Blog Archives

Forgetting Kolob

October 8, 2014 | 40 comments
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Forgetting Kolob

General Conference is the central forum for official instruction in Mormon doctrine. Conference has very wide viewership among church members, and its influence is magnified by the widespread reach of Conference talks in the Ensign. The last General Conference in which Kolob was mentioned — the star where God lives — was in 1969. In 1969, President McKay briefly alluded to the idea of Kolob as an actual belief: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints always have known through revelation of the numberless creations of God. They are taught that somewhere out in that great... Read more »

A House of Order? Serious Problems of Notice in Kate Kelly Excommunication

June 23, 2014 | 90 comments
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The disciplinary council for Sister Kate Kelly met yesterday. Today, the council announced that they had decided to excommunicate her, for “conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church.” This result is very troubling. I have serious doubts about the substantive result here. I will set them aside for this post and instead focus on an important procedural matter: Sister Kelly was never informed that she was to be tried for “conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church,” was never given a chance to defend herself from that charge, and was ultimately excommunicated for... Read more »

Will No One Rid Me of This Turbulent Priest?

June 12, 2014 | 37 comments
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Will No One Rid Me of This Turbulent Priest?

“Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” According to popular tradition, this is the line that King Henry II blurted out after repeated disagreements with Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. (There are several variations, such as “who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?”) Four of Henry’s knights interpreted this as a royal command and set off for Canterbury, where they slew Becket while he prayed at the altar. How should we understand the knights’ actions? Should we view them as following orders, or as acting on their own initiative? There are multiple possible interpretations. For instance,... Read more »

When Civil Disobedience Isn’t

March 22, 2014 | 45 comments
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(Disobedient, that is.) As you may have noticed, the recent discussions about Ordain Women and related projects such as Wear Pants to Church Day have generated a complicated set of responses, many of them very critical. We saw critics labeling these women apostates or “dumb feminist bitches.” A few outliers even threatened violence against organizers. These harsh reactions start from a baseline that women who want to wear pants to church, or attend General Priesthood Meeting, or even (gasp) be ordained to the Priesthood, are obviously disobeying a core gospel principle, by disagreeing with existing church policy and culture.... Read more »

The Desolation of Noah: An Unexpected Explanation

March 13, 2014 | 38 comments
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Hi, I'm Noah.

It seems like we’re being inundated with discussions about Noah lately. A major motion picture is set to discuss the tale of Noah and the Ark — but the picture will also include an unusual disclaimer stating that it shouldn’t be seen as the real Noah story. Meanwhile, the Noah story itself faces a rising tide of criticism, with Bill Nye (the Science Guy) publicly ridiculing the story on national television. In response to that wave of criticism, some writers have floated defenses of the Noah account. For instance, at Meridian Magazine, writer Ronald Millett gives an in-depth discussion... Read more »

Gay : Marriage :: Mormon : Christian

January 23, 2014 | 277 comments
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A Play in One Act Heber: . . . and that’s why we should all recognize that Mormons are Christians. Aquinas: Whoa, whoa. I understand your enthusiasm. The label of Christian is really valuable. But it also has a set definition. And I don’t think Mormons are in that definition. Heber: Why not? We believe in Jesus, don’t we? Christianity is defined by one thing: Belief in Jesus. Aquinas: That’s where you’re wrong. In fact, there’s a lot more to Christianity than belief in Jesus. Throughout human history, the word “Christian” has included a complicated package of additional, interrelated... Read more »

Good news for Gene Schaerr

January 23, 2014 | 78 comments
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Good news for Gene Schaerr

As reported by outlets including Above the Law, well-known LDS attorney Gene Schaerr is leaving his law firm for a new post at the State of Utah. His departure e-mail describes his new role as “defending the constitutionality of traditional marriage.” This certainly seems like a worthwhile endeavor. It would be terrible if male-female marriage (which is often described as “traditional marriage”) were found unconstitutional, barring straight folks from marrying. I have good news, though. A careful perusal of the Kitchen v. Herbert opinion reveals that male-female marriage remains completely constitutional in Utah. In fact, based on anecdotal reports,... Read more »

The Heavenly Family: A Proclamation

January 7, 2014 | 86 comments
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ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of Heavenly Parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. Heavenly Father and Mother have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. Heavenly Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the... Read more »

Gay Polygamy in Utah!

