Blog Archives

Official Declaration 3

October 4, 2011 | 89 comments
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“We have noticed an unfortunate trend in church attendance. Despite thirty-plus years of formal equality, African-American members are still severely underrepresented in church attendance in the United States. In contrast, white church members are highly overrepresented. This may be because of differences in innate spirituality between the demographic groups. Or, it may be due to social forces. Regardless, it is a problem which must be addressed. Starting immediately and until further notice, all Priesthood leadership in the United States at the ward, stake, and general level will be drawn solely from African-American church members. This will provide additional incentive... Read more »

Times and Seasons welcomes Rachel Whipple

September 25, 2011 | 9 comments
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We’re happy to introduce Rachel Whipple as our latest guest blogger. Rachel got her bachelor’s in geology (and a husband) at BYU. She lived in San Diego and on the North Shore of Long Island before returning to Provo. Now that her husband teaches at BYU, she gets to take all the classes that she wanted to take as an undergrad, but couldn’t fit into her schedule. (So far, that’s been mostly philosophy and anthropology courses, because what could be more fun than spending a semester reading David Hume?) She has been a stay at home mom for a... Read more »

Evolving LDS views on homosexuality

September 13, 2011 | 172 comments
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As I mention in my companion post, recent news stories have disagreed about the idea that LDS views on homosexuality are evolving. The history of LDS views on homosexuality is complicated, and I can’t fully do it justice in a relatively short post, but I’ll at least try to hit the highlights. Here’s a sketch of some of the ways in which LDS views on homosexuality have changed over the past 50 years — in very positive ways, I believe. Church views have changed substantially regarding causes of homosexuality. In 1969, then-apostle and future prophet Spencer W. Kimball published... Read more »

An Unfortunate Attack

September 13, 2011 | 56 comments
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Media sources including the LDS Newsroom have recently engaged in or supported an unfortunate attack on LDS writer Joanna Brooks. Brooks, a professor at San Diego State University, wrote at Religion Dispatches last month about Mitch Mayne: In LDS communities, where lay congregational leaders have positions analogous to those of priests, pastors, and rabbis, news of Mayne’s calling is having an impact, revealing continuing divisions among Mormons and questions about evolving Mormon views on homosexuality. There is, in fact, no consensus Mormon view on homosexuality. While most Mormons view homosexual sexual activity as a sin, Church leaders have expressed... Read more »

An openly gay man in the [edit: NOT QUITE] bishopric

August 22, 2011 | 98 comments
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Blogger Mitch Mayne writes: “I am Mitch Mayne, and I am an openly gay Latter-Day Saint. On August 14, 2011, I was sustained as a member of the Bishopric in the Bay Ward of the San Francisco Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons).” Take a look at the post, it’s fascinating. (I’ve confirmed this with multiple sources, too. It is not an urban legend. Brother Mayne just spoke about his calling in Sacrament.) This seems like a big step, and a potentially positive development. It also seems somewhat precarious, and raises some... Read more »

Remember the name

July 8, 2011 | 23 comments
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What is the name of the church? (Pick up to three options). Try not to google it first. Read more »

CNN blog reports from anti-Mormon Bizarro-Land

July 8, 2011 | 24 comments
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The CNN blog just ran a lengthy interview with Tricia Erickson, who makes a variety of arguments that no believing Mormon should ever be elected President. (Link here; note that in her interview she cites language from the endowment ceremony). Erickson’s arguments are predictably bad. She repeats the old evangelical anti-Mormon reasoning that Mormons are all basically automatons, and suggests that any Mormon politician would have a secret church-promoting agenda. It’s an argument straight out of The Manchurian Candidate (and reminiscent of the anti-Catholic arguments raised against JFK). Her argument, such as it is, is sufficiently silly and hyperbolic... Read more »

And I Feel Fine

May 19, 2011 | 15 comments
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And I Feel Fine

This Saturday, the world is going to end. At least, a few folks seem to think so. Why? The idea comes from a dizzying combination of numerology (looking for special hidden numbers which God has placed as clues) and eschatology (discussion of the end of the world). In recent years, these kinds of claims have come up every few years — for instance, prior movements claim to have found hidden numerical clues indicating that Jesus would return in 1988, or 1994. Of course, each of the earlier movements predated the projected event, but not by much. Indeed, these sorts... Read more »

