Boko Haram, 200 schoolgirls and us

May 14, 2014 | 11 comments
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Boko Haram, 200 schoolgirls and us

The French president Francois Hollande is convening an international conference with the countries around Nigeria on the question how to deal with Boko Haram, Michelle Obama addressed the USA on the plight of the abducted schoolgirls: all through the western world the media react to this incident in North Nigeria. Last Saturday I gave an interview on Boko Haram for the national Dutch radio: the media have ‘discovered’ Boko Haram, and so have international politics. Of course the furor is completely justified, especially when the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, announced that he would sell the girls, either... Read more »

Literary OTGD #17: The Mountain Standard by Parley P. Pratt

May 10, 2014 | no comments
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Literary OTGD #17: The Mountain Standard by Parley P. Pratt

Approaching the promised land has to influence leaders to remind their followers of how they should act when they enter the long-sought utopia. The goal is to live as God would have them live, covenanting to live in righteousness and harmony. In the case of Moses, as described in Old Testament Gospel Doctrine lesson 17, he gives instructions to the Israelites to help them remember their covenants. He urges them to obey the commandments and remember God and to be mindful of the rock of their salvation. While the experiences of the Mormon pioneers are similar to those of... Read more »

Literary Worship: Living Waters

May 10, 2014 | 4 comments
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water drop_4910678169_3b95ec3c02_b

A few weeks ago I shared with you the first of my Sacrament poems, Bread of Life. For some reason, just the act of sharing it made me feel closer to my faith than I’ve felt in a long time. So I’ll take the liberty of sharing a second poem, in the hope that it might help both me and perhaps someone else. I’ve always loved the symbolism of the Sacrament. The idea of Christ literally feeding us is so evocative of the deep necessity we all share for his love and Atonement. I can appreciate that from an aesthetic... Read more »

Practical Apologetics: Keeping the Faith

May 9, 2014 | 111 comments
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Another installment in my occasional series (see here, here), this one prompted by a fine little two-page article titled “Keeping the Faith” in, of all places, the BYU Magazine. The Church, both the membership and leaders, finally seems to be waking up to the fact that the Church is losing its youngest adult cohort, the Millennials. What exactly is the problem? What can be done at the local level to address the problem? What can LDS leaders do at the Church-wide level to address it? Read more »

Understanding Anger against Mormon Missionaries

May 6, 2014 | 64 comments
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Understanding Anger against Mormon Missionaries

We sometimes hear stories about Mormon missionaries who are confronted with angry people. We praise the missionaries for suffering for Christ like the apostles of old. We condemn the iniquity of those who loathe the messengers of the Lord. I am going to take up some perspectives of those angry people—because of my mother and others I’ve known over the years. And thousands I do not know. In other churches, missiology experts have been studying at length this topic of tensions, conflicts, and social damage resulting from Western missionizing, including the ethical issue of intra-Christian proselytism. We Mormons seem... Read more »

Why I Watch Game of Thrones

May 3, 2014 | 34 comments
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Bran-stark_193560-1152x864

Since Nathaniel mentioned Game of Thrones and why he doesn’t watch it in his wonderful post earlier this week, I thought I’d give you a few lines on why I do watch the series. Much ink has been spilled over the gratuitous sex and violence in Game of Thrones. I’ll admit that I roll my eyes over the fact that every conversation that can possibly take place whilst the person speaking (or at least someone else in the room) is having sex, does. Still, I think what tends to bother people even more is the sense that there are no boundaries to the... Read more »

Literary OTGD #16: The Saint by W. G. Mills

May 2, 2014 | no comments
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Literary OTGD #16: The Saint by W. G. Mills

The story of Balaam, as discussed in Old Testament Gospel Doctrine lesson 16, is about a prophet’s struggle with obedience and the requirements of political leaders. As portrayed in the Bible, Balaam follows the commandments of the Lord, but he attempts to get gain by currying favor with a political leader needed. I think this issue of obedience is fascinating, something that, if we all think about it, we also face.  We all have employers, friends, and others who try to influence us, sometimes against what we know the Lord would have us do. Our response is sometimes to... Read more »

Literary Joseph Fielding Smith #10: Jane Mason’s Truth

May 2, 2014 | no comments
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Lesson 10 of the Joseph Fielding Smith manual discusses our search for truth, citing many of the prophet’s statements on how we are to obtain knowledge of the truth and on the value of truth in our lives. President Smith teaches that truth is something we should seek and value—ideas that can be found in the following poem. Read more »

