President Monson’s address during this October’s Priesthood session at first seems somewhat unremarkable in theme: he bemoans the lack of moral compasses found in folks today, and calls on members of the Priesthood to stand up and be counted as Mormons and to adhere to the laws of God. This is a familiar theme for President Monson, who is a missionary through and through. The talk raises a few questions and takes a novel approach in describing what it means to stand as a Mormon. This post is a brief walking tour of President Monson’s address, going through the themes and issues of his remarks in order. The audio of the talk is available here. [Read more...]
I was recently quoted in a Trib article by Peggy Fletcher Stack, a journalist I truly admire. The article is well worth your valuable time, as it explores some interesting issues of who is truly “Mormon”. I thought it might be worth posting the full text of my email to Peggy, which includes the questions I was asked. Each one of the questions is worthy of long discussion, and my replies are nothing fancy, but it’s good conversation fodder for a Friday before Conference. [Read more...]
“What I want to do, I can’t do. I do what I hate.”
I recently relocated to the bucolic midwestern countryside. Now autumn, and red-and-gold leaves, and harvests, and frost, are descending on us now faster than I expected. Fall is my favorite time of year, because it is so gorgeous but also so brief; it really is a last gasp of concentrated beauty before the end. I crunch through the leaves and I find myself reminded everywhere of the passing nature of beauty — and, internally, of the fall of man. What causes our souls to seek separation from God, to grow along paths of development then suddenly depart away from them? What causes us to fall from grace, again and again? What is wrong with us? [Read more...]
I love the notion of “social capital” at Church — building up a reputation as someone trustworthy, reliable, the sort of “good neighbor” reputation that then permits you to act as you please . People with large amounts of social capital in their wards can say controversial things or act crazily (blue shirts! Pantsuits!) without fear of being marginalized. Attempt those tasks without a good buildup of social capital, and heaven help you. Once people know that you’re fundamentally a good person and worth of trust, you can get away with all sorts of antics .
However, much of the building of social capital has to do with initial positioning in the ward. As a new arrival, the heat is on — you’d better not make any false steps in building your reputation, or you’ll never gain the respect and admiration of your elder’s quorum. Let’s consider a few common pitfalls. [Read more...]
167 years ago today, Joseph Smith, Jr. was gunned down at Carthage Jail. For some, today is a day to mark the anniversary of Joseph’s death with writings and ponderings on the meaning of his life and teachings. Doubtless your Facebook walls are filled with historical anecdotes, pithy quotes or iffy youtube videos. I would think that the current popularity of The Book of Mormon musical is contributing in some small measure to amplified output by members via various social networks. I’ve been giving some thought to the reaction of the Saints in Nauvoo to the death of the Prophet, as well as subsequent declarations and reactions to his death, as well as thinking about what our religion teaches us with respect to such events. [Read more...]
I was thinking today about Alma’s little wish:
O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!
We all know that Alma self-smacked himself down soon after writing this, but let’s say, for argument’s sake, that he (or, you) got this wish. Then what? [Read more...]
And now I show unto you a parable. Behold, wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together; so likewise shall mine elect be gathered from the four quarters of the earth.
The 23rd 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, and here.
This week: GST, Steve, Matt and Ken are joined by our friend, mentor and guide, Karen Hall.
GST: Who is this Karen Hall?
Ken: I lived in Karen Hall freshman year. [Read more...]
And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.
I find it interesting that the new Broadway show THE BOOK OF MORMON throws a freshfaced missionary into Uganda, where the setting is supposed to show the ludicrousness of mormon faith and idealism when confronted with the hellish realities of man’s cruelties to man.
The reality is that Mormons are already in Uganda, and we’re doing just fine, thanks. [Read more...]
“The handbook is doctrinal”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Worldwide Leadership Training, Feb. 12, 2011.
And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.
“The family will be presided over by the father, the priesthood bearer…And he will tie generations together as we go forward. . . . Can you think of a more glorious opportunity than being led by your own father in the eternities to come, and having the opportunity as a father in leading your children as they go forward?” [Read more...]
For those of you applauding Marriott’s decision to stop offering pornographic movies as part of the entertainment offerings in hotel rooms, a quick note. I hate to burst your bubble, but this wasn’t any sort of moral victory at play. People don’t pay for porn anymore, they get it for free over the internet. So Marriott stopped paying its entertainment provider a premium rate under its contract for porn. It was a sensible business decision. If people (lonely businessmen) still paid for porn, Marriott would still offer it. Again, apologies for this dose of reality. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog. Below is a humorous picture to lighten your day. [Read more...]
I’m impressed by the “Jesus is _____” campaign. It’s catchy, it has viral appeal, and what’s more it arrives at the desired result — driving a large discussion about Christ — without imposing a predetermined path to discussion or a forced conclusion. It’s sponsored by some large Protestant churches (the largest being here in Seattle), but despite the relatively narrow view of Christ offered by the sponsored religions the campaign invites large and open discussion and debate about who Jesus is and what he means to us. As the site explains, “So maybe the reality of who Jesus is remains too big for the blank.” [Read more...]
Q: How do you get to the Celestial Kingdom?
