Introducing Orwell

When my wife first met me, she thought I was “too cool for school”… she now thinks that I am “only cool for school.”

9 Posts
Moronihah and the Battle of Transgressive Pronunciation Sep. 4th, 2009 at 5:59 pm

I don’t like to get prescriptive with Book of Mormon name pronunciation. I want to say things the way I’ve always said them, especially when they differ from the official pronunciation guide.

Whenever my wife bristles at my version of Moronihah (that I say like Moroni + hah: Morónihah) or Pacumeni (Pack-oo-mén-knee), I just respond (merely to be obnoxious) that I have more linguistic authority over my pronunciation of Book of Mormon names than any committee. (Though, speaking of said committee, see here for an interesting history of the pronunciation guide.) I’m probably acting out issues of some kind. Oh well. I’m not going to stop.

Others have posted about the pronunciation guide before (huge shout out to Jonathan Green at Times & Seasons, and also Mark Brown at By Common Consent), but what I want, dear readers, is confession. Confess your phonetic heresies here. Let those committee-erected walls come a’tumblin’ down. Confess and be made to feel ridiculous / awesomely devil-may-care, as the case may be.

The Plaza Mall and the Kingdom of God Aug. 15th, 2009 at 10:53 pm

On my mission, there was an enormous shopping center under construction near one of the chapels where we used to have district / zone meetings. Every day, we passed by and took notice of the fact that there were always only two workers — two guys way up at the top with a wheelbarrow of cement, adding one brick at a time. The parallels to missionary work really pushed the envelope of the obvious, so it quickly became the standard metaphor of choice at our meetings. We used to bear our testimonies (occasionally irreverently) about how building the Kingdom of God was like building the Plaza Shopping Center: two guys, every day, one brick at a time — with no discernible progress from one day (week, month, or even year) to the next.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit my mission and take another look at the Plaza.
Read more »

I Support Rumplestiltskin and His New Colleague Mar. 28th, 2009 at 4:15 pm

My first memories of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are not pleasant. As a child, I always associated their sound with fasting pangs and the headache that inevitably followed. I once explained in another post my theory about Pavlovian phenomena affecting certain aspects of my church worship; this is just another example of that. As a result, for years, one hymn from the shadow of the everlasting hills was enough to split my skull. Hearing nearly four-hundred people singing like buffalos all at the same time is impressive, I suppose; but, so is a stampede (which would also probably have the same effect on my head).
Read more »

Tagore’s “Being from Utah” Is Fast-tracked for Resurrection Jan. 14th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

In light of all of the national publicity this past year surrounding the Romney campaign and Prop 8, let us resurrect one of Tagore’s posts from 2007 entitled “Being from Utah“:

To many a native Utahan [sic] living elsewhere, almost nothing brings more social discomfort than the simple, “So, where are you from?”

And it’s socially acceptable to make fun of Utah. On more than one occasion, upon hearing that I’m from Utah, someone has responded with a condescending, “Oh — I’m sorry.”

I was also born and raised in Utah but currently live in the Boston area. Several times in the past few years (but especially in the last twelve months) people have responded very negatively – even viciously – to my telling them where I am from.

I find this somewhat surprising because, in general, New Englanders traditionally shy away from prying into other people’s personal lives. More importantly, however, I just cannot imagine myself responding in a similar fashion to anyone, no matter how strong my personal aversion to their place of origin might be. Who raised these people? Unless you are talking sports, I just do not understand how people think this is okay.
Read more »

The Agonies of a First-time Parent: Do I Have to Go Through This Again? Dec. 12th, 2008 at 4:44 pm

I am sitting in the hospital outside the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. My first child, a little girl, came seven weeks premature last Saturday. We have been very blessed — so far she is doing very well: no cardiovascular or respiratory problems, and she feeds from a bottle just fine. We hope to have her home for Christmas, though that is probably an extremely optimistic outlook right now.

I don’t know how things go for other first-time parents. Perhaps bringing home a baby turns your life upside down so much that you don’t have a lot of time to sit around and think about how it’s going to change — that is, you’re too busy dealing with the change to think about it. Yet, having never been in that situation, I really don’t know… I’m probably completely wrong.
Read more »

Literary Contacting: Talking About the Divine Feminine with Dante in the Inferno Oct. 27th, 2008 at 9:29 am

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?”
Read more »

LDS-EXpress – Coming Soon to Mass Transit Ad Space Near You Sep. 30th, 2008 at 3:06 pm

During my morning commute, I noticed an advertisement on the subway for some random Christian denomination. Obviously, the fact that I don’t remember the specifics of its name or affiliation indicates that they may want to revise their strategy; but I do remember that it used that C.S. Lewis powerhouse of the AP Top 25 Sacrament Meeting Quotes: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

Anyway, as I smiled mischievously to myself at this religious ad desperately trying to attract attention in a marketing heartland of a different sort – that is, ads proselytizing the adult / continuing education demographic – I had a vision of how they should modify their approach. Behold the next wave in missionary work:

Want to increase your Gifts of the Spirit in your spare time?

Get your spiritual life back on track with LDS-EXpress!


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — Extension Stake for Adult Salvation
Read more »

Thoughts on Everlasting Hell: The Case for Pageants Aug. 27th, 2008 at 2:30 pm

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.
Read more »

Why Pavlov’s Dog Will Miss the First Resurrection Jul. 22nd, 2008 at 7:45 pm

I am a sacrament meeting narcoleptic. Let me be clear: I am not speaking of the bobble-head variety, which betrays some sense of propriety in the tacit acknowledgement that one should at least attempt to retain consciousness (you know, “avoiding the appearance”…), nor is it the podium strain, which is a very light sleep that can be easily remedied by a list of buzzwords such as “Zelph,” “Paul H. Dunn,” or any story involving three mysteriously helpful strangers and a surreptitious allusion to food storage. Read more »