An Embarrassment of Riches

This weekend promises lots and lots of geeky Mormon goodness. If you’re in Provo, join the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities for their annual conference, featuring keynote speakers David Loy and Elliot Wolfson, and lots of beloved bloggers from BCC and other (only slightly less loveable) ‘nacle haunts.

Meanwhile, back at the Claremont Graduate School, [Read more...]

Coming Attractions

The Department of Religion at Claremont Graduate University presents “Beyond the Mormon Moment: Directions for Mormon Studies in the New Century”, a conference in honor of the work of Armand L. Mauss. The lineup of speakers looks outstanding–Jana Riess, Claudia & Richard Bushman, Mike McBride (aka Mr. ExponentIICaroline), JI types Paul Reeve and Max Mueller, Molly Bennion, Patrick Mason, Wilfried Decoo and Walter Van Beek.

Go!!

Why I’d Like to Hear a Woman Pray in Conference

It’s because every time I’m on a plane, and the captain’s voice on the intercom is female, I get a little teary. I’ve never wanted to be a pilot, and it really doesn’t make any practical difference whether a man or a woman lands the plane safely. I have no eloquent or reasoned argument to explain my emotion. But it matters. It. Just. Does.

I want my daughter to know girls can fly.

Hodie

…Christus natus est!

Hodie Salvator apparuit:
Hodie in terra canunt Angeli,
laetantur Archangeli
Hodie exsultant justi, dicentes:
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Alleluia.

Palestrina, Sweelinck, Poulenc, Vaughan Williams, Willan, Whitbourne, Britten (plainchant) [Read more...]

Christmas Eve

The Oxen
–Thomas Hardy
Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then. [Read more...]

More Music for Advent

Music for Advent

Sorry I’ve been such a slacker this year. Here’s a nice long piece to make up for a few days, at least. I love Hugo Distler‘s choral music. I wish he had lived long enough to write more, but I also love listening to his Christmas music with its long shadows, too–the light shines in darkness.

Die Weihnachtsgeschichte

Music for Mourning

And this. And this. And this. And Brahms.

Music for Advent

O Radix Jesse

Contemporary(ish) settings by Willan, Miškinis

Text: [Read more...]

Music for Advent III

I heard Chanticleer sing this last night. I can die happy now.

Music for Advent II

Gabriel’s Message

King’s College

Good Shepherd Band

Karen Grignon (I kind of love this, even though it’s a bit of a mess)

Music for Advent

For the first Sunday in Advent–three settings of O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Kodály

Robert Shaw

Choir of Clare College Cambridge (with some rarely sung verses)

From the Archives: Weeping, Singing, Remembering–A November Homily

This is from 2005–an epoch ago, in blog time, so perhaps some of you won’t be bored to tears by it. Wishing you all a wonderful day and season!

Weeping, Singing, Remembering–A November Homily

November is an odd month–hard to say whether it’s the end of autumn, or the beginning of winter. This year I think we’ve even had a few days of spring. It doesn’t fit easily in the American cultural calendar, either–the somewhat belated harvest festival at the end of it seems to be mostly an impediment to full-out marketing of Christmas merchandise beginning right after Halloween and a decorating dilemma: no one can decide whether to stay with the gold and orange-tones of autumn, or go straight to red and green. And then smack in the middle of the month is Veteran’s Day, suggesting red, white and blue accents perhaps. [Read more...]

Mormons in Congress 2012, Part 7

More timely and trenchant analysis from Kay King:

 U.S. House Races in California and American Samoa

One Less Mormon in California

California has more Latter-day Saints than any American state except Utah.  Numerically twice as many Church members live in California than live in Idaho, and Church statistics give the number of California Mormons as nearly 800,000.  Since California is the most populous state in the nation with well over 37 million inhabitants, however, Latter-day Saints make up only about 2% of the state’s population, which makes California about as Mormon as the average for the United States as a whole.

California has 53 House members – the largest of any state; Texas with a distant 30 will have the second largest number next year; New York and Florida will be tied for third with 27; and Illinois will be fifth with 18.

Currently two California congressmen are Church members, and since the early 1950s there have been Mormons in the California congressional delegation.  [Read more...]

Learn to Like (IX)

#10 is here. Read it!

