Blog Archives

Sunday School Lesson 35

September 4, 2004 | 2 comments
By

Lesson 35: Helaman 13-16 Chapter 13 Verses 1,ff: Does the Lord threaten the Nephites through Samuel, telling them to “repent or elseâ€?? If so, how do we understand such a threat? How does it differ from bullying? If not, how are we to understand this kind of prophecy? Verse 5: What does Samuel mean by “the sword of justiceâ€?? Verse 7: What are the glad tidings which the angel brought him and which he hoped the Nephites would receive? Verse 8: Why does the Lord say he will withdraw from them because of the hardness of their hearts rather... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 34

September 4, 2004 | 2 comments
By

Lesson 34: Helaman 6-12 Chapter 6 Verse 3: How does the attitude of the members of the Church compare here with Moroni’s attitude? Verse 9: As soon as we read that the Nephites and Lamanites “became exceedingly richâ€? what do we expect to read about soon? Verse 17: Why do they want gain? What does it mean to be lifted up above another? What’s wrong with it? How do we lift ourselves above others? Verse 27: Why is the comparison of the Gadianton robbers to Cain an important one for us? What does it tell us? Verse 30: What... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 33

August 28, 2004 | one comment
By

I’m back from a couple of weeks during which the internet wasn’t accessible–altogether, a very nice experience. This is the lesson that I will be teaching tomorrow, and I will try to get next week’s lesson out early in the week. Lesson 33: Helaman 1-5 Chapter 1 Verses 7-8: How do we understand a righteous person like Pahoran the elder having a child who was so unrighteous? For what did the Nephites condemn Paanchi to death? Why was his crime so terrible that it deserved death? Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 32

August 9, 2004 | 21 comments
By

Lesson 32: Alma 53-63 Many people find it difficult to read the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon. Though I certainly understand why they have difficulty, for me the most difficult chapters are those on war at the end of Alma. I understand that they show us what happened to the Nephites, an important part of the Book of Mormon’s message. But I don’t find a lot of spiritual meaning in them, so I find myself just reading through them, not stopping to think, wonder, or meditate. I am interested in what others might contribute to helping me... Read more »

Nice people

August 8, 2004 | 2 comments
By

Today I had to repair our sprinkler system–something unneeded by those in large cities living in apartments, or those in places with rainfall, but something absolutely essential living in Utah, especially if you’re leaving for two weeks and would like the tomatoes to be alive when you return. Read more »

Are we less righteous?

August 6, 2004 | 81 comments
By

We often speak about the unrighteousness of our generation and nation, but what do we mean by that? (See here and here.) Read more »

We are Weird

August 6, 2004 | 31 comments
By

About a week ago I went to the wedding of one of my nieces. As I sat waiting for the wedding to begin and watching people arrive, I suddenly had a glimpse of how we look to many who either are not attending church with us or are completely outside our community. In short, we look weird. Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 31

August 1, 2004 | 2 comments
By

Lesson 31: Alma 43-52 The manual gives this overview of the material in the lesson: a. Alma 43–44. Led by Zerahemnah, the Lamanites come to battle against the Nephites, seeking to bring them into bondage. The Nephites, led by Moroni, fight to defend their families and their liberty. The Nephites prevail because they are “inspired by a better cause” and because they exercise faith in Jesus Christ. b. Alma 45:20–24; 46. Amalickiah desires to be king and causes dissension among the Nephites. Captain Moroni raises the “title of liberty” to inspire the people, and they covenant to follow God.... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 30

July 29, 2004 | 4 comments
By

Lesson 30: Alma 39-42 Why is the lengthy discussion of resurrection in chapters 40-31 addressed to Corianton? Why does that part of Alma’s sermon come before his discussion of the punishment of sin (chapter 42)? Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 29

July 26, 2004 | 7 comments
By

Lesson 29: Alma 36-39 Alma 35:15-16 explains why Alma says the things in these chapters to his sons, Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton: because he grieved for the hardness of the hearts of the people to whom he and others had been sent as missionaries. (See Alma 31:6-7.) How does that explain what he says, especially since one of the three sons to whom he speaks, Helaman, was not part of that mission? Read more »

My Pioneer Ancestors

July 24, 2004 | 11 comments
By

I joined the Church in February of 1962, as a teenager living in San Antonio, Texas, where my father was stationed at the time. (He was in the Army, studying hospital administration at Fort Sam Houston, in a Baylor extension program.) My parents and my younger brother joined at the same time. My parents were both from Knob Noster, Missouri, near Warrensburg, in Johnson County, about fifty miles east of Independence. Many of my ancestors were living in the area when the Saints were in Independence and probably took part in the persecutions. If I understood my mother correctly,... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 28

July 21, 2004 | 11 comments
By

Lesson 28: Alma 32-35 Warning: this set of study questions is long, probably the longest I’ve done so far. If you bother to go through them, I think you’ll see why. If you don’t, it probably doesn’t matter why, but this should give you some idea: In the first edition of the Book of Mormon, Alma 30-35 are one chapter (16). 1. Korihor (30) 2. Zoramites (31-32a; 35) 2a. the poor in spirit (32a) 2b. faith and the atonement (32b-34) 3. Separation of the Ammonites from Jershon (35) This suggests that we should read these stories as a piece,... Read more »

