Blog Archives

Best Colleges for Young Single Mormons

July 31, 2004 | 60 comments
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All of our permanent bloggers are married, so we do not talk much about the life of single members, except by way of remembrance. This morning, however, I had one of those milestone events that marks the aging of a father as I spoke with my daughter about her college plans. We had explored this topic before, but only in fairly general terms, and over the past six months she has been receiving college brochures at a pace that would rival a top high school quarterback. Today she listed some of the colleges she was considering, and I was... Read more »

Mormons From Utah

July 31, 2004 | 5 comments
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The New York Times is reporting that “Mormon genes are hot.” To a scientist, the single greatest attraction of Utah – and its biggest distinction in a nation of rootless wanderers – is stability. For more than 150 years, largely because of the Mormon church, the state has been a magnet to people who mostly stayed put. A relatively small founding population was fruitful and multiplied – aided in the 19th century by polygamy, adding a unique wrinkle to the genetic trail. With its emphasis on family records and genealogy, the Mormon church, officially the Church of Jesus Christ... Read more »

The Purpose of Gospel Doctrine Class

July 29, 2004 | 24 comments
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The discussion below under Utah Mormons has rekindled a longstanding question for me: why do we have a Gospel Doctrine class? Elder Harold G. Hillam offered a very interesting history of the Sunday School Program of the Church in the August 1999 Ensign with an article entitled, “Sunday School: Oil for Our Lamps.” The Sunday School program of the Church dates back to the mid-1800s, when the focus was on teaching children the Gospel. Gradually the target age range for Sunday School lessons expanded to the system that we have today. Read more »

Utah Mormons

July 28, 2004 | 145 comments
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Since things are a bit slow around here today (unless you are interested in Zelph), I will take the opportunity to contemplate with you a silly question that has been on my mind from time to time lately: what is a “Utah Mormon”? I started wondering about this a few Sundays back, when a visitor to our Gospel Doctrine class started answering all of the questions with great authority. When I learned that he was from St. George, and I immediately thought, “Oh, it figures. He’s a Utah Mormon.” Then I started wondering how I could identify him as... Read more »

The Next Apostle

July 26, 2004 | 64 comments
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Yesterday in Church, someone asked, “So, who will be called as the next Apostle?” I responded with great certitude, “Merrill Bateman.” Of course, I have no idea whether Elder Bateman will become the next Apostle, but former BYU Presidents have a good track record in that regard. Actually, I didn’t find the question all that interesting because I know so few people who are legitimate candidates that the likelihood of my guessing correctly is close to zero. Only when another member of the ward suggested the name of someone I knew — someone not currently a General Authority, but... Read more »

Name Calling

July 20, 2004 | 37 comments
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I am a pretty informal guy. With few exceptions, I address everyone I know by first name. Two of the exceptions are in the Church: “Bishop” for the bishop, and “President” for the stake president … unless I know them really well, in which case I tend to use their titles only at Church functions. Read more »

“On Equal Grounds”

July 20, 2004 | 4 comments
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The story of Korihor in Alma 30 contains many lessons for the modern audience. Perhaps not surprisingly, the most interesting part of the chapter to me is the discussion of law in verses 7-11. In particular, this discussion is bookended by the concept of equality: 7. “Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.” 12. “… Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes... Read more »

Book of Mormon (Doubleday)

July 19, 2004 | 13 comments
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Book of Mormon (Doubleday)

About two weeks ago, the Church announced that Doubleday would be publishing a new edition of the Book of Mormon for general readers. How does it differ from the one that you and I use? “The new hardcover edition will reflect design changes introduced by Doubleday to make the volume more easily read and understood by a non-Mormon audience, but will remain faithful to the text itself. For example, the new edition will not include the exhaustive cross-references and index included in the volume used by Church members.” The list price of this new book is $24.95 (though you... Read more »

Inspired Jeopardy

July 17, 2004 | 51 comments
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Inspired Jeopardy

We would be remiss if we didn’t tip our collective hat to Ken Jennings, who is setting records on the Jeopardy game show. Many of the news stories about Jennings discuss tithing or his Church affiliation generally. My favorite is this spoof: According to a source within the Mormon church, a team of investigators have started looking into the life of this bright young husband and father of one…. “This is bad, real bad,” our source said. “Mormons do best when they are flying under the radar. At our core we are a fragile, shallow religion. One tremor like... Read more »

Tri-Stake Dance

July 17, 2004 | 11 comments
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Although I am not officially involved in the YM-YW programs, my daughter is 16, and in a fit of service euphoria, I agreed to drive her and six other youth from our ward about an hour and a half to a Tri-Stake Dance. We arrived about 40 minutes late because a 13-year-old YW — yes, that’s right, I participated in smuggling an underage YW into a Church dance — convinced the older youth that being on time was uncool. The location had been selected because it was central to all three stakes, but the gymnasium was about one-third of... Read more »

UofU and Theatre Student Settle

July 15, 2004 | 62 comments
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Christina Axson-Flynn’s lawsuit against the University of Utah garnered lots of attention, but I am not sure that we have discussed it here. The events took place in 1998, and revolve around Axson-Flynn’s experience in the University of Utah’s Actor Training Program (ATP). When she refused to use vulgar and profane language, her instructors pressured her to “get over it.” In the face of her refusal to change her views, the instructors escalated the pressure, and she ultimately decided to leave the program. In the wake of her withdrawal, she sued the University and her instructors for violating her... Read more »

Sunday Play … Again

July 12, 2004 | 26 comments
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The issue of Sunday play is a perpetual discussion-starter in Mormondom. Some celebrate as courageous those who refuse to dishonor the Sabbath by participating in sporting events. Then there is this story. On Saturday, Todd Miller, BYU golfer and son of golfing legend Johnny Miller, qualified to play in the Sunday final of the Utah State Amateur, then declined to play. Miller said: “What I do on Sunday is way more important than winning a tournament. I don’t look down upon people who play on the Sabbath. I would just feel like a hypocrite in my own heart if... Read more »

