Good Faith

June 30, 2004 | 27 comments
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The concept of good faith plays an important role in the law of contracts. Courts and commentators have long recognized that (many) contracts are incomplete, that parties cannot build meaningful, long-term relationships without some gaps in the initial framework. Such gaps, when discovered, might seem to allow one party to take advantage of the other. One method of preventing such behavior is the application of the duty to act in good faith. According to Judge Richard Posner, “The office of the doctrine of good faith is to forbid the kinds of opportunistic behavior that a mutually dependent, cooperative relationship... 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 »

I Hope They Call Me On a . . . National Guard Mobilization?

June 29, 2004 | 10 comments
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From junior companion to squad leader. From 6 a.m. scripture study to 6 a.m. reveille. From a demanding zone leader to an even more demanding sergeant. Talk about a transfer to a new area. Welcome to active duty, Elders. Your National Guard units have been called up. Have a safe trip. Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 25

June 29, 2004 | 5 comments
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Lesson 25: Alma 17-22 Though this week’s lesson contains sermons by prophets, they aren’t its focus. Instead, it is primarily an account of part of the mission of the sons of Mosiah, particularly the missions of Ammon and, to a lesser degree, Aaron. This account makes a good story, with its tale of Ammon’s service to Lamoni and his battle with those who wanted to steal Lamoni’s sheep. We often use that story as an illustration of things such as faithful service or doing missionary work by service. Are those the reasons that the story of Ammon and Lamoni... Read more »

The Company We Keep

June 29, 2004 | 62 comments
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Sometime back, BYU Magazine ran a feature on BYU’s International Cinema which included mention of the difficulty of finding high-quality foreign films that would meet the requirements of the BYU code of standards. The director of the program was quoted as observing — with no apparent hint of irony — that films from Iran had proven to be a good choice for the theater, not only because of their high artistic quality, but because the censorship imposed upon them by the revolutionary Islamic regime in Iran made Iranian films just perfect for BYU standards. Now, were I to discover... Read more »

First Presidency on Disseminating Comments

June 29, 2004 | 11 comments
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Here is the recent Church statement about repeating General and Area Authority statements given locally (Thanks to Dan for the link): From time to time statements are circulated among members which are inaccurately attributed to leaders of the church. Many such statements distort current church teachings and are often based on rumors and innuendos. They are never transmitted officially, but by word of mouth, e-mail, or rather informal means. We encourage members of the church to never teach or pass on such statements without verifying that they are from approved church sources such as official statements, communications, and publications.... Read more »

The Odd Double Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

June 29, 2004 | 11 comments
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Of late I have been reading Joseph Smith’s History of the Church (also sometimes known as the Documentary History of the Church) in the mornings before I start work. Reading it raised fun little puzzle for me about the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood. Read more »

100,000 visitors to Times & Seasons

June 29, 2004 | 22 comments
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Times & Seasons will today welcome its 100,000th visitor. Since we started our web counter shortly after we opened last November, we’ve grown from 8 daily visits to 900. To mark the 100,000 visitor milestone, I spent some time trying to figure out how much writing has been produced in our seven month stint. Read more »

Again, Tonsorial Jihad

June 28, 2004 | 71 comments
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The latest dispatch from the LDS beard wars comes from Marietta, Georgia, where a visiting area authority, speaking at my brother-in-law’s stake conference, declared that no man in the Church should have a beard. The speaker reasoned as follows: since every member is a missionary, and because missionaries are required to be clean-shaven, every man in the Church should be clean-shaven. Despite the questionable premises of this syllogism, not to mention at least one category mistake, my brother in law decided to inquire of the Lord about the conclusion, and felt prompted to follow the instruction and shave his... Read more »

Spirituality & Fundamentalism

June 28, 2004 | 18 comments
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Hello all, and thanks for Jim’s warm introduction and Lyle’s and Gordon’s welcomes. To get started, let me summarize some recent research I’ve done on current trends in the sociology of religion, and then pose some questions. 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 »

On the Significance of Mormon Wars

June 28, 2004 | 7 comments
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One of the interesting questions to ask in the current discussions of war and peace is whether the history Mormon wars tells us anything about how Mormons ought to think about these issues. Read more »