Unexamined Life and Faith

July 17, 2004 | 28 comments
By

Kaimi refers us to a well-written and interesting piece by Chris Walton. In that piece Chris refers to one of his favorite Unitarian sayings, “An unexamined faith is not worth having.” That is an obvious re-writing of Socrates’s claim, “An unexamined life is not worth living” (Apology 38a). Few sayings are as well-known as the latter one; it can be found in any book of quotations and in the beginning sentence of many graduation addresses. Read more »

Thanks, Fred

July 12, 2004 | 2 comments
By

Fred beat me to the punch announcing the end of his stint as a guest blogger, but I want to thank him anyway, even if tardily. Fred not only raised issues that generated much discussion, he set an even and friendly tone in them and in his responses. He showed many of us how we can talk to each other about matters over which we may have deep disagreements and remain civil. And I don’t think anyone–guest blogger or permanent–has been as conscientious about replying to those who responded to his blogs. Thanks very much Fred. Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 27

July 10, 2004 | 6 comments
By

Lesson 27: Alma 30-31 We are all familiar with the story of Korihor, sufficiently familiar that we may read it too quickly. When we read quickly, we tend to skim over the text and “see” in it what is already in our heads rather than what it says. So take time to read through this story slowly, looking for places where it says things that you do not expect it to say. Those are places where you are likely to learn something new. Since Alma 31 fits naturally with Alma 32-35, lesson 28, I’m going to include it in... Read more »

Sinlessness

July 9, 2004 | 13 comments
By

We often say that Christ was sinless, that he was the only sinless human being. Surprisingly, that isn’t a teaching that we find often in the scriptures. The word “sinless” doesn’t occur in the scriptures. Using the sacrificial type, two scriptures describe him as “without spot” (Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 1:19). We infer his sinlessness from other scriptures and, especially, from the teaching of latter-day prophets. But what does it mean to say that he was sinless? Read more »

Looking on a woman to lust

July 9, 2004 | 32 comments
By

I ought to avoid making a mountain out of a molehill and derailing the current discussion (though one more argument about same-sex marriage is the last thing I’m interested in, so I don’t really mind if it gets derailed). Nevertheless, I think I should explain some of the cryptic remarks I made about lust more fully. Besides, I’m an academic. What else could I do but make mountains out of molehills. Read more »

Catholic Thought

July 6, 2004 | 19 comments
By

As Latter-day Saints, we often see the world in the terms given to us by Protestants. That isn’t surprising because they are those with whom we’ve had the most interaction as well as those from among whom most of us have been converted. I’m a prime example; before I joined the Church I thought about studying to become a Protestant minister. But the Protestant view of the world isn’t the only one and it isn’t necessarily the best. We often adopt that understanding of the Reformation without reflection, not only because Protestantism is, for us, a major intellectual inheritance,... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 26

July 5, 2004 | 6 comments
By

Lesson 26: Alma 23-29 Those who may not have a printed lesson manual can find it here. At the heart of this material we have the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, converts of the sons of Mosiah. That story has a great deal to teach us today, but it may not be what we expect, whether we read it as a story of pacifism or as something else. Read more »

Individual responsibility?

July 2, 2004 | 12 comments
By

Frank McIntyre says “I am only responsible for that part of me that is eternally me.” Adam Greenwood agrees and wonders how to makes sense of that claim in light of the teaching that God oversees everything and brings about his purposes. Kristine Haglund implicitly assumes, I think, that despair, acedia, etc. are really individual psychological disorders because, like Frank and Adam, she assumes that individuals are the basic units, the units at which responsibility occurs. Of course that assumption is the norm. But why should we believe it is true? Read more »

Hopelessness

July 2, 2004 | 36 comments
By

I’ve mentioned before that I’m working on a paper on hope. That was, in fact, the topic of my first post (which I do not know how to find and, so, do not know how to refer you to—but it doesn’t matter). The truth, however, is that next month I’m presenting a paper on the loss of hope. Doing that required that I spend a lot of time thinking and reading about hope, and I’ve been writing about it. Now I’m down to the last one-third of my paper, and I’ve got to stop talking about hope and say... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 25

June 29, 2004 | 5 comments
By

Lesson 25: Alma 17-22 Though this week’s lesson contains sermons by prophets, they aren’t its focus. Instead, it is primarily an account of part of the mission of the sons of Mosiah, particularly the missions of Ammon and, to a lesser degree, Aaron. This account makes a good story, with its tale of Ammon’s service to Lamoni and his battle with those who wanted to steal Lamoni’s sheep. We often use that story as an illustration of things such as faithful service or doing missionary work by service. Are those the reasons that the story of Ammon and Lamoni... Read more »

Welcome Fred Gedicks

June 28, 2004 | 2 comments
By

Welcome to our newest guest blogger, Fred Gedicks. Fred has been a professor of law at Brigham Young University for fourteen years, teaching classes in constitutional law and telecommunications. His research on has focused on religion and society, constitutional interpretation, and Mormon studies. He was a visiting professor at UNC-Chapel Hill last fall, and will be visiting at the University of Utah this fall. Read more »

Politics in the Church

June 23, 2004 | 97 comments
By

Why is it that conversations about political and quasi-political topics among Latter-day Saints almost always devolve quickly into posturing and name-calling? And why, in my experience, does it seem that those who are conservative are more likely to head in that direction first? I admit that my perception may be biased by the fact that I’m “liberal” (read “middle-of-the-road” everywhere but among American Latter-day Saints). I may overlook more easily the faults of those who agree with me. Nevertheless, my impression is that because they are the mainstream of the Church, conservatives often tend to be smug about their... Read more »