Orson’s Game

May 19, 2011 | 95 comments
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Orson Scott Card is a longtime expert in making the fantastical seem almost real. He’s done it over the course of his decades-long literary career, bringing to life child generals at war with alien insects; magic-wielding prophets in the American West; spooky child ghosts living in video games; planet-ruling musician kings; Mormon colonies scrabbling for existence in a post-apocalyptic waste; worlds populated by talking heads and fascinating failed copies of humankind. Card did grim and dystopic before it was cool. Not one but two of his books have won both the Hugo and Nebula awards in the same year... Read more »

God and Baby Face Nelson: Thoughts on Obedience, Genocide, and Problematic Narratives

May 3, 2011 | 93 comments
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How should church members today approach morally repugnant scriptural narratives? I wondered about that as I recently read over Elder Hales’ talk about agency and obedience. There was a lot in the talk which I liked. I do think that order and consistency can absolutely be useful for faith communities (for instance, in helping establish expectations). I think that agency is a useful way to conceptualize human behavior, and that despite its problems it remains one of the best broad answers to problems of theodicy. And I certainly agree with many of the talk’s basic points, such as the... Read more »

Fry Sauce or Sriracha?

April 19, 2011 | 35 comments
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There can only be one. Read more »

Jesus, our Only Joy be Thou

April 18, 2011 | 16 comments
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Err — only? Read more »

Divine Institution slides

January 8, 2011 | 3 comments
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A few months ago I spoke at a conference at St. John’s University Law School. The conference theme was same-sex marriage, and my own talk was a largely descriptive account of LDS church statements and actions on the topic. I used a short set of powerpoint slides to cover the basic facts. Since then, several people have expressed interest in seeing the slides, so I just posted them online — they’re available here, if you’d like to take a look. Any comments are welcome. (And just to reiterate, these are pretty basic. If you’ve followed the topic in any... Read more »

Mormon Feminism Panel at Patheos

December 1, 2010 | 3 comments
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Don’t miss the excellent Patheos panel on Mormon feminism. Kathy Soper’s thoughtful and perceptive essay headlines the event, and a fabulous group of respondents — Claudia Bushman, Tresa Edmunds, Rixa Freeze, Kristine Haglund, Caroline Kline, Neylan McBaine, Melissa Proctor, and Rosalynde Welch — pitches in with a wealth of excellent follow-up analysis. If you’re at all interested in Mormon feminism, make sure to check out the discussion. Read more »

A Loving critique of Elder Oaks

September 26, 2010 | 82 comments
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Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke recently at Utah’s Constitution Day celebration. His talk, titled “Fundamentals of Our Constitutions,” discussed the role of the constitution, as well as a variety of other topics relating to law, religion, and the public sphere. The talk is well-articulated, as Elder Oaks’ talks tend to be, and sets out some specific ideas about politics which bear further discussion. For the moment, I wanted to focus on one particular portion of the talk. Elder Oaks writes that: Another great fundamental of the United States Constitution is its federal system, which divides government powers between the... Read more »

The Angel and the Internet

September 10, 2010 | 56 comments
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A few years ago, the confluence of the Mitt Romney campaign and Proposition 8 (and to some extent Harry Reid) focused sustained national attention on the church and its members. The church’s profile has only continued to grow since then, raising a variety of questions about assimilation, retrenchment, and the future of the flock. Mormonism has long inhabited a liminal state between cultural insider and outsider. Armand Mauss’s pioneering work The Angel and the Beehive charts the church’s uneasy relationship with mainstream status, a cycle of ebb and flow driven by the specific benefits and drawbacks on each side... Read more »

Your opportunity to WIN. FABULOUS. PRIZES.

