Category Archives: Media

Mormon journalism — SL Tribune “Big Love” update

[NOTE: I’ve made a few updates and edits below.]

I wrote yesterday about how the Deseret News has managed to actually increase its paid circulation by focusing more on a specific target audience — Mormons — while the Salt Lake Tribune declined in paid circulation at the same time.

This editorial choice at the Tribune certainly isn’t going to help matters much (the column is by Connie Coyne, the ‘Reader Advocate’ at the Trib; emphasis is mine):

I talked to many faithful LDS Church members this week after a story about “Big Love,” HBO’s polygamy drama, appeared in The Tribune alongside a photo of one of the characters wearing temple clothing known only to devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Trust me, Pandora’s box is ajar and the bad feelings are in the ether. . . .

By Friday afternoon, 1,111 readers had commented on the online version of the story at www.sltrib.com.

Although a tightly cropped version of the photo appeared in the print edition, the larger shot was pulled from the Web site and the photo archives as soon as Tribune Editor Nancy Conway saw it. She believes the photo added nothing to the story by Vince Horiuchi about the controversy surrounding the episode that airs Sunday evening. That episode reportedly will depict a rite that members consider sacred and private. . . .

But I can assure Mormons that The Tribune did not intend to offend members of the LDS Church. We should have more carefully considered what using the photos would mean to Latter-day Saints.

Yep, you read that right. The Tribune ran in its print edition and on its web site a photo (from “Big Love”) of an actress in LDS temple robes to accompany an article by Vince Horiuchi about the “Big Love” flap. (NOTE: it’s unclear exactly which article Coyne is talking about; I found three by Horiuchi on the “Big Love” flap [here, here and here], but none has the 1,000+ reader comments that Coyne references.  Of course, that raises the issue of whether the Tribune pulled down the corresponding reader comments after pulling the photo from the web site.)

I’m trying to figure out how Coyne can say with any credibility that the Trib‘s editorial staff “did not intend to offend members of the LDS Church” by running that photo.  It’s hard to see it as anything but a deliberate poke in the eye to Utah Mormons. It would be like running one of the (in)famous Mohammed editorial cartoons in a heavily Muslim city and then saying, “We didn’t intend to offend Muslims!” You may have editorial reasons for running the cartoon, but you can’t claim after the fact that you didn’t understand how it would upset people. (Note, however, that there have not been, to my knowledge, any death threats, fire bombings, or massive street demonstrations in the wake of the Tribune‘s actions.)

Note, by the way, that I think that the Tribune had every right (under the 1st Amendment, etc.) to run that photograph; in that, I happen to agree with Vince Horiuchi (though not with his snarky tone). But as we like to remind ourselves in the Church, you are free to choose your actions; you are not always free to choose the consequences.  And given the Tribune‘s circulation struggles, this may not have been the wisest course of action.  ..bruce..

Mormon journalism pays off

Deseret News — Once upon a time the Deseret News, the Church-owned newspaper in Salt Lake City, carried on a highly entertaining feud with the anti-Mormon Salt Lake Tribune. In these calmer days, the Tribune and the News share the same adverstising office, cooperate on the Sunday edition, and never exchange so much as a snide word. Oddly enough, however, Mormons still get some small rebellious satisfaction out of subscribing to the Tribune, and non-Mormons regard the Church paper with suspicion.

— Orson Scott Card, Saintspeak: A Mormon Dictionary (Orion Books, 1981)

There was an interesting article by Paul Beebe in yesterday’s Salt Lake Tribune about the travails of the Tribune and the Deseret News in today’s tough market for newspapers. However, Beebe buried the real lede, and quite possibly deliberately.

You see, Joe Cannon at the Deseret News has adopted a concious approach to increase LDS coverage and utility to LDS readers, both in the print edition and online, since “research going back a decade shows little interest in the newspaper among non-Mormons” (as per Card’s quip above). Beebe focuses a lot on the internal controvery at the News over the decision, including staff protests and even some demotions:

Last month, 10 News reporters removed their names from stories they had written for the Feb. 23 paper to protest Editor Joe Cannon’s strategy to make the LDS Church-owned paper more pleasing to Mormons — and more profitable. Cannon sees the strategy as a way to allow two daily papers to remain viable in a market of Salt Lake City’s size.

