I grew up among both missionaries and heathens, and still retain what I hope is a healthy respect for both camps, so long as the methods of the missionaries are not coercive and (not or) the reaction of the heathens is not violent. I’m interested in different religious (and irreligious) perspectives, so long as they are reasonable and (not or) tolerant of alternative views. (I don’t regard “antireligious” as a synonym for either “tolerant” or “enlightened.”) In that spirit, I’d like to recommend for those with religious interests a fairly new Mormon group blog Times and Seasons. I have no interest in adhering to Mormonism or (substitute your religion here) ________, but I find that Mormon perspectives (mea culpa: I first wrote “a Mormon perspective”) sometimes challenge my facile assumptions about such issues as legislating morality, or about how much religion shapes political views, or about who qualifies to be counted as a minority or as part of a diaspora, and so forth. Here’s a sample of some of the issues discussed on Times and Seasons, “quite possibly the most post-liberal, yet acclaimed, onymous Mormon group blog in history.” The comment sections are generally lively and civil.
Perhaps nothing outwardly sets Mormons apart from the rest of society more than our adherence to the Word of Wisdom. And for insiders, as someone once said on this site, the Word of Wisdom just *feels* important. I’m far more likely to offend the Sabbath day, forget a fast, skip hometeaching, use inappropriate language, break the speed limit, or commit dozens of other sins of omission and commission than I am to join my friends sipping tea at a Chinese restaurant….
–The WoW replaced polygamy as something that sets us apart and makes us a peculiar people. Feeling like an outsider is, in some ways, integral to Mormon culture, and WoW adherence fosters this feeling.
As I drove home from work today, I heard an announcement for an upcoming program on Wisconsin Public Radio dealing with the topic of contentment. Implicit in the announcement was an assumption that contentment is a worthy life goal. This caught me off guard. Honestly, it has never occurred to me to pursue contentment. I’m not sure I even know what it means.
Randy Barnett has an interesting post up at the Volokh Conspiracy, giving a persuasive argument about why legislative judgments of morality are not a particularly good basis for legal punishments or restrictions. Barnett makes the very interesting initial assertion that: “A legislative judgment of ‘immorality’ means nothing more than that a majority of the legislature disapproves of this conduct.”
It suddenly occured to me last night that our group’s marital homogeneity is rather striking. Consider: We have eight bloggers; we live in different locations; we come from different professions; we have different political beliefs; we find a lot to differ on.
We are all married and all have children…. This makes us unusual in the world. At work, school, or social groups, there is often a sizable single contingent. Many people are happy to avoid marriage altogether, and even married colleagues are unlikely to begin having children very soon.
This is a photograph of George Q. Cannon, then First Counselor in the First Presidency to John Taylor, and other polygamists taken while Cannon was incarcerated for unlawful cohabitation (polygamy) during the 1880s….
Comment: “Group photos of men incarcerated for polygamy were extremely common, and were displayed as a symbol of loyalty to the Gospel. Interestingly, although there were women incarcerated as part of the anti-polygamy raids, I have never seen any photos of them. The few who were imprisoned were jailed for either contempt of court (refusal to testify against fellow Saints) or fornication. The charge of fornication, in the 19th century, was most often used to punish prostitutes. The few inditements against polygamist women were self-conscious attempts by federal officials to brand Mormon women as whores. This (along with the relative rarity of such cases) may account for the lack of photographs.”
Comment: “I had exactly this discussion …. Everyone seemed satisfied that their people (everyone there was Jewish or married to a Jew, or me) would be able to reject the baptisms for themselves. Plus, one woman noted, it was a great way to boost your membership numbers. I said yeah, but it doesn’t help your attendance percentages.”