Friday, December 14, 2007

The Truest Fake Political Ad Ever

Mike Huckabee, strong conservative, not a crook or a weirdo or a Mormon. Let's leave it at that. Okay? Okay.
Interesting to note, the "Everything else scattered, smothered, covered and chunked by Lee Stranahan" is not only a way to describe the filmmaking process, it's also various ways to get your hash browns down at Waffle House.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Little Angel

A couple pics of my niece.

And finally, sad baby. (She just woke up and was feeling sick that day.)

Heavy Metal In Baghdad

Is it true they only have one metal band in Iraq? If's not true anymore. The band featured in this documentary is currently living as refugees in Turkey.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Roughing It Up

When Mark Twain wrote about Mormons, the LDS church was still a relatively young thing, about 40 years old and perhaps at the height of its controversy.

He wrote:
Let it be borne in mind that the majority of the Mormons have always been ignorant, simple, of an inferior order of intellect, unacquainted with the world and its ways; and let it be borne in mind that the wives of these Mormons are necessarily after the same pattern and their children likely to be fit representatives of such a conjunction; and then let it be remembered that for forty years these creatures have been driven, driven, driven, relentlessly! and mobbed, beaten, and shot down; cursed, despised, expatriated; banished to a remote desert, whither they journeyed gaunt with famine and disease, disturbing the ancient solitudes with their lamentations and marking the long way with graves of their dead—and all because they were simply trying to live and worship God in the way which they believed with all their hearts and souls to be the true one. Let all these things be borne in mind, and then it will not be hard to account for the deathless hatred which the Mormons bear our people and our government.
In Twain's day, I don't think the paragraph would have been seen as insulting, as that crescendo at the end hints at a kind of earned respect. He seems to be saying, "They may be ignorant, simple, of an inferior order of intellect, unacquainted with the world and its ways, but they're still people!"

And while I don't believe that Mormon beliefs deserve the treatment they have received historically, I also don't think calling those beliefs ignorant, simple, or inferior does them any great injustice.

Consider: A critical tenet of Mormon belief is the idea that Native Americans are descended from a "Lost Tribe" of Israel that arrived on the American continent not long after Christ by boat and founded an amazing city called Zarahemla.

As an idea, it's interesting. It makes a great story. But as history, as a truth worthy to believe in, it has its drawbacks. The first, of course, is that it's...just not true. The second, and perhaps more important, is that it can be easily disproven.

Native Americans and the ancient Israelites do not share culture, language, or the same haplogroup. Instead, you have mountains of archaeological ruins, libraries of anthropological study, and hundreds of DNA-sequencing scientists who say that the Native Americans were a stone-age people (that is, pre-civilization, as well as pre-Israelite) that arrived on this continent via a land and ice bridge in Arctic Asia.

The first boats that could reach the American continent came much later than Joseph Smith's fanciful tale in the form of Norsemen hopping around the landmasses in North Atlantic. They were the first ones to come, and until Columbus, the only ones who could have made it.

As for Zarahmela, so far it has not been found (God's work, no doubt). We have found Tikal, Macchu Picchu, Chaco Canyon, and Cahokia, but no Zarahmela. No evidence of the Nephites, who lived there. No evidence of their rivals, the Lamanites. Not a cup, not a trinket, not even a stone with a notch.

Even cultures that fall leave some kind of trace, if only as a vestigial custom whose origin was long forgotten but gets passed down from generation to generation anyway. When you look at the jaguar-faced babies and feathered serpents that are so common in Meso-America, do you see the footprints of a Judeo-Christian culture?

Me neither.