Friday, January 16, 2015

Mormon Notes (2011)

Here are notes collected during Mitt Romney's previous campaign. They appeared at another blog, now closed.

Mitt Romney's Mormon faith is in the news and large swaths of people claiming to be Christian are working hard to find a non-Mormon alternative for the GOP. Mormonism, they say, is a cult. I have the impression that many would prefer an atheist to a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (Secretly they love the sound of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir but that's about as far as their affection for anything Mormon can risk.) It should be noted that Jon Huntsman is also Mormon, although his position in the race for the Republican nomination is way down toward the bottom. I find it fascinating that the two most impressive candidates of the GOP lot are Mormon. 

Aside from my lifelong identity as a Yellow Dog Democrat, I have always had a healthy respect for anyone of any political persuasion who is intelligent, sincere and open to negotiation when it comes to resolving differences. Unfortunately those qualities are in short supply this season with candidates signing pledges never to have a change of heart or negotiate in good faith if it involves several items important to a hard-headed segment of single-issue voters. It's been a long time since Emerson said a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines, so they must have forgotten (assuming they ever knew). But I digress... Here is a little collection of links for readers looking at Mormonism from the outside, without the perverted tilt of biased critics.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is one of those self-help books that's been around for a long time. Last time I was in a book store I noticed that the author is still making money from a successful venture into the self-help how-to cottage industry. I read the book years ago and was very impressed. I found it challenging enough that I had to put it down halfway through and reflect on the message before finishing the last couple of chapters.

Anyway, Stephen Covey is a Mormon and this book is apparently a non-religious presentation of core Mormon beliefs or practices. Check out the reader comments at the Amazon link for a string of opinions from one extreme to the other. The number of stars will indicate which end of religious rainbow is being presented. (Many of the same readers who find Covey's book something of a tool of Satan will also feel the same way about the Harry Potter series.) There are over a hundred screens of comments so don't get bogged down.

Mormon Fashion Bloggers is a list at Clothed Much blog, [now closed] linked by a post at Killing the Buddha which readers may also find interesting. This list is a fascinating look at fashion through Mormon eyes. 
Welcome to Clothed Much, a modest fashion blog! I'm Elaine and I dress modestly because I am a Mormon so I aim to feature modesty by Mormon/LDS fashion standards. I'm not an expert on modesty or fashion but I love being creative with what I have within my values. Modesty means different things to different people and this is just my story. Even if you don't share my views, I hope you at least get some cute modest outfit ideas!!!
The 100 Hour Board is a place where students at Brigham Young University can ask questions on line and they will be answered withing a hundred hours. I don't recall where I first came across it but I recognized a repository of purity and innocence that seems to have been lost or deliberately destroyed in most institutions of higher learning. Pocket your urge to be cynical and go take a look. There are still places in America where young people are still writing and interacting with courtesy and good manners, not preoccupied with the vices widely depicted of their generation in movies and TV shows. 

Check out this quesiton and answers...
Season's greetings! What are your some of your favorite Christmas ornaments? What about your least favorite? Do you have pictures? Happy Holidays --Salty Dog
"Life Dances Inside a Circle Made By Living, They Say"  This story I found at Group News Blog will take a few minutes to read but it is worth every minute it takes. Don't skim it. Take time to read it for the full effect. The Mormon element is central to the story but the importance has more to do with doing what is right than doing what is Mormon. I'm not sure which of the contributors at GNB wrote it. I should know but I haven't followed them enough to know each by name and this is not attributed. Here is a snip.
The winter of 1958 on the White Mountain Apache Reservation was hard. Unusually heavy snowfalls, very low temperatures and a sudden freeze all contributed to the dangerous misery there. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was not responding to the pleading of the people for help and aid. They ignored the missionaries who were trying to keep our tiny school going. It was a Mormon year that time. One of the "teachers" was from a Mormon Ward in Mesa. 
Their Bishop, his family has asked that I not name him, because they are old school Mormons who believe that doing good, and caring for your fellow human beings is something that should be expected, it is not something to be celebrated, so I'll just call him The Bishop, hearing of the plight on the rez, opened his Bishop's stores. This is something that the Mormons take very seriously. They encourage their members to keep a year's supply of canned and preserved foods, and each Ward's Bishop has control of an even larger storage. 
The Bishop opened his stores. He directed the members of his Ward to gather at the storehouse, bringing their trucks and vans. They loaded them down with food, blankets, and warm clothes. They drove 350 miles from Mesa to the rez. They began to distribute those badly needed items. They did this without preaching or doing anything but try to find out where what the greatest needs were. When they had finished, they drove back to their home, loaded up again, and drove back.
"Pennies From Heaven" by Bernard Avishai  Avishai splits his time between Jerusalem and Wilmot, New Hampshire. He is adjunct professor of business at Hebrew University. He's taught at Duke, MIT, and was director of the Zell Entrepreneurship Program at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. From 1986 to 1991 he was technology editor of Harvard Business Review. He's written dozens of articles and commentaries for The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Harvard Business Review, Harper’s and many other publications.

A Jew looks at this Mormon, a first-person impression that appeared a few weeks ago. Do read the whole piece if time permits. I hold Bernard Avishai in high regard. His impressions and observations are solid. 
When I joined Monitor Company (now Group) in the spring of 1992, the first party its directors, my new colleagues, invited me to was at Mitt Romney's mansion in Belmont. Romney was at the time still with Bain Capital, but his political ambitions were clear. The party, in fact, turned out to be a fundraiser for a friend of his who was planning a run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator from Utah.
Make no mistake. Romney and his wife Ann could not have been more gracious--or attractive. Their sons (I think I met three out of the five) were about as good-looking as it was possible to be outside of a Land's End catalogue, yet they were warm, respectful, and the huge, imposing home-on-a-hill had an unmistakably lived-in air about it. Homework was being attended to around the kitchen table. You got the sense that they were good and grateful people, who simply assumed their wealth was earned, deserved, yet a blessing, something to be put to the fullness of life. They seemed middle class, only more so. 
I should add that I had just finished five-year stint as the Harvard Business Review's technology strategy editor, and found the karma familiar. The Romney home seemed a kind of extension of the business school's architectural principles, not just the physical space, with its understated but firmly established elegance, but its implied social architecture as well. 
This post is not an endorsement of Mitt Romney or Mormonism. I put it together simply because I hate seeing so much stupidity around me and no one seems to know how to come against it. Or if anyone does, they are not doing so very effectively. 

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