Introducing DKL

DKL’s interests include genealogy, books, philosophy, and LDS History. He thrives in dynamic environments.

185 Posts
Don’t Trust Rosalynde Welch’s Investigation of Mormon Stories Jul. 2nd, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Quick disclaimer: I am not a spokesman for Mormon Stories, and I have no official connection to it. I have belonged to its Facebook page for the past few months, but have not otherwise participated or contributed to it. I am a lifelong Mormon and an active participant in my local Mormon congregation.

It was disappointing to read Rosalynde Welch’s recent report from “investigate[ing] John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories project.” Rosalynde is the daughter-in-law of Jack Welch, who was a founding member of the leadership group referred to when she speaks of “the shake-up in leadership at the Maxwell Institute.” As one might expect from someone with her familial connections to the Maxwell Institute, Rosalynde Welch’s report on her investigation adopts a nominally sympathetic tone while asserting that Mormon Stories is “silly,” lacking in “intelligent discourse,” and marked by an “edge of anger.” In the end, she compares it to an LGBT affinity club at a high school. One could easily come away from her report with the impression that Mormon Stories is dominated by inarticulate and weak Mormons who lack spiritual maturity. Unfortunately, Welch’s report lacks maturity and perspective in its own right. She mischaracterizes Mormon Stories at every turn, and her discussion of the issues surrounding Mormon Stories is both confused and confusing.

The need for Mormon Stories arises from the tendency Mormons have to value each other based on how well they echo or amplify the opinions of LDS leaders. Mormons who cease to echo or amplify these opinions often discover that there is little or no bond of personal loyalty or compassion underlying their relationships with loved ones. As a consequence, the Mormon who suffers a crisis of faith frequently faces rejection and ultimatums from family members, including her spouse. She sometimes even finds herself accused of disobedience or immorality. In a sense, the Mormons are a morally handicapped people; their tendency to value members based on their alignment with LDS leadership limits Mormons’ potential for virtue by rendering them less capable of loyalty and compassion.

The tragedy of Welch’s report is that it embodies exactly those Mormon moral handicaps that Mormon Stories seeks to mitigate. Her stance toward the Mormon Stories community is one of rejection and accusation — an artfully conceived repetition of the temper tantrum so common among the broken children of the Mormon restoration, the temper tantrum they throw when they are forced to justify their brook-no-criticism approach to their religion, when they perceive attacks on the church, or when they detect an invasion of mainstream Mormonism by those whose beliefs or practices are not part of their desired norm.

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A Very DKL Mothers Day Talk Jun. 23rd, 2012 at 11:13 pm

This is the Mothers Day talk I gave at church in 2010. I troubled over its content more than most talks, and I ended up being quite happy with the product. I felt like (and still feel like) it says some things that are very important. Nevertheless, it received decidedly mixed reviews, provoking strong reactions from people who liked it and did not like it. In 2010, I toyed with the idea of posting it online, but it is kind of a personal talk, and I decided not to. I’ve since reconsidered. So here it is. My Mothers Day 2010 talk:

 


So I searched the scriptures for the term “mother,” and the first result that I saw was a reference to “the mother of all harlots.” And it’s there when you search the scriptures, right alongside “mother of all living” and “Mary mother of Jesus,” you have “mother of all harlots” and “mother of all abominations.” And we don’t say things like, “the father of all abominations” or “the father of all harlots,” because that just sounds kind of wimpy. So I think the fact that the notion of motherhood gets used this way, to describe great extremes of both good and evil, underscores what a very powerful notion this idea of mothering is.

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“You did it, Joseph! You got the Tony!” (plus 8 others) Jun. 12th, 2011 at 11:37 pm

The Book of Mormon musical swept the Tony’s tonight, winning 9 awards, including Best Musical and Best Score. Trey Parker’s acceptance speech for Best Musical was both memorable and clever:

Thank you. This has been really, really cool. I think we did this, because we all secretly wanted to have a big, happy Mormon family. And now we do. And for everyone up here [participants on-stage] and everyone in the circle of doom over there [participants not on-stage], to Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad, you guys are amazing.

I know that on behalf of this big, happy, Mormon family, we really want to thank the audiences, because you guys made this show what it is, and, uh, therefore you’re going to have to atone for it one day. It’s yours now, it’s your responsibility.

