The Sexual Compatibility Argument

Because sex before marriage is so common, the fact that many LDS members wait to have sex until we are married has become increasingly difficult to believe among non-LDS circles. I’m no longer phased by the incredulous responses that usually follow when the topic comes up. More challenging can be finding an effective response to the most common argument presented against abstaining from pre-marital sex: how can you know you’ll be sexually compatible with someone unless you’ve had sex with them before you get married? Read more »

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Democrats=Abortion; Republicans=Not So Much

Last night while working in my job at a private girls school, I told several girls about the selection of Sarah Palin for the VP candidate. They hadn’t heard about this yet.

One of the girls said she’s supporting McCain and I told her that surprised me because most of the young people I know are Democrats. She said no, she’s a Republican. Read more »

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McCain’s Pick for VP: Palin

UPDATE at 10:28 AM: Carl “Campaign Carl” Cameron of Fox News reports that he has confirmed that Palin is the nominee.

The VP story is pretty strange on one level: Obama wraps up Delaware. McCain wraps up Alaska.

On another level, it’s pretty exciting: We have an historic election no matter which way the election goes: Obama gives us the first black president, and McCain gives us the first female vice president.
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More thoughts on the Democratic Convention

I promised more on the Democratic convention. Here it is:
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Extra Grandma comes for a visit & feeds my soul

Marta Silver was one of the first people I met when I stumbled onto blogging via Times and Seasons. I’ve quoted her often as saying of T & S “They are the nicest group of people to completely ignore me” which she corrects me as originating elsewhere (I can’t remember who originally said it).

Considering her name and her quiet almost reclusive presence on the blogosphere, I’d pictured her as very thin and dark and mysterious. She came to visit me week before last and guys, she’s about as quiet and dark and mysterious as Mrs. Santa Claus. She’s also as wise and warm as you’d expect from Mrs. Claus. Read more »

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Thoughts on the Democratic Convention

My family watches political conventions the way that many men watch sports. So far, my response to the Democratic Convention is, “How ’bout them Clintons.”
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Thoughts on Everlasting Hell: The Case for Pageants

What is the allure of pageants? In my experience, they’re not particularly inspiring, educational, or entertaining. Rather, they are long, overcrowded, often baffling spectacles, and I confess that I simply don’t understand their purpose. The first one I ever saw was the Nauvoo “City of Joseph” pageant when I was twelve or so — an inauspicious introduction. In addition to being bored out of my skull, I remember being particularly disturbed by the fact that, in the obligatory cutesy boy-dates-girl scene, there was one male voice and one female voice coming over the loudspeakers… with three different couples lip-synching and going through the motions — a sort of microcosm of pageant rationality.

And then there are the anti-Mormon protestors. Why do they even bother? Picketing these things really makes me question their grasp on reality. First of all, who would want to sit through a Mormon pageant if they’re not even Mormon (seriously, don’t be martyrs). But more importantly, why would they want to distract people’s attention from the main event? If they’re trying to spread confusion, a pageant is definitely more effective than a few pamphlets.
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The FAIR Conference and the Amateur Spirit

The Amateur SpiritWhen I learned that historian and Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin was giving the commencement address at my university graduation, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. People around me in the audience expressed disappointment it wasn’t someone like Bill Cosby or Bono. But Boorstin had long been one of my intellectual heroes, and I had read everything of his I could get my hands on. The theme he chose to speak on was “Leadership and the Amateur Spirit,” a theme he also explores in chapter 18 of his book Hidden History.

He pointed out that ‘amateur’ has become a dirty word to many people, to their discredit. Boorstin writes,

The true leader is an amateur in the proper, original sense of the word. The amateur (from Latin amator, “lover”; from amare, “to love”) does something for the love of it. He pursues his enterprise not for money, not to please the crowd, not for professional prestige [JSB-I highly recommend people explore the etymology of that word as well; prestige may not seem so, well, prestigious anymore] or for assured promotion and retirement at the end–but because he loves it. If he can’t help doing it, it’s not because of the forces pushing from behind but because of his fresh, amateur’s vision of what lies ahead.

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“Strange” Odd Jobs And Spiritual Experiences

I have had various odd jobs in my life (particularly in the years before graduating from college). One of the most interesting jobs I had was related to the position I had teaching Anatomy labs (using cadavers) to undergraduates while in graduate school. Cadavers were typically used for one academic year (two semesters), then they were cremated and the ashes returned with a heartfelt thanks to the family for allowing students to learn over the previous year. At the end of the school year, one of the grad students would be offered the job of cremating the cadavers.

