An Apologia for “High Church” Mormonism

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MLP

Readers of BCC will have noticed a persistent interest here in things Anglican. If it isn’t Kristine reminding us once again that on the eighth day God made British choirboys, there are all the posts in the Mormon Lectionary Project, Ronan’s Christian Disciplines series, or John F.’s posts about occasions when Mormons get liturgical (including this Rosh Hashanah post). Occasionally, people wonder about the implications of all this crypto-Anglicanism. I mean, isn’t it good that Mormons left some of this stuff behind, the light of the Restoration dispelling the shadows of apostasy?

[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...]

Mormon March Madness – The Final Four

Monson & Uchtdorf

[Read more...]

Halfway

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent, often called Mothering Sunday. It marks the half-way point between Ash Wednesday and Easter…It’s the day when, though still observing the Lenten fast, one might apply its rule more generously. The rules are softer, there is room to breathe, your mother says you may have “just a little bit more.”
It’s a little bit like this…

A terse encounter at the rental car counter. Having paid to rent a navigation device that didn’t work properly, I had girded up my loins to ask for that portion of the rental fee to be refunded. The man behind the counter was annoyed. [Read more...]

The Dialogue Diet

Faith crisis–often leading to faith transition–is a “thing” these days. Someone innocently does a google search, travels down some online rabbit hole, and soon discovers weird–sometimes really weird–stuff about the Mormon past. These substantive issues are troubling enough on their own, but pretty soon they cease to be the primary issue. Rather, the fact that the person was never taught about these things at Church becomes the dominant issue. The person feels as though she has been lied to all of her life. The image she has constructed in her mind of a church that never changes, where everything is perfect, where the prophet has afternoon tea with Jesus Christ himself every Thursday afternoon in the temple, comes crashing down around her shoulders, as she considers for the first time the very human institution that is the LDS Church. [Read more...]

The First Semi-annual Ladycast

I knew it had been a long time since I’d written anything for BCC. Turns out, it’s been five months since my last post. Hard to believe, since it used to be that I couldn’t slack off for five weeks without Steve Evans threatening to fire me. The aforementioned post was a response to the announcement that the church was doing away with the annual General Young Women and Relief Society broadcasts and replacing them with a semi-annual General Women’s Broadcast for females eight years and older. Not coincidentally, the topic that has prompted me to write this thing I’m writing right now is the maiden voyage of that very broadcast, which occurred just a few short hours ago. (Or maybe several regular-length hours ago, depending on what time you read this.)

Historically, our stake has not shown the YW and RS broadcasts live. They would show them when they had finished preparing all the food that would be served afterward. I guess. At their leisure, anyway. Since this was a historic broadcast, though—first of its kind and all—they decided to break with history and show it live. And then serve dessert afterward, like usual. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend our stake’s ceremonial celebration of the historic live broadcast and traditional dessert serving. I’ve come down with a terrible head cold, and at 6:00 p.m. MST, I was in no shape to stand shoulder to shoulder (or hip-to-shoulder) with my sister church members in the stake center. Instead I sat on our benighted family room sofa, folding laundry in front of the TV, which had been hooked up to the internet, which was also showing the broadcast live. (But not providing dessert afterward. Come to think of it, I still haven’t had dessert. But I’m getting ahead of myself.) [Read more...]

What Bill Gates could learn from the church about philanthropy?

There has been some debate about whether the LDS church should be investing in shopping centres and upscale housing when it could be saving lives by lifting people out of poverty. This debate has missed a key feature of the broader landscape of philanthropy over the last 70 years, the move toward philanthrocapitalism. The similarities and differences between philanthrocapitalists, such as Bill and Melinda Gates, and the LDS church are revealing because they highlight to whom particular criticisms should be addressed. In short, while dissatisfaction with this model of charitable giving is a defensible position, consistency might suggest that such criticisms also be directed toward a neoliberal culture of giving currently ascendant in our societies. [Read more...]

Mormon March Madness – Elite 8

Many were called, and 8 were chosen. But only 4 get to keep playing.

The win-loss results of the Sweet 16 vote were largely unsurprising, with possibly the exception of Moses falling to Enoch and Hyrum losing to Emma. However, the magnitude of some victories was a bit shocking to me–especially the all-1st Presidency match-up between Uchtdorf-Eyring, where the 2nd Counselor took 85% of the vote. Hal, we love you still!

