2012 Presidential Election, Mitt Romney, faith and spirituality: Why do we think Mormons are quacks? What is different … maybe it is the polygamy thing …
MY COLLEAGUE’S post below got me thinking about Mormons. There’s a significant possibility that 2012 will be the year that America confronts the question of whether a Mormon can be president. It seems like a question with an obvious answer (“I don’t know. Can he?”). But surveys in recent years have consistently found that a large minority of voters are set against the idea, and the prejudice may be even more deeply rooted among a Republican primary electorate that is, as my colleague puts it, “struggling to decide which it hates most—being a Mormon or being sensible.”
I’d like to step back from the question of whether a Mormon can be president to take up a more fundamental query: why don’t people like Mormons? No other faith, save perhaps Islam, catches so much flak in the United States. Even among Americans who aren’t hostile to Mormonism, the default position seems to be scepticism or ridicule rather than anodyne appreciation for the varieties of religious experience. That’s weird. Every other major religion can count on being defended by members of other faiths. Here’s Mitt Romney, for example, in his 2007 speech on faith:
I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life’s blessings.
Yet Mr Romney doesn’t call out any special aspect of Mormonism; he only says the word once in the speech, and the editorial comment offered is that his faith is “the faith of [his] fathers.” (That’s actually quite similar to Jon Huntsman’s tendency to refer to his “Mormon heritage”.)
teens, social networking, language, LOL: Fascinating comparison of texting teens and telegraphing teens.
Shorthand and abbreviations became a popular way to keep the “inside joke” of LOL, or “laughing out loud,” and brb, or “be right back,” within the circle. In time, though, these catchphrases reached a broader audience, losing their cache and exclusivity. As soon as its use became widespread and commercial, the code was no longer “cool.”
That was the case earlier this year when a crop of abbreviations common to texting and email were included in the Oxford English Dictionary, legitimizing the language shift caused by rapid-fire, text-based communications.
In this sense, the adoption of a discarded language makes perfect sense, to keep texting’s cachet among teens exclusive. And linguists are pleased that dying languages are helping teens communicate, keeping the languages alive in the process.
“This really strengthens the use of the language,” said Herrera, who is pleased to find this naturally occurring, albeit somewhat unconventional, solution to the problem of dying native tongues.
In fact, according to Dr. Gregory Anderson, young people need to be the ones reviving a dying language. The director of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages in Salem, Oregon, says that somewhere between the ages of six and 25, people make a definitive decision whether or not to say to stay or break with a language.
A letter from Philadelphia to Boston might take a couple weeks, so in that respect the telegram, which was used to convey important military and political information, was invaluable. Historians today researching the early 1900s rely heavily on telegrams to piece together important events, much as modern historians are using Twitter, for example, to put together a timeline of the Arab Spring events.
Something as simple as text messaging can draw young people’s attention back to the languages of their elders, and projects like the YouTube channel’s “Enduring Voices” can inspire others to learn ancestral tongues to produce hip-hop music. Connections between both the past and present echo from the old fashioned telegram tapping out on Morse code from a century back, to texting in another type of code entirely today.
college, economics, data: Interesting data, interesting analysis.
Thanks to a new Web site made available today by the Department of Education, families can compare the various costs of particular colleges and universities, as well as the trends in that pricing, according to an article in The Times by my colleague Tamar Lewin.
book shelf, faith and spirituality, Genesis, marriage, James Howell: Enjoyed James’ analysis of Genesis 2.
eGenesis 2 – a partner fit “On New Years Eve, 1967, the knowledge that I did love Thanne pitched me headlong into a crisis wherein I suffered a blindness, from which I arose – married.” So goes Walter Wangerins first sentence in As for Me and my House, which I rank as the truest, most moving, funniest, and most helpful book on marriage in print. Wangerin, a Lutheran pastor and superb writer, tells of his relationship with Thanne, and it is honest, nothing sugar-coated or idyllic, sharing the typical difficulties with candor, good humor, and greatest of all – hope. His recipe for a successful marriage? Not having fun or shared hobbies or even stellar communication, but forgiveness, truthfulness, dependability, sharing the work of survival, talking and listening, giving and volunteering – which not surprisingly sounds like wise counsel for friendships, coworkers, families and neighbors. Why mention Wangerin during our series on Genesis? As for Me and my House includes a fascinating reflection on Genesis 2 – when Adam names all the animals, but none of them is a “fit” for him until Eve is created: “Beasts of burden conform to their owners desires, bearing loads, but this sort of creature is not fit for a spouse. Birds fulfill the aesthetic side of our nature, beautiful in plumage, thrilling in song – but neither is a spouse fit only to be a beautiful object. Cattle are considered personal property – but a spouse was never meant to be. The slow may make up speed by riding horses, the weak may make up strength by driving oxen. The blind use dogs. The thirsty milk cows. But that purpose completing ones self by gaining the talents of another human is not fitting for a marriage, and is dangerous, for it reduces the spouses role to that of an animal – something to be used. Only one being was intended to dominate in a marriage, but that one was neither of the partners. It was the creator himself – God.” The only One intended to dominate any relationship would be God – although the form of that domination is humble service, giving life, fostering hope, an unquenchable love that seeks us relentlessly, not treating us as property but we the holy beloved.James