Tuesday Night Theological Poll: Mormon Monism*?

Post your reasons below.
*Monism is the belief that everything in the universe is made up of one substance.

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Sympathy for the devilish

The day after Thanksgiving, I was walking around a track, listening to an episode of This American Life. It was broadcast a couple of weeks ago and one of the stories considered a “haunted house” put on by a Texas church called “Hellhouse.” The house features real-life horrors, including abortion, suicide, and, in possibly its most famous set, a version of the Columbine massacre. [Read more...]

Longshots – Lance Allred’s polygamous roots and my family’s narratives

Longshot-book coverI don’t much care for basketball. I’m horrible at it myself and I’ve never really lost myself in the game watching others play it. I can respect what Michael Jordan accomplished, but it doesn’t interest me all that much. That said, I was moved by Lance Allred’s description of the early morning practices he would have with his coach in high school in his memoir, Longshot: The Adventures of a Deaf, Fundamentalist Mormon Kid and His Journey to the NBA.

Those mornings were the purest form of basketball I ever knew. Just me, [coach Kerry] Rupp, and a ball. No money, no boosters, no politics. It was the pure love and innocence of the game, when it was still a game for me. We both worked and sweated, our shoes squeaking and echoing out the gym and down the empty hallways. I’d pay to have those moments again, those moments of hard work and sacrifice when I knew not what to expect as far as what my future held, with no sense of entitlement, no reward or motive in sight other than just the pure love of the game. I had no idea if I was ever going to be good enough to play college ball. We were challengers of the unknown.

I wasn’t playing for the future on those mornings with Rupp; I was playing for the moment, for the present. I wanted to be good at something; I wanted to excel at something.

While I have never been a particularly dedicated athlete, Allred’s drive to excel, to find the limits of his physical ability and push himself beyond them, is inspiring, in spite of the likelihood that it is, at least partially motivated by his obsessive-compulsive disorder. The drive to be good can be, I think, found in all people: the polygamists amongst whom Allred was raised, the athletes with whom he competes in amateur, semi-pro, and professional basketball, and his own family, struggling to define themselves within and without the Apostolic United Brethren, the fundamentalist Mormon sect of Allred’s youth. [Read more...]

Acquiring Spiritual Guidance

Elder Scott’s recent General Conference address, To Acquire Spiritual Guidance, begins on a somewhat ironic note. After noting that in times past if one sought guidance they would turn to mentors or advisors, the current technological information overload means turning to others for advice can be a very risky proposition. Rather than bemoaning the death of trust, we should welcome the excuse to turn our eyes upward for inspiration. Elder Scott seems to be saying that human interlocutors will always be inadequate and that we will be better served by seeking to commune with the Lord directly. [Read more...]

Overheard at UVU

I heard this in the hallway as I walked to class today.

“They’re not coming to church, but not for any legitimate reason. They’re just too lazy.”

Discuss.

Modern Martyrs?

This past week in Sunday School there was a discussion of Joseph Smith’s martyrdom and Doctrine and Covenants 135. My Sunday School teacher, whom I love and believe to have been sincerely sharing her thoughts on the martyrdom, went a little crazy. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but the line “Joseph Smith died for us” was uttered. [Read more...]

Halakhah and Aggadah

Advice comes in two forms: rules to live by and personal narratives. [Read more...]

Two Great Commandments

We all know that the two great commandments are to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. I find the differences between the two refreshing and apt. [Read more...]

Restraint as a form of Artistic Pain

Eons ago (in 2006), I wrote a blog post about Mormon popular art. In it I suggested that the Spirit has a tendency to testify of sincerity (rather than artistic quality) and that this explained why so much Mormon art is bad. In the comments to that section, D. Fletcher (whom I wish participated more around these parts nowadays) suggested that the reason so much Mormon art is tepid is because we are, generally, happy. Art comes from pain (much like comedy or addiction) and unless one is tormented in ways that most Mormons won’t admit great art cannot come. At the time, I thought that this was needlessly reductive; today I’m not so sure. But, that said, I have a suggestion for our artists out there (I myself not being much of one): feel the restraints of Mormon life as pain. [Read more...]

MMTP: “Hieing to Kolob?” Edition

Your Monday Morning Theological Poll:

Is Abraham’s astronomy real or metaphorical?
[Read more...]

MMTP: Gender Permanence Edition

Your Monday Mid-day Theological Poll:

Why is gender eternal?
[Read more...]

The consumer model of religion and why it is stupid

Due to the recent poll, I was pointed to a diary post at the Daily Kos. In it, a pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage Mormon tries to explain why they won’t leave the church, even though they disagree with the church’s stance in Prop 8. The argument he chooses is that the church is within its rights to regulate behavior within the church; outside is another matter. The diarist alludes to reasons why they won’t leave the church, but isn’t very specific. Finally, the diarist asks the following question to another member of that community:

am I wrong to maintain my membership in my church? I love the Gospel, I think it is beautiful, and I don’t want to be outside it. I know you did what you had to do? Is my choice wrong? I don’t think so.

