God, Knowledge, and Change (again)

March 22, 2004 | 15 comments
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A couple of weeks ago Kaimi posted a question about God’s perfection and eternal progress. That led to various discussions, including discussions of foreknowledge and what it means for him to forget the past. I don’t want to resurrect that whole thread, but I’ve got some more or less random responses to some of the issues that I wanted to post and only now have time to do so. Read more »

Another Request for Technical Assistance

March 22, 2004 | 4 comments
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Since the last request for technical assistance was a resounding success, I’m hoping to duplicate the feat. The current question involves a moderately advanced (or at least, beyond my current skill) movable type question and a bit of HTML (the query string function). Here goes: Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 13

March 22, 2004 | 4 comments
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Lesson 13: Jacob 5-7 We will concentrate on chapter 5, the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon. However, because chapters 4 and 5 were one chapter in the first edition of the Book of Mormon and I think that Jacob 4:15-18 are an essential to understanding the allegory, I suggest that you read them as part of the lesson. Rather than the usual verse by verse list of thought questions, here are two outlines of the chapter followed by a few general thought questions on chapter 5 and then several questions on chapters 6-7. Read more »

Notes from Zion

March 22, 2004 | 24 comments
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I’ve just returned from a week-long stay in Utah, my longest visit to the Mormon Heimat in quite a while. My observations follow: Read more »

CES on The Passion

March 21, 2004 | 32 comments
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I received an email from my CES coordinator today. Attached to the email was a letter from the CES Administrators’ Council about The Passion. It reads: We have received questions about Mel Gibson?s new movie, ?The Passion of the Christ.? The Church has not made an official statement regarding the movie. We have been given the pamphlet, For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God. We should encourage the youth to follow the standards explained in the pamphlet, including those regarding movies. Also, it would not be profitable to spend class time discussing the pros and cons... Read more »

The Talk I’ve Never Given

March 21, 2004 | 23 comments
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Good morning, sisters and brothers. Well, those of you in the audience who know me know that I have a real interest in gender issues; some of you know that I specialized in such things in school. And I continue to read about and think about these things quite a bit. And I think I can finally say that I have come to a conclusion. And my conclusion is this: the Church is sexist. (Steal glance over shoulder at bishop’s face if possible.) And, quite frankly, (pause here for effect) I don’t know why you men put up with... Read more »

Welcome, Julie & Thanks, Greg

March 21, 2004 | 3 comments
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Many thanks to Greg Allen, who posted early, often, and well here at T&S. I suspect that he won many new fans for greg.org, and we look forward to hearing from him again soon. Our newest guest blogger is Julie Smith, a native Houstonian who earned a BA in English from the University of Texas at Austin and an MA in Biblical Studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, where she specialized in women in the New Testament. You know her here as “Julie in Austin,” but you might also be familiar with her book, Search, Ponder,... Read more »

Mobilizing the Relief Society

March 20, 2004 | 13 comments
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We’ve never been on the receiving end of the Relief Society’s meal brigade until now. (We recently came home with the new baby.) It’s certainly been a great help; we’re really grateful for peoples’ efforts on our behalf, but it also means some adjustments (mental and logistical) on our part. The funny thing is, in NYC, we hardly ever cooked, ate home-cooked food, or even ate at home before. Because of work, etc., we usually went out to eat, or else we ordered in. Interestingly, the RS here has adapted accordingly; sometimes, someone’ll call us from their office to... Read more »

Kibitzing about Kibbutzim

March 20, 2004 | one comment
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A recent story suggests that Israel’s Kibbutzim — a widespread form of communal settlement — may be moving towards a more capitalist model. (Link via David Bernstein). As Mormons, this is an interesting development. Scholars have pointed out that there are some similarities between Israeli communal groups and early LDS consecration. The decline of the kibbutz may be similar to the decline of consecration. Of course, members who want to live more of the law of consecration today may still decide that they want to do less kibitzing and more kibbutzing. Read more »

The Times and Seasons Song Contest

March 20, 2004 | 32 comments
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Lest anyone miss it, here is a gem from Grasshopper that was hiding in the comments: Jonah was a prophet, swallowed by a whale. When he was on board, the ship just couldn’t sail. So they tossed him over, next thing that he knew, Nineveh repented, Jonah had to, too. Swallow the prophet, swallow the prophet, swallow the prophet, won’t get away; Swallow the prophet, swallow the prophet, swallow the prophet; he’ll find the way. I hereby nominate this song and Kaimi’s “Put Potatoes with the Veal” (which I can’t find; what thread was it in, Kaimi??) as the... Read more »

Another Reason not to see The Passion

March 19, 2004 | 14 comments
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See here for the AP story, here for Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s witty riff. Read more »

“Mommy, I was wishing that!”

