Blog Archives

Faithful priesthood narratives?

July 17, 2014 | 117 comments
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Faithful priesthood narratives?

some of those who speak in opposition to women's ecclesiastical enfranchisement do so because they can't imagine what a faithful, coherent narrative of our dispensation could possibly look like if women's priesthood role were restored and developed or if they did receive the Melchizedek Priesthood Read more »

Knocking With My Sisters

June 22, 2014 | 41 comments
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IMG_1268

One of my most recent posts was an attempt to honestly explore (or at least ask) the question: “How do faithful members collectively petition our prophets to petition the heavens?” The scriptures and the early days of our church are replete with faith-inspiring examples. How do we do it now that we’re millions strong? The answer – as the events of the last two weeks have thrown in dramatic relief – is that we don’t have one. Many others have noted the fact of Kate Kelly’s disciplinary council arising from (as many think) her aggressive tactics courting media and engaging non-Mormons... Read more »

Mourning with those that mourn

June 11, 2014 | 41 comments
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Mourning with those that mourn

Job 1: 20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.  22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. Job 2: 11 ¶Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort... Read more »

Where is the door? How do WE knock?

March 30, 2014 | 98 comments
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Salt Lake Temple doorknobs

One of the gems of my mission was the opportunity to spend an evening with a Bishop from the RLDS (now Community of Christ) Church Read more »

Awkward Discourse, Awkward Practice

March 3, 2014 | 23 comments
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Awkward Discourse, Awkward Practice

Let me say up front that I’m a big fan of the Church’s new Gospel Topics section. And the most recent entry “Becoming Like God” is perhaps my favorite. I thought the author contextualized the topic well, and I especially liked the section entitled “How do Latter-day Saints envision exaltation?” In part because of the nature of the topic, and in part because the author courageously included two full paragraphs on our Heavenly Parents, however, this article manifests our incongruent, sometimes incoherent, and at the least wholly awkward way of discussing all things women in the Church. There’s nothing... Read more »

Everyday Redemption

January 21, 2014 | 7 comments
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Everyday Redemption

Strutting down the driveway, whistling with a snow shovel over my shoulder I had a moment where I was struck by the absurdity of the scene. I smiled. Then I wondered at it and how it came to be. Late morning, and gloriously the DC area shuts down at the mention of snow. So I’m still in my pajamas, hanging the picture frames I’ve been meaning to get at for some time. “James, quick, there’s a car stuck out there. Get your shovel and go help.” “Oh. Sure.” That was it in terms of words and thought. But even... Read more »

Reasoning Together – Zion

January 2, 2014 | 9 comments
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Reasoning Together – Zion

We talk about Zion in a lot of different senses, but I think most of these share the general idea of communally gathering, developing, sharing, and partaking in everything that is lovely, virtuous, or praiseworthy or of good report. How do we do this, both collectively and individually, on both a theological and political level? Once again (obviously) I can’t adequately answer that question here. But once again I’m bothered by a lot of the discussions I see flying around our virtual and ward-level worlds. I don’t like the divisive,  polemical way in which these discussions are framed –... Read more »

Reasoning Together – Prophets

December 31, 2013 | 22 comments
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Reasoning Together – Prophets

Here’s the main point: I don’t think either our history or our theology supports traditional and currently widespread – though often unarticulated – notions of what a prophet is.  Read more »

Responding as Mandela

December 8, 2013 | 3 comments
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Responding as Mandela

Driving to work Friday morning the news reports were of course all about Nelson Mandela who had passed away the night before. Mandela was unquestionably a savior on Mt. Zion in the Mormon sense Read more »

Mortality

September 13, 2013 | 12 comments
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Mortality

I have family members who have died recently, others who are dying, and some who tell me confidently every time we talk, “You know, I won’t be around much longer…” Read more »

Restoring the Paths to Dwell In – Part III

July 30, 2013 | 9 comments
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Restoring the Paths to Dwell In – Part III

My main motivation was jealousy. I was fantastically jealous that my wife was running the coolest book club I’d ever seen. Read more »

Restoring the Paths to Dwell In – Part II

July 25, 2013 | 15 comments
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Restoring the Paths to Dwell In – Part II

