Let the men go without sideburns

Some of you may remember me from my work in the BYU Standards office in the late-1990s. My title was “Councilor,” and I met with various student violators (a few of whom post comments here, and they know who they are), but early on I was selected to join an elite team of researchers, intellectuals, and all-around idea-men, tasked with producing pamphlets and other materials to explain the continuing need for dress standards at the ‘Y.’ We had our own offices separate from the other councilors, our own water cooler, and certain discreet preferences when it came to office refreshments.
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The Church’s Overplayed Hand On Prop 8

Every ten years or so the Church leaders get involved in a fight that ends up backfiring on the Church (at least in my opinion). I think of the fight against revoking Prohibition (members turned on Church leaders and Prohibition was ended nationwide), the Blacks and the Priesthood (tremendous negative press throughout 1960s and 1970s despite leaders efforts to justify the ban), then the ERA debacle (1970s – caused a rift within the Church and a lot of negative publicity led by ex-member Sonja Johnson) and finally, the fight against “liberals” which ended in the excommunications of the “September Seven” (1990s – certainly caused a rift within the more liberal elements of the Church). Now we have our first high profile “moral” fight from the 2000s – Proposition 8 in California.

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Choose A President, Who Chooses Judges, Who Interpret Your Constitution

You’ve heard the joke. What is the difference between God and a federal judge? Answer, God does not think he is a federal judge. Why are judges so powerful? Simply put, they are allowed to be the sole interpreters of the federal Constitution. As Bishop Hoadley stated in his address to the King of England in 1717, “Whoever hath an absolute authority to interpret any written or spoken laws, it is he who is truly the lawgiver, to all intents and purposes, and not the person who first spoke or wrote them.” An insightful observation.
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Welcome Guest Blogger John Marshall

We’re proud to introduce yet another new voice to the bloggernacle: John Marshall. John is a constitutional scholar with a passion for carefully defining the particulars of legal disputes. Having grown-up in the American West, John is proud to have transplanted himself to the East Coast, where he lives with his wife and 3 children and practices appellate law.

Lest anyone fear that Mormon Mentality is going down the drain by introducing a lawyer into our midst, rest assured that we thought long and hard about this one. John isn’t just any lawyer — he’s an honest lawyer, which separates him from the army of typical lawyers drawn to the law because it provides a non-felonious outlet for their criminal tendencies.

Aside from studying, practicing, and expounding the law, John enjoys trying to explain the 9th Amendment and studying church history with an emphasis on our rich Mormon heritage that is all too often (and all too mistakenly) viewed as controversial.

Please join is in welcoming John Marshall.

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Literary Contacting: Talking About the Divine Feminine with Dante in the Inferno

A few months ago I was browsing through the poetry section at Barnes and Noble in the Prudential Center in downtown Boston when I was approached by a couple of missionaries. No, not ours, rather, they were from a Bible study group of some kind in Watertown. (I realize this sounds vague, but it is all I managed to get out of them. When pressed, they finally coughed up a post-it note with the address and time of their study meetings, but they did not even give me a name. Come to that, why were they proselytizing downtown when their group only meets in Watertown? Definitely “less effective,” but I digress…)

They were a young couple, indeterminately Asian, twenty-something, dressed all in black – not in a fanatical or “churchy” way, normal clothes, they just happened to be black — soft-spoken, and polite. They carried Bibles under their arms, but other than that, nothing else gave them away as missionaries, certainly nothing that screamed “crazy sign-wielding street evangelist” or anything. The woman was obviously the senior companion and got right to the point, asking: “Are you familiar with the concept of a feminine god?”
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Do you worship the church? Do you worship the family? What Institution do you worship?

This question occurred to me when my new visiting teacher came to visit. She’s a darling woman, so sweet and caring, very spiritual. She asked me with a sort of wistful tone, “Do you still have a testimony?” I said, “yes.” but I felt like I was lying. Although I wasn’t. I do still have a testimony. But I don’t think it matters as much as it used to. A couple of days ago, she brought me cookies (you guys, they were those little shaped butter cookies, I ate every one, they were so good, homemade!) and a complete synopsis of the talks in church, both were by men I’ve found lacking, but aren’t we all? Lacking, that is. Read more »

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Yeah, I’m that Mormon Poet You Sort of Remember

How’s it goin? Long time, I know. I thought I’d start off with a few poems, since that’s kind of what I do. There was a time when I was very well known for my poetry, when some critics in the late-1980s claimed I’d captured the mood of my generation, the spirit of my times, but you know how things happen in life.< Yeah, it’s been awhile!

After my mission I sunk into that despondency familiar to so many of you: the post-mission syndrome. Fortunately for literature and for art in general I turned to writing as a way of relieving my despair One poem from this period is entitled, “Thoughts on a Gray Day While Watching The Six Million Dollar Man
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Welcome Guest Blogger Burgess!

It’s a great honor to introduce Burgess to the Bloggernacle. Burgess “is a not so unheard of international figure, who can threaten the most au courant wizards with his knowledge.” His writing evinces a top-rate intellect, while simultaneously projecting an Everyman quality that enables him to engage even the most feeble minds. From humble Marin County roots, Burgess draws from a wealth of poignant life experiences, including years as a high school yell leader and an LDS mission in Utah. At times provocative, always intriguing, Burgess promises to challenge, uplift, entertain, and enlighten.