And I think the night would be a big disappointment if we didn’t thank our co-writer who passed away, Mr. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion. He couldn’t be here tonight, but you did it, Joseph! You got the Tony!

The Book of Mormon musical won the following 9 awards:
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God has delivered Osama bin Laden into our hands May. 2nd, 2011 at 12:20 am

The good news is that Osama bin Laden in now exactly 1 year away from being eligible to have his temple work done. The bad news is that some fool will probably do it.

For my part, I view the conflict between Osama bin Laden and the USA as a religious conflict. After all, that’s the way Osama bin Laden wanted it defined. Plus, it brings to mind Nephi’s salient (and brilliantly reductive) description of the cosmic conflict between two churches. Nephi writes in 1 Nephi 14:9-11; 15-16:

And it came to pass that [the angel escort to my vision] said unto me: “Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil.” And he said unto me: “Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.”

And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people….

And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth. And as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations which belonged to the mother of abominations, the angel spake unto me, saying: “Behold, the wrath of God is upon the mother of harlots; and behold, thou seest all these things….”

Yesterday, the wrath of God was poured out upon the church of the devil, and He delivered Osama bin Laden into our hands. Let our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Osama bin Laden’s victims and their families.

Let us rejoice for the death of bin Laden. Our children will now grow up in a world free of Osama bin Laden. This is as good a time as any to dance in the streets and hand out candy.

The Book of Mormon musical & Michael Otterson’s twisted view of Mormonism Apr. 17th, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Michael Otterson, the church’s Head of Public Affairs, published a blog this week in The Washington Post on why he won’t be seeing The Book of Mormon musical. Perhaps some Mormons admire Otterson for his outspoken response, because they mistakenly believe that he’s going out on a limb to defend what he believes. But anyone vaguely familiar with Mormon culture knows that he’s not actually going out on a limb at all. He’s just adopting the singsongy tone of Mormon moralizing that saturates so many of the pathetic discussions that disapproving Mormons carry on with the world around them.

Otterson, of course, is never above making a show of his own moral convictions, and one can’t help but smile when he describes how different he is from other Mormons willing to tolerate the debasement of their religion:

A few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have seen this musical and blogged about it seem to have gone out of their way to show how they can take it. That’s their choice. There’s always room for different perspectives, and we can all decide what to do with our free time.

But I’m not buying what I’m reading in the reviews. Specifically, I’m not willing to spend $200 for a ticket to be sold the idea that religion moves along oblivious to real-world problems in a kind of blissful naiveté.

As it happens, I saw The Book of Mormon musical on February 26th. Far from “going out of my way to show how I can take it” (as Otterson artlessly and condescendingly phrases it), I just sat on my opinion. I haven’t blogged about it until now. But now that I am blogging about it, let me say that I positively rejoiced in The Book of Mormon musical. The musical was absolutely brilliant and on par with the finest musicals I’ve seen. The songs were amazing. The story was ingenious. The message was profound. The production was first rate. It was an eclectic mix of vulgar South Park jokes, Fiddler on the Roof, the Hill Camorah pageant, Oklahoma, The Lion King, and The Backstreet Boys. It even had a moment that channelled Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land. And it is topped off with cameos by Darth Vader, Frodo Baggins, Attila the Hun, Johnny Cochran, Jeffrey Dahmer, dancing Starbucks coffee cups, and Lieutenant Uhura.
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If We Can’t Burn the Koran, Then Islam Isn’t Worth Spit Apr. 3rd, 2011 at 8:48 pm

On Sunday, March 20th, fundamentalist pastor Terry Jones burned a copy of the Koran after conducting a mock trial that found Islam guilty of crimes against humanity. Right-minded people of every political persuasion responded with round condemnation. Shame on them. Read more »

Everybody Eats Something Mar. 26th, 2011 at 7:21 pm

I was in the Costco in Lewiston, Idaho one time, and I saw a lady with a shirt that said, “Stupid raisins! Stay out of my cookies!” and I thought “How great is that?” because all this time I thought I was the only person in the world who hates raisins in cookies, and now I know I’m not alone. Thank you, lady from Lewiston Costco.

I have simple tastes. For years I ate mostly Big Macs. In college I ate mostly pizza — warm for dinner, cold for breakfast and lunch, because cold pizza is the breakfast of champions. Unfortunately, living with other people (like a spouse and kids) means never eating the same thing more than once a day. Shoot, sometimes I don’t even get to eat the same thing more than once a week. It has taken some time to get used to.