The reporters were also protesting the demotion of two editors who objected to the paper’s drift.

What Beebe later acknowledges — though you have to get halfway through the article to find it out — is that:

Cannon’s strategy appears to be working. Paid circulation increased 2.1 percent in the six months ending Sept. 30. The News was one of a few big-city papers to add readers during the period, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations figures.

If you have been following newspaper journalism at all for the past few years, you’d know how remarkable that is. I’d be interested to find out what other “big-city papers” have increased in circulation during the last six months; most of the focus these days are on the ones that have already closed up shop (like my town’s own Rocky Mountain News) or are likely to do so soon. So the fact that the News increased its circulation, in a city as relatively small as Salt Lake and with another competing daily newspaper, is major journalistic news indeed.

Oh, and the Tribute, like most other newspapers around the country, lost circulation during the same period:

The larger Salt Lake Tribune is coping with circulation and advertising declines of its own. Paid readership dropped 5 percent in the six-month period, according to ABC. So far this year, revenue for both papers is down 20 percent.

Although the circulation losses are blamed on a cost-saving move to pull Tribunes from numerous hotels in Utah, editors see them as additional confirmation that the newspaper must branch into new areas if it is to keep its leading role.

So the question is: will Salt Lake City be a one-paper town (as Denver now is) in a few more years?  ..bruce..

New approaches to modern music: “Stairway to where?

First off, major props to Ardis “Ace” Parshall, Mormon Detective and blogger at the always-excellent Keepapitchinin, for her fast and (as usual) outstanding research work. Those of you who are familiar with her work on the Great Mormon Marijuana Myth know just what historical investigation skills she can bring to bear. That said…

Back in 1967, the LDS Primary (children’s) organization sent out to LDS wards and branches everywhere the program and materials for that year’s annual Primary Sacrament meeting (thank you, Ace, for tracking this down). The theme was “Stairway to Lasting Joy”, and the materials included the sheet music for a children’s hymn by that same name, with lyrics by Mabel Gabbott and music by Robert Cundick (who was organist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the time). The hymn is interesting in that it’s written in a minor key and has a lyrical feeling to it; when the hymn was added to “Sing With Me”, the LDS Church’s hymnbook for the Primary organization, it included the notation “Moderately slow, smoothly (in the style of a folk song)”.

It really is beautiful; here’s a clip of a recent rendition by Brett Raymond, from his album “Primarily for Adults”:

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Last Sunday, my sweet wife Sandra and I arrived early for ward choir practice, and she sat down at the piano to practice some songs (she was substituting for Primary pianist later that day). She pulled out her copy of “Sing With Me”, and I asked her to play “Stairway to Lasting Joy”, since it’s one of my all-time favorite hymns. She did, and as she did, I thought to myself, “You know, there’s something kind of familiar about that song that reminds me of something else.”

So when I got home that evening (don’t ask — it was one of Those Church Days), I pulled up iTunes and played the following song:

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OK,  so “Stairway to Heaven” (written in 1970, released in 1971) is in 4/4 time (vs. 6/8 for “Stairway to Lasting Joy”), and it’s played slower, but still. In fact, you could sing “Stairway to Heaven” in 6/8 (or 3/4) time; try beating out the lyrics. In addition to the nearly-identical titles, both songs start with exactly the same words (“There’s a”). For that matter, “Stairway to Lasting Joy” contains a total of 69 unique words; of those words, 24 show up in the exact same form in “Stairway to Heaven”, while another 6 show up in variant word forms. That’s 30 out of 69 words; in other words, nearly half of the entire wordlist of “Stairway to Lasting Joy” shows up in “Stairway to Heaven”! And, of course, “Stairway to Heaven” came out just a few years after “Stairway to Lasting Joy”. That’s just too much to ask of coincidence.

