If the Mormon Moment Lasts Four More Years?

October 13, 2012

Let’s face it. Although morality profoundly impacts American’s political views — making political and election issues an inevitable topic of attention for a Mormon blog — the idea of a Mormon being elected President of the United States has animated discussion on this site much more than would a contest between Barack Obama and a Protestant Republican.

As I write this a few hours before posting, Mitt Romney is leading Barack Obama in the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of polls by 47.3+0.5 % to 46.3+0.5 %, with perhaps other polls still to report later today. On October 9, 2012, after Obama’s flop at the first debate, Romney took a lead in that poll over Obama for the first time ever, and the RCP assessment of state results has seen 68 electoral votes go from “likely Obama” to “toss-up” in the post-debate shift.

Although the time between now and the actual election is still long enough for anything up to a general Mideastern War to spread — as noted from these reports here and here — and an incumbent President always has the initiative when it comes to changing a story line, there is actually a realistic chance that the President of the United States will shortly be a Mormon Conservative.

We pause briefly while liberals of all religious affiliations contemplate sliding down the abyss they were certain they had avoided just a month ago.

Nearly a year ago (when Romney trailed Obama by 1.6 points in the RCP average),  Jeff Spector asked how “members in the US would react if Romney were to be elected President”. Jeff suggested:

“Where we are apt to see a huge and somewhat controversial difference will be in Fast and Testimony Meetings, especially right after the election.

“Members in the United States will stand up and bear testimony of the ‘miracle’ of the election, that God caused the citizens of the US to elect a Mormon as President. That this is somehow some kind of “sign” to be marveled over.

“In some ways, it will be. Just like it did not seem possible that a Black American could become President, it might be considered unlikely that a Mormon would be elected. But a miracle, brought about by God?

“Given the state of the economy and the world at large, the miracle might be that President Obama gets re-elected.

“Certainly, it will also be viewed as a tremendous missionary opportunity as Americans might become more curious about our faith. Clearly, the Chevy Chase Ward, which according to the Church website is the congregation closest to the White House, will not be the same.”

People seemed to have a hard time getting their heads around the notion. Discussion quickly turned to how being President would impact the ability of the Romney’s to practice their religion, particularly in regard to attending the Temple. (I personally think that the country’s bipartisanship would be immediately improved if President Romney were given a calling as Senator Reid’s Home Teacher, or if the callings were the other way around. We’d at least have the likelihood that Reid would have more substantive discussions in the White House during the next four years than it seems he did during the last four. :D)

But I’d like now to revisit and broaden Jeff”s question in light of an additional year of history, and a greater chance (at least for the moment) of a Romney victory.

1) If the Mormon Moment lasts another four years, how will Mitt’s Mormonism impact US and global history (I’m a top-down kind of guy!)?

2) How do you think Mitt’s priesthood will impact US and global history?

3) How do you think Mitt’s conservatism will impact US and global history?

4) How will Ann Romney’s Mormonism impact US and global history?

5) How will Ann Romney”s callings and life experiences (you define them) impact US and global history?

6) How will Mitt’s election impact LDS liberals?

7) How will Mitt’s election impact LDS conservatives?

8 ) How will Mitt’s election impact the view of the LDS church abroad?

9) How will Mitt’s election impact the Missionary Program of the church?

10) How will Mitt’s election impact Zionic endeavors of the church?

Of course, maybe I should ask about the Mormon Moment lasting eight years. Whether it lasts four or eight years would, by itself, constrain a lot of the answers, wouldn’t it?

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60 Responses to If the Mormon Moment Lasts Four More Years?

  1. Course Correction on October 13, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    How will it impact the Church if Mitt is elected and has an unsuccessful presidency?

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  2. Troth Everyman on October 13, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    How will it impact the church if Mitt is elected only the 1% benefits?

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  3. Troth Everyman on October 13, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    “and” only the 1% benefits

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  4. FireTag on October 13, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    Course Correction and Troth Everyman:

    I think you are both picking up on what I was asking at the end of the OP. There are critical issues that are going to hit the proverbial fan very quickly. Getting a Mormon into the Presidency only makes a difference if it “makes a difference”. If Romney is a one-termer, and we go back to a progressive president in 2016, than the answer to these questions will be very different than if Romney reignites the economy and doesn’t lose another Mideast war in the interim (which I can easily see coming whoever gets elected).

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  5. Jettboy on October 13, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    I think the “Mormon moment” is here to stay regardless of what happens. Because of Romney I have seen Mormons identify themselves as Mormons more than ever before. The Mormon reporting will die down, but it won’t go away. The next generation of powerful Mormon leadership in the Republican Party are more vocal than they ever were before. If that is followed by Mormons in more powerful positions, then Romney will be the vanguard if he isn’t the leader.

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  6. Jettboy on October 13, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    To put it another way, considering the Mormon participation that is taking hold in the Republican Party I won’t be surprised if there is a Mormon President in the next 30 years if Mitt doesn’t make it there first. The old guard of the Republican Party is quickly changing and the new is a more conservative face. Since Mormons are among that conservative grouping I won’t be surprised by an increase in Mormon activity in the leadership positions.

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  7. FireTag on October 13, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    That’s interesting, Jettboy. Out here in DC, where the most powerful Mormon at least for a few more weeks is the liberal Senate Majority Leader — and that is PLENTY powerful since you can stymie the legislative branch from that position — we aren’t much aware of the “next generation” of Mormons coming up in political leadership (or at least their Mormonism).

    Who would you put in this category and why?

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  8. Will on October 13, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Fire tag,

    Romney is going to win. Forget the RCP polls as they include in thier average all the push-polls from the many liberal based a bias polls that attempt to shape opinion rather than report reality.

    The left leaning Suffolk has pulled out of Florida, North Carolina and Virginia and conceded a Romney victory in these swing states. The most accurate pollster Rasmussen supports Suffolk in these states. I think Romney will also win the swing states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and Colorado putting him at exactly 270. I think he has a better than 50 percent chance of winning Ohio and Wisconsin, and an up hill battle in Pennsylvania and Michigan. He could win up to 330 votes.

    Romney is going to lead like a church leader. He is going to cut (not just cut the growth rate) spending and worthless programs. He will also cut marginal tax rates across the board, especially with small business which will help create jobs.

    Like the church he will get a lot of critism that he is not doing enough to help those who can and should help themselves.

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  9. Stephen Marsh on October 13, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    I don’t know. Until recently, I expected him to lose, and adjusting to thinking about what it might mean if he wins is a very interesting thing, especially with the way Europe continues to unravel.

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  10. Troth Everyman on October 13, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Ultimately it could lead to a crisis of faith for a lot of folks. He could become president and fail miserably.

    In other words if many believe “fasting” helped him do well in the debates and get elected. Does that also mean God was wrong when he fails?

