GenConf: Saturday Morning Session Notes

April 4, 2015 | 10 comments
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Choir: Guide Us, Oh Thou Great Jehovah President Uchtdorf conducted this opening session. Choir: Glory to God on High Invocation: Timothy J. Dyches President Henry B. Eyring: “Is Not This the Fast that I Have Chosen?” When we offer succor to anyone, the Savior feels it as if we reached out to succor Him. There are more hungry, homeless, and lonely children of Heavenly Father than we can reach. And the numbers grow ever farther from our reach. So the Lord has given us something that we each can do… It is the law of the fast. Your fast offering... Read more »

Sin: You’re Doing it Wrong

April 2, 2015 | 13 comments
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Sin: You’re Doing it Wrong

Religion isn’t about sin. Thinking that religion is about sinning (or not sinning) is like thinking basketball is about fouls. You should stop fouling but you can’t make the game be about fouls. That’s an impossible way to play basketball. And, more, it’s an impossible way to be religious. Read more »

Ecumenicalism

April 2, 2015 | 2 comments
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Jeder soll nach seiner Fasson selig werden—everyone may find sacred bliss in their own way, in Frederick the Great of Prussia’s formulation of enlightened commitment to religious tolerance. Nowhere is this sentiment more evident today than at a community health club. Read more »

Announcing Auto-Pray!

April 1, 2015 | 10 comments
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Announcing Auto-Pray!

Are you feeling pressed for time? Just don’t have the energy to remember prayer? Download the new Auto-Pray (TM) app today! You’ll spend about ten minutes in initial setup. Using handy check-the-box options, indicate your prayer preferences, such as the standard package (1 morning, 3 meals, 1 evening) or any of a number of custom packages. You can go with the basic prayer (“we thank Thee for this day,” “we thank Thee for this food”) or add options of your choice. Want to thank God for the missionaries during morning prayer, and the Prophet during evening prayer? It’s as... Read more »

Polygamy: Public Practice

March 31, 2015 | 23 comments
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In my prior post, I looked briefly at the origins of polygamy. Again using documents from B. Carmon Hardy’s Doing the Works of Abraham: Mormon Polygamy: Its Origin, Practice, and Demise (Arthur H. Clark, 2007), I will now look at the public practice of polygamy in early Utah. How did the Saints in Utah explain it to the world and what did visitors to Salt Lake City say about what they observed? Read more »

New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #14

March 31, 2015 | 3 comments
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New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #14

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Privilege and the Family

March 30, 2015 | 81 comments
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932 - Dom Viol Chart

In a post at By Common Consent over the weekend (What has two thumbs and doesn’t give a crap about the Family?), Rebecca J writes that “If I’m not currently standing up for the Family, it’s… really just that I don’t care enough about the Family. I don’t think I care at all.” She goes on to write: I’m really not sure what they mean. I mean, it can’t mean that I’m supposed to be speaking out against divorce or same-sex marriage or unwed parenthood because if it did, they would just come out and say that,... Read more »

NT Wright on Genre and Reading

March 29, 2015 | 2 comments
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NT Wright on Genre and Reading

  One of the themes I’ve explored repeatedly in talking about Genesis and Bible interpretation in general is that of genre, and the necessity of recognizing the genre of the material we’re reading. Today I came across a easy-to-understand analogy for this. Read more »

Women in General Conference: It’s Not a “Primary Voice”

March 29, 2015 | 37 comments
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As I watched the first General Women’s Session of conference (at least the first not retroactively declared as such) last night, I was once again taken aback by the vocal styling of the female speakers. As much as I love hearing women speak, almost every time I hear one in a general church meeting it requires extraordinary effort to focus on the message while ignoring the twinge in the back of my jaw at the awkward, stilted speech patterns. I respect and admire these women, but I much prefer to read their words than listen to them. As soon as the... Read more »

