A peculiar people

Guest post from Hannah J. Welcome, Hannah!


In my first year of university I took a color film photography class where we were required to create a photo series. Every time I look at this series I made, I think about that element of childlike suburban peculiarity that exists within much of North American Mormon culture; carpeted walls and fake paintings, weddings taking place in basketball courts, and virginal 20-30 year olds playing games on a Friday night. [Read more…]

The Three-Hour Block, or, On Mormon Catechism

Karen Carter is a historian of French Catholicism. She has been teaching in the history department at BYU since 2006. From her office window she can see the hospital where she was born, but she has lived in other places besides Provo, including Orem, California, DC, and France. Her high score in bowling is 216, and she is currently studying confession and communion in rural parishes in eighteenth-century France.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Europe, both Catholic and Protestant churches began to use texts known as catechisms to educate their members in church doctrine. The catechism was a series of questions and answers that the believer memorized and repeated back to priest or pastor. Catechisms had originally been used to teach adult converts Christian doctrine before they were baptized, but the genre disappeared once infant baptism became the norm. With the religious upheaval caused by the Reformation, church leaders of all confessions became increasingly concerned that members know and understand church doctrine so the catechism became popular once again. Luther and Calvin both published catechisms, and many others appeared in the next several centuries.

Catechisms served as a test of orthodoxy. [Read more…]

A Map of the Bloggernacle

Casey returns with tales from his travels through the wasteland of the interwebz.


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Gospel Doctrine Lesson #9: “The Only True and Living Church”

Friend of BCC, Joe Spencer, has generously written this guest post as part of our Sunday school series. Joe blogs at the awesome ‘Feast upon the word‘ where they also post excellent lesson materials.

Notes, commentary, and questions for LDS Sunday School teachers using the ‘Doctrine & Covenants and Church History’ manual. Feel free to share your thoughts or ideas regarding the lesson in the comments.

It appears that it was D&C 42 that turned the saints’ attention to the possibility—perhaps the necessity—of publishing the revelations. Many early officers in the Church made handwritten copies of that revelation to use in going about their duties. When one of those early officers apostatized and gave his copy to a couple of newspapers to print as the “secret bylaws of the Mormonites,” the Church’s leadership had to ask whether they wanted to have more control over the circulation of God’s word to them. Plans were then made to establish a printing outfit in Zion, to issue a newspaper, and to begin to assemble the revelations thus far received into a volume to be called the “Book of Commandments.” The first revelation to come off the newly assembled press in Missouri was, however, not the Church’s authorized version of D&C 42, but the so-called “Articles and Covenants” of the Church, the revelation we know as D&C 20. [Read more…]

A Tribute To Marlin K. Jensen

BCC is pleased to have AnnE, longtime reader and friend of the blog, contribute guest posts. AnnE is an American Sign Language interpreter of over twenty years. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri seven years before the Extermination Order was repealed, and baptized by missionaries at twelve. She has since lived in Chicago, Northern Virginia, and now Salt Lake City to chance the leap from avid genealogist to lay historian, researching deafness and disability within the LDS Church.

I first fell for this man on Sunday May 29, 2005. I had wrangled a spot near the front of the chapel at the Joseph Smith Memorial during the MHA conference commemorating the Prophet’s 200th birthday, and found myself directly across from the new Church Historian. Seated alone on the stand, dutifully in position before the meeting was to begin, he appeared scared to death. Bless his heartóit was all I could do to not dash up and whisper something encouraging. [Read more…]

Mormons in Congress 2012–Final Results

The last of this series from Kay Atkinson King–many, many thanks to her for this excellent and informative series. It has definitely upped the information : uninformed blathering quotient around BCC!


Final Result:  Mormons in Congress Reach New High

We will not have a Mormon President of the United States in 2013, but when the Congress convenes on January 3 the largest number of Latter-day Saints ever to serve in the U. S. Congress will take their seats.  Seven of the one hundred members of the United States Senate and ten of the 440 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives will be Church members.  At the end of the current Congress, there were six Senators and nine Representatives. [Read more…]

Mormons in Congress 2012

Kay King on the hotly contested race for the 4th Congressional District in Utah:

