Earth Stewardship: Doctrine, Principle, or Heritage?

October 30, 2013 | 12 comments
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I was recently told that earth stewardship is not a doctrine nor a principle of the gospel; rather, it is a heritage. Read more »

Why same sex marriage is not an attack on the institution of marriage: experiences from Europe

October 29, 2013 | 136 comments
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Why same sex marriage is not an attack on the institution of marriage:  experiences from Europe

A Dutch Mormon non-same-sex marriage: a proud father with his daughter The involvement of the LDS church in the issue of same sex marriage in the United States runs very deep and is highly emotional. The battle for proposition 8 was intense, highly visible and centrally directed and seemed at the time to result in a repeal of the liberty for same sex partners to formally and legally marry in California. At the time it drew a lot of attention in Europe as well, reflected in major articles in journals, newspapers and magazines. One of these was Time Magazine,... Read more »

Children Like Ender

October 28, 2013 | 12 comments
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Children Like Ender

As a friend of mine living in Germany informed me, Ender’s Game has already started to play in some markets, and the United States release is coming up this week. With that in mind, I thought I’d return to the novel once more. In the days before The Hunger Games and Battle Royale made the idea of children murdering each other part of mainstream entertainment, the combination of very young characters and serious violence was one of the more provocative and controversial elements of Ender’s Game. Young Ender Wiggin is only six years old when he beats another child to death, and... Read more »

Literary DCGD #41: Lines on the Death of Lorenzo D. Barnes

October 27, 2013 | one comment
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The idea that every member is a missionary depends on a certain kind of commitment to the Church. For the Church to make the kind of progress outlined in D&C Gospel Doctrine Lesson 41 missionaries, even member missionaries, must be willing to make the sacrifices necessary. Recently, the level of commitment that some missionaries end up making has been very public — the Church seems to have switched policy and made public information about missionaries who died in the field. At last report the number who have died is up to 12 (probably fewer than the number of currently... Read more »

Happy Young-Earth-Creationist New Year!

October 23, 2013 | 29 comments
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Happy Young-Earth-Creationist New Year!

According to Bishop Ussher and his famous calendrical calculations, on Oct.23 4004BC, God said “let there be light” and created the Earth. That makes today the Earth’s 4004+2013=6017th birthday, and a new year. Read more »

Upcoming Conferences

October 21, 2013 | 4 comments
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There is an embarrassment of riches on the Mormon Studies scene in the next few weeks. Read more »

The Metaphysics of Sealing

October 21, 2013 | 74 comments
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2013-10-21 SLC Temple

As Mormons, we practice a faith full of ritual ordinances. We are taught in scripture that some of these ordinances, like baptism, are necessary for salvation. We are also given very specific instructions for performing these ordinances, and failure to execute them properly seems to nullify their efficacy. Taken together, the precise instructions for carrying out ordinances and their eternal significance seem dischordant. When we are immersed during baptism, does the water actually do something? If not, why is it so strictly required? I know of three three conventional attitudes to this problem. The most straight-forward is to believe that... Read more »

Literary DCGD #40: Baptism for the Dead

October 20, 2013 | 5 comments
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Literary DCGD #40: Baptism for the Dead

Temple and Family History work (discussed in Gospel Doctrine lesson #40) are perhaps the most unique of LDS doctrines. The doctrine behind them solves both the problem of making salvation universally available and the need for high-church ceremony in a religion that focuses on low-church ideals in its regular worship. The origin of this doctrine appeared in Mormonism in late 1840, and by the following year it was popular enough that it was the subject of the following poem. Read more »

Everybody Ought to Have a Body

October 16, 2013 | 12 comments
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A distinctive Mormon doctrine related to creation and stewardship is the idea that embodiment is a necessary prerequisite for god-like exaltation. This doctrine includes within it the ideas we can be exalted to become like God, and that God himself has a physical body. The soul of man is the spirit and the body. Although we believe we had a premortal existence as spirit children of God, we were not completely created until we were born into our physical bodies. Our mortal parents acted as co-creators with God in having us. Our bodies are the temples in which our... Read more »

Does God Help Find Car Keys?

October 14, 2013 | 47 comments
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Does God Help Find Car Keys?

