Category: Guest Bloggers

All Indians Today Descend From Lehi

As the children of Lehi and Sariah intermarried with first Ishamel’s offspring and then their children intermixed with the natives of the Americas, what has been the result genetically after 2,600 years? Are the American Indians encountered by the Europeans in 1492 and beyond also descendants of Lehi and Sariah?

Sherem the Native American

Despite keeping the name-title of the Nephite founder in their royal name, the outsized positive influence of that prophet-king and founder of the Nephites was clearly quickly missed. “The people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices,” Jacob lamented (Jacob 1:15). They began to be preoccupied with obtaining riches and indulging in immoralities. Realizing that the Jewish immigrants were just a fraction of the People of Nephi helps many more things make sense. After all, the multiple wives and girlfriends of the wicked Nephites were not just Jacob’s grandkids and nieces and nephews sinning with each other. 

Nephite Succession Crisis

It was a coup (or divine providence) that Nephi and his brothers Jacob and Joseph were able to assert themselves as religious leaders in this new land, spiritually guiding thousands who were already in the Americas. Emerging as the political leaders of this large, mostly non-Jewish People of Nephi was trickier. Nephi’s inspired leadership, however, was a tour de force.

Lehi’s Thanksgiving

I envision Lehi and his family encountering some curious native villagers near their initial landing beach in the Promised Land. I can imagine that the first Native Americans to see these strangers from the Middle East sailing to their shores in a vessel larger than any canoe may have viewed them as gods. From Christopher Columbus in the West Indies to Hernando Cortés riding into Montezuma’s Mexico, it was natural for the locals to view these otherworldly newcomers as gods. The righteous Nephites would have dissuaded any worship or being treated like gods. Like Ammon later before King Lamoni, they would have denied that they were “the Great Spirit” (Alma 18:18-19). However, it would have been natural for this party of prophets and priests to evangelize to their new friends about the Lord who guided them there.

The Tribes that Greeted the Lehites

As we read the Book of Mormon, we will better appreciate its authenticity if we see its stories in the context of the Nephites and Lamanites continuously bumping up against Native American tribes who were already in the Americas. The Promised Land was not an empty land, as many throughout Church history sometimes imagined. In fact, our testimony of the truths taught within its pages are all the more powerful when we look at this ancient record with eyes wide open to the cultural world it actually took place in.

2024 Church History Symposium

2024 Church History Symposium “Shall the Youth of Zion Falter?” The Young Women?and Young Men Organizations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

2024 Call For Library Research Fellows In Mormon Studies, University of Virginia

The University of Virginia’s Mormon Studies Program is pleased to announce the inaugural award of the Aileen H. and Hal M. Clyde Research Fellowship in Mormon Studies and Gender. For the year 2024, as many as two fellowships of $2,500 will be awarded for research in the Gregory A. Prince Collection related to Mormonism and gender, including women’s history, feminist studies, masculinity studies, or sexuality studies. Proposals will be reviewed beginning on January 15, 2024.

Redefining Apostasy: Building Bridges, Not Barriers, in the Face of a Faith Transition

The following is a guest post by Randall Davis. Amidst the tapestry of human experience, religious freedom–the right to worship in accordance with one’s own conscience–is a deeply-valued principle that forms the bedrock of much goodness in our world today. Having associated with people of various faith traditions over the years, I have seen the enriching influence of religion in their lives, and from our discussions, they recognize that religious freedom carries both duties and responsibilities that honor the sanctity of other beliefs.

An MTC Experience

This excerpt comes from Under the Long White Cloud: A Missionary Memoir of New Zealand by Miles Farnsworth. It tells the story of a two-year Latter-day Saint mission, starting with President Thomas S. Monson’s historic policy announcement lowering the age of service for young men and women. The book is more a travelogue and coming-of-age story than doctrinal exegesis and explores the highs, lows, and emotional labor of serving a mission, as well as the culture of New Zealand. Note: Guest posts can be submitted by e-mailing us at [email protected].

