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American Mohammed

You can find a lot of interesting parallels between Joseph Smith and Mohammed, enough to justify calling Joseph Smith an American Mohammed. I just realize that both claimed to have revelations that authorized them to take their daughters to wife.

Mohammed married Aisha, the daughter of his brother-by-oath. They were married when she was six. They consummated their marriage when she was nine. He was 54. While marriages at such ages were apparently common, I understand that it went against custom to marry the daughter of your brother, even if only by oath.

Even Aisha held suspicion about Mohammed’s self-serving revelation that allowed him to marry any wife who desired him:

Narrated Aisha:

I used to look down upon those ladies who had given themselves to Allah’s Apostle [Mohammed] and I used to say, “Can a lady give herself (to a man)?” But when Allah revealed: “You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive any of them whom you will; and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose turn you have set aside (temporarily).’ (33.51) I said (to the Prophet), “I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book 60:311)

Joseph married Maria and Sarah Lawrence whose father had died. They lived in Joseph’s household as foster daughters. In fact, William Law filed a lawsuit in the spring of 1844 against accusing him of marrying Maria Lawrence in an attempt to make public his practice of polygamy.

Joseph had secretly proposed a polyandrous marriage with William Law’s wife. She refused and William—then First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Mormon church—asked Joseph whom he considered a fallen prophet to renounce polygamy. Joseph refused and subsequently excommunicated William.

William then attempted to expose Joseph’s duplicity in the Nauvoo Expositor. Joseph ordered its printing press destroyed. Joseph was arrested on charges related to the destruction of the printing press and imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois where a mob killed him in the summer of 1844. So Joseph’s marriage to his foster daughters contributed to his death.

It’s interesting to me that both of these men used self-serving, alleged revelations to justify sex with their followers, including those who could be considered their daughters.

(Inspired by Jesus and Mo.)

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Five Things

In light of last week’s five, I’ve decided to write thank you notes when appropriate.

  1. My daughters, thank you for forgiving me when I make mistakes as a parent. Your lenience gives me the space necessary to make an attempt to improve.
  2. My wife, thank you for being patient when I don’t listen enough. Your patience shows me how committed you are to our marriage, to me.
  3. Jon Kabat-Zinn, thank you for your guidance in making the most of the life that I have.
  4. Nevada State Legislature, thank you for doing the right thing, making Nevada a more just place for everyone to live.
  5. Life, thank you for your little reminders (i.e. pain and suffering) that keep me on track.

Can you tell I’ve had a down week?

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Domestic Partnerships in Nevada!

The Nevada legislature has voted a domestic partnership bill into law, overriding a veto by the governor. I’m a little prouder to be a Nevadan today.

If I were in the market for marriage today, I would probably opt for a domestic partnership. I would feel hypocritical to enjoy a marriage when that’s not an option for so many of my fellow citizens.

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Five Things

The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.—Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Before I get down to the usual business, I want to respond to this idea because I’ve heard it several times in various places. I feel and express gratitude all the time. Since losing my belief in God, I haven’t been at a loss for people to thank.

I’m thankful to my parents for giving me life (and to their parents who gave them life, and so on).

I’m grateful for my wife who threw her lot in with me and risked her life to bear and raise children with me.

I’m grateful for all the innovators in science, technology, and the arts who have made my modern life of relative health, comfort, and ease possible.

I’m grateful for the groundskeepers who provide the uplifting environs where I work.

Even when I can’t find a person to thank for something (e.g. the warming light of the sun or the naked fact of our existence), I don’t miss being able to thank someone. I feel grateful—and incredibly fortunate—just the same.

This sense of gratitude without someone to thank may represent an improvement: I no longer suffer the temptation to imagine that I deserve the good things I enjoy by being faithful to God. And if I don’t deserve what I have, then all the more reason to share it with those who deserve it just as much as I.

With all due respect to Mr. Rossetti, he should have avoided offering witticisms about something that he apparently lacks experience of.

Oh, and by my count, that’s five things plus one.

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Five Things

Today, I am thankful for…

  1. … having a good woman as my partner.
  2. … music and art. My life is infinitely richer because of them.
  3. … the time I’ve had recently with my daughters. I’ve been trying to focus more on the truly important things in life, and it has paid off with immediate returns.
  4. … homemade yogurt. It’s eerily simple to make. I feel like I’ve learned a secret art.
  5. … the philosophy of fire and motion.

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