Stewards of Prudence and Altruism

May 8, 2013 | 4 comments
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31LJlGdEtBL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX285_SY380_CR,0,0,285,380_SH20_OU01_

Prudence and altruism combined allow us to delay personal gratification or even make sacrifices for the benefit of future people who have not yet been born. The hearts of the fathers must turn to their children Read more »

The Approaching Zion Project: Our Glory or Our Condemnation

May 8, 2013 | 21 comments
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Garden_of_Eden,_Eden,_TX_IMG_1834

Now that I've read my first chapter of Approaching Zion, a couple more caveats before we get started. First, I'm not going to bother summarizing what Nibley said. Instead, I'm going to try to engage it, responding to ideas that engaged me, whether I agree or disagree. Second, I'm not going to try to engage with the full text; in Chapter 1, there were two things that really spoke to me, and one more that I'm going to mention and defer until a later installment. Feel free, in the comments, to engage with what I've engaged with, what I've... Read more »

A Canning Statement from the Church

May 7, 2013 | 15 comments
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A Canning Statement from the Church

Given the rumors circulating about closing canneries and the reasons for doing so, Times and Seasons asked the Church’s PR department for a statement and received the following: The Church is not closing canneries and is not limiting the variety of goods available to Church members. Over time, we will be reducing the number of facilities where the packaging of dry goods occurs. Instead, Church home storage centers will offer the same or additional commodities in pre-packaged form, at no additional cost.   Read more »

The Gold Coin; or, how we should teach our youth about their worth

May 6, 2013 | 36 comments
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The Gold Coin; or, how we should teach our youth about their worth

Object Lesson: The Gold Coin Supplies: Either a $1 coin (such as the recently issued gold coin) or a half-dollar coin. A small bag of dirt. A few miscellaneous objects, such as a pen or paper clip. Lesson: The teacher holds up the coin and asks the class, “What is this?” (Wait for the class to answer: It’s a coin.) “What is its value?” (Either a dollar or 50 cents, depending on the coin type.) Teacher drops the coin on the ground. Kicks it. Steps on it. Lifts up the coin again. “How much is it worth now?” It’s... Read more »

Post Number 6,000

May 6, 2013 | 10 comments
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Post Number 6,000

I just noticed that this is Times and Season’s 6,000th published post. Congratulate us or excoriate us as you wish. Read more »

Book Review: L. Tom Perry: An Uncommon Life

May 5, 2013 | 11 comments
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Book Review:  L. Tom Perry:  An Uncommon Life

 L. Tom Perry:  An Uncommon Life:  Years of Preparation by Lee Tom Perry. Read more »

Literary Lorenzo Snow #9: Memento

May 5, 2013 | one comment
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Literary Lorenzo Snow #9: Memento

The sacred and eternal nature of families is regularly taught and believed among Mormons today. But it wasn’t seen as quite as obvious to Church members in the middle of the 19th century. The teaching that our family relationships extend past this life and are modeled on the family relationship we had before this life developed throughout the life of Joseph Smith, culminating  with the King Follett discourse (given just before his death) and with the temple ordinances. The teachings of Lorenzo Snow on this subject (seen in the Lorenzo Snow manual chapter 9) thus represent a very developed understanding... Read more »

Literary DCGD #18: The Temple of God

May 5, 2013 | one comment
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Literary DCGD #18: The Temple of God

We are a temple-building people. Today we are more removed from the process than ever. Where Mormons once donated money, materials, time and effort to building temples in Kirtland, Nauvoo, St. George, Salt Lake and elsewhere, we participate less and less in the process, first no longer providing materials, then over time less and less labor, and more recently we no longer even have fundraising specifically for building temples or any other building. So we might today be excused from understanding completely how much building temples was part of the life of early members of the Church. Doctrine and... Read more »

Can we can?

May 4, 2013 | 15 comments
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There’s a flurry of facebook posts flying today, based on discussions at right wing survival websites about an alleged decision by the LDS church to stop canning in the Eastern part of the United States, due to excessive government regulation. Has anyone heard about this? Can we still can? Read more »

BYU’s New Testament Commentary

May 3, 2013 | 49 comments
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A website for the upcoming BYU New Testament Commentary series has popped up. The short announcement on the main page promises “a multi-volume commentary on the New Testament along with a new rendition of the Greek New Testament texts,” which will “combine the best of ancient linguistic and historical scholarship with Latter-day Saint doctrinal perspectives.” A short post at the Interpreter claims that the first volume, covering Revelation, will be available this summer in e-book format. This promises a dramatic upgrade to the quality of LDS interaction with the New Testament. Here are a few issues (offering both opportunities... Read more »

An Open Letter to Mormon Thinkers

May 2, 2013 | 21 comments
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An Open Letter to Mormon Thinkers

Last week I published something in a prominent series at a first-rate university press. It is, I think, the most rigorous, speculative, and systematic attempt at a professional take on Mormon philosophy, ever. Read more »

Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World – Online!