I Even Remain Alone: LDS Men sans Families

I wrote this in over three years ago in response to a call for personal essays on LDS single experiences; alas, it was declined primarily for a lack of anecdotes. It’s not something I would necessarily write today and is longer than a normal blog post. Nevertheless, it’s still a perspective that I rarely see, so I wanted to make it available somewhere. Please don’t take issue with my use of “Mormon.” I wrote this before Pres. Nelson was even Church president and the word “Mormon” is essential to the content of the essay. If it grates against you, please take a moment to ponder what the word “Mormon” meant to me.   My whole life I’ve wanted to marry someone whom I could love and who would reciprocate. For me, this stems from my identity as a Mormon man: marriage is what Mormon men do. My patriarchal blessing, like so many others’, promises me a temple marriage to a “companion” Heavenly Father has “chosen for [me].” But often I fear—for reasons irrelevant to this essay—I may always be single. And I’ve found that the lack of a permanent companion is, of course, a painful part of singlehood, but it isn’t the solitary painful aspect of being single. Indeed, something else oft outweighs it in my heart.  In Ursula K. Le Guin’s story “Imaginary Countries,” a woman admits to an aspiring Catholic priest that “the idea of celibacy terrifies” her.…

Is Activity Increasing Among US-based Latter-day Saints?

The following is a guest post from Stephen Cranny. Stephen Cranney is a Washington DC-based data scientist and Non-Resident Fellow at Baylor’s Institute for the Studies of Religion. He has produced over 20 peer-reviewed articles and five children. I calculated the percent of people who self-identify as Latter-day Saints who are “active” (attend Church about once a week) from the early 70s to today. The estimates are a little unstable because of the small numbers involved, but suggest that “activity” has actually been increasing. The numbers are derived from the General Social Survey, a large, representative survey of the US taken almost every year that has questions on just about every major behavioral, demographic, and social variable, including religious affiliation. Because there are only a handful of Latter-day Saints each year, I combined years to get larger samples for each point so that the trend wasn’t so bumpy. The 1972-1976 bracket at the beginning, for example, pools together all the self-identified Latter-day Saints in the GSS survey from 1972-1976, the next bracket includes all the self-identified Latter-day Saints from 1977-1983, and so forth. I used the supplied “survey weights,” multipliers attached to each respondent to make sure that the survey sample as a whole is representative (so if the survey captured half as many of one demographic as there are in the US, that person’s response would be worth twice as much in terms of averages). The code is on…

Welcome to Guest Blogger Michael Haycock

Times & Seasons is pleased to welcome Michael Haycock as our latest guest blogger. Michael was primarily raised in Northwest Ohio and served his mission in Argentina. After graduating with a B.A. in political science from Yale University, he received an M.A. in religion (American religious history) from Claremont Graduate University, where he wrote his thesis on 19th century Mormon masculinity. Having seen the academic job market, he spent several years working for small lobbying firms in Washington, D.C., before accepting a position earlier this year with Georgetown University’s Campus Ministry. He lives in Northern Virginia, where he continues to engage on the periphery of LDS academia.

Grace and Cooperative Salvation

Since at least the time of Augustine of Hippo and Pelagius, western Christianity has been embroiled in a debate about salvation and grace. The two extremes have been represented as salvation by grace alone and earning salvation by our own works. Theologians and Church leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have generally followed a middle way. On the one hand, we believe in the free will of humans and that actions like baptism, temple ordinances, good works, etc. are necessary for salvation. On the other hand, however, we read in the Book of Mormon that we must “remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved” (2 Nephi 10:24). Thus, it seems that in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we hold both extremes in tension but try to find a way of balancing the two extremes. Recently, I was reading a book by the Eastern Orthodox bishop and theologian Kallistos (Thomas) Ware where he described an Orthodox approach to the subject that I felt resonates well with Latter-day Saint theology. Ware wrote that human beings “possess free will,” since “God wanted sons and daughters, not slaves.” As such, “the Orthodox Church rejects any doctrine of grace which might seem to infringe upon human freedom.” He goes on to explain how this is balanced with grace in their beliefs: To describe…

“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” Throughout the Restoration