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  11. FireTag on October 13, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Will:

    I think you’re a little more certain of the outcome than I’m willing to be, at the moment. For that matter, you’re more certain than the Rasmussen poll itself is. Let’s just say for the moment that Romney is winning but has not won.

    After today’s tracking polls, it’s Romney 47.3 plus/minus 0.6 to Obama 46.0 plus/minus 0.4. And it is true that SOME of the polls in the average presume democratic turnouts like 2008 as if 2010’s great shellacking had never occurred. I find THAT doubtful.

    But Obama is from Chicago, and I’ve seen too many episodes of “Boss”. I have no plans to get ahead of myself.

    Let me ask this, then, where will Romney get the support unless he has MORE than a 53-47 victory, to actually CUT spending? Doesn’t the size of his mandate impact his effectiveness?

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  12. FireTag on October 13, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Troth:

    I didn’t get a chance to comment much on the fasting post this week, but it struck me to wonder what the African American churches were fasting and praying about before the debate.

    The overwhelming support of the secular Americans for Obama must be what influenced the debate. 8)

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  13. Bob on October 13, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    FireTag:
    Am I right(??)__if Romnmey wins, 40,000-50,000 Washington DC bureaucratic jobs will go over to the Republicans in about a week?

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  14. FireTag on October 13, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Troth:

    By the way, I’m well aware that theologically Mormon scripture does not forestall disaster for the “gentiles” just because a Mormon was elected President. Joseph Smith still had D&C 1 in the canon while HE was running for President.

    But I think the election and failure of a Mormon as President would sober up a lot of Mormons, and election and success might be a subtle spiritual trap.

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  15. FireTag on October 13, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Bob:

    I can not confirm that that number is correct, because only certain of the GS positions are classified as “political”, and it will take several months to make a transition in any event. What is clear is that there will be a massive deluge in resumes flowing between the government, the private sector, and the NGOs. Power centers external to the Feds will also shift throughout the Washington region to fight over the new budget priorities. The capital region will grow wealthier as it has from the 1970’s — no matter who wins. THAT is controlled by the importance of the battle and not which side wins.

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  16. Mike S on October 13, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Good questions:

    1) If the Mormon Moment lasts another four years, how will Mitt’s Mormonism impact US and global history (I’m a top-down kind of guy!)?

    It depends on how that affects his conservatism. As a whole, the country is expanding towards more freedom and rights and individual choice. On many social and moral issues (for example – abortion), he could potentially swing things against the trends of the past 30-40 years. I predict a rebound the other way. So, ironically, he may hasten the liberal agenda.

    2) How do you think Mitt’s priesthood will impact US and global history?

    Minimal impact. Harry Reid has the same priesthood as Mitt. Maybe they will cancel each other out?

    3) How do you think Mitt’s conservatism will impact US and global history?

    As in answer #1. The top-down cutting tax method hasn’t been shown to do much besides expand the gap between the rich and poor. History has shown us that this can only get so large before a country revolts.

    4) How will Ann Romney’s Mormonism impact US and global history?

    Not at all directly, but perhaps indirectly through Mitt. All First Ladies have certain “pet projects”, but rarely make much impact otherwise. Exceptions include Hillary, who had her own political aspirations and which don’t seem to be present in Ann. And Mss. Kennedy and Obama have some fashion impact, which I don’t see Ann having (although perhaps showing that it’s ok for a Mormon woman to wear clothing that obviously doesn’t cover garments unless they are hitched up or otherwise modified).

    5) How will Ann Romney”s callings and life experiences (you define them) impact US and global history?

    See above

    6) How will Mitt’s election impact LDS liberals?

    Sadden at first, then gladden when they see how his policies fail and it swings back.

    7) How will Mitt’s election impact LDS conservatives?

    “LET’S GO SHOPPING !!!!”

    8 ) How will Mitt’s election impact the view of the LDS church abroad?

    Neutral. There might be some people who have more interest. But I think it will hurt in some ways. For people who don’t know much about the LDS Church, missionaries can often control the narrative, skipping the more problematic aspects. But if Romney is president, there will be articles, etc. exploring some of these things. If the countries view the US as more theocratic, it might have an effect like many in the US view the Muslim world.

    9) How will Mitt’s election impact the Missionary Program of the church?

    See #8. I expect it will be neutral.

    10) How will Mitt’s election impact Zionic endeavors of the church?

    I think it will hasten chaos and mayhem in the Middle East. The Middle East is like a watermelon seed. Hold it, but squeeze too tightly and it will fly away. A more hardline approach, especially from a president who is seen as very religious, could inflame anti-Zionist sentiments. This could be especially true for a Mormon president, as we have repeatedly compared ourselves with and seen ourselves as “Israelites” in a sense.

    If chaos in the Middle East is a prelude to the Second Coming, as we teach, perhaps a Romney presidency will get us there sooner. So, in that sense it might be good.

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  17. Julia on October 13, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    I think that in the long run, it will force members of the church to confront the entire political narratives of both parties. Quite a few polls show that Republican Mormons choose their party and candidates essentially on “social issues.” Mormon Democrats, on the other hand, choose mostly on economic issues, which they view throiugh a moral lense.

    In some ways it depends on how “Mormon” Mitt’s presidency is. If he follows the basic policy’s of George W in economics; rolls back Obamacare, keeps tax cuts that disproportionately favor the rich, keeps tax policies that give huge tax breaks to corporations and doesn’t penalize them for moving manufacturing outside the US, cuts safety net programs to the extent Paul Ryan’s budget suggested, increases military spending; all of those things will come with consequences.

    When the church welfare system can’t replace the loss from social programs, food stamps, welfare, etc. I am not sure where Republican Mormons will fall. I suspect to start with, people will be blamed for not having a year’s supply. After the problems last significantly longer than a year, even that excuse will lose its bite. Where the blaming will go at that point, or if we will see significant blow back in 2014 will be interesting to watch.

    I hope that if Mitt Romney becomes president he will act more like a Mormon, and less like a Republican, but I doubt many people outside the church would be ab le to tell the difference. I have been reading through the 2nd volume of the church handbook, as part of writing a series for my blog. Since this is the first time it has been made available to members online, I was amazed at how clear a lot of the church policies are, and that when it comes down to the details, for the most part, the church’s official stance is not in line with the current Republican platform. The exceptions and grey areas, left for individuals, families and bishops to decide sound much more like the centrist part of the Democrats. I do wonder how a President Romney will respond when he is asked why he supports legislation that goes against the published policies of the LDS church. Maybe he will use that as his way to say he is his own man, and not “just a Mormon.” We will have to see.

    All of this speculation assume romney wins, and the Republicans hae control of congress and the Supreme Court. I somehow doubt we will see all of it go that way, and I am not convinced at this point that Romney will win. I know Will has been calling the election for Romney for quite some time. Personally, I will wait to see what the actual votes turn out to be. The debate on Tuesday and the next few weeks will certainly be interesting.

