Author: Julie M. Smith

I live in Austin, Texas, with my husband, Derrick, an electrical engineer. We have three boys: Simon ('98), Nathan ('01), and Truman ('04). We are a homeschooling family and I also teach at the LDS Institute here in Austin. I have a BA in English from UT Austin and an MA in Biblical Studies (Theology) from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, where I specialized in the study of women in the New Testament. I wrote my thesis on Mark 14:3-9, which I explored from literary and feminist perspectives to determine how the story teaches the audience about Jesus's identity. I wrote a book, Search, Ponder, and Pray: A Guide to the Gospels. It contains 4,000 questions (no answers) designed to get the LDS reader to really think about the scriptures and to introduce the major findings of biblical studies to the general reader. I like to read, buy books, and go out for ethnic food.

Book Review: That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon’s Perspective On Faith and Family

When I was in college, in the early 90s, a friend commented that she wished that gays were better treated in church. Another friend asked what that might look like. She responded that she hoped we’d come to a point where someone could say to a ward member, “Please stop trying to set me up with your daughter—I’m gay,” and that that person would still be welcomed in the ward.

Guest Post: Before We Make Up Our Minds

Charlie Fuller has a BS in Sociology and an MPA from BYU and works as a management analyst in the public sector. She and her husband live in Utah County. Before we make up our minds about whether or not to allow Middle Eastern refugees into Utah, we need to take a long hard look at the blood-soaked history of these desert-dwelling religious extremists.

The Gospels and Rape Culture

Despite the fact that the term rape culture–and the increasing attention devoted to it–are recent developments, that does not mean that the stories of the life of Jesus have nothing to say about the topic. In fact, there is quite a bit of material in the gospels which is relevant to the current discussion.

Keeping Our Boys Safe

As you are probably well aware, BYU is reviewing its policies related to sexual assault victims and Honor Code violations. One proposal which seems to have a good bit of currency–especially since it appears to be the norm at other schools, including SVU, which have similar Honor Codes–is an “amnesty” for offenses which might have been committed in the context of the sexual assault. The motive here is to remove the disincentive for victims not to report assaults–or for assailants to assault Honor Code scofflaws because they are well aware that their victim is less likely to report the assault in that case.

The Best Kept Secret in the Church

This pamphlet contains advice about adjusting to missionary life. And while I am sure it would be particularly helpful for missionaries, it covers things everyone needs to know. It is humane and gentle, based in gospel principles, and reflects sound thinking about mental health.

Guest Post: Returning Early with Honor

This guest post was written by Lauren Baldwin, based on the paper she presented at the recent Association for Mormon Letters conference. Lauren is a professional writing student at BYU-I. After the 2012 mission age change, she was part of the first group of nineteen-year-old sister missionaries to serve in the Kentucky Louisville Mission. She works in technical communication and sometimes writes creative non-fiction on rainy days.


I love the many ways the church has recently bucked anti-refugee sentiment and worked to help refugees. See here, here, here, here, here, and now here.

BYU NT Commentary Summer Seminar

We are accepting application for the second annual BYU New Testament Commentary Series Summer Seminar, to be held for the four weeks of July 5 to July 29, 2016, on BYU Campus, Provo, Utah. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2016. The seminar is open to graduate students and recent PhDs who have research interests in Latter-day Saint readings of the New Testament.

A Rhetoric of Indirection

I remember watching the Olympics when I was in high school and concluding that the swimmers had the best-looking bodies of all of the athletes. Not scarily gaunt like the runners, not comically and grotesquely bulging like the weight lifters, not the stunted look of the gymnasts.

Consequences, Intended or Otherwise, in Light of the Update

 A few days ago, after the new policies were leaked but before the First Presidency clarified them, I posted a list of possible consequences of the policies here. This post reproduces my list, crossing out those scenarios no longer possible in light of the First Presidency letter. I also made some updates (in bold print). Then I add some general thoughts at the end.

Consequences, Intended or Otherwise

UPDATE: this post was written before the First Presidency clarified the new policies. Please see this post, which repeats everything in this post but updates it and provides some concluding thoughts. — I’m thinking about the implications–doctrinal and practical and cultural–of the recent policy changes.