Blog Archives

Calling All Introverts

December 19, 2009 | 26 comments

There’s hope! At least that’s the message of a couple of posts I read through lately (here and here) presenting an interview with Adam McHugh, the author of Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture. By “Church” he means Evangelicals, not the LDS Church, but the discussion is still relevant to us. Read more »

Do We Need A Fifth Mission?

December 15, 2009 | 98 comments
Do We Need A Fifth Mission?

The news is out that LDS leaders are adding a fourth mission for the Church: caring for the poor and needy. According to an official LDS spokesman cited in the Salt Lake Tribune article, the new mission (or purpose or emphasis) will be included in the new edition of the Handbook of Instructions to be issued next year. With a publishing deadline looming, I propose that we put our collective heads together and see whether we need a fifth mission as well. Perhaps adding a fourth mission alone is not enough to fill in the gaps apparently missed by... Read more »

December: Preparing for the Annual Sunday School Curriculum Reboot

December 7, 2009 | 18 comments
December: Preparing for the Annual Sunday School Curriculum Reboot

In the Church, December means different things to different people. If you’re three, you will soon be exiled from that zone of energetic irreverence known as Nursery to your first real class, Sunbeams. If you’re a bishop, holiday cheer is tempered by the month-long grind of tithing settlement. But one change we all look forward to every year is the annual Sunday School curriculum reboot. The anticipation is palpable. Yes, even this year, with the Old Testament waiting in the wings. Any course of study gets old after twelve months. Universities run on quick 10-week quarters or endless 16-week... Read more »

Your View of Mormons in the Media

December 2, 2009 | 13 comments

I recently had a short discussion with a journalism student about how Mormons and Mormonism get covered in the mainstream media and whether new online media, including blogs, do any better. I’ll summarize my responses below, but I invite readers to offer their own responses in the comments. 1. How do Mormons feel about increased coverage of Mormonism in the mainstream media that accompanied Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy? I don’t know any Mormon who resents the increased coverage or wishes the media would stop talking about Mormonism. Of course, it is nice when journalists who include references to Mormonism... Read more »

What Happened in Nauvoo, Part 3: Polygamy

November 18, 2009 | 19 comments

Any history of Nauvoo needs to give an account of the secret practice of polygamy between 1841 and 1846. In Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, a People of Promise, Glen Leonard does this in about twenty pages as part of Chapter 13, “Foes Within: The Church of the Seceders.” Read more »

Hope and Children

November 13, 2009 | 7 comments

Faith and charity get plenty of attention, but hope not so much. Pessimism, it seems, has become one of the guiding principles of modernity, reflected in the media, popular culture, and even academia. So I was surprised to find a philospher making the suggestion that children anchor our hope for progress and our conviction that life will be better for the next generation. Read more »

What Happened in Nauvoo, Part 2: Flourishing

November 4, 2009 | 3 comments

This second installment discussing Glen Leonard’s Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, a People of Promise looks at the middle years in Nauvoo through about 1842, covered in the second section of the book (pages 123 to 269). Read more »

Sunday Afternoon in a Nutshell

October 4, 2009 | 92 comments

President Uchtdorf conducted the Sunday afternoon session, featuring talks by Elder Holland, Elder Cook, Elder Neilson, Elder Renlund, Elder Ringwood, Elder Sitati, and Elder Christofferson, followed by closing remarks from President Monson. Direct quotations (based on my notes) are given in quotes; phrases without quotes are my summary of the remarks given. Read more »

Saturday Afternoon in a Nutshell

October 3, 2009 | 7 comments

President Eyring conducted the Saturday afternoon session, featuring talks by Elder Oaks, Elder Hales, Elder Zeballos, Elder Callister, Elder Watson, Elder Anderson, and President Packer. Direct quotations (based on my notes) are given in quotes; phrases without quotes are my summary of the remarks given. Read more »

Saturday Morning in a Nutshell

October 3, 2009 | 16 comments

President Eyring conducted the Saturday morning session, which featured brief remarks from President Monson and talks from Elder Scott, Sister Matsumori, Elder Clayton, Brother Osguthorpe, Elder Bednar, and President Uchtdorf. Direct quotations (based on my notes) are given in quotes; phrases without quotes are my summary of the remarks. Read more »

What Happened in Nauvoo, Part 1: Founding

September 29, 2009 | 12 comments

A lot happened in Nauvoo that doesn’t get covered in Sunday School or the one-volume treatments of LDS history. But Glen Leonard’s Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, a People of Promise tells the story in detail from start to finish. Read more »

He Is Not in the Desert

September 12, 2009 | 46 comments

“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; … do not believe it” (NIV Matt. 24:26). Read more »

