Where Does It End? The Real Danger in Warren Smith’s Perspective

Dave noted yesterday at Times and Seasons the inherent incivility of journalist Warren Cole Smith’s recent dismissal in Patheos of Mormons’ eligibility for the office of President of the United States precisely because of their religion. I found Dave’s analysis cogent and important. My concern with WCS’s viewpoint runs deeper than whether he and those who share his views have simply departed from the bounds of civil discourse. [Read more...]

A Mormon Sermon for Reformation Sunday

Delivered in church on October 31, 2010*

By 1528 at the latest Martin Luther had written the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, number 68 in our hymn book, as a homily on Psalm 46. The words to this hymn always turn my thoughts to Luther’s experience in taking refuge in the mighty Wartburg fortress at Eisenach in the German principality of Thuringia in 1521. We can imagine Luther reflecting on his isolation while sequestered in that fortress, in disguise as a knight for his own protection, as he later penned the words. [Read more...]

An “Important Strengthening” of Religious Freedom: Temple Recommends in the European Court of Human Rights

Freedom of contract, religious autonomy and the Mormon temple recommend prevailed recently in The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)[1] as the Court rendered its judgment in the case of Obst v. Germany (application no. 425/03). More specifically, the ECHR found that Germany had not violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to respect for private and family life) when Germany’s highest court, the Federal Constitutional Court, had ultimately upheld Michael Obst’s 1993 dismissal without notice by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from his employment as Public Affairs Director for the Europe Area after he had confessed to committing adultery. [Read more...]

An Appeal to Mitt Romney for Republican Leadership on the Mosque Issue

Does the Park51 Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan (also known by the misnomer “Ground Zero Mosque”) present an opportunity for Mitt Romney to assume and evince leadership in the Republican Party, possibly even ousting populist Tea Party Anti-Federalist demagogues based on fundamental Federalist principles in the process? [Read more...]

A (Secular) Turkish Delight

Any general arguments against the safeguards provided to all religions by the maintenance of a secular public sphere should take into account whether it is better to live as a Christian in Saudi Arabia or Turkey. [Read more...]

Houston, We Have a Problem

Yesterday, in fulfillment of an assignment to teach the younger Young Men (a combined class of deacons and teachers), I incorporated 4 minutes and 5 seconds of precious material from The Empire Strikes Back into my lesson on “Self-Discipline”. Drawing from my own childhood/adolescence, I figured that nothing could drive home a point about the importance of developing self-discipline better than watching Luke’s Jedi Training on Dagobah and his Failure at the Cave. [Read more...]

Overheard Sunday At Church

Context: Britain is in the middle of an election in which the Prime Minister position is up for grabs. It’s a big deal — heady times. I overheard the following conversation between two active, faithful Church members immediately after Elders Quorum last Sunday while visiting a friend’s ward. [Read more...]

We Should Be Mormons

It is discouraging to see many Mormons in our day and age following some fundamentalist creedal Christians in taking an anti-science stance relating to organic evolution or other matters in which fundamentalist creedal Christians, based on their own unnecessary inferences from the Bible, have chosen to see faith at war with science. [Read more...]

A Mormon Liturgy for Fourth Advent

I recently left a note here about the “liturgy” that our ward routinely does in honor of Remembrance Sunday and which I look forward to every year. We also enjoy a uniquely Mormon liturgy on Fourth Advent to celebrate Christmas properly as one — as a “ward family”. Hopefully the word “liturgy” isn’t misleading here: make no mistake, the meetings still had the rough and tumble of low church Mormon practices (i.e. this wasn’t a ritualized sung Eucharist or anything, just a slightly different readings-based format to Sacrament Meeting channeling the inspiration received by the Bishop in contemplating the Christmas message for the ward). [Read more...]

A Mormon Liturgy for Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday is the second Sunday in November, the Sunday closest to Remembrance Day, which falls on November 11 every year. Each year my ward celebrates Remembrance Sunday with a peculiarly Mormon liturgy that is wonderful to experience. [Read more...]

Recession, Repression, Secession

Word is floating around the internet that, following a statement by Texas Governor Rick Perry after the Tax Day tea party held in Dallas, nearly half of Texas Republicans are in favor of Texas seceding from the United States of America. Is that patriotic? [Read more...]

Male Recession

In a couple of short articles that combine two major themes of recent BCC posts, employment for women and unemployment due to the current economic climate, the Financial Times is reporting that our economies are experiencing a “very male recession”. [Read more...]

Canonization of Kitsch

[Updated March 11, 2009*]

Look closely at what is visible in the background of the picture below. [Read more...]

When Your Religion is Considered Dangerous

Germany’s approach to minority religions makes me very uncomfortable. Word that Tom Cruise would star as Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg in Valkyrie caused a small scandal in Germany some time ago because of Cruise’s adherence to the religion of Scientology. The German government has taken particularly harsh steps against this minority religious group and initially made noise about not allowing filming at certain sites if Cruise depicted von Stauffenberg in the film. [Read more...]

“Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Or, Trinity Worshippers Claim Glenn Beck’s Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible.

