Monthly Archives: April 2010

Requesting Priesthood Lines of Authority

April 30, 2010 | 19 comments
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Requesting Priesthood Lines of Authority

In the course of an interesting email exchange today, I learned that a good friend and I had had similar experiences in trying to track down our priesthood lines of authority. After being ordained Elders, we both asked our fathers if they had copies of their lines of authority, both said they thought they did somewhere, but both ultimately could never come up with them. My friend then approached his uncle, figuring that he might have the same line as my friend’s father, but without success. Fast forward ten years. His uncle randomly found his line of authority and... Read more »

LDS Church unveils green meetinghouse prototype

April 30, 2010 | 44 comments
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LDS Church unveils green meetinghouse prototype

This week the presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unveiled the first solar-powered LDS meetinghouse in Farmington, Utah. The building is one of five green prototypes being developed for LDS chapels in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada—and the building program will eventually expand across the US and around the world. The official press release cites other environmentally-friendly building innovations in the Farmington facility, including high efficiency heating and cooling system that can interface with the solar power equipment, xeriscaped grounds,  plumbing fixtures that cut water use by more than 50 percent, and Low-E Solarban 70... Read more »

OT Lesson 18 Study Notes: Joshua 1-6, 23-24

April 28, 2010 | no comments
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OT Lesson 18 Study Notes: Joshua 1-6, 23-24

Joshua 1 Verse 1: Why is Moses referred to as the Lord’s servant, but Joshua as Moses’ minister, official, or aide? Why not call Joshua Moses’ servant or, even better, the Lord’s servant? Compare Exodus 24:13 and 33:11, as well as Numbers 11:28, but notice that in the latter two, though the King James translation uses the word “servant,” it translates the same word translated “minister” here and in Exodus 24. According to the Word Biblical Commentary, the word translated “minister” refers to someone like a young page who attends a king. Why do these texts always use language... Read more »

OT Lesson 17 Study Notes: Deuteronomy 6; 8; 11; 32:1-4, 15-18, 30-40, 45-47

April 28, 2010 | no comments
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OT Lesson 17 Study Notes: Deuteronomy 6; 8; 11; 32:1-4, 15-18, 30-40, 45-47

Background Feel free to skip this background discussion if you aren’t interested in it. You can skip to the study questions without losing anything. Before taking up two points, however, let me say that I am not generally in favor of bringing much scholarly discussion into Sunday School lessons or our study for them, I don’t think those discussions have much relevance to our understanding of the Bible as a religious text or our application of its teachings to our lives. Scholarly information and ideas have an important place in our studies and in my experience they can sometimes... Read more »

Luke’s Spiritual Journey

April 28, 2010 | 4 comments
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I’ve asked several of my friends from different religious backgrounds to share the stories of their spiritual paths through life — what they believe, and why. This is the response of my friend Luke. Despite having looked into many religious movements as part of my graduate studies, I find writing about my own spiritual journey remains a challenge.  I don’t profess a faith, though I remain sympathetic and responsive to the efforts people make to introduce me to their beliefs and/or attempt to convert me. This suggests a curiosity on my part about things like spirituality, faith, and religion... Read more »

This Mormon Life

April 24, 2010 | 17 comments
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This Mormon Life

Several weeks ago the NPR program This American Life aired a stunning segment on Gordon Gee, the Latter-day Saint President of Ohio State University, and his daughter Rebecca. The segment revolved around a series of letters Gordon’s late wife Elizabeth wrote to their daughter as she was dying of cancer.  Rebecca was 16 at the time of her mother’s death, and the letters were to be given to her each year on her birthday for thirteen years. Rebecca, however, gradually drifted from the Church, while the letters from her devout mother focused heavily on the deep yearnings she had... Read more »

At home on Earth, in any corner of the garden

April 23, 2010 | 7 comments
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At home on Earth, in any corner of the garden

I posted this on Civil Religion as an introduction to Earth and environmentalism in Mormon teaching and experience. Thought it might be of interest here, as well. Earth played a prominent role in Joseph Smith’s vision of the cosmos, beginning with the importance of Creation in what we call “the plan of salvation”.  The Genesis creation account is central to LDS temple liturgy, and our latter-day scriptures reiterate and elaborate that account in several key theological passages.  In Joseph’s understanding, the creation of the earth was collaborative and artisanal: Earth was not created ex nihilo, but organized from existing... Read more »

Beliefs and Causes

April 23, 2010 | 32 comments
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Beliefs are complicated and sometimes strangely resistant to facts. I don’t mean religious beliefs in particular, but everyday beliefs about how the world works and how it is that we come to hold them. That’s what I took away from a recent reading of Lewis Wolpert’s Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: The Evolutionary Origins of Belief (W. W. Norton, 2006). Here’s an example from the chapter on paranormal beliefs. A stage magician performed fake psychic phenomena in front of two groups of university students. One group was told that he was a magician, while the other group was told... Read more »

Introducing, Me

April 22, 2010 | 22 comments
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We T&S bloggers are pretty impersonal. Our posts tell about the kinds of things we think about, but we don't share much about who we are or what we do. So here's a bit about me. Read more »

