Our Duty to Present the Church in a Favorable Light at All Times, Just in Case a Non-Member Happens to be Listening

May 7, 2004 | 48 comments
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I’ve touched on this subject before, but it’s on my mind again. I was just over on Eric D. Snider’s site, browsing and chuckling, and I read something that touched on a recurring theme. Eric wrote a column about boring sacrament meetings, and a reader (you’ve heard of her) wrote in to say, inter alia: For some non-members and less actives, your voice may be the only one they hear describing our Sacrament meeting, and if it is, they will have a very different impression than I have from attending. That statement sums up the sentiments I’ve heard often... Read more »

Mormons Complain About Prayer Day

May 6, 2004 | 11 comments
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As I am sure that we are all aware (or something), today is “A National Day of Prayer,” which has been an official national holiday since Harry Truman lead the pilgrim fathers to our sacred shores (in other words, the early 1950s). This year, The Washington Post breathlessly informs us, President Bush will be attending a ceremony run by “evangelical Christian leaders” (play sinister music here.) The most interesting part of the article, however, comes near the bottom, where The Post interviews those who feel left out of the protestant love fest at the White House. It says: In... Read more »

The Epistemological Tensions of Mormonism

May 6, 2004 | 38 comments
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Now how is that for a pretentious blog-post title? What the am I talking about? In a nutshell, I am talking about the way in which Mormonism deals with how we gain knowledge and how that ability is socially situated. Here is my basic idea: Mormonism has a radically decentralized and democratic epistemology which is balanced by a highly centralized institutional structure. Read more »

Mormons Oust Instapundit

May 6, 2004 | 9 comments
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The LDS Blogring has ousted Instapundit from the top spot in the Ecosystem. And not just by a little bit: Mormons 3538 unique links Instapundit 2794 unique links Something’s fishy here. The LDS Blogring has 67 blogs and it generates over 16,000 links from 3538 unique sites? Read more »

A Plat for the City of Zion

May 6, 2004 | 19 comments
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Some works of art are created, and some grow organically from the works of many hands. (For application to LDS art, see here and here). Among these latter, Paul Johnson singles out the modern skyline. The skyscraper city is a creation, certainly, and most beautiful and most recognizable in its fantastic edge against the sky. Skylines have, by slow and unplanned accretions, become signatures. They have also become beautiful. Not only that, but skylines speak to the ethos of the capitalism that created them. Each skyscraper attempts to outdo the others and set itself apart. In so doing, the... Read more »

The Unchurch Militant

May 5, 2004 | 24 comments
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In politics, there’s something to be said for being known by the company you keep. Read more »

Club for LDS (non-Group) Blogs

May 5, 2004 | 6 comments
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Dave Underhill over at Mormon Inquiry has a fun idea: A Mormon Blog Club. He notes: What are the benefits and duties of club membership? Simple. A club member must visit each of the other club sites once a day (weekends optional) and leave a comment (as simple as “Nice post. Love the lawyer joke.”). That’s it. Think about it: if there are 8 club members, that’s 35 comments per week on your solo blog. Oh, and members must post a blogroll of fellow club sites. Zero cost. Quit anytime. Hmm, that sounds fun! (Note: If interested, sign up... Read more »

Main Street

May 5, 2004 | 3 comments
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Slightly-older-than-breaking (“already broken”?) news: The ACLU’s suit against the church has been dismissed at the district court level; an appeal is probably likely. (Via A Soft Answer). Read more »

Mother’s Day

May 4, 2004 | 69 comments
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It’s almost Mother’s Day. I don’t like Mothers’ Day. You might expect to hear that from a woman who is childless, or who has strained relations with her children. I’m a married, at-home mom, and I enjoy being a mom. But I still don’t like Mothers’ Day. Read more »

With precious things build a House

May 4, 2004 | 4 comments
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Come ye, with all your gold, and your silver, and your precious stones, and with all your antiquities; and with all who have knowledge of antiquities, that will come, may come, and bring the box-tree, and the fir-tree, and the pine-tree, together with all the precious trees of the earth; And with iron, with copper, and with brass, and with zinc, and with all your precious things of the earth; and build a house . . . I’ve been thinking about the real place that art can have in Mormon life. Yesterday I talked about how Church art shows... Read more »

This Must Be Good…

May 4, 2004 | 29 comments
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I just found a new blog entitled www.ilovethehonorcode.com (that is “I Love the Honor Code Dot Com”), by an aspiring stand-up comedian in Utah Valley. With a name like that, how can you not love it? (Link via Brayden King) Read more »

Thanks, Steve!

