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Cruelty and Suffering

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There's this statistic I encounter every so often about how conservatives donate so much more money to charity than progressives. I guess it must be true since there's supposedly hard data to back it up, but I wonder how much religion pays a role. After all, conservatives tend to be more religious than liberals, and donations to churches count as tax-deductible charitable contributions. Mormons, for instance, are expected to donate 10% of their income to the church. That's a lot of charity.

That's a lot of charity even for me personally, considering that I started paying tithing before I turned eight. When I was a poor college student with a part-time job, after I wrote that big monthly check the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I didn't feel like I had a lot of money left over to give to other organizations.

When I quit going to church and could give specific amounts to specific groups, I found that I favored organizations that took care of animals. But instead of saying, "Well, I care a lot about animal welfare, so I'm going to give money to groups dedicated to that," it was was more like I figured out that I cared a lot about animals because I preferred donating to the Humane Society over writing a check to the Red Cross. It's not like I never give money to organizations dedicated to taking care of people; I just give more to groups focused on animals.

MHP: About Faith

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I became a fan of Melissa Harris-Perry thanks to her appearances on the Rachel Maddow Show, but it never occurred to me to google her until she mentioned that her ancestors were Mormon polygamists, a fact that influenced but did not determine her ideas about a number of things, including faith. I think I would have been moved by her statement on faith posted below even without knowing that, but it certainly didn't hurt my response to be aware of that.

This is the kind of faith I want to have, btw.

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Watch this, watch this, watch this. It's by my friend Troy, and it gave me hope at a time when I find it frankly hard to come by. On top of which I laughed; I cried; it was better than Cats.

As Troy says:

Why is this worthwhile, for activists to engage faith communities? Imagine if other progressive groups in Utah were as effective in engaging the Church as the gays? What if Mormons were having Sunday school lessons on environmental stewardship? What if Mormon magazines shared stories about the economic reasons why Latinos migrate to our country illegally? What is the Church used their influence to speak out against war and imperialism with the same passion that they spoke out against gay marriage? Utah would be a very different state. Idaho and Arizona, which also have large Mormon populations, would also become very different states.
It may seem like an impossible goal, but why not empower and embolden those sympathetic voices within the Church to stand for justice as part of their religious convictions?

Originally posted at States of Devotion, a terrific new "interactive forum for news, analysis and opinion-making about religion and politics in the Americas."

Very Bad Indeed

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I have been suffering pretty severe anxiety all week, and it's the government's fault.

I'm scared.

This morning I got up and did my standard morning routine of checking out the news. All week I've been hooked on Rachel Maddow's analysis of the seemingly inevitable government shutdown. This clip from last night's show had me trembling and nauseated before it was even over:

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Then I read this op-ed by Paul Krugman. (I'm going to make sure I save enough of my free visits to the NYTimes now that they've created a paywall that I can still read everything Krugman writes.) And by the end of it I thought I would lose my breakfast.

I posted a link to Krugman's piece on FB, then posted this as my status:

Holly wonders how much worse it can get and fears the answer is "A LOT."

Yeah. I think things can get Very Bad Indeed.

And then I added a couple of comments:

I don't think there's actually such a thing as "rock bottom," at least not in any meaningful way. Unless you're being tortured by someone whose end goal is to kill you, things can always be more unendurably horrible than they already are.


that's the kind of happy person I've always been. FYI.

Anyone have anything good happen this week?

eta: OK, here's one good thing in my life: I just got a new shower head. It's shiny and free of calcium and supported by a nice high neck so my tall house guests can shower without ducking.

That's one good thing about me: at the same time I excel at envisioning worst-case scenarios, I'm also super good at milking very small pleasures for all they're worth.

And now I'm going to go drink some warm milk, which is about the only thing I'm able to consume right now.

A Good Mormon Is a Good Socialist


check out this terrific SL Tribune op-ed by my friend Troy. Entitled The Case for Book of Mormon Socialism, it argues cogently that LDS scripture clearly roots ethics and righteousness in socialism, and that the apparent "de facto 14th Article of Faith" so many members believe in--namely, "the unquestioned virtue of unregulated capitalism"--is actually antithetical to what LDS scripture really teaches.

Very good stuff. Let's hope it actually sinks in.

Rubbing Salt in Conservative Wounds

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Check out this fabulous piece in the new issue of OUT, by Dustin Lance Black about queer activism in SLC. And then, if you haven't already, check out Queer Gnosis, the blog by my friend Troy, who is discussed (and photographed) in the essay.

Watch This, and Then Pray Obama Watches It Too

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I would say that watching this made me feel sick, but illness is too risky these days, given what's going on.

Loss, Made Concrete, in Concrete


Here's a link I found way back in July or August on a friend's Facebook page. I saved it to blog about and look how long it has taken me... It seems appropriate to post the link after yesterday's entry on loss, since these images of the Ruin of Detroit all depict great loss. They are gorgeous photographs of tragic and appalling ugliness and waste. I personally HATE tragic and appalling ugliness and waste--I mean, it really, really upsets me.

I have never been anywhere in Detroit except the airport, but I flew in and out of it enough times to thoroughly assimilate the fact that "Detroit is in the eastern time zone" (I could even understand the Chinese version of that announcement) and so developed an affection for the city. Plus it's my friend Jim's hometown. Plus, it became the Motor City only because my old home of Erie turned down Henry Ford's request to build an automobile factory there.

See, Henry Ford wanted to build his factory in a port city very close to the ports of Buffalo and the steel mills of Pittsburgh. And there happens to be a port city almost midway between Buffalo and Pittsburgh, which is--that's right--Erie.

But Erie city fathers told Mr. Ford, no, we don't want your nasty factory. Take it some place else. So he went to the port city on the other side of Lake Erie, which was Detroit.

Erie is solidly in the rust belt and has plenty of urban decay, but it's nothing like Detroit. So perhaps the decision of Erie's city fathers, which seemed very foolish long about 1950, was actually wise in the long run.

What She Said

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see also this really great piece by Deborah Orr, "Is feminism really killing the family?" Short answer: no.

Just a Normal Family

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watch both parts.


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