A: Praxis, praxis, praxis. [Read more...]
Courtney Jane Kendrick is hosting a fireside this Saturday evening at her home with Prof. Terryl Givens following the presentations at the Mormon Media Symposium. A good time is guaranteed for all. The fireside will be at 7 p.m. at 1170 Birch Lane in Provo. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions — should be pretty fantastic for all you Apollo-Burger-eatin’-Y-Mountain-climbin’ guys.
It’s Election Day. I submitted a written ballot a few days ago, but today I’m celebrating participating in my first election ever. Between living abroad and changing citizenships I’ve just never felt comfortable voting before. But this post — a brief post, like mmiles’ — is to highlight a small but significant distinction that maybe we ought to remember more often. It is simply to say that people can be politically conservative but religiously/socially quite liberal on a personal level. Similarly, someone that votes along liberal political lines might be very conservative in their religious/social practices. The easy platforms of mainstream political parties make us think in binary terms. As it turns out, humans are complex creatures capable of nuance. When we talk sloppily about “conservatives” and “liberals” we do ourselves a disservice — better for us to address each other as individuals and to eschew simplistic ways of viewing each other.
Tis the season for a teeth-rotting, diabetes-inducing candyfest. But life isn’t just about hot apple cider and peanut M&Ms — no, it’s also about lots of crappy candy, the dregs of the pillowcase that you will eat with derision in November when you run out of anything good in the pantry. We’re overdue for a poll, people. [Read more...]
The Church has just issued an official response to the petition offered by the Human Rights Campaign. Article from the HRC here; full article available from the LDS Newsroom here. Text of the official response below:
My name is Michael Otterson. I am here representing the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the matter of the petition presented today by the Human Rights Campaign.
While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men. We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty, or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation, or for any other reason. Such actions simply have no place in our society. [Read more...]
Warren Martin was in his 70s and had the long-standing calling of handing out the ward bulletin each week. His longish gray hair curled like ramen noodles and his tie, invariably a Looney Tunes tie or a Disney themed tie, was in a standard knot around the collar of his denim shirt. Brother Martin wasn’t homeless; he lived in a group home downtown for disadvantaged folks. He had few possessions, but his shirt pocket was usually stuffed full of bus schedules. He was fairly tall, with a broad paunch and red cheeks. He was also relentless in the performance of his duties. [Read more...]
Just really quickly, because posts like this make some people feel awkward: multiple sclerosis is terrible. Like last year, I’m doing a charity bike ride to raise funds to fight MS, and I welcome your donations. I promised a bunch of stuff to donors last year, and I repeat those promises now (and if I didn’t follow through with any of you last year, let me know and I’ll make amends). So, give some money if you can – here’s the link. It will make you feel quite a bit better about yourself.
The news is out: everybody hates us. Those of us with healthy persecution complexes anticipated this day and even looked forward to it as evidence of our righteousness. But guess what, Mormons — some of you are ESPECIALLY hated, loathed and reviled, thereby showing yourselves to be even more righteousy than the rest of us. So, congrats O scorned ones, you are probably top of the heap in heaven already. Without further ado, here’s the A-list, the creme de la creme, the (currently living) Mormons that get more hatin’ than all the rest. [Read more...]
Recently I read an article predicting a blossoming future for blogging, heralding this method of self-publishing as the future of
content distribution. The article in question was published in 2005. Things have changed in five years. Most recent trending data and polls agree that blogging is on the decline overall, with some demographics showing their interest in blogs cut by half. For lack of a better term, blogging is a dying technology. Blogs were faddish in 2005, but are now dying on the vine. Young people — the trendsetters for internet content production and distribution — have largely eschewed blogs as a medium. There was no Mormon blogging in 2000, and there probably won’t be any in 2020 for that matter.
I am no Jeremiah, come to fortell the doom of the Bloggernacle. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. But if we are to consider the question of the future of the Bloggernacle, I believe we need to engage in two tasks as a prerequisite: first, we must understand why the community of LDS blogs exists, and second, we must understand the evolutionary pathways of new media and gain a sense of which way the river is flowing. [Read more...]
More and more I find myself drawn to the great thinkers. My children have recently reminded me of the wonders of A.A. Milne, and so I would like to share some of my recent readings with you. [Read more...]
Readers of Dialogue know how indispensable it is. Dialogue represents the best of independent Mormon thought available today. The product of a rich spiritual and intellectual heritage, today’s Dialogue is an immensely valuable tool in promoting interesting conversations and in fostering a thoughtful LDS community. I firmly believe that without Dialogue, sites like BCC would probably not exist today. And now, with some elbow grease on your part, you can win a subscription for yourself. [Read more...]
Angela Hallstrom’s recent compilation of LDS fiction is an impressive undertaking, bringing together 28 stories from the greatest contemporary authors our faith has to offer. And while some might quibble with a few of the authorial choices, and others might find some of the themes or language too much for their taste, there’s no question that Dispensation represents an immensely valuable compilation. While it cannot help but live in the shadow of Eugene England’s landmark anthology, Bright Angels and Familiars, Hallstrom’s work deserves its own recognition and belongs in the library of anyone with an interest in our culture. [Read more...]