Tuesday & Thursday Studies

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have a Mormon Studies class and a French class. I like both for different reasons. I like the Mormon Studies class, because it examines issues facing LDS Intellectuals in academia rather than big issues being dealt with in Mormon culture or the news. It is pretty fascination because while most religious traditions have professional academics who are part of the structure of the religion, Mormonism does not. Most people who study Mormonism do so as part of a university instead of being paid by a church. BYU has a number of academic who are Mormon studying Mormon history and religious text, but BYU doesn’t have anyone who studies Mormon theology or anthropology. Historian, philosophers, theologians, anthropologists, literary critics, scriptorians, and what not who study Mormonism as a part of their academic profession are almost always employed outside of the LDS formal educational bureaucracy and because of that there is a lot of tension between the actual LDS church and academics who study Mormonism even if the intellectual in question is a loyal, believing member of the LDS church. What we examine in class rarely is discussed in church if ever other than when an LDS religious leader acts against university professors who study Mormonism.

I like the French class because it is a welcome relief from my other classes. The French class is hard, but it is not nearly as serious an endeavor as the Philosophy of Mormonism, Rhetoric, and the study of American Novels.

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Racism: I Hope for an Upcoming Discussion within the LDS Church and the larger Mormon Culture

Bagley Fascist quotient

Pat Bagley is one of my favorite cartoonists and loves to poke at Utah, Mormon, National, and International issues. His cartoon above is pretty good. It deals with racism and fascism. Here is the link to the above cartoon so you can read the comments section if you’d like.

Racism is an issue for Mormonism. Honestly, its an issue for every religion and for every religious person, but it is an issue that has taken a long time to find a voice here in Utah and in the church. In 2010, then President Gordon B. Hinkley said:

Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ.

President Hinckley is stating racism is wrong. This comment also appears in this years Sunday School manual. I hope it is talked about at conference this fall.

The church has made two official statements and I have read three great articles about Black Experience in the church, listed below:

When I was a kid (freshly moved from Oklahoma City where my neighbor proudly proclaimed her membership in the KKK with a large placardKKK-seal-1918-300x287 on her porch similar to the image on the right), I did not experience overt racism like I did in Oklahoma. Later, after I married a woman from Seoul, South Korea, blatant, direct racism was everywhere. Even at church. To avoid this, we started attending the BYU Asian Ward where most people were Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Polynesian. I worked for the most part, but I did end up getting into two fistfights with bigots (one in the Provo, Smiths and the other at BYU). We were discriminated against by landlords, employers, and a few small businesses. After my then wife deserted us and I moved temporarily in with my parents, I heard racism against “mud-people” from my dad’s neighbor, a member of the bishopric, and his wife, the ward librarian. She would never let my kids check out materials for their classes during church.

At first I was shocked. I never shied away from confronting racism directly, but I was always alone. Now that my kids have moved out, I don’t hear it anymore.

During the 2016 Republican caucuses were I was my precinct’s vice chair, I spoke long against Donald Trump. I was a strong supporter of Gov. Kasich. My precinct went heavy for Ted Cruz during the caucus, but during the election, our precinct went for Evan McMullan who I voted for. After Trump won, I resigned from my precinct position and reregistered as an independent. Trump’s racism, and many other -isms, upset me greatly. There is no way I can support a bigot.

It is long since time for all forms of racism to disappear.

I oppose racism. I recognize my privilege as a white man. I am committed to working against racism (and other -isms). This doesn’t mean I reject my Scots and Jewish ancestry, but it does mean I will do everything I can to oppose the notion, my heritage makes me superior to anyone else.

We as Latter-day Saints need to work long and hard on this issue and I look forward to the discussions that will be happening within the church about it.