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Get Chaste



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Dawn Eden has a clever YouTube tease — with a little help from Bob Dylan — for her new book.

RE: Mormo-Grams



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Well, Jonah, one of your colleagues may have gotten an LDS 101 care package or two this fall. No idea who that might be. (Hint: She’s Catholic and in New York.) I’m looking forward to scoring some Mormon Tabernacle Choir tickets for Christmas. 

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So the Lollipop League Wasn’t Twisted Enough for You?



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The Sci-Fi Channel, home of a certain show about humans and robots at war that I pledged not to name for another few weeks, is producing a “psychedelic, twisted and bizarre” version of — wait for it — The Wizard of Oz. What follows is from Variety (no link, sorry). It is not a joke: “Our goal is to take “Wizard of Oz” to the next level and make it relevant, modern and fresh to a new generation,’ said Dave Howe, general manager of Sci Fi Channel….Using adjectives such as psychedelic, twisted and bizarre to describe ‘Tin Man,’ Sci Fi said the mini turns Dorothy into a young woman named DG, who finds herself plunged into a netherworld called the Outer Zone. Other celebrated characters are reimagined in ‘Tin Man’: the cowardly lion as a wolverine-like creature without backbone, the wicked witch as a sorceress called Azkadellia and the wizard as a larger-than-life figure called the Mystic Man.”

First Wicked, now this. Auntie Em! Auntie Em!

Web Briefing: October 2, 2014

Mormo-Grams



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I left the computer last night around 5:15 PM or so. I come back this morning to discover that my email box  had filled up with email about Mormonism a short while later. I like to think I’m one of the few people out there who can say that. Anyway, if you sent me email last night and it bounced back. My apologies. It’s safe to send now.

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Who Is Margaret Spellings?



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A secretary of education who thinks it’s cute to mock the intelligence of a conservative former vice president. (Please answer in the form of a question.)

Here Lies Margaret Spellings ... And Why Not?



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Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings may think that she avoided embarrassing herself on Jeopardy. But I’m not so sure:

WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Margaret Spellings says she studied hard to prepare for Tuesday night’s airing of “Celebrity Jeopardy!”

“I didn’t want to be the education secretary who didn’t know how to spell potato,” Spellings joked, describing how she read books and sought advice from a former show contender and her daughters.

In the end, Spellings said she thinks the effort was worth it. She came in second behind the actor Michael McKean, best known for his role as ‘Lenny’ on the television show “Laverne and Shirley” and for the movie “This Is Spinal Tap.”

Folks, she lost to David St. Hubbins!

It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.

On My Mind



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I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep, but insomnia struck and I’ve been wide awake. … Why doesn’t Taco Bell have a breakfast menu? From a marketing standpoint, why convince Americans that they need to eat a “fourth meal” when you don’t even offer them a first meal? … I would love to see the old Batman TV series, starring Adam West, come out on DVD. … The album I most want to hear right now: Songs for Christmas, by Sufjan Stevens. … A story for this weekend: “Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen,” a short story by O. Henry. It’s not “The Gift of the Magi,” but what is? It’s a decent-enough tale, delightfully brief, and with a twist at the end.

La-Z-Y Boy Saves!



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SENDING MESSAGES



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I’m back from the NR cruise and I have to say it was delightful to be in such good company — both the illustrious panelists and the wonderful NR readers. One cruiser called it — aptly — an intellectual feast.

I’m now trying to catch up on all the work and reading I didn’t get done while aboard ship (and while flying down zip lines in the rain forests near Puerto Vallarta, kayaking and snorkeling off Cabo San Lucas and exploring the back streets of Mazatlan with Mark Steyn — whose new book, America Alone, is indeed brilliant; yes I did read something on the ship).

So what do I find in my inbox? An epilogue to the saga of Alberto Fernandez, the State Department public-affairs officer who apologized last month after telling Al Jazeera that the U.S. had shown “arrogance” and “stupidity” in Iraq.

Fernandez, it seems, has been selected for the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy by Tufts University for his “integrity, courage, [and] sensitivity.” He receives a certificate signed by Secretary Condoleezza Rice and $10,000 in cash.

I’ve heard from friends that Fernandez is a good guy and I have no reason to doubt it. But the fact is if a PR company in the private sector treated its clients the way many of our Foreign Service Officers treat their most important client (the POTUS) theyd be filing Chapter 11.

A little more here.

Andy McCarthy wrote for NRO about Fernandez here.

SAT WORD!



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Held up in the office, I, for some unknown reason, wound up with ABC on. The American Music Awards are on (and awful). Mario Lopez introduced Nelly Furtado with: “She’s made promiscuous a household word.” Really?

“Is Mormonism Christian?”



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The best thing I’ve read on the subject–and I’ve been reading up on it–is this essay-review by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus.

