No electronics, no food at sacrament meeting

I’m still waiting to see what happens now that we’re (allegedly) raising the Sabbath bar. –Rebecca J in her latest post

When I first started covering the blogs I would get questions every now and again about whether or not the church would ever come down against electronic-device usage at church. Would there be special scramblers so phones/tablets could not access the internet in church buildings. I’d pooh-pooh these questions, the church is smart enough to realize that forcing the members to not access electronics would be unneeded censorship and we believe the importance of teaching good principles but ultimately let the members govern themselves.

And the church has been on the forefront of providing amazing options/media for learning and growth to be accessed at church. Just last week, I loved showing the 5-year-olds who huddled around my phone two different versions of Jesus Christ talking about the importance of the sacrament.

Well I think that might change. Maybe. I just heard of a stake in Oregon who read a letter to their congregations that now forbids food and electronic device usage in sacrament meeting as an outgrowth of the sabbath day worship instruction coming down from the general leaders. And then I heard of another in Utah County. Ok, well this a local interpretation, you might say. Well to that I say, watch the next few minutes of the sabbath day worship instruction video here: [Read more…]

The Morning After

(ok, posted in the afternoon MST, but who could resist a title like that!)

A lot of wards/branches landed on the “Keeping the Law of Chastity” lesson yesterday in RS/PH and from online reports, it went interestingly.

So what did Sex Education for Mormon Adults look like in many wards?  Well via twitter….

[Read more…]

“Youth” and the BSA

VenturingCrewThe real news of “Church to Go Forward with Scouting Program” press release is that Young Women will be participating in the BSA Venturing Program. How do I know that? Because of this line: “As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country.”

And as we know, youth in the church = boys and girls. See here, here, here and you know, the big one: Strength of Youth.

Since the youth leadership arm of the BSA is the venturing program, which does accept boys and girls, it only makes sense.

[Read more…]

Changes to PEC coming?

Today I witnessed another significant moment – I received an invitation to participate as a member of the Missionary Executive Council. I am honored. This is one of three key councils of the Church, each led by members of the Twelve. Sister Linda Burton will now serve on the Priesthood and Family Executive Council and Sister Rosemary Wixom will be on the Temple and Family History Executive Council.

And with that President Oscarson’s Facebook announcement lit up the internet as news of this historic event spread. I’m delighted. Women’s voices as a permanent part of these general executive councils is obviously needed. Yay!


But my next question is this, does this open up the way from women becoming a permanent addition to the ward and stake priesthood executive committee that happen throughout the world? [Read more…]

Defining the Family

MinifigFamily01If you were asked in a church setting to define the family, how would you respond?

Probably you’d go to the Proclamation on the Family. It implies that the family is a husband and wife with children.

But in the 2016 Elder’s Quorum/Relief Society President curriculum, President Howard W. Hunter defines it a bit more broadly:

“In seeking after the welfare of individuals and families, it is important to remember that the basic unit of the Church is the family. However, in focusing on the family, we should remember that in the world in which we live families are not restricted to the traditional grouping of father, mother, and children. Families in the Church today also consist of [husbands and wives] without children, single parents with children, and single individuals living alone. … Each of these families must receive priesthood watch care. Often those which may need the most careful watch care are those families of the non-traditional structure. Caring and committed home teachers are needed in each home. None should be neglected.” [Read more…]

Not making fun of other religions

The newsroom just released (or re-released as I’ve seen parts of it before) a video “Explaining How Members Can Defend Their Religious Freedom.” As I was watching it, specifically the quote below, I became a bit uncomfortable:

Why? Well just a few months ago, in May 2015, Elder Robbins of the Seventy gave the CES Devotional. In it, he says this: [Read more…]

Defending Our Foundations

There's a sad story about a Nauvoo temple guard accidentally shooting someone. I hope that person didn't die, the record doesn't say. However, the "defend at all costs" mentality fits what I'm trying to get at here.

There’s a sad story about a Nauvoo temple guard accidentally shooting someone. I hope that person didn’t die, the record doesn’t say. However, the “defend at all costs” mentality fits what I’m trying to get at here.

There is a note at the front of the new Institute manual “Foundations of the Restoration” that says “Comments and corrections are appreciated.” I’m going to take that seriously here. There are some things to recommend this new Institute manual, namely the frequent use of the Gospel Topics Essays and the question “How can we improve what we say about women in the Church to reflect the true significance of their contributions?” within the Relief Society chapter.  And this good reminder after the question “What does it mean to you that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is  ‘the only true and living church’ on the earth? (Before students respond, you may  want to remind them that this doctrine is not intended to mean we should feel superior to others.)”

