In Dialogue: The Best of Ten Years of Mormon Blogging

August 24, 2014 | 3 comments
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The Summer 2014 print issue of Dialogue arrived in my mailbox last week. Among other fine articles is a ten-year look back at Mormon blogging by Dialogue Web Editor Emily Jensen. The article consists of about 70 paragraph-length quotations from selected Bloggernacle posts over the years, in ten categories: theology, homosexuality, feminism, race, Mormon studies, public conversations, history, Dialogue, personal essays, and miscellaneous. The Dialogue website adds a few supplementary blog posts that did not make the print article, but to get the print article itself you will need to subscribe. Below are links to the T&S posts that... Read more »

About Social Media

August 19, 2014 | 17 comments
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Elder David A. Bednar just delivered a talk on social media at BYU Education Week. The text of the talk is already posted at LDS.org (video also available). You are probably going to be hearing about this one so you’d better go read it. Here are the highlights. Quotations in the italicized blockquotes; my commentary in plain text following the quote. Read more »

We Are Made to Suffer

August 18, 2014 | 46 comments
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2014-08-18 Guernica

In centuries gone by the best you could hope for in the case of an aching tooth would be that someone would yank it out, but thanks to modern medicine we can detect cavities and fill them before they start to cause any pain at all. Of course, the drilling of the tooth itself is painful, so you can have your tooth numbed with an injection. Someone jabbing a sharp needle into your gums isn’t a walk in the park either, so you can have some topical gel applied before the shot. Just to recap: you get a numbing... Read more »

12 Questions for Miranda Wilcox and John Young, Editors of Standing Apart—Part II

August 16, 2014 | 8 comments
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Here are the six remaining questions in our series with Miranda Wilcox and John Young, continued from Part I. 7. How much of what you do in this book should we understand as theology, as opposed to, say, history? Miranda: Religious communities perform theological work when they tell historical narratives. Remembering and memorializing their divine origins is crucial for communities to maintain distinctive self-identities and to realize their divine mandate. We see examples of this process when Israel retells the story of their ancestors’ deliverance from captivity in Egypt or when Lehi’s descendants retell the story of their family’s... Read more »

The Hypothetical “Missionary Library”

August 15, 2014 | 41 comments
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The Hypothetical “Missionary Library”

As a companion piece to Dave’s post on missionaries, let’s talk about the approved missionary library. I have concerns about what missionaries study, know, and teach. The typical missionary develops far more motivation to read and study “the literature of the Church” than before the mission, but is far more restricted, although mission presidents have leeway to relax this. Certainly the primary content of missionary study should be scripture and the doctrine, but I think by narrowing the library too much, we miss real opportunities both for the missionaries themselves and the people they teach. Read more »

Salt Lake City, We Have a Problem

August 15, 2014 | 101 comments
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Artist's rendering of a serious problem.

It has always been the case that some missionaries “come home early,” as the gentle phrasing goes. It turns out that more missionaries are coming home early than ever before. The percentage is now into the double-digits, and it turns out the folks in Salt Lake City are already well aware that we have a problem. This is based on information quietly passed down the priesthood chain, coupled with an urgent request to extend support and guidance to our young men and women as they prepare for and depart on LDS missions. So the leadership recognizes there is a... Read more »

Book Review: Way Below the Angels

August 13, 2014 | 17 comments
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Book Review: Way Below the Angels

Craig Harline, Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary This may be the most painful book I have ever read.   Read more »

Book Review: A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray

August 12, 2014 | 21 comments
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Book Review: A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray

How much did I like this book? So much that I do not regret the night of sleep that I lost to my inability to put it down. (That has literally never happened to me before. I always hate myself in the morning.) Read more »

DC Institute Class

August 11, 2014 | one comment
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Thomas B. Griffith (D.C. Circuit Court judge and former BYU General Counsel, Senate Legal Counsel, Bishop and Stake President) is teaching an institute class at the Chevy Chase building this fall on early Church history, with a focus on “Joseph Smith as Everyman.”   The class starts Tuesday, September 2nd at 7pm and will run every Tuesday night throughout the fall. You can register either upon arrival or in advance at the Church’s Institute site.  Please spread the word. Brother Griffith is a fantastic teacher and having a class from him on this topic is a rare opportunity — it is sure to be stellar. Read more »

A Day in the Life

August 11, 2014 | 5 comments
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I wrote this a few months ago and forget to post it. Read more »