March 19, 2004 | 5 comments
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Last night I attended the Pinewood Derby races for my sons’ cub scout troop. My wife loves woodworking of all sorts, so I have never made a Pinewood Derby car. At our first Pinewood Derby, now many years ago, my oldest son thought that the highest numbers on the electronic scoreboard were best, so he was excited whenever his car came in sixth out of six. My wife quickly learned the tricks of the trade, and he won the next year. Read more »

Causing offense

March 19, 2004 | 21 comments
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Kristine raised the issue of whether and how “critical belief,” in other words belief that is both believing and independently thoughtful about various issues in the Church, is possible. (I hope she’ll agree that I’ve more or less captured her question.) For me that raises another (broader?) question: what bounds do my relations with others put on my behaviors, including criticism? Since I doubt that the connection between the two is obvious to anyone but me, let me explain: Read more »

Temple Murals Errata

March 18, 2004 | 11 comments
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In my post below, I wrongly stated that the Ghana temple was the first one to have murals. My bad. Los Angles (1956) was the last temple to have murals before the recent spat of temple building. The Winter Quarters Temple didn’t have murals, but it has very large, framed paintings in the ordinance rooms. This paved the way for the Columbia River Temple, which was the first recent temple to have true murals. Since then, murals have been included in the temples listed in this comment. In addition, there have been murals in the Monteray, Mexico temple, and... Read more »

God and Game Theory

March 18, 2004 | 23 comments
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God and Game Theory

Ars Disputandi, which is a journal on the philosophy of religion, has a review of what looks like a very interesting book using game theory to analyze stories in the Old Testament. Game theory is part of the rational-actor branch of social science. It attempts to understand social interactions by creating mathematical models of different “games” and then deriving the optimal strategy for pursuing those games. The most famous example is the so-called prisoner’s dilemma. (The optimal strategy in a single round game is to rat; in a multi-round game it is to co-operate and punish non-cooperators). So here... Read more »

Apologia of a critical believer

March 18, 2004 | 35 comments
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In the long comments thread on Karen’s post on women’s issues, Brent has done the inevitable: accused those who criticize the “revealed structure” of the church of faithlessness. Brent gets kudos for stating his opinion forthrightly and eloquently. His is a criticism that gets to the heart of many divisive discussions between Mormons of different temperaments and ideological persuasions, so I am hijacking the comments thread to address the issue separately. Read more »

Next Up: Methodists

March 17, 2004 | 9 comments
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This just in: The “2004 Yearbook” reports on 215 U.S. church bodies with a record high total membership exceeding 161 million. Leading any other single U.S. church is the Catholic Church, reporting 66,407,105 adherents, followed by the Southern Baptist Convention (16,247,736) and the United Methodist Church (8,251,042). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ranks 5th (5,410,544). … From 2001-2002, major U.S. churches that grew included the Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Assemblies of God, American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., Jehovah’s Witnesses and Church of God (Cleveland, TN). Recording membership... Read more »

Ward Web Sites

March 17, 2004 | 4 comments
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So my wife took my daughters to Enrichment Night tonight, and I was trying to remember why. Is it the Relief Society’s birthday? Some sort of mother-daughter bonding event? Or perhaps the women of the Church have finally had enough and they are simply taking over. Then I had a bright idea: check the ward’s website! Sure enough, it lists Enrichment Night for tonight. When I click for more details, I am prompted to give a username and password, which I navigate successfully. My reward: Wednesday, 17 March 2004 Enrichment Night 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM Hmm. That was... Read more »

Around the blogs: Karen Hall discusses gender discrimination

March 17, 2004 | 21 comments
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In a very interesting post up at By Common Consent, Karen Hall takes on the issue of gender discrimination in the church. She writes: My concern is the insinuation that women are powerless to affect change in the church. I simply don’t think that is true, and that we have every obligation to use our time, talents, and means to improve and build the church. Think these situations are isolated? How much attention is payed to the scouts vs. the young women in your ward? Think about the jokes about the frivolousness of Relief Society. I think the relevant... Read more »

A Mormon Image: Ghana Temple Murals

March 17, 2004 | 6 comments
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A Mormon Image: Ghana Temple Murals

