FHE @ Casa RJH

  • Read a “Food Rule”: #37 – “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.” [Read more...]

Jesus = Everyman

In assembly yesterday I talked about how we can learn from Israeli grandmothers and treat others how we would wish to be treated. The Golden Rule is an ethical universal but so very difficult to do.

I want to take this idea further. Listen to this strange tale from the New Testament (Luke 24: 13-16): [Read more...]

Yom Kippur

On Saturday, Jews across the world celebrated the high holiday of Yom Kippur. Known in English as the Day of Atonement, Jews fast and pray on Yom Kippur as an atonement — or penance — for the previous year’s sins and misdeeds. [Read more...]

On these three things hangs my testimony

Mormon testimonies tend to be small-t trinitarian:

1. I know that God lives.

2. I know that Jesus is the Christ.

3. I know that the Church is true. [Read more...]

Collapsing the sacred distance between man and man

A few months ago my family visited Picardy in northern France. From the cathedral city of Amiens we drove to Albert and entered a rolling countryside so beautiful now but so full of blood and horror almost a century ago. Despite our distance from the First World War, “Somme” still invokes a feeling of dread in the British, images of trenches and mud and mutilated bodies passed to us through a vivid national memory. We were not there but somehow we know it was uniquely awful. [Read more...]

Cowdery, Ostler, and the Assyrian king

Reposted, and edited, in light of the use of the ephod in 1 Sam 23 (part of the Gospel Doctrine reading)

The Book of Mormon translation mechanism is surrounded in mystery. [Read more...]

World Cup Group Stages Open Thread

And so it begins!


BCC World Cup Predictor

BCC’s World Cup festivities begin here, starting with a World Cup Predictor:

Go to the BBC predictor and tell us who you have in the final and who will win.

I have Argentina beating Brazil in the final. Of course, what I really want to happen is for England to win a second star. First we need to beat the Yanks on Saturday.

More events to follow…

BCC Papers 5/2: Smith, ‘Suspensive’ Historiography

Is “Suspensive” Historiography the Only Legitimate Kind?

Christopher C. Smith*


I am a PhD student at Claremont Graduate University, doing History of Religions in North America, with a particular focus on Mormon Studies.  I also happen not to be a Mormon.  I have never been a Mormon.  My interest in Mormonism is academic, and I’m especially interested in Joseph Smith.  Joseph Smith is a fascinating puzzle to me, and I have struggled to make sense of who he was and what motivated him to do the things he did.

That of course puts me in a difficult position, because here at Claremont I am surrounded by believing Mormons, and so I’m constantly aware of the risk that the way I make sense of Joseph Smith and the Mormon movement may be offensive to some of my friends and colleagues here.

As a result, I’ve thought a lot about this question of whether it’s legitimate for me as a scholar and a historian to talk about LDS truth claims.  Is it legitimate for me to express views about Joseph Smith that fly in the face of what Mormons believe?  Will this be perceived as an attack?  Will I be considered biased and anti-Mormon by my colleagues?

My Mormon colleagues here at CGU face a similar problem, but from the opposite direction.  If they speak as faithful Mormons from a position of belief in the Church, they run the risk of alienating non-Mormons, of being labeled biased apologists, and of being seen as non-academic and perhaps even unemployable by secular universities. [Read more...]

Review: The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman

My rating: 2/5

Here’s the story: Mary has twins — Jesus, a religious weirdo, and Christ, the politician. Encouraged by a mysterious stranger, Christ makes plans to turn Jesus’ provincial message in to a world religion.

I sort of wanted to like this book, if only so I could resist the holy religious outrage which often accompanies anything written by the pop atheists nowadays. Religions would most of the time be better off confronting the abuses of faith that are pilloried by people such as Pullman, rather than pretending they don’t exist. [Read more...]

The abused becomes the abuser

Troubled with the carnage unleashed by Moses, a friend wrote me the following: [Read more...]

Some thoughts on the Incarnation

The Incarnation is both cosmologically grand and appealingly chthonic at the same time. It supposes that the Great God of a universe of more than one hundred thousand million galaxies, the Supreme Being who created this universe and perhaps an infinite number of others, condescended to earth to live life as a poor Jewish man in the Eastern Mediterranean two thousand years ago. The story is full of miracle — virgin birth, resurrection from the dead — and yet strangely familiar. There is fear and love, hope and failure, loyalty and betrayal, with Jesus’ humanity palpable and proximate. Peter Steele captures well the Christian awe of this incarnate God: “in the face of this mysterious reality [the incarnation], either we could talk for ever, or we could find ourselves wordless.”[1] [Read more...]