4th Congressional District of Utah: The Hottest Mormon vs Mormon House Race

One of the most interesting and intense congressional races in the entire country in November 2012 involving LDS candidates is the 4th Congressional District in Utah (Soutwestern Salt Lake County, Utah County West of I-15, Nephi).  On one side is incumbent LDS Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT  2001-present) who is one of the most, if not the most, endangered Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He holds the most Republican district that is now represented by a Democrat (NYTimes: “2 Legislators on Tough Turf Try Delicate Run Down the Middle”).  Matheson’s Republican challenger is Mia Love, a novice,  a conservative Black Republican and a Mormon.  The national press has already identified this as one of the key congressional races to watch, and this is the most interesting and most highly contested House race involving an LDS candidate. [Read more…]

Mormons in Congress 2012

from guest Kay Atkinson King

House Races in Utah Districts 1, 2 and 3: Utah finally Gets its 4th Congressional Seat

Reapportionment and Redistricting in Utah

Between the federal census of 2000 and the census of 2010, the population of Utah increased by 23.8% to 2,763,885 people (Utah Economic and Business Review, 2011, No. 2).  This was enough to give the state a fourth representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.  In the reapportionment after the 2000 census, Utah fell 80 people short of getting its fourth representative in Congress.  Utah doggedly attempted to get its fourth representative first by challenging the reapportionment in court, arguing that the census failed to account for LDS missionaries who were residents but temporarily outside the state.  The state lost in Federal Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the lower court ruling.  Still determined, Utah filed another case, arguing that the method used to apportion representatives did not meet statutory and constitutional conditions.  Again the state was rebuffed by the Supreme Court (Wikipedia: 2000 United States Census; Utah v Evans [2002]).

Later in the decade, another effort was made to get a fourth seat in Congress.  When Democrats retook the House of Representatives after the 2006 election, legislation was introduced to grant the District of Columbia full voting representation in the House of Representatives, but without granting the District full statehood which would require full representation in the U.S. Senate.  That legislation was linked to a proposal to grant a fourth representative to the state of Utah by increasing the number of voting representatives in the House to 437 – one for Utah and one for the District of Columbia. [Read more…]

Mormons in Congress 2012–Part 8

Another in our series from guest Kay Atkinson King (with special appearance from BCC friend Chris Henrichsen!)

(8) House Races in Idaho and Wyoming


Idaho is the state second only to Utah in the percentage of Latter-day Saints who are residents, and it is third (after Utah and California) in the total number of LDS living in the state.  Because Mormons were a large portion of the state’s population and its largest religious group, but unlike Utah not large enough to have a majority to dominate the state’s politics, the relationship between Mormons and politics has been more difficult and complicated in Idaho.  Local non-Mormon political and business leaders in the territory and later the state feared LDS political dominance.  Local officials in Idaho worked to disenfranchise Mormons, and Church officials and members were subjected to serious discrimination there in the territorial era and that continued after Idaho became a state.  [Read more…]

The Significance of “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife”

BCC has smart friends! We’re happy to have some expert commentary from guest Taylor Petrey.

Taylor G. Petrey is an assistant professor of Religion at Kalamazoo College and director of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality program.  He received his ThD from Harvard Divinity School in 2010 in New Testament and Early Christianity and is a fellow at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.

On Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM major media outlets announced the publication and translation of a small fragment of a Coptic manuscript, provocatively titled by its translator “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.”  The manuscript represents the only ancient text in which Jesus refers to his “wife” in the first person.  In major media outlets the find is made relevant to the context of Catholic celibacy requirements for clergy, but the text is sure to be of interest to Latter-day Saints, some of whom have long theorized that Jesus may have been married. [Read more…]

Mormons in Congress 2012, Part 6

The latest from guest blogger Kay Atkinson King

Utah U.S. Senate Race

The Waning of Tea Party Influence?


Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT 1977-present) entered the Senate after defeating Senator Frank Moss (D-UT 1959-1977) by a 54% to 45% upset 36 years ago in the 1976 election.  Moss, who like Hatch is a member of the Church, was the last Democrat to represent Utah in the U.S. Senate.  In Hatch’s last four reelection efforts (1988, 1994, 2000, and 2006), the lowest vote he received was 62% in a three-way contest in 2006.