I remember seeing a survey several years ago that claimed that the two most popular hymns among Latter-day Saints were “I Stand All Amazed” and “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. I have not been able to find that survey online in recent years, but the latter hymn would be an interesting case, since it is not included in the current English hymnbook published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am pondering on hymns that may find their way into the new hymnbook, however, and there seems to be a lot of interest in the hymn and requests for its return. This made me wonder—what is the history of this hymn in our hymnbooks? Why is it not in the current English one? What is the status of the hymn in other Latter-day Saint hymnbooks? The hymn was written by Robert Robinson and was first published in the United States of America in 1759. It is uncertain what tunes it was sung to originally, but the hymn tunes NETTLETON and NORMANDY became standard in the USA and the UK, respectively. For Latter-day Saints, the hymn text was first included in A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, published in Nauvoo during 1841 as an updated edition of Emma Smith’s 1835 Kirtland hymnbook. The hymnbook competed with a different one published by the Quorum of the Twelve in Manchester,…

A Restored Gospel Christian Calendar

We sometimes speak of the idea of a holy envy—meaning something that we admire in another a religion. For years, while remaining active in my ward, I spent a considerable amount of time at a Presbyterian Church ringing English handbells. Over time, one feature of their worship that I developed a bit of a holy envy for is their use of a liturgical calendar. The liturgical calendar is an approach to remembering Christ’s life throughout the year. In Christian traditions that follow a calendar, the year is divided into a series of seasons with specific moods, theological emphases, and modes of prayer. Important holidays like Christmas and Easter are proceeded by periods of penitence, reflection, and preparation (Advent and Lent, respectively) and followed by several weeks of talking about the stories of Christ and Christianity that happened because of the events that the holidays focus on. Scripture readings and sermon subjects used in church are often based on the calendar, making the calendar the foundation of their worship services. The reason I have holy envy for the calendar is because it helps people focus on Christ throughout the year—particularly around Christmas and Easter. I wanted to try it out in my personal life, so I have been developing my own version of the calendar that incorporates readings from all of our scriptural cannon to use in Sunday evening scripture study or family home evenings. Strictly speaking, of course, it’s not…

Times & Seasons Re-Welcomes Bryan Hickman

Times & Seasons hopes you will join us in welcoming our latest guest blogger, Bryan Hickman, for his guest-blogging stint with us (see here for his prior posts). Bryan is a semi-reformed Utah Mormon (whatever that means) doing his best to rein in the knee-jerkedness of his worldview (whatever that means). He went to school in Utah, receiving both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Political Science from Utah State University. He then bravely trekked eastward in search of a law degree, a wife, and theaters that show independent films, eventually finding all three in Washington, DC. Earlier this year, after more than 12 years slaving away as a staffer in the U.S. Senate, Bryan recently set out on his own to become a freelance writer — like that’s his actual job. Since then, he’s been doing mostly policy writing for think tanks, trade associations, and corporations, while also spending way too much time on projects no one is paying him to write. For the T&S faithful, he hopes to express his semi-generic views about the principles of Mormonism as they relate to film and pop culture in a manner that some will find interesting.

What Can Church Youth Leaders Learn from Baltimore?

For ten years, a Baltimore non-profit called Thread has been working with the youth of that city. Thread’s goal is to “foster students’ academic advancement and personal growth into self-motivated, resilient, and responsible citizens.” It does this by seeking out underperforming high school students and providing each one with a “family of committed volunteers” who coach them and connect them with other community resources. Thread is just one of hundreds of non-profits focused on youth services (Charity Navigator lists 577 such organizations ), but Thread has gotten attention recently for its effectiveness in helping youth achieve positive outcomes. Eighty-eight percent of students who have gone through Thread’s program have received a two-year or four-year college degree or certificate. Thread attributes its success to its comprehensive approach to helping students. Once a student is in the Thread program, the organization commits to supporting that student for ten years. During that ten-year span, Thread provides a “family” of up to four volunteers who commit to being available any time of the day or night, and on any day of the year, to support that student. “Resource teams” staffed by experts back up that volunteer family to help meet specific needs as they arise. While this structure of families and resource teams is important to Thread’s success so far, the real key seems to be the idea of “touchpoints.” Thread emphasizes the need for volunteers and staff to have frequent touchpoints with each…

Times & Seasons Welcomes Levi Jones

Times and Seasons hopes you will join us in welcoming our latest guest blogger, Levi Jones. Levi is an attorney with the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he handles general litigation matters. Prior to joining Commerce, Levi worked for several years as a corporate lawyer for a D.C. area firm. Levi earned his law degree from George Washington University Law School in 2009, where he was a production editor on the school’s Law Review. Before this, Levi earned Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and International Studies from the University of Utah. Levi lives in Manassas, Virginia, with his wife and two kids. Levi grew up in Utah, and served a mission in Cambodia from 2001 to 2003.

