The Joseph Smith Papers Project: A Dilettante’s Guide to Documents Vol I & II

The great thing about Mormonism is that you can call yourself an LDS historian without actually having any training in the matter.  Some of my best friends are LDS historians; a few of them actually have degrees in history, and of them there are a couple that actually studied LDS history.  The barriers to entry are low, friends, and it pays dividends to amass a library of your own and start passing yourself off as an ‘amateur LDS historian’.  As a friend of amateur LDS historians, let me provide a review of Documents, Volume I and II from the Joseph Smith Papers Project.  My aim here is to (1) provide a layman’s review of the books, (2) explain their value to amateur LDS historians, and (3) to explain why, even if the only LDS history you know is by authors whose last name ends in “ousen”, these volumes are worth owning. [Read more…]

Messy, Redux

I’ve removed my earlier post in which I linked to an incendiary and insulting piece. [Read more…]

Book review: ‘The Lost Book of Mormon’

9780385535694The premise of Avi Steinberg’s The Lost Book of Mormon is of undeniable interest to many: a quirky, somewhat narcissistic author composes a travelogue as he voyages through the lands of the Book of Mormon: Jerusalem, central America, upstate NY and Missouri. It has the potential of a Sedaris-esque memoir coupled with a somewhat whimsical view of Mormonism — in other words, Mormon-nip. Unfortunately, Steinberg’s tale does not quite live up to its potential, and while some readers may find the book entertaining, it is ultimately a frustrating journey, and perhaps offensive to some. [Read more…]

What should Mormons make of the Catholic Synod on the family?

Those who hunger and thirst after religious news have been blessed over the last week, as the Roman Catholic church has held an extraordinary general assembly synod (or council) of bishops with the subject, “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization”. In other words, this group of bishops is particularly focused on ministering to families in the modern age, and in finding answers quickly. Some basic information on the Synod can be found here, but the newsworthy item is that the Synod has just issued its mid-term report, and it is a really interesting read. It presents some limited parallels to Mormon approaches to families (including non-traditional families), and provides an interesting comparison to our own Proclamation on the Family.
[Read more…]

Civility

I watched Elder Oaks’ Saturday afternoon remarks with great interest; being somewhat familiar with talks he has given over the last few years, I anticipated that he would address the issue of same-sex marriage, as he has done in the past. And while same-sex marriage was one of the subtexts that ran throughout his address, Elder Oaks’ topic was instead on the challenge of loving others and living with differences. He focused on a key question: why is it so difficult to have Christlike love for one another? He addressed that question and by so doing, offered counsel that was heartily welcome if not new. [Read more…]

General Conference: here’s the deal.

Conference weekends are big weekends for church bloggers. There’a lot of traffic, a lot of comments, a lot of tweets. We’re going to try something a little different this weekend, so we hope you’ll bear with us. Here’s the scoop. [Read more…]

Interview: The Church History Museum

What is this -- a museum for ANTS??

What is this — a museum for ANTS??

The Church recently announced that it will be closing the Church History Museum next week for a year. During that time, the museum will undergo extensive renovations: its current display, A Covenant Restored, will be replaced with a new exhibition, The Heavens Are Opened. There has been a lot of speculation about the new exhibition and how it will address questions of Church history. The staff and curators of the Church History Museum, including Kurt Graham, Senior Exhibits Curator, were generous enough to respond to a few questions. [Read more…]

Review: MEET THE MORMONS

I done met them already!

Consider this a review in two parts: first, the film itself, and second, the motivations, production, marketing and purpose of the film. It’s a fine film and a worthy successor to the throne of Church-produced films to play in the Legacy Theater in downtown SLC. Can it transcend that genre? [Read more…]

From our friends in Rexburg

Presented without comment:

Exhibit A

[Read more…]

Is the temple canon?

This is not canon.

An interesting question just came up: is the temple liturgy canon? [Read more…]

The Ray Rices Among Us

She Will Find What Is Lost, by Brian Kershisnik

As the Ray Rice horrors have unfolded, I’ve felt disgust at the NFL’s cowardice and anger at Ray Rice. I don’t know why Janay Palmer has stuck with him and I won’t question her decisions. It seems to me, however, that we could do a lot more to aid victims of domestic abuse with a couple of simple changes. [Read more…]

New Blogger: Peter LLC

Every once in a while, humankind takes a giant leap forward. This is one of those moments. Peter LLC, longtime commenter and erstwhile guest, has agreed to join us as a permablogger. We’re stoked. Everyone, please welcome Peter aboard!

