Apr 22

Memories of Family Council

When I was growing up, my family had two regular Sunday activities. The first was going to church. The second was the weekly ritual of family council, a meeting which all family members were expected to attend. (It helped that there were usually treats at the end.)

Family council could go on for hours and hours. The length of the meeting was at least partly due to the fact that so many of the members of my family (including myself) find it rather difficult to stay on-topic for even five minutes at a stretch. Continue reading

Apr 10

Feminism’s Critique of Modesty

A recent post at Pandagon by Amanda Marcotte clarified some concerns I’ve had for awhile now about certain (but not all) discussions of modesty in our church discourse. Now, while I’m guessing that many of the readers of our blog would dismiss some of her stronger claims about modesty and “compulsory femininity,” I primarily wanted to highlight one passage:

Modesty exists mostly as a reason to obsess over what women are wearing and remind them non-stop that no matter what else they do with themselves, they’re just sex objects in the eyes of the patriarchy. The end result is women are given twin messages to be sexually appealing and not to be sexually appealing all at once, and that at any point in time they are in danger of being deemed sluttily or prudishly dressed.

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Apr 09

Fun With Models: Thinking More About Divorce

In his General Conference talk, Elder Oaks discussed divorce, expressing his concern that Church members are often too hasty to divorce. I agree with his general conclusion; there probably are couples who divorce who would be better off not divorcing and whose children would be better off if they did not divorce. But I’m concerned that the model of marriage and divorce he assumes is incomplete, and that following it could induce people to stay in genuinely bad marriages. Continue reading

Apr 06

Reflections on Good Friday

I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about the stories surrounding Easter. I remember as a child listening to adults talking in solemn and hushed tones about the death of Jesus, and wondering how I was supposed to react. Should I be feeling guilty, since as a sinner I shared part of the blame for his suffering? Should I be feeling horrified? (Some of those who went into excruciating and grisly detail seemed to be hoping to provoke a bit of that reaction.) All too often, hearing the story of Good Friday left me with an image of a Jesus who quite possibly resented me for having messed up so badly that he had to pay for it, and who was now scrutinizing my every action to see if I was good enough to be worthy of his help. Continue reading

Apr 06

Making Sense of Leftist Political Discourse as a Religious Believer

Yesterday, I read a really interesting post by one of my favorite undergrad profs, Michael Berube. In this post, he questions why people in the Democratic party (the DLC is a prominent example) and on the left keep insisting that we need to show a greater respect for religion in the political system. His basic point is that religion gets plenty of respect (he cites statistics that while 95 percent of people would vote for a Catholic for president, only 45 percent would vote for an atheist), that statements of religious conviction are most often used as a conversation stopper, and so he’s wondering what is really motivating these claims: Continue reading

Apr 02

The Sexisms of Graduate School

It’s an age-old and tiresome story, and I’ve watched more than one friend undergo some variation on it. He’s got what you want: the knowledge, the erudition, the passing grade on exams, the dissertation signature. He’s brilliant, an acknowledged expert in your particular area of study, an incisive thinker and an wide-ranging scholar, and he provides quick, detailed (some might say terrible and swift) feedback on the many difficult but instructive assignments he requires. In short, just the kind of professor from whom one might, in theory, secure a first-class education.

He’s also, not to put too fine a point on it, a jerk.

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