The Rocky Shore

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Rocky Shore has moved...

We'd like to thank all those who have been visiting and interacting with The Rocky Shore. Being a young blog can be tough as you try to establish a steady readership. We have in fact moved, to www.therockyshore.com . Blogger has been good to us, but we feel this has been a successful experiment and have decided to move into a more versatile wordpress platform on our own server. If you link to us please adjust the address to our new location and please come visit us at our new site.

Thank you

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A More Rational Theology

Math is an interesting thing. Most people profess a strong fear of it, myself being one such person until I began to take it seriously. I was a sophomore in college when I first began to make the study of mathematics a serious endeavor. Up until this time, I had been a philosophy major. Upon returning from my mission, I decided I needed to take a more pragmatic approach to my career; I needed a career from which I could comfortably support a family. I decided engineering was my new forte, and delved into math and science classes, subjects which until this time I had never really studied. I fell in love with math. I think Bertrand Russell summed up a love for mathematics best:

“Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty -- a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.”

He also once said “that mathematics is capable of an artistic excellence as great as that of any music, perhaps greater…because, in fact, it constructs an ideal world where everything is perfect but true.” This is what I saw (and continue to see) in the logical approach to the world a mathematical mind embodies.

The Gospel is true, but the Mormon conception of deity has very little to do with math. Not all religions have been this way; Greeks such as Pythagoras based much of their conception of deity and its relationship with the world on the austerity of mathematics. But Mormonism is not exacting. In fact, more often than not, it has been incredibly inconsistent (I’m sure there are many out there who will argue against this opinion). As a person who values logic, the inconsistencies of Mormonism have long bothered me.

Christian Cardall’s blog, The Spinozist Mormon sports an interesting quote: “Although all is not gold that shines, … yet, “by proving contraries,” truth is manifest…” (Joseph Smith Jr, 5 June 1844), and LDS Science Review has a subheading that reads: “That which is demonstrated, we accept with joy.” (First Presidency 1910). These quotes seek to present the faith as rational. In my experience, Mormons love to view their religion as rational, but I can see the faith as rational only in a compartmentalized sort of way: it is piecewise rational. The faith also seems to be defended in a piecewise manner. In my view, this piecewise approach to our faith all too often leads to ‘missing the forest for the trees’.

I wish the Mormon conception of the gospel were treated as mathematicians treat their field, where axioms are assumed, and based upon those axioms, things are inferred. All too often in our theology, it seems that preconceptions are formed, and then axioms are created to justify those preconceptions.

The gospel is very simple and it has very little to do with justifications for our beliefs, or apologetic responses to criticism. I think the only thing the Savior ever wanted people to learn from him was how to love each other, yet it is what we routinely fail to do.

I wish we would start with an axiom that states: ‘we love all people, regardless’. I believe beginning here, and then building our theology with strict adherence to this axiom would provide, not only the logical religion I desire, but also a much stronger Mormonism. If we are to be recognized by our fruits, then our most basic conceptions of our religion need to be grounded in the ideal of loving our fellow persons. It is only through grounding ourselves in this ideal, that our fruits will ever truly reflect the Savior’s teachings.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Let's Talk About Adultery

Guess where my husband is now? He is currently at his boss’s house helping with computer problems. The only thing is that his boss is not home. The only person home is his boss’s wife. As he left, we joked about the obvious taboo he was making. He is breaking the unwritten church rule, thou shall not be alone with anyone of the opposite sex other than your spouse.

These unwritten rules, (or perhaps even written rules,) are everywhere in Mormon society. They are there to protect us from breaking bigger, more known commandments. However, the rule of not being alone with another for fear of adultery seems wacky at best. Men can be alone with women without fornicating. It has been done millions of times before and is occurring right now as my husband helps his boss. Rather than harping on the benign act of merely being with another of the opposite sex, why not discuss the actual steps that lead to adultery? Why not discuss the importance of maintaining a positive sexual relationship with your spouse or satisfying friendship with your partner?

My father fell in love with his tennis partner while married to my mother. Yes, they spent many afternoons alone playing tennis together. However, years before the “illegal” acts of spending alone time ever occurred, my parent’s relationship was falling to pieces. The reasons for their destroyed relationship was because their lack of intimacy, friendship, and companionship. They did not have a good marriage.

So, let’s be real. If the church is truly concerned about its members committing adultery, there should be more discussion on the importance of sex, partnership, and friendship in a marriage. Sex should be discussed more openly as an essential, healthy aspect of marriage. It should not be a topic avoided like the plague.

The pitfalls of marriage occur way before a man is alone with a woman. These pitfalls should be the unwritten taboos of Mormon society.

My husband just came home.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

To Shave Or Not To Shave... Pt. 2

Ok, so I am going to rant about my parents stake again… I really don’t have a problem with the church hierarchy in general, it’s just that my parents stake is so weird…

The first gripe I have I’ve been planning on posting about for a while (FHM is going to love this one): the women in the stake are not allowed to say the opening prayer in sacrament meeting. My mother had a real problem with this so she asked the bishop where this policy originated. She pursued him for a while, and finally he called Salt Lake, and they said that such policies were up to the Stake President. She talked to the Stake President about it, and he basically said tough, that is just the way it is in their stake; they like a priesthood holder to open sacrament meeting.