#9 Learn to like the sunrise and sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, and the gentle fall of snow on a winter day.

Finally! An easy one–I like sunsets and sunrises and I adore the sound of rain on the roof. In fact, it occasionally makes me weepy with joy. (Even more occasionally, it makes me want to go outside and dance around naked. Ahem.) Indeed, these all seem so eminently likeable, I can’t imagine anyone needing to learn to like them. I am a bit of a pagan, deep down, under the veneer of Mormonism and the soul-patina of an Anglican chorister, and it’s easier for me to find my way to the Creator through creation than almost any other way. [Read more...]

Testament of Freedom

The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them.

—Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774)

Learn to Like (VIII)

George Handley on Lowell Bennion’s 8th Commandment: Learn to like gardening, puttering around the house, and fixing things.

Learn to Like (VII)

#7 Learn to like the song of birds, the companionship of dogs.

At the risk of continuing to paint an exceedingly unattractively misanthropic and cranky picture of myself, I must confess that this picture is a lie. I don’t actually like our dog this much. She’s a divorce-guilt dog, and a capitulation to my animal-adoring daughter, who asked literally every day for 5 years if she could pleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaase have a dog. To the dog (hopefully not to the daughter!) I’m like the wire mommy in those awful monkey experiments–I provide food, water, and occasional walks, but very little sincere affection or cuddliness. [Read more...]

Learn to Like (VI)

More Lowell Bennion, more George Handley, a little Adam Miller… an embarrassment of riches.

Learn to Like (V)

I have, alas, neither gorgeous prose nor profound insight to offer in my consideration of the 5th of Lowell Bennion’s aphorisms: “Learn to like people even though they may be different… different from you.” So I’m hoping you’ll all learn to like my writing even though it’s different from George’s.

Liking people is hard for me. I love a great many people, but I mostly like to admire them from afar. I’m tempted to prefer the company of books to the company of people, and to selfishly hoard my solitary pleasure in the out of doors instead of sharing nature’s wonders with a friend. Often, this is because I feel shy and inadequate around most people–practically everyone is smarter or prettier or more talented or kinder or richer or more athletic or more __________ (fill in any of a thousand positive attributes) than I am. (Although it has to be said that not all that many people have better shoes ;)). But sometimes–shamefully often, in fact–it’s because learning to like someone requires a particular kind of effort that is less pleasurable for me than, say, the effort of keeping all the characters in War and Peace straight. [Read more...]

Father’s Day Hymn

I hope you all got to sing Hymn #296 today–it’s an absolutely perfect Father’s Day text. Listen here or here (start at 3:35).

1. Our Father, by whose name all fatherhood is known,
Who dost in love proclaim each family thine own,
Bless thou all parents, guarding well,
With constant love as sentinel,
The homes in which thy people dwell. [Read more...]

Learn to Like (III)

George’s third installment is up at Home Waters. Go read and comment there–it’s great!

Learn to Like (II)

The second of George’s meditations on Lowell Bennion’s guide, and my response.

#2 “Learn to like reading, conversation, music”

The underlying principle of Doc’s aphorisms seems to be that it matters a great deal how we spend our time and where our deepest affections lie. This matters not only to our character but to the communities, large and small, of which we are a part. As I suggested in my previous post, this is in part because how we spend our time also tends to determine how we spend our money and resources, that is, how we consume. The activities listed here—reading, engaging in conversation, and listening to or performing music—have in common the fact that they involve communing, even when done in solitude. Moreover, arguably they are not, at least not by definition, pricey or complicated activities. In ideal practice, they are activities in which we connect to a larger community or otherwise broaden our sense of the world. [Read more...]

Learn to Like… A Series on Lowell Bennion’s Desiderata

Reading George Handley’s wonderful tribute to Lowell Bennion, I thought it would be great to spend a little more time with Bennion’s thought. I proposed a series of posts, looking at each line of Bennion’s “learn to like…” guide to life. Here’s George’s first installment (cross-posted at Home Waters).


Lessons from Doc: #1 “Learn to Like What Doesn’t Cost Much”

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6: 6-8).