Defending the Family

March 29, 2015 | 20 comments
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Those wanting to follow the counsel from the first session of General Conference last night about the importance of defending the family will be very interested in this article (please ignore the click-baity headline and read the actual article). A much shorter version of the article was published in the Deseret News recently, but I think that even for the tl;dr crowd, the longer version is definitely worth the investment of time. This article is also well worth reading.     Read more »

New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #13

March 24, 2015 | 10 comments
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New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #13

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For Zion – Part 10

March 24, 2015 | 2 comments
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For Zion – Part 10

From the pen of George Handley: There are those who are infected by nostalgia and yearn for a nineteenth-century Mormonism because, I suppose, they imagine that the prophets then seemed more willing to condemn capitalism or to preach environmental stewardship and that Mormons were more communitarian, less materialistic, and more obligated under the law of consecration to work to eliminate poverty. Read more »

Initial Short Speculation on Three Book of Mormon Passages and Ancient Cosmology

March 22, 2015 | 32 comments
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Initial Short Speculation on Three Book of Mormon Passages and Ancient Cosmology

Part of writing a book about ancient cosmology and Genesis 1 is… reading lots about ancient cosmology and Genesis 1. In doing so, I’ve had some thoughts about three Book of Mormon passages. I’ve generally set these on the shelf, so these are initial thoughts which upon further investigation may turn out to be highly significant or completely baseless. But I float them here for public interest and as a reminder to myself later. Read more »

Polygamy: Origins

March 19, 2015 | 48 comments
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Once upon a time, no one except critics wanted to talk about LDS polygamy. But TV shows, court cases, and four Gospel Topics essays on the subject — which run to 32 pages of material when I printed them out — have changed the game. Now everyone is talking about polygamy. The current LDS position, however, is still as murky and convoluted as ever. Historical explanations, doctrinal justifications, and even simple factual descriptions of LDS polygamy remain controversial (see earlier posts at T&S, BCC, JI, M-Star, FMH, and most recently Kiwi Mormon). To this expanding conversation on polygamy, add... Read more »

The historicity window

March 18, 2015 | 69 comments
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The historicity window

Book of Mormon historicity is not a unitary entity or a binary concept. It has at least three primary components, each of which offers a spectrum of possibilities Read more »

For Zion – Part 9

March 18, 2015 | no comments
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For Zion – Part 9

From the pen of Jim Faulconer: Joseph M. Spencer’s most recent book (unless he has done another in the few weeks since this one was published) is For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope (Kofford Books, 2015; 157 pages, with index). I go back a long way with Joe, back to when he was still a recently-returned Mormon missionary and still an undergraduate at Brigham Young University. Read more »

New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #12

March 17, 2015 | one comment
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New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #12

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What Was Satan’s Plan?

March 17, 2015 | 68 comments
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There’s an article in this month’s Ensign that makes two interesting moves. (There are also a few really unpleasant aspects of this article, but that’s a topic for a different post.) Read more »

For Zion — Part 8

March 12, 2015 | one comment
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For Zion — Part 8

Chapter 9, “Zion as Project”, gets right down to business. Having previously and rather brilliantly tied up his various scriptural themes and contexts — Old Testament eschatology, early Christian history, Pauline hope, faith and love, the Book of Mormon’s revision of Pauline hope, early Restoration history — Spencer brings these all to bear on the earliest version of the consecration revelation that eventually became D&C 42. He focuses on what are now verses 29-37. (I link to the modern D&C for convenience, but of course the earliest version was different, and those differences are a major focus of the... Read more »

For Zion — Part 7

March 12, 2015 | no comments
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For Zion — Part 7

Chapter 8, “Zion in Prophecy,” marks an important transition in Joseph Spencer’s For Zion. Opening with a tour de force theological dissection of hope in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, followed by a thoughtful interlude on the Book of Mormon’s conceptual bridge between Paul’s early Christian hope and the Zion of the Restoration, the book turns in chapter 8 to what most of us came expecting: Spencer’s close reading of Joseph’s latter-day revelations on consecration and Zion. The analysis opens with an overview of the historical moment into which the revelation eventually known as D&C 42 arrived. Soon after... Read more »