Stirring Up the Saints: The Mormon Reformation

May 2, 2014 | 4 comments
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So I read Bigler and Bagley’s The Mormon Rebellion: America’s First Civil War, 1857-58 (U. of Oklahoma Press, 2011) last week. It will certainly convince you that the Utah Territory of the 1850s was the Wild Wild West as much as it was Zion. Checking the footnotes, it seems like the narrative is built primarily on reports from dissenters, which I suppose is where you turn for facts if you think Mormons were all liars, thieves, and murderers. There wasn’t much historical context provided, say about levels of violence in other western settlements or maybe something about that Second... Read more »

What You Hear

April 28, 2014 | 24 comments
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A friend of mine shared the following with me. With her permission (and with some details scrambled for privacy) I share it with you; I thought her insights into the practical reality and consequences of being single in the Church are profound. Read more »

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

April 28, 2014 | 14 comments
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2014-04-28 Dresdenfiles Quote

This post is a follow up to my two previous posts As Much As I Know Anything and What It Would Take To Not Believe. I have to start out by clarifying something that I didn’t define well enough in a previous post. I made the statement that we cannot not believe, but that depends on a definition of belief that isn’t universal and that I should have made more clear. Obviously we can choose to not believe in lots of things individually. But when I think about belief I have something more holistic and systemic in mind. Our... Read more »

A (Funny) Ghost Story

April 27, 2014 | 10 comments
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Jesus walks on the water and intends to “pass by” his disciples. What’s going on here? Read more »

Literary OTGD #15: Exodus by John Lyon

April 25, 2014 | no comments
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John Lyon

As the Mormon pioneers began their westward trek, they already saw themselves on an exodus similar to that of ancient Israel leaving Egypt for the promised land. And they faced some of the same difficulties that Israel faced—such as those outlined in Old Testament Gospel Doctrine lesson 15: complaints, backbiting, uncertain knowledge of the land they were going to, and even a promised land populated by another people. The poem below, written near the beginning of the Mormon trek, urges the Saints in England to promptly take part in the trek, despite its dangers and the misgivings of many... Read more »

12 More Questions for Armand Mauss, Part 2

April 22, 2014 | 19 comments
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shifting borders

We continue our Q&A with Armand Mauss, LDS author and scholar. See Part 1 for a full introduction. 5. Let’s talk now about some of the issues you discussed in your memoir, Shifting Borders and a Tattered Passport: Intellectual Journeys of a Mormon Academic (U of U Press, 2012). In Chapter 6, “Recurrent Visits with the Race Issue,” you recount how you conducted research on the LDS race issue during the 1960s for your dissertation on Mormonism and minorities, filed at UC Berkeley in 1970. That put you smack in the middle of the most contentious issue in the... Read more »

A house with a gun is not a home

April 22, 2014 | 191 comments
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IMG_3180

Everybody was shocked by the news that on April 19 in Utah a three year old girl killed her two year old brother with a shotgun. Poor boy, poorer girl and still poorer parents, what a tragedy, also for the wider family, the ward, the community, the church, in fact for everyone. This is exactly what should never happen. Such an accident always depends on a string of improbable circumstances: the fact that the gun was within reach of toddlers, that it held still one bullet, that mother or father were just out of sight at that very moment,... Read more »

BYU NT Commentary Conference

April 21, 2014 | 7 comments
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An upcoming conference: Read more »

The Rise of Biblical Criticism and the Mormon Response

April 20, 2014 | 13 comments
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“The rise of biblical criticism” is the title of a section in Jaroslav Pelikan’s Whose Bible Is It? A History of the Scriptures Through the Ages (Viking, 2005). Those pages are a short and objective introduction to what is variously called biblical criticism, historical criticism, higher criticism, or the historical-critical method. This discussion is sort of a set up for my upcoming review of David Bokovoy’s new book Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis — Deuteronomy (Kofford Books, 2014), which I will be posting in two parts over the next couple of weeks. Read more »

Literary Worship: Sacrament Prayers

April 18, 2014 | 6 comments
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broken bread

Sometimes I have a hard time concentrating during the Sacrament. Theoretically, it shouldn’t be difficult. My squirmy, distracting babies and toddlers have grown up; in fact, I play the organ, so my husband sits with the children on Sundays. I sit on the stand by myself, and try to keep my thoughts where they belong–focused on the sacred ordinance in which I am participating. Sometimes it’s difficult. Especially lately. I’ve been going though something of a spiritual desert. The feeling of comfort and safety and familiarity that I’ve long associated with church has been partially converted into doubts and... Read more »

12 More Questions for Armand Mauss, Part 1

April 17, 2014 | 19 comments
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Way back in April 2004, almost exactly ten years ago, Armand Mauss was the very first Times and Seasons 12 Questions guest (see Part 1 and Part 2). A lot has happened in the last ten years, so Armand has graciously agreed to answer 12 more questions. He was a Professor of Sociology for many years at Washington State University (the other Cougars) and is the author of two must-read books for students of Mormonism, The Angel and the Beehive (1994) and All Abraham’s Children (2003). With Lester Bush, he co-edited a collection of essays, Neither White nor Black:... Read more »

