Blog Archives

Technology and Genealogy

October 10, 2011 | 18 comments
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Technology and Genealogy

I think I was 12 or so when, in rummaging around my father’s home office, I discovered the family genealogy. Over time I was hooked, visiting our local branch genealogy library and, when we visited Utah during a family vacation, I spent hours and days at the Genealogical Society library, then installed in the new Church Office Building, simply collecting the work that had already been done, copying family group sheet after family group sheet. All this was possible because, as the descendant of early Mormon pioneers, huge amounts of research on my ancestry has already been done. Read more »

About Jobs

October 6, 2011 | 32 comments
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About Jobs

I should probably be responding to General Conference, given the timing and what I’ve been reading recently. And I still plan to respond to a couple of Conference issues. But the many recent news stories about Jobs has got me thinking about that instead. As I’ve pondered Jobs I think there is an important distinction that we are missing. Read more »

So what should the Provo Tabernacle/Temple be called?

October 1, 2011 | 78 comments
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So what should the Provo Tabernacle/Temple be called?

With the announcement today that the Provo Tabernacle will be reconstructed and made into a Temple, I wondered what its official name will be? Or in other words, how will its name be different from the other Provo Utah Temple? Read more »

‘Bouncing the Baby’ syndrome

September 28, 2011 | 42 comments
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‘Bouncing the Baby’ syndrome

Why is it that when blessing infants men always bounce the baby up and down? If you’ve seen many baby blessings, you know what I mean. The father or whoever will pronounce the blessing holds the infant on its back in his outstretched hands while the rest of those invited to participate circle the child, adding their outstretched hands underneath the baby. Often before the blessing even begins and without regard to whether or not the child has uttered the merest hint of a whimper, the men slowly rock the baby up and down, usually gently. Read more »

Desperately Seeking Seniors

September 19, 2011 | 78 comments
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Desperately Seeking Seniors

I was surprised a week ago when a senior missionary serving in our ward said that the Church is struggling to get senior missionaries, something that an article in the Deseret News last week confirmed. But my senior missionary friend went further than the article did, saying that the number of senior missionaries has declined by 40% in the past decade. Read more »

Mormons and Meaning on September 11

September 11, 2011 | 50 comments
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In the comments to Pres. Monson’s article on the Washington Post’s On Faith blog one Church member claimed that “Not one single LDS employee working in the Twin Towers was at work that morning.” This is, of course, incorrect. In fact, one of the LDS employees working in the towers died in the attack, as did two more on planes and two in the Pentagon. Read more »

Mormon Studies Courses

September 5, 2011 | 22 comments
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Mormon Studies Courses

A few years ago I came across a list of Mormon Studies courses complied by BYU professor Gideon Burton in 2008, the same year that the Claremont Graduate University started their Mormon Studies program and a year after Utah State started its program. Since it has been a few years, I thought Gideon’s list should be updated. I believe it gives a sense of how Mormon Studies is developing. Read more »

H2 Chapter 5 Part 1: Missionary Work and Convert Retention

September 3, 2011 | 14 comments
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H2 Chapter 5 Part 1: Missionary Work and Convert Retention

While to some it may seem like “the work of salvation” is about missionary work, the Church takes a much broader view. In this chapter of Handbook 2, the work of salvation is defined as including “member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work, and teaching the gospel.” Clearly salvation doesn’t end with baptism. Read more »

Mormons and “violence punctuated by committee meetings”

August 31, 2011 | 39 comments
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During the fall, Sundays after Church are reserved, among a not insignificant but mostly male portion of Church members in the United States, as a time for enjoying a traditional American pastime—what one commentator described as “violence punctuated by committee meetings.” And the number of Mormons who are paid to participate in these meetings has approached 40 this year. Read more »

The Look of Temples

August 22, 2011 | 33 comments
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The Look of Temples

This weekend I got to drive past the Ogden Utah Temple, which is currently surrounded by a high fence as it undergoes a major renovation. While there is nothing new with renovating a Temple, as far as I can tell, this is the first time that the outside appearance of a Temple has had such a significant change. What does this mean? Read more »

Call for Papers: 3rd Brazilian Mormon Studies Conference

August 15, 2011 | no comments
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3rd Brazilian Mormon Studies Conference Annual Conference of the Associação Brasileira de Estudos Mórmons (Brazilian Mormon Studies Association –ABEM) January 28, 2012 São Paulo, Brazil Call for papers “Mormonism and its relationship with other denominations” The Mormon religious tradition is based on the concept of an apostasy by all Christian denominations and their consequent lack of divine authority, hence the claim to be the “only true and living church.” In contrast, this same tradition emphasizes its members’ broader religious freedom, and even their need, to recognize and seek the whole truth from any source, including other religious traditions. This... Read more »

