More Thoughts on “Raising the Bar”

The discussion of “raising the bar” in Steve Evans’s Friday Firestorm #24 last month at BCC got me to thinking about what the possible effects of this more stringent missionary screening policy might be.

The screening process that includes interviews with a missionary candidate’s Bishop or Branch President can result in two types of errors. A candidate can be approved to serve a full-time mission when he or she should not have been, or a candidate can be kept home when in fact he or she was qualified to serve. If the goal of the screening process is thought of as a medical test diagnosing “shouldn’t serve syndrome,” the first kind of error would be a failure to diagnose a true case (a miss), and the second kind would be diagnosing someone who isn’t a case (a false alarm).

So what does raising the bar mean for these two types of errors? Read More

Secular Usage of “Preside”

In a discussion last year at T&S about what it means for a husband to preside, Jim F. argued that it doesn’t really matter what preside means outside the Church because the word just isn’t much used outside the Church (and perhaps court). Kiskilili disagreed, saying that she thought that secular usage was more common.

At the time, it occurred to me that this would be a relatively simple question to get data to answer, but I put the thought on the back burner, so I am just now getting around to trying to answer it. I chose to search newspapers to attempt to answer the question, given that they tend to have a very broad target audience and are fairly widely read (although I know they aren’t read as much as they used to be).

1. Is preside ever used in a secular context? Read More

How Do You Read Books (and Watch Movies)?

I just picked up Tyler Cowen’s Discover your Inner Economist, and found that he has some rather unorthodox suggestions for how to get the most enjoyment out of reading books and watching movies. He argues that when it comes to these experiences, the major limiting factor is the scarcity of our own attention. Cowen’s approach? Quit early and often if something loses your interest:

When should we finish a book we have started? In this regard I am extreme. If I start ten books maybe I will finish one of them. I feel no compunction to keep reading. Why not be brutal about this? Is this book the best possible book I can be reading right now, of all the books in the world? For me at least, the answer is usually (but not always) no.

Read More

Why Discourage Women from Serving Missions?

About a month ago, my beloved sister (and occasional ZD contributor) Melyngoch entered the MTC on her way to the Sweden Stockholm mission. I expect that she will be a very good missionary. She seems to have a great sense of purpose: she knows who she is and what she is doing and why.

I suspect that there are probably many twenty-something women in the Church who would similarly make very good missionaries. So I wonder why the Church discourages women from serving. Read More

Amen to the Priesthood or the Authority of that Man

That they [the rights of the priesthood] may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. –D&C 121:37

So why do I so rarely see “amen” being said to someone’s priesthood or authority?

Read More

Hymns by Request in Sacrament Meeting

Three times since I’ve lived in my current ward, we’ve had a sacrament meeting that might be called “hymns by request.” Like a testimony meeting, there are no scheduled speakers; people get up as moved by the Spirit or by boredom. But unlike testimony meeting, what they’re asked to do is to name a hymn they particularly like and say something about why. Then the congregation sings a verse of the hymn that the person designates. Read More

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. Read More

Results of Poll on Feminist Concerns

A while back we put up a poll asking commenters to vote on their top feminist concerns with the Church. The table below shows a few results, based on responses from the 78 people who have voted as of today (although second and third concerns each received only 75 total responses). Note that the “weighted votes” column assigns votes for #1 concern a value of 3, #2 concern a value of 2, and #3 concern a value of 1. The “votes” column simply counts the number of times a concern was voted for without weighting.

The major result of this poll is that limited female participation in Church administration is by far the top concern of those who voted. Read More

On Outlawing Abortion: I Have a Question

The Utah state legislature is looking to pass a law that outlaws abortion. (Thanks to Matt Evans at T&S for the pointer.) In line with the Church’s position on abortion, it would allow for three exceptions. A woman could have an abortion if the pregnancy endangered her life (or her health, in a major and permanent way), or if it resulted from incest or rape.

If this law were passed, I wonder if this last exception might not be problematic. Read More

Changing the Words to Hymns

When I put my boys to bed at night, I often sing them hymns. One of their favorites is “There Is a Green Hill Far Away,” probably because it’s one of the few that I know all the verses to and can sing in the dark. But part of this hymn has always struck me as odd. In the first verse, it says that the green hill is “where the dear Lord was crucified.” The dear Lord? That sounds so impersonal. So taking a page from “Upon the Cross of Calvary,” I always sing this line as “where our dear Lord was crucified.”

So are there any hymns that you sing nonstandard words to, or any for which you would like to see the wording changed?

Solving the Mormon Man Shortage

There has been an interesting discussion at Feminist Mormon Housewives in response to a guest poster’s request for advice on how she, as a single Mormon woman, should deal with her strong sex drive. Tangentially, I was interested by a comment made by David on that thread:

Let me just state the obvious that no one seems to want to say:

There are more decent, inteligent, active, spiritual single women in the church than there are men.

I dont know how it all balances out in the end, but right now, thats just the way it is

Read More