New BoM Resources Tool

This is just a short note to make sure you are aware of a new BoM Study Aid assembled by Hales Swift and Neal Rappleye. I noticed that Julie gave it a thumb’s up in her GD lesson notes, so I took a look at it myself. [Read more…]


Recently a friend on Facebook told a story about a CPR class he attended. The instructor showed in detail how to do it, and a Mormon guy in the class sheepishly asked, “Uh, what if it’s a lady?” The instructor incredulously paused, and then said “I really don’t think she’ll mind, since you’re saving her life.” The Mormon dude seemed unconvinced. [Read more…]

The Need for Better Temple Prep

I have long been an advocate of the need for better temple preparation classes and materials. This is grounded in my experience actually teaching the temple prep course (the entire course in one instance; individual lessons by assignment in a couple of others.) [Read more…]

Notes on Apologetics

Over the last couple of days I’ve seen a number of comments around the Bloggernacle and on Facebook that reflect some fundamental misunderstandings of Mormon apologetics in general and FAIR in particular. (Such as a confusion of material on the Mormon Dialogue Board with FAIR, and such as attributing material from the FARMS Review to FAIR.) I thought it might be worthwhile in light of this kind of persistent misunderstanding to share my comments on apologetics from this past summer’s Sunstone Symposium. Kaimi organized a session on the topic, featuring him, me, Bridget Jack Jeffries and John Charles-Duffy. Below I have attempted to produce a rough transcript of my comments. At the end I have reproduced the questions, followed only by my own comments (not those of the other panelists). (To hear the entire session, you may order a download from Sunstone for under $3.00.) [Read more…]

GD Pedagogy

I’m about two years into my current stint as a Gospel Doctrine (GD) teacher. This is my fourth time around that particular merry-go-round. It’s a great calling, even if in the past I have tended to burn out at about the two-year and a half mark (largely from my practice of overprepping). But this time around I’m still feeling good about it, and I’m looking forward to the change in currculum year come January. Anyway, I thought it might be useful to start a discussion here about the practice of teaching GD class. [Read more…]

Elder Holland’s Opus: Do You Love Me?

Elder Holland has carved out a niche for himself as arguably giving the most powerful conference talks in recent years, a tradition into which his most recent address falls as well. This post is a summary of Elder Holland’s conference address from the Sunday morning session and is intended to spur a discussion of the talk. [Read more…]

JWHA Independence 2012

Yesterday I drove from Chicago down to Independence (about eight hours driving, ten with stops). The drive was lovely, except for when I almost killed myself because all the traffic in front of me for some unknown reason had all inexplicably stopped on the interstate, and I just barely managed to avoid creating a multi car pile up with my squealing brakes and two rapid lane changes. But I’m still alive to tell the tale. [Read more…]

Ben Witherington on Whether Mormons Are Christians

So, over at Patheos Ben Witherington has a blog post titled “Why Mormonism Is Not Christianity–The Issue of Christology,” which you may read here. I’m familiar with Witherington from his articles in Biblical Archaeology Review (I’m a subscriber), which I generally enjoy. But I suppose it should come as no surprise that I thought this blog post was weak sauce. [Read more…]

Liveblogging Rock Center

So Rock Center at 9:00 p.m. Central Time on NBC (check your local listings) is going to devote its program to the Mormons. As reported in the SLT, the program will cover the following: [Read more…]

Reflections of a Blogger

On WordPress, when you post on a blog, there is a screen that tells you how many blog posts you have published. I recently hit 400 posts here at BCC (I think this is 402). That didn’t really mean much to me until I did a little math. My first blog post here was published on January 24, 2006 (as you can see, the Bloggernacle was already pretty mature by the time I got in the game), which was approximately 6.5 years ago. That means I’ve averaged over 61 posts per year, or over 5 per month. Now, that’s nothing like what Ardis does at Keepa, but still I was kind of surprised at how prolific my blogging has been; I had had no idea I had posted quite that much. [Read more…]

BYU Campus Education Week Courses

As a public service, we here at BCC provide below a listing of some of the more popular courses at BYU Campus Education Week, which is going on right now. If we have missed any, please include them in the comments: [Read more…]