The second gripe I have is based upon a new policy they came out with. This one wouldn’t really bother me if they weren’t weird already, but… they have decided that they will no longer serve the sacrament to those in the foyer. The reasoning is that the bishop needs to see who is taking the sacrament, because he is their respective judge in Israel. Since he cannot see who is in the foyer, they can’t partake of the sacrament. At least this one has some logic behind it (albeit strained in my opinion). I don't know how many times I've been stuck out in the foyer due to the antics of my daughter. Now I have to miss the sacrament because my wife gave birth to Rosemary’s Baby?

My question is this: what the heck is going on up there? How much latitude is the State Presidency given? They’ve also said that from now on, visiting in the chapel is a no-no. It seems like the soup nazi has taken control! What is a member to do when faced with such silliness?

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Who Cares!?!

Several years ago, we had a lesson in Relief Society about the temple. A sweet, older lady told a story of how little she felt judged at the temple.
The week previously, she had been in Portland visiting family. She was dressed casually, but wanted to walk the temple grounds. A matron came out and, after talking to her for a little while, asked her if she wanted to join the next session. The woman was surprised, but delighted and entered the temple to take part in the endowment session. She left feeling uplifted, edified, and not judged for her appearance.
After the woman recanted her story, the relief society room erupted. Several were shocked that she was allowed in the temple at all. Many felt it their duty to stress the importance of dressing "appropriately" to the temple--nylons and all. Of course we should not go to the temple in casual dress, but rather than accepting this woman's story of what an accepting atmosphere the temple presents, they were shocked, stunned, and in fact, began judging the situation and this woman like crazy.
I've been pondering this story and have decided to post a list of "who cares." After all, this is the church of Jesus Christ--the one man who never judged. Why, then, are we the church of relentless judging?
Who cares if people's spiritual stories are not spiritual to us?
Who cares if people do not dress "appropriately" to church? What does this mean, anyway?
Who cares if a woman wears slacks to church? We all know we wish we could.
Who cares if someone's child is freaking out in sacrament meeting? They may be actually paying attention to the talk and getting something out of it.
Who cares if someone says "crap" in their sacrament meeting talk? It is funny.
Who cares if someone gets something pierced, or, when bending over, exposes a tatoo?
Who cares if someone gets divorced over something we may not approve?
Who cares if a child/adult is not prepared for a sacrament meeting talk? They may just be really nervous.
Who cares if someone wishes to bare their testimony about their dead cat?
Who cares if I've misspelled something on this blog?
Who cares if someone's cell phone rings right as the chapel gets really quiet?

I ask you to join me in my list of "who cares." We really need to be a little less judgemental and a little more Christ-like. Afterall, we don't know anybody else's situation or circumstance.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

To Shave Or Not To Shave...

Up where my parents live, an interesting phenomenon has taken place: it seems that the stake presidency has taken it upon themselves (or perhaps it came from higher up) to insist upon all men in the stake be clean-shaven.

How can they insist, I hear you ask…

From what I have been able to gather, a year and a half ago the stake presidency announced in a stake priesthood meeting their desire to have a clean-shaven male (and female I presume) stake membership. Since that time, the local hierarchy has specifically taken the temple recommend interview as an opportunity to pressure men with facial hair to expunge their faces of it. It is not that they are denying temple recommends, but at the end of the standard questioning they then council the man to shave.

One friend of my father stated that when he shaved, the bishop approached him and thanked him for his sacrifice. Another very good friend of my mother was quite upset about the new policy, and when her husband was counseled to shave his mustache she gave the bishop quite a tongue-lashing. Obviously these are just two examples of current reactions to the policy, so they are anecdotal at best. From what I have heard most have simply chosen to shave.

I have four initial reactions to hearing about this:

1) I was considering moving to their stake. Since I have a beard and absolutely no desire to confront such silliness, I will choose a different residence.

2) Aren’t there more important things to be worrying about besides facial hair?

3) If the church wants to promote a clean image of itself, how about expanding the WOW to include obesity?

4) What the hell kind of sacrifice is shaving?

Is this an isolated instance of silliness, or have others of you out there been confronted with this travesty in your stake?

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Do We Really Want Romney???

There has been quite a bit of buzz around the bloggernackle about a Romney presidency. Over at The Messenger and Advocate and especially at The Millennial Star they seem fairly excited about the prospect. Mitt Romney is the conservative Mormon Massachusetts governor. I would just like to ask the question: is a Mormon president in the best interest of the Church?

There are two reasons I raise the question. The first one has to do with the state of American politics. If Romney is given the Republican nomination, he will be attacked and derided in any way that will give Democrats an advantage. This will include the dredging up of anything weird and Mormon, that in any way might hurt his chances for the presidency. It seems the Church’s main desire, is to present the Church and its members in the most 'all-American' light possible. "We Are Mainstream" is the message I hear every time Pres. Hinckley does an interview. Shining the light of the mainstream media on Romney and his religious beliefs seems dangerous.

The second reason I raise the question is due to the fear that a Romney run for the presidency will further the link between Mormonism and American Conservative Politics. If Romney wins the presidency, the Church will rally behind him. American Conservatives have some decent ideas, but like all political groups they have a lot of potential for corruption and scandal. Do we want the Church pulled closer to any political scene?

I mean, it seems to me that Mormonism will become much more political if a Romney run becomes a reality. Is this good for Mormonism???

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