MHA St. George 2011 Open Thread

I just checked into my room here at the Hilton Garden Inn in St. George, which is the hotel closest to the Dixie Center, where the conference will be held. [Read more...]

The Seeker: Mormons don’t play the Judgment Day game

As reported in today’s Chicago Tribune, Harold Camping, an 89-year old Christian radio host in California, has popularized the idea that the Rapture will occur on May 21, 2011. Camping’s idea has gone viral; a Google search of the date turns up page after page of websites dedicated to this notion. My impression is that previous failures have pretty much cured Mormons from wanting to play this game. [Read more...]

The Prodigal Son and Jane Austen

Today we talked about the Parable of the Prodigal Son in GD class. I asked the class how the father’s estate would be divided between his two sons, and the first answer I heard was the one I was expecting: 50/50. That would be normal in our culture, and I offered that that is indeed what my will provides vis-a-vis my two children. But then I heard someone give the correct answer: 2/3 to the elder, 1/3 to the younger. This is due to the principle of primogeniture, under which the eldest son got a double portion of inheritance (the theory being that he also had a duty to care for the mother if still alive). [Read more...]


Caligula: I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night. Although I have taken the form of Gaius Caligula, I am all men as I am no man, and therefore I am . . . [softly] a god. [Read more...]

The Seeker: Bin Laden’s death elicits varied responses

The angst being expressed over whether it is proper for a Christian to celebrate the death of an enemy reminded me of a story from the Book of Mormon. [Read more...]

The Seeker: KJ Bible finds new life in Mormon Church

Beginning in 1604, 54 scholars labored for seven years under the sponsorship of King James I to produce a new translation of the Bible. While the influence of that text over the past 400 years is unquestioned, what is the place of that venerable old version in the actual life of the church today? [Read more...]


My daughter Emily ceased involvement with the LDS Church a long time ago, and hasn’t been involved with a church since. But over the last two months, that has changed. She and her boyfriend Gabe have started to attend Minnekirken, which is the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Chicago. From the church’s website: [Read more...]

Leave Them Sister-Wives Alone!

Now that Big Love is over with, I’ve started watching Sister-Wives on The Learning Channel. This is a show about a polygamous family: One husband, four wives, 16 kids. It’s actually very interesting and I’ve been enjoying the show. [Read more...]

The Seeker: Hell Hath No Fury

Rob Bell, a prominent evangelical pastor in Michigan, suggests that heaven may be universal, and that everyone has a place in heaven, whatever that may turn out to be, regardless of his deeds. [Read more...]

The Reciprocity Resolution

One of the significant memes from this past General Conference was a concern that so many of our people are not getting married. As usual, men just aren’t getting with the program and need to shape up and hop to it. [Read more...]

God So Loved the World

Easter Sunday. Maybe ten or so years ago, in the last ward I lived in before my current ward. We walk into the chapel and take our seats. I’m looking forward to the program; the Easter hymns we get to sing, special musical numbers, and talks on the Atonement and Resurrection maybe. The youth speaker gets up, and starts talking about tithing. As does the next speaker. And the concluding speaker. The whole sacrament meeting is devoted to the concept of tithing! Not so much as an Easter hymn. Closing prayer, on to Sunday School, totally business as usual. Utter disappointment.. [Read more...]

The Seeker: Mormon musical not necessarily negative

In the mid-90s, Trey Parker and Matt Stone created two cutout animation shorts, including one portraying a battle between Jesus and Santa that went viral. Shortly after that they began their irreverent Comedy Central cartoon “South Park,” which is still going strong after 14 years on the air. My children turned me onto the show, and I’ve been a casual fan for many years. And I’m still a fan even though Parker and Stone have created a Broadway musical poking fun at a book I believe to be sacred. [Read more...]

