Saturday, December 13, 2008

Where there's a right there's a left

It's amazing that I have put myself through reading so many blog posts and like on the whole Prop 8 issue. It's even more amazing how disappointingly polarizing and absolutist most of the articles and comments really are.

One thing that strikes me throughout is how much like George W. Bush some of the gay activists really are in their absolutism. In the sad case of Margie Christoffersen, for instance, most of the rhetoric from the Left focuses on how she really hates gays, in spite of significant evidence to the contrary, and deserves to suffer for the rest of her life because of a $100 donation to the Yes on 8 campaign. How is this any different from Bush's "you're either with us or against us" and "Axis of Evil" absolutism?

The gay marriage debate should have been a great opportunity for an intelligent discussion about the differences between constitutional rights and other kinds of rights, the meaning of marriage in society, and the respective roles of the judiciary and voter initiative processes. I blame both campaigns for abandoning civility and ignoring these core issues in the quest for the least common denominator. But I am especially disappointed in the activists who have nothing more intelligent to offer than advocating the personal destruction of people who simply disagree with them on one nuance of this particularly thorny issue. These people occupy the same mindspace for me as George W. Bush - blabbering fools who need to take a basic civics class before being allowed anywhere near the nuclear launch codes.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Best of Bloggernacle vol. 2

As a wannabe biblical scholar (I must of missed another one of my callings in life), I really enjoy posts on biblical criticism. I especially want to point out these two from FPR, another one on the Documentary Hypothesis, and this part of a series on biblical criticism in general.

And then there is Kevin Barney's series on the Magi. Awesome!

And I read Advent Day 1 and the spirited comments that followed over at FMH on the same day my wife and I had a small argument about how much religious guilt we should feel over Christmas. The comments were perfect at contextualizing our discussion. I tend to come on the side of certainly celebrating Christ's birth at Christmas, but let's just do away with any guilt or angst about whether we are sufficiently Christ-like on that day to have celebrated it properly.

Heresy of the Week No. 1

Nobody showed up to teach gospel doctrine. Everyone chatted among themselves for a few minutes and then a priesthood leader stood up to ask if anyone was prepared to teach. A good brother raised his hand and said he would do it on the fly - everyone was relieved.

He quickly made clear that he would teach a prepared lesson on Alma 32 even though the text for the week was somewhere in Mormon. Fair enough.

Halfway through the lesson he started on a long story repeated from an EFY he attended some 20-odd years ago (fertile ground for a heresy of the week, I might add). The originally storyteller was a missionary in Denmark where, apparently, a significant part of his mission was spent going around by train to present a play called "It Could Happen to You" in the various branches. The story was supposed to be about how the missionary had a sore throat but, through an act of faithful prayer, had his voice restored in time to reprise the key role in the play. OK so far?

Our ad-hoc teacher went on to describe what the play was all about, though. It was the sordid tale of a member of the church, the father of a family, who went down a really bad road of drinking alcohol and skipping church a couple of times. While driving to a forbidden NFL game in a drunken stupor one Sunday, he caused a car accident, died, and went to the spirit prison. He patiently waited many years for the rest of his family to die, which they eventually all did together in another convenient car accident, and plaintively asked the angel assigned to him when he could be reunited with them. The angel told him to sit down because he had to talk about that with him (never a good sign). Because he had made some very poor choices in his life, his wife and children had "been assigned" to another worthy priesthood holder. He would never see them again. At this pithy moment the curtain closes and the audience returns home with renewed dedication to living more perfect lives.

So, I ask, is the idea that the wife and children of an unworthy LDS father are simply reassigned to a worthy priesthood holder in the afterlife doctrine? Or heresy?

Never mind for now the troubling chattel-like passivity of the phrase "been assigned." And I am fully aware that pinning down LDS doctrine is more of an art than a science. So, which is it?