Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Report "of a Different Color"

Click on the pic for Amazon's link to buy
I finished my copy of W. Paul Reeve's Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. (Oxford University Press, New York, 2015)

It did not disappoint, even if my translation from the Portuguese of our "extra" discussion on race from my mission in Brazil did not get cited. There were still other personal connections to the book. My friend, Ardis, from Keepa, gets special mention in Reeve's acknowledgements as well as the son of a good friend, Christopher Rich, Jr. (I work with his dad, C.R. the Senior). And Reeve already seems like a friend even if I haven't yet met him. He is cited in my pieces here on Mormonism and Race.

The book is very readable and well referenced. It is amazing how the premise makes so much sense once you see so many illustrations from the 19th and early 20th Century forms of political cartoons. The idea is simply that Mormons were considered so far outside of "mainstream" American culture since the beginnings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that they were considered a different race - a sub-race frequently linked to Native Americans (no surprise) and African-Americans (some surprise, but the evidence is all there!). This began even before polygamy was established and linked the Mormons to "degenerate" Asian practices. Then, there were the European "dregs of society" who, upon joining Mormonism, confirmed their depraved and ignorant nature separate from respectable American Society (i.e., white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

To Us, the Bloggernacle Is a Mass of Confusion

In a recent email exchange, Anonymous D expressed some frustrations with a couple of posts and endless comments on some "other" blogs of a "different" disposition. In expressing his general contempt for the Bloggernacle he goes on:

We seem, in our modern Mormon intellectual smugness, to be doing the same thing that was done in the 1930's, and which is fashionable every once in a while, which is de-mystifying the scriptures, removing any trace of the supernatural.  (Think Thomas Jefferson's Bible).  It's a nice easy way to have it both ways, to say, well, I like the Book of Mormon I think it teaches great things, but all that nonsense about the angel and golden plates?  If the origin stories are not true, especially of the Book of Mormon, why bother with it at all? There are plenty of nice moralistic stories you can use to lead a better, happier life. I wouldn't bother with the Book of Mormon or the Church if I didn't actually believe it, or Jesus for that matter if I thought He was just a great moral instructor.    
So with that, I wave goodbye to the Bloggernacle forever.  I'm sure I'll be missed what with my zero comments and postings.
 Then, me, and so forth: 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

American Muslims

It was one of those emails you just don't want to open. Yeah, it was from a family member who really is a really good guy and whom I truly love and respect. I was disappointed. I hit delete. I felt kinda sick. And it stirred my moderate passions.

After finding this photo I wanted, I clicked back on my trash file just to be sure it was the anti-Islamic screed I thought it was. Oh yeah, and it included accusations against our Constitutionally-elected President of the United States as well. I clicked again to permanently delete the garbage.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lost Behind the Ranges

“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges—
  “Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”

Thanks to Rudyard Kipling I can express what I cannot explain.

Traveling by Interstate Freeway in the Western States of the Union, the miles zip across endless sagebrush with a few agricultural valleys interjected by hardy Pioneers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The many mountain ranges blur on all sides as the routes follow the tracks of the explorers over the better passes now not even a challenge except on the storm days.

I have a voice to the world; first to a few friends on Facebook and this blog for what it's worth. It helps not to be so lonely. And it seems that I was born with a heavy sense of place because everywhere I've been in the West, or even those few, undiscovered corners, weigh on my memory of Native peoples and Europeans, now all Americans, and all funneling into my memories of time and space. Wide space.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Audacity of Mormonism

Do you think I don't see it? I do! 

And I'm not afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing to get thrown out. Still, the whole thing remains absolutely crazy! A teenage boy seeing God, angelic visitors, "translations" of golden plates by looking through rocks (with or without hat or breastplate), ancient Christians in America, polygamy, inexplicable polyandry, militia violence, over-zealous preachings and mass migrations to a desert, priesthood initiatory ceremonies for men and women, living and dead. It's absurd!

Why do I stay? Confirmation bias? Maybe to some extent we all have it about some things. (If you don't believe me just check out FOX News for five minutes). Family or societal pressure? Ask my family how that plan's going to make me conservative politically. Dysfunction and mental illness? Same thing.

Here's the deal. I didn't just fall out of bed one day and start believing this stuff. And it hasn't been brainwashed into me. I've visited other churches. I've read all the controversies. Sometimes I'm surprised, but what I don't do is fall out of bed and stop believing all this stuff.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have apologized for a few things. In 2012 President Gordon B. Hinckley gave a personal apology to a visiting African American Clergyman for the church's past teachings and prohibitions based on race. I have made my own personal apologies for past racism in my life on this blog

In 2007, on the 150th Anniversary of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency apologized for the Mormons involved in that horrific tragedy. He also apologized to the Paiute People as they have frequently been blamed for the atrocity when it was organized and led by local Mormon leaders. Church historians also published a detailed historical account of the massacre using information from LDS Church Archives among many other sources. I have highly recommended the book on this blog. You can still get it at Amazon.

And the LDS Church has apologized for the horribly embarrassing actions of individual members who submit names of Holocaust Victims for vicarious ordinances in the Temple. Access to Church genealogical systems are cut off for the individual offenders and the Church has tagged Holocaust Victims' names to prevent them from going to the Temple, but sadly, some slip through when members disobey the restriction.