    For me personally, what started out as a 4-6 post series on my blog, could turn inot a 100+ post series, if the Mormon Moment continues on past the election. ;-)

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  18. Jettboy on October 13, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    Hopefully a Romney win will scare even more liberals from joining or remaining with the Church so it’s conservatism will be intact or stronger. It will also attract more conservative, but less religiously traditional converts who probably never thought of Mormonism before. Republican Mormons as I have said will have more recognition and powerful leadership positions. Internationally I don’t think the views about Mormonism will change anymore than it already is as an American denomination.

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  19. Julia on October 13, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    Jettboy,

    So you would like to see 20+% of the church leave?

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  20. FireTag on October 13, 2012 at 10:15 PM

    Mike:

    Interesting answers. I would expect Mitt’s route to impact social issues will be mere side effect to the economic and foreign policy choices made, much as Obama’s were. (Obama didn’t come out for gay marriage, for example, until AFTER the Carolina election loss.)

    There will be the pro forma executive order reversal of the current executive order allowing foreign aid for family planning. I say pro forma because EVERY Democratic Admin reverses the previous Republican Admin executive order and EVERY Republican Admin then switches it back. I’m not even sure anyone but the contract specialists know how it matters. That is political theater.

    Planned Parenthood will be organizationally targeted because the “war on women” meme made it such a visible and elitist anti-Republican voice that no cuts among programs dear to conservative hearts will be possible (and they WILL be necessary) if PP gets spared. PP is, after all, very big business, too, so it will be easy to separate abortions and contraception from other women’s “healthcare” issues by economic class, since there will be a new Sec of HHS writing the regs even if the Dems hold the Senate.

    Supreme court appointments, if any, may have more permanent consequences, but John Roberts should provide proof of how unpredictable that process is.

    However, my main point here is that ROMNEY JUST ISN’T GOING TO CARE THAT MUCH ABOUT THE SOCIAL ISSUES. The social conservatives couldn’t even prevail in the fight for the Republican nomination. Romney won’t be sidetracked from economics or foreign policy, because his back will be against the wall on those things from the proverbial “day one”.

    There may be a subtle difference in the way LDS and (traditional) CofChrist see priesthood that makes it hard for me to understand your second answer. Do you think that Romney and/or Reid could be INSPIRED to find compromises and better paths forward? Or does inspiration confined to the Prophet in the LDS conception of Priesthood?

    And, chaos is pretty much baked into the mideast already in my view. Consider Syria. All of the terrible things that were predicted to happen if we did not forcefully intervene are happening anyway. We’ve thought of ourselves as deciding whether other people have to participate in our wars; the day has come in which other people are deciding whether we participate in their wars.

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  21. FireTag on October 13, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    Julia:

    The biggest reason for the polling surge for Romney was that nearly 70 million people saw, unfiltered by a left-liberal media, Romney say for himself what his program was.

    As I said in my previous comment to Mike: social issues are NOT the dominant concern of the Republican party, or Romney would NOT be the nominee.

    There is a political science field called “spatial voting theory” that is a well established discipline for measuring how far “left” or “right” the population perceives a candidate to be from their own positions.

    There is an interesting spatial tracking poll here:

    http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2012/10/11/romneys-pivot-to-the-center-hasnt-worked-but-it-didnt-need-to/

    that shows the population in America finds Obama to be much farther from THEIR center (i.e., more extreme) than they find Romney to be. People regard Romney as extreme only when their information sources are cocooned among the American left. When the left skips the step of persuading people that progressive positions are correct — however certain the left itself is of the correctness — the negative ads only preach to the choir.

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  22. Julia on October 13, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    Firetag-

    Honestly, I do not care much what polls say at this point. We are close enough to the election for me to simply wait until the election to see what the turn out is in swing states, and find out which candidate wins. I think both parties will pull out the last of whatever stops they have in the meantime, and we will wake up the next morning and know who will live in the White House.

    Your theory about listening with or without filters doesn’t really ring true to me. Certainly Romney did a good job looking and sounding like an authority figure, which I would expect from someone who has been a former bishop and stake president. That he could do that, while not telling the truth, that bothers me some, not because Obama didn’t lie as well, but because neither one seemed to have a problem doing it. We don’t pick political leaders based on truth telling though, so speaking lies with authority is presidential, I guess.

    I do think that if Romney is elected, there will be more questions that Mormon Republicans will have to ask themselves than they usually do. If Harry Reid were to become president Mormon Democrats would face the same thing. I truly do not believe that either party represents the values of the LDS faith, and having a Mormon for president will bring that into pretty stark relief, for either side.

    The fact that I can’t go down the platform of either party, and agree with 80% or more of the platform is why I am not a member of either party. I have been working on a project, going through Handbook 2 and trying to match them up, and I find the sane thing when I compare the party platforms to that. I am not halfway through though, so maybe one or the other will align more as I go along. No matter what the out one of the project, I don’t expect it will change any minds about which political party to support, but I have learned that a lot of the positions I grew up thinking were the position of the church have either changed, or were just the opinions of the leader or teacher who taught them.

    I truly am curious about the idea that liberal/Democratic Mormons should leave the church, or not join it. In the US that is at least 20% of the membership, and those percentages would be much higher in Europe. Are there others who feel that way about the non-Republican US members?

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  23. nate on October 13, 2012 at 11:01 PM

    Here are my guesses:

    1) If the Mormon Moment lasts another four years, how will Mitt’s Mormonism impact US and global history.

    Mitt will keep his Mormonism private from his governing, just as he has in his campaigning. In the end, he will be hated more for his capitalist pragmatism than his religion.

    2) How do you think Mitt’s priesthood will impact US and global history?

    He will pray for guidance, and will feel a stupor of thought, so like Saul and the witch of Endor, he will consult his oracles, his economic and policy advisers, and will follow them to certain disaster.

    3) How do you think Mitt’s conservatism will impact US and global history?

    In his governing history, he is a pragmatic centrist, so I don’t think it will have any effect. He is not a true conservative.

    4) How will Ann Romney’s Mormonism impact US and global history?

    Positively. Unlike Mitt, she is real and has the fortunate option of actually being honest, unlike her husband.

    6) How will Mitt’s election impact LDS liberals?

    They will become more vocal in their liberalism to distance themselves from the embarrassing implication everyone has that that being a Mormon means being a Republican.

    7) How will Mitt’s election impact LDS conservatives?

    First, pride, and euphoric distraction from the true nature of the gospel in the world. Then disappointment, delusion, and outright disdain for his inability to be the god he needs to be to keep a singe one of his campaign promises.

    8 ) How will Mitt’s election impact the view of the LDS church abroad?

    Abroad, Romney will not be popular. He will be seen as the American’s incomprehensible rejection of the Messiah Obama, for a fanatic right-winger belonging to a crazy American right-wing church. However,right-wing people abroad may flock to the church.

    9) How will Mitt’s election impact the Missionary Program of the church?