[Read more...]

The Annunciation

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MLP

Mormon Lectionary Project

The Feast of The Annunciation

Isaiah 7:10-14 (KJV), Psalm 40:5-11 (KJV), Hebrews 10:4-10 (NRSV), Luke 1:26-38 (KJV), 1 Nephi 11:14-22, Moroni 7:22-26, 29-32

The Collect: Father, we thank Thee for the ministration of angels as agents of Thy grace, revealing the incarnation of Thy Son Jesus Christ, as announced by an angel to Mary, Thy servant and chosen vessel both to bear Christ’s body and lifelong testimony of Him. May we heed that angelic message and exercise faith in Christ, becoming sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. [Read more...]

Lent III

Mormon Lectionary Project

Third Sunday in Lent

Exodus 17:1-7Romans 5:1-11John 4:5-42Psalm 95

Collect: Heavenly Father, we have little power in ourselves to help ourselves, so keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

There is a much arid earth between Egypt and the Promised Land and thus the complaint to Moses sounds reasonable, given the circumstances: [Read more...]

Many Are Chosen, But Few Are Called

In a well publicized pre-emptive move, the church issued a statement last week that women seeking tickets to the April 5 Priesthood session would be relegated to the “free speech zone,” traditionally the purview of anti-Mormon protesters.  Kate Kelly, founder of the group Ordain Women, was characteristically gracious in her reply.  From the article:

“We are disappointed that we weren’t granted tickets,” says Kate Kelly, one of the founders of Ordain Women. “But it is a positive step that public affairs is responding to us, indicating that one day maybe the higher authorities will be able to hear our concerns.” [Read more...]

Some Thoughts on Divorce

DivorceDivorce sucks. The unraveling and separating of lives is painful and messy, no matter how mature or well-intentioned the parties. My own divorce is now four-plus years in the rearview mirror, but I have several friends who are at various stages in the process right now, and it’s got me ruminating on what I learned, and what I wish I could share with people in the midst. [Read more...]

A Victory for Pluralism in the Dismissal of the UK Fraud Case Against President Monson

Westminster Magistrates Court (source: http://tinyurl.com/oox8x4w)

Westminster Magistrates Court
(source: http://tinyurl.com/oox8x4w)

The express benefits, particularly to a misunderstood and widely unpopular religious minority, of a robust secular public sphere that protects freedom of belief/conscience, the free exercise of religion (among numerous other fundamental rights, including the rights of non-religious people in their beliefs and choice not to practice religion), and pluralism were highlighted today in London, England. More specifically, in a victory for a robust, secular public sphere (and, hence, a victory for society in general), Senior District Judge Howard Riddle of the Westminster Magistrates Court today dismissed a private fraud prosecution that had been brought against President Monson and the Church by a former Mormon under an obscure legal procedure that allowed a private citizen to seek criminal enforcement of relatively recent anti-fraud legislation in the United Kingdom. [Read more...]

Do they know?

A Talk About a Talk About a Talk?

A Talk About a Talk About a Talk?

As recently as 2012 I was serving in a bishopric that still assigned talks the traditional way.

Take, for example, the following email I sent a ward member about the topic of an assigned talk: [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...]

From the Archives: The Liturgy of Jello

It’s the tri-ante-dodransbicentennial (or something like that) of the Relief Society. Hurrah! Go read the minutes.

Here’s my talk from the celebration in my ward a few years ago (with apologies for not having come up with anything better in the last 4 years!):

I have mixed feelings about our yearly celebration of the birthday of the Relief Society, starting with the nitpicky wish that we called it “founding” or “establishment” or even “anniversary” and not something as redolent of frosting and froufiness as “birthday.” The rest of the country has Women’s History Month (which still isn’t enough) but we only have Relief Society History day. Any excuse for a party will do, and I love our gatherings, but it pains me that it’s not enough time to discover a thousandth part of our heritage of faith as Mormon women. And sometimes even this single evening can feel like too much: I have finally come to accept the fact that some people, even smart, wonderful people whom I love, just don’t want to hear more stories about “pioneer women.” And, although this sentiment is profoundly alien to me, I can imagine how it might arise. [Read more...]