However there are a few things that stand out of which I will take umbrage. Besides the aforementioned Relief Society chapter, there is so little, too little, practically nothing that I saw wherein women were mentioned or quoted until page 39 (first mention of a woman by name is the infamous Mrs. Hubble story). And then after that, few and far between. Ironically, this manual does not take  that “how can we improve what we say about women” question seriously. This lack of women’s voices should not happen in a 2015 manual of the church.

But more to the point of this post. I found the framework of many of the chapters, especially the ones dealing with the more “controversial” aspects of church history to be roundly negative in tone. Almost like the writers felt like they needed to over-defend aspects of church history before bringing up the issue.

Our college students deserve so much better. This framework teaches them to be afraid of our church history in a brace-yourself-fashion that is not going to be helpful in the long run. Let me show you what I’m talking about with cherry-picked examples from the new manual (note: all bolding is directly from the manual):
[Read more…]

A new YW lesson on shaming/bullying

How do I stand up to shaming/bullying?

lindsShame is one of the most powerful emotions we learn as children. We pretty much all can remember times when we were embarrassed by something we did or said and another or others made fun of us. That hot feeling of shame can stay with us a lot longer than other emotions and can fester into feelings of low to no self-worth. When we see people being shamed publicly, that is a form of judging others, or bullying and we can, as President Ucthtorf has implored us, do what we can to “Stop It.” [Read more…]

Can members support same-sex marriage and remain in good standing?

Taking a cue from Doctrine and Covenants 6:28, I thought I’d pull together and transcribe some of the recent discussions about whether or not members can support same-sex marriage and still remain in good standing.

And, if you need it, here is a temple-recommend, wallet-sized printable that you may want to laminate for easy reference:


Now for the longer versions of the answer to the post title. [Read more…]

Charming sister missionaries

Sister missionaries need to be colorful and cute but can’t wear flower bras. Men respond to them anyway. #myozbituary

The #myozbituary is trending right now, a riff on the unfortunate wording of author Colleen McCullough’s obituary in The Australian which begins “COLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best-selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth. In one interview, she said: ‘I’ve never been into clothes or figure and the interesting thing is I never had any trouble attracting men.’”

Now what does this have to do with Mormons? Well also this week there was a ABCNews Nightline Interview with some sister missionaries in Florida. Titled “New Wave of Mormon Missionaries Is Young, Energetic and Female” the article and accompanying video spend what is, in my opinion, way too much time on what these young sister missionaries are wearing. [Read more…]

“Brethen, we welcome you to the General Priesthood Session” Priesthood Session

President Henry B. Eyring conducting.

Elder Paul E. Koelliker to give the opening prayer. If the prayer is any indication, this is going to be an extra priesthood-y priesthood session.

Elder Tom Perry followed by Elder Gerald Causee, and then Elder Randy Funk.

Elder Perry: tells story about how his Primary teacher encouraged the boys in her class to prepare for the priesthood. She also taught him the doctrine behind the Articles of Faith.

There is power in the simplicity of the doctrines found in the Articles of Faith. [Read more…]

The “Choir of Many Colors” Saturday Afternoon Session

When we say beaming it out to 97% of the church we mean it.

When we say beaming it out to 97% of the church we mean it.

[Read more…]

A new (but actually old) list of suggestions for increasing opportunity for women and girls in the Church


Look at that beautiful missionary choir! How about filling in some of the seats below them as well?

Quiz time!

When was the following suggested?

“Within the Church, changes in four key areas would create increased opportunity for women and girls:

1. Improve women’s access to decision-making forums.

—Examine meetings from which women presently are excluded. If women were to contribute, would it help the decision-making process? If so, open such meetings to women’s auxiliary heads or other relevant women leaders at the ward, stake and general levels of the Church.

—Within the corporate offices of the Church, employ more women in a greater variety of positions.

—Develop and emphasis leadership training skills for women so that they can more effectively participate in meetings.

2. Increase access to ward callings and duties. Several ward callings and offices have evolved into priesthood callings. Such callings should be reevaluated to determine if priesthood is a necessary prerequisite. Where it is not, women should serve in those offices equally with men. [Read more…]

I thought we didn’t choose Satan’s plan

Not_Even_Once_Certificate1 [Read more…]

Live-blogging the Special Broadcast: The Work of Salvation

Hopefully you are already at the stake center, on your way, or, like me, are comfortably lounging at home hoping the internet video link (found here) works great. Or you can click on over to Mormon Channel to see if it works via both video and radio as well.

Ok let’s see who wins the title of being the most prophetic about the “Changes to the Missionary Program.”

