Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Mo’ Boy Doctrine - Halloween and Cub Scouts

A few days ago, Mo’ Boy celebrated it’s 8th anniversary.  That’s right - Eight Years!  That makes it one of the longest-running blogs in the Mormon blog world.  Unfortunately, that alone doesn’t make it the most consistently posted, nor the most frequently read.  But still...

There are a few issues that I’ve been stewing over lately, and it suddenly occurred to me that I’ve been alternatively laughing at them, and angry about them.  I thought, “It’s a great time to dust off the ol’ Mo’ Boy Doctrine for some good ol’ invokin!”

For the unfamiliar, the Mo’ Boy Doctrine came to be after I once wrote about our President Monroe, and his Monroe Doctrine.  A friend suggested I make my own.  So, I did.  It’s clear, and it’s simple.  I hasn’t changed the world, yet.  It contains two very important and complimentary parts.  It is this:

   1. Everyone should just not get so bent out of shape.
   2. If that bothers you, read it again.

And the first recipient of the invoking of the Mo’ Boy Doctrine is:  Saturday Trick-or-Treating vs Sunday Trick or Treating.  Honestly people, I can’t believe this is even an issue. Can we get over ourselves, here? 

Here’s how we, as a family, are dealing with it.  First of all, we’re doing our own family Halloween celebrations on Saturday.  Most of our neighbors are also church members, since we live in a small town in Utah, so I imagine that many of them will also choose to do that.  Second, we’ll leave our lights and our pumpkins lit on Sunday, and we’ll have extra candy for those kids that decide (for whatever reason) to do their celebrations on that day.  They’ll come and yell to our door, and we’ll open it, and fuss over their costumes, and give them their candy, too. 

...And it will still be fun!  Even on the Sabbath!

Also, the irony of having Christians debate the celebration of an essentially Pagan holiday (celebrating death and scariness) is not lost on me at all...

Next, we have this story of a Mormon family denied the opportunity to serve in a Cub Scout Pack because they’re *GASP* not Christian! This is another story to not get bent out of shape about.  In spite of this, there’s been a lot of blogger and news buzz.  The noise has ranged all the way from “How can they be so unChristian as to deny the offer of service from fellow souls...” to “It’s about time those Black- and Gay-hating Mormon bigots get a taste of their own medicine!”

It’s time to get real people.  First of all, I support the right of any privately-owned and run group to choose their own members and leaders.  So, if they don’t want to have Mormon volunteers, they don’t have to.  Second, as I was growing up in the Mormon youth programs, which included Church-sponsored Boy Scout Troops, I always had Mormon Scout leaders.  The Church youth program and scouting were seamlessly integrated.  What’s the big deal?

Although, I have to say, based on my experience as a scout leader in our own Church-sponsored Cub Scout pack, I have seen non-mormon and inactive mormons serve side by side with active Church members in scouting leadership capacities.

But in any case, my point still stands. I think that it’s not something that anyone, Mormon or not, should waste their time and ink getting bent out of shape about.

So, I hereby invoke the Mo’ Boy Doctrine on these two issues.  May they rest in peace.  But they probably won’t.



Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his Dutch Oven blog.

Mark's Other Blog Posts: Progress on the Mormon Scripture Game, Small Dutch Oven Turnout,
Utah County Election Resources, LDS Music Today Podcast 

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What of Free Speech?

The curious case of Pastor Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church

One of my favorite bits of all in The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the Babel Fish. It’s this leechy little thing you stick in your ear and it instantly translates anything said to you in any form of language.  The bit goes on to wax philosophical and historical, but finally ends with this quote: “...Meanwhile, the poor Babel Fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”

See, we always assume that open communication and freedom of speech are good things.  That as long as we are all sharing our thoughts in open dialog, our society can grow.

But, as Pastor Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, Pastor Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center and Douglas Adams have all demonstrated, not all speech is enlightening or ennobling.

Should there be limits on what you can say and when you can say it?  That’s been debated and argued for a long time.  There are some laws that govern what you can say or print.  These laws are referred to as the laws of Libel and Slander.

Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.”

The curious case of Pastor Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, however, raises up some really interesting thoughts.  For example:  One of the reasons why so many people are so upset at both pastors is that most people disagree with them.  These small, minority religious groups are making a loud statement that most people don't like.  How many pastors, preachers, and prophets are out there saying, “Love your neighbor as yourself”?  Millions.  So, that’s not news!  Because we all agree.  If they started saying, “Kill your neighbor”, then we would be upset.  This, then, flies in the face of the value expressed by Voltaire.  Rather than defending their rights to the death, in spite of disagreement, we’re clamoring for them to be silenced, BECAUSE we disagree with them.  Even though most of us think they're idiots (myself included).

Another hopefully interesting observation: In our current political climate, both the right and the left are busy defining themselves by being the opposite of their opponents.  The right is the right because they're against what the left is for, and vice versa.

So far, it’s been generally the right wing that has been the most vocal about “preserving the rights in the Constitution”.  It’s also been the right wing that tends to be the most vocal about “respecting the military and the soldiers and veterans within it”.  It’s also those on the right that have been the most vocal about the “incorrectness of the homosexual lifestyle”, especially in the military.

So, here’s an issue where all of the conflicting points involved are essentially based in current conservative values.  It’s the right vs the right vs the right.  That makes it a little challenging for the conservatives.  Who to back?  This also brings up the same conundrum for the left.  Which side to choose?  Where to stand?  I wonder where the ACLU will land on this one!

A third observation, from a Mormon perspective:  A while ago, the left in Utah, and the ACLU in particular were up in arms because the church attempted to prevent anti-Mormon protesters from shouting down Mormon wedding groups that would gather for taking pictures on the temple lawn in downtown Salt Lake City.  Free speech was the word of the day. If the courts decide that it’s inappropriate and illegal to disrupt a private funeral service, will it then also be illegal to disrupt a private wedding celebration?

My own feeling is that we should be free to express our opinions.  We should also be held accountable for the results of the things we say.  So, in theory, I’m opposed to letting people disrupt the private moments of other people’s lives in order to further their own political agendas.  I also think that this concept should be applied universally regardless of the political leanings of those doing the expressing, or those being disrupted.


Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his Dutch Oven blog.

Mark's Other Blog Posts: Baking Dutch Oven Bread, Joyful Noises, A Call for Playtesters: LDS Scripture Game


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