12 Questions for Miranda Wilcox and John Young, editors of Standing Apart—Part I

August 8, 2014 | 12 comments
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Miranda Wilcox (BYU) and John Young (Flagler College) have recently published Standing Apart: Mormon Historical Consciousness and the Concept of Apostasy, a collection of essays examining the Mormon narrative of apostasy and restoration in light of the history of Christianity. It is published by Oxford University Press, in both hardcover and paperback. They have kindly shared responses to 12 Questions about their project. I am including six in this post; the remaining six will follow soon in Part II. 1. What led you into this project, and how did it take shape? Miranda: Although John and I grew up... Read more »

FAIR Conference, Day 2

August 8, 2014 | 11 comments
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Below is the agenda for Day 2 of the FAIR Conference in Provo with brief bios of the speakers. I will be adding summaries of some of the sessions as the day goes by. (Disclaimer: these are on-the-fly summaries for general information and discussion. Please consult audio recordings or the transcripts that FAIR releases in a week or two for accurate details.) Full bios are available at the speakers page. You can get online streaming of the conference sessions. Read more »

FairConference, Thursday Afternoon Sessions

August 7, 2014 | one comment
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Bob Rees A review of Earl Wunderli’s Imperfect Book   Started with this Card Colour changing trick video (http://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/colour-changing-card-trick-outtakes/) to illustrate that too much focus on one thing can cause you miss the many other things that are going on. What aren’t you noticing? Emerson said,  “Tell me your sect, and I’ll tell you your argument.” How we approach the Book of Mormon will determine what we find within it.  Rees was impressed with Earl’s thoroughness. He has read extensively and carefully. He approached as though cross-examining it in a court of law, and like any good lawyer making... Read more »

FairMormon Conference Thursday Morning Sessions

August 7, 2014 | 5 comments
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I’m not quite up to live blogging, so my coverage of FAIR will lag slightly behind the fact. I will be posting summaries of talks posted after completion rather than subjecting you to my sloppy notes in real time. Kerry Muehlstein, Ph. D. Brigham Young University Unnoticed assumptions about The Book of Abraham While the assumptions discussed in this talk are applied to Abraham, they also have more general application. What is apologetics? Apologetics to some means to try to defend a certain assumption. For Muehlstein, it means to try to understand what is true, what is accurate. In... Read more »

Performing Mark

August 7, 2014 | 14 comments
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Performing Mark

It would seem that when a text is nearly two thousand years old, there might not be a whole lot new to say about it. But this isn’t the case for the Gospel of Mark. Read more »

Floating Through a Billion Years of Mormon History

August 6, 2014 | 7 comments
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Deep time in a deep canyon.

Well, a billion years of geological history and a couple hundred years of Mormon history. That’s what I saw last month on a rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. But not everyone sees the same thing. Read more »

Summertime Notes of a Liturgical Junkie

August 5, 2014 | 8 comments
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Summertime Notes of a Liturgical Junkie

Four Services Worth Writing Home About. Mormon Service: An “International Ward” in Western Europe. (No, this picture to the left is not of a Mormon chapel, alas. It’s just an action shot to suggest what being a LJ might involve.) Up on the podium, the bishop is a Wasatch-Front-origined temporary-resident white Anglonavian Mormon, as is one of the councilors, while the other is a recently-immigrated black African Mormon. The main congregational constituents not represented in the bishopric are the old-time local converts, who now occupy a mere quarter of the pews they used to dominate, and whose once unchallenged... Read more »

BYUNTC Conference Videos

August 4, 2014 | 3 comments
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The videos from May’s conference are now available here. Read more »

A gospel born in grief

July 31, 2014 | 3 comments
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A gospel born in grief

It is time now to ponder, after the silence of bereavement. For me the gospel is sometimes hard to believe, often an intellectual challenge, but always a comforting presence. Things go wrong in this world (well, many things go right as well) but in our day and age the things that do go wrong seem to do that in a grand way. The downing of MZ17 was one of these. What comfort can I find in the scriptures, how does the Old Testament – as that is what we are reading at this time – relate to the afflictions... Read more »

I was a stranger, and ye took me in

July 30, 2014 | 61 comments
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Unknown

These children, fleeing death and devastation, have come to us. Yes, caring for them will cost us time and money and effort, but not caring for them will cost us our compassion. Read more »

Rankings, Money, and BYU

July 28, 2014 | 11 comments
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Rankings, Money, and BYU

Money magazine has just released a new ranking of U.S. universities that has received a bit of attention. BYU does quite well, landing in ninth place overall, just behind Stanford, Harvard, Harvey Mudd, and Cooper Union. Read more »

Literary Joseph Fielding Smith #17: The Lord of Hosts has Spoken by Octave F. Ursenbach

