I have great regard for my ward’s PR Representative. Today he forwarded a link to an article in National Review talking about how Mormons are much more observant of their beliefs than other Christian groups, The Mormon Advantage: Leaving theology aside, what can we learn from the Mormons? by Maggie Gallagher.
Embedded within this article was a link to a 2011 thesis published by my alma mater, the Naval Postgraduate School. Intrigued by what military folks might find of interest in the religion I profess, I looked up the paper, Growing an Ideology: How the Mormons Do It, authored by USAF Maj Marshall F. Chalverus and USAF Maj Michael A. Thomas. These two intelligence officers (clearly not Mormon themselves) had decided that it would be worth studying a fast-growing religion that bucks theories regarding how religions grow to determine how it might be best to counter insurgencies in support of US National Policy. Continue reading
Today someone wrote that Mormons don’t abhore torture, that they are taught it is more important to obey than to avoid immoral or evil acts. This apparently comes up because Mormons tend to vote for Republicans, and it was the Republican presidency of George Bush under which torture was used as one method of obtaining information regarding the activities of Al Qaeda. Also, there are those who have worked for the CIA and otherwise supported certain of these activities who happened to be Mormons. These critics appear not to have heard the same sermons I have heard, or read the same scriptures. These critics appear not to have learned the same history I learned. Continue reading
Monday I finally sat down and watched the hour-long film, Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration.
This is a motion picture created by the Church to provide an introduction to the life and legacy of Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a nice enough film, but I could wish for a few improvements. Continue reading
Neylan McBaine’s book about how much we can do to maximize women’s roles in the service of God came out in August 2014, but it only recently came to my attention.
It is interesting to read Neylan’s book in light of having so recently lived through this past year, with the launch of the Ordain Women discussions/conversations and the excommunication of Kate Kelly. Neylan makes it clear that she is not agitating for changes that aren’t already possible within the current structure of the Church. From something she wrote recently, it seems some have criticized her for going beyond the mark.
Due to my own study of this matter, I was a bit disappointed to see a book so uniquely focused on the issue of women. This comes because I have studied the effect ordaining women has had on other denominations. So while Neylan isn’t agitating for female ordination, I was a bit cautious reading of some innovations that take away from the opportunity for men to have space to feel safe at Church. Also, frankly, it appears to me that the great challenge for the Church is retaining men, particularly retaining men from outside America. However we don’t want to lose anyone, male or female.
Neylan brings much that is wonderful to the fore. She does point out painful circumstances some women and those who love women have experienced. However she also shares how at times individuals, both men and women, have adjusted their stewardships to more richly bless all in the congregation.
I have lived a life where I have enjoyed the leadership of many single Relief Society Presidents over the decades, have often had the chance to participate in ward councils (even when not even in a presidency of Relief Society, Primary, or Young Women), had the responsibility to provide bread for the sacrament, and have had chances to participate alongside “the men,” as when members of our stake spent the extended Thanksgiving weekend mucking out the still-sodden homes flooded by Hurricane Sandy.
Even so, I have had my moments of banging my head against stupid (as I perceived it at the time). I enjoyed many of the innovations and insights Neylan discussed throughout the book.
The Church has started using direct e-mail to send messages to the members of the Church. If you have an e-mail associated with your LDS Account, you should have gotten the first of these e-mails this morning.
I really like this move. As is standard practice (and required by law in many places), the e-mail allows those who don’t wish to receive such direct communication to unsubscribe.
I enjoy the fact that when there is something important, I can be told immediately, rather than having to wait until Sunday services to hear a message read from the pulpit. This also gives me the chance to have an archive, so I can review anything of interest, rather than attempting to remember.
This first e-mail contained a link to the short video “He is the Gift,” which I have watched before and thoroughly enjoyed. It also included an invitation to attend the First Presidency Christmas Devotional this Sunday. Continue reading