Sunday, February 26, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
First, and for one thing, I really wish I had the hours and freedom of an academic. Though it might seem odd to my friends in academia, I also wish I had the salary of an academic (I do work at a newspaper, after all). Though there's plenty to dislike about the day to day work of a college professor, it's still better than most other "regular" jobs — so excluding things like being a professional musician, for example — that I can think of.
But while the lifestyle keeps academia on my list of things I might go back to someday, there's a lot more than prevents me from actually pursuing it. The biggest of those things is the writing.
Probably my biggest qualm with academic writing is that you have to become a superstar for it to matter much in the humanities world. Sure, if you're Harold Bloom or Stanley Fish your work influences people far and wide. But most academics are not superstars. Their work is read by very, very few people, and meaningfully influences only a fraction of those readers.
I think that's why I've gravitated toward journalism and even blogging, where between the different things I write I have thousands of readers every day — and I work at a relatively small paper in a relatively small city. If I worked in a bigger market, I'd have even more readers. And even in my short professional life, I've seen my writing have some, very modest influence in my community. If I was writing to an academic "community" I suspect it would be much smaller, much more difficult to influence, and much more detached from the material world. But feel free to disagree with that assessment.
I don't know what the future holds for me career-wise (probably not crime writing at the Daily Herald, as much as I like it now) but no matter what happens I don't think I'd ever be happy primarily writing academic papers on the humanities. I applaud those who do like it, but I want my writing to, you know, be read.
Anyway, I guess that's my biggest qualm about academia.
But there are others. In all my time in college (which was much longer than most people), for example, I really only encountered two or three professors who were meaningfully engaging with the community. More often, I found professors who seemed to think it was beneath them to participate in Provo's (sometimes admittedly provincial) culture. Perhaps my professors were engaged in ways I couldn't see, but I think few of them attended cultural events in Provo, patronized Provo's independent restaurants, or (and this is huge) even lived in Provo, where their college was located.
That attitude wasn't universal and it was probably influenced by the fact that professors at BYU are LDS and therefore might feel the church provides them with sufficient community engagement, but it nevertheless strikes me as a kind of provincialism itself. (Again, however, I can't stress enough that I had wonderful professors to whom this description doesn't apply even remotely.)
Well, this post is getting long enough now, so I'll wrap it up. But it's been nice to think again about academia and perhaps I'll post some more thoughts in the future.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
We have always had that view.
What? Actually the church has never held that view.
The church historically practiced polygamy and continues to include polygamy as a part of its doctrine. (I know many LDS men who are "sealed" — or religiously married — to multiple women who have either died or divorced them, meaning they believe that after they die they will have multiple wives.)
We can quibble over whether the word "recognize" makes the statement technically true about the church's current stance — I can already anticipate someone pointing out that the church doesn't currently ask the government to "recognize" polygamous temple marriages — but in the past the church absolutely wanted to have open, real-world polygamous marriages that were recognized. So from a historical perspective this statement is nothing short of a lie.
And I'd disagree with the counter argument over the word "recognize" and say it's pretty close to a lie about the church's current postion; after all the church itself "recognizes" polygamous marriages, even if the government doesn't.
I'm all for rigorous debate on this topic. I understand and respect the fact that many gay marriage proponents and Mormons (and people who are both, such as myself) have varying views on this topic.
But I'm nothing short of appalled when an official statement includes something that is so obviously misleading.