“The Holy Ghost as Your Companion” (Pres. Eyring) #ldsconf

I recently made a brief visit to Utah. I’ve never lived in Utah, not even briefly for school or a stint in the MTC. But there is a sense of being among my people that has always imbued my visits with a deep soul sense of returning home. Tracy M described it well. On this trip, I was so focused on business and rushing in and out that I didn’t have much time to soak in that feeling. Just about 24 hours after arriving, I was dashing back to the airport to leave again. As I handed the keys to the rental car return attendant, he saw the BYU logo throw blanket I carried, and the BYU institutional charge for my rental, and asked me cheerily if I was a member of the LDS church. He was older and a little stooped, but very spry in doing his job. I said yes. Suddenly his mad rush of handling the many arriving customers stopped, and he gazed directly into my eyes with an intense earnestness. He told me about his wife. He told me about how he lost her. And he told me how every minute of every day he makes decisions conscious of a striving for total righteousness, to return and join her one day. “I know she’s going to the Celestial Kingdom!” I can’t imagine anyone having more intense focus and determination than he had to join her.

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Elder Costa’s Ignatian Spirituality #ldsconf

According to Wikipedia, Elder Claudio R. M. Costa grew up in a Catholic family in Brazil. [1] Although his family met LDS missionaries when he was 12, another 15 years passed before he joined the Church. His talk in the Sunday Morning session shows how Elder Costa was able to bring spiritual riches from the faith of his earlier life and use them to enrich Mormon spirituality. Specifically, his talk borrows two practices from St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises and brings them together in a powerful synthesis of Mormon sacramentalism. [Read more…]

Defining the “Great and Spacious Building” (Elder Schwitzer) #ldsconf

gregory-a-schwitzer-largeI remember the first time that I used the term “Great and Spacious Building” as a metaphor. It was my freshman year at BYU, when I took my first exam in the George H. Brimhall Building’s testing center. The top floor of that building was the largest single classroom I had ever seen, in which hundreds of students at a time took their machine-scored tests from courses throughout the university. [Read more…]

Expanding on President Nelson’s plea to sisters #ldsconf

sallyridePresident Russell M. Nelson’s talk began with some personal reflections on the loss of his dear friends and fellow quorum members over the past year but soon turned to focus on the wives of two of them: Donna Smith Packer and Barbara Dayton Perry. This made me realize again how little I know about these women and how much more I’d like to know. President Nelson held them forth as exemplars of the powerful influence that strong and courageous women can have “not only on families, but on the Lord’s Church, as wives, mothers, and grandmothers; as sisters and aunts; as teachers and leaders; and especially as exemplars and devout defenders of the faith.” While much could be said about this engaging talk, I’d like to focus on the last point about women as “exemplars and devout defenders of the faith.”  [Read more…]

“Through a Parent’s Eyes” (Elder Renlund) #ldsconf

dale-g-renlund-largeUnlike Elder Renlund, my career has not put me in contact with death. And yet, I understand, on a more modest scale, the need and impulse to develop emotional distance from people and problems. Being able to detach myself allows me to function in a world where things don’t always go the way I would have them go. [Read more…]

Performance and Priesthood (Pres. Eyring) #ldsconf

In the Priesthood Session, coming to a living room near you, Pres. Eyring began by addressing each of the offices of the Aaronic Priesthood in turn, talking about the acts they perform in their priesthood, their duties.  He presents each act simply without aggrandizing the individuals who perform these acts, indeed with a focus on the humility and dare I say cluelessness (certainly guilelessness) of the Preisthood holders, and then contrasts that with what the Lord brings to the act.  We perform simple acts routinely, often without much thought, and the Lord magnifies and sanctifies those acts beyond our understanding and capability.  We perform small acts; God does the heavy lifting. [Read more…]

Babylon, Daniel, and the Power of Faith: Dieter F. Uchtdorf #ldsconf

President Uchtdorf’s priesthood session address mixed the modern with the ancient, using the book of Daniel as teaching platform for the power of faith in God in the face of ridicule.
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What will you become through the Atonement of Christ? (Elder Ballard (mostly)) #ldsconf

In his talk in the Saturday Morning Conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard asked a question that strikes me as particularly important. Elder Ballard noted, “Every time I hold a newborn child, I find myself wondering: ‘Who are you, little one? What will you become through the Atonement of Christ?’” The thought was reflected in both Elder Uchtdorf’s and Elder Mayne’s talks as well. The Atonement is supposed to change us; shouldn’t we wonder how well that is working out? [Read more…]

The Maternal Nature of Divinity (Elder Holland) #ldsconf

James Olsen has put together a very good compilation of statements on Heavenly Mother, which are central to the message here.

