The Most Stressful Ward Callings: 2008 Rankings

The ward executive secretary texted me this morning about an hour before PEC began. He informed me he was out of town and “woke up in a cold sweat” realizing he had forgotten to send out the PEC agenda. As a former executive secretary, I sympathized with his plight. While sending out the agenda each week isn’t an onerous task, it’s still just one more weekly thing to worry about that everyone will know if you haven’t done. Which got me thinking: Of all the callings at the ward level, which is the most stressful? For this discussion, let’s limit it to the ward council members. Here’s my ranking, from most stressful to least:

1. Bishop
2. Relief Society President
3. Primary President
4. Ward Clerk
5. YW President
6. YM President
7. Elders Quorum President
8. Bishop’s Counselors
9. Ward Mission Leader
10. Activities Chair
11. High Priest Group Leader
12. Sunday School President

I don’t think that the YWP is inherently more stressful than the YMP, but I think that for a variety of reasons YWP ends up being a more stressful job. Does EQP or HPGL deserve a higher ranking? Can anyone argue with a straight face that SSP is not the cushiest job on the list? What does your list look like and why?

Beer Battered Women

I stole the title from a rather crass comment a guy made to my column, out today, where I discussed the beatings my father gave my mother. I know that’s an awkward sentence, you grammar Nazis, please forgive me. Some of the readers ripped his face off, but I chuckled. I’m sick that way. Read more »

Do members in third world countries starve?

At Thanksgiving approaches in the US, I am grateful for many things, including the many luxuries we enjoy here in the US. I am also grateful that I have access to food and clean water. It also reminds me that many do not have the luxury of clean water and food – even some of my fellow Mormons.

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A New (and Brilliant) Reactivation Strategy

Eureka! I think I’ve inadvertently stumbled across a brilliant less-active member reactivation strategy! Like many great scientific breakthroughs, this, too, was entirely by accident. Read more »

What I Think About Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and other political musings of a total moron, politically and governmentally speaking.

Thank God it isn’t Secretary of Health and Human Services. I think this is a good position for her in many ways. Plus Bill Clinton is incredibly charming. I feel okay about it. I’m trying to open my mind a bit about the Clintons. I believe they’re amoral in many ways and power mad, but they are certainly gifted and may add to our country’s stature at this time. Read more »


Walking around with a newborn outside of Mormon country (where babies are a dime a dozen) garners you considerable attention.  Plenty of oohs and aahs; toddlers pointing out and squawking “baby!”; complete strangers asking after the details of the birth, name choice, and heritage.  It can be fun and inconvenient and annoying.

Yesterday I was picking up some drugs at my convenient neighborhood grocery store pharmacy when the pharmacist, a 50ish looking lady, noticed my constant companion: my two-week old son bundled against the upstate New York snow and strapped in his car seat/carrier.

“Oh,” she said.  “You’re a new mom.”

I smiled.

“I haven’t had the privilege myself,” she continued, “and I know it’s a lot of work, but life is just meaningless without kids.” Read more »

My Favorite Latter-Day Prophet

I was thinking about the different Prophets the Church has had over the last 178 years. I atteneded a fireside by Greg Prince last weekend wherein he discussed President McKay based on a recent book Greg wrote about President McKay. I have been reading a lot about President McKay as well and I think he is my favorite Latter-Day Prophet. President McKay seemed to be a very warm, loving person who saw things in shades of grey at times which enabled others to thrive under him – four good examples are his treatment of Sterling McMurrin when others were trying to get him excommunicated, his compassion and attempts to get the Priesthood ban removed, his attempts to “corral” JFS and BRM, and his use of a female secretary, Claire Middlemiss despite the precendent of using male secretaries. President Hinckley and President Kimball are also two additional favorites of mine. What about you?

Those Pesky Forwarded Emails

I am sure everyone has those friends or relatives that feel the need to forward (spam) you with all of these cute pictures, anecdotes, and jokes. While I read some of them, most end up getting deleted, despite the email promising doom and gloom if I delete it. While this can be mildly annoying, those who send them are usually endearing and sweet so it does not bother me.

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Codifying the Commandments

Most people are probably aware that all state legislatures have codified at least some of the Ten Commandments. For example, it is illegal to murder, commit adultery (probably in most states), steal, and may be required in some states to keep the Sabbath (i.e. blue laws). This post is to put all on notice that are living in or traveling through the Great Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The law has, since 1620 CE, continued to codify the third commandment, blasphemy. Chapter 272, section 36, of the General Laws reads:

“Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.”

Any thoughts on the policy behind this law, and do you think it is this a good or bad law, and why?* And second, do you think this law is constitutional?** My own opinion is that this is a good law. What you’re for blasphemy? Also, in my opinion, there is no question that the law is completely constitutional.

In any event, when in Massachusetts, please, no blasphemy.





*There were two bills in the Massachusetts legislature this last session, House Bill Nos. 1343 &1725, designed to repeal this law. Both died in committee.

**The Massachusetts Supreme Court last looked at this law in 1838, and found it constitutional. See Commonwealth v. Kneeland, 37 Mass. (20 Pick.) 206 (1838). 