[Read more…]

Laying on of hands and other new church history website content

imagesI don’t know if you are following all the new releases on the JSP and Church History websites, but much of it is completely fascinating. For instance, did you see this story about “A Bit of Old String: Mary Whitmer’s Unheralded Contributions” by my favorite historian ever? Add it to your files about women in church history.

And then there’s this new entry  within the topic section of the Joseph Smith Papers site: [Read more…]

Another short post sparked by too many anonymous women already in our church history

With an article titled “Remembering Mothers: Stories from the Prophets” it would be nice if they remembered that these incredible, faithful women actually had names.*


[Read more…]

General Authority Speaks on Caring for the Earth

Guest post by Nathan Waite. Nate got his MA in American studies and environmental humanities at the University of Utah.  (Editor’s note: It is well worth reading the entire piece but as a bonus find a related Dialogue article by Craig D. Galli linked at the end).

Update: Watch Elder Nash’s full remarks here.

Photo by Alan Smith

Photo by Alan Smith. Any guesses as to location?

Elder Marcus B. Nash, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and assistant executive director of the Church History Department, today represented the LDS perspective on a panel titled, “Ecological Protection, Environmental Degradation—Perspectives of Faith.”  Also represented were evangelical Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. The panel was part of the Wallace Stegner Center’s annual symposium, being held at the University of Utah today and tomorrow. The symposium’s theme is “Religion, Faith, and the Environment.”

In a way this was not a groundbreaking talk; Elder Nash hewed closely to scripture and to the words of modern prophets. But I think that’s exactly why it is groundbreaking—he showed how a strong environmental strand is right there in Mormonism’s most basic, central theology. [Read more…]

Conference talks filled with love

Wordle provided by Connor Boyack  @

Wordle provided by Connor Boyack @

For my conference talk report, instead of focusing on just one talk, I decided to focus on an overarching connection in all of the talks. The first theme I tried worked wonderfully as it was mentioned in every talk and, in some cases, captured that talk’s pure essence quite beautifully.

The theme: Love.

[Read more…]

The “The Evils of the Dole” Saturday Afternoon Session


By common consent at

Let’s get ready for the releases and sustainings…

After the annual report, Elder Richard G. Scott is on deck.

We’re By Common Consenting as we speak! [Read more…]

The hope a woman prays post so Hannah Wheelright will rejoice Saturday morning session



And we’re off on the 183rd Annual General Conference.

Up first, President Monson, followed by President Packer.

Invocation by Elder Randall K. Bennent

After Packer, then Bishop Dean M. Davies, followed by Sister Elaine S. Dalton. [Read more…]

A moment of silence for the passing of a man and an office

Eldred G. SmithYesterday, emeritus church patriarch Eldred G. Smith passed away at 106. As Peggy explains “Eldred G. Smith, who served for 32 years as Mormonism’s ‘presiding patriarch,’ died Thursday evening in Salt Lake City. At 106, Smith was the faith’s oldest living and longest-serving LDS general authority.” [Read more…]

Gospel Doctrine Lesson #13: “This Generation Shall Have My Word through You”

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.

I sure wish chalkboards were linkable. Why? Because then I would begin with this modified Attention Activity*:

List some or all of the following subjects on the chalkboard before class begins.

Physical nature of the Godhead

Our creation in God’s image

Apostles and prophets

Melchizedek Priesthood

Aaronic Priesthood

Mode of baptism

The gift of the Holy Ghost

Premortal existence

Baptism for the dead


The three kingdoms of glory

Eternal marriage

Our potential to become like Heavenly Father

Invite a class member to erase from the chalkboard anything that has not been revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Help class members see that nothing can be erased from the chalkboard—that all of these truths were restored through the Prophet Joseph. Then pick any of the above to click into and discuss more in-depth using these helpful resources from By Common Consent.

Five hours later…

[Read more…]

Groundbreaking scriptural heading changes: Section 132 and Official Declaration 1

Another important* (enough to make its own post instead of just comment in my previous posts on the announcement or OD 2) change is the addition of the OD 1 Introduction and the changes to the heading of Section 132.

Again, nothing was written in way of introduction to OD 1 before. And the introduction now reads: “The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that monogamy is God’s standard for marriage unless He declares otherwise (see 2 Samuel 12:7-8 and Jacob 2:27, 30). Following a revelation to Joseph Smith, the practice of plural marriage was instituted among Church members in the early 1840s (see section 132). From the 1860s to the 1880s, the United States government passed laws to make this religious practice illegal. These laws were eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. After receiving revelation, President Wilford Woodruff issued the following Manifesto, which was accepted by the Church as authoritative and binding on October 6, 1890. This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.”

