General Conference: Saturday Afternoon Session

April 3, 2004 | 6 comments
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Ok, I am back with the afternoon session and more penetrating insights … Read more »

General Conference: Saturday Morning Session

April 3, 2004 | 4 comments
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I love General Conference! This morning/afternoon, I watched it from my home in Wisconsin. Modern technology is wonderous to me. I recall President Kimball talking about the Lord’s hand in developing technology that would spread the Gospel to the whole earth. We have seen that development in a most dramatic way over the past few decades. The following are some thoughts generated by the Saturday morning session: Read more »

To What End Blogging?

April 3, 2004 | 22 comments
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I’m curious about the function that blogging serves for you. The blog is such an interesting, borderland genre. (And I will candidly admit here that the bulk of my personal experience with blogs and blogging has turned on a certain motherly voyeurism of my very verbal, bright, and prolific son.) A really great blog can read, it seems, like a well-honed, mini essay. A continuing interchange can take on the shape and the heat of a spirited conversation, or an argument. I’m often impressed with the quality of the writing and thinking I see. (And sometimes, of course, blogging... Read more »

Most Embarrassing Moments, Gospel Style

April 3, 2004 | 9 comments
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As an adult convert to the Church, I had plenty of embarrassing moments of adjustment along the path to integration. Mostly, these were caused by excessive zeal, rather than lingering bad habits. For example, there was the formal meal when I realized that I had just taken one bite of a dessert that contained trace amounts of alcohol. I excused myself from the table, dashed from the restaurant, and drove to the house of my “mentor” (a young returned missionary), who assured me that I wasn’t going to hell … at least for that. This was a bit embarrassing,... Read more »

My Problem with “Liberal Mormons”

April 2, 2004 | 118 comments
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I am currently suffering from extreme sleep deprivation, which puts me in a caustic and curmudgeonly mood. This means, of course, that I shouldn’t blog. I am likely to say mean and indefensible things, like what follows. Read more »

The Church as a Corporation: Part II

April 2, 2004 | 18 comments
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What follows is a continuation of my earlier thoughts on church legal histroy (see Part I). Despite the absence of comments, I hope someone is reading this stuff. If not who cares. I have access to the Moveable Type software, therefore I get to post what I want to. Read more »

The State of the Women

April 2, 2004 | 31 comments
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Sherrie Johnson, a sociologist at BYU, recently presented findings of a study concerning the satisfaction levels of LDS women. I haven’t seen the study, but there is a Deseret News article about it here. Read more »

The Church as a Corporation: Part I

April 2, 2004 | 2 comments
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I have been doing a bunch of research of late on the history of corporate law. As I was doing so, I was struck by how much of early Mormon history could be illuminated by the evolution of corporate law. What follows in this and subsequent posts are essentially my research notes. We have enough lawyers and law geeks visiting this site, that I hope there will be at least some audience for this stuff. I even think that this stuff could be interesting to non-lawyers, and none of what follows is technical. Read more »

Blessing the Food

April 2, 2004 | 50 comments
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Adam has raised an interesting point about preparation for prayer, which reminded me of a question I’ve wondered about for a while: why do we bless our food? Read more »

Revelation, Regularity, and Monotony

April 2, 2004 | 41 comments
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In a few days, we will have the privilege of hearing from our leaders in General Conference. And they will discuss . . . well, we can’t say for sure, but it’s a pretty good bet that they will mostly discuss the same things that were talked about at the last General Conference. (Though Russell may think otherwise). Every month we also get the Ensign. It is extolled as the words of the living prophets. And every month, it seems to repeat, more or less, many of the same messages and ideas as it did last month, or the... Read more »

General Conference Predictions*

April 2, 2004 | 8 comments
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Six months ago, just before the October 2003 General Conference, I e-mailed the following statement to several friends of mine: “I predict at least one complete sermon addressing nothing but the necessity of defending ‘traditional marriage,’ with possibly multiple others touching on such topics as ‘legalizing morality,’ treating people with same-sex attraction with sympathyand so forth. Furthermore, I’ll go out on a limb and make a further, more dubious, prediction: someone, or several someones, will either implicitly or explicitly link the final passage in the Proclamation on the Family (‘We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere... Read more »

Do Dogs Go to Heaven?

