Tag Archives: Mormons

Binaries, Bipartisanship, and the Mormon Moment

Right now I am waist deep in literary theory. I am at the end of my first semester of an English grad program and assembling a term paper. I’m interested in food studies, anticipate spending a lot of long nights cozying up to Claude Levi-Strauss’ The Raw and the Cooked. So, indulge my geek-out for a minute here, but I talk about binaries, as used by Levi-Strauss, the theorist, not the maker of fine denim apparel.

Binaries have fans all across the academic spectrum. There are binary numbers, binary code, binary stars and binary relationships in theory. What makes the term so popular is its articulation the relationship of two alternatives existing in opposition to one another. Levi-Strauss pointed out man:woman, raw:cooked, and young:old. The list can go on and on. As Book of Mormon scriptorians, we are all familiar with the discussion of opposition in 2 Nephi 2. Yes, there is opposition, in just about everything.

With the political high season winding down, we are all quite familiar with the binaries that separated and divided so much of the country. Many of us are downright exhausted by it, myself included. I stress and agonize over the structural lines, fissures that edge us apart and divide us into binaries. While I realize that opposition is natural, normal and sometimes useful, its not something I find productive. As I am writing and considering binary theory with my semester research, I have to ask the question, so what? It is not enough that matter and issues exist in a divided state. For me, the interest comes in the second half of binary structure, not the opposition, but the relationship between the two, or, how they then come together. Continue reading

Justice and Mercy Walk into a Bar

Scales of Justice

Justice and Mercy walk into a bar.

Justice overhears a customer order “another Shirley Temple, please.” Barkeep reminds the customer that he hasn’t paid for his last two yet.

Justice grabs the customer by the collar, yells, “You can’t pay your bill? You’re outta here!” and kicks him out the door. Continue reading

Judge Not–Or Should We?

Like many of you who were able to attend or watch the general Relief Society meeting last Saturday night, I loved listening to President Monson speak on charity at the close of the meeting. His remarks were loving, wise, and inspired. “Do [our] differences tempt us to judge one another?” asked President Monson. “Can we love one another if we judge each other? And I answer…No; we cannot.” He went on to say that charity is “the opposite of criticism and judging.”

Interestingly, I’d just prepared a lesson to teach the Beehives the next day, in which I was directed by the Supplemental Materials booklet to refer to the section entitled “Judging Others” in True to the Faith, which says, “Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that you should not condemn others or judge unrighteously, you will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout your lifetime. The Lord has given many commandments that you cannot keep without making judgments. You need to make judgments of people in many of your important decisions, such as choosing friends…and choosing an eternal companion” (p.90). The booklet goes on to caution us to use “great care” when making judgments and advises, “All your judgments must be guided by righteous standards.…Approach any judgment with care and compassion. Whenever possible, refrain from making judgments until you have an adequate knowledge of the facts” (90-91). The Supplemental Materials booklet then asked teachers to pose this question: “The world asks me to be tolerant of everyone’s actions and beliefs. In what circumstances does the Lord ask me to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people?” (p. 8). Continue reading

Independence Sabbath

It may be only the 3rd of July where you live, but in Utah, Independence Day is in full force. We’ve already come home from the neighborhood parade where fresh faced kids on streamer trimmed bicycles tossed candy to an adoring crowd; our fingers are sticky from the community pancake breakfast and our ears are burning with the latest neighborhood gossip. Soon, I’ll be taking my kids to the fireworks stand for spinning flowers and fire-spitting tanks and tonight we’ll lie under the star strewn sky as massive explosions of red, blue and gold bloom across the sky.

In our Mormon dominated state Sunday holidays are unquestionably shifted to the preceding Saturday. No one debates or decides, it just IS. Similarly, running races and triathlons in the Beehive State are almost always on Saturday rather than the traditional Sunday race day. But we are certainly less pious than Texas, where most stores and businesses close on the Sabbath. Grocery stores and malls do a nice brisk business seven days of the week in Utah; Lagoon and our ski resorts are filled with Sunday revelers. Continue reading

The Rain Falls on the Just and the Unjust

Laguna Beach, 1993. As fierce wildfires fueled by 70 mph Santa Ana winds swept through the Laguna Canyon and hurtled towards their neighborhoods, several families in our Laguna Beach ward found themselves literally racing to escape the 200-feet-high flames. When it was over, the fire had claimed 366 homes, and, though most of our ward members’ homes were spared, one family, the Hansens, only had time to grab a few photo albums and run before their house burned to the ground. At the next fast and testimony meeting, *Brother Jones, a former stake president, stood at the pulpit and testified that at the crucial moment when the flames bore down on his house, he had commanded the fires to turn back, and thus, because of his righteous use of the priesthood and his faith, his home had been spared. Meanwhile, the Hansens sat in the congregation, faces blank. Continue reading