My initial research has not yet established a connection between Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (the song’s composers) and the LDS Church (or, for that matter, Mabel Gabbott and Robert Cundick).  There may well have been an LDS branch in Gwynedd, Wales back in 1970, while Page and Plant were staying at Bron-Yr-Aur (and where “Stairway to Heaven” was allegedly composed).  Still, “Stairway to Lasting Joy” was included in the 1969 edition of “Sing With Me”, so that volume could well have been the source, especially given Led Zeppelin’s US tours during that time. Of course, there is the controvery as to whether “Stairway to Heaven” owes its melody to “Taurus”, but since “Taurus” was released in 1968 — after “Stairway to Lasting Joy” was sent to LDS congregations in the US and Canada — that fails to eliminate what could have been the original inspiration.

And, hey, if people are still peddling the Sidney Rigdon/Solomon Spaulding theory of the Book of Mormon’s origins, I figure this has just as much credibility, if not more.  ..bruce..

Finally: some Evangelical criticism of “Twilight”

I’m surprised how little Evangelical commentary I’ve run across about Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight novels, much less the surprisingly successful “Twilight” movie release last fall. As I wrote all the way back in November 2007,

Boy, if the evangelicals hated Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling, what will they do when they face the popularity of vampire love stories written by a Mormon for teens and tweens?

Yet — unlike the various Harry Potter denoncements and book burnings over the past several years — I’ve seen almost no press coverage or other indiciation of Evangelical fervor regarding Meyer’s work. In fact, most of the Twilight criticism I’ve run across to date has been on LDS blogs.

Well, thanks to Google News, I’ve found my first Evangelical posting on the subject. I’m sure there have been others; I just haven’t gone looking for them. What’s curious is why this is showing up on Google News right now, since it appears to have been written back in November, shortly after the release of the movie “Twilight”, and why Google News considers the website “Prophezine: Your Source for Bible Prophecy and World Events” to be a news source. But all that said, here are a few key passages:

The series commonly referred to as Twilight is about an out of place sophomore teenage girl named Bella who moves to a new town and falls in love with a handsome 108 year old, but frozen at 17, “vampire” named Edward at her school (108? with a 16yr old? would make him a pervert and pedophile but should biblical (or old-fashioned) morality get in the way of “true” love?)  The story is about their intoxicating infatuation for each other and the consequences of a lustful vampire/mortal romance.

Edward and his “coven” of vampire family are vowed “good” and “vegetarian” vampires as they only feed on animal blood rather than human blood.  Yet, Edward wants to eat Bella every time the sexual tension gets too high.  He avoids having sex with her, not on any moral grounds, but out of fear lest he eat her and cause her to become the “un-dead” like him.  But she loves him regardless and is willing to step into his “eternity” no matter the cost!

Sounds a trite story, but the shocker is that many Christians are attracted to this spiritually dysfunctional romance and worse, are attempting to give Christian applications to its demonic premise suggesting this be acceptable “Christian” discussion. Some Christian reviewers on Christian Internet sites are using the story, to initiate Bible “studies” and discussion on so-called “Christian” principles to be drawn from it. A new “Christianized” twist on demonic deception is invading Christian values!

Here would be a good place to examine exactly what a “vampire” is and ask, can Christians honestly consider it OK for teens (indeed anyone?) to crave a relationship with one? For centuries, vampires have been part of folklore and mythology, understood to be ugly, dark creatures of morbid horror, close to the dead, sometimes known as the undead for they claim eternal life and subsist by feeding on human blood, roam in darkness, avoid the light, and are enemies of the human race.

This repulsive concept was changed with the popularization of Bram Stoker’s famous 1897 novel about a fictionalized vampire Count Dracula, who was presented as an aristocrat Transylvanian nobleman.  He was imbued with supernatural powers, superhuman capabilities and a lustful passion for beautiful ladies whose blood he became addicted to. His blood sucking was two-fold – to maintain his (eternal) “life force” and eventually befall his victim with the curse of vampirism and ultimate death. No matter how resplendent the “vampire” is portrayed in mythology and fiction, in Scripture blood drinking and creatures of darkness are judged as despicable by God. Also, Scripture explains fallen spirits (“angels”) as those who deliberately chose to follow their leader Satan (Isaiah. 14) and deny their Creator God. For this choice, they are damned with eternal separation from God and an eternity in the Lake of Fire. (Rev 15.)