In the ensuing comments, many people (mostly militant atheists) helpfully suggest that the appropriate response is to stop going to church or to remove one’s name from the roles. This is because they aren’t listening to the diarist (who doesn’t want to leave the church) and because they have a fundamental misunderstanding of religious life. They think it is like shopping.
[Read more...]

TMTP: “Jimmy, why didn’t you keep your promise?” edition

Your Tuesday Morning Theological Poll:

If a child in utero is miscarried or aborted, what happens to the spirit that was going to inhabit that body?
[Read more...]

TMTP: Blame Game Edition

Your Tuesday Morning Theological Poll:

Who is responsible for your sins?
[Read more...]

MMTP: Baby Birthing Edition

Your Monday Mid-day Theological Poll:

Why is someone born in the covenant?
[Read more...]

(Intellectual) War and Guilt

I have a couple of confessions to make:

1. While I have a number of prejudices remaining, the prejudice that I most dearly hold in my heart is a prejudice against the evangelical counter-cult ministry, also known as Anti-Mormons (or the Fluffy Bunny Nice Nice Club, if you insist)

2. I am simultaneously proud and ashamed of my behavior toward such on the internet. Toward them, I have made the decision to just be mean. There is not very much of Christ in my online behavior as regards my interactions with them (I would likely overturn the little bird cages in my wrath). There is a lot of pride and self-justification.

Let me explain: [Read more...]

MMTP: Active Afterlife Edition

Your Monday Midday Theological Poll:

Is there sex after the judgment?
[Read more...]

TMTP: Grace vs. Works

Your Tuesday Morning Theological Poll:
Two enter, One Leaves: Grace vs. Works
[Read more...]

Backpack found: An Earthday Post

We live in an apartment complex in Orem, UT. We don’t have a lot of money, so we recycle, reuse, and reduce when possible. We’ve taught this to our children, which is why one of my son’s favorite activities is dumpster diving.
[Read more...]

MMTP: Terrestrial destiny edition

Your Monday Morning Theological Poll:

True or False:
The earth must be baptized with water and with fire in order to be prepared for its celestial glory.
[Read more...]

MMTP: Holiday Extravaganza!

Your Monday Morning Theological Poll:
Which holiday is more important to our liturgical calendar?
[Read more...]

Voistinnye Voskresye

This was originally posted at Various Stages of Mormondom. If Russell can do it, so can I!

It is always dark in Russian cathedrals and churches. They don’t go much for interior lighting. That said, there are plenty of candles, so you don’t stumble over other people. There are also no chairs. The devoted stand, the less-devoted leave mass early. Finally, all singing is a capella. It is also all beautiful, often sung by a choir standing in the back of the nave, usually wearing a grubby collection of their everyday clothes.
[Read more...]

SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!

We are 4 days out from a great general conference, 6 days out from an interesting Mormon Studies conference, and 5 days out from the episode that killed my faith in Dollhouse. THIS is what we are talking about? Seriously, shut up!

Tuesday Morning Theological Poll: Scriptural Authority Edition

Your Tuesday Morning Theological Poll:
Which set of sacred writings is more important theologically?
[Read more...]

MMTP: Judgment Day Edition

Your Monday Morning Theological Poll:

After the Judgment, which of the following two places will have more people: The Celestial Kingdom or Outer Darkness?
[Read more...]

SCIENCE!

BCC Labs is always working on innovative ways of maximizing the upsides of your online Latter-day Saint information consumption, interaction, and generation experience. Studies have shown that the marginalization of insufficiently critical approaches to the theological exploration of appropriate ethical behavioral actualizations by means of negative sporting and humorous contumely are market desirable. Therefore it is with great excitement that BCC Labs presents to you its latest innovation: the Daily Universe Letter to the Editor, deconstructed by Science!

BCC Lab’s methods of examination are explained below:
[Read more...]

MMTP: Suspicious Activity Edition

Your Monday Morning Theological Poll:

True of or False: If someone wishes to leave the church, it is because they have some grave, unconfessed sin.
[Read more...]

God loves racists, too.

This past weekend, we had the apostasy lesson in the Relief Society/Priesthood manual. We came to the general consensus that the key to avoiding personal apostasy was to remember that the Brethren are acting under God’s direction and that, while dissent isn’t horrible, it should be meek and done through appropriate channels. We also came to the conclusion that those who apostatize do so because they have some issue with the church, that they do it out of anger. Then one of our number raised his hand.
[Read more...]

MMTP: Hankstimony edition

Your Monday Mid-day Theological Poll:

Is it possible to profane a temple ordinance? [Read more...]

TMTP: Skousentastic Edition

Tuesday Mid-day Theological Poll:
Is all matter made up of intelligences?
[Read more...]

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