Listicle: Bathtub Hymns

A list of the top ten hymns made more awesome by adding “In The Bathtub” to the title:

10. Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee [Read more…]

Police Beat Roundtable XXVI

To protect or whatever

The 26th installation of our ongoing look at that most charming column of the Daily Universe. Previous installments can be read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

This installment: Karen is hopped up on goofballs, and we are visited by the lamest of the Three Nephites.

Steve: GST, apparently Karen is drunk on cold medicine. And she’s not even sick!
GST: I like how she parties
Karen: Hi Greg. I’m Karen and I take cold medicine.
GST: Yeeesss [Read more…]

Hope, a transformative power

I gave this talk last week.  Sorry you couldn’t be there?  Guess what!  I’m gonna post up the whole thing for you to read.  Enjoy.  It was a short talk.

Today we’re going to talk to you about hope. I’m excited to talk about hope, because that means obviously I get to talk a lot about President Barack Obama, who is a very popular figure and an obvious inspiration to us. I’m just kidding folks, relax. [1]

No, specifically I want to talk about how we can gain hope in our lives, how do we get hope. But I also want to talk about how hope impacts our view of the world, how our perception of life changes when we are hopeful. [Read more…]

Farther along than the church

Farther ahead than I am, at any rate.

Clayton Christensen is cited in a recent article, and his thoughts (as always) are interesting and provocative. First, though, it is important to note that he has publicly clarified the purported citation in the piece, as found on his Facebook wall and elsewhere: [Read more…]

What to expect when you’re expecting (to be excommunicated)

Judgment Day

This is another one of those posts where you come up with the title before you actually have anything to say. But here’s a few random thoughts. [Read more…]

A Bishop’s Response

Our friend, who tweets at @judge_in_israel, has written a response to Kristine A’s post. Below is his response.

Dear Kristine A.,

I’m not your Bishop, but I thought I would draft a quick response to your notes, perhaps as a dry run for a conversation I might have with someone in my ward who shares your concerns. Although these issues haven’t yet been raised with me personally in my role as a Bishop, I know that many individuals in our ward – including me – have many of the same concerns you do. As your own Bishop indicated, many of the topics you raise are simply outside the Bishop’s control, but since you’ve been instructed to raise these matters with your local leader, let me attempt to give some responses. [Read more…]

The Proper Domain of Revelation

Masters of their domain

Masters of their domain

One of the challenges of scripture [1] is dealing with things that are empirically incorrect.  For example, how does the reader of scripture address the six-day creation?  What of Methuselah and the other early patriarchs living 900+ years?  What of the sun revolving around the earth?  The reader’s reaction to such things speaks volumes about the reader’s religion, social demographics and education [2].  By this point, it is generally recognized that Mormons are not literalists when it comes to scripture – or rather, we are literalists when it suits us.  Six days become six “creative periods”;  Joseph Smith and other early Church leaders spoke specifically to the age of the patriarchs; the JST speaks to the rotation of the earth around the sun.  More importantly, Joseph Smith introduces the concept of prophets speaking as prophets, which introduces a new tool to readers of scripture: prophets speaking when they thought the mic was off [3].

So I’d like to bat a topic around: what is the proper domain of revelation?  That is, what is the proper range of subject matter on which prophets can speak with divine authority?  Are there subjects where prophets are on more shaky ground to invoke divine inspiration?  How are we to tell?

[Read more…]

April Fools

This April Fool’s Day, I bring you a gift: a collection of a few of the more memorable comments some of our favorite trolls have left over the years. I swear I am not making these up. How many of these names do you remember? [Read more…]

Of Cowardice

It’s not really as nice as it looks.

Corbeil-Essonnes is a suburb to the southeast of Paris. Like many Parisian suburbs, it has a broad mix of cultures and incomes, from those who live in private mansions to those who are crammed into immense low-income housing projects. And, like many Parisian suburbs, it has Mormon missionaries running around in it, trying to spread the word. In 1992 I was one of those missionaries. [Read more…]

Have Mercy on us Whiners

I don’t wanna wait for Church to be over; I want to whine right now on BCC.

