Blog Archives

Why Literary Gospel Doctrine Lesson Posts

December 17, 2012 | 5 comments
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For the past year each Monday afternoon my “Literary BMGD” posts have appeared each Monday — perhaps confusing some readers who have wondered exactly what these posts were all about. And those who clicked on them to read what they had may have been surprised to find that they were… poetry. What exactly is BMGD and why poetry? If I am going to continue these posts, I should probably explain: Read more »

Nominate the 2012 Mormon of the Year

December 7, 2012 | 40 comments
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Its that time of year again. The media will soon start reviewing the important news stories of the year, Time will soon select its Person of the Year (Mitt Romney has been nominated); so we should get busy selecting the Mormon of the Year. For those who don’t remember, T&S selected Mitt Romney as the Mormon of the Year for 2008, Harry Reid for 2009, Elizabeth Smart for 2010 and Jimmer Fredette for 2011. As in the past, the choice does not mean that the person is a good Mormon or even a good person. This designation is solely about... Read more »

Literary BMGD #48: My Friends and I

December 3, 2012 | no comments
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Literary BMGD #48: My Friends and I

The final lesson for the Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine class covers Moroni 7-10, the final Book of Mormon prophet’s closing advice to readers, including teachings about faith, hope and charity, the conditions of salvation, spiritual gifts, the role of the Holy Ghost, and how to judge between good and evil. The motivation for this latter counsel is somewhat captured in this poem, which looks at the extremes to which our friends can sometimes push us, and the feeling of being lost or torn between opposites that can happen if we try to follow their advice. Read more »

The Shocks We Will Face After This Life

November 29, 2012 | 62 comments
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Several weeks ago, a friend mentioned in a conversation about the gospel that after this life we would know the truth about all things. It then occurred to me that a lot of people are going to be, or already have been, shocked by how wrong they were about their views of life, the universe, and, well, everything. And, in among everything, we have to include ideas about religion. The Buddha must have been shocked. Mohammed, Martin Luther, Calvin, John Wesley, and even, I think, Joseph Smith. Read more »

Literary BMGD #47: While of these emblems we partake

November 26, 2012 | no comments
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Including the sacrament prayers in Moroni 4, and indeed all the instructions in Moroni 2 through 6, seem almost like an afterthought to the Book of Mormon—kind of like “Oh, yeah, you’ll need to know this stuff too.” And these instructions only make sense if they are written for us today, for Moroni himself is apparently the only surviving follower of Christ at his time and place. Evidently the peoples of the Book of Mormon had this information recorded elsewhere and Mormon didn’t include it where it was given (presumably at the time of Christ’s visit). Of course, the... Read more »

Elected Mormon Politicians

November 20, 2012 | 12 comments
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Elected Mormon Politicians

The recent elections included some changes in the Mormons holding elective office around the country, but overall not a lot of change. We still have about the same number of Mormons in the U.S. Congress. The areas where a lot of Mormons are in state government still have a lot in state government. But some of the areas where there were few Mormons serving in elected office lost the few that they had. In the end, Mormon politicians ended up more concentrated. Read more »

Literary BMGD #46: Trials and Happiness

November 19, 2012 | 3 comments
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Literary BMGD #46: Trials and Happiness

I often wonder how Mormon managed to keep it together. He saw his own civilization decaying around him, perhaps while he was in the midst of abridging the record of the Jaredites, summarizing the details of their decline and destruction, which was so similar to his own. Yet despite this, in the final chapters of Ether (12-15 are covered by this lesson), Mormon talks about the role of faith. Its an example of faith, I suppose, that he was able to show its importance while he himself must have felt in the midst of trials. And perhaps it is... Read more »

Literary BMGD #45: Song of the Exiled Saints

November 12, 2012 | one comment
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Literary BMGD #45: Song of the Exiled Saints

The Book of Ether contains the story of the Jaredites — a story that parallels the overall history told in the Book of Mormon. And, as I’ve observed here before, the story also is somewhat similar to that of the early Saints, who travel to a foreign land at the direction of the Lord, seeking a place where they may live in righteousness. Ether 1-6 tells the beginning of this story, including the revelations given to the Brother of Jared, his exemplary faith and the journey of his people to the promised land. While their home has descended into... Read more »