The Memoir of Elizabeth Lee

My daughter has been on a major family history jag recently, and she’s turning into quite a little genealogist (better than her old man, anyway). She just sent me a wonderful treasure: a 21-page single-space typescript manuscript containing the first person memoir of Elizabeth Lee, which she wrote in January 1931 in Columbia. She was the older sister of my great grandmother Alice Lee. (This Lee family is related in some fashion to Harold B. Lee, but I haven’t tried to figure out exactly how.) I thought it was a wonderful window into what it was like to grow up as a girl in Utah in the 19th century, so I’m going to share a few excerpts with you here. (If she were alive today I suspect she’d be a perma at FMH.) Enjoy! [Read more...]

A Textual History of the BoA

In college post-mish as I was studying biblical languages I gained an interest in the subject of textual criticism. I never had a class in it, but I remember spending a lot of time in the library reading about it, which I’ve followed up with additional readings since, such as Metzger, Aland, Ehrman, Wurthwein and Tov. Even then, as a young student, the thought occurred to me that someone needed to do this kind of work for our modern LDS scriptures. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one to have thoughts along these lines, as in recent years a great deal of text critical work has been done for our LDS scriptures. The gold standard is what Royal Skousen has done over the last two decades with the BoM. The JST now exists in a very large critical edition. The D&C isn’t there yet, but with the ongoing work of the JSPP it will get there. [Read more...]

Joseph and the Book of the Dead

The Egyptian Book of the Dead is a large body of writings, used from the New Kingdom to the Ptolemaic Period, that is meant to help one obtain a place in the afterlife among the gods. In July of 1835, Joseph and several others purchased a collection of Egyptian antiquities, including four mummies and a number of papyri. Joseph soon announced that among this papyri was a Book of Abraham, which he eventually would translate, publish in the Times and Seasons, which would be printed as part of the British Mission pamphlet A Pearl of Great Price, which would be canonized as scripture in 1880. Interest in the JS Papyri has focused on the papyri thought to relate in some way to the Abraham text, namely the Hor Book of Breathings and the Sheshonq Hypocephalus. But this little collection also included three Ptolemaic era copies of the Book of the Dead. The most extensive fragments are from a Book of the Dead belonging to someone named Tshemmin; one fragment belonged to a woman named Neferirnub. (The third Book of the Dead belonged to someone named Amenhotep, but has not survived.) [Read more...]

Proposal Stories

Mormon culture, especially of the Wasatch Front variety, is big on creative dating. There has been a lot of discussion of whether this is a good thing, but that there is pressure for bringing creativity to the dating enterprise among at least some groups of Mormon young people seems clear. [Read more...]

On the Name “Jimmer”

Matt B.’s excellent post requires, I believe, a footnote on the name “Jimmer.” Inasmuch as that proper name has now invaded the lexicon, being used as noun, verb, adjective and even adverb, surely interested persons are going to come looking here, in the Mormon blogosphere, for a lexical treatment of the word. [Read more...]

Big Love Report

So I’m watching the end of the Jets v. Steelers game last night, and it’s about 8:50 p.m., when I realize I’ve missed the second episode in Big Love’s new and final season. But then it dawns on me that HBO repeats the new episodes immediately at 9:00 p.m., so I was able to watch it. (The first episode last week was mainly about all the blowback the family experienced after Bill publicly admitted to being a polygamist.) There were four aspects to this episode that I found particularly interesting, which I wanted to highlight here. (Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen the episode yet and is still planning on it.) Also, please note that my characterization is based on my hazy memory, I don’t have a transcript to consult or anything like that. [Read more...]

The Seeker: Ethic of Civility Found in Scripture

The recent tragedy in Arizona, in which Jared Lee Loughner attempted to kill Representative Gabrielle Giffords, leaving six dead and 14 wounded, has led to a national conversation about the place of civility in our nation’s public discourse. Much discussion has centered on attempts to implicate our toxic political environment as a cause, balanced by reciprocal attempts to exonerate those who have used violent language and imagery in the public square. At this point it seems clear that Loughner suffers from mental illness; whether political ranting served as a trigger for his actions is simply not known at this time. But quite apart from questions of causation, having this conversation at all is, I think, a very worthwhile thing. [Read more...]

