Link bomb #6

I had planned to write a review of this latest General Conference, but I couldn’t muster up the interest. This conference was particularly dull for me as a nonbeliever, and by that I mean it was controversy-free. Well, almost. Monson’s admonishment to young single men to get married received some attention, as did Packer’s statement that sexual sins are second only to murder and the denial of the Holy Ghost. Pretty unremarkable stuff, really.

Also during conference, the church reported having over 14 million members. The estimated number of active Mormons, however, is between 4 to 5 million, with 80% of them in the Western Hemisphere. The Deseret News reported recently that “[c]hurch growth has been falling for many years, and our current rate of missionary success is the lowest it’s been for decades.” At this rate, there will be more people leaving the church than converting to it by 2032. Richard Packham suggests that this may already be the case.

Speaking of exaggerated or inaccurate demographic statistics: Kinsey’s oft-cited estimate that 10% of the population is gay is flawed. New research (with its own limitations) puts the number closer to 2%. This finding is hardly new, however. Most studies have put the number between 2-5%.

I appreciate dark humor more than most, but this BYU Bookstore treat is just tasteless.The USUbookstore is also selling something provocative: poo paper.

In an address to the LDS International Society, University of Utah president Michael Young urged his fellow Mormons to join the ACLU.

A funny joke by Emo Phillips: “A Mormon told me that they don’t drink coffee. I said, ‘A cup of coffee every day gives you wonderful benefits.’ He said, ‘Like what?’ I said, ‘Well, it keeps you from being Mormon.”

The typical LDS chapel houses only a few wards, but a massive meetinghouse that is being constructed in Provo will be able to cater to an astounding 48 wards! Could this be the beginning of mega-church Mormonism?

Mormon sociologist and family friend Darron Smith writes that the BYU Honor Code adversely affects minority students and athletes.

Does the universe need god? Physicist Sean Carroll thinks not.

A Mormon friend of mine finds the argument from consciousness the most compelling evidence for god’s existence. He made the case on his blog, and I left my rebuttal in the comments.

Earlier this month, Sam Harris debated Christian philosopher/apologist William Lane Craig about morality and god at Notre Dame. The entire debate can be viewed here. If you don’t have 2 hours to spare to watch it, here are a few summaries and reviews. The consensus seems to be that Craig won the debate, but not necessarily the argument.

Harris is among the better atheist debaters; the debate would have been an unmitigated disaster had this man represented the atheist position.

If patriarchy had an anthem, it’d be this: “I Need a Man”, sung by three single Mormon women to the tune of a Disney song. Maybe they’d have more success with the guys if they could sing it in Klingon.

A Quran is burned, and a violent riot ensues in Afghanistan. The Book of Mormon is satirized on Broadway, and Mormons just give a dismissive (if rather sanctimonious) shrug.

In the U.S., the LDS Church doesn’t have to disclose its finances. The church’s financials are public information in Canada, however. In 2009, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Canada gave $40,000,000 to BYU Provo57.9% of the money received from the wards that year.

The 10 things everyone should know about science. To some degree, our scientific illiteracy has been evolutionarily programmed into our psychology.

This is how the Exodus from Egypt might have played out had Moses used Google, Facebook, and YouTube.

Backed by stunning illustrations, David Christian narrates a complete history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the internet, in a riveting TED talk.

Pastor Rob Bell has published a book that contends that everyone may go to Heaven, and it’s raising Hell within the evangelical community.

There was a bizarre and violent encounter at an “Ask an Atheist” event at Virginia Tech last week. One Christian student drew a cross on their hand and asked the atheists to stab it to supposedly demonstrate god’s existence. The atheists refused, so the Christian student began to repeatedly stab is hand until the cops restrained him.

Vote for Christopher Hitchens in the 2011 TIME 100 poll, which recognizes this year’s most influential thinkers.

An exhaustive study involving 32,000 high school students confirms that suicide attempts by gay teens are more common in politically conservative areas where schools don’t have programs supporting gay rights. The finding is hardly surprising, but I know that rural areas have higher rates of suicide generally. I wonder if they controlled for that.

This is one brave Bar Mitzvah speech.

Some recently discovered codices, perhaps the earliest Christian writings in existence, are being hailed as the biggest find in Christian history since the Dead Sea Scrolls. One reading of the text suggests that Jesus and his disciples formed a homosexual coterie. Note: The Guardian piece I linked to may be totally fictitious; refer to the subtitle in the article. Second, there’s a growing suspicion that the codices themselves are forgeries.

Another interesting historical discovery is a 5,000 year-old painting of the first gay caveman. (I worry, though, about applying terms such as “gay” to ancient or prehistoric peoples. That application could be anachronistic given that our understanding of human sexuality has changed over time.)

Eighteen years after Waco, I’m surprised to learn that David Koresh still has devotees that revere him as a god.

The LDS Church in Arizona is at the center of a sex abuse scandal for failing to report its (alleged) prior knowledge to the local authorities.

Texas Republican Louie Gohmert has introduced a bill to the House that would designate the first weekend of May as “Ten Commandments Weekend” to recognize their importance in our nation’s founding.

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5 Responses

  1. Seth R. says:

    I suppose it’s possible that BYU’s “Mountain Meadow Trail Mix” was meant as a tasteless joke.

    But I think it’s more likely that it was just cooked up by someone in middle management who doesn’t know his Mormon history that well.

    As far as real Church growth, I find a more reliable indicator to be the number of new stakes founded each year. You don’t start up a new stake until you have enough churchgoers to support it, and enough core members to run it. Total membership numbers are nice enough for the gee-wiz collection, but new stakes is where the action really is.

  2. Ms. Jack says:

    That “I Need a Man” video says, “A friend of a friend wrote the lyrics.”

    Only if this “friend of a friend” has been around for a while. This was circulating among the Laurels via e-mail when I was in high school (late 90s).

    I’d bet money someone is taking credit for writing something anonymous that they got in their inbox and thought no one would ever know, which happened with some other famous “author anonymous” e-mail pieces.

  3. Hellmut says:

    I agree with you, Seth, on both points. That trail mix is a bad joke in bad taste. And new stakes are a better indicator of church growth.

    The best indicator, however, would be the number of missionaries by country.

  4. Chino Blanco says:

    A commenter at Reddit posted this brilliant video response to Mountain Meadows trail mix: You gotta tell ’em!

    And yeah, it’s Friday night on my side of the world.

  5. chanson says:

    Speaking of the reddit — it’s down for more than a day just when I finally had a link I wanted to post over there!

    My cousin “the Mormon Jew” did a stand up comedy performance at the DC Improv, including some jokes about his Mormon-Jewish upbringing: here’s the video.

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