Weighing in On Our Topic of the Day, From Iraq



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K-Lo, Greetings from a long time NR subscriber, Army officer (currently in Iraq), physician and Mormon. If you’re interested in an intelligent discussion of the differences between evangelicals and Mormons, I highly recommend “How Wide the Divide?: A Mormon & an Evangelical in Conversation by Craig L. Blomberg, Stephen E. Robinson.  It should be required reading for anyone interested in how Evangelicals and Latter-day Saints perceive each other. Some of the recent e-mail posts on The Corner give me flashbacks to my missionary days where time after time well-meaning persons “proved” to me that Mormons were not…well, Evangelical Christians.  I agree. 

Okay, One More



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Not from a Mormon (and semi-representative):

Even though you’re not going to print this, it’s ridiculous to compare a dogmatic doctrine of transubstantiation (in which the underlying form of an object changes but its appearance (accident) does not ) to misrepresentations of the historical record found in the Book of Mormon.  Joseph Smith read the Book of Mormon from a hat, and contrived not only implausible but actually falsifiable historical theories about Christ’s travel (and that of certain “tribes”).

Keep up the rah-rah for Romney, but please don’t try to insult people’s intelligence by non sequitur responses in the form of reader emails.  The fact is there was a Pontius Pilate, a Barrabas, a Sanhedrin, and a Roman occupation of the Holy Land around 1 AD, thereabouts and thereafter.  However, there is no evidence, in DNA or otherwise, of a magical migration of Jews to the New World.  This is in fact fasifiable  and not the subject of “faith.”  To believe it is not faith, but willful ignorance, much as believing the earth is 6000 years old (a teaching which we Catholics reject because our reason forces us to that conclusion).  DNA testing has proven this to be so.

I like every Mormon I’ve ever met.  Great folks.  But in the willful disregard of scientific proof, they rank up there with any other true cult in forcing a believer into a scientifically indefesible position. 

Last Mormon E-mail of the Day, From a Mormon



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I don’t want to beat the subject to death, either, but perhaps as a Mormon I should say a few things, partly in our defense and partly to set things straight.1.  The term “Mormon” isn’t like “colored,” but it’s probably headed that way.  The anti-Mormon crowd uses it sneeringly, and so it is becoming associated with them.  However, for now most Mormons don’t take offense at the term, although they do generally prefer “LDS.”2.  On Temples: Yes, only members of the Church in good standing can enter.  One must be interviewed by a Bishop and a Stake President (analogous to a Catholic Priest and Bishop) in order to confirm that status.  This isn’t very different than things done by other religions: in the Jewish Temple, for example, only certain men were allowed to enter.  Of course, we have many meetinghouses that we regularly use for meetings and activities and anyone is welcome there; Temples are relatively few in number and are not used for general meetings.3.  On Mormon “garments” (underwear): These are very analogous to the vestments worn by priests and ministers in other churches.  We have a lay priesthood, not a paid clergy, so members of our priesthood work at jobs like any other person, and wearing symbolic clothing is not always practical.  We count among our members farmers and lawyers, doctors and salesmen, bus drivers and educators.  If we wore sacred symbolic clothing on the outside we would be thought strange for having everyone dress the same; we don’t mind being thought strange, but you can see that however we did it, people would make fun.  The garments represent our covenants with God; they’re reminders that we should try to be obedient to Him and that He is our Creator and Father.  Many people of many faiths wear reminders of one sort or another, from crosses on chains to religious medallions to special aprons to a particular style of dress.  Some religious people wear their hair in particular ways.  By wearing such garments under our clothing, however, we are not trying to hide our faith.  On the contrary, we are strongly encouraged and taught to share our message openly and freely; I think everyone knows enough about us to know that we generally do just that.4.  On being a “loony” religion: Yes, there are parts of our religion that must be taken on faith.  K-Lo, your comment about transubstantiation (in which we do not believe) is perfect.  I think any religion, including any Christian religion, requires faith in one way or another.  In fact, believing that Christ rose from the dead on the third day (which we do believe) and that this was not a story started by followers after His death requires faith.  Can anyone prove that the Bible is the inerrant word of God?  Or that Christ was born of a virgin mother?  These beliefs must appear “loony” to outsiders, too.  “Loony” is very much in the eye of the beholder.I’m not trying to convert anyone here, but such comments and questions are going to come up more often if Romney runs.  Frankly, such a thing makes many of us nervous as we know that many of our most sacred beliefs will be ridiculed.  We do remember lots of anti-Mormon persecution and we still experience some of it today, although now it’s not nearly as bad as when the governor of Missouri issued an “Extermination Order” against us, saying that the Mormons should either be expelled from the State or exterminated.

Christian “Data”



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Fifteen-some years of Catholic schooling and they always left out the hard evidence for Transubstantiation.

Squeaking By



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My TR guy is coming up with squeaky-voice references from all over.

“Mr. Derbyshire—Here are some more learned references:

“‘Once the Assembly was under way, it did not take long before Teddy learned how to be heard. In his high-pitched voice, he would yell, “Mister Spee-kar, Mister Spee-kar.” If the speaker refused to acknowledge him, Teddy would march up and down the aisles until he was recognized.’ — Theodore Roosevelt: An American Original by Rooby Janet Benge, Geoff Benge.