The Message of Mormonism (pt. 2): Angels, Visions, Prophets, and Gifts of the Spirit

April 17, 2014 | 27 comments
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In my last post I talked about Mormonism as an answer to the question, “Which church is true?” and suggested that this question has only been compelling on a large scale in fairly limited circumstances. I ought to note here that I am not trying to come up with some kind of general explanation for why people adopt religions or even of church growth in general. I am just interested in the kinds of messages that we have given about the Restoration and why those messages might or might not be compelling in differing social contexts. Another message on... Read more »

Thinking about Miracle Stories

April 15, 2014 | 26 comments
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Should the stories of miracles that Jesus performed be considered historically accurate? Did he walk on water, or was there a conveniently placed sandbar that made his disciples think he was walking on water, or did Mark just make this story up? Read more »

Whining at Moses

April 14, 2014 | 12 comments
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Moses Parts the Sea

Now that we’re up to Exodus in Sunday School,  I am reminded once again of how much murmuring and whining the Children of Israel do.  Clearly the major theme of Exodus is God’s power to save.  But packed in there is a pretty strong message that God’s people: Read more »

What It Would Take to Not Believe

April 14, 2014 | 46 comments
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2014-04-14 Karl Popper

There was one question in response to my last post that I particularly wanted to answer, but wasn’t able to at the time. This is the question, which was posed by Sebastian Dick: “What would it take to convince you that (in as much as you know anything) propositions such as God exists or the BoM is historical are false? Or do you consider such propositions unfalsifiable?” This post is my answer. It is not a trite cliché that everyone has to believe in something. It is the literal truth. When your life has ended and you look back... Read more »

Sexism and Ordination

April 12, 2014 | 81 comments
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I recently participated in a TribTalk about Ordain Women. Pretty much the first words out of Neylan McBaine’s mouth were something along the lines of “ordaining women won’t end sexism.” Read more »

The Message of Mormonism (pt. 1): Which Church is True?

April 11, 2014 | 24 comments
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This is the first in a series of posts in which I lay out some of my thoughts on what Mormonism’s message to the world has been and what it might become in the next generation or two. It’s a big topic, and I’m likely to yammer on at some length. You have been warned. Since the beginning of the Restoration Mormonism’s central message to the world has been “Join us!” We are and have always been a missionary religion. From an internal perspective missionary work serves three basic purposes. The first is to assist individuals work out their... Read more »

Martha’s Sacrament

April 10, 2014 | 12 comments
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Times & Seasons used to post, from time to time, something “From the archives”. So is this one. *** Martha was one of the older sisters in our branch. We counted a scant dozen of them, singles and widows, making more than half of the congregation and being its very backbone. When I got to know her, Martha was in her sixties. Huge by nature and strong from her lifelong labors as a market woman, she lived in a modest but sunny apartment, four flights high. Rent and utilities took most of her tiny pension, but she managed. Every... Read more »

Five Things I Liked

April 9, 2014 | 8 comments
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Here are a few things from General Conference that I loved: Read more »

Elder Oaks on Women, Priesthood, and the Temple

April 8, 2014 | 44 comments
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Oakland_Temple_fountain (1)

There is a lot that could be said about Elder Oaks’ conference talk about the relationship of women to the priesthood. In this post, I’m going to look at just one issue: the relationship of women, priesthood, and the temple. Read more »

GenCon: Sunday Afternoon Session

April 6, 2014 | 6 comments
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Conference Center

Welcome to T&S’ fifth and final round of coverage of General Conference. We welcome your comments. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf is conducting this session of Conference. Chorus: Sweet is the Work. Prayer: ? Chorus: I Stand All Amazed. President Boyd K. Packer — The Witness “Almost mid-sentence it happened. I could not describe to you what happened if I were determined to do so. It is beyond my power of expression, but it is as clear today as it was that night more than 65 years ago. I knew it to be a very private, very individual manifestation. At last... Read more »

GenCon: Sunday Morning Session

April 6, 2014 | no comments
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Conference Center

Welcome to T&S’ fourth round of coverage of General Conference. We welcome your comments. Chorus: Come We that Love the Lord President Henry B. Eyring is conducting this session of Conference. Chorus: On This Day of Joy and Gladness Prayer: Élder L. Whitney Clayton Chorus: Let Us All Press On President Dieter F. Uchtdof — Grateful in Any Circumstance “There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious. We can be grateful.” “Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation?... Read more »