New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #11

March 10, 2015 | one comment
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New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #11

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Grace Is Not God’s Backup Plan

March 6, 2015 | 31 comments
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Grace Is Not God’s Backup Plan

I’ve published a new little book, Grace Is Not God’s Backup Plan: An Urgent Paraphrase of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. It’s an experiment both in reading Paul and in self-publishing. My family and I were reading N. T. Wright’s “Kingdom Translation” of Romans and the kids were having a blast. Paul’s a great read in contemporary English. They loved, especially, Paul’s rhetorical questions (“Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Certainly not!”) and I loved, especially, the force of the letter when read out loud. Read more »

A Mormon Maximalism

March 5, 2015 | 14 comments
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A Mormon Maximalism

I’ve been practicing a kind of Mormon maximalism for a long time now. This impulse toward maximalism is itself religious in spirit. More, the impulse is aesthetic. It’s driven by a kind of wild hunger for the feel (literally, the aesthesis) of words, facts, theories, things, and people. I’m roaming the earth, eating everything in sight. Read more »

The Running Missionary

March 5, 2015 | 42 comments
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The Running Missionary

Deseret News has an article on a sister-missionary video “’My mission in 5 minutes,” in which a well-meaning, returned sister missionary summarizes the highlights of her mission in Berlin, Germany. The missionaries are depicted, with rhythmic music, while running, jumping, dancing, giving high-fives—all part of a missionary-excitement culture, starting with the hysteria when the letter with the call is opened and the destination announced. From the video, a mission is the time to gather fun and stirring memories, with background pictures and videos of castles, cathedrals, romantic landscapes, and food. Even missionaries dressed in Lederhosen are part of it. It’s all understandable.... Read more »

A Mormon Minimalism

March 4, 2015 | 23 comments
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A Mormon Minimalism

I’ve been practicing a kind of theological minimalism for a long time now. This impulse toward minimalism is itself religious. And it’s aesthetic. It doesn’t have to do with whether particular things are true or false (though, rest assured, such judgments must also be made), it has to do with the feel (literally, the aesthesis) of Mormonism as it’s lived. Read more »

For Zion – Part 6

March 3, 2015 | 10 comments
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For Zion – Part 6

One more time, from the pen of Ben Peters: One of the most tempting yet misplaced complaints lodged against Joseph Spencer’s For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope might be that, for all its talk about Zion, For Zion does nothing to suggest actionable proposals or bullet points for how to build Zion. Read more »

New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #10

March 3, 2015 | 2 comments
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New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #10

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Seafloor Spreading, or Why I’m Mormon

March 1, 2015 | 45 comments
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Seafloor Spreading, or Why I’m Mormon

Let’s acknowledge that beginnings are important. This is one reason why we care so much about history. So let’s go back to beginning. Let’s go back to the origin, to the source, to what the Greeks called the arche. But how? Where is the origin? Read more »

Questions and Doubts

February 27, 2015 | 115 comments
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An article in the March 2015 Ensign is stirring up all kinds of discussion: “When Doubts and Questions Arise.” Read the article and you will see what the fuss is about. On the positive side, this and other recent articles and talks addressing faith questions at least provide acknowledgement that many faithful Mormons have issues with certain features of LDS doctrine and history. The new essays in Gospel Topics at LDS.org likewise provide groundbreaking official responses on several troubling topics. But the Ensign really has to do better than this polarizing and dispiriting discussion. Read more »

For Zion – Part 5

February 27, 2015 | 2 comments
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For Zion – Part 5

From the pen of Ben Peters (see previous post): Chapter five in Joseph Spencer’s For Zion turns to what he calls “the space of hope.” Here his discussion focuses on the space of “what remains to be seen” and to a similar effect as chapter four on the time of hope. Read more »