Matthew B. Brown: In Memoriam

Matt Brown died earlier today. He was, I believe, 46 years old. [Read more...]

Givens and Grow Book Signing Event

Spend an Evening with the Authors

We are excited to announce the arrival of Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism by Terryl L. Givens and Matthew J. Grow, published by Oxford University Press. We will have both authors at our store to speak about and sign their book on Friday, October 14. They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., speaking at 6:00, and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. [Read more...]

JWHA Nauvoo 2011 Open Thread

I left the house about 9:00 a.m. for my five-hour road trip to Nauvoo. It was a beautiful day and the drive was very pleasant, except for several work calls I had to take. (I won’t be able to totally relax until tomorrow night when I can forget about work for the rest of the weekend. But still, it wasn’t that bad.) [Read more...]

Matthew 22:30

About five years ago the Church flirted with a pilot program to put answers to about 50 challenging questions about the Church on its website. The issues were identified, and a couple of dozen respondents were assigned to write responses to two issues each. I was one such respondent, and I prepared a draft of my answers. [Read more...]

This Is My Doctrine

There are two circumstances that inform my (positive) opinion on Charles R. Harrell, “This is My Doctrine”: The Development of Mormon Theology (n.p.: Kofford Books, 2011). First, in 2001, James Patrick Holding (a pseudonym) published a slim volume, The Mormon Defenders: How Latter-day Saint Apologists Misinterpret the Bible (self-published, 2001). Kevin Graham organized a set of responses to Holding’s book, and I agreed to respond to Chapter 3, “Persons and Pre-Mortality: The Mormon Doctrine of Preexistence,” at 53-61, with related endnotes at 144-45. The result was my paper, “On Preexistence in the Bible.” I needed to understand the development of preexistence in Mormon thought in order to be able to effectively write my paper, and so I turned to two sources. One I was already familiar with: Blake Ostler, “The Idea of Pre-Existence in the Development of Mormon Thought,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15/1 (Spring 1982): 59-78, which was actually a student essay published in a volume devoted to such student work. The second was one I had not been familiar with before and was new to me: Charles R. Harrell, “The Development of the Doctrine of Preexistence, 1830-1844,” BYU Studies 28/2 (Spring 1988): 75-96. [Read more...]

The Seeker: Fasts lead Mormons to admire Ramadan tradition

As a practicing Mormon, I have a tremendous admiration for the fast undertaken by Muslims the world over during the holy month of Ramadan. [Read more...]

Saint Jana

My daughter, Emily, was the one who lured me into the Buffyverse. I was late to the party, but I made a deal with her. I would buy the DVDs of the various seasons as they came out, I would watch them, and then give them to her to keep. So that is how I ended up watching all seven seasons, and how she got a complete DVD collection of them. [Read more...]

It Gets Better

Last night I saw Captain America. I quite enjoyed it; I especially liked the semi-1940s period setting. One aspect of the film I could sort of relate to was the skinny kid who was transformed. [Read more...]

The Agency of Man

I taught the captioned lesson at Institute Wednesday night, to about a dozen or so young single adults. I was a guest instructor for that one evening in the Doctrines of the Church class, and my assigned topic was The Agency of Man. [I made a little joke telling the sisters that this lesson obviously didn't apply to them, then made sure everyone knew "Man" here was used in the generic, not gendered sense.] I thought I’d try to convey the gist of my lesson here for anyone interested. [Read more...]

The Seeker: Governors’ experience better measure than religion

According to a recent Gallup poll, 25% of Americans would be less likely to support a candidate for President of the United States who is Mormon. When I see that statistic, I have to ask myself, “Why?” [Read more...]

Sweet Nothings

I’ve been watching HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” One of the tribes that we follow is the Khaleesi, who are very primitive and earthy. Their Khal (leader) is Drogo, a huge, well-muscled man (the actor who plays him will be starring in the new Conan the Barbarian film later this year), and his wife is a petite blond from another tribe. One thing that struck me about their relationship is that they refer to each other with pet names. She calls him “My Sun and Stars,” and he calls her “Moon of My Life.” It’s very sweet, but totally unexpected in that setting. [Read more...]

The Seeker: Circumcision ban would be unconscionable

A San Francisco ballot initiative later this year proposes to criminalize the performance of circumcisions on male minors, with fines up to $1,000 and jail terms of up to one year. Even Russell Crowe has weighed in on the proposal via Twitter: “I love my Jewish friends, I love the apples and the honey and the funny little hats but stop cutting yr babies.” Such a proposal smacks of religious ignorance at best, if not outright anti-religious animus. [Read more...]

Harmonizing the Text with History

Tomorrow is stake conference, and then a week from tomorrow I’ll be teaching GD lesson 21, which is JS-M. I haven’t actually prepared the lesson yet, but in pulling some stuff together I noticed something that was new to me and which I thought was interesting. [Read more...]

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...]

Theopoiesis

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...]

Minnekirken

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...]

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