May 4, 2004 | 3 comments
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How time flies! It seems like just yesterday Steve Evan’s stint as a guest blogger was starting (wudn’t he a cute widdle bwog-baybie!), and now, Steve’s guest time is over. We’ve enjoyed having Steve here as a guest (and as the #4 commenter according to the latest scoreboard). Of course, he won’t be quitting his commenting duties (and only 600 to go till he passes Clark!); for regular blog posts, he can be found at By Common Consent. Read more »

Around the Bloggernacle, May 4 edition

May 4, 2004 | no comments
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Theology on the Model of Kuhnian Science

May 3, 2004 | 44 comments
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Many LDS thinkers are skeptical of “systematic” theology (e.g. Richard Bushman, whose posts we so enjoyed recently). Here’s a stab at a compromise. Thomas Kuhn presented a powerful way of understanding the development of scientific theories a few decades back in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions; here’s a first pass at appropriating his work to think about how our knowledge of God and his ways might develop, in a way that is friendly to continuing revelation and eternal progression. Read more »

Anyone Wanna Read a Paper?

May 3, 2004 | one comment
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I submitted a paper topic to BYU’s The Religious Educator and they asked me to write the paper. Read more »

An Open Letter to the Blue Planner

May 3, 2004 | 9 comments
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Dear Blue Planner, So it has finally happened. You’ve gone the way of Mr. Brown and projection films. I suppose I knew that someday you’d be gone, but I’d hoped against hope that you were somehow less transient than other proselyting aids that have fallen by the wayside. To me, you were nothing less than the platonic ideal of Planner. Read more »

A Few Thoughts on LDS Art

May 3, 2004 | 9 comments
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A few thoughts on LDS art, in which a wide-thrown net is gradually drawn tighter: I’ve been reading through Paul Johnson’s new art history. He keeps theorizing to a minimum for a better focus on sculptors and sculpture, painters and painting, in short, on art, but he does allow himself a few necessary asides. One such aside is on the question that has launched a thousand books–why did Classical Greece and Renaissance Italy produce such a high flowering of art and culture? He points out that both Greece and Italy were city-state cultures, marked by trade, turbulent politics, and... Read more »

Moutain Meadows in the Supreme Court

May 3, 2004 | 2 comments
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De Toqueville once remarked on the strange habit that Americans had of eventually turning every great question of politics and policy into a lawsuit, and presenting the issue to the courts for resolution. As it turns out, the Mountain Meadows Massacre also eventually found its way into a lawsuit and in the fullness of time reached the Supreme Court of the United States. Read more »

Whom the Lord Calls, He Qualifies (Hopefully)

May 2, 2004 | 16 comments
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I’m a believer in the principle that callings and responsibilities in the Church are given according to inspiration and revelation. When I get a calling extended to me, I fully believe that Heavenly Father in some way has prompted the leader to give me that calling, and that in some way I am meant to have this calling. What I can’t figure out is just how inspired these callings are. Read more »

Walter Kirn, golden contact

May 2, 2004 | 7 comments
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In today’s New York Times Magazine, critic and novelist Walter Kirn uses his family’s conversion to Mormonism as a hook for his (dare I say stale) riff on Christianity as pop culture: “I remember my own family’s Great Awakening back in the Jesus-haunted 1970′s, when President Carter was advertising his piety and ”Godspell” and ”Up With People” were packing concert halls. In the same way that it does now, three decades later, religion seemed to be everywhere back then — except in our house. We were secular suburbanites, prone to all of the usual middle-class miseries, and when one... Read more »

The Figurative Bible and the Literal Book of Mormon

May 2, 2004 | 101 comments
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On another thread, BCC contributor and Sunstone editor managing editor John Hatch makes a very interesting observation. He writes: I’ve spoken to plenty of Church members who are more than willing to accept the Adam and Eve story as a metaphor. I recently spoke to a friend who is a bishop who told me he loved Abraham, even though he may not have existed, and if he did exist, the stories the Bible attributes to him most likely didn’t happen. Yet I suspect my friend would be most uncomfortable saying the same thing about Nephi, or Alma, for example. Read more »

“Don’t Be Evil”