I would argue simply that vampires aren’t real, but I realize that the author (Caryl Matriscian) is making a point based on her own worldview. That said, there’s an unspoken subtext in this article that has interesting implications for LDS fiction. That subtext seems to be that all fiction must, implicitly or explicity, play out within the context of Evangelical Christian theology and must serve that theology.

There is often a similar issue in fiction by LDS authors: must what we write always be consistent with LDS doctrine and history, portray the Church and LDS doctrine in a positive light, and serve to lead people to Christ? This issue has been kicked around for decades; while I was an undergrad at BYU, Eugene England gave the classic talk, “Great books or true religion?“, touching on some of those same issues. The best LDS authors tend to set it aside or deal with it in unexpected ways (cf. Orson Scott Card in Ender’s Game, which indicates that one of Ender’s parents is LDS but suggests that the LDS Church, like many others, has largely been suppressed/disbanded and does not apply LDS doctrine or theology to any of the story’s events).  See also this discussion over at The Red Brick Store, which suggests using Chaim Potok’s novels about Jewish life (The Chosen, My Name is Asher Lev) as a model for Mormon literature.

But let’s get back to the article, which then paints a, well, interesting portrait of Stephenie Meyer:

A housewife named Stephenie Meyer “received” the story of Twilight in a dream on June 2, 2003.  The vision she had of a vampire and mortal as lovers compelled her to start writing the story immediately.  She says she couldn’t resist the drive to write down her dream (a similar scenario to J.K Rowlings, author of Harry Potter).  Meyer gives a summary of that first dream: “I woke up (on that June 2nd) from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately.”  Within three months, she had the entire novel written.  Within six-months, it had been dreamed, written, and readied for publishing.

She admits she had little to no prior writing experience with only a B.A. degree in English and had to learn from the Internet how to submit a book proposal.  She tried a few times and “miraculously” got published with a $750 thousand dollar publishing contract! Miraculous happenings have been known to come from powers of darkness, and in this case, no matter how it’s sliced, the God of the Bible would not use vampires, sexual tension, lust, boyfriend worship, and teenage romance to spread His Gospel of eternal life and salvation through Yeshua.

Meyer, a Mormon mother of three, states that some of her inspiration in writing her vampire saga came from a band of musicians called Marjorie Fair.  “For New Moon, they were absolutely essential. They can put you into a suicidal state faster than anything I know . . . Their songs really made it beautiful for me.” Also an inspiration for one of her characters was a band called My Chemical Romance.  She states, “It’s someone . . . who just wants to go out and blow things up.” See mind blowing information about the music industry and a shocking spirituality many are involved in.

Scaringly, Meyer’s fictional character Edward took on the “terrifying” form of “real” spirit when it leapt from the pages of her saga and communicated with her in a dream. She says she had an additional dream after Twilight was finished when her vampire character Edward came to visit and speak to her. The Edward who visited her in the night told her she’d got it all wrong because he DID drink human blood, and could not “live” on ONLY animal blood as she wrote in the story.  She said, “We had this conversation and he was terrifying.”

Conversation with spirits (saying they need human blood to suck!) and frightening dream visitations by spirits are part of occult communication. Meyer’s spiritual experiences could well be influenced by her Mormon faith which allows for communication with the so-called “the dead”; indeed “the dead” of former generations are baptized into Mormonism in Mormon Temple ritual. Mormon founder Joseph Smith was “visited” by a communicating “angel” called Moroni, whose statue stands atop all Mormon Temples. This fallen angel of Mormonism gave Smith messages on which he formed his Mormon doctrine about prior civilizations, none of which have been discovered despite endless archeological digs to substantiate Mormons claims. Others Mormon teachings conflict with biblical Christianity such as Mormonism’s claim that Jesus (Yeshua) of the Bible is the half-brother of Satan.  Mormons additionally believe numerous teachings about the spirits that oppose Bible truths and could help embellish Meyer’s Twilight series.

In 2007, Stephenie Meyer wrote portions of a work titled, “Prom Nights from Hell,” which is about supernatural events surrounding evil prom nights. On May 6, 2008, she released her adult novel, The Host, which is about “invading alien souls” that take over a person and get them to do what they want. This behavior is called demonic possession, a state Jesus came to set captives free from.  Meyer’s so-called fiction “crosses over” to severe occult philosophy.