    More people will be interested in learning more, and the church will be more attractive to partisans who like Romney, and less attractive to those who hate him, which will always be about 60% of the population.

    10) How will Mitt’s election impact Zionic endeavors of the church?

    It will be a terrible distraction. Our kingdom is not of this world. Zion starts in the hearts of the people, not in the egotistical aspirations of a maniacally ambitious former stake president.

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  24. nate on October 13, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    Oh, forgot to mention about the priesthood impact. Romney will have no priesthood jurisdiction over the country, and no authority to exercise it in governing the country. Only over his family, the people he home teaches, and anyone under him in a church calling.

    No priesthood impact whatsoever.

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  25. Hawkgrrrl on October 14, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    If he wins, which I both hope and fear (but fear it slightly less than a second term of Obama), here’s what I foresee:
    – an immediate short term boost to the economy as businesses quit holding their collective breath and loosen the purse strings a little (and hold on to jobs that will certainly be cut otherwise). But whether that lasts more than 45 days is totally dependent on hard measures of the economy, so I don’t know that it will stick.
    – church members will follow Mitt to the center again, abandoning the tea party extremes as they see someone who can find better balance. It would be great if this happened across the party, but ignorance is resilient.
    – those who embrace family values and aspire upwardly will see the Romneys as an example of a life they want. These types of people will join the church.

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  26. Jettboy on October 14, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    “So you would like to see 20+% of the church leave?”

    Do you really want me to answer that question? Do I really have to answer it to know my response?

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  27. Jettboy on October 14, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    So far two people have agreed with me that it will attract more social and possibly economic conservative converts. My own belief that no one else has stated is that it will de-convert liberals for the same reasons it will convert conservatives. I mean really, how many liberals have left or will never so much as think of joining over the LDS Church position on gay “marriage” issues? Now imagine if Romney ends up, and what I think he really is, a conservative President? For me that is a good thing. The liberal social values, especially as forced upon us by the government, disgust me.

    I don’t believe Mormonism is liberal or that it will survive for long if it becomes such as defined by politics. If you want that then go join the Church of Christ or formerly called the RLDS Church. The days when one could be a good Mormon and a Democrat ended in the 60s with the social revolutions.

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  28. FireTag on October 14, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Jettboy: #26

    There are always new readers meeting you for the first time. So, yes, you should answer Julia’s question to explain yourself to those who’ve never “met you” online, or provide a link to where you’ve spelled out your position in more detail. I know you weren’t just speaking on impulse.

    Hawkgrrrl:

    I think the business response will be largely determined by what is cobbled together (if anything) in the lame duck session regarding the mutual suicide pill the House and Senate have already taken.

    For those who do NOT know, unless a new law is passed, further major tax increases, defense slowing, and domestic spending slowing AUTOMATICALLY kick in effective Jan 1, 2013. They will have a major austerity (in the EU policy sense) impact BEFORE Romney becomes President. Indeed, with growth well below 2% in the economy now, the Obama Recovery could end in the Obama Recession BEFORE Romney takes office. The Senate Democrats and House Republicans mutually drank this poison because it was so stupid that they just knew it would make people compromise. But here we are, and there is no compromise in sight.

    Nate:

    Your use of “authority” regarding priesthood gets back to my question to Mike S. In my tradition, priesthood is related to “giftedness” more than “command-and-control” (which is why we don’t limit it to males). I can expect Senator Reid and a President Romney to be given gifts for the sake of the nation and world to the extent they are open to the Spirit.

    Indeed, you’ve used the term Messiah in regard to Obama in a couple of threads this week, so I’d expect you think Obama might have more legitimate “priesthood” in this sense than either Reid or Romney. :D

    As an aside, I’m not sure who are the 60% of the people abroad who consider Obama a Messiah who America can reject. Many Muslims are burning Obama in effigy, Europe is too secular to use the term, and China certainly isn’t impressed in following his leadership.

    I will, however, put you down as a “no” vote for Romney. 8)

    Julia:

    The purpose of the post was to use the polls to show that Romney CAN actually be winning, and to explore the implications.

    I suggest the “listening with filters” idea to explain why liberals failed to see that Romney might win. I expect liberals as a group to support the candidate closer to their personal positions, and I expect individuals to do the same (we’ll save tactical and strategic voting, interest group formation, and similar complications for another time).

    So I’ll again repeat the point: whether or not Obama SHOULD lose, Romney is surging because the theory of the Obama campaign was that THEY didn’t have to move to the center because the country would perceive that the country’s values were more like theirs than Romney’s. They skipped persuading the country of the validity of their own progressive political beliefs — a task that is harder with horrible economic conditions continuing.

    As a political matter, Obama is simply 2 years late on pivoting to the center. He should have listened to Bill Clinton, who is a much wiser politician from his own Presidential experience.

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  29. FireTag on October 14, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Jettboy:

    I see you were writing at the same time I was, so I appreciate your response.

    Well, the Community of Christ can use all the liberals it can get. Should I put you in touch with Independence about your doing an ad? :D

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  30. Jettboy on October 14, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Firetag, to be perfectly honest I think that kind of an ad should be done in the heart of Mormon country. Of course with today’s consilatory climate I don’t think the CofC would dare. As I have said before, we could probably swap some members. The problem is the most liberal members just like to be contrarians seeking to destroy from within.

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  31. Julia on October 14, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Firetag –

    I am not sure what in my comments made you think that I wasn’t willing to consider the Romney possibly winning. I am not ready to “call” the election because I think that it is too close to call. No matter who wins the presidential election, I think it is very unlikely that the president will have both houses of congress. no matter who wins, but I could be wrong about that too.

    I don’t believe your theory of who is more centrist, but that is okay. We don’t need to agree on exactly why things happen. Even if you are completely correct, I don’t think it has any bearing on the OP. The questions you ask basically boil down to three basic questions.

    How a Romney presidency will impact the political lives of Mormons, who have a variety of political stances?

    How will a Romney Presidency impact the church, in the US and abroad, and will the image of the church change?

    How will a Romney presidency impact the general population and the perceptions of non-members about Mormons?

    I think that part of this question also has an element of whether the Romneys are “real” Mormons, and that comes from both liberals and conservatives. Liberals don’t see them as representing them personally, much as conservatives don’t see Harry Reid as representing them personally.

    In my Mormon Moment Series today, I take a first look at Mormon Policies on Politics and Conscience. I think that a lot of the answers to your questions will come from how much the church, and its members follow the church’s own policies on political participation, and how much LDS culture plays in to the discussion. I can’t predict that though, so my answers in #17 are about as much as I can really speculate. The flavor of Republican Romney chooses to become, will lead to different answers. If he is closer to George W and his policies, the answers will be very different than if he is closer to the kind of governor he was in Massachusetts.

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  32. Julia on October 14, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Okay Jettboy and Firetag,

    #18, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 is that supposed to be complete enough an explanation to explain why you want 1/5+ of US members, and even more non-US members to leave the church? You believe that people who are not Republicans don’t deserve to have the gospel’s saving ordinances? You think that people qualify for eternal salvation in the voting booth? Or in Oregon, as they fill out their mail in ballot?