April 1, 2004 | 29 comments
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We recently had to put our dog down. It has been a traumatic experience in our family and has given rise to the inevitable theological quandry: What is the precise spiritual status of animals? I have repeatedly heard people cite to Moses 3:7 — “all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word” — as a proof text for the claim that animals have souls (or at least dogs; I don’t think that anyone believes that cats have souls). However, if you look carefully at the scripture, it won’t really bear this... Read more »

Mormon Literature Won’t Be Left Behind Again!

April 1, 2004 | 11 comments
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Once I brought up the issue of Mormon literature, asking for recommendations and opinions about fiction written by and for the LDS audience. (The thread rapidly turned into another throw-down about R-rated movies, but that’s neither here nor there.) I haven’t been able to do much fiction reading since then, but I still like to keep up on what’s available via the Deseret Book catalogue, as much as I gripe about it, if only to know what I’m missing. (Hey, Sam and Charly’s son is all grown up and serving a mission!) The latest catalogue made one thing pretty... Read more »

Evil, Therapy, and Repentence

April 1, 2004 | 30 comments
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I have spent the last week or so working on a child sex abuse case at work. As a result, I have been reading a large number of judicial cases describing various forms of sexual abuse of children. Read more »

April Fools Fun

April 1, 2004 | 11 comments
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This site lists the Top 100 April Fools Hoaxes of All Time. What is #1? The Swiss spaghetti harvest (“real, home-grown spaghetti”). The site has the actual BBC footage. Cool! Read more »

Apologies

March 31, 2004 | 38 comments
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The Chicago Sun Times has a piece on the State of Illinois’s apology to the Church for the expulsion from Nauvoo. Is there a kind of analogy between such an apology and baptism for the dead, doing for another what he cannot do for himself? Does our welcome of that apology say anything to us about how we ought to think about other, similar apologies, such as to Native Americans or slaves? Read more »

Does History Matter …

March 31, 2004 | 18 comments
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In the public debate about abortion? This afternoon I attended the inaugural meeting of the American Constitution Society at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Professor Jane Larson discussed the history of abortion regulation in the United States. Professor Larson has written two amicus briefs to the United States Supreme Court on this topic. What follows are notes taken during the meeting. Read more »

Lighter Fare

March 31, 2004 | 39 comments
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In the long tradition of Mormon women trying to ease discomfort of all kinds with food, I thought I’d try to distract us from contentious topics with casserole talk. My children have recently discovered Jello. This is a development I have worked hard to avoid for 7 years, and I am chagrined. Naturally they love it–after all, what’s not to like about a tasty combination of sugar, animal hooves, petroleum byproducts, and scary chemical dyes? But my resistance to this peculiarly Mormon food has been a point of honor for me for a long time, and I’m having a... Read more »

Declining Civility

March 31, 2004 | 12 comments
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I have been saddened to read some of the comments on recent posts. Disagreeing is one thing; personal attacks, mocking, and belittling are quite another. Read more »

Of Flappy Birds & Marauding Marsupials

March 31, 2004 | 4 comments
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Those of you who spend a lot of time in the blogosphere are undoubtedly aware of the Ecosystem, sponsored by The Truth Laid Bear. The purpose of the Ecosystem is to classify blogs based on links. The most popular are names you probably know: Instapundit, Daily Kos, Eschaton, Andrew Sullivan, etc. The Top 10 are referred to as Higher Beings. The next 20 are Mortal Humans, which is followed by 70 Playful Primates, thus rounding out the Top 100. The blogs that I read most often (other than Times & Seasons) appear just below that level and are called... Read more »

STQ: Chosen People

March 31, 2004 | 14 comments
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My Seminary students were never more united than this morning, when they all agreed that my “thought question” for today was not very interesting. Not one to be deterred by a little opposition, I decided to float the idea here. Read more »