What’s interesting about this article is that it really does illustrate the principle that our foundational premises profoundly shape our worldview. Almost none of the LDS commentary, positive or negative, that I’ve seen on the Twilight books or movie has raised concerns about the occult, Satan, or vampires, and I have seen no suggestions that Meyer might have been inspired by, helped by, and directed by evil spirits in writing these books. For that matter, I haven’t seen any LDS commentators suggest that Meyer was inspired by the Holy Ghost, either. Instead, we treat her as an author who came up with the concept for a book, spent the time to actually write it out, and managed to break through the various barriers to publishing to achieve success. We see her Mormonism as informing some of the symbolism and themes in the novels themselves but not as having anything to do with how she wrote the novels and got them published.

Anyway, it is worth reading Matriscian’s entire article just to pull out all of the spoken and unspoken premises that shape her portrayal and criticisms of Meyer’s work.

Plus, it’s entertaining. 🙂  ..bruce..

The Star Wars Holiday Special! (1978)

[cross-posted from And Still I Persist]

Courtesy of Ace of Spades comes the most reviled, most wretched “holiday special” ever produced. First, here’s the Vanity Fair article to give you the entire ugly background:

In the summer of 1978, Bruce Vilanch had a bad feeling about the Star Wars television special he’d been hired to write. A veteran of the comedy wars who has since written material for 16 Oscar telecasts and starred as the extra-large Edna Turnblad in the Broadway musical adaptation of John Waters’s Hairspray, Vilanch had just finished working on Bette Midler’s 1977 TV special, Ol’ Red Hair Is Back, for producers Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion when they threw him what sounded like a plum assignment: a spot on the writing team that would help George Lucas adapt more of the Star Wars saga for television.

A year had passed since the theatrical release of Lucas’s gee-whiz space epic, and in that time Star Wars had become the highest-grossing movie in history as well as a cultural phenomenon with its very own lexicon and mythology. With a sequel still two years away from theaters, Lucas had been sold on the idea that a Star Wars holiday television special—to be broadcast on CBS the weekend before Thanksgiving, when Nielsen audiences were plentiful—would sustain interest in the franchise, move more toys off the shelves, and maybe even pick up some new fans who hadn’t seen the movie.

Though Lucas would not be involved in the actual shooting of the special—Smith and Hemion would oversee that—he knew the tales he wanted to tell and planned to work with the show’s team of seasoned TV writers to develop his ideas into a viable script. For those who had been summoned, the prospect of collaborating with the father of the Force initially sounded like a sure bet. “We were really excited, because, ‘My God, this is an annuity—Star Wars!’” says Lenny Ripps, another writer who worked on the special. “How could it lose?”

How indeed.

For those of you with the stamina, here a link to the complete Star Wars Holiday Special itself. I suspect most (if not all) of the actors involved wished that no record of this existed.  Heh.  ..bruce w..

The Atlantic analyzes the “Twilight” novels

Caitlin Flanagan looks at the “Twlight” phenomenon and, I think, puts her finger on exactly why these novels (which so many love to scorn) have become so popular:

The salient fact of an adolescent girl’s existence is her need for a secret emotional life—one that she slips into during her sulks and silences, during her endless hours alone in her room, or even just when she’s gazing out the classroom window while all of Modern European History, or the niceties of the passé composé, sluice past her. This means that she is a creature designed for reading in a way no boy or man, or even grown woman, could ever be so exactly designed, because she is a creature whose most elemental psychological needs—to be undisturbed while she works out the big questions of her life, to be hidden from view while still in plain sight, to enter profoundly into the emotional lives of others—are met precisely by the act of reading.

