mindset that people can be scared away from something with one word. Certain words have been stigmatized to the point where they’re like Mr. Yuk stickers, and it’s all we need to hear to keep us away from something.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Three New Apostles Called

by John English:

All three of the new Apostles come across as good men who will be positive influences and leaders in the Church for the next three decades.

The last time there were three Apostles called in one General Conference was 1906. That time they had George F. Richards (45), Orson F. Whitney (50), and David O. McKay (32). I haven't been able to find why Richards had seniority over Whitney, but there was precedent to seniority not being determined by age when more than one Apostle is called at the same time. Now every time there's been two Apostles called, their seniority has been determined by age. (Kimball-Benson, Nelson-Oaks, Uchtdorf-Bednar).

This time the three Apostles called are Ronald A. Rasband, Gary E. Stevenson, and Dale G. Renlund. Stevenson is the youngest of the three, and my guess as to why Stevenson has seniority over Renlund is that Rasband and Stevenson were going to be the two new Apostles, but then the death of Richard G. Scott meant Pres. Monson wanted to find the third Apostle before General Conference. Or it could be deferrence to their previous Priesthood offices.

RONALD A. RASBAND (64) - He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. He served his mission in the Eastern States and attended the University of Utah. LeGrand Richards performed the marriage sealing for him and his wife Melanie. (LeGrand was her great-uncle; the previously mentioned apostle George F. Richards was her great-grandfather.)

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