Chariots of Fire

March 31, 2004 | 22 comments
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This morning in Seminary, I showed my students some clips from Chariots of Fire. We have been studying Isaiah, and I love the scene where Eric Liddell is preaching to a congregation in Paris while taking Sunday off from the 1924 Olympics. (Do they understand what he is saying with his Scottish accent?). During that scene, interposed with images of athletes stuggling to compete in slow motion to the haunting music by Vangelis, Liddell quotes from Isaiah 40:29-31: He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint... Read more »

The David and Jonathan of the Primary

March 31, 2004 | 15 comments
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Kristine’s description of her lunch with Esther Peterson got me to thinking about other women I wish I could have met. I was somewhat surprised that Louie Felt and May Anderson popped into my mind. These two women were the first two presidents of the Primary. Between them they presided over the Primary from 1880 (at its beginning) to 1940. Louie Felt was a plural wife; May Anderson never married. (May was quite a few years Louie’s junior.) Neither had children. I take my title from the title of an article about the two that appeared in the Children’s... Read more »

Intimate Enemies, The Passion, and Joseph Smith

March 30, 2004 | 2 comments
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I’ve been interested in one line of recurring discussion in all the talk about Mel Gibson’s movie. (Keep in mind I’m focusing on “talk” about the movie; I haven’t yet seen the movie.) On the one hand, the charge that the movie is anti-Jewish. On the other, the counter that it’s not; that it’s telling the gospel story of crucifixion, the atonement. My point would be that these two views may not be exactly contradictory. I recently reread The Origins of Satan (1993) by Elaine Pagels. Her argument has framed my own response to discussions about Gibson’s movie—and to... Read more »

Easter Music

March 30, 2004 | 7 comments
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Everyone listens to Handel’s Messiah at Christmastime, but it was originally performed at Eastertime, and the Easter portion of the piece has some gorgeous and infrequently performed gems, like the tenor aria “Behold and see if there be any sorrow” and the soprano aria that follows “But thou didst not leave his soul in hell.” So if you haven’t listened lately, dust off your CDs and listen to the WHOLE THING, not just the MoTab recording of the “highlights.” There are lots of good recordings out there, but I like Christopher Hogwood’s with the Academy of Ancient Music, because... Read more »

A Mormon Among the Yuppies

March 30, 2004 | 31 comments
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Confession time. I am a lawyer. It is now official. Last week the Board of Bar Examiners sent me my certificate stating that I am duly liscensed and qualified to practice as an attorney and counselor at law before the courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Yesterday, I recieved in the mail an offer from the D.C. office of an international law firm, which I will probably accept. What this means is that I am on the threshold of the land of the Yuppies. Read more »

BYU Professor claims scientific evidence of homosexuality

March 29, 2004 | 29 comments
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Wow, this must be a record for the number of new topics in one day. At any rate, this is an article from the 26 Mar 04 BYU NewsNet that I thought was interesting. (If the link does’t work, try http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/49488.) Read more »

Keeping the Faith

March 29, 2004 | 20 comments
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I’ve been thinking recently of people I met in my twenties. Where we are now—that memory thing. A post a few weeks back by your own Jim Faulconer sent me on this most recent tour down memory lane. Jim was a person I met in my twenties—in the honors program reading room at BYU. At BYU I also met Mike Quinn, Lavina Fielding Anderson, Janice and David Allred. . . . . We were all idealistic, faithful, bookish Mormons, beginning our adult lives. From what I know, I believe that we’ve all “kept” the faith. Read more »

Under-rated Hymns

March 29, 2004 | 78 comments
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In the chorister’s thread, some discussion has come up (okay, it’s been mostly me) about under-rated hymns. I think that this is an interesting enough subject to deserve its own thread. Read more »

Faith, Works & Presidential Politics

March 29, 2004 | 73 comments
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Yesterday, John Kerry spoke in a chuch and invoked biblical support for an attack on “our present national leadership.” Kerry alluded to the following passage from James 2:14-17: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it... Read more »