Poll: Female Healing

I’m curious as to what women feel they are currently ok doing in the Church with respect to providing blessings to others. Below is a brief poll for our female readers. I’m sure there are other permutations. [Read more…]

Roundtable: Temple Prep, Part I

A few friends of mine — Tracy McKay, Tarik LaCour, Jana Riess, and myself — had an informal email roundtable discussion about the preparation we offer our members before they go to the temple. Jana is an author and editor, posting at the Religion News Service and tweeting the Bible. Tarik is a student of philosophy, history and religion, with a personal blog here. We talked about three questions. This is the first one: What would you say to your younger self as you were about to go through the temple for the first time?

Tracy: I was 34 when I went through for the first time. I had been through the church’s Temple Prep class probably 3 times, and people had been trying to get me to go through for several years- I joined when I was 29. I just wasn’t ready for such a massive unknown commitment- and that was a huge stumbling block to me. Having people give vague testimonies about how special it was or how spiritual really didn’t tell me anything. I didn’t want to look at or read any of the websites that detailed the temple, so I relied on my friends. [Read more…]

I Have A Question: Can You Break Commandments in the Holodeck?

Our semi-regular feature at BCC, in which we answer questions from our readers and then Rank stuff. Have a question you want us to answer? Send us an email!

Your questions have been burning a hole in our inbox. We must answer.

If I’m walking across the BYU campus in the morning when the national anthem plays over the speakers, do I really have to stop walking and put my hand over my heart?

[Read more…]

Homosexual, Not Homogenous

Rebecca Moore is a writer and NASA enthusiast. She has a personal website here. She is also quite tall. We’re grateful that she sent us this guest post.

Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.

Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world.

This weekend, as I sat at my ward retreat listening to a few people make homophobic remarks, I thought to myself, “Do I want to get into this right now?” [Read more…]

Tips for Teachers—New Testament lesson 39: “For the Perfecting of the Saints”

ntmanualLesson 39 covers Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians—although it may not have been written by Paul, might not have been an epistle, and likely wasn’t originally for the Ephesians! One of this book’s overall themes, however, reflects something that comes up in many of Paul’s writings: the desire to unite a diverse group of people into a body of Christians. Truths don’t seem to hinge on authorship here. It also has a rousing section on grace which segued nicely with one of President Uchtdorf’s recent conference addresses.

Much of my lesson focused on that perennial Pauline problem of promoting unity in diversity (you can see my entire lesson outline here). This post focuses on lesson 39 but really serves to provide three tips to help teachers hone their craft for youth and adult Sunday school classes. (More of my tips for teachers are linked here.) [Read more…]

Taking Care: A Post-Conference Chronicle

For Cathy Gilmore, what started as family history hobby soon developed into a passion of uncovering stories and writing about them over at thisgreatdeep.wordpress.com. She is also currently working on a documentary history of her grandmother Dorothy Smith Clark. Cathy graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in English and a Russian minor, and works as a contract consultant in marketing communications and design. She is married to Ed, an English bloke from Northeast Lincolnshire, and together they have four daughters. She’s also in the market for a new minivan.

The first Monday after conference is a always hopeful one for me— a spiritual New Years Day of sorts, where all the conference rubber hits the road. But which road to take? My path leading up to conference was an increasingly awkward hopscotch through life’s competing needs and opportunities. Still in the weeds of parenting, every direction led to an unsorted pile, an incomplete project, a waiting repair, or a collection of dusty Cheerios. My own long-held desires to nurture professional paths in more fulfilling directions have been marked with both disappointment and fresh opportunity. Spread thin as a dime, I was overwhelmed both with what I had and what I wanted. It was hard to know just where to begin. [Read more…]

Politics, Polygamy, and King Follett

In 1903, a tectonic shift was taking place in the way Latter-day Saints saw themselves and in the way non-Mormons saw Utah and the Mormons. Since the end of public Mormon polygamy in 1890, the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple in 1893, Wilford Woodruff’s revelation of 1894, and Utah statehood in 1896, Mormons were gradually, scratchingly, slowly, drifting into the mainstream of American culture, a change largely driven by technological forces. Politically, Mormonism had weathered a terrible storm and paid a large price in terms of self-definition, self-understanding, and theological position.
[Read more…]

The Rock of Faith, the Water of Faith

Moses_strikes_the_rock_001I’ve been thinking about the kind of testimony and faith I want to nurture in myself and others, and I’ve got a couple of way over-extended metaphors to throw out.* I have experienced at least two different kinds of faith, and I’ve seen these differences in others, too: Faith like a rock, and faith like water.