Populism and the Early Church

September 3, 2009 | 13 comments

I finally got my hands on a copy of The Democratization of American Christianity, Nathan O. Hatch’s look at how the egalitarian democratic spirit that pervaded post-Revolutionary America influenced five early American religious movements: the Christians (such as the Disciples of Christ), the Methodists, the Baptists, black churches, and Mormonism. Read more »

Two Kinds of Faith

August 24, 2009 | 13 comments

I recently read Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate, Terry Eagleton’s critique of the contributions to that debate by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (who he conflates via the memorable moniker “Ditchkins”). It’s less than I’d hoped for, but Chapter Three, “Faith and Reason,” raises issues and questions about that most basic of First Principles, faith. Read more »

Life on the Fringe

August 8, 2009 | 24 comments

I’ve seen several links but no discussion of the Slate piece on the hypothetical future role of Mormons, “The Catholic Church helped preserve Roman civilization. Can Mormonism do the same for America?” It’s part of an eight-part series on the theme How is America going to end? by a Slate senior editor. Read more »

New Primary Lesson Needed

August 5, 2009 | 29 comments

Suggested lesson topic: What to do when you are seven years old and do not want to go to church. Yes, I finally watched the video of the seven-year-old kid who drove away in the family car to avoid going to church (see posts at Get Religion or the SL Trib for details and the video). The story coyly refrains from noting which church the kid was fleeing, but the video comes courtesy of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office, so I’m just guessing … Read more »

Two New Permabloggers

August 5, 2009 | 10 comments

We are pleased to welcome two new permabloggers to our ranks: Alison Moore Smith and Rory Swensen. Both have recently guest blogged here, so I won’t repeat bio information from earlier welcome posts (see here and here for a refresher). We look forward to their continuing contributions here at T&S. Read more »

Modernism and the Mormon Intellectual

July 31, 2009 | 48 comments

The Enlightenment and its legacy of reason applied to human affairs has been tough on religion. One would think this would apply with even more force to the LDS Church, given how recent are the founding miracles of Mormonism and how prominently they are featured in discussions of our history and practice. But most Mormons seem strangely unaffected by the modernist critique. Read more »

Anonymity as Virtue or Vice

July 24, 2009 | 32 comments

Online anonymity is a topic that comes up regularly. Does if facilitate public discussion of controversial issues or just allow anonymous commenters to spread rumor and innuendo with no accountability? Does real-name posting or commenting improve quality via reputation effects or lead to self-censoring? These are valid questions for all online forums, not just blogs or the Bloggernacle. Read more »

AWOL: The Threefold Mission of the Church

July 10, 2009 | 38 comments

I was cleaning up my blogroll yesterday and came across this post at Intelligent Life that prominently displays the threefold mission of the Church: preach the gospel, redeem the dead, perfect the Saints. It occurs to me I rarely hear this once-prevalent formulation in current LDS discourse. Where did it go? Read more »

God and Robots

July 8, 2009 | 44 comments

They’re coming. Even if you don’t own a robot vacuum cleaner or lawnmower, you’ve been dealing with robots for many years now without realizing it: ATMs, kiosks that vend DVDs, the scan-it-yourself devices at the grocery store that greet you with a friendly “Welcome, valued customer!” and conclude with a brisk “Your receipt is printing. Don’t forget to pick up your change!” How long before the Church starts using robots for some functions? Please, no snarky comments. This is a serious topic. Read more »

Reflections on the Mormon Trail

July 3, 2009 | 2 comments

On a recent corner-to-corner drive across the state of Wyoming, I parallelled the Mormon Trail for about 200 miles: from where the trail intersects I-25 (about 80 miles north of Cheyenne), through Casper (site of the first Mormon Ferry), along Wyoming 220 past Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate, and Martin’s Cove, then up US 287 past Split Rock to the Sixth Crossing of the Sweetwater River. I’ve never been much for pioneer tales, but I enjoyed taking in the landscape that was the common experience of the first twenty thousand Mormons who made the overland trek to Utah. Read more »

Upbeat Reflections on BYU

June 17, 2009 | 119 comments

I recently spent a day on the BYU campus as part of an informal reunion with several old dorm-floor roommates and family members. It was a nice visit, and made me recognize something that often gets forgotten in online discussions about BYU: It is a great place for LDS kids to go to college. Read more »

Mormonism, Fundamentalism, and Absolute Truth

June 7, 2009 | 28 comments

I recently read Terry Eagleton’s After Theory (Basic Books, 2003), in which Eagleton manages (in a very entertaining way) to be critical of just about everything, including fundamentalism and “Utah” (a term he seems to be using as a proxy for Mormonism). He makes an interesting argument about fundamentalism, suggesting that it is rooted in how certain people (“fundamentalists”) read texts. His references to Utah suggest he sees Mormonism as practicing a fundamentalist approach to truth. I think I disagree with both points. Some fundamentalist movements might be based on how certain texts are read, but not all, and... Read more »