A Model of Information and Prophetic Counsel

June 28, 2004 | 8 comments
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Suppose Heavenly Father wishes to convey some important information to us that will be useful to our salvation. Now we know that He can communicate with us but that He limits that communication to be based on faith (ours or those around us). Thus, getting answers from God involves a cost in terms of faith and effort (see D&C Section 9). Starting from this point, one can write down a simple model of prophetic guidance that lets us understand what we observe: Assume everyone wishes to know some value T (if it helps, pretend it is the exact percentage... Read more »

Welcome Fred Gedicks

June 28, 2004 | 2 comments
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Welcome to our newest guest blogger, Fred Gedicks. Fred has been a professor of law at Brigham Young University for fourteen years, teaching classes in constitutional law and telecommunications. His research on has focused on religion and society, constitutional interpretation, and Mormon studies. He was a visiting professor at UNC-Chapel Hill last fall, and will be visiting at the University of Utah this fall. Read more »

An American Church

June 28, 2004 | 27 comments
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In the vigorous debate about Iraq happening below, Laurie Burk (hi, Laurie!) wrote: “In the Mideast, America is still viewed as a Christian nation. In most of the world the LDS church is still viewed as an American church, and the violence of the Iraq war is seen as American instigated violence. And violence does not advance the cause of Christ.” I will leave the Iraq debate to that thread, but I am interested in the idea of an American church. I heard this often on my mission, and I heard it just last week in Germany. It was... Read more »

Rooting for BYU

June 27, 2004 | 15 comments
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Adam’s post about Rafael Araujo started me thinking about a debate that rages from time to time on BYU sports boards: whether Church members should feel obliged to be BYU sports fans. The reasoning in favor of this proposition goes something like this: BYU is supported by Church funds and managed by the Prophet and other General Authorities of the Church; in furtherance of BYU’s mission, the Board of Trustees and BYU’s President have endorsed an athletic program, partly because it performs a missionary function for the Church; therefore, all Church members should rejoice when BYU fields a successful... Read more »

A Mormon Image: Gadfield Elm Chapel

June 27, 2004 | 6 comments
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A Mormon Image: Gadfield Elm Chapel

One of the interesting factoids of church history is that for a brief period in the 1840s there were more Mormons in Great Britain than in the United States. Beginning with the mission of the Twelve to England, Mormon missionaries were very successful in Britain, especially in the so-called “potteries” region around Manchester. (Momon missionaries didn’t seem to do so well in London, and Wilford Woodruff had some choice things to say about the city in his journal.) The greatest missionary success came among the so-called United Brethren. The United Brethren were a splinter group that had broken off... Read more »

Book of Mormon FHE: Lesson Three

June 27, 2004 | 3 comments
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BMS: Lehi Leaves Jerusalem MBM: The Wilderness Read more »

Boredom

June 27, 2004 | 13 comments
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I recently returned from a teaching stint in Europe, and this morning I was thinking about a small incident that prompted some Gospel-related thoughts … not about war. Two of my children and I were traveling from Bath to London, and we decided to take the scenic route, which allowed us to stop at Stonehenge on the way. We were all quite enamored with the ancient structure, which I found oddly inspiring. My children (ages 10 and 8) listened intently to their self-guided tour recordings and asked interesting questions. They were genuinely engaged. Read more »

Church Materials in MP3

June 27, 2004 | 6 comments
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Is this old news? The Church is now offering the Book of Mormon, D&C, General Conference, Church magazines, and certain other materials in MP3 format. The audio site is here. The Church’s website also has some downloads for handhelds, and music downloads. Check out the music player by clicking the name of the song you would like to hear. Pretty cool stuff. Read more »

The Anti-Nephi-Lehite Puzzle

June 26, 2004 | 59 comments
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In the rather endless recent comments on war, torture, and politics, both Rob and Dan have made variations on the claim that it is better to suffer death rather than commit certain sorts of moral wrongs. Rob’s claim to me is more interesting, because as a pacifist he seems to claim that it is better to be killed rather than kill another. Dan and Rob, are of course, free to object that I am putting words in their mouths (which is probably correct), however, the basic proposition raises an interesting question: Why might killing be worse than death? Read more »

