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.” [Read more...]
Another of Ronan’s Rules:
If it’s not experienced by international Mormons, then it’s not essential to Mormonism.
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...]
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...]
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...]
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
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.
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...]
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...]
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 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.”
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...]
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”
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...]
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.
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)?
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...]
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...]
European Newspaper Coverage of the Eldorado Raid: Selected References
by Kim B. Östman [Read more...]
A Short Stay in Hell is, alas, mis-titled.
Our author finds himself in a deliciously cruel/comfortable Zoroastrian hell in which he must find the book of his life in order to escape. Trouble is, hell contains every book that could ever be written. It’s not an infinite number of books, but the size boggles his (and your) mind. Hell could last three days or three trillion years. Count on the latter.
Peck’s Mormon biography is evident here, from the relief that he is not in Baptist hell, to the guilt he feels after drinking coffee from hell’s Star Trekkian vending machines. Even hell is strangely (Utah Valley) Mormon — a place for beautiful white people with perfect teeth.
The central conceit is brilliant and there’s a real sense of pathos for our author’s desperate attempts to find and maintain human connections in an ageless place. I read it in one setting, desperate to find out if hell has an End. Peck has a real flair for capturing the yearnings of the human spirit, hell-bound or no.
Full marks too for the creation of the book’s villain — the beautifully evil Dire-Dan and his most excellent method of torture: kill — wait for resurrection — kill again. Repeat for a century.
Some passages in Mormon scripture (e.g. Abraham 3:22-23) seem to infer that our mortal station has been influenced to some degree by our valiance-quotient in the pre-mortal sphere. My own patriarchal blessing, for example, states that I was born into the LDS covenant by virtue of my status as a “strong leader” in the pre-existence. Such beliefs are not uncommon in the modern church.
Some Mormon authorities have in the past extended this belief to explain questions of race, i.e. that those held to be “cursed with a black skin” were so marked by God as a caste apart from the rights of the priesthood and that they lived under this curse because of their lack of valiance in the pre-Earth life. [Read more...]
… until now. Having watched the film again, I am now a believer: TDK is an awesome film of pure awesomeness.
Christopher Nolan’s sequel to Batman Begins is stylish, exciting, atmospheric, and loaded with great acting. Ledger has been heralded for the Joker, and rightly so, but Bale and especially Gary Oldman as Gordon are equally excellent.
Beyond its superior blockbuster bona fides, TDK is a deeply philosophical film, and pays proper homage to the complexities of the DC comics.
Some thoughts on the ethics of Batman: The Dark Knight: [Read more...]
In one of the Mormon Garden of Eden narratives, the commandment specifying the prohibition of eating from the Tree of Knowledge is as follows (Moses 3:16-17): [Read more...]
Patheos.com, a new website on religion and spirituality, formally launched on May 5th (see Time article here). Today the site added a new “Gateway” devoted to Mormonism. The co-founder and CEO of the Denver-based company, Leo Brunnick, has answered ten questions in this BCC interview.
1. Does the world really need another religion website?
Not if it’s “just” another religion website – there are a lot of sites out there, and adding to the noise wouldn’t be helpful. However, we have created something that is different. It sits in a middle ground between existing sites that are academic (balanced and rock-solid, but dry and hard to consume), or popular (interesting and exciting, but thin and gimmicky), or faith-based (passionate and knowledgeable, but narrow and biased toward one faith). Patheos takes the best elements of each and creates something that is balanced and reliable, while at the same time interesting and easy to consume. [Read more...]
We went back as a family and it was heaven again. [Read more...]