Sifting the Sacred from the Mundane

April 8, 2013 | 24 comments
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2013-04-08 Panning for Gold

Of all the deaths in Harry Potter, Dobby’s strikes many people the hardest. It did me. There was absolutely no way I could have kept my eyes dry. If John Locke is right, if actions are the best interpreters of mens thoughts, does this mean that my grief was, in the moment, real? Did I believe, at some level, that Dobby had really lived, and then really died? Did I believe the events of the book were true? Obviously I’m not confused about whether house elves do in fact exist, let alone whether or not Harry Potter is fact... Read more »

Sunday Afternoon Session

April 7, 2013 | 13 comments
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Sunday Afternoon Session

President Uchtdorf is conducting this final session of Conference, with music by the Tabernacle Choir. Invocation by another female, Sister Stephens — they seem to be everywhere this Conference! Benediction by a male Seventy. Direct quotes of a speaker are in quotation marks, otherwise the text is my summary of their remarks. Read more »

Sunday Morning Session

April 7, 2013 | 6 comments
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President Henry B. Eyring is conducting this session of General Conference. Choir — Go Forth in Faith Conducting — President Henry B. Eyring Choir — Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise Invocation — Elder Steven E. Snow President Dieter F. Uchtdorf — “The Hope of God’s Light” It is part of our condition as mortal beings to sometimes feel as though we are surrounded by darkness. …But even though we may feel lost in the midst of our current circumstances,  God promises the hope of His light–He promises to illuminate the way before us and show us the way... Read more »

Priesthood Session

April 6, 2013 | 11 comments
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President Uchtdorf conducted the priesthood session, which included a number of strong and inspiring talks. Choir — Arise, Oh God, and Shine Invocation — Elder Ronald W. Rasband Choir — Nearer My God to Me Elder Robert D. Hales — “Stand Strong in Holy Places” Brethren, if we are faithful in the priesthood, this armor will be given to us as a gift from God. We need this armor! If you judge your actions and the standards of the Church on the basis of where the world is and where it’s going, you will find that you are not... Read more »

Saturday Afternoon Session

April 6, 2013 | 13 comments
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Saturday Afternoon Session

President Eyring conducted the afternoon session. President Uchtdorf read a long list of sustainings and releases, notably releasing President Dalton of the Young Women and calling a new President (Bonnie Lee Green Oscarson) and counselors. The annual audit report and statistical report were read: there are now 3005 stakes and 347 missions. In what follows, direct quotations of a speaker are given in quotation marks; quoted scriptures cited where possible; and other text represents my own summary of the speakers remarks. I will try posting updates after each speaker this session. Read more »

Saturday Morning Session

April 6, 2013 | 8 comments
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Saturday Morning Session

President Uchtdorf conducted this opening session. Opening prayer by a (male) Seventy and music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Direct quotations of a speaker (based on my real-time listening) are given in quotation marks; other text represents my own summary of their remarks. Read more »

“Some women are concerned that they don’t hold the priesthood.”

April 5, 2013 | 128 comments
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I can’t think of anything quite like this video being done before. Read more »

Books! A small timely plug (updated!)

April 5, 2013 | 2 comments
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Books! A small timely plug (updated!)

As you know, we are to study out of the best books, which entails reading. President Hinckley once lamented, “I confess that I am constantly appalled by the scarcity of my knowledge, and the one resentment I think I carry concerns the many pressing demands which limit the opportunity for reading.” Read more »

Why Gay Marriages are a Good Idea but Marriage Equality Worries Me

April 3, 2013 | 244 comments
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Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the constitutional challenge to Proposition 8. I sat down to write a blog post about my thoughts on gay marriage and kept writing and writing and writing. You can read the results here. Like a lot of Latter-day Saints, I have spent a fair amount of time during the last two decades thinking about gay marriage. For better or for worse, it has been one of the main conundrums of Mormon intellectual discussions for my entire adult life. This essay is an attempt to distill my thinking... Read more »

Everything is a Remix, Genesis Edition: Intro

April 3, 2013 | 5 comments
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Everything is a Remix, Genesis Edition: Intro

In this recent post (which I plan to revisit in the near future) and others, I mentioned the discovery of various ancient Near Eastern texts related to Genesis, such as Enuma Elish. The relationship between these accounts and Genesis has never been definitively settled, though dominant interpretive trends have been clear. At first, German scholars such as Friedrich Delitzsch, driven largely by Protestant bias against the Hebrew Bible and a good bit of anti-Semitism, seized on them as the original sources of Genesis, assuming the relevant bits had been taken more-or-less whole cloth from the Israelites neighbors. This undermined longstanding assumptions of their originality or uniqueness,... Read more »

Socially Constructed Mormonism

April 2, 2013 | 6 comments
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Socially Constructed Mormonism