The 4th longest-serving U.S. Senator in the current Congress and the longest-serving Republican member of the Senate today, Hatch is only four years away from becoming the longest-serving Republican senator ever.  [Read more…]

Our Bickering Founding Fathers and their Messy, Imperfect, Inspired Constitution

Michael Austin is Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Professor of English at Newman University in Wichita Kansas. In the secular world, he is known as a scholar of eighteenth-century literature and of cognitive narrative theory. In the Mormon world, he has published several books and articles on the portrayal of Mormon themes and characters in mainstream American literature. His first book for a non-academic audience, That’s Not What They Meant: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America’s Right Wing will be released tomorrow (September 18th) from Prometheus Books.
[Read more…]

Mormons in Congress, Part 5

Another installment in our guest series from Kay King:

Nevada U.S. Senate Race

Mormons Battling on Opposite Sides

Nevada is the only state other than Utah ever to have two U.S. senators serving together both members of the Church.  LDS Senator Harry Reid (D-NV 1987 – present) has now served almost 16 years in the Senate.  He is currently the Senate Majority Leader, the most senior leadership position in the Senate and the highest office a Latter-day Saint elected official has held thus far.  Dean Heller (R-NV House of Representatives 2007-2011) was appointed by the Governor of Nevada to serve the remainder of the Senate term of Senator John Ensign (R-NV – 2001-2011) and not LDS, who resigned from the Senate on May 3, 2011.  Heller had previously announced his intention to run for Ensign’s senate seat in March 2011 when Ensign announced that he would not run for reelection (“Dean Heller announces run for Senate in Nevada,” Washington Post). [Read more…]

Mormons in Congress, Part 4

The latest in a series of guest posts from Kay Atkinson King.

(4) Arizona Primary Results – The Mormons Who Will Be in the General Election

On Tuesday August 28th, while the news media flitted between covering Mitt Romney’s coronation as the Republican candidate at the party’s National Convention in Tampa, Florida, and the relentless progress of Hurricane Isaac across the Gulf of Mexico making landfall on the Gulf Coast on the eve of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Arizona voters cast their ballots in the Democratic and Republican primary elections to select candidates for the November general election.  [Read more…]

Mormons in Congress, Part 3

The third in a series of guest posts from Kay Atkinson King. Many thanks, Kay!

U.S. House Races in Arizona

Another Mormon vs. Mormon Republican Primary

Redistricting and Reapportionment in 2012

The 2010 U.S. census required a reapportionment (reallocation) of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the states, and the 2012 congressional elections are the first to be held with the revised distribution of House seats.  Each state with more than one representative also must go through its own process of redrawing the congressional districts to assure that the districts are equal in population (Wikipedia has a good discussion of reapportionment and redistricting:  United States congressional apportionment; Redistricting).  (In the state of Arizona, for example, the new nine congressional districts – up one from the eight Arizona had after the 2000 census – barely differ in population from one another.  Eight of the districts have a population of 710, 224 and one district has a population of 710,225.  Arizona Final Congressional Districts – Population.)  These district boundaries will remain in place for the next ten years until the reapportionment and redistricting following the 2020 census.  Because incumbent members of Congress have an advantage in subsequent elections, the competition for House seats in 2012 is particularly intense, and enormous amounts of money and political effort are being poured into these congressional races. [Read more…]

A Response to Neylan McBaine

Neylan McBaine’s excellent presentation at the recent FAIR Conference inspired this response from guest Ben McGuire.

This presentation caught my attention because it covers issues we are dealing with in my home. My son was ordained a Deacon just this past Sunday. And my daughter has been questioning why he gets the priesthood and she doesn’t (and further why the boys do things in church that the girls don’t). How do I answer these questions? [Read more…]

Mormons in Congress 2012: Part II

Another guest post from Kay Atkinson King. Long, detailed, and fascinating! (Part I is here.)

 Arizona U.S. Senate Race: Mormon vs. Mormon in the Republican Primary

On August 27-30 Republicans from all over the United States will be focused on the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.  The convention is where the Republican Party will formally select its presidential and vice presidential candidates.  (There is little suspense about the presidential candidate, since Mitt Romney has it, though the formal designation takes place at the convention.  If past practice is a guide, Romney will not announce his vice presidential running mate until about the beginning of the convention, in order to create a bit of suspense and create greater press interest in the convention.)  [Read more…]

Finally the LDS Church receives full recognition in Italy, but is there a price to pay for full equality?