USF: A Tribute

August 15, 2011 | 14 comments
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USF: A Tribute

Last week I took my family to the Utah Shakespearean Festival for our annual visit with friends. For those who don’t know, the performances and presentation at the festival are first rate (we frequently go to the theater at home in New York City and we have often found the plays at the festival better than those both on and off Broadway). But what is even more impressive to me is that the festival exists because of the vision of a returned missionary fifty years ago. Read more »

Affiliation and the Good Cause

August 8, 2011 | 16 comments
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Affiliation and the Good Cause

Earlier this year I decided I wanted to put together a list of charities and other “good causes” that were either founded or run by Mormons. Of course, it shouldn’t matter at all the religious background of a charity’s founder or management. If they are doing good work, then they deserve support regardless. But in reality affiliation matters to many people. Read more »

Handbook 2, Chapter 4: Ward Council

August 6, 2011 | 32 comments
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Handbook 2, Chapter 4: Ward Council

In the last post on the Handbook, I noted that Church leadership seems to me to have emphasized collaborative leadership in recent decades. For the issues that face most Church members on a weekly basis, the Ward Council is where that collaborative leadership actually happens. Read more »

Student Review, Redux

August 1, 2011 | 33 comments
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Student Review, Redux

The announcement this week that a group of BYU students is starting a new Student Review raised a lot of memories for me. Twenty-five years ago I was one of the group “tired of the universe” which was doing the same thing—starting an off-campus student newspaper for BYU students. Read more »

Pioneer Meaning

July 25, 2011 | 52 comments
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I’ve always felt quite ambivalent about Pioneer Day, although in recent years I’ve spent it in Utah rather frequently and am descended from the gentleman who proclaimed “this is the place.” In my case, I’m not only separated from the Mormon pioneers by more than 125 years, but also by 2,200 miles (I live in New York City). Read more »

Handbook 2, Chapter 3: Leadership

July 17, 2011 | 18 comments
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Handbook 2, Chapter 3: Leadership

The LDS Church emphasizes leadership like no other. Because of the requirement that the Church be run by lay leaders who are frequently changed, leadership is a regular part of the curriculum, especially in priesthood classes. And, despite these efforts, the quality of leadership often varies. Inspiration, it seems, can only make up for  a portion of a lack of leadership skill and talent. Read more »

Two Mormons in Baseball’s 2011 All-Star Game

July 11, 2011 | 8 comments
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Two Mormons in Baseball’s 2011 All-Star Game

While 13 Mormons are among the 750 active players on Major League Baseball rosters at this point, just two (of 68 players) are on the rosters for tomorrow’s All-Star game. And with one player in each league, there is no clear team to root for in tomorrow’s game. Read more »

A Patriotic Chosen People?

July 4, 2011 | 58 comments
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Yesterday in the Sacrament Meeting I attended, we closed singing the Star Spangled Banner (I managed to suppress the urge to yell “Play Ball” at the end). While going through the typical sacrament meeting in the U.S. before the July 4th Independence Day holiday, I couldn’t help thinking about what role patriotism should play in my life. Read more »

Handbook 2: Chapter 1—the Plan

July 3, 2011 | 15 comments
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Handbook 2: Chapter 1—the Plan

Last week I began a series of posts that will examine Handbook 2, the policy handbook that the Church put online last Fall. Since so many local leaders are urged to read and study the handbook as part of their callings, I hoped to provide an interesting forum to do that. Chapter 1 of the Handbook is an overview that tries (I believe) to put the Handbook’s policies in procedures in the context of the plan of salvation. I encourage you to read the chapter before commenting, since you may have more topics to discuss: Read more »

defining ‘Oh My Heck’

June 27, 2011 | 39 comments
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defining ‘Oh My Heck’

So, is “oh my heck” really a Mormon term? If you hear someone use it, can you assume that they are Mormon? Do Mormons use it more than others? And where did it come from anyway? Read more »

Handbook 2: Introduction

June 25, 2011 | 29 comments
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Handbook 2: Introduction

After the Church posted the text of the 2nd volume of its administrative handbook (formerly known as the Church Handbook of Instructions—CHI) last fall, a few bloggers looked at the handbook, including our own Dave Banack. Read more »

Objective Measures

June 20, 2011 | 14 comments
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Objective Measures

Yesterday’s priesthood lesson opened with what turned out to be a provocative question: How do you measure obedience? How do we know when we are being obedient?And, perhaps most difficult, how do we know that we aren’t fooling ourselves? Read more »

Mormons Drafted

June 15, 2011 | 8 comments
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Mormons Drafted

Last week Major League Baseball held its most important annual draft, indicating interest in more than 1,500 possible players. As far as I can tell, just two of them are Mormon, down from 6 last year. Read more »