Twilight is fantastic. It’s a page-turner that pops out a lurching, frightening ending I never saw coming. It’s also the first book that seemed at long last to rekindle something of the girl-reader in me. In fact, there were times when the novel—no work of literature, to be sure, no school for style; hugged mainly to the slender chests of very young teenage girls, whose regard for it is on a par with the regard with which just yesterday they held Hannah Montana—stirred something in me so long forgotten that I felt embarrassed by it. Reading the book, I sometimes experienced what I imagine long-married men must feel when they get an unexpected glimpse at pornography: slingshot back to a world of sensation that, through sheer force of will and dutiful acceptance of life’s fortunes, I thought I had subdued. The Twilight series is not based on a true story, of course, but within it is the true story, the original one. Twilight centers on a boy who loves a girl so much that he refuses to defile her, and on a girl who loves him so dearly that she is desperate for him to do just that, even if the wages of the act are expulsion from her family and from everything she has ever known. We haven’t seen that tale in a girls’ book in a very long time. And it’s selling through the roof.

Be sure to read the whole thing, and then ask yourself: why are the “Twilight” novels and movie so popular among adult women as well?  ..bruce..

A people set apart: Mormons and Prop 8

There has, of course, been much discourse on the bloggernacle about Proposition 8 in California and the Church’s involvement in it. Leaving aside the various arguments on the merits of gay marriage itself, the merits of the arguments on both sides of Prop 8, and the merits of the Church’s involvement in passing Prop 8, I was struck by a different thought today:

It may well be that God inspired Pres. Monson to take this approach to put all of us within the Church in a difficult position.

I am struck as I read through the ‘nacle at the number of posts that in one way or another express the thought, “Why can’t we be more like other churches and/or society at large?” This shows up in any number of ways, but I see it time and again. Often it’s a fervent wish that we would do away with one or more Church practices, doctrines, or historical events (missionary program, tithing, Word of Wisdom, garments, temple recommends/restrictions, the First Vision, priesthood restoration, the endowment, all-male priesthood, lay ministry, succession in the Church presidency, etc.). It certainly has shown up in the discussions on Prop 8, where the most recent post I read today used the word “fiasco” to describe the Church’s (successful) effort to support Prop 8.

My own reading of both Church and scriptural history suggests that the Lord often requires of His people practices and beliefs that prevent easy assimilation into the surrounding culture. And assimilation is what a lot of us would like. We’d like to fit in, to not have people look at us funny, to not have to explain about gold plates and special underwear. We’d like people to admire us unreservedly for being Latter-day Saints and to welcome us into their embrace, whether secular or ecumenical.

Ain’t gonna happen, at least not in my opinion. In fact, the way I read the scriptures, the gap is going to widen, not shrink. And we really are going to have to decide where our loyalties lie, regardless of our opinions about the merits of Prop 8 and/or gay marriage in general.

Of course, I find it funny and ironic that some of the same ‘naclites who complain about the Church doing this or that for “PR purposes” are now complaining about what a “PR disaster” the Church’s support for Prop 8 is.  Examine again the educational level and professional accomplishments of those who comprise the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. Do you really think these people weren’t clearly aware of just what would happen with the Church throwing such active support behind Prop 8? What they did, they did with the full knowledge and expectation of what the backlash would likely be, both short term and long term. After all, the Church had already been through this thirty years ago with the Equal Rights Amendment; President Monson and Elders Packer and Perry were in the Twelve back then as well, while several other Apostles (Ballard, Wirthlin, Scott, Hales) were General Authorities as well. That opposition was a constant news item and source of controversy not for days or weeks, but for months and years.

For that matter, those exact same individuals were likewise present for and involved in the Church’s decision to change its policy regarding blacks and the priesthood; I’d strongly recommend reading Edward Kimball’s 80-page article on that decision in the latest issue of BYU Studies (vol 47, no. 2).

And yet the Church took its activist stand for Prop 8 anyway. I think that actually argues for this being an inspired decision, because a purely rational one — from the sense of acceptance by society at large — would be at most to issue a simple disapproval.

In short, while any of us can (and clearly many do) disagree with the Church’s actions in this matter, I think it’s foolish and contrary to the facts to claim that Church leadership went into this decision out of fear, bigotry, and/or short-sightedness. I suspect it required very careful deliberation, discussion, and prayer — not to mention serious legal and political advice — and that they made the decision with eyes wide open as to the almost-certain backlash.