The “British Election Rule”

Another of Ronan’s Rules:

If it’s not experienced by international Mormons, then it’s not essential to Mormonism.

[Read more...]

EMSA 2010

The European Mormon Studies Association Annual Conference 2010

Tilburg University, Tilburg, Holland

Thursday 15th – Friday 16th July 2010

Keynote Address: Professor Terryl L. Givens

Call for Papers

“European Mormonism and its Experience in Media and the Public Sphere” [Read more...]

Yahweh, Satan, and Lost

At the end of the last season of Lost, the viewer is (finally!) given a glimpse of the island’s foundational mythology. On a beach we see the island’s two deities — Jacob and “Smokey” (for want of a better name) — watching a ship bring new souls to their world. The relationship between Jacob and Smokey seems cordial at first but we soon see that beneath their surface bonhomie, conflict burns:  Smokey tells Jacob that one day he will find a “loophole” which will allow him to kill Jacob. Cue Lost intro scroll. [Read more...]

Archival dross: Lies, damned lies, and ancient history

Recent complaints from Iran that the British Museum is unreasonably delaying the loan of the Cyrus Cylinder reminded me of this old post. Beware everything you ever read about the Cyrus Cylinder.

I have been reading Bruce Feiler’s Where God Was Born. In it, Feiler travels the Middle East in search of the foundational places of the Bible. It’s enjoyable enough if a little preachy — most of the people he meets (rabbis, imams, priests, scholars) seem to have consistently and improbably eloquent defenses of religious universalism on their lips. It’s also very Old Testament-centric, unsurprising given Feiler’s Judaism. Mormons will enjoy his conversation with an LDS soldier on top of the ziggurat in Ur, although he commits the unforgivable “Church of the Latter-day Saints” mistake. [Read more...]

And yet it moves…

On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.
- Joshua 10:12-13

[Read more...]

Boggs-Doniphan Award 2009 – Voting

Update: Reader opinion poll now open! Voting is closed.

If T&S is running Mormon of the Year, it must be time for the BCC Boggs-Doniphan Award for the non-Mormon with the biggest impact on Mormonism in 2009, be it positive (Doniphan) or negative (Boggs). Let’s discuss candidates and we’ll vote later.

[Read more...]

Archival Dross: Sister Angels

Originally posted at FMH.

I went to an Anglican elementary school. Every Christmas we put on a nativity play at the local church. One year I was Joseph, another year Herod. But one thing I could never be was an angel. That was reserved for the girls.

As a good Mormon boy among those apostate Anglicans, I knew that something was terribly wrong with the angels. For one, they wore wings. But worse, they were girls, and we all know angels are men.

Rubbish, right? Right?

What’s the Mormon doctrine of angels? And, where are the female angels? [Read more...]

Twilight: harmless fun or dangerous fantasy?

A (slightly edited) conversation I recently participated in:

  • I have now spoken in person to three adult LDS women who have seen this movie in the past 36 hours.  They just gush about it, you can’t get them to shut up, and they all plan to see it again within the week.  What am I missing? Also, all three commented at length and favorably about the amazing bod of some guy in the film.  Turns out he’s 17.  Adults in their 30s lusting after underage teenage flesh, how creepy is that? [Read more...]

The US of E

True story (as in one I haven’t made up):

In the summer of 1996, Henry B. Eyring was vacationing in Europe and spent one Sunday with us in the Salzburg ward. At lunch someone asked him what he thought about the European Union. These were his words:

China’s on the rise and America’s still powerful — small nations will need to group together to compete in the world. A country like Austria needs the European Union.

So there you have it. Prophetic support for Project Europe. [TONGUE/CHEEK]

When my parents voted for the UK to join the European Economic Community in 1973, they were voting for Britain’s inclusion in a European free trade zone. This week, the EU will have its first president. The stone rolls forth.

Giving £1m to charity

Giving 10% of one’s income to charity is a concept familiar to Mormons (although paying tithes to the Mormon Church is not really the same in its purpose as paying 10% to, say, Oxfam — no judgement implied). One Oxford academic has decided to go further. He has pledged not only to give up 10% of his income but also all of his income above £20k ($30k). Dr Ord predicts being able to donate £1m over the course of his life and thus save thousands of lives. His website (Giving What We Can) encourages others to donate at least 10% and usefully ranks charities according to their cost-effectiveness.

