Part 3: Got Arguments? Avoid Making Bad Ones

I wasn't personally acquainted with the people arguing on the Facebook thread; I was friends with the writer of the Facebook post. As mentioned in my previous blog post, I've learned to pretty much stay out of others' online arguments. This one, however, felt different. Everyone was bullying a young white man. Apparently, he failed (in their view) to show the "proper" amount of "kindness, compassion, and sensitivity" about a particular racial issue. One white young woman called him "sub-human." Another claimed he was "evil." Others relied on the standard insults of "ignorant," "uneducated," and "lacking in humanity." Why? Because this man had dared question opinions that, in many social circles, have become a sort of sacrosanct orthodoxy. He was a heretic. And because these bullies viewed their opinions as "sacred," they justified their bullying as a form of righteousness.

Part 2: Got Arguments? Avoid These Common Fallacies

I couldn't believe what I was reading. I re-read the Facebook comment trying to determine if the writer was joking. A friend of mine (I'll call him Fred) had written (what I thought to be) a harmless Facebook post about taxes. Unfortunately, one of Fred's Facebook friends became "personally enraged" and lectured Fred about learning "when to keep silent" about certain topics. Furthermore, if possible, he would challenge Fred "to a duel" by "slapping" him. To his credit, Fred responded calmly and respectfully, but his friend continued to sling insults. Still, Fred remained calm--and I respected him for that.

Part 1: Got Arguments? Navigating the Wild, Wild West of Social and Political Discourse

We've all been there: Our beliefs are challenged or attacked. We're not sure of what to say or how to say it. Or, we encounter verbal bullies who kick rhetorical sand in our faces, and we're left feeling angry, defeated, or helpless. 

This was an old advertisement for the Charles Atlas body building company. 

As an argumentation and critical thinking instructor, I tell my students on the first day of class that I'm hoping to change their lives. How? By teaching them the tools for constructing sound arguments and dismantling fallacious ones. Constructive argument is the genesis and remains the backbone of Western civilization and democracy. Without arguments, our society has nothing left...except fists, sticks, stones, guns, and bombs--in that order.

Your Mission...Should You Decide to Accept It...

"You spend too much time reading all those textbooks. Why don't you read Harry Potter?" advised my mom.

"You don't read much fiction do you?" observed my sister.

"Those topics would interest YOU," my friend said to me with a hint of condescension. (We had just seated ourselves for a Relief Society meeting when I noticed three words written on the chalkboard, and pointed them out to my friend. The words were: racism, doctrine, and politics.)

My mom, my sister, my friend--they all have a point when it comes to my reading material. Below is a sample of books I've read on my Ipad. (And not a fictitious work among them):

Who Are We? Americans? Global Citizens? Both? Neither?

I've been to America's east coast several times throughout my life. My first visit was in 1973 as a young teen; my last visit was in 2015. Two particular trips--one in 2001 to Washington D.C. and another to the east southern states in 2005--had a particular impact on me; by 2001, I was a mom to four kids and had begun my teaching career. My age and educational experiences had changed my perspective of American history and Western civilization; Edward Said's book, Orientalism, had really opened my eyes concerning the West's historical colonialism and imperialism throughout the world. My feelings toward America have evolved over the years, and I look at America's future with great anticipation--and dread. Yes, we're changing as a nation--and as a world. Like everyone else, I hope to be on the right side of history. But I'm unsure which side of the political and ideological divide is right or wrong. Are they both right? Are they both wrong? Or a mixture of right and wrong? Strident voices in our midst are telling us that we must "pick a side."

In this post, I will discuss the moral and political ideologies that seek to define America along with Western civilization and its principles, and my own thoughts and observations concerning America's genesis and future.

"You Don't Have to Walk the Plains to Be a Pioneer"

In 1996, two of my kids attended the Especially For Youth conference. The theme was called "Living the Legacy," and one of the songs on the featured CD was titled "You Don't Have to Walk the Plains," sung by Brett Raymond. At the time, I was pursuing a Master's Degree and struggling with the workload while being a mother to four children. Additionally, my university newspaper was writing anti-Mormon articles, and one of my professors was outwardly hostile to Mormonism. 

Part 3: Suffering a Crisis of Faith? A Bitter Root Produces Bitter Fruit

I'm not into gardening, but I did marry an Idaho farm boy. My husband can grow almost anything. Over the years, he has taught me some basic principles about planting, sowing, and harvesting. (I've always been familiar with scriptural metaphors of bitter roots producing bitter fruit, but I was clueless regarding the earthly components of this spiritual and temporal principle.) I've come to appreciate more fully the miracle of planting and harvesting. Furthermore, I've learned to respect an insidiously potent foe called "root rot." The scriptures call it a "bitter root."

Podcast Series: "Opposition and Enemies" for the "LDS Single Moms" Group

Dear Readers:

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of doing a three-part podcast series called "Opposition and Enemies" with Amber, the host of the LDS Single Moms group on Facebook. These podcasts focused on my written nine part series on enemies. (To access the posts, type "enemies" in the search engine provided for this website.)

Amber is a recently divorced mom who founded the LDS Single Moms group. She is a wonderfully spiritual woman and an inspiring example. Whether married or single, women will find her group a supportive and soft place to fall.

Part 2: Suffering a Crisis of Faith? Grow Your Own "Sacred Grove"

A short time ago, I walked through the majestic redwoods in California's Big Basin State Park located in the Santa Cruz mountains. Just a short drive north from San Jose (or south from San Francisco), I grew up camping and hiking amongst these stately redwoods.

Redwoods are some of the oldest and tallest trees in the world. They average 80 feet and can be up to 20 feet in diameter. Some grow as tall as 375 feet. These coastal redwoods live an average of 500 - 700 years and some are approximately 2,000 years old. (Sequoia redwoods can live up to 3,500 years.) The rings in the tree trunks tell their history. The photo below shows the remains of a middle-aged redwood. The labels on the trunk represent a time line according to the tree's rings.

Part 1: Suffering a Crisis of Faith? Grow Your Own "Sacred Grove"

The 1980's were challenging years for me. I began 1980 as a newlywed and began the 1990's as a mom to four kids. One of my difficulties involved questions of faith. Born and raised in Mormonism, I had always had a rock solid testimony of the gospel and of the Church. Still, like many young adults, I had questions regarding Church doctrine and LDS culture. My older sister, Janet, was asking similar questions. Janet and I especially struggled with the following issues:

  • The doctrine of plural marriage and its practice in 19th century Mormonism
  • Women and priesthood authority 
  • Church administration and priesthood correlation where women's auxiliaries no longer had autonomy but reported directly to priesthood authorities (Correlation had been instituted 20 years earlier.) 
  • The proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution (ERA) for gender equality (It ultimately failed to pass, but like Propostion 8 regarding same sex marriage in California, the proposed amendment divided Church members.)