The Education of a Blogger

Today is my last full day in Utah as part of my vacation; I fly home in the morning. My son is off to a wedding, so left to my own devices, I wandered around City Creek for awhile (my first time there), and then decided to tour the Beehive House. I’ve been through that tour many times, but it has been years since my last time through. [Read more…]

Sunstone SLC 2012 Recap

I apologize for not liveblogging Sunstone this year. I was staying in my son’s apartment up near the capitol building, and I really didn’t want to be schlepping my laptop around. So now that it’s over but still fresh in people’s minds I thought I would post a retrospective on it and give others the opportunity to contribute their thoughts as well. [Read more…]


On Sunday I devoted the first part of my class to a sort of CSI procedural illustrating how scholars think through an issue such as trying to figure out what “Anti-Nephi-Lehies” (hereafter “ANLs”) means. I thought I’d jot my notes down here for convenient future reference. [Read more…]

MHA Calgary 2012 Open Thread

I thought I would go ahead and open this thread up, even if it’s a little early. My flight to Calgary is first thing tomorrow morning, and people will be filtering in throughout the day. The main hotel is the Hotel Alma, which is actually on the campus of the University of Calgary. The conference itself will take place at the MacEwan Conference Centre. [Read more…]

Review of Stephen Taysom, The Patheos Guide to Mormonism

Stephen Taysom, The Patheos Guide to Mormonism (Series Editor Kathleen Mulhern), available in e-book formats for $2.99. For details, see this website.

Remember when you were in high school, and you were assigned a five-page paper? Oh, how you struggled to reach that goal of five pages! If you got desperate enough, perhaps you played with fonts, margins and line spacing in an effort to cross the finish line with some hopefully-not-too-obvious space padding techniques made possible by the computer age. What a relief it was when you finally achieved the assigned length. Maybe you would even add an extra paragraph, so it wouldn’t look too obvious how much you were straining to get to five pages of text. [Read more…]

Fundamentalist Assumptions

This past Sunday I continued my occasional efforts at a small scale inoculation of the Saints in my GD class. (Recent forays into this have included discussion of the stone in the hat and the different sources for the First Vision.) I used Alma 7:10 as my entry point, which begins “And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers….” I asked the class where Jesus was born, and they said “Bethlehem.” So why does the BoM say Jerusalem? There were lots of comments along the lines of my own comment, that my son tells people in Utah he is from Chicago, whereas in fact he is from Hoffman Estates. But no one in Utah has heard of Hoffman Estates, but everyone knows Chicago. It has been over five centuries since Lehi and his family left Jerusalem, and Bethlehem would be a meaningless allusion to the people of that time and place, but Jerusalem figures prominently in their origin story (yes, the Lehites had an origin story, sort of like The Avengers!) and would have been meaningful to that particular audience. [Read more…]

Alma 36:9 Revisited

Note: I previously took a shot of making sense of an odd construction in Alma 36:9. Since that text is part of this coming Sunday’s GD lesson, I would like to take this opportunity to update that first, preliminary effort at making sense of it. Since that original post my views have changed somewhat. I hope you will find the below helpful in trying to parse the meaning of this verse.

Alma 36:9 reads as follows: “And he said unto me: If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God.” This phrasing is repeated with a minor variation two verses later. [Read more…]

Dinner Groups

When we bought the house we now live in back in the late 80s, we had to move into a different ward in our stake. I loved our old ward, but I also loved our new house, so the switch had to be done. I went into it with low expectations; I figured from experience that it would be at least six months, maybe more like a year, for us to begin to make friends and fit into the new ward. I had braced myself not to be disappointed and to take the long view of (eventual) inclusion into the fabric of the new ward. And yet, as it turned out, we began to mesh well with our new ward very quickly. The reason I believe was something the ward did called “dinner groups.” [Read more…]

The Rape of the Lamanite Women

Part of tomorrow’s GD lesson is Mosiah 20, which includes the story of the wicked Noachian priests and the stolen daughters of the Lamanites: [Read more…]

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I work in Chicago, and live in a northwest suburb of the City. So I’ve been following from afar the young basketball phenom Jabari Parker. It has been fun to read all the articles about the humble, serious-minded young man, excellent student, tight-knit family, with off the charts basketball skills. And oh yes, he’s black. And Mormon. Living on the south side of Chicago. He’s just an impressive, grounded young man. (And his mom Lola is hell on wheels!) [Read more…]

Die Boek van Mormon

On our BCC backlist, one of our permas asked whether the below meets the Snopes test.