May 2, 2013 | no comments
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Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World – Online!

The 2013 Church History Symposium now has most of the videos from the conference online (you can see the lineup for the conference here). I think the conference, it’s organization and execution, was a significant step forward for church-sponsored scholarship (or more precisely, was a continuation of the significant steps the church has been taking recently) – that is, the event itself is worth celebrating. But there were also some really interesting addresses. And now, it’s all online, gratuitement! Click here. Read more »

The Approaching Zion Project: Prologue

May 1, 2013 | 53 comments
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Approaching Zion

I have a confession to make: I've never read Hugh Nibley's Approaching Zion. I'm serious. I mean, I bought it years ago, probably before my oldest daughter was born. I've lugged it through at least six or seven moves. And it's sitting on my bookshelf, taking up valuable real estate. But, though I've nibbled here and there, I've never even read a complete chapter. It seems an odd oversight, frankly: in Approaching Zion, Nibley describes what constitutes a Zion society, and what we need to do to establish such a Zion society; I'm deeply interested in how society and the... Read more »

Tattooed

April 30, 2013 | 3 comments
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On his deathbed, Queequeg asks the ship’s carpenter to fashion him a burial canoe. So fashioned, Queequeg demands to lay himself the length of it, testing its virtue. Then, having abruptly remembered something he’d forgotten to do, he decides not to die after all and rises from the grave. Read more »

Another Post about Mormons and Science Fiction

April 29, 2013 | 42 comments
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2013-04-29 The Host

The topic of Mormons and science fiction seems to crop up with decent regularity every couple of years, and with the recent release of the film adaptation of The Host and the impending release (finally!) of the film adaptation of Ender’s Game, we’re probably about due for another round. This is a topic that I particularly love because it involves two of my greatest passions. I’ve read lots of really good ideas about what it is that makes so many Mormons write science fiction, why Mormons ought to write “fairy-tales”, and of course the caveat that Mormons might not actually... Read more »

Literary DCGD #17: A Satire on Avarice

April 28, 2013 | 5 comments
By
John Lyon

Its hard to find poetry about tithing! I suppose since tithing wasn’t emphasized as much by the Church before the beginning of the 20th century, Mormon poets didn’t focus on the concept. Or, it might simply be that the subject matter doesn’t work well in poetry; certainly the word “tithing” isn’t very poetic, leaving me with visions of bad poetry in which every line ends with a present participle. Its enough to set my ears ringing! But, I suspect that tithing is such a basic concept that my chronological review of poetry, still mired in the late 1840s, just... Read more »

Dell, Obedience, and Parachute Mishaps

April 28, 2013 | 18 comments
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Dell, Obedience, and Parachute Mishaps

Last week, as the PC market faced DOOM!, Dell had a potential buyer, Blackstone, back out.  While that was not particularly interesting to me, what happened next was.  Another investor, Oakmark Funds, sold their 24.5 million Dell shares.  To quote: A “potential acquirer with access to non-public information decided to end its quest to acquire Dell at a higher price. Since they had information we didn’t, we believed it was prudent to assume they might be right. So we sold our stock and will put the proceeds into other stocks that we are more confident are undervalued,” said Bill... Read more »

So, how many missionaries will be serving next year?

April 26, 2013 | 44 comments
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Missionaries Serving

I made a mistake. The week before conference the LDS Church Growth blog, analyzing a Church news release, projected that the number of missionaries serving could pass 100,000 by the end of 2013 or early 2014. When the news appeared in a facbook group I follow, I thought it seemed overly optimistic. I realized soon after the announcement last October that we would have a surge in missionaries, as 18-year-olds joined the 19 and 20-year-old Elders serving, and as 19 and 20-year-old Sisters joined the 21 and 22-year-old Sisters serving. So, I though, the number of missionaries will jump... Read more »

Mustard sandwiches and melted ice cream

April 25, 2013 | 9 comments
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This is a talk I delivered in Sacrament Meeting this past Sunday, on the topic “Using General Conference addresses in our personal study.”   At the center of Mormon self-understanding is the idea that God reveals himself in the present day, to prophets and to individuals.What, then, is the character of that continued revelation?  We’ve been studying the D&C in Sunday school this year, so we have examples close at hand. I want to look at two passages, chosen for their differences. Listen for the contrast in tone; how would you describe the flavor? Here’s the first, from section... Read more »

18 is the new 19

April 25, 2013 | 26 comments
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Six months ago, at the October 2012 General Conference, President Monson announced the missionary age change. Here is his report on how things are going, delivered earlier this month: The response of our young people has been remarkable and inspiring. As of April 4 — two days ago — we have 65,634 full-time missionaries serving, with over 20,000 more who have received their calls but who have not yet entered a missionary training center and over 6,000 more in the interview process with their bishops and stake presidents. It has been necessary for us to create 58 new missions... Read more »