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Relief for Underwater Mortgages Feb. 7th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Just a month ago, the idea of a government-driven solution to the mortgage problem made my blood boil, but I’ve grown to be a lot less hostile to the idea.

Charles Krauthammer does an excellent job of summarizing the problem with underwater mortgages:

If your mortgage is underwater and you can’t sell a house, and there are jobs that are opening up in America — traditionally in America you pack up and leave. If you are stuck in the same location, in a place like, say, Detroit where jobs are falling away and there are job openings elsewhere, you are stuck because of skills or location. When you add them together, you have this chronic unemployment issue which is new in this country.

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Racism or Raindance? Jan. 5th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I had lunch with 4 friends, and we all had a great time, including the black guy. Nevertheless, something had happened that left me feeling quite uncomfortable:

We’d been seated at the table for quite a while, and the waiter still hadn’t stopped by. After someone remarked about how much time had passed, the black guy said, “Maybe it’s me.” The 3 of us laughed, and then he said, “I’m going to get up and wait around the corner and see what happens.” I couldn’t believe he was serious, but he did get up and wait around the corner. I did not want him to get up, and once he did I suddenly became a little anxious for the waiter to take another 10 or 20 minutes to arrive. No such luck. The waiter showed up forthwith, apologized for the delay, and asked what we’d like to drink.
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Santa: The Unsung Hero of Christmas Dec. 18th, 2010 at 11:56 pm

When you think about it, it’s kind of sad: Santa does not have a single holiday. Nobody celebrates the birth of the precious baby Santa. There’s no commemoration of the day that Santa was crucified or the day that he emerged from the tomb. Plenty of people are skeptical of the existence of Santa, but I don’t know of a single special witness of Santa. Nobody ever bears their testimony to the truth of Santa.

I know I’m just one person, but I just wanted to take a moment from the busy, commercially-laden Christmas season and say thank you to Santa for all the hard work that he does: thank you, Santa.

This Christmas, as you go about your celebration and gift-giving and carol-singing, remember that without Santa, we wouldn’t even have Christmas. And what did Santa ever to do to harm anyone? Evil men don’t twist Santa’s words to justify their actions, and people have never killed each other or invaded countries or persecuted others in the name of Santa.

Even so, as for me and my family, we stand with Santo.

The Written Order vs The Unwritten Order Nov. 30th, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Tagore wrote a post on how his ward forbade women to say the opening prayer in Sacrament meeting, which people justified with Boyd Packer’s talk on The Unwritten Order of Things. Boyd Packer’s talk is available at lds.org right here, though it’s really the sort of talk that should only be published by anti-Mormon sites (like the original text of Boyd Packer’s recent talk on the gays). The policy to forbid women from giving the opening prayer is a foul policy, even when it was implemented by misguided, though well-meaning, leaders that we sustain. What is even more foul is the use of Boyd Packer’s talk to justify such a policy, which I wrote about here.

The good news is that the newly issued Handbook 2 has a Section 18.5, entitled “Prayers in Church Meetings,” which begins, “Men and women may offer both opening and closing prayers in Church meetings.”

So for all the triumphant insiders who claimed to know better than the unwashed Mormon masses: Go back to your rameumptom and let us worship in peace.

Seth R. Has Arrived in the Bloggernacle Oct. 14th, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Just a quick shout out to Seth R. of Nine Moons, who recently expressed concern on a thread at Faith Promoting Rumor over the fact that he’d never been called “pedantic” in the bloggernacle. People in the ‘nacle have a pretty high opinion of Seth, both for his posts and his comments, and I’m pretty sure nobody wants him to feel left out or put upon. So here goes:

Seth R, we think that you’re pedantic, too.

Does that count, Seth?

Two New Blogs Oct. 4th, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Today sees the birth of 2 new blogs, and that makes this a great day for the bloggernacle.

Serpents and Doves is a new blog out of the UK, and I’m very excited by some of the new voices that it brings to the ‘Nacle. They use a scheduled daily post format, so be sure to check in every day to see what’s new.

Wheat & Tares is a new blog put together by veteran Bloggernacle participants.

I know nearly all of the participants in both of these blogs, and I can vouch for the fact that they’re all engaging thinkers and talented writers. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to these new endeavors.

