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11:27 a.m. - November 29, 2007
Of Fashion, Mormons, And Roundabouts...
Today I bring you a thoughtful discussion, a rant, a link, and a video. Wait, that sounds like the beginning of a joke. All I need is a priest, a horse, and someone of some ethnic group that is easily insulted.

Now what order do you want them?

Ok, the link first:

Check it out, Jackson! Solid.

Seriously, what was ANYONE thinking in the 70’s? I wonder if I could find a King Collar shirt now? What would happen if I wore it in the office?


Ok, now the discussion.

The last two nights, Liz and I watched a PBS special on the Mormons. The first part dealt with their 19th century history, from the founding of the church to the time when the capitulated to the US government on polygamy and Utah joined the union.

The second night dealt with the modern LDS church and all of the issues that come to bear with being a Mormon in the 21st century.

I am not Mormon, and my experience in high school was not positive thanks to a Physics teacher I had. He was arrogant, snotty, and not a good teacher at all. Then, when he tried to describe his religion, he did it in a condescending way – not at all like the way that the missionaries talk to you.

However, as I’ve become more spiritual and a seeker if there is a right and true way and path, I’ve become intrigued with the founding of the Mormon church.

Basically, the story is a bit, well, interesting. Joseph Smith had a vision from a prophet named Moroni that led him to unearthing (allegedly) a book inscribed on gold leaves called the Book of Mormon, which told of a lost tribe of Israel that settled in what is now North America. He translated the book himself, and now it is the basis of the LDS church.

Seems a bit implausible, right? But think about it. Jesus was a real person, and people attribute fantastic things to him. Mohammed was a real person, and he had the divine word of God given to him that he translated to others. Buddha was a real person.

So while empirically it seems that Smith was a charlatan who was putting one over on people, the fact is that almost all religions are formed in response to people believing in the supernatural and that prophets spread the word of that supernatural event, happening, or being.

I don’t believe the story, and there’s no archeological evidence to support it. But I can’t just say to people, “The basis of your religion is BS” because I wasn’t there, and I believe in my own faith that at times doesn’t have any hard, fast evidence that certain events occurred.

Aside from that, the Mormons had a rocky history in the 19th century. You could be sympathetic regarding their plight and persecution, but they lose some of that sympathy on some of their actions as well. It’s a tangled, convoluted mess back in that time frame. Brigham Young, the leader after Smith, was a classic case of a megalomaniacal dictator crossed with someone who truly cared about his spirituality and the fate of his people.

And then there’s the polygamy issue. From what I’ve read and studied, Smith was basically a sex addict that somehow had to justify his actions. Then, there was a lot of peer pressure after that for the church leaders to follow in Smith’s shoes.

After the Mormons dropped polygamy, they assimilated well into the fabric of the US. It’s a cliché that the Mormons are Stepford people – almost too polite and perfect and their children are all above average. But their focus on faith and family is quite remarkable and should be applauded instead of derided.

Sure they have some wacky rituals, but in Christianity we eat the body and drink the blood of Christ during communion. Isn’t that a bit…odd?

There are some issues as well. The role of women in the Mormon church is, in my eyes, subservient and possibly degrading. Women should be equal partners, with an equal voice. They should be able to become priests and leaders in the church. Also, the way they treat dissent is outrageous. It seems that they excommunicate people just like they were a medieval pope amongst a den of heretics. I don’t think you can move forward and grow with the times without discussion, debate, discourse, and dissent.

However, I now look at Mormons in a different light. They’re not so odd or strange. Most of them are good people, and unlike some others they’re a bit more tolerant of certain beliefs. They certainly don’t make themselves a nuisance and want to discriminate against people. They do try to convert you, but they’re polite about it.

And who knows, if I forget a book on one of my trips, and I’m staying in a Marriott, I might just read the Book of Mormon.


Now, the rant.

WTF is the deal with roundabouts?

Around the Southgate Center in Edina, on 70th Street, between the US Bank and Target, they have about 4 roundabouts.


I know in Europe they’re all the rage, but man, they’re really annoying on this stretch of road – mainly because people are trying to come and go into stores and businesses. It’s one thing to have a roundabout at an intersection where there is traffic and you want to slow cars down, but where people are trying to get in and out of parking lots? Forget it.

So with that, I leave you with a cool Roundabout:


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