Monthly Archives: March 2012

Saturday Priesthood Session

March 31, 2012 | 5 comments
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President Eyring conducted the Saturday evening Priesthood Session. Direct quotations (based on notes by Kent and myself) are given in quotes; all other text represents my summary of the remarks given. Text in italics is my own editorial comment. I have highlighted in bold type one particularly striking thought or comment in each talk. Read more »

Saturday Afternoon Session

March 31, 2012 | 15 comments
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Saturday Afternoon Session

President Eyring conducted the Saturday afternoon session. Direct quotations of a speaker’s words (based on my notes) are given in quotes; other text represents my summary of the remarks given. Any text in italics represents my own editorial comment. Read more »

Saturday Morning Session

March 31, 2012 | 8 comments
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President Uchtdorf conducted the Saturday morning session, featuring talks by President Boyd K Packer, Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, Elder Paul E. Colliger, Elder Dallin H. Oaks and President Eyring, with brief introductory remarks by President Monson. Direct quotations (based on my notes) are given in quotes; all other text represents my summary of the remarks given. Parenthetical comments and discussion notes at the end of the post in italics are my own editorial comments. Read more »

Conference Pre-Game

March 31, 2012 | one comment
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Good morning, Conference viewers. Times and Seasons will once again post session-by-session summaries of Conference by Kent and Dave. Whether you are attending in person, listening on television, iPad, or radio, or will miss a session due to conflicts, we hope the posts add something to your Conference weekend. Read more »

Notes: Mormonism and the Internet

March 29, 2012 | 9 comments
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Below are notes from today’s live-streamed presentations at Utah Valley University’s Mormonism and the Internet conference. I will bold particular comments that stand out as I listen. Readers are welcome to make additional observations in the comments. Any reader attending in person? Read more »

No Women Allowed: Why Exclusion Makes the Priesthood Awesome

March 29, 2012 | 122 comments
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No Women Allowed: Why Exclusion Makes the Priesthood Awesome

In the name of full disclosure and in order to clarify my agenda, if any, note I tend to agree with Ralph Hancock a great deal of the time and to disagree with Joanna Brooks about as often. In addition, even before I began blogging in 2003, I wrote for Meridian Magazine. (I was one of the original three in the “Circle of Sisters.”) In his recent, two-part review of Joanna Brooks’ The Book of Mormon Girl, Ralph Hancock responds to Brooks’ negative response toward gender differentiation in the church. While I believe it minimizes this differentiation — with... Read more »

Just Say No?

March 28, 2012 | 19 comments
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Just Say No?

We have had horrible luck while traveling with finding church services through Mormon.org. On one trip, the address it gave didn’t exist. (How do I know? After nearly an hour of looking, asking people in the shops nearby, meeting up with friends who were also looking, well, we never found it.) On another, church started an hour after Mormon.org claimed it did. So I’m gun-shy about trusting Mormon.org when I’m looking for church services. Which is why, last summer, on vacation, when my wife saw an older couple wearing missionary name-tags, we decided to confirm when and where the... Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Divine Belief

March 28, 2012 | 14 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Divine Belief

We remain, in chapter 9 of The Attributes of God, within Ostler’s larger assessment of the (in)compatibility between exhaustive divine foreknowledge and human free will. I want to do two things in this post. First, I want to focus briefly on Ostler’s claim, on page 280, that the point on which “the debate ultimately turns” is “whether God’s having a belief is relevantly similar to humans having beliefs.” Second, I want to move from an investigation into what Ostler is doing with that gesture to yet another reframing of the question concerning knowledge—a reframing akin in spirit to what... Read more »

Conference Plug: Mormons and the Internet

March 27, 2012 | one comment
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Want to be discussed, dear reader? Engage in naval gazing? Hear voices and see faces of names you’ve only read and intellectually crushed on? A reminder of the conference to be held at UVU on Thursday and Friday and appropriately live-streamed over the internet, featuring various luminaries from all corners as John Dehlin (of Mormon Stories), Joanna Brooks (various), Ardis Parshall (Keepapitchinin and others), Scott Gordon (of FAIR), David Charles (of Patheos), James Faulconer, Patrick Mason, Jana Reiss, and others. Joanna Brooks and Jana Reiss will be doing readings on Wednesday, and it’s not clear if those will be... Read more »

A Mormon Mirage Disrupted

March 27, 2012 | 6 comments
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A Mormon Mirage Disrupted

We’re all familiar with unintended consequences. Recent news reports claim that the unintended consequence of last year’s Libyan civil war, which resulted in the death of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi. According to these reports, many of Gaddafi’s trained warriors were ethnic Tuaregs from northern Mali. When they returned after the Libyan war, these fighters joined the long-simmering Tuareg rebellion, which heated up suddenly in January. The result? Last week a group of Malian soldiers staged a coup, ousted the Malian government, and cancelled the forthcoming elections. Yes, the same elections that featured an LDS candidate, Yeah Samake. Read more »

