Author Archives: Chris Henrichsen

About Chris Henrichsen

Chris Henrichsen is the editor of Approaching Justice.

Creating a World Without Poverty: Muhammad Yunus

In a speech titled “Becoming Self-Reliant—Spiritually and Physically” in the March 2009 Ensign, Elder M. Russel Ballard makes the following comment about economist Muhammad Yunus:

“…we need to appraise our own lives. How well are we listening to the Spirit? Are we living according to the eternal truths and doctrines of the restored Church of Jesus Christ? Can we effectively appraise the needs of others by the prompting of the Spirit? It impressed me that Muhammad Yunus must have been prompted by the Spirit when he organized a very unusual bank in Bangladesh, which some have said was the beginning of microfinance. When Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his efforts to help the poor, was asked what his initial strategy would be, he responded:
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Filed under Personal Issues, Political Philosophy, Politics

Chris H. is moving to….

…his own blog. 

I have enjoyed my almost three years here at FPR. But it is time for me to move on. I will be writing about politics and political philosophy with a Mormon and leftist twist now at Approaching Justice (approachingjustice.wordpress.com).

 

It is not polished yet, but my personal favorite posts from FPR are now at Approaching Justice and here at FPR as well. Hopefully, I will have it up and running soon.

 

I would like to thank John C./HP for the opportunity to blog here and get some (negative and positive) attention on the bloggernacle.

 

It was fun getting to meet Mogget, David J., and LxxLuthor in the early days. It has also been a joy getting to know TT, Smallaxe, and Jupiterchild a bit. All of these people are far smarter than me, and I appreciate their patience. It is funny how these people seem like friends even though I have not met any of them (except John C.) and likely never will.

It has been fun.

 

 

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Filed under Marginalia, Personal Issues

Why the Redistribution of Wealth?

Because it is the right thing to do.

3 Nephi Chapter 6:

  4 And they began again to prosper and to wax great; and the twenty and sixth and seventh years passed away, and there was great order in the land; and they had formed their laws according to equity and justice.

  5 And now there was nothing in all the land to hinder the people from prospering continually, except they should fall into transgression.

  7 And it came to pass that there were many cities built anew, and there were many old cities repaired.

  8 And there were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place.

  9 And thus passed away the twenty and eighth year, and the people had continual peace.

Sounds much like the United States since World War II.

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Pick Romney….Please

 

With the Olympics started it looks like all of the VP chatter will have to wait until after the Summer Olympics. The question had been whether or not McCain, or Obama, or both would announce there veep choice before the summer games. Alas, that was mostly wishful thinking on the part of us political junkies.

 We Obama supporters (I have no idea as to whether this applies to anyone else at FPR, so I mean Obama supporters in general), are a bit concerned about the inability of the Democratic candidate to break away from McCain in the polls. There are of course a variety of reasons for this. The primary reason, in my political scientist opinion, is that we are not likely to see a huge popular victory not matter who wins. We are a deeply divided country and rather evenly divided between those of us who are red and those of us who are blue. So lingering with a two to five percent lead might be the norm through November. Either way Obama appears to have a strong electoral college advantage.

I have found a solution to the VP selection game that will make both conservative Mormons and me happy: Have McCain pick Mitt Romney. This act would help Mormons again feel safe within the GOP. They need to have an institutional home (we Mormons are big on institutional belonging), and feel spurned after having their golden boy rejected. I felt the same way about the Dems rejected Bill Bradley (though I do not quite categorize him as a golden boy).

I would be happy if they picked Romney, because it would ensure McCain’s defeat in November. What is better in a time of economic turmoil than for the Republicans to put a filthy rich guy in the VP slot. It would help to highlight the disconnect between the GOP and everyday economic troubles. The GOP takes pride in defending the economic interests of people like Romney. However, when they do it, they pretend that they are protecting the economic interests of the middle class common man. That is real faith base politics. Romney on the ticket would remind everyone of who the GOP really looks out for.