Price, of course, is not always a reflection of quality, as I have sadly learned in this economy of increasingly poorly made products. We live in an economy that thrives on obsolescence, so durability is arguably at least one reason to buy what may cost more. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Lowell Bennion (“Doc”) used to say that we should evaluate things according to three principles: Is it well made? Is it functional? Is it beautiful? But when he urges us to learn to like what doesn’t cost much, he seems to be underscoring the importance of practicing the principle of self-restraint. [Read more...]

Dialogue Annual Awards

Dialogue is happy to announce its Best of 2011 Awards.

For best Article: Taylor Petrey,“Toward a Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology”–Winter
For Fiction: David G. Pace, “American Trinity”–Summer
For Poetry: Anna Taylor Lewis, “Dishes”–Fall, Matt Nagel, “Blessing My Son”–Fall, Paul Swenson, “Marginalia”–Spring
For Personal Voices: Scott Davis, “The Fabulous Jesus: A Heresy of Reconciliation”–Fall
and for “From the Pulpit”: Paul Reeve “That the Glory of God Might be Manifest”–Spring [Read more...]

To See Face to Face

Once upon a time, I was a college student in need of a job. The Massachusetts Association for the Blind needed aides in its residential school for children with multiple handicaps. With visions of Anne Sullivan dancing in my head, I went for an interview. The director checked to see that I had a pulse, then hired me.

I worked the 3-11 shift, in the highest-functioning class. None of the kids spoke, although a few had a little bit of sign language–10 or 15 words, at most. One of the boys, Kevin, had a chart with pictures and could communicate maybe 100 words by pointing. All of them behaved in strange and off-putting ways–lots of peculiar vocalizations, rocking and other kinds of self-stimulating, hair twirling and pulling, constant masturbation, sketchy toileting habits, and “self-feeding skills” that made every meal its own little apocalypse. One girl anxiously gulped air all day long, so that by the end of every day her stomach was as distended as that of a woman many months pregnant. All of them had been essentially abandoned by their parents, although two or three mothers still came to visit every few weeks or months–as often as they could bear it, I think. The whole building reeked of urine and despair. [Read more...]

Upcoming Conferences

It’s May! It’s May! But that need not turn us all into Lerner and Lowe-whistling ninnies. Intellectual delights abound:

May 18-19: “Economies and Humanities,” sponsored by Mormon Scholars in the Humanities at Southern Virginia University, featuring too many bloggernacle luminaries to name and the omnipresent Jim Faulconer (I’ve heard that some scholars speculate he might be the Holy Ghost)

May 23: An SMPT-sponsored conference on B.H. Roberts’s Seventy’s Course in Theology with Kent Robson, Grant Underwood, Jim Faulconer, and Blake Ostler

and, because no amount of Jim F. could ever be too much,

May 27-28: Wide-ranging discussions of religion and politics, sponsored by the John Adams Center, at Duck Beach, NC. Speakers include Nate Oman, Ben Huff, Terryl Givens, James Ceasar (UVA Professor of Politics, Senior Fellow at Hoover Institution), Jim Faulconer, Ralph Hancock and Brant Bishop [Read more...]

Another Mother’s Day Talk PSA

Not everyone can give this talk–among other things, not many people can get away with a Larry Summers joke–but I think it is a wonderful example of a talk that is about Jesus and mothers, in their proper order. (And about Indonesian cross-dressing beauty queens…)

What I Learned at Stake Conference

We need to revise the last verse of “Come, O Thou King of Kings.” “Chosen race” and “heathen nations” just don’t work in 2012.

Discuss.

The Ordinary Means of Grace

“…The sure and general rule for all who groan for the salvation of God is this, — whenever opportunity serves, use all the means which God has ordained; for who knows in which God will meet thee with the grace that bringeth salvation?” (John Wesley, Sermon 16)

I just finished a Holy Week full of singing the Anglican music that makes me wonder sometimes if it’s just a cruel joke that I wasn’t born a couple of centuries ago in England. The Great Vigil of Easter is full of holy joy–it makes the salvific history of Christianity vivid to me in ways that no Mormon liturgy does (yet…). I thought, last night, as we rang bells and sang and shouted “He is risen–alleluia, alleluia” over and over again, that Easter had come, that my cup was full, that I could not dare ask for more sweetness. But God promises not just a full measure of grace and joy, but “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.” [Read more...]

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