Sunday, June 26, 2011


"Adam, Eve—we have caused this earth to be filled with all kinds of plant and animal life. We give all these things into your care and charge you to be wise and faithful stewards of them."   (Endowment 2010)
The photo (click to enlarge) shows most of the feral cats I've been feeding. From left to right: Leo, Tiger, Chaplin, Hugolino, Tom, Huga, Cinnamon, Sam, Scampers, Grouchy Mama. Not pictured: Lucifer and her three kittens: Spunky, Leopard, and Oscar.

Tonight some folks from Independent Animal Rescue came out to trap several of the cats; they'll be back in a couple nights for the rest. Jill, a friend of mine, who's a cat lover, put me in touch with IAR. They'll spay or neuter the cats and return them. There's talk of setting up a feeding station (!) which the organization will tend once we've moved away. It's what they call a "managed colony."

Tonight they trapped Lucifer and all three of her kittens, as well as Hugolino, Grouchy Mama, and Scampers, plus Tom, who didn't really need to be trapped since he's a domestic stray: they just picked him up and put him in the carrier. Hugolino will be neutered and returned, but Lucifer's kittens are young enough that IAR is going to try to get them adopted.

Hugolino, by the way, appears to be a sibling of the kitten Hugo and I tended for a day about a month ago. That kitten, Hugolina (note the feminine ending), has disappeared. I don't know if that means she didn't make it, or if she managed to win over some other human.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Various news

Same-sex marriage is legal in New York state. The stone may not be rolling forward, but it's at least creaking forward.

I watch footage of gay and lesbian people talking about how excited they are now to be able to marry in their home state, and I think: How can LDS leaders and other conservative Mormons not be moved by this? I get, cerebrally, all your arguments against homosexuality and gay marriage: I understand your world view. But I really don't get how you can not be touched by the joy of people talking about how they want to formalize their intimate relationships. "How is it that ye are so hard in your hearts?" (1 Nephi 7:8).


Continuing prayers for the Saudi women drivers. Prayers of thanks for the expressions of support they've received from world leaders, Hillary Clinton and the EU's Catherine Ashton among others.

Continuing prayers for those fighting oppressive regimes in Yemen, Syria, Libya. I pray that despite being conscious that some of the people that prayer covers may not represent great alternatives. But I have faith, or at least hope, in change.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Saudi women protest driving ban

Read the story

Since hearing a story about this protest on NPR last night, I've been thinking about the protesters and the men (e.g., husbands) who support them. It's mind-boggling that there's still a country where women are legally banned from driving. And of course that ban is just symbolic of a host of restrictions to which Saudi women are subject.

As a lefty-ish academic, I hear that voice in my head chastising me for being a cultural imperialist who presumes to judge other societies by my values. But no. "Male and female are alike to God," say my scriptures, and that's the standard by which I'm going to judge. If the Gods will gender equity—and I believe They do—then They are on the side of the protesters. Which means that the clerics who legislate female inequality and the government officials who enforce it are on the wrong side of heaven, as are the supermajority of Saudi women who reportedly support these inequalities. On this subject, I am not going to subordinate my ethical judgments to majority rule in the name of cultural pluralism. The little minority of troublemaking women drivers are doing what's right.

God be with them as they take the risk of pushing the envelope. Historically, the character arc for that role involves things like ridicule and imprisonment and beatings and even martrydom—so say my scriptures again. Hopefully, the situation in Saudi society is "thawing" enough already that this story can end more happily.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


The Church of the Advocate held its Pentecost service as a picnic, so I went to church in a t-shirt today. I chose the "Kirtland 1836" t-shirt Hugo brought for me from a visit he made a little while back to the Kirtland Temple. I chose it for two reasons: (1) It was burgundy, which was the closest thing I had in my wardrobe to red, the liturgical color for Pentecost. (2) The Kirtland Temple dedication was Mormonism's reenactment of the Pentecost outpouring.

A couple Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to preach at the Advocate. The Gospel reading for the day was John 14:15-21. It's a passage particularly relevant to this worshipping community because it's the first passage in which Jesus promises to send the Paraclete, a word that the KJV translates as "Comforter" but the NRSV translates as "Advocate." In my sermon, I pointed out that Pentecost is the feast that celebrates the fulfillment of that promise. The Spirit dwells in Jesus' disciples—in all who love him. How richly we experience the Spirit's indwelling depends on how fully and conscientiously and whole-heartedly we keep Jesus' commandments, especially his command to love and serve. But from the moment we said "Yes" to Jesus' call, we became part of the Christian community, the community in which the Spirit dwells by definition.

That means the Spirit dwells in me, even if it isn't always readily apparent from my behavior. The Spirit dwells in all who have come to Christ by coming to the Church of the Advocate. And while I didn't say this in my sermon, the Spirit also dwells in all who have come to Christ by coming to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Have received that same Spirit, we have become Christ's body—all of us together. That's a mystery I don't understand.