The Faith of Abraham

May 24, 2004 | 16 comments

Jesus is our Great Exemplar, the one who invites us, "Follow thou me." We are counseled to consider how Jesus would act if he were in our shoes, and to model our lives after his. Some inspiring scriptural passages describe the potential we have to become like him.

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May 23, 2004 | 38 comments

Over at Sons of Mosiah, commenter Kent Bailey made a comment that has gotten me thinking. He writes: Compare the number of hours you spend in Church meetings each month to the number of hours you spend out in the community giving service. For me, the ratio is about 20 to 1. If it is ok to do the Lord’s work on the sabbath (actually more than “ok”), wouldn’t our sabbath be better spent, say working at the DI or in a soup kitchen — as opposed to sitting in meetings all day? If the Savior were here, I... Read more »

The Daughters of Zelophehad

May 23, 2004 | 67 comments

On several occasions, I have asked rooms full of adults if anyone could relate the story of the daughters of Zelophehad to us. No one has ever been able to do it. That’s a shame. This story needs to be brought forth out of obscurity, to grace the flannel boards in Primary, to star in Family Home Evening (it does in the Smith house!), and to take its rightful place in the cozy canon alongside Jonah, Daniel and his lions, and Nephi. Read more »

Except Die

May 23, 2004 | 7 comments

Every night (whenever I can) I tell bedtime stories to the kids. They’re largely improvised, from a blend of mythology, literature, movies, and whatever else I’ve thought about lately. They’re usually serialized (“And tomorrow we’ll find out how they fought that giant. . .”). In any given night, our intrepid adventurers are likely to come across giants, dragons, witches, balrogs, castles, jedis, hydras, medusa (a favorite), robots, spaceships, invisibility, magic potions, magic wands, lightsabers, and lasers. I enjoy telling the stories, and the kids enjoy hearing them. This leads to some fun conversations with Sullivan, our oldest (almost seven),... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 20

May 22, 2004 | 3 comments

Lesson 20: Mosiah 25-28; Alma 36 Warning: the materials for this lesson may be the longest I’ve produced so far. As always of course, they are intended only to help you think about the material. No lesson could cover all of the significant ideas and questions that come up in these chapters. The first part of the materials is a chronology created by Arthur Bassett. I post that chronology in response to Tom Johnson’s note (here) that I was not clear about the chronological relation between Mosiah and Alma in the materials for Lesson 19. Read more »

Gordon in China

May 21, 2004 | no comments

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Visiting Jershon

May 21, 2004 | 9 comments

There are some fun goings-on over at Sons of Mosiah. Bob Caswell wants to know how big is too big when it comes to blogging. It’s a good question and a good post, and it has generated some interesting comments. (A related question is “how big is too big” for a comments chain — I certainly have a hard time keeping up with the uber-chains of comments we sometimes see around here. By way of illustration of “how big is too big?”, perhaps everyone should hit the Sons of Mosiah comment thread, so that we can see at what... Read more »


May 21, 2004 | 8 comments

I’ve been working on discovery lately, and in reviewing of documents (board minutes, internal e-mails) I often come across the term “quorum.” Of course, for a board meeting, a quorum has a particular meaning: It is the minimum number of board members who must be present for the board to make decisions. We use the word a little differently in the church (or do we?) — we typically refer to the word’s second definition of “a select group.” But beyond that difference, what exactly do we mean when we talk about quorums? Read more »

Mormonism, Liberalism, and Social Epistemology

May 20, 2004 | 20 comments

In the most recent issue of Philosophy & Public Affairs, Allen Buchanan, a philosopher at Duke, has a very interesting article entitled “Liberalism and Social Epistemology.” He starts his argument with the observation that our knowledge of the world is inescapably dependent on social institutions. It is social institutions that allow for specialization, which in turn carried great advantages in terms of knowing the world. These advantages, however, come at a price. We must cede a certain amount of epistemic independence to authorities. This, he argues, creates great dangers. Certain authorities can be badly – horribly – wrong. He... Read more »

The Media

May 19, 2004 | 10 comments

Recent comments elsewhere have discussed the question of the media: Whether it is reporting properly, whether it is politically impartial, and whether the answers to those questions are a problem. There is clearly a diversity of opinion among T & S readers on these topics. This thread is everyone’s chance to air their views about the media. However, I really don’t want this to become a mudfight. And, it has been my observation that people are (more so than usual) willing to speak without support on this topic. So, for this thread alone, I’m asking for an added set... Read more »

Fruity Con Law at Meridian

May 19, 2004 | 23 comments

The ever exciting Meridian Magazine has been running a series of articles that purport to be “Constitutional Primers,” explaining to Mormons the way that the constitution functions. The most recent one argues that what is known as “selective incorporation” under the 14th amendment is a mistake. This doesn’t sound all that interesting or exciting, but it actually is. I promise. Read more »

Embodiment and Epistemology

May 19, 2004 | 9 comments

Mormonism places unique value on embodiment. It is very interesting to ponder the implications of this. One set I've been thinking about today is the implications for epistemology, or how it is that we know things.