    I know FireTag is not a member of the LDS church, and so the Church Handbook of Instructions wouldn’t apply to him, but the Articles of Faith and the Doctrine and Covenants are still part of your canonized scriptures, right? Are D&C 58 and 98, not part of your being Mormon? Do you replace them with the Republican Party Platform?

    Jettboy, are you saying two other comments, on Wheat and Tares, that you think agree with you, is enough for you to be comfortable contradicting scripture and church policies? The Church Handbook 2, makes it clear that political party affiliation is not a litmus test for membership. Honestly, I have never heard this from any general authority or from any church source, and there are LOTS of places that say the exact opposite.

    Certainly Prop 8 was an obvious departure from the long-time church policy of taking stances on political issues of moral importance, but not acting as a political entity. I think that the church took a defensible position, (the announcement came from the General Authorities) based on the doctrine and policies of the church. The General Authorities did not break church policy, although they came right up to the line of the letter of the law. Many Stake Presidents and bishops went farther than simply taking a stand, and that created an atmosphere in many wards and stakes of hostility, that still reverberates in the church.

    All members, as laid out in the Articles and Faith, and the scriptures confirm that all people, members of the church or not, have the right to vote their conscience. Even an announcement from the General Authorities does not mean that members lose that right.

    While Jettboy’s comments seem to encourage members who have a difference of opinion with a particular church stance to leave the church, this has not been the stand of the General Authorities themselves. As far as I know, no one was excommunicated for their votes, or for disagreeing with the church’s stand. Most people who disagreed with the involvement of Prop 8 simply sat out and remained silent, neither adding their voices to those who were agitating on either side. Some were more public, Barbara Young comes to mind, because they were passionate about their loved ones, who were gay, being treated as equal citizens with equal rights.

    There were vocal members of the church who opposed the church’s stand, just as there were members opposed to the church’s ban on non-whites being denied the priesthood. I was a toddler at the time that the ban was lifted, so I don’t remember it, but my grandmother talked about how divided her ward in California was before and after the lifting of the ban. Some members left during the ban, because they simply could not live with a church that discriminated based on the color of someone’s skin. Others left the church once the ban was lifted, because they believed that their racism and bigotry had been righteous. Now that the “cover” for their racism was removed, they left to find a more “true” gospel.

    All of those issues aside. What makes you think that *you* should choose who belongs in Christ’s church? Would you like it if I told you that since there are parts of the Republican platform that directly conflict with the Gospel as laid out in the Church Handbook, and so you must either give up your party affiliation, or leave the church, would you accept it? If the prophet sent out a letter, signed by all of the apostles telling all members who join the Green Party, because God had revealed that it was the party which could most be influenced to bring in ALL of the church doctrine, would you do it?

    You can check out today’s post in my Mormon Moment Series. It is specifically on the Mormon Policies on Politics and Conscience. I finished it a few days ago, but it is very much in line with this particular conversation.

    http://poetrysansonions.blogspot.com/2012/10/mormon-moment-series-part-eight-mormon.html

    FireTag may be right, and I simply don’t know Jettboy and his “stand” on issues well enough, but the information so far does not give me anywhere near enough information to understand why you would casually throw away such a large part of the church membership, simply because they don’t share a political party with you.

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  33. Graceforgrace on October 14, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Firetag,

    I like your article. You had that quote about bearing testimony of Romney…in my stake they are already doing it. I wrote about it here: http://graceforgrace.com/2012/10/11/mormons-feel-god-helped-romney-win-1st-presidential-debate/

    To answer your questions, I think that no matter what Romney does he will have people who love him and people who hate him. If he successfully turns things around as he has done throughout his career, then he’ll win a second term and the Mormon moment will continue. I suspect that if he is a great leader around the world that it will open doors to missionary work for the Church.

    If he offends people at home and abroad then it could have adverse effects for the Church.

    I’d like to see him get in there though because I feel that he is about as spiritual of a politician as we’re going to get!

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  34. Jettboy on October 14, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    “You believe that people who are not Republicans don’t deserve to have the gospel’s saving ordinances?”

    Not don’t deserve, but can’t have without some serious repenting. And its not because they are Republicans, but because they are not conservatives. They reject God and His commandments, many times believing you can legislate against them just because others aren’t members. You say everyone deserves salvation and so I say everyone must follow the same commandments to be saved. Yes, I think what you vote for or against says something about who you are. The Democrats’ vote against God has to mean something about that Party. Bonnie and Clyde might have been heroes to the poor, but they were still bank robbers and murderers.

    There are a ton of people who I don’t trust even if I have no authority to decide if they stay or go. One thing I do want to say is that I take the Scriptures and General Conference seriously. The Handbook of instructions I take as an organizational help, not any salvational authority. Anyone who quotes me the handbook of instructions for personal behavior and beliefs, unless to conduct the affairs of the Church, I ignore. It is only a few steps above Bruce. R. McConkie’s “Mormon Doctrine,” but that is a discussion for another day.

    “If the prophet sent out a letter, signed by all of the apostles telling all members who join the Green Party, because God had revealed that it was the party which could most be influenced to bring in ALL of the church doctrine, would you do it?”

    Yes I would. Then I would do everything within my power to make sure its platform actually does conform. One of the most damaging problems the church has that I see is the Party system. This very conversation shows why. It would be best if the Church said members could vote for who they want, but they had to be members of a particular Party or no Party at all.

    “Some members left during the ban”
    “Others left the church once the ban was lifted”

    Good for them. There was only two choices for both situations; change your beliefs to conform or leave.

    “Even an announcement from the General Authorities does not mean that members lose that right.”

    Actually, it does. If your conscience does not conform to the Gospel and the teachings of God and His gospel then you will be judged accordingly to your blessing or damnation. Besides, there is nothing in the Articles of Faith about the freedom to vote.

    “I have never heard this from any general authority or from any church source”

    Have you ever heard of Elder Ezra Taft Benson for starters? Not saying others haven’t said the opposite, but to say never heard means you haven’t read enough.

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  35. Julia on October 14, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    Jettboy-

    It seems that you would do well to start your own church, given your contempt for those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I will know in the future that I do not need to try to understand you, since you find no need to understand anyone other than yourself.

    I will stick to the messy work of loving and reaching out to those who desire to come unto Christ. Christ did not ask for the perfect to come unto Him. He asked for all of those who had need of the Atonement, and who wanted to live the best lives that they could. He invited us to come and care for each other, love each other, and give all that we have to each other and to Him.

    Christ taught that the greatest commandment is to love God, and that the second is like unto it. I will do my best to love others as much as I love myself, and more if I can possibly do that. I will look for the chances to serve the “least of these” in an attempt to serve my Lord. I will pray for those who lead us, who are as imperfect as all other mortals, and I will uphold their teachings in as many ways as I can.