The real question is, how do we deal with our own feelings, particularly those who disagree with the Church’s actions? Even if we believe the decision to be a mistake, if our decision is to publicly criticize and excoriate the Church and its leadership, then what mercy and treatment do we expect from Christ (or, for that matter, from Church leaders and members) for our own follies, mistakes, and weaknesses? As I wrote back in 1994:

What is critical in this process [i.e., dealing with what we see as errors by Church leaders] is that it should be done with the same confidentiality, sensitivity, understanding, patience and forgiveness — in short, the same Christ-like behavior — with which we would desire our own imperfections and errors to be handled. The Savior taught that “if they brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou has gained thy brother.” (Matt 18:15) The Savior goes on to say that if that brings no results, we should inform the Church — which I would interpret as meaning the appropriate divinely-appointed stewards, not our circle of friends, the members of our ward, or the readership of Sunstone and Dialogue [not to mention the entire Internet]. We would probably be outraged, and rightly so, if we found that a church member — much less a church leader — was publicly criticizing our performance in our church duties; we’d even be upset over private criticism, if it was shared with those not involved in the situation. Yet all too often, we feel little compunction — and, worse yet, a great deal of self-righteous satisfaction — about doing the same, whether privately, over the net, in print, or even over the pulpit or lectern.

Given the above, the idea of a “community response” [by Latter-day Saints] to the statements, decisions and actions of church leaders is as appalling and inappropriate as would be a “community response” — complete with private discussion and correspondence, newspaper ads, public lectures and published articles [and again, blog postings] — as to how well any one of us is carrying out his or her stewardships within the Church and within his or her family. It ignores the dignity of the individual, and commandments toward charity, tolerance and forgiveness, and the channels which the Lord set up to deal with these issues. I suspect the Lord will not justify us in such a course, and that — whatever the errors of those we criticize — upon us will remain the greater condemnation.

As always, your mileage may vary.  ..bruce..

Oh noes — they burned a Book of Mormon!

The local (Denver, CO) TV news reported that someone burned a copy of the Book of Mormon on the doorstep of an LDS chapel on Easter Avenue in Centennial, Colorado (south Denver):

Church members told authorities that a group of Cub Scouts discovered a copy of the Book of Mormon burning on the steps of the building around 4pm on Tuesday. The Scouts also noticed two men in a silver sedan nearby, who reportedly left quickly after being spotted.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that the incident may be tied to the church’s support of Proposition 8. The controversial measure overturned a previous Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in the state of California.

Be sure to watch the video feed; the graphic of a copy of the Book of Mormon surrounded by flames is a nice touch. 🙂

Actually, the only thing that bothers me about this is that the Channel 2 news anchor — or whoever wrote his teleprompter copy — called the Church “the Church of the Latter-day Saints”. Given how much the Church has been in the news for the last 18 months, you’d think that the could at least get that right.

As for the burnt Book of Mormon, my basic thought is: Gov. Boggs would think they were all wusses. ..bruce..

“An American Carol”: my review

I have posted my review of David Zucker’s new film, “An American Carol” over at one of my other blogs. Here’s a brief excerpt:

David Zucker is brave. Not just because he gleefully mocks the Left (including Hollywood), but because he gleefully mocks radical Islamic terrorists as well. And he is very politically incorrect in how both the Left and radical Islamists are portrayed. When in the first few minutes of the movie you have suicide bomber jokes — not wry or ironic asides, but Airplane!-style, pushing-the-boundaries-of-taste jokes and pratfalls — you know you’re not in West LA anymore.

YMMV.  ..bruce..

Some words of wisdom for Sarah Palin

Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose:

“I am often made aware of the utter uselessness and folly of seeking to vindicate my character…from the simple fact that although foul aspersions can be bruited far and wide, held to the fluttering breeze by every press and rolled as sweet under every tongue, yet while the vile slander is fairly refuted and truth appears in the most incontestable manner it is permitted to lie quietly upon the shelf in slumber the sleep of death or if by chance it should get published in some obscure nook or corner of this great republic be most religiously suppressed as tho in fear that the truth should be known and believed.”

— Brigham Young writing to (then) U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, 1855 (quoted in 40 Ways to Look at Brigham Young, Orton & Slaughter, Deseret Book, 2008, pp. xiv-xv)

Doesn’t look as though the interwebs have changed things all that much.  ..bruce w..

[cross posted from And Still I Persist]