Monday, July 28, 2008

Shooting at Knoxville Unitarian Universalists Fellowship

I include a link to an article on the recent shooting in Knoxville for two reasons, one because this ‘Church’ (Unitarians prefer the term ‘Fellowship’) is located within about a five minute walk of the Knoxville LDS mission home, mission offices, and the local stake center (thusly I passed it numerous times). The second reason is because I have an old mission companion who is pretty sure he had a long discussion with this guy in the West Hills area, a discussion he remembers because of the man’s hostility and a-typical religious hang-ups. This whole thing is truly a tragedy.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I orignally posted this on an LDS discussion group about a year ago, I came across it again while sorting through some files and was impressed by how relevant it still is, so I provide it here for your perusal and comment:

On issues of politics I take it that many here have concerns in regards the upcoming presidential election, of the incoming commander-in-chief and the congress pushing social or other reforms found threatening to the established order, such as gay-marriage, or retaining current practices that you might frown upon like legal abortions. However an article by Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute in the June 25th 2007 issue of National Review causes some room to doubt about a common conservative strain of thought. I quote:

“In past decades conservatives imagined that only through maintaining specific social practices and arrangements could order and the values of a free society be preserved. Some thought, in the years before 1964, that disenfranchisement of blacks in the South was necessary to prevent catastrophic misrule. They were wrong. Others thought family life could not survive the exodus of women into the workforce. Wrong again. And others believed that only a revival of faith in Christianity could stave off social breakdown. Once more, with feeling--wrong.

“It turns out that the core middle-class values that sustain a free society can survive---- indeed, they can thrive--- even as various historically contingent embellishments are dropped along the way. Look, for example, at blue-state New England today, where the most pronounced sort of cultural liberalism coexists with of the highest incomes per head and lowest levels of social dysfunction (crime, divorce, illegitimacy, ect.) in the country”

Perhaps this matter is only tangentially related to the topics discussed in this forum, however I think it hits upon a common way of thinking espoused by many socially conservative Mormons and other Christians. I’d like to hear others takes on this, how important is it (if at all) for ‘our families’ to fight social changes in the broader society, particularly as they relate to matters of law.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hollywood's Lapsed Mormon Renaissance

Hollywood has a long tradition of holding certain religions in vogue, during the golden era it was Christian Science, today its Scientology and Kabala. Despite sharing a certain esoteric element with those faiths, I think its safe to say that Mormonism will never be a popular religion among the Hollywood stars, it’s both to demanding and to middle American. Now there has always been a Mormon presence in Hollywood, though admittedly characters actors like Moroni Olsen or Priscilla Lane statues leading lady’s like Larraine Day (see Foreign Correspondent, sadly forgotten Hitchcock film) were never among the who’s who in town. However lapsed Mormons (as a group) have apparently never had a problem succeeding in Hollywood, and now may just be their golden age.

Notable Hollywood lapsed Mormons of an earlier time include John Gilbert, the silent screen leading man who had a very public romance with Greta Garbo. The great love of Rudolph Valinteno’s life, Natacha Rambova, an actress and fashion designer who cultivated a foreign mystique, was actually one Winifred Shaughnessy, a product of Mormon polygamy by way of her great-grandfather Church leader Heber C. Kimball. Robert Walker was the son of an editor of the Church owned Desert News, he made a stock and trade out of playing earnest young solders during the World War II era, and was even briefly married to Jennifer Jones. A career resurgence was in the works after Walker gave a impressive performance cast against type as the villain in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, only the poor guy died of an apparent prescription drug overdose the same year the film was released. Harold and Maude director Hal Ashby also came from a broken LDS home.

Today’s lapsed Mormons of Hollywood are A list, starting with current it girl Amy Adams (whom I love). Raised a Mormon in Colorado until here parents split when she was 11, Adams burst on the scene last year with the lead in Disney’s Enchanted and a supporting part in Charlie Wilson’s War, though she had previously been Oscar nominated for Junebug. Aaron Eckhart is a BYU graduate who has been in loads of high profile Hollywood movies including Erin Brockovich, The Pledge, and Thank You For Smoking in which he played the lead. He will appear as Harvey Dent in this summers Batman movie. Eckhart has expressed a certain affection in interviews for his time as a practicing Mormon, but such religious devotion is not currently central to his everyday living. Interestingly Eckhart is often cast in films by another lapsed Mormon, director Neil LaBute (Nurse Betty, The Wicker Man).

Ryan Gosling was launched to stardoom in 2004 with the female favorite The Notebook, and is apparently dating his co-star and fellow Canadian Rachel McAdams. He was Oscar nominated for Half Nelson, and probably should have been for Lars and the Real Girl. Lastly I’d like to mention Katherine Heigl, who was recently voted the most desirable women in the world by the website AskMen. Heigl took awhile to make it to the front ranks, laboring in TV movies and the sci-fi teen drama Roswell. Now with both a mega successful TV series in Gray’s Anatomy and near top teir movie statues after Aptow’s Knocked-Up, she seems pretty set for the time being. Heigl’s family are converts to the Church from Connecticut, joining in the aftermath of her brothers tragic death in 1986. Her family still practice, and I belive she even has a sister who was recently married in the temple.

I could also mention lesser lights including Buffy the Vampire Slayers Eliza Dushku, and Paul Walker of Fast and the Furious fame. Matthew Modine’s activity statues is unknown to me.
So it’s a good time to be a lapsed Mormon in Hollywood. If your successful in the industry it appears adhering to a restrictive religious tradition can come to be unimportant, if it hasn’t become so already. Anyway you always have the option of exchanging Joseph Smith for L. Ron Hubbard.