They said, “Let us win.”

John McCain in Friday night’s debate:

I’d like to tell you, two Fourths of July ago I was in Baghdad. General Petraeus invited Senator Lindsey Graham and me to attend a ceremony where 688 brave young Americans, whose enlistment had expired, were reenlisting to stay and fight for Iraqi freedom and American freedom.

I was honored to be there. I was honored to speak to those troops. And you know, afterwards, we spent a lot of time with them. And you know what they said to us? They said, let us win. They said, let us win. We don’t want our kids coming back here.

And this strategy, and this general, they are winning.

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How Do I Change Who I Am for Myself?

When your life is tightly entwined with the lives of others, you adjust who you are to meet their needs and expectations.  For example, spouses make small, daily adjustments so that they don’t push their partners’ buttons.  Parents postpone their desires in order to tend to those of their children.  When not taken to an extreme, this is a good thing.

The past couple years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about to what extent we should bend who we are to make our relationships with others work.  While I still have a lot of unanswered questions about the outer limits of sacrifice, I’ve learned to embrace the ways that relationships can refine us and transform us into better versions of ourselves.  But now my life circumstances have changed, and because I want to continue a process of transformation, now I’m wondering: how do I change who I am for myself? Read More

Documenting Changing Church Rhetoric on Gender Roles

My impression is that Church rhetoric defines women by their roles more often than it does men. Women are wives and mothers. Even if they aren’t technically mothers, women are mothers, because that’s just who they are. Men, on the other hand, sure we’re admonished to be good husbands and fathers, but those roles are discussed as being much less central to who we are. I would be shocked, for example, if someone gave a talk titled “Are We Not All Fathers?” in General Conference.

When this difference in the centrality of women’s and men’s gender roles is discussed, one hope that is often held out is that the Church is changing. Women are coming to be defined less by their roles and more as people of worth even if they don’t take on those roles, and men are being reminded more often that our roles as husband and father should be central to our lives.

It occurred to me recently that I could easily test for whether such a change is actually occurring by looking at how often different words are used in articles archived at LDS.org. Read More