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Entering the Temple

John Hamer recently published an excellent post at BCC on the plans for the Strangite temple that was never completed.  It even includes his rendering of what the temple might have looked like and a woodcut of the original plans.

One of the unique aspects of this temple was the outer wall.  It was incorporated into the design of the temple and the wall housed 12 buildings which were for the offices and meetings of various church organizations.  This got me thinking about our own temples and the literal barriers around them.

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What happens in California and Vermont when same sex couples divorce?

I asked this question last week, but nobody answered it. Are the divorces just like any other divorce?
Or are there special problems and considerations? What about death or hospitalizations? Are all the problems that occurred when a gay couple was unmarried alleviated? Has anybody experienced this yet?

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Thoughts on the Final Debate

The big news from last night’s debate is that McCain is actually alive — He was sputtering, inarticulate, and buffoonish, but he was alive. Thankfully, this (plus the expectations set by the mind-numbing boredom of the other debates) made last night the first interesting debate. Obama was still boring, but McCain, at least, was feisty.
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Debate Party: Join Us Tonight!!!

In honor of our last chance to listen, argue, scoff, heckle, comment, disagree, cheer, and critique would-be presidential fashion, Mormon Mentality is offering an open thread discussion during the final presidential debate tonight at 9 p.m. EST. Choose your channel of preference, stock yourself up with debate snacks and political bingo cards, and get comfy with your laptop. So far the RSVP list includes me and ESO (cousins from across the aisle–although you don’t have to be related to us to join in), so already we know the level of discussion will be elevated indeed :). 

Hope to hear from you tonight!

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Goodbye Obama Sign

I promised earlier to report on the inevitable demise of my Obama sign.  It happened Monday afternoon.  I heard noise in the yard and looked outside.  The sign was missing.  I wondered if it had just blown down so I opened the front door and walked outside.  A car stopped in the middle of the street suddenly sped away.  I found part of the sign in the street, but the stakes were nowhere to be found.  I’m thinking of making my own “That one ’08″ sign…

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The History and Possibilities of Tax and Destroy

I heard this thing once to the effect that we don’t see the immediate bad (or good) effects of an adiminstration’s money policies—it’s the next administration that benefits or pays. I think it was in reference to Reagan’s supposedly good policies, which benefited Bill Clinton, who raised taxes. Read more »

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How Same Sex Marriage Affects Traditional Marriage

It's a Pat Marriage!You’ll sometimes hear people claim that legally recognized same-sex marriage doesn’t affect traditional marriages at all. This argument is easily refuted, as I will show shortly. But traditional marriage advocates hurt their case when they say marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Put that way, it does sound a bit arbitrary and exclusive. I think it is better to say, marriage should be comprised of a husband and a wife. ‘Man’ and ‘woman’ can mean anything [could refer to any type of role within a marriage]. But people instantly know what a husband is, and what a wife is. To extend marriage to same sex couples requires also abolishing the roles of husband and wife. It is not possible to do the one without the other. And so the bureaucrats implementing California’s court order decreed henceforth that all marriages would have the respective parties designated as “party A” and “party B”.

Now, some of you may be rushing to reply, “Well, no one is preventing me from still being a husband or a wife in my marriage. I can still use those terms, no matter what the state says!” If so, you’ve just fallen into my trap. Read more »

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Multiple Church Callings

Have you ever held multiple church callings and/or responsibilities at one time?

How many?  Which callings were held simultaneously?

[Though they are relevant and important roles, for the sake of this post, please exclude from consideration lifelong callings such as spouse, parent, hometeacher, etc.]

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Redeeming our kindred dead

My great-grandfather, George Charlow Cosgrove, was by all accounts a colorful character. He was in law enforcement in Deadwood, South Dakota, during the same time period as the HBO TV series “Deadwood“, which may give you some idea of his life’s milieu.  I never met him — he died sixteen years before I was born — but I knew his daughter, my grandmother, Florence Imogene Cosgrove Webster, very well. Here’s a bit of what she had to write about him (after the jump):

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All Is Not Well in Zion

This just in: The Kansas City Star reports that Republicans in Independence, Missouri have accused ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) of submitting more than 250 voter registration submissions that appear to be inaccurate. This is called, “Voter registration fraud.”

ACORN has been in the headlines a lot recently, mostly because it’s where Senator Obama worked when he was a community organizer. But partly because Navada investigators raided an ACORN office in Nevada recently to seize documents to prove voter registration fraud, though there’s no evidence that Obama participated in voter fraud.
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Are you guys scared to death?

I’m not. But then I’m older and more settled and have no hungry little mouths and tiny feet to keep shoes on.

Not that we’re content; we’re scared, as well. We’ve lost a big chunk of our retirement savings and will probably continue to lose it. We’re still making house payments and Bill’s a car salesman for General Motors, which is definitely on the front lines of this financial crisis. We’re more fortunate than the families of young car salesmen starting out–Bill has established clientele and seniority, and only a few years till he retires. Read more »

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Thoughts on the Second Debate

After tonight’s debate, Sarah Palin is very likely the future of the Republican party. John McCain sure as hell ain’t.
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