Joseph Smith and Baseball: The Evidence

November 7, 2012 | no comments
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Joseph Smith and Baseball: The Evidence

“In the 1830s, on the western frontier of Missouri, ball was the favorite sport of Joseph Smith, founder of a new religious sect called the Mormons1.” A couple of years ago I received as a Christmas present the Baseball documentary by Ken Burns, the PBS series that as much as anything has driven my current fascination with the game and led to the Mormon Baseball blog. Early in the first of the documentary’s 10 parts, the narrator makes the above claim, something that even today I don’t hear from Mormon historians. Could it be that Joseph Smith played and... Read more »

Quick Mormon Election Results

November 7, 2012 | 8 comments
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Here are the results so far for Mormon candidates running for the U.S. Congress. I will have complete results for all races in the next few days, as they become available. Please let us know your thoughts and about any aspects of the elections that you though important: Read more »

Literary BMGD #44: The Book of Mormon

November 5, 2012 | no comments
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As Mormon completes his own record in Mormon chapters 7, 8 and 9, he prophesies about the role that the Nephite records will have in the future, saying that the record will come forth in the latter days, in a day of great wickedness, and urging readers of the book to believe in Christ. This role of the Book of Mormon was a very common theme in Mormon poetry, including this poem, written under the pseudonym “Equator.” Read more »

Mormons in the Running

November 2, 2012 | 20 comments
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Mormons in the Running

With the election approaching on Tuesday, I’ve been racing to put together a rundown of the candidates who are Mormon around the country.  I know that Kay Atkinson King has done an extensive series on BCC going over the congressional elections, but I think that my summary below has a few additional pieces of information, including both state level elections and information on a few candidates who aren’t actually Mormon but who have significant Mormon connections or were once Mormon — a status that we will probably see more in the future. Read more »

Literary BMGD #43: Christ’s Ministry to the Nephites, part III

October 29, 2012 | no comments
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Literary BMGD #43: Christ’s Ministry to the Nephites, part III

Mormon, the book in the Book of Mormon written by its compiler, is perhaps the most depressing of the book of scripture. It might be subtitled ‘the Decline and Fall of Nephite Civilization.’ And its author was all but hopeless in his assessment. But unlike Gibbon’s perhaps better known description of decline and fall, Mormon also describes the future effects of his record, predicting that millions will be convinced to come to Christ by the story he tells. In the following poem, Parley P. Pratt also traces this same history, in part three of his poetic description of Christ’s... Read more »

Frequently in the NFL, Barely in the NBA

October 26, 2012 | 19 comments
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Frequently in the NFL, Barely in the NBA

I”m late in updating my list of Mormons in professional football. Its not because last year’s post was hijacked by those talking about playing sports on Sunday. But it may be in part because I’ve focused more on baseball recently. But, I’ve finally got my act together, and here’s the current list, along with the now due list of Mormons in professional basketball — including an additional Mormon playing in the NBA preseason Read more »

Literary BMGD #42: The Gospel

October 22, 2012 | no comments
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In the final minutes of his visit with the Nephites (3 Nephi 27), Christ makes clear that the church established for the Nephites must bear his name and teach his gospel. He even specifies elements of his gospel: the atonement and resurrection, the final judgment, repentance, baptism, faith in Jesus Christ, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. I don’t think it would be very hard to connect any Mormon doctrine to this list. Read more »

Mormon of the Year candidates from this past summer?

October 18, 2012 | 22 comments
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Mormon of the Year candidates from this past summer?