I find Ord’s decision inspiring and wish him well in keeping to his goal (the pull of Mammon should not be underestimated). He goes where tithing does not — hurting the rich (or in Ord’s case, the non-impoverished). Up-scaling our donations according to wealth seems like a sensible way to discharge our obligations to the poor and remove the love of money from our hearts.

Could I do it? Probably not. Off the top of my head, I think our household of five in this corner of England could live comfortably and make room for future needs with no more than £50k ($75k) p.a. Tithing 100% (to the church, or to other charities, or both) of income above £50k is something I really wish I could aspire to. Even then I think £50k is too high a ceiling if I am to “give away [a relatively sacrificial amount of my possessions] to the poor.”

World’s Strictest Parents, Mormon Style

BBC3 (the BBC’s youth channel) airs a series called The World’s Strictest Parents. It’s a reality show where tearaway British youths (“oiks” as the London mayor would call them) are housed with said Strictest Parents in an inverse of Nanny 911 (where a British nanny schools naughty American kids). In last week’s show, two kids are sent to Utah to live with a Mormon family. Enjoy: [Read more...]

EMSA 2010

The European Mormon Studies Association Annual Conference
15-16 July 2010
Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
“European Mormonism and its Experience in Media and the Public Sphere”

Le Malin génie

A reminder of Cogito Ergo Sum: [Read more...]

Pope been caught poachin’, parks tanks on Canterbury’s lawn

It’s been over 400 years in the making, but the Vatican finally got some modicum of revenge for the English Reformation this week. In a rather stunning piece of ecclesiastical politics, Pope Benedict XVI grabbed Archbishop Rowan Williams in the thigh and squeezed. Rowan was ashen faced as he announced what had only been told him a few days earlier, viz. that the Roman Catholic Church was to organise

within the Apostolic Constitution, a canonical structure that provides for Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony.

In other words, Anglicans can become Catholics but retain their liturgical identity as Anglicans. Thinking Anglicans has all the links you need.

Some thoughts: [Read more...]

Calling all Europeans (Lurkers Especially)!

The theme for 2010′s European Mormon Studies Association conference in The Netherlands is “European Mormonism and the Media.” I am hoping to present a paper on Euro Mormons’ interaction online and imagine that their isolation may somehow be alleviated by new media. I am interested in the kinds of websites/forums/lists they visit and the impact they have on their Mormon lives. Suggestions please! I am particularly hoping to hear from the hordes of European lurkers out there.

Thought for the week

Imagine, if you will, that a time is coming when human life can be extended a long time beyond our three score years and ten. Maybe through cyborg technology, or through cell regeneration treatments, some humans in our generation will live to 150 or 200. Maybe in a century or two, humans will live for a millennium. Maybe one day our consciousnesses will be downloaded and live forever in machines.

What would this do to our religion (other than enlarging the stakes of the Mormon gerontocracy)?

The Persistence of Stories; or, why LDS Public Affairs Should Commission Popular Books*

Massimo Introvigne and Michael Homer tell the interesting story of an Italian author — Oriana Fallaci  — who spoke to them about her novel on the 19th century American West. Her story was to include the Mormons and she asked Introvigne about her research. Introvigne introduced her to Homer who gave her important works of the New Mormon History.

Fallaci’s book, in the end, retold the familiar polygamous/cultic tropes one finds in works such as Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet. The New Mormon History may be more accurate than Doyle’s, but sex sells and Arrington is boring. [Read more...]

Music I discovered “auf Mish”

The rules governing Mormon missionary music listening habits are quite austere, generally restricted to churchy-stuff (like MoTab) or classical (but no Carmina Burana, lest the elders and sisters get the wrong idea). Individual mission presidents may adapt the rules a little. If you’re lucky you might be allowed a little easy listenin’; if your Prez is of the schoolmaster variety, you’ll be lucky to go beyond the hymns on CD.

Here’s the music I really heard for the first time auf Mission. Some if it was kosher, some not, some of it I did not approve of at the time, some I loved. (Don’t judge us too harshly. Even hard-working missionaries in Catholic central Europe need to let off steam.) [Read more...]


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