    I may have missed an obscure reference here or there, but if Ezra Taft Benson had told all church members that they must be Republicans, or conservatives, to maintain their temple blessings, I am sure that I would have heard about it. What I have heard is the call of the prophets (including President Benson) and the Savior to love more than judge, to serve more than take, so give freely of all that I have so that I may freely serve the Lord.

    I have wrestled with angels over the judgments of unrighteous dominion, and I have a stronger and deeper testimony because of it. I have let go of my own judgments, and found the peace of the Savior in allowing those who harm others to have the consequences of their unrighteousness returned to them, but not by my hand. I dare to call on the Savior because I give myself to Him.

    I will not contend with you, because that is not what the Lord would have me do. Instead, I will testify that my life would have no sweetness without the love of an Atoning Christ, and the service that grows from my love for Him. He will ask me what I have done with those who judge or despitefully use me, and I will tell Him that I have loved and prayed for them.

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  36. FireTag on October 14, 2012 at 10:29 PM

    Jettboy: #30

    No, the problem with liberal/conservative members is that they operate on a different moral setting than conservatives/liberals.

    The Designer did it that way on purpose. It’s a software feature, not a bug. We are two types of moral beings who are supposed to work out living together, even if we can never quite understand the worldview of the other. Think of living with liberals as being sealed in a covenant.

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  37. Jettboy on October 14, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    Julia, your response to me shows you really don’t know me. Not that I blame you for not because I am like yourself a set of letters in a false environment. That said, the LDS Church is still true to me and hasn’t come close to crossing any lines to make me question if I should remain or not. If that day comes, and I am not predicting it will, then I will consider your suggestion of starting my own. I too believe that Church exists to heal the spiritually sick, but I question how many want to be healed.

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  38. FireTag on October 14, 2012 at 11:01 PM

    Julia:

    You were not one of the “new readers” for whom I thought Jettboy needed to amplify. Sometimes, I think we need a “previously, on Wheat and Tares” opening to posts every few weeks to catch people up. That’s all. :D

    Jettboy is very rigid in his belief system, and I don’t think he’d consider that anything but virtuous. That’s what God made conservatives for. Liberals have a different function — protection from “friendly fire” casualties that might tear the group apart.

    Me, I’m firmly in the borderlands. As soon as early voting opens, I’ll be voting FOR Romney and AGAINST expansion of casino operations and FOR upholding gay marriage in my state — all on the very same ballot.

    I long ago figured out that I would much rather explain to God why I followed what my conscience told me was right — even if it turned out to be wrong — than why I followed what my conscience told me was wrong, even if it turned out to be right.

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  39. Hedgehog on October 15, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    Firetag #36, 38: “We are two types of moral beings who are supposed to work out living together” and “I would much rather explain to God why I followed what my conscience told me was right — even if it turned out to be wrong — than why I followed what my conscience told me was wrong, even if it turned out to be right.”

    Yes!

    Observing the politics from afar, in Britain, it all looks mad. But I think the general view in Britain and Europe is that the extreme US religious right element is little better than the Taliban, and best kept out of politics altogether.

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  40. Julia on October 15, 2012 at 2:17 AM

    Hedgehog-
    I have a friend from Australia who made a similar comment recently. She wanted to understand some of the comments, left on a blog post that I had linked to. The blog post was slightly left of center, but very much in the middle, for the US. She thought the post was relatively conservative (for her) but the commenters who were ranting against the post left her “flummoxed.” She truly couldn’t believe that anyone who was a general Christian could be “so inhumane as to think that people without a job should not have access to food and healthcare. If lost his job would he think he was lazy and did not deserve food for his family? How could any child not deserve to see a doctor and get medicine if they are sick? Do people really talk about each other that way, as if they don’t know anyone who has needed a help up?” She went on to say that anyone who thought social programs were bad should not be allowed to hold government jobs or be a politician.

    I haven’t thought of it in the context of the Taliban before. I think in the US that would be inflammatory, without very clear definitions of what beliefs they have in common. That said, the rigidity and absolute belief that anyone who disagrees with them has no right to have their opinion heard does have some commonality as absolutists. I wonder how much of the form of thinking and social interactions with society at large are similar, and if there is a high correlation, I wonder if it comes from shared ideology, or just shared mindset.

    Maybe if I am done with the Mormon Moment series after the election, I will have to see what I can dig up.

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  41. Hedgehog on October 15, 2012 at 5:29 AM

    Julia #40 “I think in the US that would be inflammatory”
    Oops! Sorry. Well I was wasn’t intending to be inflammatory (though now you mention it, would this be inflammatory in the sense that criticism of Mohammed – peace be upon him, would be seen as such by many Muslims?).
    Some of things that cause concern here then: the ‘anti-science’ viewpoint, and the way this is feeding into school curricula; attitudes towards women – of which the whole modesty rhetoric (more extreme than FTSOY in some quarters) is only one part; the unwillingness to see the necessity of working with the rest of the world on global issues that will affect all (such as climate); reliance on a rigid and particular interpretation of scripture to back up their views…
    I think the view from here is that the US extreme religious right is constrained only by democracy, and heaven help us all if they get to be in charge and with a large majority.

    That would put me with Hawkgrrrl (#25) in hoping that a Romney win would pull the Republican party away from the extreme wing of the party.

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  42. Jon on October 15, 2012 at 7:34 AM

    I’ve noticed in the comments many assumptions that Mitt is conservative. He’s not conservative. His views are closer to liberal than conservative. Yes, he is republican. Yes, he has said things that pander to conservatives. But his actions and much of his rhetoric is liberal.

    Obamacare – He is on record for only wanting to amend it, not get rid of it. I believe his current slogan is remove and replace. He uses the word remove (or whatever word it is, something similar) first and people, psychological ignore the second part. In his own words I say we’re going to replace Obamacare. Notice that? He has no intention of getting rid of Obamacare.

    Romney is pro war, like Obama.

    Romney is pro anti-civil liberties (i.e., anti 4th amendment, etc.) like Obama.

    We can go on and on but here is a video that shows it from both Obama’s and Romney’s mouths how they are pretty much identical:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWDJEc92d38&feature=player_embedded

    The only reason the left doesn’t like him is because he has the label “republican.” The same reason the right doesn’t like Obama, because he has the label “democrat.”

    So how will Romney effect mormonism and US history?

    War baby, war. More killing of innocents in foreign countries through drone strikes and US government backed terrorism. More children with their arms, jaws, legs, and backs blown off. Of course, that is what Obama is doing too:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=lGuR7FvGMqk#t=42s

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  43. Jettboy on October 15, 2012 at 7:46 AM

    Conservatives in the United States find Europeans, and Australians for good measure, to be Communist tyrants out to destroy freedom and democracy. For us the United States was not some community project, but a declaration of independence from all other governments and government entities. The idea is that I help who I want to help or I help no one at my own discretion and not by force of taxes or force. Heard of the Tea Party leading to the Revolutionary War anyone? Americans fought for and formed a country for a reason; to determine their own destiny.