What kind of mortal love can make you feel, once you have a child, that your life is never, ever your own again? Maternal love has to be divine. There is no other explanation for it.

I add my testimony, such as it is, to Elder Holland’s: that the love of parents for their children is one of the surest signs of God working within us. [Read more…]

Grace and Being Seen (Pres. Uchtdorf) #ldsconf

dieter-f-uchtdorf-largePresident Uchtdorf is always a rock star- this is really no secret among Mormons. He’s where I turn when I feel brushed aside or when I feel my church experience is really not working for me- and he addressed me—and the many like me—in this morning’s Saturday session of General Conference.

I have come to rely on him for seeing me when I frequently feel some of my church leaders see *through* me. I know I am not alone.

While extolling the beauty and joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is his apostolic calling, and he acknowledges how well it works for him, he states:

“I recognize that there are some who have a less-than fulfilling experience—who feel their membership in the Church sometimes isn’t quite what they had hoped for.” [Read more…]

Eucharistic Worship (Sis. Marriott, Elder Lawrence) #ldsconf

Both Sister Marriott and Elder Lawrence used their talks to emphasize the sacrament as an occasion to receive personalized spiritual guidance. Sister Marriott, who calls the sacrament “the heart of the Sabbath,” invites listeners to follow sincere repentance of their sins during the sacrament with the sincere question, “Is there more?” She testifies that the Spirit responds to such sincere questions with clear direction. Similarly, Elder Lawrence, in a talk focused on the personalized counsel the Spirit can give, points to the sacrament as “a perfect time to ask, ‘What lack I yet?'” These talks thus invite Latter-day Saints to make Eucharistic worship the heart of our Sabbath observance. [Read more…]

#ldsconf: An Apostle Experiences Shabbat


Back in the late Jurassic when I was an undergrad at BYU, I remember reading an article about a religion professor who put on a Seder meal for some of his students. He gave specifically LDS interpretations of much of the symbolism, and at the time I recall thinking, “Oh, how cool, I wish I could have been there.” Not long after that, however, a letter to the editor appeared in the Daily Universe from a young Jewish woman who was upset that this symbolism was being given an interpretation foreign to that of her own religious tradition. I had to admit I simply hadn’t thought of it from that perspective, and I could understand why she was upset. This was long before I had heard of the concept of cultural appropriation in religion, but looking back on it I can see that was an example of this phenomenon. [Read more…]

#ldsconf: Pay attention.

As we said last April, we’re not going to be providing live tweeting or open threads. We will, however, provide in-depth analysis and historical context, as well as provide an opportunity to discuss the ideas raised during the talks. Why are we doing this? A few reasons, all linked to the notion that General Conference is a sacred time. [Read more…]

Review: “Not Just Good, But Beautiful: The Complementary Relationship Between Man and Woman”

Ecce Libro

In November 2014, religious leaders from around the world attended an interfaith colloquium sponsored and held in the Vatican entitled, The Complementarity of Man and Woman, or the Humanum Colloquium. The conference made headlines at the time for its ecumenical nature: Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, Evangelical Christians and even *gasp* Mormonism was represented. Now the main talks of Humanum have been assembled in a volume named after the title of Pope Francis’ address: Not Just Good, But Beautiful: The Complementary Relationship Between Man and Woman.

I highly recommend the book. [Read more…]

Your Sunday Brunch Special: How Might Mormons Reconcile Scriptural Scholarship with Inspiration?

It says Sunday, but obviously, Sunday is conference. And anyway, this, for whatever it may be worth, is best contemplated before that. Happy Conference!

The question of how faith and the scholarship of scripture interface is an old one, but it has a somewhat different meaning for Latter-day Saints. Partly this relates to the canon. For Mormons the canon is at least technically not closed. The rulebook may change. But another even more sensitive matter is the notion of consistency between revelations. It’s one thing to consider biblical inerrancy in the face of historic issues about text and theology. But since Joseph Smith’s publication of the Book of Mormon and his subsequent Bible revision work (1830-33), it has been apparent that Mormons are at least as sensitive to the charge of internal inconsistency as other Christians. They have even more at stake, and they are doubly vulnerable. Since Joseph Smith, Mormons have considered Christian liturgy and theology to be hidden within Old Testament times since Adam and Eve. Adam was baptized! The gospel has been the same for all time, and at least the elites of the Old Testament (Moses, Abraham) were actually Christians (not a unique position among Christians –1,600 years ago it was a way to marginalize Jews).
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I Have a Question: Will Lame Talk Intros Ever End?