Saints, Volume 1: A Review

About a week ago, the first volume of the new official history of the Church was published. I finished reading through it this weekend, and I have to say that it is fantastic. The style of prose reads like a novel (many creative authors were employed as the writers or consultants for the book), but it is very much rooted in some of our best understandings of the events and people who lived in the early period of the Church. The combination of the two results in a very readable, but accurate history. The time frame that this volume covers is the early 1800s through 1846—the year the Latter-day Saints left Nauvoo to move west. There are a lot of controversial issues related to that period, but the book tackled most of them head on. Polygamy (including Joseph Smith’s relationship with Fanny Alger and a small amount about polyandry), seer stones, treasure seeking, Book of Mormon translation, Latter-day Saint pillaging and fighting during the Missouri Mormon War, Danites, the Council of Fifty, Joseph Smith defending himself with a gun in Carthage Jail, and teachings of theosis and a Mother in Heaven are all addressed. Joseph Smith’s character was shown in a more three-dimensional way than most official Church representations of him—his temper and his sense of humor are both shown, as are some of his struggles and missteps. Yet, the history is not one that focuses entirely on the men…

The Bread of Life, with Chocolate Chips

Today I am pleased to present a guest post from a good friend of the blog, Samuel Morris Brown.  I learned to cook when my wife was recovering from cancer surgery. There’s a hollowness, kindred to cancer, hungry to swallow you up when a beloved’s life is threatened. I still remember, with a soul-deep ache, that time when her body was a battleground for scalpeling surgeons and monstrously deformed cells. Those harrowing days are a distant memory now, but that fulminant awareness of her mortality still haunts me. I’ve seen a lot of death in my short life; nothing disoriented me like her cancer. The wild upheaval of unexpected illness unearthed more than a surgical specimen for the pathologist’s microscope. She and I discovered in the cancer’s aftermath my longstanding failure as a husband to be her full partner. This spousal dereliction had insinuated itself into the infrastructure of our marriage. I realized that my soul needed a surgery of its own. A spiritual death had wrapped its malignant fingers around my internal organs, a nefarious mimic of the tumor that had lifted the retina off the back of her eye. The simultaneous, stark revelation of her mortality and my personal failure left me wanting to sit alone in a room and cry my way through the smothering chaos rather than accept the painful transformation that beckoned. But there was no time to stare, heartbroken, at my pitiful soul, dithering…

Review: William V. Smith’s ‘Textual Studies of the Doctrine & Covenants’

In October 2007, I returned home to Texas from my mission in Nevada. In April of the following year, the raid on the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, TX, occurred. I didn’t think much about it at the time because, you know, they weren’t real Mormons (as many LDS are wont to say). However, a good (non-member) friend called me soon after the raid and posed some questions about these polygamists Mormons, seemingly bothered that one of his best friends was mixed up in an abusive cult. I was likely too dismissive of his concerns, largely due to the mentality above. I explained the schism between the FLDS and Utah-based LDS Church, pointing out that my church had ceased practicing polygamy long ago. That seemed to satisfy him as we talked about how bizarre the whole situation was. However, just how strange all of this was to outsiders did not fully hit me until a little later at work when a newly-hired woman asked me (something along the lines of), “What church do you go to?” When I told her I was Mormon, she became rather pale. Being used to the reaction (I do live in the South), I expected her to be some kind of evangelical. However, her next question threw me: “So…is there, like…a community of Mormons around here?” I didn’t understand her at first. I pointed out that there was a chapel just down the road from where…

Hurlbut’s Story of the Bibles

Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, a Methodist minister, first published the Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible in 1904. In the book, he retells 168 Bible stories in simplified modern English prose. The author’s purpose was to provide a version of key scripture passages that young readers would find accessible. The numerous republished editions that have appeared throughout the years witness to the popularity of the volume. The author is a distant cousin in my family tree, but because of the similarity between his name and mine, I have always perceived a personal connection to his life’s work. In honor of his project, I would like to apply my training and scholarship in medieval literature and culture in order to describe a handful of late medieval versions of the Bible that likewise sought to make the understanding of the sacred text more widely accessible. The earliest copies of these texts predate the popular use of the printing press and were originally reproduced by hand. The number of surviving copies confirms the popularity and the appreciation of these precious objects. In what follows, I propose a story of several Bibles. The Glossa Ordinaria The Glossa Ordinaria (Ordinary Gloss) does not summarize or rephrase the biblical text but appends lexical and interpretive commentary to the full canonical transcription of Jerome’s Latin Bible (the Vulgate). The biblical text proper was presented in a block in the center of each page in a large, bold hand. Short…