Those who are familiar with the Bible will recognize the first part of the title of this post as a quote from the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as recorded in Matthew 5:44. Evangelical creedalists of most denominations would have people believe, however, that Mormons do not read and are not familiar with the Bible and thus are not acquainted with this teaching.

Mormons are praying for Evangelical creedalists. [Read more...]

Bushman on Spaulding

Have you heard of the Spaulding Theory? Historian Richard Bushman summarizes its life as follows: [Read more...]

A Thought from Ivanov

The money quote (for me) from Chekhov’s Ivanov* was “To you it’s all psychological and intellectual, to me it’s just bad behavior.” After suffering through Ivanov’s melancholy and mood swings the entire play (he laconically refers to himself as a “hand-me-down Hamlet”), this accusation of Ivanov by his friend Lebedev seemed to provide the audience an outlet for pent-up frustration resulting from witnessing Ivanov’s inner conflict. Any sense of righteous indignation elicited by Lebedev’s rebuke, however, is itself frustrated by Ivanov’s suicide only minutes later as his solution to his inner crisis. [Read more...]


The Federal Republic of Germany turns eighteen today — at least in its reunified form. On October 3, 1990 the official Reunification of a country divided for 45 years by what seemed an insurmountable geopolitical estrangement took place in Berlin, the besieged city at the very heart of the Cold War. The scene played out on the steps of the famous Reichstag building upon which the words in the title of this post are inscribed just below the pediment: DEM DEUTSCHEN VOLKE — “To the German people”. [Read more...]

Racist, Imperialist Christianity?

Randomly, out of the corner of my eye, I caught the word “Mormon” on the page of a book a commuter was reading in the subway train on my way to work. (It must be some kind of Mormon radar — I’ve this kind of experience many times before.) Although I don’t make a habit of reading over other people’s shoulders while commuting, I glanced up from my own book to take a closer look and caught the following sentence, which, likely due to its direct relevance to me and its shocking content, I was able to memorize immediately before he turned the page: [Read more...]

Historical Footnote: The Church’s Contemporaneous Explanation for its Opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment

The Church’s opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment (the ERA) in the 1970s and early 1980s periodically comes up in discussions of the Church’s involvement in political or social issues. For those of us who were in pre-school in 1980, the substantial paper insert contained in the March 1980 issue of the Ensign (posted below) is instructive about this episode in the history of the Church. I stumbled upon it while browsing through old Ensigns I came across at my ward building a couple of weeks ago and figure that many members have never seen it even though they might occasionally be confronted with questions about the Church’s involvement in opposing the ERA. [Read more...]

A Life Without Stimulants

From my observations, social gatherings in the professional world frequently — usually — consist of “drinks” after work at a local bar or pub. It is interesting to note that the modern interpretation of the Word of Wisdom prohibits Latter-day Saints from partaking of the precise substances that constitute the focus of such social gatherings in today’s society: alcohol, tobacco, and coffee/tea. In fact, people can often be observed using all three at such occasions and, at least in my observation, these substances themselves seem to be the central attraction of such social gatherings. [Read more...]

Desert Ranches in the News

Two ranches are featured in today’s U.S. headlines: [Read more...]

Battlefield Germany

Last month a potentially controversial essay appeared in Germany’s Die Welt newspaper that is both substantively interesting in its own right and informative about historians’ interpretation of facts and the historical record more generally. [Read more...]

Black and White and Gray All Over

Discussing loss of faith always proves to be controversial. Not only brazen statements about loss of faith, as we have seen recently, meet with no small degree of umbrage, but also much more muted attempts to explore the topic seem to provoke indignation even as to terminology used. [Read more...]

The Core of a Mormon Man

The assertion has been made in hundreds of media articles, blog posts, and comments to both that there was no core to Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate — that he seemed phony, plastic, robotic, and of course, that he seemed to have flip-flopped on issues. [Read more...]

Cain and Race

I still haven’t had the chance to see the new Beowulf but advertisements for the film and anticipation of seeing it eventually prompted me to use my daily commute to re-read the epic poem a couple of months ago. It was very rewarding. [Read more...]

Abortion Theology

john f. is a lawyer with an interest in literature, foreign languages, history, theory, and comparative religion. He has been blogging with his brother Jordan F. at a bird’s eye view since July of 2004 and has been commenting at By Common Consent for even longer. In ancient Bloggernacle history they were once described as “the most dangerous minds on the net” although they never quite figured out what this meant except they are pretty sure it wasn’t a compliment.

The anniversary of Roe v. Wade today falls within an election season that could conceivably threaten a fissure in the coalition that the Church seems to have formed in recent decades with Evangelical Christians on certain social issues, including abortion. Specifically, the vocal opposition of many Evangelical Christians to Mormonism and the faith of its adherents has found new outlets in the mainstream media because their view of Mormonism and its adherents now has some relevance on the national political stage as a result of Mitt Romney’s candidacy for the presidency. The increased intensity of Evangelical denunciations of Mormons has also given opportunity to reflect on the political positions of Evangelical Christians (and other creedal Christians) and, more specifically, why they take those positions. [Read more...]


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