Second Sunday in Lent

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MLP

Mormon Lectionary Project

Second Sunday in Lent

Genesis 12:1-4 (KJV), Psalm 121 (KJV), Romans 4:1-17 (KJV), John 3:1-21 (KJV), Jacob 4:4-8, 3 Nephi 20:35

The Collect: Father, grant us through thy mercy a renewed desire to search the scriptures and a new appreciation of the spirit of prophecy, that our faith may be strengthened in this holy season! May our strengthened faith manifest itself in works that resonate with those who have gone astray, drawing them back into the fold, renewing their desire to seek the gifts of faith and repentance, that they might once again be sanctified by the Sacrament of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who is one with Thee and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen. [Read more...]

What do you wear when you go out with the missionaries?

When I go out with the missionaries, I rarely wear a suit and tie. Instead, I usually opt for trousers and a causal shirt.

This might be completely unsurprising for many people but it has recently come to my attention that, in general (just like when they go home teaching), members will very often wear their Sunday best when they teach with the missionaries. [Read more...]

March Madness – Early Mormonism & False Prophets Regions

After yesterday’s barnburner that saw Deborah eek out a 6-vote win over Noah, we’re down to two regions left in Round 1.  Rather than wait until Monday for the final region, today it’s two for the price one–Early Mormonism & False Prophets are up now!

(Results from Round 1: Modern Mormon Prophets, Ancient Scripture)

A couple of notes:

  • Voting closes in 24 hours.
  • Seeds have not truly been assigned, because we don’t care about numbers–we care about people.
  • Round 2 for all four regions starts Monday Tuesday Wednesday!
  • Relevant questions for your consideration include:
  1. Did they make it to Salt Lake?
  2. Who had poorer attendance at FHE in college?
  3. Who had the most wives? (or HUSBANDS!?)
  4. Who’s really just in it for the free food?
  5. Who would you be most likely to portray in a Hollywood adaptation of the Restoration?
  6. Who haunts the dark hallways of stake centers at night? [Read more...]

March Madness – Ancient Scripture Region

We’re back today with Round 1 in the Ancient Scripture Region, but first let’s recap the action from yesterday’s Modern Mormon Prophets region.

There were really no major surprises in the first round here. As expected, President Monson had no problems overcoming his bye week, and the Tri-DarkHorse-umvirate of Uchtdorf, Holland, and Eyring all walked away with landslide victories.  In fact, the only relatively close matches involved the victorious Elder Oaks (over Elder Bednar), Elder Nelson (over Elder Cook), and, in a nod to pirates everywhere, Elder L. Tom Perry (over Elder Christofferson).

Now, on to the Ancient Scriptures Region. A couple of notes:

  • Voting closes in 24 hours.
  • Seeds have been assigned directly via capital-R Revelation.
  • Early Mormonism, and False Prophets regions are forthcoming.
  • Relevant questions for your consideration include:
  1. Who is more prophetic?
  2. Who is more likely to sell essential oils?
  3. Who has the biggest book? [Read more...]

March Madness – Modern Mormon Prophets Region

It’s March Madness Bracket season, and it’s been too long since we’ve done anything remotely likely this.

A couple of notes:

  • Voting closes in 24 hours.
  • Seeds have been assigned in the only appropriate fashion: Apostolic seniority.
  • Ancient Prophets, Early Mormonism, and False Prophets regions are forthcoming.
  • Relevant questions for your consideration include:
  1. Who is more prophetic?
  2. Who would win in a leg wrestle?
  3. Whose talks better to read than to listen to? [Read more...]

Re-Introducing the Mormon Texts Project

This is guest post from our Magnifying Your Calling: Mormon Book Geek dept., by way of Tom Nysetvold, the Director of the MTP. Tom is a Texan mechanical engineer involved in the refining industry who likes to hike and read old books in his spare time. He served in the Brazil São Paulo South Mission, speaks increasingly rusty Portuguese, and is studying Italian. He’s married to the beautiful and extremely supportive Elissa Nysetvold.

The Mormon Texts Project aims to make every out-of-copyright Church book available for free in Kindle, epub, HTML, and plaintext formats, forever. After a year or so of slow progress, we’re back in business, with eight books released on Project Gutenberg so far this year and many more in the works. In this guest post I’ll discuss our philosophy, the process we use to make books available, what we’re working on, and how people can help, in that order. [Read more...]