Our semi-regular feature at BCC, in which we answer questions from our readers and then Rank stuff. Have a question you want us to answer? Send us an email!  We can’t do this column without you.  Actually, I guess we could.

You can drop three hymns from the hymnbook, and you can add three hymns in their place. Which do you drop/add and why?

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LDS.org updated the “Race and the Priesthood” gospel topic essay, and it’s still pretty great

It’s incredibly easy these days to update online content. It’s also relatively easy to compare updated content to older content, especially with the help of that magical “Way Back Machine.”1 (Check out lds.org in its original “Under Construction” phase, and its first full iteration. Pretty nifty but it needs more animated gifs.) When I was told the “Race and the Priesthood” essay on the Church’s excellent Gospel Topics section of the website was updated it only took a few minutes to make a comparison using that website and Microsoft Word. But before I continue let me say if you haven’t read the essay already, I urge you to read the whole thing rather than focusing on the parts that were updated merely to verify if they comport with your political, religious, or cultural sensibilities. Even if you have already read it, you might read it in full again because we could all use a refresher. So go here first: lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood.

I’ll wait for you, continuing when you get back. [Read more…]

Helping our Children Choose Bipedalism

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.”—Ephesians 5:15

In the wretched hive of scum and villainy that we call “the 21st century,” there is probably no issue that demands our attention more than the need to produce faithful bipeds. Perhaps nothing is as fundamentally human as the ability to walk on two legs, freeing up the arms and opposable thumbs for higher things, like grasping tools and folding in prayer. Those who advocate a quadrupedal lifestyle deny, not only what is most human in us, but also what is most divine, for we are made in the image of He who walked, and did not crawl, on the water. [Read more…]

At the Feet of Christ

We’re glad to feature another guest post by Ashley Mae Hoiland. See her first post here.

When I was in high school, I was compelled by internal forces to spend a good amount of time celebrating birthdays of people I hardly knew. I spent many nights baking cookies, painting small cards with notes and putting together assortments of birthday packages from treasures I found in my room. Like my mom, I remember dates and people very well, and I was astute in garnering birthday knowledge from kids across the social spectrum.

The only problem was that I would often get too shy to actually deliver the gifts in person, so I also spent a lot of time devising plans to leave the goods on desks before class, strung up to lockers and given through another friend. I was dogged in my efforts, despite the uncomfortable position it often put me in. A lot of these kids I didn’t know well: many of them were the social hang-ups, the kids who did not climb the rungs of high school sociality with ease. For some reason I still cannot fully explain, I felt responsible for helping them to know that someone was celebrating their birthday.

I laugh when I tell these stories now, but partly, I am entirely intent on returning to this place of intuition—this place where I did not question the absurdity of what the spirit compelled me to do, and because I didn’t question, my life was replete was quiet moments of connection and joy that would have otherwise not have happened. [Read more…]

‘The Heavens Are Opened’: The Church History Museum Re-Opens

Hyrum Smith's sunglasses. Groovy.

Hyrum Smith’s sunglasses. Groovy.

A little over a year ago, the Church History Museum shut down for renovations. The renovations were sorely needed; some exhibits were run down, the museum itself was a bit dated. Today the museum re-opened and the new exhibit, The Heavens Are Opened, is the centerpiece. It was worth the wait. The revamped Church History Museum is a very fine collection of materials and artifacts from our past, presented in a manner that is both engaging and spiritually uplifting. [Read more…]

Did You Watch Saturday Session? #ldsconf

I realized the other day that, until I went to BYU, I had probably never watched a Saturday session of Conference (other than Priesthood session).

The thing is, my parents were (and are) tremendously active and participatory in the Church. I can probably count the number of Sundays I missed as a kid on one—or at most, on two—hands. And two of those Sundays had me in the hospital after an appendectomy.

I mean, when I was really little, suburban San Diego didn’t get Conference over cable, so my parents would have had to have bundled the three, then four, of us over to the Stake Center. But even when the station that carried nothing 50 weekends out of the year started showing Conference on the other two, I don’t remember watching Saturday sessions.  [Read more…]

Uchtdorf at the Women’s Session: Something for Everyone #ldsconf

The silver fox is my animal spirit guide at General Conference.