“Die Boek van Mormon” By John M. Pontius

The account was originally posted by Pontius at his blog, but he has since taken the actual account down, although the comments remain. Therefore, I’m pasting here the account as given by Pontius: [Read more…]

Teaching the Stone in the Hat

As I prepared for today’s GD lesson on Mosiah 7-11, it dawned on me that Mosiah 8 might be a good occasion to teach the class the stone-in-the-hat methodology Joseph used in his translation of the BoM. As you’ll recall, King Limhi asks Ammon if he can translate languages, and he replies that he cannot. He then asks if he knows anyone that can, because he possesses the 24 Jaredite gold plates and he wants to learn the reasons for their destruction. Ammon tells him that the King of Zarahemla (IE Mosiah [2]) is a seer who possesses interpreters by which he can interpret languages. After further explanation, in v. 18 Ammon says “Thus God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles; therefore he becometh a great benefit to his fellow beings.” [Read more…]

How to Draw Closer to God

[The below is an approximation of a talk I gave in sacrament meeting today. It is only an approximation because I never wrote the text out but spoke from an outline. I was supposed to be the last speaker last week, but the second speaker took the whole time, so the bishop asked me to hold my talk for today, and he strategically scheduled me as the second speaker to assure I’d be able to get my 20 minutes in. I had some modules in reserve in case I needed to stretch, such as a section where I would have talked about LDS humanism and some insights on fasting and keeping the Sabbath holy I gleaned from Jana’s Flunking Sainthood, but I didn’t need those modules so they are not included below.] [Read more…]

Mormonism in a Nutshell (Notes for Mitt)

Everyone wants Mitt Romney to talk about Mormonism, and so far he has more or less refused. That is perhaps the wiser political course. But if it were me, I’m not so sure that I would be able to stay silent on the subject. The vacuum has left reporters with the idea that Mormonism is far removed from traditional Christianity and thoroughgoingly weird. It’s true that Mormonism is rife with theological heresy (from the perspective of most Christians), but virtually every idea percolating within it can be found somewhere within historic, traditional Christianity. So if it were me, I would have a little talk with those asking about my Mormonism, to try to help them place the faith in some context that they might understand, something like this: [Read more…]

The House of Il

I returned from my mission to Colorado in October of 1979. After working a couple of months to save some money, I returned to Provo in January 1980 to resume my education. That first semester I roomed with a friend from my freshman year. It was just a room in the basement of a tree streets house. There was no kitchen, just a minifridge and a hot plate. I basically lived on cereal, PBJs and hot dogs that semester. Near the end of the semester, I got engaged. [Read more…]

On Children Bearing Testimony

When I was on my mission, I had a companion who really hated it when young children bore testimony in the general fast and testimony meeting. I had never encountered that perspective before, but once he had articulated it I began to notice casual comments from a few general authorities here and there who shared his view. As I understand it, the idea is that testimony should reflect a genuine witness of the spirit, not rote memorized phrases such as the ubiquitous “I know my family loves me.” Testimony meeting is not the venue for children to go up and be cute and hear their voices project over the microphone. (I’m sure I’m not articulating the point of view well, so I invite others to express it more fully in the comments.) [Read more…]

Thinking Strategically about a Ban Disavowal

I’m a director in a couple of Mormon world-related not for profits. It’s a hard role; much harder than I expected it to be when I signed on for this service. You have to deal with different personalities, different perspectives, different agendas, all the while sublimating what might be your own preferences to the long term future good of the organization itself. The Quorum of the Twelve is in some sense analogous to a corporate board of directors, and the problems they face in governing a worldwide Church of over 14 million members must be absolutely staggering. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes and try to think through whether a disavowal of the ban is something we should advocate for the institution. I’ll start with some of my thoughts, but then I want you to put on your apostle’s cap and add to the discussion, trying to think from their perspective. [Read more…]

On Solo HTing a Single Woman

A post by Speckles over at FMH contained this paragraph that got me to reminiscing a bit: [Read more…]

About that Ensign Message You Give When HTing

The gold standard of home teaching of course includes giving the most recent 1P message from the Ensign to each family. If you don’t do that as a HTer, then, as the kids like to text, “ur doing it wrong.” But has it always been that way? [Read more…]


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