“‘With his city manners, spectacles, thin frame, and high-pitched voice, he sometimes has a difficult time getting the frontiersmen to take him seriously.’ — Theodore Roosevelt by Geoffrey M. Horn.”

[Derb]  So maybe Gore Vidal does know what he’s talking about… for once.

PrimeTime Cabinet



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U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings will be the first ever Cabinet Member to participate in Celebrity Jeopardy tonight at 7:30 p.m. on ABC

Murder By Numbers



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Fascinating primer on the assasination in Lebanon and what it means from Michael Totten.

Mormons



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I do get a not insignificant amount of email along these lines as well, FWIW:

Mr. Goldberg,  Long time reader, but I rarely write. I’m an evangelical in the midwest (Kansas City).  I’m well-educated, a partner in a big law firm, and highly active in a large evangelical church.  Not saying any of that to boast, but to assure you I’m not a nut. Here’s the problem with Mormonism.  In the serious evangelical world, it is seen as a cult.   If you carefully study what Mormons believe, it might appear to be absolutely loony.  They believe in the absolute truth of thousands of historical data points for which there is absolutely zero historical, archeological, or other evidence except that it’s written in the Book of Mormon.  Compare that with Christianity, for which there are literally thousands of confirming authorities and data.   The case can be made that it is only slightly less bizarre than Scientologist.  If Romney were a Scientologist, would anyone at NRO or anywhere else be taking him seriously?  I think not.  This is not just an offshoot of Christianity.  It is loony-tunes religion. Study up on what the Mormons believe to be absolute truth, and then ask yourself if you can place a man who would believe such things in the Oval Office. I haven’t voted for a Democrat for any office in over 20 years.  But I’ll have big problems pulling a lever for Romney, notwithstanding the fact that I agree with him on 90+% of the issues.   Best regards.  I love your work and the whole NRO website.

And:

I’m an avid skier, and from that have many LDS friends and acquaintances in Utah.  (BTW – they don’t say Mormon, but LDS.  Mormon is sort of like “colored” in our parents’ day, which was meant to be polite but was taken as less than complimentary.)   

One day, someone’s going to ask Romney about his “undergarments”, and the symbols on the undergarments, and he’ll have to give them this blank stare, because they’re not allowed to discuss them with or describe them to you.

Someone’s going to note that you can’t even set foot in the Temple if you’re not LDS in good standing (my friend had the honor of being married in the Temple in Salt Lake, but his father couldn’t attend the service because, although born LDS, Dad was not in good standing).

There are lots of other little things like that.  It’s all going to come across all weird and cult-ish.  It’s not, and I have a lot of respect for the religion and the culture and the lifestyle (a cousin is in the process of conversion to the LDS – - Jewish Levis who convert are automatically Bishops without counsel – - another long story).  But, it’s all going to look very Moonie.

 

I Won’t Keep the Mormon-Evangelical Thread Going On for Too Long



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But this e-mail reflects a ‘tude I’m increasinly hearing. Now part of it is the absence of too many options. But part of it is –obviously, as this e-mailer can cite examples – being impressed with this candidate in particular:

I am an Evangelical married to a Mormon.  That was without a doubt, the best decision I have ever made in my life.I can tell you (as an Evangelical who will not be converting to LDS) that Romney is without a doubt, the best candidate for President that we have had since Ronald Reagan.  I sincerely believe that.  You need only sit there and listen to Mitt speak for just five minutes and you understand the intelligence and exactness of detail that he applies to everything he has done as Governor of Massachusetts.  The way he handled the Turnpike Incident (and the way he used a whiteboard in his Press Conferences to describe what was to be done to fix the problem) tells me that this man is able to understand a fairly new problem, quickly, and come to a resolution on fixing the problem by using his own understanding.  He doesn’t need to consult his “council” and have another person speak on his behalf.  He is perfectly capable of understanding the problem, and willing to illustrate his understanding to the electorate.That is a President.The “Mormon Thing” hurting him with Evangelicals is not a problem.  This is a very small minority of Evangelicals who actually believe that they are electing a President to be the spiritual leader of the country.  For that small minority of people, their hang-up with Romney is “Joseph Smith.”  They see “Smith” NOT as Mormons see him (a prophet) but instead, as a criminal.  Therefore, this very small minority of Evangelicals will hold Romney accountable in the voting booth during the primaries, for his belief that Smith (a criminal to Evangelicals) was a “Prophet of God” to Romney.  They will then vote for McCain.  But this conflict/turn-off will ONLY be an issue for this small number of Evangelicals during the Primary.

If (as I suspect) Romney gets the nomination, then those Evangelicals who are disgusted by Joseph Smith, will still hold their nose and vote for Romney in the general election, because seeing Hillary Clinton as President is something that they find even more distasteful.   

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