A Mormon Image: San Diego Temple at Sunrise

April 21, 2010 | 13 comments
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A Mormon Image: San Diego Temple at Sunrise

Early morning at the San Diego Temple (just 1 of over 100 photos I took of the Temple that morning!). Read more »

The eighth circle of Paradise: Saint Damien of Molokai and Jonathan Napela in Kalaupapa

April 21, 2010 | 12 comments
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The eighth circle of Paradise: Saint Damien of Molokai and Jonathan Napela in Kalaupapa

Sunday evening I attended a screening of a preliminary cut of the documentary “The Soul of Kalaupapa.”  The film examines the ecumenical legacy of the leper’s colony  on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.  Kalaupapa was brought to recent prominence by last year’s canonization of Saint Damien of Molokai, the key figure in the community’s history.  Fred Woods, a producer of the film and an historian whose research focuses on Kalaupapa, presented the film and followed it with a lecture on the topic. The history of the place is compelling, and heartbreaking.  Founded in 1865 on an isolated peninsula of... Read more »

Approaching Diversity

April 19, 2010 | 39 comments
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The text for today’s blog post is brought to you by BYU Speeches, specifically, “Weightier Matters“, by Dallin H. Oaks (does anyone here know if speeches are quoted, underlined, or italicized?). In part of his talk, Elder Oaks discusses diversity in terms of means vs. ends. Specifically, he says, “Since diversity is a condition, a method, or a short-term objective — not an ultimate goal — whenever diversity is urged it is appropriate to ask, “What kind of diversity?” or “Diversity in what circumstance or condition?” or “Diversity in furtherance of what goal?” This is especially important in our... Read more »

OT Lesson 16 Study Notes: Numbers 22-24, 31

April 18, 2010 | no comments
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OT Lesson 16 Study Notes: Numbers 22-24, 31

Who is Balaam? All of a sudden a non-Israelite prophet appears. Who is he? Based on Numbers 23:7, Word Biblical Commentary: Numbers, page 263) suggests that he is a Syrian. Is he really a prophet? If no, why not? If yes, in what sense of the word? (Archaeologists have discovered an inscription mentioning Balaam in a probable temple complex in Transjordan. The inscription comes from the 8th or 7th century BC—Ashley, The Book of Numbers 437.) New Testament writers took Balaam as a negative object lesson. Peter, speaking of those who left the church because of lust, refers to... Read more »

A Monastery for Families

April 18, 2010 | 27 comments
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A Monastery for Families

My wife and her friends chat together in the quad while the kids play outside. This last week, one of her friends said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all just buy some land and move out there together?” This kind of sentiment is what I’m all about. We just need some place, some facility, to do it. How about a monastery? I mean, who doesn’t like monasteries? They’re peaceful, worshipful, and beautiful. In fact, I could become a monk. Except that I’m married. And have kids. And am Mormon…and we Mormons don’t have monasteries. But if we... Read more »

A Mormon Image: Apostle and Grandfather

April 18, 2010 | 3 comments
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A Mormon Image: Apostle and Grandfather

Elder Spencer W. Kimball holding a grandchild, circa 1972 (Courtesy of Ed Kimball) Read more »

OT Lesson 15 Study Notes: Numbers 11-14, 21:1-9

April 17, 2010 | no comments
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OT Lesson 15 Study Notes: Numbers 11-14, 21:1-9

Besides the chapters of Numbers assigned for this lesson, I also recommend chapters 16, 17, and 20. It is unfortunate that we have no lessons from Leviticus. Though it is not immediately obvious how we should understand those scriptures and apply them to ourselves, the exercise of doing so can be very beneficial. I have depended on study notes prepared by my friend, Art Bassett, several years ago. But I’ve edited and expanded them since then—more than once—so I am no longer sure who wrote what. So I take responsibility for what you see here, though I’m not sure... Read more »

What is the doctrinal status of the car-wreck story?

April 17, 2010 | 57 comments
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It’s a story we’ve all heard, and it’s still in wide circulation. For instance, from the current YW manual: President Spencer W. Kimball told the following true story: “A few years ago a young couple who lived in northern Utah came to Salt Lake City for their marriage. They did not want to bother with a temple marriage, or perhaps they did not feel worthy. At any rate, they had a civil marriage. After the marriage they got into their automobile and drove north to their home for a wedding reception. On their way home they had an accident,... Read more »

More on Social Justice

April 14, 2010 | 185 comments
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The Church Newsroom’s blog has a link to a post by Michael Otterson, Head of Public Affairs, on the recent social justice issue. Read more »

David Paulsen’s “I’ve a Mother There”

April 13, 2010 | 7 comments
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BYU philosophy professor David Paulsen presented a paper titled “‘I’ve a Mother There’: A Historiographical Study of Portrayals of Heavenly Mother in Mormon Discourse” at the recent BYU Studies Symposium. Read more »