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Mormon Home Evening, by Helen Hulse

Mormon Home Evening—that’s the name one of the Hulse’s blogs reviling our religion. She denied hating Mormons when we spoke and claimed that she was only trying to bring souls to Christ. I asked her why, then, would she name her blog Mormon Home Evening? She couldn’t answer that question. Of course, they’re hoping to attract Mormons in an effort to turn them from their faith. Read more »

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Piling on Senator Curtis Bramble

I was watching the news last night and there was a story about the uproar caused by a blog entry made by a pizza delivery person.  It seems that Curtis Bramble didn’t behave himself very well and is a crappy tipper to boot and now people are hearing about it.  I’ve been inspired to do a write up on my own encounter with Utah’s State Senate Majority Leader.

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McCain vs Obama: This is a Choice?

This is a column I did for the local paper last month.   It’s not well done, I was rushing.   I wasn’t allowed enough words to say that I hate McCain’s comb-over (hell, rich men haven’t any more sense than poor men when it comes to hair) or that Obama seems so perfect that he makes me uneasy.

Tell me what you think: Read more »

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1941 Temple Recommend Form Questions

Looking through a book of family history, I came across the image of a temple recommend for my grandmother (now deceased), Ida Rose Langford.  It is her recommend to go into the temple for her own endowment – in preparation for her sealing to my grandfather, Howard Tracy Hall. 

At the top a date stamp reads “DEC 31 1941.” Read more »

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Families Can Be Together Forever? (Hmmm, Can I Pick & Choose?)

I have a friend who was telling me about his family. He happens to be an active member of the Church. His family has some problems and there are certain members of his family whom he does not really like very much. He has little in common with them and disagrees on nearly everything with these family members.

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Study Says 57% Of Americans Believe God Can Save A Life

According to a recent survey, 57 percent of American said God could save a patient even if doctors said it was futile. Also nearly 20 percent of doctors and other medical workers said God could reverse a hopeless outcome. I am amazed (and glad) that the numbers are this high.

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I Am a Perma-blogger Due to My Sins in the Pre-existence

Out to create some controversy in Sunday School? Allow me to suggest bringing up the idea that circumstances (i.e. advantages) in this life are predicated on faithfulness in the pre-existence. Though few would disagree that men are not created equal, the Declaration of Independence notwithstanding (Jefferson was speaking in terms of civic equality, not homogeneity, obviously), attributing natural inequalities or differences, be they social, economic, ethnic, racial, political, etc., to pre-mortal righteousness (or lack thereof) is becoming taboo.
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Grammar + Politics and the Use of the Passive Mood

The US’s George W. Bush, the UK’s Gordon Brown, Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy — each of them has embarked on a collision course with good usage by declaring Russia’s recent invasion of Georgia “unacceptable.” Haven’t they read rule #11 in Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style? It couldn’t be clearer: “Use the active voice.”

When I hear public figures say that Russia’s actions are unacceptable, I’m left to wonder, “Just exactly who is unwilling to accept them?”
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Almost, I am convinced to be a Utahn

Every Summer my wife and I do our pilgrimage to Utah to visit family, attend family reunions, etc. We just returned from our annual visit. Usually I am convinced that I could never live in Utah after each visit and more than happy to go back to Boston. However, this visit, for the first time I thought “I could live there”. Here’s why I could live there:

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R.I.P.: Roman Numerals

In case you haven’t noticed, cursive is dead. Read more »

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Attending the FAIR Conference

I know apologetics is a dirty word among some of us here, but I am having a great time at the 2008 Annual FAIR Conference in Sandy, UT. I have heard about the importance of innoculating believers against opposing arguments, about how the Book of Mormon might have located within the context of Mayan ideas about kingship, initiation, and ascension. I have heard a delightful and moving presentation (it brought me and many others to tears) by our own Margaret Blair Young and Darius Gray (sorry folks, you’re going to have to wait a little longer for their DVD!). (I didn’t get a chance to say so in person Margaret because I was buttonholed by another attendee on the way up, and you were mobbed anyway, but you and Darius did a great job!) Now I am listening to a panel discussion on philosophy, religion, and apologetics. I am a horrible multitasker, so I am not going to liveblog what’s going on, but you can look at FAIR’s open conference thread here.

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