This week it seems like everybody is sharing new ideas and giving (or asking for) advice! Erin is expecting a baby and wonders what to call the new grandma. Andrew is not sure what to call himself. Handing out lists of kids’ pictures, name, ages, birth dates, and addresses to strangers: not recommended. Is a university education a good investment? Should Congress reign in the judiciary? Here’s some good advice regarding my personal LDS pet-peeve. What does chiasmus prove? Testimonies: just for Mormons or also for coffee drinkers? (Here’s another coffee tip.) Ldsgems asks whether atheists billboards in Utah do more harm than good whereas to Saganist they feel like a hug. But perhaps the best advice is to choose happy!
I imagine you guys have heard about the “All-American Muslim” reality show controversy (with the related question of what if Teabow were Muslim?). Note that it’s not always easy to separate intolerance (or even petty jabs) from legitimate criticism, but here’s advice I’ve given Mormons before:
Their argument is essentially, “We want everyone to believe that Muslims are all bad people, and if there’s a TV show which depicts Muslims as good people, it might undermine that belief.” In the eyes of the Christian right, only negative, villainous depictions of worldviews they disagree with are permitted. The same is true with gay people in the media, although they’ve pretty much lost that battle.
This is something that atheists ought to take a strong stand against, because this same prejudice can just as easily be turned against us.
Moving from ethnic intolerance to gender, a clueless patriarch unintentionally inspires sisterhood. And here’s a novel argument against polygyny:
Polygamy causes indirect harms even in cases where everyone is a consenting adult. For one thing, nobody has the authority to engage in a practice that upsets the opportunity for everyone to have a spouse. This is what happens in polygamous societies. There will always be a limited number of women available to marry. And there will always be men who want to marry the available women. Nobody has the consent from general society to collect extra spouses from the pool. In a closed polygamous society, this causes severe shortages and men have to leave the society if they wish to marry. Nobody has consent to affect society this way. There is roughly enough for each person to have one spouse. That is equal. That is not excessive.
(Note: IMHO there’s a lot wrong with this statement, but perhaps it’s interesting enough to discuss in the comments, if anyone’s up for it.)
Homophobia is still alive and well in Utah (despite some resistance). Meanwhile Dialog started a discussion on the theology of gender and relationships. MoHoHawaii argues that gender is a real part of a person’s identity (see, for example, this tale of a transgender kid), and gets to the main point:
In other words, its not so much that gender exists and is important to relationships, its whether gender disqualifies a person from participation in all aspects of society, including marriage and social leadership.
Now, politics! Interestingly, old LDS publications vary widely in their political bent. But to compensate for bias in the mainstream media, I’d like to direct you to some straight-forward economic analysis (plus some other related points).
The holiday season is upon us, and it’s one of the years that Mormons get to attend church on Christmas (always a disappointment when I was a kid, though not as bad as Halloween falling on a Sunday). Time to make lists of our favorite and least-favorite things! Time to reminisce about your past. Please enjoy a missionary Christmas story and a new interpretation of the Nutcracker!
Now I’d like to wrap up with my own request for advice. For a while my SiOB style has been trending in a minimalist direction — that is, I’ve been trying to pack as many interesting links into as little text as possible. But lately I’ve been thinking that people are more likely to follow the links if I include a little more description (like today). Is it too cluttering to include pull-quotes, or is it helpful? Do you guys have any opinions on this point (or any other suggested improvements for this weekly feature)?