General Doctrine

On the Brilliance of Hollow Slogans

February 7, 2006 | 33 comments
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Last week, a bizarre demand was thrust on me by a flier advertising a leadership training program: “BECOME YOURSELF!” the photocopied handout vigorously proclaimed. Who, I wondered, does this flier suppose that I am being right now? Obviously not J. Nelson-Seawright; otherwise, there would be no reason to request that I become J. N-S, would there? Perhaps I have, without quite realizing it, been impersonating Woody Allen? Or Gabriel Garcia Marquez? Read more »

Dear Jane

January 26, 2006 | 60 comments
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Dear Jane, I don’t know you—at least I don’t think I do—but I have been struck by your willingness to speak openly and honestly about your situation. My Sikh friends speak of “seekers.” You are genuinely a seeker and, so, a person deserving of respect, including the respect of response. However, I haven’t had anything to say in response until now when you ask, “Does the gospel make sense (comment 23)?” Read more »

Deny Not the Gifts of God

January 22, 2006 | 34 comments
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I think Terryl Givens was right. I think a primary purpose of the Book of Mormon is to drive each of us toward real dialogue with the living God. And I think Moroni is right – that if we as Mormons are not experiencing some kind of regular dialogue with God we are denying the gifts of God. Read more »

Theology and Idolatry

November 8, 2005 | 25 comments
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Let me present a sketch–though only a sketch and a very broad one at that–of how one might think about theology, both about a problem with it and one of the possible responses to that problem. Read more »

Thinking about the Trinity

October 20, 2005 | 74 comments
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It is hardly news to this crowd that Mormons don’t accept the traditional understanding of the Godhead, the Trinity. Read more »

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

April 16, 2005 | 12 comments
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Lately I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the gift of the Holy Ghost. In one sense, nothing profound has come from that thinking. I’ve felt that my thinking has been worth the effort it took. I have enjoyed the spirit I felt while thinking about it and feel better prepared to received the Holy Ghost, but my thinking hasn’t something that can be reproduced in an essay. Read more »

Tenebrae

March 26, 2005 | 10 comments
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Yesterday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, here at Notre Dame, I attended a service of prayer and lamentation called “Tenebrae”, remembering the darkness of the night when Christ suffered in Gethsemane and was arrested, and anticipating his death. It closed with a final candle carried out, leaving us in complete darkness, and the congregation producing a loud noise, like the rolling of the stone to close the grave. Today I had a conversation with some friends, in which we reflected on the meaning of these events, and the difference in the darkness from a Mormon point of... Read more »

Patience with Joseph

March 7, 2005 | 2 comments
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At the time the Church was organized, Joseph was called as its prophet and the Saints were told : “Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.” Read more »

Keys and Authority

February 20, 2005 | 14 comments
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In Gospel Doctrine class today, we read several verses from Doctrine and Covenants in which the keys of the priesthood are referred to. (We are on lesson eight.) An example is D&C 84:19: “This greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.” Read more »

From the Pulpit: Notes on Repentance

January 23, 2005 | 17 comments
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In the noble tradition of literary hacks who never miss an opportunity to recycle old material, here are the interesting bits of a sacrament meeting talk I delivered in church today. Repentance is, at its simplest, a turning away from sin and a returning to God. Read more »

Petitionary Prayer

December 26, 2004 | 32 comments
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If we remember that the Father already knows our needs and desires, then the idea of prayer is strange. Read more »

Two Questions from Jim F. (2)

October 19, 2004 | 39 comments
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Second question (go here for the first): This question is more philosophical. Read more »

(When) are bloggers permitted to criticize church leaders?

October 6, 2004 | 320 comments
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This topic has come up in recent posts around the bloggernacle. For example, Rusty at Nine Moons discusses an instance where a bishop committed all of the men in the ward to “1) To never watch an R-rated movie ever again. Also, to never watch a PG-13 rated movie without his wife’s permission. 2) To use the internet (at home presumably) only with his wife’s permission (by assigning a password on the computer that only the wife knows).” The comments to Rusty’s post include a number of attacks on him for posting criticism of the Bishop. (e.g., “did you... Read more »

Getting Philosophical about Food Storage

September 16, 2004 | 61 comments
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The thing is: we don’t eat the kinds of foods that one can store. A large chunk of our grocery purchases consist of fresh fruit, frozen vegetables (not the square carrots!), and cheese. Whenever I feel all penitent and motivated to store more food, I always hit a wall due to the discrepency between what we eat and what can be stored. Read more »