    The religious right in the United States, and some Mormons included, consider Europeans godless anti-Christs bent on world domination right out of the book of Revelation. They consider those outside of the country as sympathetic of the Taliban; so right back at you. These reasons are why so many want to see the United Nations moved out of New York and let France have it, after the U.S. withdraws. It stands as a rebuke to the sovereignty of the U.S. and enshrinement of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

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  44. Hedgehog on October 15, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    #43. World dominion eh! No doubt you find an incredible irony in the awards of the Nobel peace prize to Obama, and now to the EU. But then again, you probably don’t care what the Nobel committee choose to do.
    The US is not fighting in Afghanistan on its own. There have been plenty of British losses out there too. Definitely NOT sympathetic to the Taliban. Britain pretty often finds itself having to bridge the gap between Europe and the US, thus preventing a total breakdown in relations between Europe and the US, including supporting the US in Iraq. It’s not a comfortable place to be.
    But this is a global world, what happens in one country, particularly one as large and powerful as the US affects all of us. Maybe you’d like to go back to the pre-technological, pre-industrial, pre-agricultural revolution bronze age times of the OT. The world isn’t like that any more. We have to get along, and any sign of extremism in a country as large, as powerful as the US makes the rest of us very nervous indeed.

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  45. Frank Pellett on October 15, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    With Ann’s MS, I wonder what happen if she dies while Mitt is in office. Will we be thrown into discussions on polygamy?

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  46. FireTag on October 15, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Hedgehog, Jettboy, and Jon:

    It would be very interesting to do the kind of spatial voting study I linked in #21 with perceptions of the “USA” and “Europe” replacing perceptions of Romney and Obama. People have difficulty appreciating how differently other people perceive the world than they do, so it helps to anchor terms of left, right, extremism, or moderation in some kind of population control.

    Neither Jettboy nor Jon would likely call themselves extremely conservative on such a mapping, but the population as a whole might disagree. Similarly, I suspect that the US population, given a sample of Tory positions unattached to the NAME Conservative Party, would put even the Tories to the left of US Dems.

    So, be aware of how reports filtered through a national media may distort the meaning of extreme. Our media elites are far more European in their outlook than are Americans, but we actually feed our hungry and get people medical care quite effectively. For that matter, despite all our antagonism with the Muslim world, the US actually INCREASED our grain exports to IRAN last year, so we even feed the people who are our enemies.

    Maybe we’re not extreme, just bi-polar. :D

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  47. Julia on October 15, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    #41 & 44- I wasn’t disagreeing with you, just being prophetic I guess. ;-)

    As a teenager, when the first gulf war was happening, and I saw my fellow students become hooked on watching the CNN coverage that was played continually on televisions throughout the school, I started looking at the world differently. Or, maybe I started noticing that others thought differently than I did. I am not sure anymore.

    I realized that I was watching a country being bombed, families being killed and a country being blown up, and I could imagine what it would feel like to have little understanding of global politics and no idea why my city was being blown up around me. I had to choke back tears everytime I saw tanks rolling through towns that seemed about the size of my hometown. I thought about all the girls and boys who were my age, and whose education was not just being interrupted by television images, but who could not leave their houses and be sure there would be a house to come home to.

    I did not see the same world, on that tv screen, that my classmates did. They saw a conquering army, righteously destroying a nation that had outrageously ticked the US off. They saw pilot heroes, dropping bombs on key strategic points. They saw a video game, where only the bad guys got killed. They saw diplomacy as weak, and military action as justified. They were in no danger themselves, but they saw the Iraqis as stupid for not living somewhere “advanced,” where they could be free.

    Even in seminary I found that there were very few people who could put themselves in the positions of others. “But for the grace of God go I” was not about *us* by any means. We deserved to be Americans because we were/are better than anyone else. America was always the hero, the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, the Jews in the Old Testament, Christ and his disciples in the New Testament, with no room to admit that all of those groups had faults that led to their downfalls, mainly pride.

    Even realizing the pride that is the biggest affliction of my country and my church, I can’t just leave and change who I am. That doesn’t mean I don’t often wish that I had the chance to live somewhere else. I try to build bridges where I can, but it takes someone who wants to build with you, to make it work. Sadly, more and more, even my fellow citizens see bridges with other Americans, whose ideology is not theirs, to be dangerous. Sigh.

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  48. Douglas on October 15, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    As far as how the Lord’s work, the political aspirations, successes, and failures of one Willard Mitt Romney don’t matter, nor, in event he becomes our 45th President, the perceived successes, or lack thereof, of his administration, matter. And that is what matters.
    As for the creepy speculation of what if Sister Romney were to pass on during her husband’s tenure…highly unlikely. Her prognosis is of a normal life expectancy AFAIK. Both Ann and Mitt, due to clean living and genetics, should well outlive even a two-term Romney presidency, where he’d be 74 and Ann would be 72…hardly ready for the undertaker!

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  49. Hedgehog on October 15, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Julia #47 “I wasn’t disagreeing with you”
    Not to fret Julia, I did get that :-), but maybe it didn’t come across in my comments. Sorry.
    I had been enjoying your efforts in trying to introduce the outside perspective, and leapt straight in.

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  50. John Mansfield on October 15, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    9) How will Mitt’s election impact the Missionary Program of the church?

    There’s a big world out there where the word Mormon scarcely means anything at all. A Mormon U.S. President will raise worldwide awareness of Mormons to the level of 1994 awareness of Arkansas; still very low, but far higher than it was previously. I suspect that the chance that Romney will win next month was on some level considered when the LDS Church announced last week a short-term surge in the number of missionaries going out in 2013.

    10) How will Mitt’s election impact Zionic endeavors of the church?

    In those places where LDS number fewer than 1 in 1,000, a Mormon in the White House may help bolster a sense that the LDS Church is more substantial than the sparse, scattered branches at hand.

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  51. Julia on October 15, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    #49-

    I wish we (Americans) had more perspectives from outside of the US, to give a better mirror of how our actions look to the world. One of my Mormon Moments posts that is in process is about that lack of mirror.

    Hedgehog, if you would be interested in co-authoring the post, or post posting in the series, I would love to discuss it. You can email me at findingmywaysoftly @gmail

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  52. FireTag on October 15, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    Julia:

    Common process of awakening, even if the war that triggers it changes.

    My first introduction to the Gulf War was NOT in the headline coverage of the actual coalition invasion of Iraq, or even with the coverage of the rush to shore up Saudi Arabia before Iraq realized they didn’t have to stop with seizing Kuwait. It was a few weeks before that when I saw buried in a one-paragraph story at the back of the A Section of the Washington paper that the US Ambassador to Iraq had told Saddam that the US considered the Iraqi dispute over the border with Kuwait as outside US concern.

