Blog Archives

A New World Christmas

January 6, 2010 | 7 comments
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A New World Christmas

As I’ve mentioned before, Mormons don’t follow the traditional liturgical calendar, but that won’t stop me from using this January 6, the twelfth day of Christmas and the feast of Epiphany or Three Kings Day, as a happy occasion to put up the one last Christmas post that escaped December. (It’s also a great reason to enjoy my Christmas decorations—and avoid the chore of taking them down—for just one… more… night.) Several days before Christmas I attended a concert by the St Louis Chamber Chorus at the Cathedral Basilica. I’ve attended this concert most years that I’ve lived in... Read more »

The globe and the gourd: Christianity in a global world

December 14, 2009 | 9 comments
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The globe and the gourd: Christianity in a global world

It’s a small object, not a simple one: a Peruvian nativity carving, fashioned inside a gourd from intricate wood figures painted in bright colors. It was on display at the creche festival last weekend; I lingered over it for a moment, pointed out the tiny llama to my children, and moved on long before its meaning had bloomed. The object is a simple commemoration of Jesus’ birth, that much we read on its surface. But it’s also a tale of the complex intersection of Christianity and globalization in the modern world. Any powerful set of ideas will make several... Read more »

A weak defense of the consumer’s Christmas

December 3, 2009 | 27 comments
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A weak defense of the consumer’s Christmas

My co-blogger Sharon put up a most enjoyable post a few weeks ago. I liked it so much that I’m going to pay it the compliment of differing with one or two of its points. (In blog etiquette, after all, quibbling is the highest form of flattery.) Sharon points us toward a Christian anti-consumerist movement called Advent Conspiracy, which takes as is raison d’etre an apparent cultural contradiction. “What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists,” the site’s copy reads. “What if... Read more »

What do we mean by “families are forever”?

November 16, 2009 | 45 comments
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Over at my other blog, a reader posted the following question: On a related LDS family matter, many of us have been confronted by Mormon missionaries with a message, or even a free DVD, of “Families are Forever.” A sincere, respectful question: isn’t this motto a solution in search of a problem? That is, what Christian believes there is separation or division among the blessed in heaven? Of course, Jesus himself teaches in extremely plain and simple terms, and Christian history has always held, that there is no marriage in heaven as we know marriage. But, shared Christian belief... Read more »

The very thought is sweet

November 2, 2009 | 6 comments
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Leftover Halloween candy languishes in its plastic pumpkin on top of the refrigerator; for the moment, the kids are satiated and I’m being good. All the sugar brings to mind a favorite hymn, “Jesus, the very thought of thee,” a few stanzas of which are here: Jesus, the very thought of Thee With sweetness fills the breast; But sweeter far Thy face to see, And in Thy presence rest. Read more »

Day of the Dead, Lord of Life

October 30, 2009 | 3 comments
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cross posted at Civil Religion “Death be not proud,” taunted John Donne. “One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally, / And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.” Death interrupts our view of eternity, a fearsome jalousie obscuring a future we must approach. Like Donne, we console and distract ourselves by turns with bravado, with pleasure, with laughter and—finally, always—with God. Read more »

St Louis Mormon Historical Society meets Friday

October 29, 2009 | 3 comments
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Trivia fact for the day: the Mormon church operated a newspaper, the St. Louis Luminary, from November 1854 to December 1855. The periodical served the large community of transient Latter-day Saints, many of whom stopped in St Louis to replenish their strength (and funds) after the first leg of their journey to the Salt Lake Valley. In 1855, the paper commented, “There is probably no city in the world where Latter-day Saints are more respected, and where they may sooner obtain an outfit for Utah. … The hand of the Lord is in these things.” If you’re intrigued, and... Read more »

Human life, religious voices and the public square

October 21, 2009 | 38 comments
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Cross-posted at Civil Religion. Last week the New York Times published a two-part series on artificial reproductive technologies. The series makes a riveting read, as writer Stephanie Saul narrates the joys and terrors of premature birth, high order multiples, NICU stays, and—finally, sometimes—the precious goal, a baby at home with a family. Read more »

Holland and the gap, again

October 8, 2009 | 56 comments
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Leaving aside disagreements about Elder Holland’s tone and speculations about the talk’s effect on believers and skeptics—not that those are unimportant, but that they’re being vigorously played out elsewhere—I want to make a narrow point about the philosophical underpinnings* of his talk. Read more »

Conscience in the Obama Era

April 15, 2009 | 50 comments
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I linked yesterday on the sidebar to Stanley Fish’s latest editorial in the New York Times, which takes as its occasion the possibility that President Obama will revoke the “conscience clause” allowing health care providers the right to refuse to provide certain services. I thought I’d add a few thoughts here.* Read more »

Two Texts on a Summer Flood

September 15, 2008 | one comment
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Apropos of the season and storm. Read more »

Institutional obsolescence, and other tales of romance and intrigue from the history book

June 2, 2008 | 17 comments
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Last week Adam cited a widely-shared “conservative case for gay marriage.” Read more »

Book Review: The Pictograph Murders, by P.G. Karamesines

May 23, 2008 | 7 comments
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Murder most foul, in the strange natural world of southern Utah. Read more »

What is it about Mormons? Maybe history can teach us.

January 8, 2008 | 18 comments
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I first ran across Noah Feldman’s writing last year when I read his personal essay “Orthodox Paradox” in the New York Times Magazine. Read more »

Givens’ Winter Wheat

November 26, 2007 | 17 comments
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His fruitful new study provides lots to chew on this winter. Read more »

Did Laurel Thatcher Ulrich sell out?

November 15, 2007 | 70 comments
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How an obscure academic article yielded marketing gold. Read more »

A poem for leaf fall

November 9, 2007 | 23 comments
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That time of year thou may’st in me behold Read more »

Vera Wang designed my marriage

July 9, 2007 | 58 comments
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Everybody’s talking about expensive weddings; let’s talk about expensive marriages. Read more »

God of the Gaps

June 6, 2007 | 46 comments
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Is it really such a bad place to be? Read more »

Who cares what the neighbors think?

May 18, 2007 | 129 comments
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You should. Read more »

Book Your Vacation

April 21, 2007 | 74 comments
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Destination reading. Read more »

Mission Call 2.0

April 13, 2007 | 21 comments
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Called to serve—on YouTube. Read more »

Mormon Theology Seminar

March 22, 2007 | 15 comments
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How I spend my Sunday nights, and what it means for the future of Mormon thought. Read more »

LDS Sessions at the Society for Biblical Literature

November 2, 2006 | 37 comments
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Mormons make an appearance at the important SBL conference. Read more »