July 27, 2014 | no comments
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Literary Joseph Fielding Smith #17: The Lord of Hosts has Spoken by Octave F. Ursenbach

The Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith lesson 17 covers “Sealing Power and Temple Blessings,” the ordinances restored through the priesthood which lead to our salvation, for salvation in the eternal kingdom is dependent on sealing, both to parents, to spouse and to children. The following poems addresses the role of sealing in our understanding of priesthood and of salvation. Read more »

Literary OTGD #31: My Friends and I by J. L. Townsend

July 27, 2014 | no comments
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Literary OTGD #31: My Friends and I by J. L. Townsend

Lesson 31 of the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine manual covers the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which consist mainly of short statements meant to help guide our behavior. But its pretty easy to make these statements seem contradictory. We all agree that “pride goeth before destruction,” but what if it is pride in our work or in doing our best? And what do we say to parents who have “trained up a child in the way he should go” when that child does depart from the way? It is precisely these contradictions that the following... Read more »

Mourning and the Gospel

July 23, 2014 | 14 comments
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At this moment The Netherlands, like many other countries, are in deep mourning, shocked by the terrible news of the downing of MZ17 in the East of Ukraine. Each of us has somewhere in his or her network people who were in that flight; my faculty lost a whole family, the dean of Liberal Arts with his wife who worked in Communication Studies, and one daughter, a brilliant student who was in my Liberal Arts class last year. At this moment the news is completely dominated by images of a charred field with wreckage, masked soldiers trying to shut... Read more »

Literary OTGD #30: Strength by Mabel Jones

July 20, 2014 | one comment
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What benefit do we get from the temple? Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #30 covers two renewals of the temple in ancient Israel; that of Hezekaih and that of his great grandson, Josiah. It also gives the example of Hezekiah’s fending off the Assyrians with the help of the angel of the Lord following his cleansing of the temple. This apparently comes because of his righteousness. Could it be the indirect result of cleansing the temple? Does the temple lend us strength? The following sonnet sees strength in the temple, comparing its outward appearance with the inward strength it... Read more »

A Baseball Team in Every Ward

July 19, 2014 | no comments
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A Baseball Team in Every Ward

In the late 16th century Henry IV of France expressed a desire that everyone in his realm would “have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.” That idea showed up again in Herbert Hoover’s promise of a “chicken in every pot”—the politician’s promise of prosperity. I’m not sure whether “a baseball team in every ward” is a promise of prosperity or programming gone awry, but that is essentially what leaders of the MIA suggested in 1922—some years before Hoover made his ill-fated promise. They wrote: “Each ward should have an organized baseball club, and each stake should have an... Read more »

Literary Worship – Sacred Stones

July 18, 2014 | 8 comments
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As our one really unique Mormon holiday, Pioneer Day gives us a chance to look back and reflect on our ancestors and others who went before and made our way easier through their good lives and sacrifices. I think of it as a sort of celebration of our collective quest to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers. And because I love traveling and getting to know new places, thinking about my ancestors always involves a lot of thought about where they originally came from, and if I’m lucky, not just thought, but plane tickets and itineraries.... Read more »

Upgrading Our Lay Clergy Model

July 17, 2014 | 73 comments
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People are still trying to digest the consequences of the Kate Kelly trial. Just today FMH posted dozens of reports showing how arbitrary the LDS disciplinary process can be and Exponent posted on the feasibility of bringing some level of informed consent to the worthiness interview process. At T&S, we have recently posted and discussed in comments shortcomings of the Kelly trial and problems with apostasy trials in general. Let’s take a step back and ask a more general and hopefully less contentious question: Has the Church outgrown the lay leadership model? Are there any practical alternatives? Read more »

Faithful priesthood narratives?

July 17, 2014 | 117 comments
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Faithful priesthood narratives?

some of those who speak in opposition to women's ecclesiastical enfranchisement do so because they can't imagine what a faithful, coherent narrative of our dispensation could possibly look like if women's priesthood role were restored and developed or if they did receive the Melchizedek Priesthood Read more »

James Faulconer – Making Things Harder

July 15, 2014 | 11 comments
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James Faulconer – Making Things Harder

It seems to me that the scriptures offer two types of revelations: (1) they reveal things you didn’t already know, and (2) they reveal that you didn’t know many of the things you thought you knew. Both kinds of revelation are pivotal. And each tends to depend on the other. James Faulconer’s new series of books — The Book of Mormon Made Harder, The Doctrine and Covenants Made Harder, The Old Testament Made Harder, and The New Testament Made Harder (forthcoming) — can help on both of these fronts. Though, to be fair, they’re especially good at the latter. Read more »