In May I asked readers here to look at those who had made the news during the first part of the year and suggest who among them should be considered for “Mormon of the Year.” The theory is that looking at the question periodically during the year means that we will include those who have been forgotten by the end of the year. This way, we avoid a bias towards recent events. So, I’d like to suggest that we look at who has made the news since April and suggest possible candidates for “Mormon of the Year.” Read more »

Literary BMGD #41: A Vision

October 15, 2012 | 2 comments
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Literary BMGD #41: A Vision

Poetry by Joseph Smith? That is certainly not what Joseph Smith is known for, nor is it often claimed that he was a poet in all the writing and studies made about him. But the following poem, when published in 1843, carried his byline when it was published. As a paraphrase of D&C 76, this poem fits well, I think with the Gospel Doctrine Book of Mormon lesson #41. As Christ teaches to the Nephites in this lesson (3 Nephi 22-26) he focuses on making sure that their scriptural... Read more »

New Progress for Mormon Studies

October 10, 2012 | 17 comments
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New Progress for Mormon Studies

The University of Virginia today announced today a $3 million anonymous donation to establish the Richard Lyman Bushman Chair of Mormon Studies in the University’s Department of Religious Studies. The chair is still subject to approval by the University’s Board of Visitors, after which a search committee will look for candidates for the inaugural appointment, due to begin serving in the 2013-14 school year. Read more »

Potential Effects of the Missionary Age Announcement

October 7, 2012 | 92 comments
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If you had any doubt about the impact of the announcement yesterday that missionary service for men and women can begin earlier, just read the reactions in the bloggernacle, on facebook and twitter and even in major newspapers. The largest of the blogs in the bloggernacle have already weighed in on the change… multiple times… in less than 24 hours. I have to wonder; has anyone not put in their two cents? Read more »

Is this the first bestseller by a Mormon not written in English?

October 4, 2012 | no comments
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Is this the first bestseller by a Mormon not written in English?

A few weeks ago a book by the Brazilian language entrepreneur and LDS Church member Carlos “Wizard” Martins, who started the massive Wizard Language Schools chain (similar to Berlitz), reached the bestseller lists in Brazil. I’m fairly sure that the book Desperte o milionário que há em você (Awake the Millionaire Inside of You) is the first by a Brazilian Mormon to reach the bestseller list. I first heard of his book just before it was launched in April, and I didn’t give it much thought then—I’m not really in the book’s the target audience of those seeking a... Read more »

Literary BMGD #40: The Gathering

October 1, 2012 | no comments
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Literary BMGD #40: The Gathering

Gospel Doctrine lesson 40 for the Book of Mormon talks about a subject that isn’t explored as often in Mormonism today: The Gathering. In Joseph Smith’s day it not only mean the gathering, literal and spiritual, of the House of Israel, but it also meant the gathering of Mormon converts to the ‘center place’ of the Church. While we don’t call for the gathering of Mormons to a single place today, the concept is still important when we examine the role of the House of Israel and the times preceding the millennium. The scriptures, including the Book of Mormon... Read more »

Holding Steady: Forbes List Update

September 27, 2012 | 10 comments
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Feel like you’re treading water financially? I don’t suppose it will help to know that the wealth of the richest Mormons is also not growing? Perhaps not, but my analysis shows this to be the case. To be honest it’s hard to even think that they are put out! Read more »

Literary BMGD #39: Phelps’ The Lord’s Prayer

September 25, 2012 | 4 comments
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Literary BMGD #39: Phelps’ The Lord’s Prayer

In the middle of his visit to the Nephites, Christ leaves the people for the night and then returns the following day (as recounted in 3 Nephi 17-19). Before he leaves, and then again after he returns the next day, Christ teaches the Nephites about prayer, and provides them with examples of prayers—one of which they were unable to even record. These prayers call to mind the model prayer that Jesus provided in the New Testament, the Lord’s Prayer, itself used as an oft-repeated prayer throughout Christendom and the inspiration for many pieces of poetry, including the following by... Read more »

Literary BMGD #38: Christ’s Ministry to the Nephites, part 2

September 17, 2012 | no comments
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Literary BMGD #38: Christ’s Ministry to the Nephites, part 2

Following the destruction that accompanied Christ’s crucifixion, the Nephites and Lamanites didn’t see relief, or light, until his resurrection and visit to the Americas. This story, found in 3 Nephi 11, is the culmination of the Book of Mormon narrative, the central meaning of the book. His arrival is also the central point of Parley P. Pratt’s poem Christ’s Ministry to the Nephites. Included in his book of poetry (arguably the first Mormon book of poetry aside from Emma Smith’s Hymnal), this poem is also among the first published poems to reference the Book of Mormon, as well as... Read more »

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