Posts Tagged ‘Mormon’

Bentley-Halo1

TV: What Bentley Williams and The Bachelorette Can Teach Us About the Mormon All-Star

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in TV

The Bachelorette had what host Chris Harrison called “one of the most talked about moments we have ever had” when one of the contestants left the show, leaving bachelorette Ashley Hebert in tears.

Production was almost cancelled when Bentley Williams, a 28-year-old divorced Mormon from Salt Lake City, left the show, saying Hebert wasn’t his type. Williams was considered a frontrunner, winning coveted roses, the tokens necessary to elude elimination, in every episode. Though Hebert wasn’t his type, it didn’t stop Williams from leading her on.

Glenn Beck

Bein’ a Hater: Glenn Beck, Mormons, and Hate Speech

Written by Jim Dalrymple on . Posted in Politics

Saturday’s On the Media — an NPR news program that discusses media — focused on the rise of hate groups in the United States. It featured Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who (about halfway through the discussion) talked about, among many other things, how right-wing media figures and politicians are mainstreaming hate speech — and among those cited by name was Glenn Beck. To be fair, Beck wasn’t the focus of Potok’s discussion. Hate was. But Beck was one of the very few people whose names were mentioned as troubling.

For Mormons, that should be a distressing assertion. As a Mormon himself, Beck has always been something of an oddball. However, Potok’s point wasn’t that Beck is simply extreme, or embarrassing to people of one political persuasion or another. It wasn’t even that he personally disagrees with Beck and those like him. Rather, it was that Beck and others are actually helping hate become more common. Tellingly, Potok also points out that hate crimes in the United States are becoming more widespread, which could obviously correlate with the increase in hateful rhetoric.

Ironically, and because I too am a Mormon, I listened to this segment of On the Media between sessions of LDS General Conference. As some surely know, that’s a bi-annual event that teaches Mormons to strive for Christ-like attributes, like love and respect. Yet in the midst of that message I also ended up listening to an expert on hate speech point out that one of the most prominent Mormons in the United States is doing the exact opposite of what the Church teaches.

POLITICS: Dousing Flaming Mormons

Written by Jon Ogden on . Posted in Politics

Last Sunday, the Deseret News published an opinion piece on Mormon liberalism written by Eric Samuelson, a professor of theater and arts at BYU.

It was an articulate and thoughtful piece, but the initial premise — “I’m a liberal because I’m a Christian” — troubled me. It seems to imply that Republicans aren’t genuine Christians. It’s nearly as arrogant as the flaming online retorts to Dr. Samuelson’s article that the devil is behind the entire liberal agenda. The devil! What boldness!

Such grandiose claims about the motives of a political opponent, liberal or conservative, seem to me to be a major roadblock, if not the major roadblock, to many Mormon political discussions. What I mean is that a debate that starts with “I’m the true Christian!” and is refuted by “No, I’m the true Christian!” is sure to go nowhere quickly. Such claims hack at genuine political debate, since they’re saying (in essence), “God’s with me, kid.”

That’s not to say that we should pack up our wit, play in the sunshine, and “just get along.” Such Teletubby tenderness fouls up democracy, a form of government that thrives only if citizens argue intelligently against each other.

But since it can take years to comprehend our own motives, let alone the motives of a stranger, genuine political debate always requires that we give opponents the benefit of the doubt. That is, genuine political debate requires us to assume that our opponents — including even presidents and TV pundits — have noble motives. It also requires us to assume that our own motives — as much as we want them to be pure — may be off-kilter. In other words, political argument can only gain traction once we assume that our opponents may have something to teach us, that they too might be genuinely good, even if they vote to tax the rich or privatize health care.

At the very least, granting opponents the benefit of the doubt can help us avoid the embarrassment of flaming. I’ll leave you with a shining yet sadly typical response from a reader about Dr. Samuelson’s argument on health care:

“We can afford to fix health care”?  Are you stupid?  We are IN DEBT!  Why does no one ever acknowledge this?  How can you go from suggesting this, to later acknowledging that “large deficits and a huge national debt are obviously unsustainable”?  STUPID!

To Dr. Samuelson’s credit, even though his self-righteous premise about true Christians has the flavor of a flamer, he steers clear of this futile, angry tone — and he’s all the smarter for avoiding it.

This is Jon Ogden’s first contribution to Rhombus.