Why You Should Be Difficult

March 26, 2012 | 20 comments
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“I’m mad at Jacob,” I snarl to my husband. “Jacob who?” he asks. “Jacob in the Book of Mormon!” He backs away slowly, as if from a dangerous, wounded animal. Read more »

All History is Local: A Review of Tiki and Temple by Marjorie Newton [minor update]

March 23, 2012 | 16 comments
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All History is Local: A Review of Tiki and Temple by Marjorie Newton [minor update]

Newton, Marjorie. Tiki and Temple: The Mormon Mission in New Zealand, 1854–1958. Draper, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2012. Paperback. 343 pages. ISBN: 978-1-58958-1210. $ 29.95. Former Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives, “Tip” O’Neill, is well known for saying All politics is local. By that he meant that voters choose who they support based on how it effects them locally, instead of on major national ideological issues. While how true this is may be debatable (don’t here, its off topic), I think it extends to history also. All history is local. Read more »

Mormonism: A religion of the head or of the heart?

March 22, 2012 | 13 comments
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Mormonism: A religion of the head or of the heart?

That question is not as straightforward as you might think. Garry Wills’ Head and Heart: American Christianities (Penguin Press, 2007) reviews these two different approaches and uses them to structure his history of Christianity in America. It is an effective format that helps the reader follow developments, in contrast to most histories of religion in America which are often overloaded with doctrinal and denominational details that have little interest for most contemporary readers. Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: The Homogeneous?

March 21, 2012 | 61 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: The Homogeneous?

In chapter 8 of The Attributes of God, Ostler continues grappling with the question of human agency in relation to God’s foreknowledge. The professional literature generated by this kind of theological question is wide and deep and the field is no particular speciality of mine. On these kinds of questions, Ostler is much better read than I am. The basic problem is this: “If there is anything in circumstances which precludes a person from exercising a power, then the power cannot be exercised under those circumstances” (249). Blake argues that God’s strong foreknowledge is just the kind... Read more »

Adventures in Family History, part 1

March 20, 2012 | 31 comments
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Adventures in Family History, part 1

Sunday night, I was at a meeting, the intent of which was to help us each get a name to take through the temple. Bandwidth problems significantly detracted from our ability to do so, but, as I was playing on FamilySearch, I discovered something incredible: I’m descended from royalty! Don’t believe me? Check it out: See? Proof irrefutable. Mrs. Joan Brownson, my great-great-great-etc.-grandmother was the daughter of the King and Queen of England. Except that it didn’t feel quite right. So I dug a little deeper. Under “Parents and Siblings,” I saw this: So it turns out I’m doubly... Read more »

Call for Papers: IV Brazilian Mormon Studies Conference

March 19, 2012 | 4 comments
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IV Brazilian Mormon Studies Conference Annual Conference of the ABEM (Associação Brasileira de Estudos Mórmons) Theme “The Relationship between Headquarters and Periphery in the LDS Church” January 19, 2013 São Paulo, Brazil   Call for Papers In 1830, Joseph Smith organized the Church of Christ in Manchester, New York State, when the movement had only three distinct congregations: one in Manchester / Palmyra, another in South Bainbridge (NY) and third in Harmony (PA). In just over a year, Smith consolidated the three congregations in the area of a fourth and new congregation, directing all his followers to move to... Read more »

Literary BMGD #13: Pratt’s Historical Sketch

March 19, 2012 | no comments
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While eclipsed by the Iron Rod imagery in Nephi, the Olive Tree imagery in Jacob is still well-known and referred to frequently. Like so much of Mormon theology, it attempts to give an explanation for the whole swath of human history and show that we are in the last days. Since both images are unique to the Book of Mormon, they are only found in Mormon sources. The earliest use of the Olive Tree imagery in literature is from Parley P. Pratt, who included it in his poem, Historical Sketch from the Creation to the Present Day. This poem... Read more »

BMGD #13: Jacob 5-7

March 19, 2012 | 19 comments
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Your help needed: naming Mormon ice cream

March 18, 2012 | 33 comments
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Your help needed: naming Mormon ice cream

Not too long ago, Ben and Jerry’s opened a new front in the culture wars by temporarily renaming its “Chubby Hubby” flavor as “Hubby Hubby” and highlighting this chilling act on their website. And now they’re at it again. I’m guessing that at some point the Church will respond with its own renamed flavor, which is where your collective wisdom is required. Here is a list of Ben and Jerry’s flavors. The best I could come up with is renaming Triple Caramel Chunk as Triple Temple Dunk. But I’m sure you can do better. Read more »

Mission reunions

March 16, 2012 | 20 comments
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He is French and served his mission in Spain: “I wish I could attend the reunion in Salt Lake,” he said. At Conference time, nearly all mission reunions are planned in Utah. The tradition dates back to the time when also nearly all missionaries came from Utah or surrounding States. But things have changed. Read more »

Review: The Book of Mormon Girl

March 15, 2012 | 79 comments
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Review: The Book of Mormon Girl