The Nature of Prayer

July 5, 2004 | 13 comments
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Yesterday, in our discussion of Alma 14, our Gospel Doctrine teacher read an oft-quote passage from Spencer W. Kimball, which prompted some thoughts about the nature of prayer. Read more »

Thanks, Dan

June 30, 2004 | 4 comments
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On behalf of T&S, I would like to thank Dan Burk for the substantial time that he spent on the site over the past two weeks. As Kingsley noted below, Dan’s posts have consistently generated a lively discussion, in which he was an active participant. I said in my introduction two weeks ago that I always learn something new when I speak with Dan, and nothing in the past two weeks has proved me wrong. Read more »

Good Faith

June 30, 2004 | 27 comments
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The concept of good faith plays an important role in the law of contracts. Courts and commentators have long recognized that (many) contracts are incomplete, that parties cannot build meaningful, long-term relationships without some gaps in the initial framework. Such gaps, when discovered, might seem to allow one party to take advantage of the other. One method of preventing such behavior is the application of the duty to act in good faith. According to Judge Richard Posner, “The office of the doctrine of good faith is to forbid the kinds of opportunistic behavior that a mutually dependent, cooperative relationship... Read more »

An American Church

June 28, 2004 | 27 comments
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In the vigorous debate about Iraq happening below, Laurie Burk (hi, Laurie!) wrote: “In the Mideast, America is still viewed as a Christian nation. In most of the world the LDS church is still viewed as an American church, and the violence of the Iraq war is seen as American instigated violence. And violence does not advance the cause of Christ.” I will leave the Iraq debate to that thread, but I am interested in the idea of an American church. I heard this often on my mission, and I heard it just last week in Germany. It was... Read more »

Rooting for BYU

June 27, 2004 | 15 comments
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Adam’s post about Rafael Araujo started me thinking about a debate that rages from time to time on BYU sports boards: whether Church members should feel obliged to be BYU sports fans. The reasoning in favor of this proposition goes something like this: BYU is supported by Church funds and managed by the Prophet and other General Authorities of the Church; in furtherance of BYU’s mission, the Board of Trustees and BYU’s President have endorsed an athletic program, partly because it performs a missionary function for the Church; therefore, all Church members should rejoice when BYU fields a successful... Read more »

Boredom

June 27, 2004 | 13 comments
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I recently returned from a teaching stint in Europe, and this morning I was thinking about a small incident that prompted some Gospel-related thoughts … not about war. Two of my children and I were traveling from Bath to London, and we decided to take the scenic route, which allowed us to stop at Stonehenge on the way. We were all quite enamored with the ancient structure, which I found oddly inspiring. My children (ages 10 and 8) listened intently to their self-guided tour recordings and asked interesting questions. They were genuinely engaged. Read more »

Church Materials in MP3

June 27, 2004 | 6 comments
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Is this old news? The Church is now offering the Book of Mormon, D&C, General Conference, Church magazines, and certain other materials in MP3 format. The audio site is here. The Church’s website also has some downloads for handhelds, and music downloads. Check out the music player by clicking the name of the song you would like to hear. Pretty cool stuff. Read more »

Introducing the Church

June 17, 2004 | 32 comments
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I am currently in Giessen, Germany, teaching a class on venture capital to a small number of German law students. Earlier today, I met with the Dean of the law school and the professor here who supervises the exchange program between our schools. They were fascinated by the fact that I speak German, albeit within a very limited range of topics. This ability, such as it is, is a byproduct of my mission in Austria. When I mentioned this fact to my hosts, one of them replied, “I know virtually nothing about Mormons.” What an invitation! I obliged by... Read more »

Welcome to Dan Burk, Guest Blogger

June 16, 2004 | 7 comments
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After months of effort, we have finally convinced Dan Burk to join us for a stint as a guest blogger. Dan is the Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School. His primary area of expertise is intellectual property law, and he has special expertise in cyberlaw and biotechnology. He has long been a professor in demand and has taught and visited at numerous law schools, most recently at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. (And if my information is still current, Dan will be teaching at Cornell... Read more »

China Reflections

May 29, 2004 | 6 comments
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China Reflections

Last week Nate pointed to some of the entries on my other blog about my visit to China. Far from being an expert on China, most of what I know was learned during that week, often from tour guides or Chinese law students and professors. On the other hand, merely being in a place results in a type of learning not available in books. How many words would it take to describe the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings that accompany a trip to the Silk Market? Or the experience of standing atop the Great Wall? I can show you... Read more »

Collective Action: Is it a Problem?

May 29, 2004 | 6 comments
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Given our dependence on a lay ministry and an (almost) all volunteer workforce, the fact that the Church operates at all is something of a miracle. Most of us credit (perhaps self-servingly) the “20” in the “80-20 Rule,” that is, those few individuals in every ward who seem to be shouldering the greatest burdens. As my time in the Church has lengthened, my affinity for the 80-20 Rule has waned. The Rule makes sense only when you count all of those nominal members who have no emotional attachment to the Church, but these people are largely excluded from the... Read more »

The Curtain Draws on Seminary

May 29, 2004 | 8 comments
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My year as a Seminary teacher ended today. This job is one reason among many that I have been absent from T&S for the past month or so. The time demands on an early morning Seminary teacher, when added to having a full-time job and trying to raise five children … well, let’s just say that this was not an easy year for me. Next week is Seminary Graduation, but I will be out of the country, so we had our own little graduation party today. One feature of today’s class was reading some of the funny comments that... Read more »