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Sunday School Lesson 19

May 18, 2004 | 13 comments

Lesson 19: Mosiah 18-24 Chapter 18 Verse 1: Many of the conversion stories in the Book of Mormon are more detailed and more dramatic than this brief description of Alma’s repentance. (Compare Enos’s story and Alma the younger’s, for example.) Why might this story be told so briefly? Read more »

Adam-God in the Hymnal

May 18, 2004 | 11 comments

I made an exciting discovery some time ago. It seems that Adam-God lives on in the pages of the current LDS hymnal. I write, of course, of that well-loved favorite, “Sons of Michael He Approaches,” hymn 51. Read more »

The Value of Esotericism

May 17, 2004 | 15 comments

When I began participating in online discussion forums, I selected the nickname "Grasshopper," rather than using my real name. One of the perceived benefits of the Internet is our anonymity (except on this onymous blog, of course). Benefit, yes, but also a drawback, to some extent, since someone posting pseudonymously is clearly hiding something and cannot be fully trusted, right?

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A New Blog

May 17, 2004 | 26 comments

Check out Political Juice a new left-leaning political blog by a Mormon. The author has promised a series of posts on Mormonism and Politics. His first one is on the death penalty. There is no stunning theological or political insights here, but he does have a nice collection of quotes from Brigham Young and Joseph Smith on the topic as well as a discussion of everyone’s favorite doctrine…blood atonement! Read more »

The End and the Beginning

May 17, 2004 | 4 comments

We are sad to announce the end of Ben Huff’s stint amongst us as a guest blogger. Thanks for the laughter and the tears, Ben. We will never forget you. (Especially if you continue to comment here, as we hope you will). Our sorrow at Ben’s passing, however, is mitigated by the fact that we are happy to announce our newest guest blogger, Christopher Bradford, who is also known by the codename “Grasshopper,” a hold over from his days in the KGB. Brother Bradford runs his own blog, Let Us Reason and has been an active participant in various... Read more »

A Mormon Theogony

May 17, 2004 | 21 comments

Theogony is not a topic that comes up a great deal in discussions of Mormon theology. We tend to take the eternity of God for granted and as often as not end up affirming the eternity of man as well. The closest we generally get to discussion of the birth of the gods is when we ask the peculiarly Mormon question of how God progressed to become God. Orson Pratt, however, did get down to more fundamental questions of origins. Read more »

Do the Meetings Really Even Matter? (Thoughts on the Sacrament)

May 17, 2004 | 61 comments

I sense a common theme, or at least a common presumption, to recent posts by Julie and Kristine (which is not to reduce either of their posts to the point I’m making; there’s a lot more to both of them than this). Specifically, both seem to be concerned with, exasperated by, or otherwise focused on the “public” operations of the church: leadership, callings, classes, etc. You know, all the stuff which happens on Sunday: this lesson on Lamentations needs to get taught even though that baby over there is screaming his head off and no one can hear a... Read more »

The Painful Truth of “The RM”

May 17, 2004 | 28 comments

Seems like pretty much all my friends love to hate that glorious Halestorm movie, The RM (but Eric Snider liked it!). Reminds me of how a lot of people find their next-younger sibling annoying : ) Okay, I grant it was positively painful to watch! as often as not. But I was baffled enough by it (and prideful enough, since it was my idea to drag my friend to see it that day) that I suspended judgment until the end. And as I walked out, I realized it was absolutely brilliant, and the more I thought about it, the... Read more »

Revelation and the Brotherhood of Man

May 16, 2004 | 18 comments

Ha! I can beat Nate Oman at pompous blog titles any day (even when I’m just recycling one aspect of his question in less philosophically sophisticated terms!). And I apologize for the gendered language, but “The Siblinghood of Humankind” just ain’t got that swing. Astute readers (or literate nine-year-olds, really) will have noticed by now that I have a teensy tiny little problem with authority, especially when other people have more of it than I do. It has occurred to me that I have long since passed the age when such authority issues are appropriate, and even the age... Read more »