Laura Asioli joined the church at 8 years old in Pescara, Italy when naively seeking English lessons from American missionaries. She studied Law and Italian law LLB followed by a Competition laws LLM. She qualified as a financial services solicitor in 2010 and has since worked in house for a commercial bank in London. She is a mother of a 16 month old boy with another one on the way. She is counting down the days to her maternity leave in January! We are delighted to have her as our guest.

Less than 4 years from President Monson’s announcement that a Temple would be built in Rome, Italy’s President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano signed the ‘Intesa con lo Stato’, a document granting the LDS Church the same status as the Catholic Church in Italy. [Read more…]

“I am now informed that over five thousand desire to move from this Territory. . . .”

Polly Aird and William MacKinnon are both award winning authors in Mormon History. This post was pulled together between them to highlight an interesting never before published document.

William P. MacKinnon, in a recent review of Polly Aird’s book, Mormon Convert, Mormon Defector: A Scottish Immigrant in the American West, 1848-1861 (Arthur H. Clark Company, an imprint of the University of Oklahoma Press, 2009), brings to light a previously unknown 1858 letter from an army quartermaster to U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas about the number of Mormons wishing to leave Utah Territory but not having the means. [n1] Quoting from Bill’s review: [Read more…]

Mormons in Congress 2012

It turns out that Mitt Romney is not the only Mormon looking for real estate in Washington, DC. We’re delighted to have Kay Atkinson King at BCC, with a series of guest posts on Mormons holding and/or running for office this year.

Kay King worked on Capitol Hill for 26 years – first as a legislative aide to Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), as chief of staff to Congressman Richard N. Swett (D-NH), as Senior Advisor to the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and as Director of Interparliamentary Affairs for the House of Representatives, appointed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).  Kay received her B.A. from the University of Utah and her PhD from UCLA.  She is the coauthor of “Mormons in Congress, 1851-2000,” Journal of Mormon History, 26:2 (2000), pp. 1-50.

Mormons in Congress 2012:

(1)  Introduction

What are the Prospects for LDS Members in Congress?

Now that Mitt Romney has become the presumptive Republican candidate for President of the United States – the buzz word du jour is “Mormon Moment.”  Everyone is using the term.  [Read more…]

Eve Waits

I. Eve

Eve waits by the river, knowing her son will be there when the sun is high. She will call out to him. He will shake his head, or simply turn away. She wants him to look at her, eye to eye. If she had been there two minutes earlier, she could have stopped it. She had not imagined how deep the mischief could go. If she had been where she was supposed to be…

II. The Son

I called the police when I found the pot. Most of the paraphernalia was strange to me. A vase was not a vase, the police told me. It was a bong. The incense had been a cover for the scent I wouldn’t have recognized anyway. The little box was for measuring marijuana. Dealers used it. [Read more…]

First Chapter: S.P. Bailey’s Millstone City

Millstone City by S.P. Bailey is the latest title from Zarahemla Books. It’s a thriller about some Mormon missionaries in Brazil caught up in a murder investigation. It’s a great summer read, and it’s packed with Mormon lit goodness. Read Theric Jepson’s A Motley Vision review. Or read the first chapter:

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“Four Centuries of Mormon Stories” Writing and Art Contest

From now through September 17, Everyday Mormon Writer is soliciting submissions (and financial contributions to pump up the prize purse) for its “Four Centuries of Mormon Stories” Writing and Art Contest. Today, By Comment Consent presents you an exclusive interview with James Goldberg (and conducted by James Goldberg) about the historic (and futuristic!) new contest. [Read more…]

Learn to Like (IV)

More George Handley on Lowell Bennion:

Lessons from Doc: #4 Learn to like fields, trees, brooks, hiking, rowing, climbing hills.

This might have the appearance as one of the easiest, dare I say natural, aphorisms of Doc’s, since appreciation of this sort would appear easy to come by. I have never met a person who did not have at least a modicum of respect for natural beauty of some kind. So it is curious, then, that much rarer are those individuals whose attachment to beauty is deep enough to forge a lasting commitment to the health and wellbeing of their surroundings. I have said it before, but fierce affection for nature without due attention to its health and flourishing is akin to pornographic desire because it is more interested in gratification than service and sanctification. [Read more…]

Reason, Authority, and Ralph Hancock

TT is a blogger at www.faithpromotingrumor.com.  He recently posted “Five Questions for Ralph Hancock,” and the comment thread included a lengthy comment that we have asked his permission to re-post. Reading the thread at Faith Promoting Rumor will help provide the context for some of this, but readers who have been following the Brooks-Hancock chatter of late should be able to follow. (Related BCC posts can be found here.)