May 1, 2004 | 42 comments
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Unless you have been spelunking for several days, you have heard a lot more about Google recently than you ever wanted to know. (Of course, if you want to know even more, I invite you to check out my other blog where I have been writing about Google ever since the filing.) This event has attracted so much commentary because Google has provided so much fodder. Most importantly, the founders wrote a letter — “‘An Owner’s Manual’ for Google’s Shareholders” — that has struck a chord with many who fancy themselves as part of a “corporate social responsibility”... Read more »

A Contract Theodicy

April 30, 2004 | 40 comments
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A theodicy is a justification of the ways of God to man. Most frequently, the term is used in discussions of the problem of evil. Succinctly stated this problem goes like this: 1. God is all powerful 2. God is Good 3. Evil things happen 4. God can and should prevent these evil things (from 1 & 2) I don’t want to get into all of the intricacies of this debate. Generally speaking, Mormons “solve” the problem by in effect denying (1), claiming that there are metaphysical as opposed to merely logical limitations on God’s power. It strikes me,... Read more »

The Malaysian Model

April 30, 2004 | 11 comments
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So now it’s not just the limited geography and the hemispheric models anymore, now there is the Malaysian model. (Link via Dave). The Malaysia idea is certainly novel, and presented as well as I think it possibly could be. The author, Ralph A. Olsen, notes that it avoids a large number of standard Book-of-Mormon location problems, like use of Egyptian, and presence of animals and crops. (For example, he writes that “Wheat, barley, and other cereal grains have long been cultivated in Southeast Asia. There is no evidence of their cultivation in Mesoamerica.”) I’m not convinced. Read more »

It’s Official: U. Goes Mormon

April 30, 2004 | 3 comments
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The Board of Regents of the University of Utah have selected Mormon law professor and dean Michael Young as the new President of the University. The Deseret News has a story here. (Link thanks to Jared Jensen.) The story says: He said he is a “committed, active member of the LDS Church” and doesn’t see that as a conflict in his new role. “It’s an important part of who I am and why I do what I do,” he said. “At the same time I have spent my entire academic career outside of Utah. It has never been a... Read more »

The Value of Liberal Education

April 30, 2004 | 14 comments
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Between Julie’s post and this week’s challenge of composing the syllabus for the Introduction to Philosophy course I am teaching this fall, I am haunted by the question: Is knowledge good in itself? I have set myself up to be an educator, but many of the criticisms of public education we delivered in response to Julie’s post seem disturbingly relevant to most college education as well; do you agree? And even if knowledge is good in itself, how far should knowledge for its own sake be the goal of a philosophy course required of every student at a given... Read more »

Yet Another SSM Post

April 29, 2004 | 33 comments
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Somehow I ended up on the official Church website for UK and Ireland and found this on the top of the page: “The Gender Recognition Bill, which is currently being considered in the House of Commons will allow a man to become a woman in law (and vice versa). This means transsexuals will be able to marry in their assumed sex. The legislation also makes it a criminal offence to disclose the birth sex of a transsexual. We stress that this Bill poses a real threat to religious freedom and we oppose it because we believe it runs counter... Read more »

On the Shelf

April 29, 2004 | 34 comments
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I’ve been thinking for several days about something that Armand Mauss said in the first “12 Questions” post. Speaking of greying intellectuals (which I assume includes me) and their early choices, he said: “Some of them (maybe half – who knows?) opted to put their Church loyalties, careers, and/or public images ahead of their intellectual yearnings and independence, feeling that the latter could not justify the disruption and jeopardy to their largely conservative spouses and families, to their aspirations for respectability in the Church, or to their career plans. Others (maybe another approximate half) decided that they could not... Read more »

That awful smallpox story

April 29, 2004 | 12 comments
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One of the more disturbing images from General Conference was in Elder Packer’s use of a story (a version of which I’ve heard before elsewhere) about chicken pox and smallpox. Elder Packer stated: “When I was in the seventh grade, in a health class, the teacher read an article. A mother learned that the neighbor children had chicken pox. She faced the probability that her children would have it as well, perhaps one at a time. She determined to get it all over with at once. So she sent her children to the neighbor’s to play with their children... Read more »

The Church as a Corporation: Part III

April 29, 2004 | 10 comments
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Here are a few more odds and ends about the Church as a corporation that I was able to find out. First, I wanted to correct two mistakes in my earlier posts. I recently found out that after Joseph Smith was murdered, it was not Brigham Young and the Twelve who succeeded to the office of trustee-in-trust. Rather, Bishop Newel K. Whitney was appointed, which means that he was the legal agent in charge of Church property during the City of Joseph period. Second, upon rereading the corporate charter granted to the Church by the State of Deseret, I... Read more »

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