An Overview of LDS Involvement in the Proposition 8 Campaign

April 25, 2013 | 38 comments
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I’ve just posted my article, ‘The Divine Institution of Marriage’: An Overview of LDS Involvement in the Proposition 8 Campaign, to SSRN. The article is largely descriptive, setting out in some detail the church’s actions and statements relating to Proposition 8. It chronicles a significant amount of factual material that has not been discussed at all in the existing legal literature. It may be especially relevant to people who have an interest in Proposition 8, same-sex marriage issues, gay rights issues generally, or LDS church issues generally. The full abstract is as follows: “The Divine Institution of Marriage”: An... Read more »

Joseph Smith and the Aufhebung of the Reformation (and of Catholicism)

April 22, 2013 | 9 comments
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How should Mormons feel about the Reformation? On the one hand, we tend to valorize figures like Tyndale and Luther who defied the religious authorities of their time, setting the stage in many ways for our own radical break with tradition. On the other hand, the need for a Restoration presupposes that the Reformation wasn’t good enough. Jonathan Green argues in a recent post that the Restoration represents a thorough rejection of the Reformation. He focuses on three of Luther’s distinctive teachings: salvation by faith alone, the priesthood of all believers (associated also with a rejection of sacred objects... Read more »

Literary DCGD #16: Sabbath School Opening Hymn

April 21, 2013 | no comments
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RobertBBaird

When we discuss the Sabbath in lessons, we can either focus on the things that we should not do to keep the day holy or we can focus on the things we can and should do. The 16th Gospel Doctrine lesson for the Doctrine and Covenants focuses more on the latter than on the former, discussing attending Sunday meetings and taking the sacrament first before moving on to the concept of a day of rest and keeping the day holy. And I think for most Mormons today the focus is on what we do on the Sabbath—go to Church. Read more »

This Sunday’s Sacrament Meeting

April 17, 2013 | 24 comments
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podium

As a child in the 80s, I remember often feeling a low-level dread. Not constant, not to the extent that it interfered with enjoying life, but the dread of a Cold War child that, any minute, the happy world I lived in might be destroyed in a hail of nuclear fire. It didn’t have anything to do with my parents, who didn’t spend any significant amount of time talking about the risk of all-out war. And I don’t recall talking about it at school or at church. But it kind of underlay the culture, emerging not infrequently from the... Read more »

Seeking New Gifts From God

April 16, 2013 | 5 comments
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“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Thus teaches Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:9. The things that God has planned for us are more wonderful than we can imagine. As wonderful as what we have received is, there is much more, and much greater, to come, both in this life and the next. How should we respond, then, when we are looking for something that God has not yet given us? Should we set aside our yearnings, telling ourselves to... Read more »

Why Today is Important

April 15, 2013 | no comments
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jackie-robinson-no-42

After I returned home from my mission I attended a single’s ward in suburban Washington D.C. in which we had an unusual sacrament meeting one Sunday. One after another ward members came to the podium and delivered the words of the children’s song “I am a Child of God,” each in a different language, a language they knew personally. The effect was surprising; all of us were unified—no one was left out from being a child of God, regardless of race, creed, sex or language. My family experienced a similar surprise several years ago when we arrived at Yankee... Read more »

An April 15th Post

April 15, 2013 | 8 comments
By
Reed Smoot

Happy tax day! In honor of today, a Mormon/tax story: Read more »

An Ensign Is Not A Roadmap

April 15, 2013 | 40 comments
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Goal-setting is a perennial, and for some perennially frustrating, part of Mormonism. I count myself among the frustrated. I have been setting weekly goals for myself since I was a teenager, and I don’t think I’ve ever achieved them all for a single week. I’m getting closer, however. Although I believe that goals are positive and necessary, the costs–especially if expectations are misaligned–can be high. Something to keep in mind is that Church leaders of our generation are selected from a group of very high-achieving professionals. Add to this the willing Mormon tendency towards hagiography, and it’s easy to... Read more »

Literary Lorenzo Snow #8: The Epitaph

April 14, 2013 | 2 comments
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Character not only matters, Lorenzo Snow seems to indicate in the material included in lesson 8 of the Lorenzo Snow manual, it is how we are judged, how the Lord “knows our heart.” This prioritizes, of course, character development, which is, in the end, the focus of this lesson. While I don’t have a Mormon poem that discusses character development itself, I have found several that do discuss what character traits are important, including this one. Read more »

Literary DCGD #15: A Prayer

April 14, 2013 | no comments
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william_gill_mills_medium

I had a hard time finding a poem that fits with this week’s Gospel Doctrine lesson on spiritual gifts. There just aren’t many that even mention spiritual gifts, and most that do seem to be predominantly about another subject. But I was finally able to find one that focuses on the gift of healing, one of the gifts most emphasized in the LDS Church today. There are many others, of course, and the current tendency seems to be to classify things as spiritual gifts that are part of the normal process of learning and living the gospel—things like teaching,... Read more »

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