Author: Clark Goble

Conference Weekend Rumors

It’s that time of year again. The time when Mormons hit the rumor mill. Normally this is pretty silly. Even the shocking rumors are pretty small in the scheme of things. However it seems clear that Pres. Nelson is doing some major reforms to Church structure. If last spring surprised people by getting rid of both home teaching and separate quorums this week probably will bring even more surprises. I suspect we’ll be getting more changes per year than we typically got in a decade. So here’s my list of rumors, how likely I think they are, and what the implications might be.

33% of Missionaries Coming Home?

Jana Riess had up a particularly interesting and provocative post out today. I suspect most readers are familiar with her excellent Next Mormon Survey which should be coming out in a complete form in March but which has also generated many articles and posts. Today Jana mentioned that her survey has 33% of Millennial missionaries coming home early from their missions.

10 Questions Interview with Devery Anderson

We’re happy to share Kurt Manwaring’s interview with Devery Anderson. Anderson is a well known historian, starting with Salt Lake School of the Prophets,The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History, and Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History. I suspect many of you have these books. His most recent book is not LDS oriented. Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement has been getting very good reviews. He works at Signature Books.

Future Mormon 8: Future of Mormon Thinking

Welcome to the eighth chapter of the not quite weekly reading club for Adam Miller’s Future Mormon. For general links related to the book along with links for all the chapter discussions please go to our overview page. Please don’t hesitate to give your thoughts on the chapter. We’re hoping for a good thoroughgoing critical engagement with the text. Such criticisms aren’t treating the text as bad or flawed so much as trying to engage with the ideas Adam brings up. Hopefully people will push back on such criticism if they disagree or even just see flaws in the logic. That’s when we tend to all learn the most.

10 Questions Interview with Matt Grow

We’re happy to present Kurt Manwaring’s interview with Matt Grow, the editor of the Church’s new Saints volume. There’s a ton of positive response to this new official history of the Church. It appears to have hit the sweet spot of accuracy yet readability for typical members. I’m pretty impressed with it, although I’ve not yet had time to read much. I can’t wait to see the next few volumes.

Mormon Retention and the Internet

A common belief, especially by critics, is that Mormon retention has fallen primarily due to the rise of the internet. The argument goes that with the internet becoming ubiquitous that people encounter troubling historical facts. Those facts then undermine their testimony causing them to leave the Church. While I’m sure this has happened to many people, I’m very skeptical it’s the real issue people leave the Church in general.

What’s in a Name?

Like many others I found it hard to avoid the humor in the Church’s statement downplaying the use of LDS and Mormon. This isn’t the first time the Church has tried to get people to stop using such terms. Pres. Hinckley back in 1995 changed the logo design of the Church’s name to emphasize Jesus Christ. He also in 2001 in a letter sent to all wards asked members to refer to ourselves as Latter-day Saints and to use the full name of the Church.

Three Heavens in Joseph’s Environment

We all know that revelation frequently requires study. Many of the key doctrines of the restoration came from revelations given to Joseph as he was going through and modifying the Bible by way of command. Some of these were treated as modifications of the Biblical texts (such as in our Book of Moses) while others were treated as independent visions or revelations (such as D&C 76). The key part though was studying. (See D&C 9:7-8) We even know that during the work on the New Testament that Joseph began consulting a copy of Clarke’s Bible Commentary and using some of its suggestions. (Probably more interesting than where he followed Clarke are the places where he differs greatly from him) While we know that the command to work on a Bible “translation” was the catalyst for many aspects of these revelations, there were other influences as well.

Future Mormon 7: Reflections on the Gift of Grace

Welcome to the oft delayed seventh chapter of the increasingly not weekly reading club for Adam Miller’s Future Mormon. For general links related to the book along with links for all the chapter discussions please go to our overview page. Please don’t hesitate to give your thoughts on the chapter. We’re hoping for a good thoroughgoing critical engagement with the text. Such criticisms aren’t treating the text as bad or flawed so much as trying to engage with the ideas Adam brings up. Hopefully people will push back on such criticism if they disagree or even just see flaws in the logic. That’s when we tend to all learn the most.

