Al and Geoff return to hit up all sorts of exciting Mormon-related news from the past few weeks, including:
The Church weighs in on a potential medical marijuana bill in Utah. Is it a moral issue or just one that needs more study? It’s a fine line to walk, and it seems like Salt Lake is avoiding making a definitive moral statement on marijuana for medicinal use. And how does that affect the Word of Wisdom? After all, modern-day interpretations of it explain that we don’t take “illicit or illegal” drugs. Obviously drugs are harmful either way, but what happens when one controlled substance becomes legal? How does that affect our own LDS morality?
What happens when an allegedly well-meaning mom abandons her kid in Bryce Canyon when said kid declares—the day before he was slated to do so—that he won’t be entering the Missionary Training Center or going on his mission? The internet erupts, LDS Living takes it on the chin, and for some reason the original author pulled the post down. Hmmm… go figure! This has been the scandal of the week!
In news none of us saw coming, British magazine The Week talked about the Russian election scandal in the United States, devoting a section as to whether the entire episode is a prelude to the fulfillment of the so-called “White Horse Prophecy,” when the Constitution shall “hang by a thread” and only a Mormon will save it. Paging Harry Reid.
A BYU-Idaho professor gets sacked after posting pro-LGBT/anti-Church comments (depending on your point of view). While her remarks certainly edged up on full-blown criticism of doctrines, this also raises questions about individual liberty and free speech when working for a Church-run organization. What if she hadn’t been a professor, but a random administrator, or an A/V tech? Would she have faced the same scrutiny?
Alex Boyé has had a mixed few weeks. First, he was called up at the eleventh hour to fill in for Christopher Jackson at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Pioneer Day concert. Jackson had scheduling difficulties that forced him to bow out. While Boyé did a wonderful job, many ticket holders were upset over the loss of the originally announced guest and subsequent replacement by one of Salt Lake’s go-to default talents.
In addition, Boyé just produced a music video “featuring” retired NBA star, sometimes actor, and personal friend of the North Korean regime Dennis Rodman. The problem is, Rodman isn’t exactly an actual part of the proceedings.
Things have cooled off a bit, but high drama ensued in Nauvoo when a city council member allegedly suggested that the newer Mormon arrivals should be tarred and feathered and driven out of town. Sound eerily familiar? Lots of this has been unclear, but we spoke with one of the primary actors involved.
New Book of Mormon videos began shooting in Utah a few weeks ago. These will be in similar vein to the much-loved Bible Videos that were produced over a period of six years. In an interesting twist, Church leaders have said the videos will be essentially location-agnostic, or rather, the producers are going out of their way not to portray a definitive geographical location of Book of Mormon events.
Our own Greg Anderson produced a podcast a few weeks ago, “The View from the Varsity Theater,” in which he discussed his experiences as en employee of BYU’s famed movie house during college, and how it all relates to Mormons’ love of “censoring” questionable content in films, bringing us right up to today with VidAngel and others. Give it a listen.
In other assorted news: New York City held a Mormon Art Festival (sponsored by Richard Bushman), Thurl Bailey’s son was “caught” doing good on his mission, original notes from the Kirtland Safety Society and others on display at the Smithsonian, US missionaries return to Botswana after a four-year absence, a bunch more temples are closing for renovations, Peggy Fletcher Stack takes a year to find out what’s going on with missionaries in Russia (and the results are super interesting), a Russian court rules that two missionaries shouldn’t have been deported, and famed children’s author Maurice Sendak once did a cover for the Children’s Friend.