Cornucopia

BYU NT Commentary Conference

April 21, 2014 | 7 comments
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An upcoming conference: Read more »

The Message of Mormonism (pt. 2): Angels, Visions, Prophets, and Gifts of the Spirit

April 17, 2014 | 27 comments
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In my last post I talked about Mormonism as an answer to the question, “Which church is true?” and suggested that this question has only been compelling on a large scale in fairly limited circumstances. I ought to note here that I am not trying to come up with some kind of general explanation for why people adopt religions or even of church growth in general. I am just interested in the kinds of messages that we have given about the Restoration and why those messages might or might not be compelling in differing social contexts. Another message on... Read more »

Thinking about Miracle Stories

April 15, 2014 | 26 comments
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Should the stories of miracles that Jesus performed be considered historically accurate? Did he walk on water, or was there a conveniently placed sandbar that made his disciples think he was walking on water, or did Mark just make this story up? Read more »

What It Would Take to Not Believe

April 14, 2014 | 47 comments
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2014-04-14 Karl Popper

There was one question in response to my last post that I particularly wanted to answer, but wasn’t able to at the time. This is the question, which was posed by Sebastian Dick: “What would it take to convince you that (in as much as you know anything) propositions such as God exists or the BoM is historical are false? Or do you consider such propositions unfalsifiable?” This post is my answer. It is not a trite cliché that everyone has to believe in something. It is the literal truth. When your life has ended and you look back... Read more »

Sexism and Ordination

April 12, 2014 | 81 comments
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I recently participated in a TribTalk about Ordain Women. Pretty much the first words out of Neylan McBaine’s mouth were something along the lines of “ordaining women won’t end sexism.” Read more »

The Message of Mormonism (pt. 1): Which Church is True?

April 11, 2014 | 24 comments
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This is the first in a series of posts in which I lay out some of my thoughts on what Mormonism’s message to the world has been and what it might become in the next generation or two. It’s a big topic, and I’m likely to yammer on at some length. You have been warned. Since the beginning of the Restoration Mormonism’s central message to the world has been “Join us!” We are and have always been a missionary religion. From an internal perspective missionary work serves three basic purposes. The first is to assist individuals work out their... Read more »

Martha’s Sacrament

April 10, 2014 | 12 comments
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Times & Seasons used to post, from time to time, something “From the archives”. So is this one. *** Martha was one of the older sisters in our branch. We counted a scant dozen of them, singles and widows, making more than half of the congregation and being its very backbone. When I got to know her, Martha was in her sixties. Huge by nature and strong from her lifelong labors as a market woman, she lived in a modest but sunny apartment, four flights high. Rent and utilities took most of her tiny pension, but she managed. Every... Read more »

Five Things I Liked

April 9, 2014 | 8 comments
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Here are a few things from General Conference that I loved: Read more »

Elder Oaks on Women, Priesthood, and the Temple

April 8, 2014 | 44 comments
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Oakland_Temple_fountain (1)

There is a lot that could be said about Elder Oaks’ conference talk about the relationship of women to the priesthood. In this post, I’m going to look at just one issue: the relationship of women, priesthood, and the temple. Read more »

A Short Post on How It Feels to Be a Moderate

April 5, 2014 | no comments
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Full2-35

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NBA strikes deal with LDS Church for Jabari Parker

April 1, 2014 | 49 comments
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Jabari Parker

Today the NBA announced a landmark agreement with the LDS Church to ensure that Jabari Parker’s desire to serve a mission does not interfere with his draft prospects, saying the church has agreed to their proposal to call Parker to serve as a missionary in the city of the NBA team that drafts him.  While the official statement is brief, sources close to the negotiations report that because the NBA considers Parker to be a certain star, league officials, including new commissioner Adam Silver, went to unprecedented lengths to ensure that Parker enters this year’s draft. The deal stipulates that Elder... Read more »

As Much As I Know Anything

March 31, 2014 | 28 comments
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2014-03-31 Before the Pulpit

“Out of curiosity, what makes you believe in Mormonism? Or God for that matter?” This is a question I got from a close friend, more or less out of the blue, the Wednesday before last in a Facebook conversation that had been—up to that point—mostly about how much I love Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve been asked that, but it’s a question I’ve struggled unsuccessfully to answer in the past. I’ve tried on more than one occasion to sit down and write out my reasons, but I always failed. Eventually I gave... Read more »

Where is the door? How do WE knock?