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Filed under Marginalia, Mormon Studies, Speculation, Uncategorized

New Order Mormonism

 

I was recently introduced to the term “new order” Mormons (or is it new order Mormonism).

This is apparently not a new term, but nonetheless new to me. Do any of our erudite FPR readers have an interpretation of the label “new order” as it relates to Mormonism? What are its origins? Does anyone still use it to describe themselves?

Since thinking about what it means to be a “new order” Mormon, I have not been able to get the song “Blue Monday” by the 1980s band New Order out of my head. I have decided to share it.

 

Maybe this is a song about Family Home Evening in the homes of liberal Mormon intellectuals.

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Reject and Denounce: Obama and his church

Am I accountable for the crazy things that people say at my church? Luckily, I tend to disagree, and disagree strongly with most political statements made at church. Was Mitt Romney responsible for racist practices that existed with the Church during his younger days? I do not think so. What about Ezra Taft Benson’s delusional politics? While I believe that he was an apostle and prophet, his politics was nasty rubbish. Do I need to denounce him completely? No. His talk on pride (which I read later) was a turning point in my life that helped me decide to serve a mission.

The right and left have some shady religious figures. James Dobson, under the guise of pro-family Christianity, is one of most hateful and disgusting characters in American politics. Is he any different from Jeremiah Wright (Obama’s preacher)?  Mostly just in ideology. A major difference is that Dobson is willing and able to rally large amount of people to his cause, in a way the Wright cannot.

As Mormons, it we are going to expect others to look past our religion and the history of our religion, we should be hesitant to blame political actors for everything that their pastors say or think. Do we want to constantly be in the position of having to condemn polygamy and past racism? If Obama was Mitt, what would you say given the controversies of the last week?

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Filed under Politics, Uncategorized

I know that Mitt is true.

In testimony meeting this month, a good sister bore testimony of Mitt Romney. She stated that she knew that God had prepared Gordon B. Hinckley to be the prophet is these days. Then she said that she knew that God had also prepared Mitt Romney for this day. She went on to talk briefly about having recently read the Hugh Hewitt book on Romney and how much she liked it (“…and he is not even a member…”).

The best part was watching the bishop squirm. It obviously made him nervous. Of course, it is nothing like the time when a high counselor went on for 30 minute about secret combinations plotting to destroy our national sovereignty and bring about world-wide communism. The bishop was ready to jump him, though all ended peacefully.

I expect that talk about Mitt at church (and in testimony meeting) will become more common. Maybe I lack faith. Do I need to pray and find out for myself whether Mitt is really true?

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Filed under Marginalia, Politics

“My Husband is a Socialist”

Here is another post that does not fit in with the normal FPR post:

I am taking an independent reading on political economy with a member of the economics department at the institution where I am working on a doctorate in political science. The readings focus on theories of capitalism and socialism with a particular focus on socialist critiques of capitalism. While I am very much on the socialist side of the capitalist-socialist divide, I officially label myself as a liberal because of my joint commitment to individual liberty and economic justice. Yet, my belief that a redistribution of wealth is vital to ensuring liberty to all makes me in many ways fit within what many might call socialism.

I often refer to myself as a socialist when talking politics with my wife. I also refer to myself as a socialist around others both for shock value and to emphasize that I really am on the left and not just another “Democrat” (though I am one of those too).

I mention all this because a few years back my wife and I went to stake center for the stake portion of our temple recommend interviews. I was interviewed by a counselor in the stake presidency and my wife met at the same time with the stake president. The stake president is an active conservative Republican in Utah and a former speaker of the House of Representatives in the Utah State Legislature. He knew that I was Democrat and that I was in graduate school at the Univ. of Utah studying political science. He often stopped to exchange political small-talk when we ran into each other.

