Dec 30

The Keystone Cops of Our Religion

In this ZD feature–Titles in Search of a Post–we provide catchy titles and you, our scintillating and creative readers, have the opportunity of offering suggestions in the comments section as to what such a post should be about, ranging from half-baked free associations to polished paragraphs, and (this should go without saying on our blog) from the sublime to the ridiculous. Enjoy!

(And if you aren’t familiar with the Keystone Cops, click here.)

Dec 29

The Problem of Eve’s Submission

From a feminist perspective, Genesis 3:16 is one of the more difficult passages in scripture.  The last phrase, “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,” sets up a hierarchical model of marriage in which men lead and women follow.  Though the terms have shifted (rule/preside for the men; obey/hearken for the women) over the years, the general model remains in LDS teachings and liturgy–providing a topic of endless discussion for Bloggernacle feminists. In grappling with the contemporary arrangement, in which women covenant to hearken to their husbands, I have encountered a number of arguments which attempt to deal with the apparent sexism.  The most commonly cited, at least in my experience, are: Continue reading

Dec 21

More Like Three Wise Guys, I'd Say

As a kid, I was at least somewhat aware that we Mormons believed differently than other Christians about some crucial doctrines. For example, I knew that our belief in God having a physical body wasn’t widely shared.

I also knew that, unlike the sadly misled apostates, we believed that the Wise Men weren’t present at the birth of Jesus.

Yes, I thought that was a central doctrine. I also thought that Mormons uniquely took that position that the Wise Men arrived later. I’m not sure why I thought this was so important or unique. Maybe my parents mentioned it to me once or twice, or suggested I move the Wise Men away from the stable in the nativity scene. I don’t know. It makes me laugh to think back now that I thought it was such a central and important issue.

I’d love to hear of anyone else’s experiences of finding out that the Church-related ideas you thought were crucial as a kid turned out to be not so important.

[In case it’s not clear, my title is a reference to the Far Side cartoon in which a bartender (I think) is dismissing the Wise Men with this line.]

Dec 19

Riding the California Zephyr

6:30 am

My alarm goes off. I’m in a deep sleep, dreaming about my sister Melyngoch coming back from her mission and wanting to go on a crazy hike involving a lot of waterfall crossings. I get up, and pack my last few things. I have a large suitcase, a small one, a backpack and a small bag. Also, two other train necessities: a pillow and blanket. Since I’ll be flying later, I’ve been careful not to bring too much—one of the advantages of train travel is that the luggage limits are rather more generous (not to mention that they don’t come with extra fees), and it’s tempting to over-pack.

Continue reading

Dec 18

Approved Party Song #19

In a discussion about the hymnbook at FMH a few weeks ago, patti said that her husband thinks Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel is the Communist fight song. This reminded me that many years ago, when I was in a BYU ward and this hymn was announced, a friend wrote a note referring to it that said, “Working shoulders of the world, unite!” (Perhaps my friend is patti’s husband.) This comment inspired me to rewrite the hymn: Continue reading

Dec 16

Latter-day Fairy Tales: Goldilox and the Three Nephites

In this new ZD feature–Titles in Search of a Post–we’ll provide catchy titles and you, our scintillating and creative readers, will have the opportunity of offering suggestions in the comments section as to what such a post should be about, ranging from half-baked free associations to polished paragraphs, and (this should go without saying on our blog) from the sublime to the ridiculous. Enjoy!

Dec 10

Our Homes

I’ve been wanting to write the last couple of days, but I’ve been kind of stuck with my current writing project. In my attempt to either work through this or avoid it (you pick), I’ve come up with some blog posts. They’ve all been fairly random, especially in regards to what we usually talk about around here, so most of them haven’t actually been posted (actually, most of them have only been written in my head at this point). But despite the fact that I don’t want to completely bury our blog in random and off the wall posts, I still do post some of them. Like my last post, which was even entitled Complete Randomness. Or the post about a fly in my bedroom.

I realized that to post such things I must feel pretty comfortable here. At home. And I do. It got me thinking about where I feel at home, and where I don’t, and ways that I can tell. Continue reading

Dec 07

Complete Randomness

I haven’t blogged in a while, and I’m feeling a little guilty about it. (This is not to suggest that my fellow bloggers are in any way making me feel guilty. If you hadn’t figured it out, we’re kind of laid back about posting around here. No, the guilt is entirely self-induced.) The thing is, I really don’t have anything interesting to blog about. Not even anything uninteresting that I can make an entire post out of. Because, well, posts require thought (semi-coherent ones do, at least), and I’m currently incapable of thought. (This is a fairly common occurrence, what with 3 kids 3 and under.)

So, I’m now going to string together some completely random thoughts and call them a blog post.
Continue reading

Dec 04

Are There Any “Soft R” Movies? (and Other Movie Rating Musings)

A few months ago, The Baron argued in a post at Waters of Mormon that a weakness of the MPAA movie rating scheme is that it considers only the movie’s worst content category (of violence, profanity, and sex). For example, if a movie has enough profanity to get an R rating, the R says nothing about its levels of violence or sex. Such a movie could have any combination of levels of violence and sex, from none at all up to enough to warrant an R rating on their own even without the profanity.

The Baron pointed out that this practice of rating movies by only their worst type of content might set up an odd incentive:

this only encourages filmmakers to add more “R-rated” content to their movie, since obviously if they know they’re getting an R for violence already, why NOT add a lot of profanity and nudity as well?  The rating is going to be the same, either way

This had never occurred to me, but I can see his argument that the rating system would create this incentive. His unstated assumption, though, is that movie makers want to put as much violence, sex, and profanity into their movies as they possibly can. I doubt that that’s actually the case. While I suspect they probably chafe at times at restrictions that trying to get a particular rating might place on them, I would be surprised if getting lots of offensive material in is often one of their major goals.

So which is true? Are movie makers anxious to put lots of offensive content into their movies, or not? What’s fun about this question is that there’s data I can use to try to answer it.

Continue reading

Dec 03

Books, Mormons, and Statistics, part II

Ziff, Ray, and Kent Larsen had it right — the Book of Mormon has the largest standard deviation in ratings of any book on the site. The stat is called “25 Books People Can’t Agree On” and you can see it at the bottom of this page.

The Book of Mormon may be at the top of the list, but it’s in good company, since books by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Isaac Newton are also on the list. (Of course, the urban vampire fantasy and regency romance do drag down the neighborhood a bit.)

It’s also the most widely-owned of any book on that list, by far. There are around 1,600 LibraryThing members who own a total of around 1,800 copies of the Book of Mormon. The next most widely held book is Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun, at around 400 copies. There have been some other popular books on the list, but they tend to drop off when they get very popular, because enough people give them an intermediate rating (2.5-3.5 stars) that it lowers the standard deviation of all the ratings. The Secret, a book made popular by Oprah Winfrey, used to be on the list, but now the standard deviation of the ratings is down to 1.34, well below the current top-25 cutoff of 1.42. Continue reading