Periodically (i.e. with frequency) I’ll read some comment about how BCC is full of complainers, about how we’re missing the point of the Gospel and heck I’m done with this site, I gave it a shot but you guys are just such whiners and complainers, it’s like Laman and Lemuel!

There’s something to that, I admit. Look at the last 10 days of posts here: Firestorm on modesty, leaving the Ensign behind, how to revamp Church magazines, the Church as corporation, missionary policies re: opposite sex, wearing pants and then Mark’s post contrasting dinners. If the occasional complaint is steadying the ark then BCC must be like a full suspension system like none other.

I’d like to offer up a little explanation of what’s going on here. If you’re predisposed to dislike this site then I suppose these will make little difference. [Read more…]

Your Friday Firestorm, #59


Men and women can look sharp and be fashionable, yet they can also be modest. Women particularly can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self­ respect and to the moral purity of men. In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for.

-Elder Tad Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy, “The Lord’s Standard of Morality,” March 2014 Ensign, p. 45-49.

Discuss. [Read more…]

Gatekeepers and Keymasters

This is the 2nd part of a discussion regarding confession in the Church. Part I can be found here.

Prepare for the coming of BYU! All the prisoners will be released!

Put yourself in the shoes of a Church administrator that wants to hire some folks. You want to make sure that the people you hire are good Church people, that they won’t bring embarrassment upon the Church. You also don’t want to have to waste time interviewing people with these intrusive sorts of questions all the time. Why not use the shortcut of the temple recommend?

[Read more…]

Confession: Good for the Soul, Bad For Just About Everything Else

OBLIGATORY PREFACE: These are just some idle reflections on possible structural weaknesses in our current system of administration and on ways we can improve. This post is not meant to reflect on any particular person, living or dead, myself included. Except Bosworth. Part I of II.

Suppose you are a Bishop. A man (let’s say he’s an Elder) comes to see you and confesses to you that lately he has had a problem with watching pornography. What tools, then, are at your disposal?
[Read more…]

Sheila Taylor talk on Mormonism and Theology @ Berkeley

On Sunday, January 26 at 7 PM at the Berkeley Institute, theologian Sheila Taylor will be giving a presentation on “The Role of Theology in Mormonism.”  [Read more…]

Emails From My Daughter

It’s only a matter of time

A few months ago, we got new phones. We configured the old phones to be wifi-only and let our kids use them to play games, watch movies, etc. as a treat. For my eldest daughter, the primary purpose of the phone is email. Though she is only seven years old, the autocomplete features help her compose emails with relative ease. She loves to get email from her grandparents and her parents, and has taken to carrying the phone around with her in a little purse so that she can check her email on the go. [Read more…]

Call For Stories

Neylan McBaine is the founder of the Mormon Women Project (www.mormonwomen.com), a non-profit creating a continuously expanding digital library of interviews with LDS women from around the world. She blogs at neylanmcbaine.com.

Although it’s been almost a year and a half since I spoke at the FairMormon conference and introduced the term “cooperative ministry” in the context of gender relations in LDS church governance, I still receive emails from readers citing how the talk affected them. [Read more…]

Police Beat Roundtable XXV

To protect or whatever

The 25th installation of our ongoing look at that most charming column of the Daily Universe. Previous installments can be read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

This week: GST and Steve discover the dark side of Ken Jennings.

GST: aw yeah.
Steve: oh hey guys, how’s things?
Ken: this takes me back.
Steve: all right, let’s kick it old-skool.

A report of vandalism at the Howard S. McDonald Building was recorded at 6 a.m. June 30. Graffiti had been written on the wall of a bathroom stall with a permanent marker. No mention of the nature of the graffiti was given.
[Read more…]

The Annual Summer Seminar on Mormon Culture

Announcing the next Annual Summer Seminar on Mormon Culture, conducted by Richard and Claudia Bushman:

The History of the Mormon Family

Brigham Young University
June 15 – July 26, 2014

In the summer of 2014, the Neal A Maxwell Institute at Brigham Young University, with support from the Mormon Scholars Foundation and the Jack and Mary Lois Wheatley Institution, will sponsor a summer seminar for graduate students and junior faculty on “The History of the Mormon Family.” The seminar will be held on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, from June 15 to July 26. Admitted participants will receive a stipend of $3000 with an accommodations subsidy if needed. The seminar continues the series of seminars on Mormon culture begun in the summer of 1997. In 2014, the seminar will be conducted by Richard and Claudia Bushman. [Read more…]

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