As we walked to the car, I asked how her interview went (we both passed). She said that politics had come up while discussing my schooling and then she said “I told him you are a socialist, just like my dad.” I was a bit stunned. While she was more or less right, about both her dad and I, neither of us would have presented it that way to the stake president (my father-in-law was a bishop in the stake at the time). This left me with an appreciation of my wife’s candor. I feel ashamed that my reaction to my wife’s comment was one of embarrassment and not pride.

The Canadian political philosopher Wil Kymlicka, states in his textbook on contemporary political philosophy, that most Marxists and Socialist today are in many ways more liberal egalitarians than they are Marxists. I tend to agree with him. Yet I feel that the socialist voice is an important one. Is it a label that I should try to revive and wear with pride? I will let you know what I discover over the next semester.

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Filed under Marginalia, Personal Issues, Political Philosophy, Politics

My Ideological Journey

I grew up a very right wing conservative in the Maryland Suburbs of Washington, DC. I was actually known as “Mr. Republican.” It helped that I wore a tie as a conservative statement. I also wore a Bush/Quayle button for much of 1992 and carried around Rush Limbaugh’s books. After President Clinton took office, I attached an “Impeach Hillary” button to my backpack. I also had pro-life stickers on my binders and was kicked out of a high school sociology class for wearing a shirt with a fetus on it.

After entering college, I began to feel uncomfortable with my own extremism. I no longer found talk radio very satisfying. However, I was still very much a Republican. I ran successfully to be a vice-president in the College Republicans and I was very excited about the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress.

I spent the eight months between my freshman year and leaving on my mission working for a very conservative organization that claimed to monitor the activities of the “liberal media” and “liberal academia.” They were defending the truth against “liberal bias.” I soon realized that the “conservative truth” did not seem so true to me. I started to think of myself as a moderate. I was hopeful when Colin Powell was touted as a presidential possibility. Then I witness first-hand the conservative backlash against him. Their racism no longer could be contained. Conservatism was not for me. Could I still find a place in the GOP? I was not sure when I went on my mission to California in Dec. of 1995.

In the California Anaheim Mission, I worked with Vietnamese immigrants. I was humbled by my struggle to learn Vietnamese. I was also introduced to real poverty. The assumptions I had made about the poor, no longer made sense.

Having rejected social conservatism and having warmed up the idea of social welfare, I returned to Ricks College in early 1998 unsure of my political future. I did serve as a vice-president in the College Republicans that semester. Yet, I had lost all enthusiasm for the right. Conservatism had become the opposition. In August 1998, shortly after marrying in the Salt Lake Temple, I became a Democrat.

As my prior posts testify, I am now an avid and committed liberal. I practice and advocate liberal political philosophy with a passion. I am also now back in Rexburg, as a political science instructor.

My freshman students are still in shock. Sure, Mormons can be Democrats, the brethren have said as much. But a liberal, that is too much for them. My student assistant was warned by a friend that she was working for a liberal. She laughed because she is also a liberal.

I feel lonely sometimes as an unapologetic liberal in a place like Rexburg, Idaho. However, I would not want to be anywhere else. And I am proud to be a Mormon Liberal Democrat who thinks that Hillary Clinton should be the next U.S. President (you should see the fire in the eyes of my conservative students when they hear me say so).

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Filed under Personal Issues, Political Philosophy, Politics

Political Economy and the BOM

On July 13, over at By Common Consent Taryn Nelson-Seawright posted about the nature of economic and political liberalism and leftism amongst Mormons. The post and the related 127 comments can be found here.

I am not going to comment directly on the post, though I agree with much of its sentiment and the author’s frustrations. The comment stream seemed to focus on whether the Book of Mormon supports socialism or not. This is my concern.

The Book of Mormon does not support socialism. It also does not support capitalism. I say this because the civilizations discussed in the Book of Mormon are primitive societies where the modern/contemporary theories of socialism and/or capitalism would be completely foreign.

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Filed under Doctrine, Marginalia, Political Philosophy, Politics