Giving Up

June 26, 2004 | 8 comments
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Some months ago my wife and I were treated during ward conference to a lesson taught by a member of the stake presidency (and not the one you’re thinking of, either). We always learn a great deal from this counselor, although, because he generally fails to think through the implications of his presentations, what we learn is typically not what he intended. On this particular occasion he shared with us an incident from the summer of his 16th year, directed to the topic of perserverence. Addressing himself most especially to the youth of the ward, he described how he... Read more »

On Being Called to the Law

June 26, 2004 | 12 comments
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War, peace, gay marriage…whatever…lets talk about something important and interesting: My great, great grandfather. Read more »

Orrin Hatch Channels J. Golden Kimball

June 26, 2004 | 25 comments
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A recent article from the nefariousliberalmedia discusses the recent spike in Senate profanity. I’m proud to see that Utah senator and church member Orrin Hatch is one of the politicians who has been putting blue language to public use. Well I say, it’s about time. There ought to be more profanity in Congress, not less. After all, Senators are important public figures. If they swear, others might start swearing as well, and that can’t be a bad thing, can it? Civility is over-rated. Politeness is for the namby-pamby. Contention may be of the devil, but it gets the votes.... Read more »

Reconciling the Iraq War and Christianity

June 26, 2004 | 145 comments
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Critics of the Iraq War are quick to argue that because Saddam hadn’t killed Americans and didn’t pose an immediate threat to Americans, the war wasn’t justified. I don’t know of anyone — Howard Dean, Al Gore, Michael Moore — who believes America would have been wrong to overthrow the Baathists had the Iraqi state gassed thousands of American women and children, thrown scores of Americans into plastic shredders, tortured American children in front of their parents, and tyrannically oppressed millions of Americans living in Iraq. In other words, the critics think the Iraq War is immoral because Saddam’s... Read more »

Constitutional Turnabout

June 25, 2004 | 34 comments
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According to reports this week, the leadership of the United States Senate is currently considering whether to bring to a vote a proposed constitutional amendment to define the nature of marriage. There is widespread agreement that the proposal lacks the necessary votes to pass, suggesting that the vote is primarily intended to make a political issue of the proposed amendment’s subject matter during an election year. Still, many constituencies remain highly exercised over what they perceive to be the necessity of such an amendment to resolve the matter of single-sex marriage. Curiously, these constituencies seem largely to be the... Read more »

Do Children Need to Be Protected From Religion?

June 25, 2004 | 12 comments
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So suggests this somewhat disturbing column in the Christian Science Monitor. (Link via ecitsuJ, which also has some interesting follow-up commentary). Read more »

What Does a Priesthood Blessing Give That a Similar Prayer Does Not?

June 25, 2004 | 22 comments
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I have the Melchezidek Priesthood. It gives me authority to officiate in certain ordinances and the responsibility to obey all the commandments and serve those around me. This I understand. Here is the question. If I bless someone as a Priesthood holder, is that blessing more likely to occur than if I were to have simply stood there and offered a prayer for their recovery? Perhaps this question is not sensible. Perhaps the effect of the Priesthood is to change what or when I pray. I am open to that. I think the question is sensible and the answer... Read more »

Political Sins

June 25, 2004 | 25 comments
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In the comments on a recent thread, Russell suggested that he could be morally culpable because at the time of the invasion of Iraq, he believed that the United States was justified in doing so. He now thinks otherwise. He suggests that his previous beliefs may well have made him complicit in some moral evil. To put words in Russell’s mouth (one of my favorite pass times), he thinks that he was sinning a couple of months ago because of what he was thinking. It is an interesting question. Read more »

Twelve Differences Between Taxation and Robbery

June 25, 2004 | 34 comments
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This is a short primer on the differences between taxation and robbery. At times these two phenomena are sufficiently difficult to differentiate that perhaps such a discussion will be helpful. Feel free to append your own differences to the dozen provided: 1. Taxation is done by a group of people that claim to represent you. Robbers do not claim to represent you. Read more »