This is the second post (see first post) discussing ideas presented in the recently published memoir of retired LDS sociologist Armand Mauss, Shifting Borders and a Tattered Passport: Intellectual Journeys of a Mormon Academic (Univ. of Utah Press, 2012; publisher’s page). After taking five years away from his graduate work to serve as a counselor in a bishopric, Mauss returned to his studies in 1962 at UC Berkeley, where he quickly encountered a serious challenge to his faith. Read more »

Established by Jesus Christ himself

April 2, 2013 | 49 comments
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Established by Jesus Christ himself

In a recent news article discussing the Ordain Women community and its upcoming inaugural meeting, LDS church spokeswoman Jessica Moody stated that the male-only priesthood “was established by Jesus Christ himself and is not a decision to be made by those on Earth.” Of course, there may be a few questions about whether this statement is descriptively accurate, given those pesky Phoebe and Priscilla and Junia verses and whatnot. But let’s set those issues aside for a moment. Because theologically, it does make sense that we might want to follow Jesus’s example here. And factually, a few quirky anomalies... Read more »

Twelve

April 2, 2013 | no comments
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Twelve

This April we begin the month looking forward to what comes from 12 men and a few more. We will watch what they do and say, perhaps learning some lessons from them. We may disagree and perhaps even be disappointed in what they do. But we will watch, and what we see will inform how we see the next six months. One of these men has already made a strong statement this week, raising our expectations for this year. Will our expectations be met? Read more »

BYU to Announce New Honor Code!

April 1, 2013 | 7 comments
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BYU to Announce New Honor Code!

At Times and Seasons, we’ve been given an exclusive sneak peek of the new Honor Code, and it promises exciting changes at our favorite university. Some of the changes include: 1. All men must wear a full beard at all time. Those unable to do so will be considered to be honoring the rule if they were an acceptable attire to offset the lack of beard. Such as: 2. To avoid controversy, all male/female clothing guidelines have been merged into one. Pants, tunic, and robe are required clothing at all times outside of dorm rooms. Example: 3. It has... Read more »

Strands of Priesthood

April 1, 2013 | 40 comments
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Many discussions about women and the priesthood get muddled because they don’t pay attention to the fact that “priesthood” involves multiple doctrines and practices, with different rationales, functions, and histories.  I thought it might be helpful if I separated the strands of priesthood and thought about them separately.  Read more »

Literary Lorenzo Snow #7: Since Mother Went Away

March 31, 2013 | one comment
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In Mormonism we talk a lot about concepts like “enduring to the end” and “faithfulness in times of trial” (the subject of the current lesson in the Lorenzo Snow manual). We teach that trials are a necessary part of life, burdens that we need to pass through in order to learn the lessons of life and build our abilities for the next life. Children face these same lessons as they become independent of their mothers (and fathers), as Mormon poet Coral J. Black explores in the following poem. Read more »

Literary DCGD #14: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

March 31, 2013 | one comment
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Literary DCGD #14: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

What does it mean to consecrate? What are the kinds of things we must do, the attitudes and priorities we must have when we consecrate all that we have and that we are to the Lord? Doctrine and Covenants Gospel Doctrine lesson 14 explores the Law of Consecration, focusing on these attitudes and priorities and little on the practical effects of those attitudes. I believe that when we actually do live the law of consecration, our actions will be more like the ideal described by Eliza R. Snow in her poetic description of the Relief Society: Read more »

And when they had sung an hymn…

March 31, 2013 | 5 comments
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Mark 14:26 records “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” Sometimes people have asked, did they have a hymn book? What did they sing? Israelites did indeed have a hymn book; it was called the Book of Psalms, and certain Psalms were sung on different occasions. Some were sung as one ascended to Jerusalem for certain feasts and holy days, others at the crowning of a new king, others in the temple/tabernacle to accompany certain sacrifices. Notably, the Psalms for Passover were referred to as The Hallel, Psalms 113-118. Hallel should... Read more »

Why I wear a tie to church

March 28, 2013 | 72 comments
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Not long ago, on the way to church one Sunday, my son, recently turned twelve, asked me, “Why do I have to wear a tie to church?” Instead of directly answering that question, which would reveal his parents’ rather curtailed ability to compel behavior in their almost-teenage children much earlier than I’d like and short-circuit the altogether salutary process of his exploring those limits in person, I told him why I wear a tie to church. Read more »

How do you celebrate Easter?