I remember reading a story in the Ensign while I was on my mission. The story was about a police officer who had been searching for a toddler who had been lost when his mother’s car was stolen while the child was still in the back. The mother was desperate to be reunited with her child, and time was running out. The police officer prayed, he followed a hunch, and the child was found and returned to his parents safe and sound. The story bothered me. It wasn’t the story itself. I have had miraculous experiences in my own... Read more »

A Series of Announcements; or, Be Excited, Be Very Excited

October 13, 2013 | 34 comments
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A Series of Announcements; or, Be Excited, Be Very Excited

Forgive the personal indulgence. I realized that I had been participating in the online LDS world for 10 years, and I had some things to say of a personal and public nature. Read more »

Literary Lorenzo Snow #20: A Marvel and a Wonder

October 13, 2013 | no comments
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James H. Hart

We often use the phrase “a marvelous work and a wonder” to describe the restoration and subsequent spread of the gospel across the earth. And this work is marvelous and wonderful, as lesson 20 of the Lorenzo Snow manual discusses. As a story it has conflict and drama and surprise. And it is, I think, easy to see the hand of God moving the work forward. It may be, however, that the work doesn’t move forward in a straight line, continually growing and improving. Our history shows, I think, some steps back, times when problems led many to leave... Read more »

Literary DCGD #39: The Records of Our Dead

October 13, 2013 | no comments
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Lula Greene Richards

The doctrine of baptism for the dead is unique to Mormonism among religions today. Our focus on performing ordinances on behalf of those who haven’t been part of the Church in this life leads us to genealogical research to discover enough information to distinguish between individuals, and sometimes even allowing us to discover who our ancestors were—what kind of people they were and what were they like. While our family history efforts are rightly focused on getting temple work done for our ancestors, we should find value also in getting to know those ancestors, and in that way building... Read more »

International Day of the Girl

October 11, 2013 | 8 comments
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International Day of the Girl

Today is the International Day of the Girl.  Yesterday, the Deseret News devoted an article to it but 24 hours later, no one had yet commented. Another article appeared today, but as of now, no comments yet. Perhaps there is no need to voice support for something everyone agrees on? Still, worldwide, tens of thousands of children have been conducting activities to support education for girls, following the lead of Malala Yousafzai. Anything to report from Utah? Other themes of the Day deal with forced girl marriages and teen pregnancies due to poverty and lack of sexual education.  In my home... Read more »

New Summer Seminar in Mormon Theology

October 10, 2013 | one comment
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New Summer Seminar in Mormon Theology

The Mormon Theology Seminar and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship are pleased to announce the First Annual Summer Seminar on Mormon Theology, “A Dream, a Rock, and a Pillar of Fire: Reading 1 Nephi 1.” Read more »

Standing as Witnesses

October 8, 2013 | 30 comments
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Ronan’s post this morning reminded me of something I had written but hadn’t gotten around to posting: Read more »

Men, Women, and Priesthood Session

October 7, 2013 | 149 comments
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Men, Women, and Priesthood Session

In case you haven’t heard, members of the Ordain Women movement tried to attend the priesthood session of general conference and were turned away. I think that turning them away was a mistake, but I also think that it would be a bad idea for women to begin attending the priesthood session of conference. First, why I think excluding Ordain Women was a mistake. I can understand why Church authorities would turn away the Ordain Women activists. The rationale, it seems to me, would be something along the lines of, “This is an attempt to turn a sacred meeting... Read more »

Why is climate change not popular in Deseret?

October 7, 2013 | 33 comments
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Why is climate change not popular in Deseret?

The weather comes and goes, the climate stays. At least, that is what we were taught in our youth, but nowadays the stability of climate is in heavy weather, for the climate is changing. In windy and rainy Holland the weather is an obvious conversation starter; a Nepalese anthropologist who did his fieldwork in the Netherlands in the ‘80s was struck by our constant speaking about the obvious, the weather; he thought the reason was that everything else in this country was under control, man-made or well-regulated, so the weather was about the only variable item we could mention... Read more »

Peter Wiggin as Lucifer

October 7, 2013 | 4 comments
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2013-10-07 Some Family You Fight Against

(This post is the second in a series on Ender’s Game. Read the first here.) Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is a Third. This means that he is the third child in a family which–in the strictly population controlled United States described in Ender’s Game violates both the law and social taboo. Ender’s oldest sibling is Peter, a sociopathic genius who takes to torturing small animals when his favorite target, Ender, is shipped to Battle School. Peter himself was rejected because the military concluded he “had the soul of a jackal.” After Peter, his parents had Valentine. Although just as intelligent as Peter, she... Read more »

Sunday Afternoon Session

October 6, 2013 | 41 comments
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Conductinng: Elder Henry B. Eyring Elder Quentin L. Cook: Lamentations of Jeremiah: Beware Of Bondage Turning from the worship of the true and living God and worshipping false gods like wealth and fame and engaging in immoral and unrighteous conduct result in bondage in all its insidious manifestations. These include spiritual, physical, and intellectual bondage and sometimes bring destruction. Bondage, subjugation, addictions, and servitude come in many forms.  They can be literal physical enslavement, but can also be loss or impairment of moral agency that can impede our progress. Addictions that impair agency, contradict moral beliefs, and destroy good... Read more »