The First Sunday in Lent

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MLP

Mormon Lectionary Project

The First Sunday in Lent, Year A

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11; Psalm 32; 2 Nephi 2:17-26

The Collect: O God, thou who hast sent us forth into a world of opposition and trial: bless us, through the ever-present grace of him who overcame all, with the joy that surpasses understanding.

That Lent should be a season of joy seems, well, not quite right. Why voluntarily enter a world of deprivation when life is usually hard enough as it is? We can hardly follow Jesus into the wilderness if that’s where we’re already living, having been cast out of Eden alongside Adam and Eve. Sin and death really do seem to have the dominion here. [Read more...]

The 1983 Mercer Island Ward Cookbook

I sometimes look at the used markets for research materials and I recently found a copy of the 1983 Mercer Island Ward Cookbook for sale on ebay. I remembered that my current ward was organized in the mid-1980s and that previously it was part of the Mercer Island Ward. A quick email to the ward list and responses confirmed my suspicion. Within a few weeks a friend lent me a copy from their own shelf.

[Read more...]

When God Talks

Inspiration is a tricky thing, and, at least for me, the muse is always elusive. Recently, quite unbidden and utterly unexpectedly, the sky split open and gave me a downpour of light and inspiration. I hadn’t realized the fog had gradually gotten so cottony and thick around my spirit; but there it was, suddenly blown away by the shocking and beautiful flood of light. This appears to be my pattern with the divine. There are people who seem to carry quiet, constant inspiration with them, on a slow drip like irrigation pipes under straw on a hot summer day. I used to wonder what was wrong that I didn’t always feel the small but companionable whispering. It would make me question my faith. [Read more...]

A Kick in the Gut

From one birthday to the next — there but for the grace of God go we all:

Civil War in London. Unimaginable?

[Read more...]

The Resurrection of a Mazda

When I returned home from work a few weeks ago, I broke into a wide grin at the happy sight of a familiar Mazda Protégé in the parking lot. She’s a scientific wonder affectionately known as The Maz; 24 years old, baby blue (in places), boasting all of her 406,000 kilometers with every inch of her peeling, rusting, dented and pockmarked body. She’d just spent nearly a month at the shop before coming home to us, her engine once again purring like a kitten. “It’s not worth it,” the auto shop had told my husband, Jon. “Why don’t you just go buy a used Corolla instead?” O ye of little faith. [Read more...]

Shrove Tuesday/Ash Wednesday

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MLP

Mormon Lectionary Project: Ash Wednesday, Year A

Joel 2:1-2,12-172 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10Matthew 6:1-6,16-21Psalm 103; 2 Nephi 4: 15-35

The Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Like Advent, Lent signals new life on the horizon. Shorn of all the secular trappings of Easter, the beginning of Lent is thus, along with First Advent, perhaps holier than the holiday it precedes. It is a day worth paying attention to, but in doing so, we admit our Anglo-Catholic tendencies. We Protestants (and Mormonism, whatever its doctrinal divergences, is culturally Protestant) have had an uneasy relationship with Lent, the 40 days (not counting Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Henry VIII, for example, allowed the eating of dairy products, hitherto forbidden during Lent, in his new English church. The Puritans abolished Lent altogether before it was reinstated by Charles II in 1664. By Victorian times, it had almost disappeared from English custom as one Yorkshireman ruefully noted in 1865: [Read more...]

He will find his way home.

It was 10PM on a Sunday in August, a decade ago. The next day was the first of three day-long sessions that comprised my comprehensive PhD exams. I was just thinking about how I probably should call it a day pretty soon when the phone rang. It was the police. [Read more...]

Hunger Banquet 2014

BYU Hunger Banquet 2014, Co-hosted by The Kennedy Center for International Studies at BYU (source: http://tinyurl.com/lfz42t3)

BYU Hunger Banquet 2014, Co-hosted by The Kennedy Center for International Studies at BYU (source: http://tinyurl.com/lfz42t3)

BYU’s 24th annual Hunger Banquet yesterday was a perfect way to welcome in Fast Sunday and as a prelude to the upcoming season of Lent beginning this week. The Hunger Banquet was a wonderful success, as it has been in past years, and I would like to express my thanks to the students from various initiatives across campus and the Kennedy Center for their work in continuing this important experience for the community. Fasting today on the food I received as someone assigned to the “developing world” in last night’s events has directed my mind to the less fortunate even more starkly than on a normal Fast Sunday. [Read more...]

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