July 25, 2010 | 6 comments
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You’ve always dreamed of starting a handsome Mormon studies collection — who hasn’t? This week, you have an unprecedented opportunity to start your collection in style. As we’ve mentioned here and elsewhere, Sunstone 2010 is just around the corner. It will take place from August 4th through August 8th in Salt Lake City. Online pre-registration is available up through 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 30th. And about those prizes? Here goes. — RAFFLE ANNOUNCEMENT All persons who pre-register for Sunstone 2010 between July 26th and July 30th will be automatically entered into the inaugural Fabulous Pre-Registration Prize Raffle. This... Read more »

I Cannot Read a Sealed Book – Part I: The Basic Case for Making Public the Handbook

July 24, 2010 | 97 comments
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The church handbook is a foundational document for the lived experience of LDS church members. The handbook (actually two specific handbooks at present, but for convenience’s sake we’ll just refer to it as the handbook) sets out rules regarding a variety of important experiences in church member life. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism notes that the handbook contains “instruction on (1) Church administration and meetings; (2) calling members to Church positions and releasing them from such calls; (3) ordaining members to priesthood offices; (4) performing ordinances and giving blessings; (5) doing sacred temple work, and family history; (6) responding to... Read more »

San Diego temple from the air

July 3, 2010 | 2 comments
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Google maps has added aerial views to a limited number of locations. I just saw (hat tip: Paula) that the San Diego temple is one of them. It’s a pretty cool feature. How do you see it? Unfortunately there’s no one-click link, because you have to enable aerial views. So it’s a slightly more elaborate process: 1. Go to the San Diego temple on Google Maps. (Click here.) 2. Click the little green “Labs” chemical-beaker icon at the top of the screen. (It’s above the Print button). Click “enable” on the tab that asks about Aerial Imagery. That’s it!... Read more »

Bloggers at Sunstone

July 3, 2010 | 5 comments
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The preliminary program for the Sunstone symposium is available, and includes many familiar names. Some of the bloggernacle folks who are listed include: Wednesday: 9:30 – John Dehlin (Mormon Stories) 2:00 – John Dehlin Thursday: 11:15 – Mormon feminism panel including Alisa (ExII) and Tresa (FMH) 2:15 – Tresa (respondent to Laura Compton) 4:45 – Janet, Kathy, Tresa, and Tracy – Joanna Brooks (Mormon Matters) Friday: 3:30 – Bridget Jack Meyers Jeffries 4:45 – Sheila and Sara panel -Mormon women on tour panel (Joanna Brooks, Holly Welker) 8:00 – Tracy (BCC) Saturday: 11:15 – DKL talking about Glenn Beck.... Read more »

The hidden apologetics of Banner of Heaven

June 22, 2010 | 35 comments
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Scott at Bloggernacle Times has been putting on a very impressive Behind the Music retrospective about the old Banner of Heaven blog.  The hair, the women, the trashed hotel rooms — it’s all there, complete with interviews with band members (Brian G. comes clean about the infamous “no brown M&M’s” contract), groupies band aids, and even the occasional critic. In fact, about the only point that Scott seems to have missed so far is the group’s hidden apologetic purpose. What apologetic purpose, you ask?  Only that a widely read book — also widely perceived as hostile towards the church... Read more »

Stop! Hamer time

May 10, 2010 | 11 comments
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Next Friday and Saturday, May 21st and 22nd, John Hamer will be at Miller Eccles in southern California to discuss the history of the Community of Christ.  John’s work is fascinating, and if you’re in the area, I’d encourage you to attend one of the two events, either on Friday the 21st in Orange County, or Saturday the 22nd in Los Angeles. The event announcement (with lots of information about why you should attend) is this: Dear Friends: We are pleased to announce the next meeting of the Miller Eccles Group will be on Friday, May 21, 2010 (Villa... Read more »

Dialogue 2.0

May 10, 2010 | 3 comments
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Searchable archives.  Free access to the entire vault of past articles.  Helpful starting points in a Classics section.  No more one-page-at-a-time clicking through the wacky — lovable in a quirky way, but definitely *not* user-friendly — old pdf-image page-by-page e-archives at the U library website.  Did I mention, we’re talking about searchable archives and free access to the vault? What are you still doing here?  Go check out Dialogue’s new website — or discuss in comments what you like about it best.  Take advantage of the free access.  (Starting in summer, the most recent two years will be subscription-only, but... Read more »

What is the doctrinal status of the car-wreck story?

April 17, 2010 | 57 comments
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It’s a story we’ve all heard, and it’s still in wide circulation. For instance, from the current YW manual: President Spencer W. Kimball told the following true story: “A few years ago a young couple who lived in northern Utah came to Salt Lake City for their marriage. They did not want to bother with a temple marriage, or perhaps they did not feel worthy. At any rate, they had a civil marriage. After the marriage they got into their automobile and drove north to their home for a wedding reception. On their way home they had an accident,... Read more »