December 20, 2013 | 27 comments
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Gay Polygamy in Utah!

By now you’ve heard the news. A federal judge in Utah just ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. This follow on last week’s ruling, from a different judge, that portions of Utah’s polygamy statute were also unconstitutional. What does it mean? Obviously, it means the advent of gay polygamy!! It won’t stop until everyone is married to everyone else, in one giant gay-polygamous-mega-wedding. Let the festivities begin! Okay, maybe not. Let’s go through the rulings, piece by piece, to see what they say, and what their effects may be. Read more »

The Glory of God is (Not-Too-Much) Intelligence

July 19, 2013 | 40 comments
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In a recent facebook thread (sparked by this post at Patheos), commenters have been talking about intellect and Mormonism. That conversation helped crystallize some thoughts that have been percolating in my mind for a while, about how the LDS community has a complicated and sometimes conflicted discourse about the importance of intelligence, intellect, and education — and some of the interesting ways in which that tension plays out. On the one hand, there is a significant strand of LDS thought that puts extremely high value on intelligence. The paradigmatic statement here, of course, is that “the glory of God... Read more »

Quick Reminder about Google Reader

June 30, 2013 | 3 comments
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Tonight at midnight, Google Reader will officially turn into a pumpkin. If you’ve been reading Times and Seasons (or any other blogs) with Google Reader, you should set up your transition before the end of the day today (if you haven’t already done so). There are a variety of popular alternatives available, and many of them have import-export features to help facilitate switching. And whatever your preferred method of information consumption, thanks for reading Times and Seasons! Read more »

The Gold Coin; or, how we should teach our youth about their worth

May 6, 2013 | 36 comments
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The Gold Coin; or, how we should teach our youth about their worth

Object Lesson: The Gold Coin Supplies: Either a $1 coin (such as the recently issued gold coin) or a half-dollar coin. A small bag of dirt. A few miscellaneous objects, such as a pen or paper clip. Lesson: The teacher holds up the coin and asks the class, “What is this?” (Wait for the class to answer: It’s a coin.) “What is its value?” (Either a dollar or 50 cents, depending on the coin type.) Teacher drops the coin on the ground. Kicks it. Steps on it. Lifts up the coin again. “How much is it worth now?” It’s... Read more »

Can we can?

May 4, 2013 | 15 comments
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There’s a flurry of facebook posts flying today, based on discussions at right wing survival websites about an alleged decision by the LDS church to stop canning in the Eastern part of the United States, due to excessive government regulation. Has anyone heard about this? Can we still can? Read more »

An Overview of LDS Involvement in the Proposition 8 Campaign

April 25, 2013 | 38 comments
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I’ve just posted my article, ‘The Divine Institution of Marriage’: An Overview of LDS Involvement in the Proposition 8 Campaign, to SSRN. The article is largely descriptive, setting out in some detail the church’s actions and statements relating to Proposition 8. It chronicles a significant amount of factual material that has not been discussed at all in the existing legal literature. It may be especially relevant to people who have an interest in Proposition 8, same-sex marriage issues, gay rights issues generally, or LDS church issues generally. The full abstract is as follows: “The Divine Institution of Marriage”: An... Read more »

Established by Jesus Christ himself

April 2, 2013 | 49 comments
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Established by Jesus Christ himself

In a recent news article discussing the Ordain Women community and its upcoming inaugural meeting, LDS church spokeswoman Jessica Moody stated that the male-only priesthood “was established by Jesus Christ himself and is not a decision to be made by those on Earth.” Of course, there may be a few questions about whether this statement is descriptively accurate, given those pesky Phoebe and Priscilla and Junia verses and whatnot. But let’s set those issues aside for a moment. Because theologically, it does make sense that we might want to follow Jesus’s example here. And factually, a few quirky anomalies... Read more »