A Utah Mormon Speaks Out About Proposition 8

My friend, Brent Holloway, shared his feelings on the church and Proposition 8 in his column published on the opinion page of southern Utah’s Daily News. He’s been a compassionate voice for tolerance for the gay community and their families in an area where tolerance isn’t a given. I think this is something we should all read: Read more »

Prominent Press Coverage of Mormons and Prop 8

This morning I went down to the lobby of our apartment building to pick up the morning paper.  Prominently printed on the front page of the New York Times was the following article title:

Mormons Tipped Scale In Ban on Gay Marriage Read more »


This is an e-mail I received yesterday. I’d been working on my accounts, going over to the dark side of AutoPay and changing my mailing address, so my first reaction was that this was in response to my actions. I clicked on the link (which you can’t access today) and began to fill out the form, listing my social security number, etc., then I thought, “Hey, does American Express go through Bank of America?” And I called them and they said they hadn’t sent me an e-mail like that and what a moron I am. I can’t believe I almost fell for this scam.

This is just a heads-up, another reminder to be very very careful. Read more »

Let The “Big Three Auto Companies” Die…

I have been very interested in the “bailout” for the Big Three auto companies that is being proposed. I saw an article wherein the UAW is actually asking for $25B to cover the union’s healthcare costs. I then read the following:

“The average hourly compensation for the Big Three ($73.20) and Toyota (TM) ($48.00), compared to average hourly compensation for Management and Professional Workers ($47.57), Manufacturing/Goods Producing ($31.59) and all workers ($28.48) shows that the Big Three are not competitive. No wonder the UAW fights so hard.

Should U.S. taxpayers really be providing billions of dollars to bailout companies (GM (GM), Ford (F) and Chrysler) that compensate their workers 52.5% more than the market (assuming Toyota wages and benefits are market), 54% more than management and professional workers, 132% more than the average manufacturing wage, and 157% more than the average compensation of all American workers?

Maybe the country would be better off in the long run if we let the Big Three fail, and in the process break the UAW labor monopoly, and then let Toyota, Honda (HMC) and Volkswagen (VLKAY.PK) take over the U.S. auto industry, and restore realistic, competitive, market wages to the industry. It might be the best long-run solution”

I agree – let them die and get efficient. Subsidizing inefficiency is not good for anyone (except the UAW). I should note that my father was in the USW union and hated it.

Happy Veteran’s Day!

Thanks to all who have served or do serve our country! It is interesting with so many of the WWI and WWII and Korean vets gone that our country does not have that many veterans left anymore. In another 20 years, the only vets will be those who served in the Gulf Wars – makes me wonder if all of those veteran organizations are going to consolidate or close up. I don’t think it would be a bad thing if we did not have a need for veterans, but that is wishful thinking. So hats off to those who serve and may the rest of us who have not served our country in the armed forces serve it in other ways.

“Subject to erroneous information”

My mission president once said (paraphrasing) that there is no more feverish swamp of misinformation an falsehood about the Gospel than in the talks and articles missionaries pass around to each other.  I believed that for a long time, but after the battle over Prop. 8, I now believe that political campaigns dwarf the mission field in their capacity to misinform, deceive, and create circular firing squads in the Church.

Do you find yourself agreeing with any or all of these statements?

1.  My positions and ideas reflect an enlightened and well-considered view of reality, while positions contrary to mine are founded in ignorance and stubborn stupidity.

2.  My views arise from my capacity for compassion; opposing views arise from people’s capacity for cruelty.

3.  I use all available tools for evaluating an issue (logic, intuition, imagination, creativity, inspiration, etc.), while the people I disagree with rely mainly on the predigested propaganda of liars.

4.  LDS people who didn’t support Prop. 8 don’t know what it means to follow the prophet.

5.  The Church would be better off without the kinds of members who dissent on issues like Prop. 8.

6.  The Church’s position on homosexuality is founded on the critical lie that homosexuality is chosen.

7.  Homosexuality is a biological trait, never “chosen,” and is therefore sanctioned by God.

8.  An attitude of obedience and deference to Church leaders is chosen, and has no biological/genetic component.

9.  Gay marriage is the most immediate threat to families.

10. The Church’s position on gay marriage is founded in the same kind of ignorance and prejudice that informed its denial of the Priesthood to people of color.

11.  Every member of the Church is able to articulate the Church’s positions on homosexuality and gay marriage with the extreme level of sensitivity and thoughtfulness those issues require, so every member of the Church should be enlisted to articulate the Church’s views to their fellow citizens.

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And Now For Something Different…

Around the Sloan household, the election was unquestionably the highlight of this week’s news cycle. But this event garnered nearly as much emotion from my scientist husband. Although my personal English major sensibilities were somewhat affronted by the sensationalist titles and blatant marketing of the cover art on his books, Michael Crichton (1942-2008)  inspired more than one nerdy kid to think about science in a new way. 


Are Members Getting Ex’d over Prop 8?

The Deseret News interviewed Elder L. Whitney Clayton regarding the passage of Proposition 8 in California.  In page 2 of the article there are a series of interesting tidbits, including what strikes me as an unfortunate statement on ecclesiastical retribution for opposition to the Church’s political position.  But there are other interesting statements as well:

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November 4, 2008

Even though I was at my polling station 25 minutes after it opened, I was the 28th to vote.  Everyone seemed upbeat, with the possible exception of my son who was deeply disappointed that we were not there to visit the adjoining library.

Now I am off to the hospital to have a baby.  If you happen to be undecided, do me a favor and go ahead and vote Obama so I have some fun television viewing to get me through a night there.

I’d love to hear about your experiences of the day.  Happy Voting!

A (Bipartisan) Election Day Poem

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

“The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, 1919.

1 Comment

Since President Thomas S. Monson is the master of the amusing and heart-warming anecdote, it seems only fair that I should share my own about him.

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