The Mormon Church does not want even its own members to know how to pronounce Shimnilom
This post opens the voting for Mormon of the Year. Votes will be taken until midnight Eastern Time on Monday, January 5th, at which time the voting will close. The voting mechanism will attempt to restrict votes to one per person. THE WINNER OF THE ONLINE VOTE IS NOT NECESSARILY THE MORMON OF THE YEAR!!!
OK, now that we’re looking at the Mormon of the Year, I’d also like to look at what the big news stories were for the year. In a lot of ways its been a very busy news year, with, by my count, three big stories dominating: Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy The confusion of the LDS Church with the FLDS Church in the news The Mormon role in the successful effort to pass Proposition 8. But there were also smaller, important stories that happened during the year, especially if you include in News about Mormonism news about people who are Mormon.
Its that time of year. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is traditionally the media’s time for reflection on the past year — the time when we see story after story on the best or most important stories of the year, or the most important person of the year (as Time magazine just named — no surprise there). I enjoy these looks at the past year, and given how much LDS Church members don’t usually know much about news that involves the Church, it seems to me these lists might be quite useful. So let me pose the question: “Who should be the Mormon of the Year?”
Merry Christmas from Christmases past!
I often find walking in nature a spiritual experience, for want of a better term. Growing up, I think that I found my testimony in part by tramping through the Wasatch Mountains and watching thunder storms roll across the Great Salt Lake. Today, I am likely to have real moments of reverence and gratitude to the divine while watching mist play across the still waters of the James River in the early morning or enjoying the power of a big Atlantic storm slamming into my bit of the world. I realize that there are some real dangers with identifying God too closely with anything as randomly and — at times — wantonly destructive as weather and nature, but as an aesthetic matter such experiences are an important part of my religious life. Oddly, I have never had a similar reaction to a city.
It’s holiday season, which means more friends and family and greetings, in person or otherwise, than usual. Add to that a few weddings receptions and you can get downright sore from all the hugging and hand-wrenching. Not to mention confused by the vast array of possibilities for saying hello or goodbye or Merry Christmas or Happy New Year to someone. It’s enough to make even the most seasoned anthropologist dizzy.
Tithing Settlement is a great part of the Christmas season.
I recieved one of those continuing education catalogs in the mail today (from Lehman College, not BYU), and glancing through it, I began to wonder why the courses are all very basic. The courses are all introductory, and seem to be for those looking to start a career in relatively low-skill professions. I suppose there is good reason for this–colleges offer courses that people want to take. But with the rise of the Internet and “distance learning” shouldn’t the reverse be happening also? Shouldn’t these tools result in a lot of small, narrowly-focused courses, more academic in nature? Perhaps even courses that are more narrow and more open than what can be provided when students are seeking degrees? There might not be enough students at one university for these narrow courses, but there may be enough students at 10 or 100 universities or more. For example, what about courses in Mormon Studies?
On the sweetness of Mormon life.
The Book of Mormon is a reliquary in prose. In some extensive sections and at some critical moments, what drives the narrative is the question: how did a set of golden plates, a steel sword, a ball of curious workmanship, a breastplate, and two translucent stones end up inside a stone box buried in a hill in the state of New York? For a religion that attaches little to no significance to relics, it’s striking that large sections of our distinctive book of scripture are concerned with the provenance—the origin and the later cultural significance—of a particular set of holy artifacts.
President Uchtdorf said that the angels came to the shepherds, the poor, not to the rich. At one point in my life that would have bugged me. Today I realized that the rich should want it that way. If you’re wealthy and still looking for something, you don’t want to be told that your wealth is all there is.
It’s an intellectual banality to point out that how one thinks of the present structures how one thinks about the past. The cliché, however, is useful when thinking about Mormon history.
BYU’s Religious Studies Center recently announced that it had begun publishing books in Spanish, Portuguese, and German, an encouraging development, given how little is being produced outside of English. In his blog post about the news, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel writes: Today, it is estimated that there are nearly 7,000 spoken languages in the world, of which some 2,600 have a writing system. He goes on to say: Equally impressive is the effort to provide translations of the Book of Mormon to the world. Today, the complete Book of Mormon has been translated into seventy-nine languages, and selections are available in another twenty-three languages. This represents 99 percent of the languages spoken by Latter-day Saints. Efforts continue to translate this book into more languages to fulfill the Lord’s command. What he doesn’t say is that, in terms of the work still to be done to fill the directive in D&C 90:11, that “Every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language.”
What will it be like for a marriage to continue past death into the eternities? What does it mean to have a perfected body, or to love an eternal being? Stephenie Meyer has an answer. Breaking Dawn, the last novel in her Twilight series, presents a sustained and vividly imagined view of one of the core elements of Mormon personal salvation. [This post is going to discuss all the details of Breaking Dawn, including how it ends, so please stop reading now if you don’t want to know.]
Rod Dreher, I think, has a it right. Conservatives ought to support same-sex marriage legislation.
A High Priest I know is in crisis. He is an immigrant who, like many other Church members, came to the US without a visa, according to what I understand of the situation. After arriving here he joined the Church, and eventually fell in love and married a U.S. Citizen, a wonderful, faithful Church member. This situation would normally put him on track for a green card and U.S. citizenship. But this brother is facing deportation, and his ward and stake are praying for a miracle that will keep him here in the United States.
In the run up to and in the wake of Prop 8, Latter-day Saint proponents of the measure have often tried to parse their words carefully when discussing their support for it in order to avoid charges of bigotry and hate for opposing the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. Echoing a refrain from the late Gordon B. Hinckley, Mormon Prop 8 supporters have often tried to explain that they are “not anti-gay, but pro-marriage.” This effort, however, has clearly failed to shield members from allegations of discrimination.
One of the subterranean threads running throughout the Book of Mormon is the mystery of whose bones are heaped upon the land northward.
The Associated Press reported yesterday that Mormon employees at the University of Phoenix benefited from discrimination based on religion, according to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The University settled the suit, paying $1.9 million to 52 employees (an average of more than $36,000 each!) and agreeing to a “zero-tolerance” policy to religious discrimination, but did not admit wrongdoing. What’s up with that?