Pres. Uchtdorf, aka the “Silver Fox” as he is known in my ward and probably everywhere else, hit yet another home run in the Women’s Session, batting clean up for the three female speakers.  He opens with:

Today, I too have a story to share. I invite you to listen with the Spirit. The Holy Ghost will help you to find the message for you in this parable.

He shares the story of an 11 year old girl named Eva who did not want to go to live with her Great-Aunt Rose.   [Read more…]

Bench Strength: Predicting the Next 3 Apostles

Clear President Monson’s calendar.

The recent passing of three apostles means the Church President will likely call three replacements this week, and depending on where they come from, he might just need to call replacements for the replacements as well.
Who will they be? I’m glad you asked.

Today’s guest post is by Ken C, husband to Angela C.

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Your Sunday Brunch Special: The Lord’s Prayer, Ancient and Modern, (part II).

I suspect that most Latter-day Saints do not know that Joseph Smith revealed a new Lord’s Prayer. No, not in the Inspired Version or Joseph Smith Translation, revision, of the Bible. This was a revelation, almost certainly connected to that biblical revision work, but separate from it, a New Prayer for the Last Times, much like the original prayer was a prayer for the last times. To catch the vision here, I’ll take the Mathean prayer and place it in parallel with this new prayer, that was dictated on October 30, 1831. The context of the prayer is important, and it serves as a kind of preface for foundational revelations of November 1831 that defined church polity and established a form of government that carried on through modern manifestations of Mormonism.
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Pope Francis is my Pope as a Mormon

image004Warner Woodworth is a BYU professor emeritus.

As a Latter-day Saint, I embrace my religion and the full, restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I sustain our leaders, especially our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. However, I also connect with Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church. On some occasions, I tell my Mormon friends we should pray for the pope, and I tell my Catholic friends that I support the pope, as well. Do you?

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I agree with Mike’s post — there are some things the Lord just leaves up to us to solve in our discretion. In other words, the Lord trusts us to make decisions (at least, some decisions – there are some where He deigns to give us His explicit direction). But I have a beef. [Read more…]

Matterething Not


I don’t have a lot of “favorite scriptures.” The occasional verses so designated generally become proof texts that end up trying to support whatever somebody happens to believe. In fact, I would be hard pressed to come up with a favorite verse in the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, or the Pearl of Great Price. But I do have a favorite scripture in the Doctrine & Covenants. Four of them, actually. They go like this: [Read more…]

JWHA Independence 2015

I really didn’t get a vacation this year. Work has just been too hectic, which is good in that it means I still have a job, but which makes it difficult to get away. I missed MHA, and also missed my usual early August trip to Utah. So I started to eyeball the John Whitmer Historical Association Conference in Independence as a way to help make up for all my hard work earlier in the year. Plus I have a new car (a Mazda 3–a thing of beauty) and I wanted to take it out on a road trip. So I made the arrangements, and here I am at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center in Independence, Missouri. I hope the Second Coming comes while I’m here so it will save me the trip. [Read more…]

Rules & Relationships

It is common for westerners in India to be amazed at the utter chaos and yet the seemingly laissez-faire attitude of the Indian drivers.  One of our Indian drivers remarked about the traffic:  “In India, nothing is impossible because I-M-Possible.”  He chortled over his cleverness, and repeated that saying many times in our nine day trip. [Read more…]

My family: a proclamation to the world

My Facebook feed tells me it’s the 20-year anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, so I thought it would be appropriate to write something about the family. I’ve been thinking a lot about the family lately. My family, I mean. (What family were you thinking of?) It’s been eighteen years and four months since Brother J and I started the family, and I guess this is as good a time as any to let you all know how it’s going.

The good:

Everyone is finally toilet trained. Which is pretty impressive, considering our youngest is only nine. (She was actually the prodigy of the family, fully trained both day and night at four and a half. We thought of having her tested for giftedness, but we were too busy enjoying our diaper-free lifestyle to get around to it.)

No one is pregnant. Especially not me.

Everyone is capable of sitting quietly in sacrament meeting. They don’t even need snacks. (Unless Tic Tacs count as snacks, in which case, screw you, at least it’s not an iPad.) In the event that one of them is incapable of sitting quietly in sacrament meeting, she is capable of removing herself to the foyer. Okay, sometimes I have to give her a little nudge. Or shove, if you will. But I don’t have to pick her up and carry her out anymore, which is awesome because although she’s short for her 17 years, she’s still way too big for me to lift. [Read more…]


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