This post represents a response, of sorts, to the set of exchanges between Ralph Hancock and other LDS thinkers, most recently his apologia.   My post is not a defense of Joanna Brooks (though it uses her arguments as an example, in part, of some of the issues at stake), nor a treatise on any particular idea, but rather a discussion about how reasoning about LDS teachings might occur. 

Hancock appeals to both “authority” and “reason” in his attempt to depict certain ideas held by LDS intellectuals as incompatible with Mormonism, especially the equality of women and the acceptance of certain kinds of same-sex relationships.  I think that both claims to authority and reason need to be investigated, and suggest that both routes to establish a univocal Mormon framework to address to these questions face serious difficulties. [Read more…]

When Mama Breaks the Rules

This guest post comes to us from Chrysula Winegar. Chrysula is a mother, blogger and agitator for work life policy reform at WORK. LIFE. BALANCE. and maternal and child activism at When You Wake up a Mother. She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and MomsRising.org. Chrysula is passionate about mothers using their outside voices. She currently serves as a Primary teacher and Activity Day Leader in her ward.

I come from a culture where motherhood is revered, and where the narrative of sacrifice, patience and perfection in one’s mothering is both inspirational and overwhelming. On days like Mother’s Day, the weight of all that mothers are supposed to be can feel like a blessing and a burden. The talks and sermons at church are beautiful. The children’s singing has us all in tears. The flowers and chocolates are a delightful acknowledgement. The beautiful tributes and video clips everyone posts on Facebook, my own included, bring more tears and smiles.

And yet. [Read more…]

BCC, Meet R&P

A guest post from Max Mueller–JI blogger, Eccles Fellow, and a very, very smart Mormon watcher.

This past Sunday (April 29, 2012), Mitt Romney’s eldest son—and his doppelgangertweeted to his some 7,500 followers a snapshot of his father. An Anthony Weiner moment, it was not. But for the buttoned-up and famously reserved GOP’s presidential nominee, Tagg’s picture—“busting” the former Governor for surreptitiously checking his twitter feed during Sunday school at the Belmont, Massachusetts meetinghouse—was as an intimate snapshot of Mitt Romney as we might hoped to get. [Read more…]

Reaching the Isolated

Today’s Guest post currently hails  from Central Asia. Amira likes to plan impracticable road trips between Turpan and Isfahan, in addition to her real jobs of researching minority recipes and homeschooling.  She writes at The Golden Road to Samarqand.

One of the most common arguments I hear regarding why women don’t need the priesthood is that the priesthood cannot be used to benefit a priesthood holder since it is only used to bless others.  In my experience, this isn’t entirely true.  As I’ve lived overseas in very isolated areas of the Church, I have seen too many examples where women are unable to receive ordinances, do not have access to any leaders, and are excluded from Church administration.  When I write about isolated women or men, I’m talking about people who are not assigned to a ward/branch/group/twig/ whatever, or who are living very far away from their assigned unit.

A priesthood holder can take the sacrament no matter where he is on the planet.  I know a vulcanologist who blesses bread and water for himself when he does research on remote volcanoes.  Church leaders have talked about carrying supplies to administer the sacrament while they were in the military. [Read more…]

Not necessary for our salvation

Carl C. is a PhD student in systematic theology at the Catholic University of America, where he gets into arguments with Catholics a lot. This is more fun than his MA at Yale, where nobody wanted to argue very much because they were mostly liberal protestants and generally didn’t care enough about differences of doctrine. Okay, that’s not entirely true, but Carl does enjoy a good disagreement now and again. He hopes to have several of those while guest blogging at BCC.

One of the most frustrating things for me about the church culture in Sunday school is the phrase that I’ve heard cropping up more and more recently, and in multiple wards: “that’s not necessary for our salvation.” [Read more…]

Of life and death

Liz Johnson has returned and we thank her for another guest contribution.

I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately (I’m a really fun person to be around) and what it means to allow somebody to die versus prolonging a person’s life. My grandmother passed away a few years ago from complications of diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, and Alzheimer’s. Her battle with Alzheimer’s (and as a result, her process of dying) lasted several years, with her health taking a marked turn for the worse over the last six months of her life.

[Read more…]


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