March 30, 2014 | 98 comments
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Salt Lake Temple doorknobs

One of the gems of my mission was the opportunity to spend an evening with a Bishop from the RLDS (now Community of Christ) Church Read more »

So Who Gets a Press Conference in Front of the Tabernacle?

March 28, 2014 | 77 comments
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One of the aspects of the Church’s recent statement to OW regarding the priesthood session that strikes me as eminently sensible is the insistence that OW not invite media on to Temple Square and confine their demonstrations to public property. It’s worth noting that the letter didn’t say that OW members could not come on to Temple Square as worshipers. It said that they couldn’t conduct a press conference in front of the Tabernacle during a General Conference session. There are three reasons that this makes good sense to me. First, inviting television crews onto Temple Square and holding... Read more »

Faith, Revelation, and Jewish Parallels

March 27, 2014 | 11 comments
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Some Jewish reading recently has triggered some LDS thoughts and parallels. I jotted these down in between lengthy organic chemistry homework sessions, so they’re less refined than I’d like, but still important to get out there. (I’m trying to shed my perfectionist writing tendencies.) James Kugel is an insightful and approachable Hebrew Bible scholar. He’s also an Orthodox Jew who retired from Harvard to go live in Israel. Kugel’s How to Read  the Bible details differences between how ancient and modern audiences understood the Bible and why, exposition which many people find disturbing or even undermining of faith. Read more »

Equal Means Something

March 24, 2014 | 102 comments
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It looks like one of the major responses that will be offered in the current discussion of women’s roles is that “equal does not mean the same.” 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 »

A Discarded Draft

March 19, 2014 | 61 comments
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The following draft of a letter was discovered in the waste paper basket at the Church Public Affairs Office:* Dear Sister Kelly, We have received your request for a ticket to attend the Priesthood Session of April General Conference. The purpose of this session is to provide instruction from Church leaders specifically for men and boys. Each year the Church receives more requests for tickets from men and boys than it can accommodate. Accordingly, your request for tickets is refused. We appreciate your desire to hear from Church leaders, however, and invite you to watch the live broadcast of... Read more »

A Kingdom of Priests

March 19, 2014 | 21 comments
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On 30 March 1842, Joseph Smith spoke to the Relief Society. He said that he “was going to make of this Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch’s day— as in Pauls day” (Citation). Read more »

Some Ironies of Continuing Revelation

March 17, 2014 | 21 comments
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I was recently having a conversation with an orthodox Jewish law professor about the challenges faced by Mormons and orthodox Jews as they seek to adapt their religion to life in liberal societies. He was struck by the parallels between Jewish and Mormon discussions, and then said, “Of course, I assume that the idea of continuing revelation makes things much different for Mormons.” His comment got me thinking, and here’s what I wrote in response: Chaim, You’d think that ideas of continuing revelation would make discussions of change — including basic theological and liturgical change — easier for Mormons,... Read more »

Human Evolution: Problems and Possibilities

March 17, 2014 | 35 comments
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2014-03-17 Sun Over Earth

I agree with Jonathan Green’s description of how most Mormons tend to think about evolution vs. creation. To recap, we tend to: Affirm an active role for God in the creation of human beings Accept basic science as it relates to genetics, natural selection, geology, etc. Reject attempts to force an either/or choice between points 1 and 2. As a general rule, Mormons are happy to embrace science and religion, and do not see a necessary conflict between the two. When it comes to the usual hullaballoo over religion vs. science, this is certainly correct. There just isn’t any... 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 »

Fallibility, Trust, and Commercial Development

March 10, 2014 | 108 comments
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2014-03-10 Philly Dev Site

I’ve written about the fallibility of our leaders before (here, here, and here) because I think it’s important for us as members to develop greater spiritual independence and because the unrealistic expectations held for the leaders (as often by the critics as by the devout) set people up for unnecessary disappointment. But the concept of fallibility, like the even trendier concept of doubt, can be overplayed. Leaders are fallible, yes, but that doesn’t preclude room for trust. The proximate cause of my ruminations was the announcement of the Church’s addition of a chapel and a commercial apartment tower next... Read more »

What are the best Ensign articles?

March 9, 2014 | 25 comments
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We have four missionaries in our ward, with ipads. They have complete access to the LDS.org library, but (per their mission president’s wishes) little else in terms of reading/enrichment material. I keep mentioning different books, as is my wont (see here, here, and here), and telling them “all you need to do is read,” so they’ve been frustrated at the apparent lack of access to “the good stuff.”  Read more »