Precious Assurance of God’s Fairness: Baptism for the Dead

August 30, 2004 | 5 comments
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A number of years ago I participated in a science and religion mail list with a group of scientists who were also Christians. It was there where I came to appreciate the faith of scientists of other religions who are able reconcile their faith (esp. Genesis) with modern science. I think everyone in the group accepted the finding that the earth is old, and so forth, often in ways that were remarkably compatible with what James Talmage taught in his landmark sermon, “The Earth and Man.” BTW, that speech is especially important because, as Michael Ash points out, it... Read more »

Book of Mormon Family Home Evening Lesson Nine

August 8, 2004 | 7 comments
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BMS: A New Home in the Promised Land MBM: The Promised Land–The Nephites Read more »

Conflicted Thoughts about Hyper-Righteousness

August 6, 2004 | 32 comments
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Over at Sons of Mosiah, Bob Caswell shares Bob Millet’s theory on why some members of the Church get so darn hyper about little things: “Millett had another story of a relatively new member coming to him and asking if it was normal for a bishop to require no facial hair in order for a person to be worthy to receive a calling. Millett suggested that the person meet with his stake president. Well, this person did so only to find out that is was his stake president who instigated it! Millett posed the question: What does a person... Read more »

The Anarchy of Revelation

July 26, 2004 | 32 comments
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I recently finished Jon Krakauer’s book about Fundamentalist Mormons, called Under the Banner of Heaven: The Story of a Violent Faith (I know, I know, I am about a year behind in my reading list). The book was a fascinating read, though often frustrating for its reductionism, historical inaccuracies, and sometimes sophomoric view of religion. However, he does seem to make an interesting point about what I like to call the Anarchy of Revelation. Read more »

Looking on a woman to lust

July 9, 2004 | 32 comments
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I ought to avoid making a mountain out of a molehill and derailing the current discussion (though one more argument about same-sex marriage is the last thing I’m interested in, so I don’t really mind if it gets derailed). Nevertheless, I think I should explain some of the cryptic remarks I made about lust more fully. Besides, I’m an academic. What else could I do but make mountains out of molehills. Read more »

The Nature of Satan, as Explained by a Seven Year Old

July 7, 2004 | 11 comments
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Seven-year-old: Satan doesn’t have a body. Me: That’s right. 7-YO: So he’s a Spirit. Me: Yes. 7-YO (getting more excited): That’s kind of like a ghost. Me: Yep. 7-YO (who has been playing a lot of pac-man lately) (very excited): So if you eat a power pill, then Satan turns blue, and then you can EAT HIM! Me: (trying very hard not to laugh) Umm, not quite . . . Read more »

Who We Are and What We Are Judged For

July 1, 2004 | 18 comments
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In a recent post, there was a bit of a debate about what we are or aren’t allowed to be judged for. For example, suppose I honestly don’t believe the Church to be true. I even pray about it. To what extent can I be punished for my lack of faith? In one sense, this is moot as a judgment tool for us because we never observe others’ sincerity and it is not for us to judge other’s eventual salvation or lack thereof. But we do need to know where we stand, so the the question may be worth... Read more »

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Elder McConkie

June 30, 2004 | 72 comments
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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Elder McConkie

I grew up in a home where I was taught from my earliest childhood to be skeptical of Elder Bruce R. McConkie. I was taught that he was overly dogmatic and that his urge to systemization was inconsistent with the spirit of continuing revelation and the core of the restored gospel. Good honor-thy-father-and-thy-mother-that-thy-days-may-be-long-upon-land child that I was, I imbibed this ethos and by the time I arrived at college I had a deep, anti-McConkie strain. While in the MTC I served with a missionary who was one of Elder McConkie’s grandsons. He (the missionary not the apostle) informed me... Read more »

“This is only a test. . .

June 29, 2004 | 33 comments
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. . . if it were an actual commandment, this message would be followed by a theologically sound explanation . . .” Read more »

There Has to Be Error

June 28, 2004 | 63 comments
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In a recent post on blessings, Heather notes that sometimes blessings promised don’t happen and that there can be several reasons why this doesn’t occur. I’d like to extend off that idea to note that, if we are to work by faith and not knowledge, things have to not work right sometimes. Thus I am highly skeptical of any evidence that shows too incontrovertibly the Book of Mormon is a historical record. I assume that someone will raise plausible objections to any such evidence given a little time. This is because I don’t believe that most of us now... Read more »