Be Still My Soul

When I was 19 years old and a junior at BYU, I took a volunteer opportunity teaching a semester-long “life skills” class at the Utah State Prison. Maybe it’s not apparent from that one sentence how absurd it was for a sheltered Mormon girl from rural Canada to be teaching “life skills” to a bunch of inmates, but trust me, it was pretty absurd. The closest I had ever been to criminal behavior at that point in my life was sneaking out of my house without telling my parents once to go get a Subway sandwich.  I knew, however, that in order to get into a counseling graduate program one day, I had to bulk up my resume with some relevant volunteer experience so when I heard about the opportunity to teach at the prison, I applied to the program and was accepted. After a background check and an unnerving hour-long orientation—wherein I was asked to sign forms acknowledging that the government doesn’t negotiate with hostage-takers, so if that happened to me, I was on my own—I was given a packet of lesson materials and told to show up at the prison next Wednesday. When I arrived, I was shown by a prison guard to a classroom (with a piano, strangely enough—I’m assuming that was a Utah thing) that had a bunch of chairs set up in rows, and then left alone with my “students.” The class itself consisted of…

On Silence: A Midrash of Elijah

Most of us are familiar with the story of the prophet Elijah, who is particularly famous for his dramatic confrontation with the priests of Baal.  My favorite part of Elijah’s story comes after that, though, when he realizes that not much changed as a result of his demonstration of God’s power–the people are still worshiping idols, and the wife of the king has promised to assassinate him.  Elijah, despairing and suicidal, travels to Mt. Horeb (more famously known as Sinai, the same mountain on which the Lord appeared to Moses) and waits.  The voice of the Lord then comes to him and asks him a simple question:  “What are you doing here, Elijah?” It’s easy to sense some frustration and anger in Elijah’s answer.  “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”  Elijah is despondent, and wants to die. Elijah is told then that the Lord is about to pass by.  Elijah looks out from the mountain and sees a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire.  God, we are told, is not in any of those, but is in the “still, small voice” that follows. This phrase, “the still, small voice” is used a lot in our common LDS discourse, everywhere from conference…

T&S Welcomes Guest Blogger Michelle Lee

Times and Seasons hopes you will join us in welcoming our latest guest blogger, Michelle Lee. Michelle is a licensed therapist practicing in the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently works full-time for her local school district, providing mental health counseling and crisis management services to adolescents and their families, and also has a private practice on the side (specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders). She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Development at BYU, and her M.A. in Marriage & Family Therapy from the University of San Diego, and has spent several years working with teens and adults on both the east and west coasts (DC and California, mainly). Michelle grew up in Calgary, Canada, and still feels more at home in the Canadian Rockies than anywhere else in the world.

Three Types of Goodness and Truth

My PhD dissertation was about bias in cost and ridership forecasts for transit projects. Before getting into any data analysis, I address the question of how we should even be evaluating forecasts in the first place. One response to evidence that forecasts for transit projects have generally proven to be overwhelmingly biased has been an argument that forecast accuracy is unimportant, or less important than other considerations. And it’s true that accuracy isn’t the only possible way to evaluate a forecast. A 1993 essay on weather forecasting by Allan Murphy (which I came across by way of Nate Silver’s book The Signal and the Noise) defines forecast “goodness” in terms of three characteristics: (1) Consistency: Is the published forecast consistent with the forecaster’s best judgment? Does the forecaster actually believe her own forecast? (2) Quality: Does the forecast correspond with what actually occurred? Was it proven to be accurate? (3) Value: Is the forecast useful to forecast users? Does it help them to make the best decisions? Individual forecasts might be good in one or more of these ways, without being good in all three. For example, a financial forecaster might try to defraud investors by intentionally inflating her firm’s earnings forecast, but unexpected events occur later that end up making the inflated forecast accurate (thus, the forecast has good quality, but poor consistency). A weather forecaster might intentionally overstate the seriousness of a storm (poor consistency) because she’s knows…