In regards to Section 132 the heading used to read: [Read more…]

Groundbreaking scriptural heading changes: Official Declaration 2

2013-02-28_20-48-47_158Not since 1981 (and maybe even before, I’ll let the textual/scriptural scholars determine the amount of change versus other scriptural compilations) have this many changes been made to our modern Mormon quad.

So needless to say (but I guess I need to say it anyway) it’s incredibly exciting.

The Joseph Smith Papers lists many of the heading adjustments here. And here is the scripture comparison (warning, at least for me it was a long download.)

And while there is a lot of new scriptural commentary to peruse, compare, and explore, I’m going to jump right to Official Declaration–2 as it still is Black History Month for a few more hours here.

The new version now begins: “Book of Mormon teaches that ‘all are alike unto God,’ including ‘black and white, bond and free, male and female’ (2 Nephi 26:33). [Read more…]

BREAKING NEWS: Church Releases New Edition of English Scriptures in Digital Formats

Church Releases New Edition of English Scriptures in Digital Formats

Go forth and explore.

[Read more…]

Taking off the tag

img1263835714I was in D.C. and NYC visiting friends and family this weekend and heard the following story, which I reprint by permission.

A longtime neighbor of the missionaries in one part of northern Europe was an apartment-ridden chain-smoker. She often invited the elders over for dinners and sometimes took the lessons. And the elders would help her get her groceries, including, at least for this young missionary, her tobacco.

And while he didn’t mind helping her out this way, he did feel bad enough about it to remove his missionary tag at the store. Then once the tobacco was safely hidden in the bag, he’d put his missionary tag back on.

[Read more…]

Gospel Doctrine Lesson #5: “This Is the Spirit of Revelation”

Robin Scott Jensen is an editor with the Joseph Smith Papers, working extensively on the Revelations and Translations series. As always, his work represented here is his alone and not representative of the church nor the JSP. He has posted with BCC before on his detailed work with the revelations. And even though he is a Sunday School instructor for the 16-17 year olds, the welcomed youth program put a kink in his planned D&C lectures, so he instead shares one with us today. -EmJen

Two remarkable points stand out to me when I think of Joseph Smith and his revelations: his willingness to share his prophetic responsibilities with others and the ever-evolving way in which he introduced new revelation to the Saints. These two points complement and inform one other and can shed light on our own understanding of what it means to receive revelation.

The revelations to Oliver Cowdery regarding the translation of the Book of Mormon have become more and more fascinating to me as I step back and try to understand what Joseph Smith was actually doing. A man less than thirty years old, with no formal education, claimed visions of an angel, the discovery of ancient plates, and their subsequent “translation.” And he promptly offered his scribe, whom he had known for less than a month, to share in this critically important and spiritual task. Oliver quickly learned what subsequent members would discover. Mormonism was a participatory religion. Joining Mormonism meant joining with full commitment—both temporarily and spiritually. This commitment stretched people beyond their comfort level. In the first revelation to Cowdery, dictated in April 1829, the Lord tells him that he had a gift. This was a gift that “cometh from above” and promised “great and marvelous” mysteries.[1] But there was more. Besides the gift of knowing mysteries, the Lord promises him another gift: “behold I grant unto you a gift if you desire of me, to translate even as my servant Joseph.” What an incredible statement. I would love to have heard a bit of the pre- or post-revelation conversation between Joseph and Oliver.

But it was not to be. The story is well known: Oliver attempted to translate, failed, and received an additional revelation instructing him in the necessity of doing more than simply asking. “Behold you have not understood, you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no though, save it was to ask me.”

But hang on. [Read more…]

The Basketball Parable

Once upon a time (January 11, 2013 to be exact) a man took a basketball in his hands, walked up to the half-court line, and to the roar of the admiring crowd took the shot worth $1000.00.

As one of our resident historians (Ben P.) lamented: “Seriously, I have spent five minutes googling every morning for the past few days trying to see if an explanation has been given yet. Surely there has to be, right? I mean, A BALL ISN’T SUPPOSED TO DO THAT!!!!”

[Read more…]

What does it mean to be Mormon?

“We just want to know what it means to be a Mormon, beyond the official name that we seem to come up against whenever we ask.”

So began my interview with an Italian news crew today in Salt Lake City for a few days hoping to get a glimpse of Mormonism. And when the reporter asked, I was honestly taken aback for a moment. What does it mean to be a Mormon? As the “I’m a Mormon” campaign illustrates, being a Mormon encompasses a whole gamut of activities, hobbies, interests.

But what of the faith? Of belief? [Read more…]


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