A Sunday Poem

May 16, 2004 | 5 comments

Here’s your RDA of George Herbert: IESU Iesu is in my heart, his sacred name Is deeply carved there: but th’other week A great affliction broke the little frame, Ev’n all to pieces: which I went to seek: And first I found the corner, where was ‘I’, After, where ‘ES,’ and next where ‘U’ was graved. When I had got these parcels, instantly I sat me down to spell them, and perceived That to my broken heart he was ‘I ease you,’ And to my whole is IESU. Read more »

Warning: A Rant

May 16, 2004 | 24 comments

Babies are making me crazy. I can’t talk over them in Gospel Doctrine and I can’t hear over them in Relief Society. For a Church that’s so pro-family, why is that we do nothing for the 0-17 month crowd except force their parents to spend two hours each week trying to get them to stop licking people’s shoes? Read more »


May 14, 2004 | 12 comments

Lyle Stamps, law student and frequent T&S commenter, has been called up to serve in Iraq as a sergeant in the 250th Signal Battalion, Company A, Cherry Hill, New Jersey Army National Guard. His unit has not yet shipped out, but presumeably will be doing so in the near future. Best wishes Lyle. We will keep you in our prayers. Make sure that you drop us an email or post a comment when if you get access to the internet. Read more »

Leading the Church Astray

May 14, 2004 | 42 comments

My question about what precisely we mean when we say that the prophet will never lead the Church astray came up on another thread. I’d like to explore that question here. A few notes to begin the discussion: Read more »

Sensible Kobe Bryant Commentary

May 14, 2004 | 32 comments

I’ve been hearing and reading about what a great player Kobe Bryant is, since he is putting up good basketball numbers while also defending himself at trial. I haven’t been particularly impressed with that feat. And I just noticed an ESPN column by writer Jason Whitlock that is more in line with my own feelings. He writes: “As good as played Tuesday, just think: If the idiot hadn’t stepped out on his wife and slept with a teenage woman he didn’t know, he might have been even better Tuesday night. . . . These are the dangers of... Read more »

Ambulation in Mosiah 4

May 13, 2004 | 20 comments

Ambulation in Mosiah 4. Part 1. King Benjamin has infused his sermons with a theology heavily freighted with corporeal rhetoric. I mean by that, he preaches the gospel of Christ, and living the divine life, by using lots of sensory verbs–seeing, hearing, tasting–and lots of mental operations–believing, knowing, understanding, speaking, asking, rejoicing. He also uses lots of ambulatory verbs: such as walking, standing, running, wandering, falling. Rhetorical ambulation proceeds to itinerancy: travelling a path or taking a journey. I want to explore the significance of the ambulatory and itinerant images. (I haven’t a thesis, only a number of heuristic... Read more »

Shape-Shifting Lizards — Could They Be in Your Ward?

May 13, 2004 | 9 comments

Since some readers may lack the stamina to wade through 200 comments on the Elite Religion thread, let me make a separate note of a gem of a website mentioned by Dan Peterson. Dan writes: For those who’ve wondered — and (let’s be truthful) who hasn’t? — whether the Church is actually controlled by demonic entities in the form of reptilian humanoids, or lizard men, you’ll find the evidence you’ve been seeking on this explosive Web site. The web site is at This Link, and is mostly links to other sites with more, err, evidence. And don’t let anyone... Read more »

The One True (Un-Micro-)Cosmic Church of Jesus Christ

May 12, 2004 | 80 comments

What is it that unites the Church of Jesus Christ? Wherein lies our unity? In a recent discussion of baptism on lds-phil, amiable Protestant Joel Wilhelm asked some rather specific questions about the LDS understanding of baptism, and a very involved discussion ensued. After about a week, Joel remarked, ‘thus far what I have seen here seems to be a mirror image of debates within Protestantism or Catholicism about the sacraments, salvation without baptism or outside the church, etc. I am a bit more confused about “what Mormons think” and will try to sort it out more as I... Read more »

Some More Thoughts on Oaths

May 12, 2004 | 22 comments

As I have a tendency to do, I have been reading law today. In particular, I came across a case dealing with the old rule against party testimony. Originally at common law, a party to a lawsuit could not testify in the suit. There were two justifications for the rule. The first was that the parties to a suit had an incentive to lie in their own interested and therefore their testimony was unreliable. The second justification was that testimony was given under oath, which gave it grave theological significance. Perjury was more than a crime. By virtue of... Read more »