The first time I remember, it happened – of course – because I was searching for things on the internet. If I remember correctly, it even happened because I was researching for a Sunday School lesson. I read about Gallatin Missouri Read more »

Restoring the Paths to Dwell In – Part I

July 24, 2013 | 13 comments
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Restoring the Paths to Dwell In – Part I

I’d never seen anything like it. It wasn’t just Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? (which was opened on the living room coffee table with a pen resting on top). There was a pile of anti-Mormon literature in various stages of being read sitting around the room. Read more »

Advice on Teaching – Preparation

June 15, 2013 | 5 comments
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Advice on Teaching – Preparation

(This is the second post in a series. The first post is here.) Read more »

Advice on Teaching – Preliminaries

June 6, 2013 | 15 comments
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Advice on Teaching – Preliminaries

I’ve recently been involved in teacher training in my ward and have prepared some materials that I’m going to share across a few posts. Read more »

Damnable Terminology

June 1, 2013 | 7 comments
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I now genuinely regret my use of the term ‘violence’ in my recent post. My intention was to be completely candid and point out a phenomenon of our collective experience. As I often tell my students, however, the thoughts, intentions and arguments that might genuinely be running through our heads when we compose something does not change the meaning of the end product. Read more »

Damnable Defaults

May 26, 2013 | 71 comments
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A great deal of the discussion on women in the priesthood that I see happening right now concerns our efforts to control and propagate various narratives. Personally, I find our current default narratives even more upsetting than our current practices. Read more »

Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World – Online!

May 2, 2013 | no comments
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Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World – Online!

The 2013 Church History Symposium now has most of the videos from the conference online (you can see the lineup for the conference here). I think the conference, it’s organization and execution, was a significant step forward for church-sponsored scholarship (or more precisely, was a continuation of the significant steps the church has been taking recently) – that is, the event itself is worth celebrating. But there were also some really interesting addresses. And now, it’s all online, gratuitement! Click here. Read more »

Elegy

February 8, 2013 | 11 comments
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Elegy

My dear friend, Read more »

Church History Conference

January 27, 2013 | 13 comments
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Church History Conference

There is a Church History Conference at BYU March 7-8 entitled “Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith and the Ancient World” (see details below). I find two things interesting about this conference: 1. The structure of the conference itself. The Church History Department and the BYU Department of Religion are co-sponsoring the conference, and while most of the lineup consists of BYU Religion professors there is also a significant lineup of non-BYU scholars, including Richard Bushman, Matt Bowman, and Kevin Barney. This strikes me as something different than I might have expected. 2. The content of the conference. To date much of... Read more »

Dia de los Muertos: We Live in their Presence

November 3, 2012 | one comment
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Dia de los Muertos: We Live in their Presence

I won’t lie, I was frightened going to the Democratic Republic of the Congo Read more »

The Temple and The Tempest

July 21, 2012 | no comments
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The Temple and The Tempest

Shakespeare’s been critical for me at critical junctures in my life. In Mormonism where The Bard is revered, I think this is common. In Junior High Hamlet was the gift of language that bootstrapped the monkey into a meaningful world. Celebrating the Ides of March together with the woman I desperately wanted to marry reversed the obvious set-up for a tragedy. It’s a memorial my family continues to celebrate each year with a brief family Shakespearapalooza. This last week has been filled with Shakespeare, culminating last night with a dream date my wife took me on to the Royal... Read more »

Happy Mother’s Day

May 13, 2012 | 12 comments
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Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a bit like Christmas time in terms of the mass solicitations sent out from various NGOs. To be honest, these are perhaps the only mass emails that I don’t mind. And I frankly agree with their general point: what better way to wish your own mother a Happy Mother’s Day than by contributing to another mother in her name? Read more »

Mormon Intellectuals Part III: My Postscript

February 27, 2012 | 12 comments
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(See here for Jim’s original post, here for part I, and here for part II)  In my original response to Jim, I wrote the following: While I’ve tried to be fair and accurate, it may be that I’m misreading , that I’m mistaken in my analysis of their position. Even if that turns out to be the case, I believe that explicitly laying out this Toscano-Faulconer spectrum is a very useful tool, one that helps us all to orient ourselves to the various possibilities that exist for intellectuals, and allows me to argue in favor of a... Read more »