Are Republicans Tea Partying While Rome Burns? Sep. 23rd, 2010 at 2:20 pm

On the eve of the Delaware primary, Karl Rove appeared on Fox News and lambasted Christine O’Donnell and argued that she was unelectable. Now, the media clings to the story of her nomination as an example of the self-defeating radicalism of the Tea Party. What’s more, the controversy among Republicans concerning O’Donnell’s nomination has exposed a fault-line in the Republican Party, and few political stories are juicier than the rancorous, internecine feuds of a major political party.

So what are we to make of the Tea Party’s impact on the Republican establishment?
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In Defense of Michelle Obama Sep. 17th, 2010 at 2:28 am

It’s from a dubious source and has been denied by everybody named. Nevertheless, it’s all over Drudge and practically every other news source: Michelle Obama said she could stand being 1st Lady according to an unauthorized biography of Carla Bruni, France’s 1st Lady. Let’s suppose that the quotation is accurate just for the sake of argument: so what?
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There Must Be 50 Ways to Kill the Koran Sep. 13th, 2010 at 2:04 am

I was saddened by the isolated accounts of Koran-burning appearing in the press and on YouTube. “Why?” I ask myself. “Why aren’t more people burning the Koran?”

The most objectionable thing to come to light from all of this bizarre Ground-Zero-Mosque/Koran-Burning hysteria is that, in this day and age, there are still people who consider book burning objectionable. If you really object to book burning, buy a Kindle.
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DKL’s Notes on UFC Aug. 29th, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Saturday night (Aug 28), UFC 118 was here in Boston at the TD Garden. Its was tons of fun. My wife, her brother, her sister-in-law, and I all had a great time.

I’m an unlikely UFC fan. I don’t like sports in general. Sure, I passively follow Boston teams. I’ll admit that I still feel connected to the Redskins from growing up in Washington, DC. And occasionally I do watch the post-season match ups. Yet I lack an active interest in sports and sport teams. I just can’t muster that much enthusiasm.

But I love UFC and its mixed martial arts (MMA) style of fighting. Other sports are highly contrived affairs: one doesn’t accidentally find oneself engaged in a baseball, soccer, or football game. Not even boxing, with all of its rules, occurs on accident. But anyone can end up in a fight, and everyone understands whats at stake when you win or lose.

UFC events have great production values, and whether you go to see them live or watch them on pay-per-view you’ll see very high quality and well put-together sporting event. My observances, in no particular order of interest or significance, are as follows:
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Two of the Greatest Posts Ever Jun. 26th, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Our very own annegb and a random john have written two incredible descriptions of what went on at Banner of Heaven on The Bloggernacle Times’ ongoing retrospective on the 5-year anniversary of Banner of Heaven.

Here’s a random john’s post.

Here’s annegb’s post.

These posts are worth reading even if you’re not terribly interested in Banner of Heaven, because of the insights that they both bring to bear on the bloggernacle itself.

Father’s Day: Don’t Men Have Anything Better to Do? Jun. 20th, 2010 at 9:35 am

Rumor has it that Father’s Day is the biggest day of the year for collect calls — presumably children calling their fathers. Whether that is literally true or not, this rumor seems to capture something inescapably stereotypical about fatherhood.

A recent poll by Rasmussen Reports found that,

The majority (71%) of American Adults continue to believe that being a father is one of the most important roles a man can fill in today’s world, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Twelve percent (12%) disagree, and 17% are not sure.

An interesting related fact:

Sixty-four percent (64%) think that being a mother is the most important role for a woman to fill in today’s world.

It’s tempting to conclude from this that the options open to women in today’s world include more roles that trump parenthood than the options open to men.

Of course, plenty of famous people were never fathers. Jesus and George Washington come to mind.
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MHA 2010 Roundup Jun. 14th, 2010 at 5:42 pm

I apologize it took so long to get this up.

This year’s 2010 MHA Conference in Independence, MO was sensational — the best I can remember. It was well attended, and loads of fun. If you haven’t made plans to attend the upcoming conference for the John Whitmer Historical Society in Amboy, Illinois this year, I urge you to do so. And please plan to attend next year’s MHA conference over Memorial Day weekend — you won’t regret it.

As always, there were too many excellent papers presented to see everything one wanted to see.
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