The Relief Society might have handled it better…

BYU freshman, Madeline MacDonald, was reportedly 1 assaulted by a creep.

Ms. MacDonald did the right thing and reported the assault to the proper authorities. Then for reasons that seemed reasonable to someone at some distant time in the past, the rape report appears to have been forwarded to the BYU Honor Code folks. Said Honor Code folks then contacted Ms. MacDonald and let her know there was some question about whether or not she had broken the honor code. [Update: Nothing I said above is incorrect. However Michael Davidson has shared better information about the reason Ms. MacDonald’s past experience is hitting the news now.]

I’m about to send a daughter to BYU. Frankly, I’m less worried about her being sexually assaulted at BYU than at other institutions of higher learning. Institutional levels of stupid happen at any of a number of places.

Relief Society, 1842

But I couldn’t help but think back to Nauvoo in 1842, when terrible acts were occurring, Continue reading

Notes:

  1. I use the term “reportedly” as the one describing the event was a participant in the event. Had the description of the event come from someone who was not involved in the event, I would have used the term “allegedly.”

Non-Mormon Mormon Movie: ‘Midnight Special’

This is the latest in the occasional series on movies that have themes that will be appealing to latter-day Saints.

The movie being reviewed is called “Midnight Special,” which is a sci-fi flick about a boy who has special powers and his parents’ attempts to protect him from the government and a cult leader who want to kidnap him.

Let me point out that the title is very disappointing and does not do this movie justice. The title makes it sound like a tawdry cop buddy movie, when in fact it is a surprisingly family-friendly film intended to get the audience to think about the Big Questions. This is one of those rare movies that does not have any swearing, no sex, no nudity and only a bit of violence (thus the PG-13 rating). The acting and directing is excellent.

I want to warn you that I cannot review this movie from the Mormon perspective without SPOILERS. This is a movie that relies on mystery and surprise, so do not read the rest of this review unless you don’t plan on seeing the movie or unless you have already seen it.

Continue reading

The Millennial Generation Troubles

According to some, Millennials are leaving the LDS Church in large numbers. How different the numbers are to past generations is never explored. One hint to exaggeration is how high the retention rate remains compared to other similar religious organizations. Probably even more problematic is the focus on the United States, hardly the last place humans exist. By many counts other countries are expanding in number of Mormons, or at least remaining level. The building of Temples and meeting houses testifies to the strengths. They cost money and are dependent on how many members are active. Certainly there are places that are struggling, but many times this is more than offset by the growth of other areas.

Still, there are challenges for the younger generation that haven’t existed to the same extent before. As is usually the case, cultural forces prose a threat to faith. The biggest concern is the rise of “Nones” who reject organized religion in favor of whatever they consider more important. Often times its hard to know what reasons they have, because they are both diverse and not quick to give explanations.

Working off of responses to Calling All Millennials by taking them seriously, the future doesn’t look too bright. In fact, the hope is these are not actually representative. Assuming they are, then civilization itself in in danger of falling apart. It is perhaps the most “look at me, what about me” generation that has ever existed. Social Media has not alleviated the suspicion the future is filled with selfish and shallow people. They have always existed, but the numbers who are influencing the rest of society is growing.

Some representative comments include:

Religion, especially Christianity, traditionally focused on a solution to being lost or sinful. Yet it’s those concerns of sin and alienation from God that also just don’t seem to be a drive with more and more people.

This is backed up with:

Ideology, we don’t really see ourselves as fundamentally flawed/broken/sinful people in need of salvation. I don’t really know what seeing myself as a “child of God” is supposed to practically mean. We may have problems or issues, but they don’t seem like issues in need of divine assistance. It seems like issues we can work out among ourselves . . .

After making a troubling list of grievances, Greg in the comments said:

Finally, I disagree with Clark who says you can’t have a growing church and a challenging one. You simply have to let go of the idea that it’s the role of the institution to make things challenging for believers. Believers should be the ones who rise to greater and greater challenges of their own free will and choice. In the Mormon church you’re either all in or all out, but it’s possible to provide different levels and opportunities for people who are in different places in their lives.

What impression comes out of this is not too kind. Millennials are lazy, self-important, anti-social, know it all’s who don’t take personal responsibility. This generation has become sociopaths bent on destroying all that is good. Harsh conclusion I know, but even they sometimes recognize how out in left field things have become. Continue reading

Sodom and Gomorrah

I do not have a problem with people choosing LGBTQ lifestyles. I personally believe government should be out of the marriage business, and do not care if gays marry, or even if polygamy is legalized. I do consider traditional marriage as approved and blessed of God, but that is outside the confines liberty, IMHO.

That said, I think about what the scholar Harold Bloom wrote about Sodom and Gomorrah. The cities were not destroyed because of homosexuality. Instead, they were destroyed because they sought to impose their wickedness upon others by force, what Bloom called incivility. Continue reading

Book Review: The Reluctant Polygamist, by Meg Stout

Note: This is a book review of The Reluctant Polygamist, by Meg Stout. This book will be released within the next few weeks.  Meg has posted an offer for a limited autographed edition at a discount.

RP Cover

As a historian, I frequently find intriguing stories told by others with interesting interpretations of the data.  When there is much quality data available, most scholars will tend to agree on the interpretation of that data.

Sadly for us, the issue of polygamy in the early Church (Kirtland and Nauvoo) was often shrouded in secrecy and mystery. Most discussions regarding it were not written down until decades later, often in second, third or even fourth hand accounts. Even then, many of the accounts were filled with suppositions or only half-told hints, leaving modern historians to attempt to fill in the blank spaces. Continue reading