Stopping the Flood When the Dams Burst

April 12, 2010 | 12 comments
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A friend of mine told a story from when she was a seminary student. As I recall it, one student, let’s call him Eusebius, had had perfect attendance for three years. The attendance policy allowed a fifteen-minute late window. The teacher would shut the door fifteen minutes after class started, and any students who came it after the door was shut weren’t counted in attendance for the day. Eusebius had been prompt to class for the first three years, but during his fourth year he showed up closer and closer to the fifteen-minute mark, until he finally missed it.... Read more »

Institutionalized Lying

April 12, 2010 | 108 comments
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Currently I serve as the Primary chorister in my ward. (Call it the curse of anyone who can sing and direct music.) The assigned song for March was “Follow the Prophet.” In case you’re not familiar with the song, it was written so that children around the world can mumble through the 400 verses, followed by yelling out the chorus at the top of their lungs. One verse is about Jonah, as in the guy with the great fish problem. It has this line in it: When we really try the Lord won’t let us fail. I had long... Read more »

Mormon History, Brazilian Perspective — A Call for Papers

April 12, 2010 | no comments
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The Brazilian Association for Mormon Studies has issued a call for papers for its 2011 conference, with the theme “Mormon History from a Brazilian Perspective.” Read more »

OT Lesson 14 Study Notes: Exodus 15-20, 32-34

April 11, 2010 | no comments
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OT Lesson 14 Study Notes: Exodus 15-20, 32-34

As ever, there is a great deal of material in this reading. Perhaps the overviews I provide of each chapter (including some material on chapters 21-21) will help put matters in context. As you read the chapters ask yourselves what kinds of parallels, types, and other meanings you see. How do these things help us understand our own lives? How do they help us understand our relation to Christ? To help you think about that more profitably, also ask yourselves “What did these things mean to the Israelites when they happened?” “What might they mean to Jews today?” Thinking... Read more »

The blotted page of the book of nature

April 9, 2010 | 9 comments
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The blotted page of the book of nature

Despite a unique cosmology that has at times inspired artistic creation for a wider American audience, there is no Mormon astrology. Someone who knew Mormonism only through its scriptural texts might be forgiven for finding this omission curious. Read more »

A Mormon Image: Never Too Old for Trunk or Treat

April 7, 2010 | 6 comments
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A Mormon Image: Never Too Old for Trunk or Treat

As I dressed my 3 year old in her Halloween costume for the ward trunk or treat, she asked “and mom, what are you going to be?”  Oh, I’m too old for this stuff, I thought.  Then as we walked in that night, I saw this 70 year-old clown and realized, we’re never too old to feel like a kid again. by Dana Willard of 88 Miles Per Hour ___ This picture is part of our ongoing series highlighting Mormon images. Comments to the post are welcome; all comments should be respectful. In addition we invite you to submit... Read more »

Mormons to Watch for the Next Six Months

April 7, 2010 | 44 comments
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Mormons to Watch for the Next Six Months

Last year I looked at the information that many Mormons want to know each April, the understanding we want of the changes that have happened in the last six months and what that will mean for the next six months. Its time to do it again. Read more »

Claremont Conference: What Is Mormon Studies?

April 7, 2010 | no comments
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Claremont Conference: What Is Mormon Studies?

The Claremont Mormon Studies Student Association is holding its Spring 2010 Conference on April 23 and 24 on the theme What Is Mormon Studies? Transdisciplinary Inquiries into an Emerging Field. The Conference line-up is as follows: Keynote Address Jan Shipps – Indiana University-Purdue University Critical Approaches to Mormon Studies Loyd Ericson – “Where is the Mormon in Mormon Studies?  Subject, Method, Object” Cheryl L. Bruno – “Mormon History from the Kitchen Window: White is the Field in Essentialist Feminism” Blair Van Dyke – “How Wide the Divide? The Absence of Conversation between Mormon Studies and Mormon Mainstream” Christopher C.... Read more »

12 Walks to Zion

April 6, 2010 | 32 comments
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12 Walks to Zion

I'm not ready to leave my "building Zion" discussion just yet. Where does the New Jerusalem come from? If you asked my peers, parents, seminary teachers, and Sunday school instructors, you might receive visions like these: Read more »

Gospel Principles Lesson #7

April 6, 2010 | 17 comments
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Gospel Principles Lesson #7: The Holy Ghost Read more »

What If the Rank & File Really are Stupid?

April 6, 2010 | 25 comments
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What If the Rank & File Really are Stupid?

That is, what if they really are perniciously ignorant or uneducated or immature or tenuous neophytes or fragile (speaking of both intellect and testimony)? What if they’re as hopeless as some in and out of the Church so often say and treat them as being? Read more »

Are We Mormon, or Are We Dancer?

April 5, 2010 | 10 comments
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Are We Mormon, or Are We Dancer?

In my previous job, I served as co-chair on the college diversity council. It was not a position I was qualified for, but one in which I learned a lot. While there, I noticed that “black” is a culturally acceptable word again. I’m interested in the words we use to describe races, ethnicities, and cultures. When I was little, “black” was the only word I knew, but I remember being taught in middle school to use “African American” instead. As a black-and-white (no pun intended) conservative teenage thinker, I was bothered by this shift. It seemed like a pointless... Read more »