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Yes or No to the Inauguration?

Deseret News photo praising Mormon Missionaries for assisting the Nazi basketball team

Deseret News photo praising Mormon Missionaries for assisting the Nazi basketball team

On Dec 22, the LDS Newsroom announced that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has agreed to sing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.  This has drawn fierce criticism from many, and the Deseret News reported that reactions were mixed to the announcement.  Many of my friends on Facebook were appalled at the announcement.  One friend said that he would not have been surprised if the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would have accepted an invitation from the Third Reich, or Vladimir Putin.  That might not be far from the truth.  Morgan Deane noted that J Reuben Clark of the First Presidency supported the Nazi regime, and I wrote that Clark refused to help Jews emigrate from Germany.  There was even a Deseret News article praising Mormon Missionaries working with the Nazi basketball team in preparation for the Olympics.

Some people are taking a stand against Trump’s bigoted, racist, and sexist comments.   Continue Reading »


No Crying He Makes? Re-examining Perfection

Verse 3 in “Away in a Manger”:

Do you really believe the infant Jesus never cried?

Do you really believe the infant Jesus never cried?

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

Does anyone seriously believe that the baby Jesus never cried?  I mean the first thing every new parent wants to hear is a crying baby emerging from the womb.  It indicates health.  Setting that aside, I’m sure Jesus cried, like every infant does, when he was hungry and needed food.  For that matter, if Jesus was human, didn’t he fall and skin his knee as a toddler.  Did he cry then? Continue Reading »

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Christmas Celebration and Sadness

Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration of the Savior’s birth.  For many, however, it can be a time of depression and sadness.  My wife likes to go to Festival of Trees every year to view the decorations, and even donated a tree last year.  Money raised from the festival goes to Primary Children’s Hospital to support families in need.  I wouldn’t choose to go, but I go because my wife likes to go.  You will see trees dedicated to the Miami Dolphins, Star Wars, Legos, BYU, Utah, and many other themes people enjoy.  Of course, I enjoy these kinds of trees. Continue Reading »


What Explains Trump support in Utah?

MaryAnn gave some excellent analysis in wondering if LDS population was a good predictor of Trump support in Utah.  It turns out that she was right–LDS population by county was statistically insignificant in the analysis.  The best predictors of a Trump supporter were % Registered Republicans, and % Rural.

This is going to be very math-y explanation, so I’ll try to explain this best I can.  The following analysis was done using Excel and SPSS using MaryAnn’s data set given in the previous post.  Last Lemming posted a few correlation coefficients comparing Rural vs Mormon.  A correlation coefficient tells you how well correlated the 2 variables are with each other.  Looking at scatterplots and overall correlation coefficients, you can see that both Rural and Republican scatterplots have a much steeper line that % LDS.  Typically in my statistics classes, I tell people that a correlation coefficient between 0.3 and .7 is a moderate correlation.  All 3 pairs of variables show moderate correlations as shown below. Continue Reading »


Mental Illness – Part 2

Back in 2010, I asked for advice on how to handle a mentally ill man that I was home teacher of.  I called him Ted back then and will continue to use that pseudonym.  Let me quote from that post because to be frank, he scared the hell out of me.

So, I dropped by again today to meet Ted.  He didn’t invite me in, but we talked on the cold porch for about a half hour.  I soon realized as I talked to Ted that he was mentally ill.  He confirmed my suspicions when he told me that he heard voices, had anger issues, and suffered from depression.  I asked if he lived there with his mom, and he confirmed that he did.  He explained that he could afford to live in the apartment by himself, but her social security check made it easier to make ends meet.  He said that when the time comes for his mother to die, he might go live in a mental health facility.  He mentioned that he made a living on disability checks–he had been declared mentally disabled due to depression.

In the half hour I talked to Ted, he told a series of strange, but probably true stories about his life.  He had been married once, but left an unfaithful wife.  In response, he got drunk at a bar, and was angry enough to fire a gun.  It was unclear to me if he was merely firing the weapon at someone or not, but he was arrested and spent time in the LA County jail, where he was physically assaulted by inmates (I’ll spare some gruesome details.)  This is what caused his “anger issues.”  He also mentioned that he was surprised that a mentally ill person could get a gun in California, and then proceeded to fear that Pres Obama was going to take away his gun.  (If anyone needs a gun taken away, it is this man.)

Continue Reading »


Can the Nation Heal?

In 2015, a Vox article noted that it is now socially acceptable to discriminate based on political affiliation.  Some excerpts:

“Political identity is fair game for hatred”: how Republicans and Democrats discriminate

The experiment was simple. Working with Dartmouth College political scientist Sean Westwood, Iyengar asked about 1,000 people to decide between the résumés of two high school seniors who were competing for a scholarship.

The resumes could differ in three ways: First, the senior could have either a 3.5 or 4.0 GPA; second, the senior could have been the president of the Young Democrats or Young Republicans club; third, the senior could have a stereotypically African-American name and have been president of the African-American Student Association or could have a stereotypically European-American name.

The point of the project was to see how political and cues affected a nonpolitical task — and to compare the effect with race. The results were startling. Continue Reading »


A Different Take on the Samaritan Story

I want to subtitle this post:

Defending the Priest and the Levite.

Not long ago, we had a lesson in priesthood on the Good Samaritan.  This is one of my favorite parables, but the lesson quickly devolved into the traditional platitudes.  People began to point fingers at the “hypocritical” priest and the Levite walking past the injured and robbed man “on the other side.”  I decided to speak up and noted that there could be good reasons why the priest and Levite failed to stop and help.  It was probably a bad neighborhood, known for robberies, and the Levite and priest might have been concerned about their own safety.  After all, this man has just been robbed; maybe they also feared being robbed.  We might want to cut the priest and Levite some slack.  Would you help and stop a gang member in a bad neighborhood in Compton?  I’d probably just get out of there.  (I remember a black woman on my mission in Georgia told me she got a speeding ticket because she wanted to get through a county that had a strong KKK presence.)  And if this was a bad neighborhood, I think it further explains the priest and Levite’s possibly prudent actions; if it was a bad neighborhood, it further illustrates how wonderful the Samaritan was for risking his own safety to help an injured man.   Continue Reading »