    I immediately said some un-priesthoodly things, because I remembered that it was a similar declaration 50 years earlier that South Korea was outside the US defense perimeter which led North Korea to believe the US would not resist its invasion of the south.

    There is probably a post or two in how our ability to view our own killing, but not the killing that goes on in the absence of a free press, influences the power balance in combat. Certainly, that is a big issue as far back as View Nam / Cambodia.

    It’s why I pay a lot of attention to under-the-radar reports about what militaries are actually doing. Governments are ALWAYS signalling each other or misdirecting each other through military actions. And right now, both sides in the Mideast are signalling escalation. At most, one, is bluffing, and the press needs to be paying attention NOW, not AFTER the missile strikes become too numerous to pretend anymore that the “tide of war is receding”.

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  53. Hedgehog on October 16, 2012 at 2:52 AM

    Julia #47, 51
    Thanks for the invite, I’ll ponder on that and get back to you. I popped over to the site and read the other posts in the series, didn’t have time to visit the links though. I love the way you seem to draw all the threads together.

    Having more time to respond to your longer comment on your experience of the Iraq war: I’m very much with you on that. Everyone of us on this planet is a child of God, and should be accorded respect. In every war there is ‘unavoidable collateral damage’ (I hate that phrase), who ought to be seen as real people, with real families, real concerns, real lives, now cut short. Every one us should feel the pain of that.

    On the last incursion into Iraq from my perspective: there was an interesting view only briefly expressed in Britain during the US/Europe/UN negotiations, before the conflict began and the ‘nuclear threat’ propaganda v. ‘this war is evil’ filled the airwaves. And the view was this: that whatever any of us said the US would go it alone if that was the only option, that it would be of greater good if they didn’t ‘feel isolated’ and would be better all round if it looked like there was at least a semblance of international backing for their actions. So, against all the odds, against the wishes of the majority population, Britain managed to push support of the US through parliament, not because we believed in the nuclear threat, but because, so it seems to me, US paranoia was deemed the greater danger at the time.

    Firetag #52
    Interesting comments.

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  54. FireTag on October 16, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    General irony alert before the second debate: As of this afternoon, Obama’s vote in the RCP average is EXACTLY 47.0%.

    Hedgehog:

    Good comment. The choice ACTUALLY presented to governments often takes the form of “what do we do given that country X is probably going to do so and so?” It is good to see that you appreciate this. Americans are used to thinking that WE are the deciders, but the choice will probably take a similar form for us this time as it did before for others. Not intervening or intervening are both routes to hell on earth. Who do you let die and who do you make die? Each country (and individual) has to make decisions which, in their turn draw in others to the same decision-point.

    Europe would be MUCH safer if it hadn’t messed with a common currency. That can’t be fixed now with anything less than a TARDIS, and its economic instability focuses instability on its African and MidEastern trading partners. The inability to end the slump in the US or free North American energy production from ties to the Gulf does the same. Vicious feedback loops abound.

    And by the way, just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean that no one is actually trying to kill me. :D

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  55. Steve on October 16, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    I never thought I’d say this, but I actually agree with Jettboy. I read a study somewhere that says that people generally choose their religion based on their politics, not the other way around. We lost quite a few political liberals during Prop 8. Also, the church seems to be less about theology these days than ideology. Obedience to authority, chastity, and modesty are the trump leading issues these days. You hardly ever hear any talk about the three degrees of glory, the attributes of God, or even the atonement.

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  56. Hedgehog on October 17, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    FireTag #54
    Yeah. None of us exist in a vacuum in this world, it’s all ‘if this.. then that..’. Very little is straightforward. I’m only recently getting to grips with 20th century history, I didn’t get that far at school (pre-national curriculum days), and only this year discovered that Britain was involved in the Korean War (mentioned in your #52) too, suffering severe losses in some areas.

    The Euro currency was certainly an idealistic venture. Why anyone would expect it to work when the countries involved had so very different monetary policies is beyond me, and I’m so glad Britain stayed out. However I don’t think blame can be laid entirely at the door of all the EU governments involved, the financial crash triggered in large parts by US banks was also a contributory factor. Lets compare Greece and Spain: Greece, was dishonest about its financial position when it joined the currency, gross misrepresentation really, and there is some evidence, so I gather, that the EU knew they weren’t being entirely honest, but didn’t think the true situation was as bad as it turned out to be and turned a blind eye… Many countries, including Greece (and Germany interestingly) didn’t keep strictly to the financial rules that had been agreed re. government borrowing etc. for membership of the currency. Spain on the other hand did keep to the rules, they are in such dire straits now because their banks were particularly affected by the financial fallout, and the Spanish government resources have been drained because they were required to shore up those banks. That’s what I get from what I’ve read. No doubt there’ll be a lot I missed too. It seems that maybe in the US you’re inclined to point at the Euro as being to blame for the current unstable climate, whilst in Europe we’re inclined to point at the behaviour of the US financial markets? I do think personally, both have contributed, and insofar as nations have for years and years found it to be perfectly reasonable to run their budgets at a deficit (both the US and in Europe), borrowing, borrowing, borrowing, then in the final analysis we all have shoulder some of the blame. Feedback loops all the way, I agree.

    On paranoia: Seems to me it can sometimes become self-fulfilling prophecy. Someone appears kind of edgy and trigger-happy, and anyone else around might not find it unreasonable to assume they’re at greater risk from that someone. :-)

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  57. FireTag on October 17, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Steve:

    Hmmm. That observation about the switch from emphasizing the hereafter to the here-and-now is exactly the pattern that happened in the RLDS/CofChrist tradition. There, of course, the liberals dominated the conservatives, at least in North America.

    Hedgehog:

    I trace the common cause of the financial problems in BOTH the European Union and in the US to the fact that it is easier for politicians to buy voters with carrots and save the sticks for non-voters. The common response that turns the problem into disaster (even if through third-party feedback loops) is that the easiest solutions usually involve the powerful losing superior positions of power, and so denial of the existence of the problem persists until the painless solutions for society as a whole are no longer viable. (Here I do not think there is a meaningful distinction between the economically and the politically powerful.)

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  58. Hedgehog on October 18, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    FireTag #57,
    All self-interest in the end then. Though I do think the Euro currency ‘experiment’ was also shot through with idealist intention, not generally carried through in practice after the event (on account of that self-interest)…

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  59. FireTag on October 18, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Hedgehog:

    Agreed.

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  60. Mehdi on November 7, 2012 at 4:52 AM

    Thanks Brooke! Until I wrote this post I hadn’t taken the time to itemize how we spend our time as chrcuh members it’s become such a habit.Serving others and being an active member of such an organized community helps keep my eyes looking out instead of inward. My paternal grandpa used to quote Confucius often and the one I remember most is Man wrapped up in self make small package. I think all people (regardless of religious affiliation) would agree our world would be a better place if everyone tried harder to look out for someone else.

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