Beginning with the Saint George Temple, our temples use to include murals. Generally the endowment would progress from a creation room, to a garden room, to a world room, to a telestial room, and finally to a celestial room. From the Saint George Temple to the Los Angles Temple, the practice was to put murals on the walls of the creation, garden, and world rooms showing some version of creation, garden, and world. Then for a long period of time, these murals disappeared from our temples. With the Ghana temple, they are back. Read more »

More Family Night Fun at the Harris House

March 16, 2004 | 10 comments
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For reasons that remain opaque to me, my two oldest children (ages 7 and 5) have lately become enamored of the story of the ten cleansed lepers, and regularly ask to have it told to them. Last night, during family home evening, they asked to hear it again. We obliged, and when we got to the part where the one returns to give thanks, Steve asked, “And what did Jesus say?” Sam (3) said “You’re welcome!” After I picked myself up from the floor, it seemed to me that, in fact, this might have been the expected response from... Read more »

How Mormons Became White

March 16, 2004 | 79 comments
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As we all know, in 1978 the President Kimball and the Quorum of the Twelve (sans two members) recieved a revelation proclaiming that all worthy males — regardless of race — could now recieve the priesthood. Following the long and torturous course of the “Negro Doctrine” as it was called would, of course, require a great deal of careful discussion and research. No one in his right mind would attempt to do so in a blog post. Here goes. Read more »

Q: Do you know LDS artists Greg and Linda Christensen?

March 16, 2004 | 3 comments
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We missed a fireside the other evening (ahh, the new joys of a screaming baby) given by “well known LDS artists Greg and Linda Christensen,” who apparently created art for the Manhattan Temple. I’ve poked around online, but I couldn’t find any information about them. Does anyone know of info, images, or work they’ve done? Read more »

Arresting Ministers

March 16, 2004 | 4 comments
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The State of New York is charging two Unitarian Universalist ministers with a misdemeanor for solemnizing a marriage without a liscense. (Story here) The Unitarians have long granted gay couples religious unions, but they have not exercised the power delegated to them by the state to create legal marriages. Given the ubiquitious comparisons between the gay marriage legal kerfuffle and the anti-polygamy crusades, is there a parallell here? Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 12

March 15, 2004 | no comments
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----- Read more »

Appropriate Language

March 15, 2004 | 39 comments
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Between teaching Seminary and raising five children, I have plenty of opportunities to consider the topic of appropriate language. The other day, for example, one teenager referred to another as a “brown noser.” I asked, “Do you have any idea what that means?” Blank stare. Another piped up, “Yeah, it means that he sucks.” Arggh! Read more »

March Madness

March 14, 2004 | 20 comments
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Earlier tonight the NCAA announced the men’s basketball tournament bracket, and BYU barely made the field for the second year in a row. Also for the second year in a row, BYU will be playing the defending national champion, though most “experts” give BYU a better chance this year against Syracuse than they had last year against Connecticut (which was a fairly close game, by the way). Some of my best memories from my time at BYU are connected to sports, but I will confess to being surprised when Merrill Bateman, then President of BYU and member of the... Read more »

If You Could Hie To Kolob – Lyrics

March 14, 2004 | 60 comments
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One of the recurring internet searches (on search engines such as Google) that brings people to this site is “If You Could Hie to Kolob Lyrics.” We get hits from variations of that search at least three or four times per week. So, in an effort to respond to this need and serve our readers, who apparently want to find these lyrics, here they are: Read more »

An Extraordinary Collection of Mormon Historical Materials

March 14, 2004 | 9 comments
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I was researching the rarity of some early Church documents my stepfather collected over the years, when I came across John Hajicek’s website, mormonism.com. It seems he’s a non-LDS resident of Independence, Missouri, and he has amassed what looks like the largest collection of LDS-related historical materials, rare books, manuscripts, and artifacts in private hands. It makes for truly fascinating reading. Has anyone ever seen or studied this or any other significant collection of historical Church materials? Read more »

Did Somebody Say Gay? Gay Mormon Art Stolen from SLC Exhibit

March 13, 2004 | 32 comments
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Did Somebody Say Gay? Gay Mormon Art Stolen from SLC Exhibit

An annual exhibition of gay pride-related artwork opened at Salt Lake Community College, and artist Don Farmer’s photos of two RM’s hooking up while wearing their missionary tags became the immediate center of attention. First came shouting matches at the opening, protesters trying to remove the photographs, police being called, and administrators relocating the show from the lobby to a classroom. Then, two days later, the photos turned up missing, stolen. The SLTrib reporter lazily kicks off her article with, “But is it art?” Unequivocally, yes, it is. Is it good or not? Doesn’t matter now; it’s certainly effective. Read more »