Cafeteria Mormonism vs. Cafeteria Spirituality

Jana Riess did an oft shared post this week on “cafeteria spirituality.” This in turn generated a lot of discussion. I just wanted to make a few comments. First I think we should distinguish between what some have called cafeteria Mormonism from cafeteria spirituality. I don’t think they’re really the same although Jana conflates them somewhat. Cafeteria Mormonism usually means simply picking and choosing what teachings one accepts. Cafeteria spirituality I think is largely about supplementing ones practices beyond Church, church activities, and suggested practices. They seem rather different.

D&C 76 and 1 Cor 15

There’s no doubt that the three kingdoms in D&C 76 have terminology related to 1 Cor 15. However the tendency of Mormons to read 1 Cor 15 in terms of D&C 76 is unfortunate. While they’re related somewhat they’re ultimately addressing very different topics. 1 Cor 15:39-44 is about the nature of resurrected bodies. D&C 76 is about the kingdoms and who is in them. That’s somewhat tied to resurrection since one goes to a kingdom after the resurrection but we should keep the two somewhat separated.

What is Neo-Apologetics?

Over at Wheat and Tares there was an interesting post on neo-apologetics. I’ll admit that this is one of these terms, like neo-orthodoxy back in the 90’s, that just seems inherently problematic as used. Having been “accused” of being a neo-apologist before let me try and discuss what I think people mean and why it’s somewhat problematic.[1]

Contract vs. Covenant

As a first order approximation, we frequently describe a covenant as a two way promise often with consequences attached if one breaks ones promise. That almost sounds like a contract. So what exactly is the difference between a contract and covenant?

10 Questions with Ben Park

We’re happy to present Kurt Manwaring’s interview with Benjamin Park. He’s a professor of history at Sam Houston University and has been a visiting fellow at the Maxwell Institute. He just had published American Nationalisms: Imagining Union in the Age of Revolutions. He’s been working on research on the political culture of Nauvoo in the 1840’s. You can read the full interview with Ben at 12 Questions. We’re including some relevant excerpts here that hopefully will engender some discussion. I’ll add some comments at the end.

The Loss of Sin

I think one of the many social changes we’re seeing unfolding before us is the loss of sin. I don’t mean loss in the good sense of moving away from sin. Rather I mean loss in the sense that the very category of sin is rejected and rendered incomprehensible. Much of Mormon proselytizing depends upon a shared sense of sin. That is that sin is something to overcome and the atonement is the answer. Without a notion of sin it is simply much harder to see what the point of Jesus or the atonement even is.

12 Questions With Gary Bergera

We’re happy to present Kurt Manwaring’s interview with Gary Bergera. This is cross-posted here and at the 12 Questions site. Gary Bergera, for those not already familiar with him, is the editor of the recently released Confessions of a Mormon Historian: The Diaries of Leonard J. Arrington.

Future Mormon 6: A Radical Mormon Materialism

Welcome to the oft delayed sixth chapter of the once weekly reading club for Adam Miller’s Future Mormon. Hopefully we’ll get back to weekly again. For general links related to the book along with links for all the chapter discussions please go to our overview page. Please don’t hesitate to give your thoughts on the chapter. We’re hoping for a good thoroughgoing critical engagement with the text. Such criticisms aren’t treating the text as bad or flawed so much as trying to engage with the ideas Adam brings up. Hopefully people will push back on such criticism if they disagree or even just see flaws in the logic. That’s when we tend to all learn the most.

The Death of the Newspaper

I know the travails of the Salt Lake Tribune and then smaller papers like the Daily Herald in Provo and the Ogden Examiner don’t seem directly LDS related. However all these papers, along with the Deseret News, tend to cover religious topics. It’s worth discussing what’s going on.