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About rchorse

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  1. New First Presidency

    That's actually a really good example of why it's hard to read emotions from facial expressions. I've seen people look like that when they're depressed, sad, or tired. But I've also seen virtually the same expression when people are overjoyed, extremely relieved, or have eaten something very, very spicy.
  2. One flaw I see in almost all social science studies is that participants know it's an artificial situation. People just don't act the same way in artificial situations. For instance, I sometimes like to cheat when I play board games. It makes it much more fun to me. But in real life, I'm almost obsessively honest. In a study, I don't know how I would behave. Anything that involves self reported data is also hard for me to take seriously. People lie to make themselves look better, even when it doesn't matter.
  3. Thomas S Monson cars

    Those custom, limited-edition Italian cars are crazy expensive.
  4. My wife grew up in southern Germany, so we moved to her hometown for a few years so our kids can learn German better, and so they can get to know her side of the family. We're a couple hours east of Stuttgart in a fairly rural area. I work in Finance/IT for a medium-size company. Considering that I spoke very little German at the time, it was a miracle that I was able to find a job.
  5. When we moved from Utah to Germany a few years ago, the drinking culture caused some awkward moments at first. Everybody here drinks, and it's pretty much the only social activity most people engage in. I haven't found that anyone has pressured me to drink, though. Every person has noticed it and asked about it or commented on it (usually with surprise), but after explaining myself, no one has pushed it further. I have no problem going to work functions at restaurants or bars where others are drinking, but I tend to leave once they get past the second or third beer. It just gets too loud and rowdy for my taste. It's hard to tell if it has impacted my career or social life because I tend to be reserved anyway. My guess is any difficulties I've had stem more from my social awkwardness than from my decision not to drink alcohol. Most decent people tend to be very accomodating of differences like that. The people that make a big deal of not drinking tend to be people I would have issues with one way or another, because they are just kind of jerks all around. I have to add that my faith, combined with my experience with an alcoholic relative, would lead me to abstain even if it completed ruined my career or social life.
  6. Reconciling the Lucy Walker story

    While we all have freedom of choice, to claim that lineage has no bearing on choice is a gross oversimplification. Parents teach their children how to live, either directly or through example, and that influence can be seen, for good or ill , for many generations. Tell someone born into a poor family in India that their lineage doesn't determine their choices in life. Sure, agency is not determined by lineage, but our set of available choices is most definitely influenced by the families we're born into. That influence can be financial, social, religious, or other. The fact that lineage is not an absolute determinant doesn't make it meaningless, either.
  7. In glad you pointed this out. After reviewing the methodology myself, I agree that it tells us essentially nothing about Mormons and how they view tithing. It's more an interesting anecdote than anything.
  8. Punishment is a word commonly used to describe church discipline, but I don't think it fits that well. It's not about ensuring that the transgressor has suffered adequately. In my experience, church discipline is less about punishment and more about not doing further spiritual harm by participating in ordinances unworthily. I really believe that each time someone, for example, takes the sacrament unworthily it does real spiritual damage. I'm not sure how else to interpret 3 Nephi 18:29 (For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul). If that is the case, then is it really punishment to forbid the ordinances until the repentance process is complete? I'm sure that we get it wrong sometimes due to "our misunderstanding about sin, punishment, and the Atonement", as you said. You and the Givens both make good points here. I know I made mistakes in my imperfect attempts to do my duty. But overall I have found the church disciplinary process, when necessary, to be a powerful tool for the healing of the Atonement to be applied.
  9. As another former bishop, I just want to add a +1 to what rongo is saying. I've seen far more spiritual and personal damage done from giving people a pass and kicking the can down the road than I have from following the disciplinary process outlined in the scriptures and the handbook. Several people I worked with were not been able to move on with their lives and had carried guilt for years and years, even after confessing to a bishop, because their issues had not been dealt with adequately. I'm sure there are some bishops that are too strict, but in my experience the larger problem is bishops and stake presidents who are too scared to use church discipline where appropriate. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. I did have a couple cases where confession ended up being the last or next to last step in the process. One of these was a person who had very clearly repented. We held a disciplinary council, the result was no action, and the person received a temple recommend a week or two after the council. But that was one or two cases of dozens that I dealt with.
  10. Bishops interview with minors

    This is correct. Once things turn toward confession, counselors are supposed to end the interview and refer the individual to the bishop. Per the handbook "Only the bishop resolves concerns about chastity and associated moral matters in these interviews. If a counselor encounters serious matters, such as transgressions that require confession, he refers the member to the bishop without delay."
  11. Bishops interview with minors

    As an FYI, having another person nearby when interviewing children, youth, or women is not just recommended, it's required. Per Handbook 1, "When a member of a bishopric or stake presidency meets with a child, youth, or woman, he asks a parent or another adult to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall. A parent would usually be available for a child. The leader should avoid all circumstances that could be misunderstood." What more could be done to protect children, youth, and women is not so easy to answer. The critics naturally just want to end all worthiness interviews, but for those that believe in a scriptural/doctrinal/revelatory mandate to ensure worthiness for ordinances, etc. that solution doesn't work. I think clearer guidelines for bishops on what constitutes an appropriate level of discussion on chastity issues would help. But there will always be bishops who think they know better and don't follow the rules/guidelines. Allowing parents or others in interviews could help, but introduces its own problems. There is no perfect solution.
  12. Given the well documented fallibility of human memory, my faith is not shaken by minor contradictions in accounts that were separated by several years. I've gone back and read my own journal and found that I misremembered some details of pivotal events in my life. Our memories, of even very traumatic or important events, are so easily modified by changes in our thought patterns and other influences, that I find the minor differences in the accounts to be of little value in determining whether it actually happened and how it actually happened. References on the fallibility of memory: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4409058/ http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/18/health/lifeswork-loftus-memory-malleability/index.html https://www.nature.com/news/evidence-based-justice-corrupted-memory-1.13543
  13. Garment changes

    For what it's worth, this particular piece of counsel is correlated and is in the handbook: "The garment is sacred and should be treated with respect at all times. Garments should be kept off the floor. They should also be kept clean and mended. After garments are washed, they should not be hung in public areas to dry. Nor should they be displayed or exposed to the view of people who do not understand their significance." (Handbook 2, 21.1.42)
  14. Circumcision

    There is a world of difference between the medical benefits of vaccines and the medical benefits of circumcision. The benefits of vaccines are extremely clear, uncontroversial (at least to the scientifically literate), and well documented. Vaccines are enormously important to overall public health. The benefits of circumcision are minor and not as clearly proven. They also only really affect the individual and his partner. While I don't see infant circumcision as a big deal (my parents had me circumcised as an infant, and I can't say it's really impacted my life one way or the other), comparing it to vaccination misses the mark for me.