Sunday, September 27, 2009

The articles of faith

This blog has an alternate version of the Articles of Faith.

I am particularly fond of Article 2:

2. We believe that church ball players should be punished for their own fouls, and not for unsportsmanlike aggression.

I also think Article 9 is inspired:

9. We believe in all that we have scrapbooked, all that we will now scrapbook, and we believe that we will yet scrapbook many great and important things pertaining to our family, friends, pets, and vacations.

I guess you had to grow up in the Church....

Friday, September 25, 2009

September is masturbation month

Fellow blogger Abelard has asked for masturbation posts in September.

Here you go, from the musical Hair:

Sodomy, fellatio, cunnilingus, pederasty
Father, why do these words sounds so nasty?
Masturbation can be fun
Join the holy orgy, kamasutra,

I love this song.

Here's one more masturbation tip:

Masturbation is a normal part of sexuality. Just be sure to use enough lube so that you don't hurt yourself.

What you do with your own body, in the privacy of your own room, is nobody's business.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Coming out in middle school

The New York Times has an interesting article about the recent trend of gay kids acknowledging their sexuality as young adolescents.

The article is worth a read.

Here's my favorite quote. The writer listens to a gay middle-schooler and his mother argue over dating rules. He writes,
I couldn’t help remembering what Ritch Savin-Williams, the professor of developmental psychology at Cornell, told me the first time we spoke: "This is the first generation of gay kids who have the great joy of being able to argue with their parents about dating, just like their straight peers do."

There's some cautionary advice for LDS parents.

Johnny [a gay adolescent] said his mom has made it very clear that he’s not allowed to bring a boyfriend over to the house. “She’s like, ‘O.K., I accept you, but you better not bring any of those people around,’ ” he told me.

That’s one of about 50 “rejecting behaviors” identified by Caitlin Ryan of San Francisco State University, who has spent the last eight years studying the link between family acceptance or rejection of gay children and their mental health in early adulthood. (Ryan found that teenagers in “rejecting families” were significantly more likely to have attempted suicide, used drugs and engaged in unprotected sex than those who were raised in accepting families.)

References for Ryan's studies can be found here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The arc of history

We sometimes assume that arc of history moves us forward, that successive ages bring us to more humane place. Unfortunately, this isn't the case; just look at Iran in the 1950s versus Iran today. What was once a developing, open society is now closed to science, economic development and education (especially of women).

In recent decades, the LDS Church has seemed to move forward in its policies toward its gay and lesbian members. In the past year and a half, though, it has reversed this course and taken a number of steps backward.

The latest is a talk given by Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy. You can find it here. It's a big step backwards; I don't have the heart to quote from it. What's remarkable about the speech is its ignorance. A big tip off is Hafen's regurgitation of the utterly discredited Freudian theory of homosexuality. It also is much more of a secular political speech than it is a sermon.

The chickens, as they say, have come home to roost.

Via proxfm (whose summary is worth reading).

Saturday, September 5, 2009


From time to time, the topic of evolution comes up on the Bloggernacle. It seems that there are four possible views:

1 Young-earth creationists assert that the earth is approximately 6,000 years old and that all species were unchangeably created at the moment of origin by divine miracle.

2 Old-earth creationists reject natural selection as an explanation of biological species, but they do accept the age of the earth as established by scientific techniques such as radiometric dating. In this view, each "day" described in Genesis was a long time. The mechanism of creation is identical to the young-earth theory.

3 Theistic evolution is a common Christian view. In this view, evolution was the method of divine creation. This is the official position of the Catholic church, for example. I have also heard this position articulated by BYU biology professors who teach evolution.

4 Scientific evolution holds that all organisms come to be through entirely natural processes. In contrast to theistic evolution, scientific evolution holds that there is no design for living creatures and no necessary progression in evolutionary change, only adaptation to local circumstances.

I'm guessing that very conservative Mormons are young-earth creationists, that mainstream Mormons are old-earth creationists and that liberal Mormons believe in theistic evolution. I would guess that very few Mormons believe in scientific evolution (undirected adaptation). It would interesting to know what proportion of the LDS population falls into each of these buckets.

There's a strong association between creationist views and anti-gay sentiment. (People who hold one of these views tend to hold the other. Young-earth creationists, in particular, tend to be extremely anti-gay.) It's interesting that when creationism began its ascent in the U.S. in the 1920s, one of the main issues was race. Evolution was seen as justification for the mixing of races, which at the time was extremely controversial. Today, the issue is no longer race, but conservatives are anxious about the loss of strict gender roles and about homosexuality. A purely natural explanation of biological origins seems to intensify this anxiety.


Search YouTube for "Darwin's Legacy Stanford" for a series of useful lectures on evolution. Lecture 2 is especially relevant to the issue of religious views.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The three Fs

Julia Child was earthier than you might imagine. Once, when asked the secret to her long-lasting marriage, she replied, The three Fs: food and flattery.


She's absolutely right.