Man of La Mancha: A Deconstruction

215px-Playbill_Man_of_La_ManchaThe following is really a personal tale of a story that helped me in a personal way at just the right time. But I’m telling it as a review of the play, Man of La Mancha. Spoilers abound throughout, but this is a rather old story by now.

As many of you know, I sometimes struggle with my faith, especially during times of depression. One night when I was at a low, my wife reminded me we had a play to go to that night. We’d already changed our date for the play once, so even though we didn’t feel like going we decided to not waste the tickets. When we arrived at the theater, I saw that the play was Man of La Mancha. I groaned inwardly, “Ug! Not Don Quixote!” Boring! Or so I thought.

Half way through the play I still had no idea where the meandering storyline was going. I couldn’t relate to the characters either, so I wasn’t enjoying the play much.

Then all of a sudden the threads of the story came together in an unexpected way that.  As the play ended I turned to my wife and said “well… that was sort of like God shouting a message to me… just when I needed it the most.”

I will explain the play and its theme and why its message was one that I needed to hear. Continue reading

The Difficulty of Dialogue Without Disclosure

Many moons ago, there was a certain person that started a certain movement that included something about using civil rights tactics to make changes within the LDS church. At that time I questioned this person, on behalf of a woman thinking of joining this movement, about her [the founder’s] beliefs… and started a firestorm. But I promised to revisit the issue later. I never did.

I started to, but then gave up on it for lack of time. Time passed, the movement largely died out and lost media attention. People got sick of talking about it, and that was that. But I still had this long post that took an interview (that I had in fact, at least in part, caused to take place via my questions) on FMHW and asked questions and drew conclusions based on her own words.

And just being me, I couldn’t resist throwing in a bit of irony:

On the day that Mormons believe John the Baptist restored the priesthood to the earth, [this movement] launched their 6 discussions to promote their cause. Ironically, the question [the founder] would not answer was if she believed that John the Baptist, as a resurrected angel, restored the priesthood to the earth because it was no longer found on the earth.

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Moral Certainty: John Dehlin as an “Atheist Who Knows God”

John DehlinA long time ago I wrote a post called Atheists Who Know God to open discussion about  a phenomenon I noticed where even outright atheists are extremely territorial about their beliefs about God.

During this discussion various ideas were offered, including a defense of the atheists on the grounds that they are just trying to show that rational inconsistency of the theist’s position. And yet, this defense just doesn’t hit the mark. How could an atheist know something with such certainty about a fictional being that no two religions even agree upon? Is it really a rationally consistent argument to argue that Santa Claus would never hire elves to make toys because it would make better sense to hire dwarves since they are better adapted to such work? The problem with trying to show logical inconsistency with fictional characters and fictional realities is that its just too easy to come up with some counter reason why that logical inconsistency isn’t a logical inconsistency.

Continue reading

Why We Fight: The Bloggernacle and the Morality of Personal Attacks

Lost Sheep

As I was reading this excellent discussion on the “Bigots and Fanatics” post about how to have a tolerant and polite (and possibly even Christ-like) discussion about Church teachings, I had one of my posts come to mind.

A while back I wrote a post about how the parable of the lost sheep is often abused and often even reversed by the person using this meme so as to claim that the Church needs to accommodate the lost sheep in some specified way or else the church isn’t being Christ-like. I mentioned John Dehlin and Richard Dutcher as examples of people that misused this parable in this way and also mentioned that I felt the same tactic was being subtly used in a popular Bloggernacle post called “Our Sisters or Leaving.”

Through the grapevine I heard that one person that frequents Mormon blogs (I don’t know who) really hated my post and even thought it sick and wrong because I was (in this person’s opinion) claiming that I knew who the lost sheep were and was unilaterally deciding that the group of people mentioned in the “Our Sister are Leaving” post were not the lost sheep. Continue reading

Growing Evidence Links Utah Suicides to Altitude

Provo Temple nightI just read this very interesting article about the “Utah Paradox” which is that we are both the happiest state and also the one with the highest use of antidepressants. On top of that, we’ve long had a high suicide rate that many church critics have attempted to link to Mormonism. It’s also been known for a long time that Utah is part of the “suicide belt” — a group of states that all have a high suicide rate (with Utah often being the best of that belt. Since both Provo and Las Vegas are both in the belt, and have little in common culturally, the suspicion that altitude’s effects on the brain is a leading cause of suicides has floated around for decades.

Now there is growing evidence that this might just be the right hypothesis.

Unfortunately this might also mean that Mormonism might not get to take full credit for being the happiest state either. Read the article to find out why.

This is a good little fact to know, however, to deflect church critics with when they try to link all manner of church beliefs to suicide.