All About Law School

A recent article in the New York Times, Is Law School a Losing Game?, has been making the rounds lately. Since we have a surfeit of lawyers in the Bloggernacle, I thought it might be a public service for us to talk about our experiences with law school for the benefit of our readers. I’ll roll the ball out to get us started: [Read more...]

A Poem for the Birth of My Daughter

I came home off of my mission in mid-October 1979, and ended my missionary journal at that time. I tried to keep up my journal writing habit, and so kept writing on looseleaf paper until I could get a new bound journal to use. This journal runs from 11/18/79 to a final entry of 1/1/91. I lost this journal a long time ago, but my wife just now found it in our hall storage space, so I’ve been enjoying rereading it. [Read more...]

NT Intro

Here are some of the things I hope will come out of our class discussion this Sunday as we introduce the New Testament. (For those offended by my sense of liberality in how I use (or not) the manual, this is in essence my elaboration of item 1 under “Additional Teaching Ideas” for Lesson No. 1.) [Read more...]

Intertestamental Period

I’m planning to wrap up the OT and cover a little bit of the intertestamental period in GD Sunday, with the intention of setting the table for our 2011 NT curriculum year starting the following week. I’ve been busy, first with work and now celebrating the holiday with family, so I thought I’d take a moment and jot down some thoughts about the gist of some of the things I hope will come out of the lesson in two days. [Read more...]

When Was Jesus Born?

I taught the captioned lesson in Gospel Doctrine today (with Artemis in attendance!), and it went very well. I’m sharing my notes with my Bloggernacle friends as a little early Christmas gift. Enjoy! [Read more...]

Service on Steroids

For years I would receive family letters and see that my cousin Eve’s husband, Dwayne Matheson, was once again taking one or two of their daughters to Guatemala on a service trip. He’s in construction and has the time to do that sort of thing in the winters, and he has made it a point to bring his older girls along with him. Their oldest child, Aimee, a senior at Clearfield High School, has been there four times, most recently going alone over her last spring break and working in the only existing child care center in Quetzaltenango. I have been so impressed by that commitment to service, and have thought what a wonderful experience that must be for their girls. [Read more...]

The “Nones”

A friend shared with me this article from Christianity Today, Drew Dyck, “The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church” (November 19, 2010), which has the tagline More than in previous generations, 20- and 30- somethings are abandoning the faith. Why? The title to this post derives from the large number of young people who grew up Christian, but now check “none” on surveys related to religion. [Read more...]

A Woman Shall Compass a Man

When you teach GD and have to prepare a new lesson every week, you start to notice little things in the scriptures that have eluded you in the past. I confess that I’ve never focused on Jeremiah 31:22, which in the KJV reads as follows: [Read more...]

Sneak Peek at the New Handbook

This Saturday the Church’s new handbook is going to be unveiled in special training meetings beamed to stakes all over the place. Boxes of the new handbooks are sitting right now deep in the bowels of your stake center. Someone in Church distribution, apparently on the theory that BCC is an administrative unit of the Church, actually sent a box of the new handbooks to the BCC offices. While regular Church officers are sworn to secrecy, I don’t remember anyone putting the cone of silence over our little group. So we’re going to go ahead and let you in on some of the changes you’ll find in the pages of the new handbook. To wit: [Read more...]

Pressure Points along the Journey

Yesterday I was talking to a fellow ward member on the train coming home from the City. Our conversation got me to thinking about times in my life when it would have been easy for me to cease engagement with the Church. Most of my siblings and both of my children have gone that route, and it easily could have happened to me as well. But at critical junctures in my life certain things have come together in a way that has allowed me to remain a faithful, believing Saint. I thought I would try to catalog some of the circumstances that have conspired karma-like to keep me within the fold. [Read more...]

A Scandalous Baptism

To set the stage, I’m going to quote a number of relevant entries from my mission journal. These entries are from my time in Grand Junction, Colorado, in 1978. I have changed all names: [Read more...]


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