March 26, 2013 | 22 comments
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What do you do to commemorate Christ’s resurrection? Modern culture, at least publicly, outside of Christian churches, doesn’t celebrate Easter as much as many other holidays or commemorations. Christmas, Halloween, Independence Day, Memorial Day and Valentines Day all seem to get more attention. I suspect that this is, at least in part, because they have become more commercial, and in doing so have captured the imagination of the public. And to a degree this happens for Easter also, but for some reason the commercialization is not nearly as strong as Christmas, for example. The Easter Bunny just isn’t as... Read more »

Reproaching Jesus

March 26, 2013 | 9 comments
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It was the women who loved him who were willing to reproach him. First it was his mother: “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing” (Luke 2:48-54). She did not understand his actions, this little twelve-year old son of hers. And he didn’t seem to understand her distress. Was he preoccupied in his work, his private calling? Was he unaware of how his actions would make her feel, as emotionally obtuse as only a confident child can be? There was no apology, but his words certainly gave his mother... Read more »

Maxwell Institute Announcements

March 25, 2013 | no comments
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Ladies and gentlemen, the new Maxwell Institute Blog is now live.  Check out the announcement about the newly reconstituted Mormon Studies Review. Read more »

Giving Up On The Feminine Divine

March 25, 2013 | 57 comments
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An Asherah figurine.

Not long ago I wrote a piece about mommy blogs, feminism, and the publishing industry. My basic thesis was that if you believe in the reality of historical oppression of women, you ought to be deeply skeptical of the current trend to define gender equality as equal representation of men and women in institutions which are inextricably connected to the historical oppression. To the extent that women have to conform to the expectations of those institutions, our haste to create a better world for women may in some cases be doing the exact opposite. I realize that part of... Read more »

The Case Against Scouting

March 25, 2013 | 145 comments
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The Case Against Scouting

I think that the Church should end its relationship with the Scouting program, but not for the reasons you might think. No, this isn’t a post about homosexuality or even about gender equity, or at least about gender equity as it usually gets discussed on this issue. Indeed, in many ways, I think that girls are served better by the Church than are boys. This is because I think that in many ways that YW program is superior to the YM program. It is true that in some units more gets spent per young men than per young women.... Read more »

Literary DCGD #13: Inspired Writings

March 24, 2013 | 2 comments
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Lesson 13 of this year’s Gospel Doctrine manual reviews some of the most important contributions of Joseph Smith—the scriptures he brought forth. Through Joseph Smith we have not only the Book of Mormon, but also the Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and the inspired version of the Bible. In addition, Joseph Smith provided important clarifications of doctrine upon which much of Mormon doctrine is founded. The following poem addresses Smith’s inspired writings. Read more »

On the Efficacy of Kicking Up a Fuss

March 23, 2013 | 70 comments
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I am going to try an experiment with this post. Read more »

Study Genesis and the Gospels through Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, this weekend only (updated)

March 23, 2013 | 9 comments
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Study Genesis and the Gospels through Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, this weekend only (updated)

One issue that appears repeatedly when studying scripture is dealing with conflicting accounts and multiple perspectives. We have four Gospels that vary in detail, several creation stories, both inside the Bible (Gen 1-2:4, 2:4ff, and the scattered watery Chaoskampf account), and outside (Genesis accounts, Book of Moses, Book of Abraham, Temple), as well as two conflicting accounts of Israelite history (Samuel-Kings vs. Chronicles), and two interpretations of the destruction of Ammonihah (Alma 16-17 vs 25, see Grant Hardy’s article). Our modern tendency is to treat all of these, and indeed nearly all scripture, strictly as history, although bad or... Read more »

A Very Short History of Gender and Participation at Times and Seasons

March 22, 2013 | 29 comments
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Times and Seasons began life, in November 2003, as an institution where men held all leadership and speaking positions. Really! There were four of us: Adam, Matt, Nate, and me; the first post was by Adam. And we men all felt very important in our roles as T&S bloggers. In fact, we felt so important that we added four more men to the group in quick succession: Greg, Gordon, Jim and Russell. You will note the distinct lack of women’s voices. It was a male-only Permabloggerhood, so to speak. Men and women are different, you know: Men blog, and... Read more »

Dealing With the Problem of Men’s Participation

March 22, 2013 | 39 comments
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One issue that people seem to raise against extending priesthood to women is its effect on men. Men, the argument goes, will be less engaged in the Church if priesthood is not a male-only domain. Because this is a practical, rather than a normative, claim, it doesn’t call for a revelatory solution. Moreover, to the extent male engagement is a real problem, the problem continues even if and after the prophet receives a revelation making priesthood available to men and women. And if it’s a real problem, we need to deal with it. Keeping men engaged at the expense of... Read more »

Dumb Reasons for Exclusively Male Priesthood

March 22, 2013 | 176 comments
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This post is a follow up to Kaimi’s thoughtful post I’m a Mormon, and I believe that women… For the record, I don’t actually “believe that women should be eligible for Priesthood ordination.” Rather, I think it would be helpful and I see no overriding reason why it shouldn’t happen. Neither do I see scriptural/doctrinal evidence to show that the scriptural “man” means “mankind” most of the time — but only males when it pertains to the priesthood. I do not believe the issue has been addressed completely. Authoritative statements seem to indicate a long-term acceptance of cultural patriarchy... Read more »

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