A Very Short History of Gender and Participation at Times and Seasons

March 22, 2013 | 29 comments
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Times and Seasons began life, in November 2003, as an institution where men held all leadership and speaking positions. Really! There were four of us: Adam, Matt, Nate, and me; the first post was by Adam. And we men all felt very important in our roles as T&S bloggers. In fact, we felt so important that we added four more men to the group in quick succession: Greg, Gordon, Jim and Russell. You will note the distinct lack of women’s voices. It was a male-only Permabloggerhood, so to speak. Men and women are different, you know: Men blog, and... Read more »

I’m a Mormon, and I believe that women

March 20, 2013 | 95 comments
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. . . should be eligible for Priesthood ordination. So do these other lovely people. Please check out some of the profiles, if it’s a topic that interests you, or visit our facebook page for more discussion. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and I know that reasonable people can disagree here. But I do think that one can very much believe in female ordination within the Mormon framework. It fits well into the narrative of ever-expanding Priesthood eligibility in LDS theology, I think (ever-expanding circles from Levites to Israelites to Gentiles, and finally to all men... Read more »

Jerks for Jesus?

February 22, 2013 | 54 comments
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Jerks for Jesus?

Is it possible to be a jerk for Jesus? If someone believes that God’s laws prohibit women from wearing pants to church, should they physically threaten those women? Is that an act of righteous reprimand and belief, or as a very serious overstep? If an internet writer vigorously responds to harsh attacks from critics of the church, but these responses are often laced with incredibly foul misogyny, should other church members support or distance themselves from those remarks? What makes Mormons — normally among the nicest people on the planet — suddenly feel compelled to lash out with as... Read more »

Quirky Questions in Mormon Theology: Can there be an odd number of people in Heaven?

January 31, 2013 | 19 comments
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Well, if they’re Mormons, there will definitely be a number of odd people in Heaven! ::rimshot:: So, let’s see. There’s a popular LDS belief that only married couples get to Heaven. But is that really church doctrine? And could there be an odd number of people in Heaven? Sort of. Maybe. Ish. D&C 131 reads: 1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; 2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood ; 3 And if he does not, he... Read more »

Business Week’s erroneous claim about LDS charitable giving

July 11, 2012 | 144 comments
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Caroline Winter’s new article is a must-read. She examines many facets of the church’s estimated income, its property ownership, and its use of funds. I thought many portions of it were very, very good. Readers seem especially focused on a few key portions of the article. However, one of her key fact claims is based on a factual error. Here is why. Winter writes that: According to an official church Welfare Services fact sheet, the church gave $1.3 billion in humanitarian aid in over 178 countries and territories during the 25 years between 1985 and 2010. A fact sheet... Read more »

Wheat for Man

April 10, 2012 | 35 comments
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It’s pretty obvious that wheat is spiritually required. Let’s list some reasons why: 1. The Doctrine and Covenants says directly, “wheat for man.” 2. Jesus ate wheat, and specifically gave wheat to his followers and commanded them to eat it. Multiple times. 3. Jesus specifically said that wheat is righteousness. 4. There are about a zillion other scriptural references to wheat. 5. Modern prophets have said a whole bunch of things about the awesomeness of wheat. 6. It is objective fact that wheat is yummy. Now I realize, there are some people who may struggle with living this principle.... 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 »

Korihor fought for religious freedom

December 5, 2011 | 41 comments
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A three-part quiz: 1. Please review the account of Korihor in Alma 30. 2. True or false: Korihor was a religious freedom advocate battling an oppressive central government. 3. What does your answer in #2 say about these areas? Pick a few, and elaborate: -The role of religion in public life -The place of religious freedom claims -Free speech and its potential limitations -Popular conceptions about the proper role of government in 1830 (or in 2011) -Democracy, theocracy, and Zion -Any related topics of interest Read more »

Rachel Whipple joins Times and Seasons

October 9, 2011 | 6 comments
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We’re big fans of Rachel’s posts and comments, and so we’re awfully happy to announce that she is joining Times and Seasons as our newest permablogger. For anyone unfamiliar with her blogging, Rachel’s introduction can be found here, and her posts are here. Welcome to the group, Rachel! Read more »