Joanna Brooks is the Chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. She is the author of several books, most recently The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories From an American Faith (2012). The book is available at Amazon and at the author’s website. A short couple of hundred pages, the book is at various turns both enjoyable and troubling, as the author recounts growing up LDS in Southern California, informally leaving the LDS Church then returning to activity, then rather suddenly emerging as a leading voice of what might be termed the progressive... Read more »

What Happened Last Thursday at Institute: l’Affair Botte Goes Local

March 14, 2012 | 7 comments
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What Happened Last Thursday at Institute: l’Affair Botte Goes Local

(I’m jumping because of the Bott stuff, but will still put up my 2 posts on Genesis 2-4 and Creation/temples post.) Instead of beginning on the Flood on Thursday as planned, I decided to take 5 minutes to talk about the mark of Cain in Genesis 4, and the curse on Canaan in Genesis 9. We never got to the flood, but ended up having a wonderful (I think) 2.5+ hour conversation about the priesthood ban, the eisegesis and various theories it engendered, the role and fuzzy definitions of tradition, policy, and doctrine in the Church. We also covered... Read more »

Don’t forget the theological issue in posthumous baptisms

March 14, 2012 | 30 comments
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It occurred to me the other day when I read Givens’ beautiful description of why we perform ordinances for the dead that our response to some critics of the practice of posthumous baptism may be too defensive. In response to those who believe that baptism or some other ordinance or event is required to enter God’s Kingdom, shouldn’t we go on the offensive and ask them what they are doing about those who were never baptized? Near as I can tell, hundreds of millions, if not billions, of humans have died without even having heard the gospel of any... Read more »

Mormons, Increase, and Gifts

March 13, 2012 | 24 comments
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An unscientific poll: (Poll inspiration here.) Read more »

Literary BMGD #12: Aristocracy

March 12, 2012 | 4 comments
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Literary BMGD #12: Aristocracy

A major element of Jacob’s sermon in Jacob 2 is his condemnation of pride and those caught up in their riches. In that sermon, Jacob not only preaches against pride, but argues for equality, saying “Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.”(2:17) and adding “one being is as precious in His sight as the other.” While Jacob likely lived too early in Nephite history for inherited classes to develop, still these views seem to clearly argue against classes and social hierarchy. Read more »

BMGD #12: Jacob 1-4

March 12, 2012 | 3 comments
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Policing Submissions for Baptisms for the Dead

March 7, 2012 | 44 comments
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And it’s in the news again. We have Elie Wiesel’s name slated for baptism, baptisms performed for Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal’s parents, baptism performed for Anne Frank (for the ninth time!), baptism performed for Daniel Pearl (who was killed in part, at least, because he was Jewish), and baptism performed for Gandhi. This in spite of the Church’s agreement (in 1995!) to remove Holocaust victims from the database. And, apparently, the Church has now sent out a strongly-worded letter to be read in Sacrament meetings. In the letter, the Church (strongly) reiterates the prohibition on submitting celebrity and Holocaust victim... Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Agency

March 7, 2012 | 17 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Agency

I will intentionally ignore the larger context in which chapter 7 of The Attributes of God appears—namely, an attempt to nail down the nature, according to the Mormon conception, of divine omniscience. I’ll focus more narrowly on just what Ostler has to say about agency. I think the larger concerns here are important, but we have some weeks yet in which to take up his conclusions. Late in chapter 7, Ostler begins to speak of emergence. I think this is the right term, but not, I think, in the way Ostler uses it. I want to talk about agency... Read more »

Institute Report: Genesis Week 5 (corrected)

March 6, 2012 | 8 comments
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Institute Report: Genesis Week 5 (corrected)

(We’re a few weeks behind here on the blog. I hope to catch up. Most important for my students: We WILL have Institute this week, contrary to what I said last Thursday.) Tonight we finished off Genesis 1 and introduced the second creation account in Gen 2. Had a few more people, so I started by recapping Walton’s theory of functional creation (references in previous post.) Seven days It’s long been noticed that days 1-3 parallel days 4-6. Walton argues that days 1-3 create three primary and basic functions, while 4-6 create functionaries that either carry out those functions,... Read more »

Tomorrow’s folklore (Updated)

March 6, 2012 | 112 comments
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Recent and highly public events have focused attention on the prevalence of “folklore” — church members, sometimes in positions of authority, “freelancing” beyond church doctrine. Of course, there are a variety of complicated issues in trying to sort out doctrine from folklore, which l’affaire Bott cast into sharp relief. There have been recriminations and hurt feelings, and the community will likely be dealing with the fallout for some time to come. But we do have a few silver linings. For instance, the church newsroom’s prompt and unequivocal condemnation of Bott’s statements likely means that highly-visible BYU professors will think... Read more »

The Bott Affair: Winners and Losers

March 6, 2012 | 93 comments
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It has been only one week since the initial Washington Post article quoting BYU Professor Randy Bott’s controversial statements was published. But a week is a lifetime online. While official and unofficial reactions will continue to play out over coming weeks and months, we can already see who the winners and losers are among the main players. Briefly, the winners are the LDS Church, LDS Public Affairs, LDS bloggers and columnists, the mainstream media, and the rank and file members of the Church. The losers are BYU and... Read more »

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