Sunday Morning Session

October 6, 2013 | no comments
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President Dieter F. Uchtdorf conducting. President Henry B. Eyring: To My Grandchildren I have seen those same tears of happiness in the eyes of someone who recounted the words of an apostle of God:  He had said to her, after a searching and tender interview: “I forgive you in the name of the Lord. He will forgive you in His own time and in His own way.” And He did. Read more »

Priesthood Session

October 6, 2013 | no comments
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President Henry B. Eyring conducting. Elder L. Tom Perry: The Doctrines and Principles Contained in the Articles of Faith This doctrine is to the Church like a battery is to a cell phone.  When you remove the battery from your cell phone it becomes useless. A church in which true doctrine is no longer taught is similarly useless. It cannot guide us back to our Heavenly Father and our eternal home.  Read more »

Saturday Afternoon Session

October 6, 2013 | no comments
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President Uchtdorf conducting. President Henry B. Eyring: Sustaining votes of the General Authorities and Church Officers Read more »

Saturday Morning Session

October 5, 2013 | 2 comments
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President Eyring conducted this opening session. President Thomas S. Monson: Welcome to Conference I am happy to announce that two weeks ago the membership of the Church reached fifteen million. It has scarcely been one year since I announced the lowering of the age of missionary service. Since that time, the number of full-time missionaries serving has increased from 58,500 in October 2012 to 80,333 today. What a tremendous and inspiring response we have witnessed! Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto... Read more »

Climate and gospel

October 3, 2013 | 83 comments
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Climate and gospel

About a year ago I took the liberty of asking the Brethren what their opinion was on climate change. My reason was that we as Dutch have a temple below sea level, probably the only one in the world. How did the Brethren envisage the future of the Dutch temple, considering sea level rise due to perceived and expected climate change? As LDS temples are destined for eternity, what are the long-term perspectives of this particular House of the Lord? Is it going to be flooded when the waters rise, inundated when the ‘inconvenient truth’ hits Holland? We as... Read more »

Thinkable priesthoods, usable pasts

September 30, 2013 | 66 comments
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What can we gather from last week’s decision from Salt Lake? The content of the Priesthood session will be made accessible in real time to anybody who wants to view it online, but the live venue will be available to men only — even, presumably, non-Priesthood-holding or -worthy men. Priesthood session, in its primary form, will remain a male-only social space. It appears that the purpose of the formerly-restricted Priesthood session was not chiefly to withhold information from women, although that was the effect, but rather to preserve a single-sex social and spiritual space. Does this suggest anything about... Read more »

Ender as the Everyman

September 30, 2013 | 22 comments
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The cover art for the YA version of Ender's Game.

With very few exceptions, everyone loves the Harry Potter books. (The exceptions consist of people who cannot read and people who have no soul.) The appeal is fairly straightforward, with themes of magical escapism, coming-of-age, and friendship woven directly and beautifully throughout the narrative. Ender’s Game is also a very popular book. Although of course it’s not as widely read as Harry Potter (very little is, after all), it’s one of the best-selling and most-awarded science fiction novels of all time. The most interesting contrast between the two, however, is that whereas everyone seems to be on the same... Read more »

Literary Lorenzo Snow #19: To Elder L. Snow

September 29, 2013 | no comments
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Literary Lorenzo Snow #19: To Elder L. Snow

Lorenzo Snow lesson 19 highlights several purposes for missionary work in its collected statements from Snow’s discourses. Clearly bringing the gospel to others is the chief purpose of this effort. Snow also suggests in these statements that missionary work is a sacrifice that missionaries make when they are sent out into the world. Perhaps the sacrifices that Snow himself made taught him the value of missionary work and the sacrifices made. Snow’s sister evidently thought these sacrifices were important, since she made them the subject of the following poem. Read more »

Literary DCGD #38: Song of the Sisters of the Relief Society

September 29, 2013 | no comments
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Literary DCGD #38: Song of the Sisters of the Relief Society

Often when we discuss the principles of welfare today, we talk as if the whole idea of welfare developed in the 1930s, along with the current program. In reality, before the current program caring for the needy, poor and promoting self-reliance were largely the purview of the Relief Society. And so it is a Song of the Sisters of the Relief Society (familiar today since it is the poem on which the current hymn, As Sisters in Zion, is based — Julie also posted here on Times and Seasons about this poem) that I present below to help us... Read more »

The JST: A Test Case

September 25, 2013 | 13 comments
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Here’s Mark 2:14: Read more »