Access to the Temple

During the three years I was a transportation planning student living in Los Angeles (I completed the final two years of my degree remotely), I had fairly consistent access to a car, but I generally only used it as a transportation mode of last resort since I preferred to travel by walking or transit, and I lived in very walkable, transit-rich neighborhoods (with terrible traffic and limited parking). I lived in three different apartments during that time. The first was within a marginally reasonable walking distance to the temple; the second was on a transit line that served the temple; and the third was within a very reasonable walking distance to the temple. In those characterizations, I’m referring to what it takes to get to the edge of the temple grounds, without regard to where any of the entrances to the grounds are. Here’s the problem: The Los Angeles Temple is basically a perfect example of a missed opportunity to accommodate pedestrians and transit patrons. There are other temples that are less pedestrian- or transit-friendly through the circumstances of their locations [fn]. The Los Angeles Temple stands out in my mind as a place where it could have excellent pedestrian and transit access, but it doesn’t. There is a transit stop right in front of the temple, which is great. What isn’t great is that you can’t get to the temple from the front. There’s an imposing fence around the…

Church and Hockey

I’m Mormon and my husband is not. He has his own religion that constitutes an important part of his identity, vaguely informs his religious beliefs, and minimally informs his religious practice. I would not describe him as religious at all. He would describe me as extremely religious. Sometimes people at church ask me if my husband is “interested in the church.” My answer to that is, well, yes, he’s interested in the same sense that I’m interested in hockey. My husband is a huge hockey fan. He puts a lot of time and energy into watching hockey, listening to hockey podcasts, reading hockey blogs, and discussing hockey with like-minded hockey fans. Among those like-minded hockey fans are his dad and his brother. In fact, hockey fandom is a major force that draws his family together. In some ways, hockey fills a similar space in his life that church fills in mine. I think I understand the appeal of hockey, and I’ve learned a lot about the sport since being married to my hockey-loving husband, but I didn’t grow up as a hockey fan (or even really as a sports fan). When we watch a game together, I’ll admit to having a hard time giving it my full attention because I have to really concentrate to even understand what’s going on. For the most part, when I watch hockey, it’s mostly just a way for me to express love for (and…

Welcome to Guest Blogger Carole Turley Voulgaris

Times and Seasons is pleased to welcome Carole Turley Voulgaris as our latest guest blogger. Carole recently completed her PhD in transportation planning at UCLA and will be joining the transportation engineering faculty at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this winter following her upcoming maternity leave. For the time being, she lives in the Seattle area with her husband, her cat, and (starting any day now) her baby daughter. Carole served a full-time mission in Germany from 2003 to 2004, and (in addition to her newly acquired PhD), she holds a master’s degree in transportation engineering from BYU and an MBA from Notre Dame.  

Guest Post: What Can LGBT Mormons Hope For?

A year and a half ago, I invited John Gustav-Wrathall, president of the support group Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families & Friends, to share his thoughts on the Church’s new policy affecting LGBT members and their children (see All Flesh from December 2015). Diverging responses to this post gave rise to the idea of hosting a conversation on the blog about what it is reasonable for LGBT members of the Church to hope for and why. To facilitate such a back-and-forth, Gustav-Wrathall offered to share his thoughts on his experience as a gay man raised in the Church, his “abundance” of hope, and the sources of his religious optimism. These reflections constitute the first part of a conversation exploring the question: “What can LGBT members of the Church hope for?” Jonathan Green’s response to Gustav-Wrathall, which includes Gustav-Wrathall’s subsequent reply, represents the second part of the conversation. Readers are invited to comment below or contribute to the conversation in the comments to Jonathan Green’s forthcoming post, but should ensure that any comments posted mirror the graciousness and respect shown by each author and are in line with our comment policy. What Can LGBT Mormons Hope For? John Gustav-Wrathall I have frequently been accused of optimism, both by people who think that’s a bad thing, and by people who think it’s a good thing. Some, both in and out of the Church, say my optimism amounts to false hope, that it’s wrong, maybe even a sin to encourage false hope. Others, also both in and out of the…