[Read more…]

Looking for My Mother’s Shadow

MI+mother+daughter+love+gettyA common argument about why we don’t speak more about Heavenly Mother or actively seek a relationship with Her is because we just don’t have a lot of documentation about Her. She doesn’t show up in LDS canonized scripture, and we only have secondhand accounts of Joseph Smith teaching of Her existence.

However, the “Mother in Heaven” essay published by the church last week seems to suggest that in spite of our ignorance, Heavenly Mother plays an important role in the mortal lives of both men and women. The essay cites President Harold B. Lee when he argued, “we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who are even more concerned, probably, than our earthly father and mother, and that influences from beyond are constantly working to try to help us.” Furthermore, the essay quotes Elder Rudger Clawson saying, “We honor woman when we acknowledge Godhood in her eternal Prototype,” suggesting that we know at least enough about Heavenly Mother to acknowledge Her. [Read more…]

Did Paul’s Companions Hear the Voice?


Today I taught lesson 38 on Acts 21-28. We basically did a close reading of chapters 21 and 22, tracing the end of Paul’s third missionary journey, his return to Jerusalem, his report of his mission to James (the Lord’s brother) and the elders, their concern that Paul is perceived as not requiring that Jewish Christians live the Law of Moses (Gentile Christians already being excused from such observance by the Jerusalem Decree), and their proposal that Paul accompany four men who were completing a nazirite vow to the temple and participate in the purification rites with them so the Jews could see with their own eyes that Paul was observant. I can see what the leadership was thinking, and it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it didn’t work (and I mean, not at all). Paul was recognized in the temple, which led to an immediate riot, and Paul would have been killed on the spot had the Roman authorities not intervened. He requests an opportunity to speak to the assembled Jews, which he is given, and thus makes the first of four defense speeches in this reading (the others being before Festus, the Sanhedrin, and Herod Agrippa II). [Read more…]

It’s time

Courtesy Julie de Azevedo Hanks

Courtesy Julie de Azevedo Hanks

Young Women Theme pink flower

WE ARE DAUGHTERS of our Heavenly Parents, who love us, and we love Them. WE WILL “STAND as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:

Faith • Divine Nature • Individual Worth • Knowledge • Choice and Accountability • Good Works • Integrity • and Virtue

WE BELIEVE as we come to accept and act upon these values, WE WILL BE PREPARED to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.

God-talk and Mother in Heaven

The release of the recent Gospel Topics essay on Heavenly Mother has unleashed a flood of conversation. The questions that have come up are fascinating: what does it mean to assign gender to God? What’s at stake in believing God is embodied? If we do affirm the existence of a Heavenly Mother, why don’t we talk about Her more? Why don’t we see Her in the temple? Does the language of “Mother” and “Father” even seem adequate to a divine force that can somehow encompass and exceed the full range of human experience?

I’m going to admit that I have no idea what the answers to these questions are or ought to be. But I’m also going to admit that I don’t think I can find the answers on my own. [Read more…]

The Women’s Essay

Neylan McBaine is founder and editor of the Mormon Women Project and author of Women At Church: Magnifying LDS Women’s Local Impact, as well as a contributor to the recent volume, Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings.

The essay released yesterday entitled “Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple and Women,” known among the people now as “the women essay,” has been a long time in coming. I don’t just mean in the sense that we’ve had a societal expectation that official words on this subject of women were needed and hoped for. That is definitely true. But I also mean that the authors at the Church History Library have been working on this essay for a long time. And it’s easy to understand why: we are in medias res on the subject of women in the Church, deep in the heart of a lively discussion that may signify “better days,” as Joseph described them, for women, but which still leave a very long way to go. [Read more…]

We need a Mother.

This piece is in response to this essay that the church put out today.

I need a mother.  I don’t need the notion of a mother, or even the appreciation for a mother.  I need a mother that comes with me in the middle of the night to take care of a child.  I need a mother who nurtures my intellect and challenges me to do more. I need a mother who believes in social justice and rages with me when I don’t know where else to go.   I need a mother who validates my wildness and urges my ideas to take root.  I need a mother in heaven, not merely an appreciation at the idea of one. [Read more…]

Meeting Elder and Sister Renlund #ldsconf

Screenshot 2015-10-21 at 3.53.09 PMThe 2015 November Ensign is shooting towards homes across Mormondom and inside there are the normal makings of a conference issue, which is mostly made up of the talks. What deviates, of course, is the inclusion of the leadership changes and with that one finds handy biographies starting on page 135 of the three new apostles as well as six additional biographies (including the presidency of the seventy changes, presiding bishopric changes and the new counselor in the Sunday School).

Why does this matter? It’s interesting to meet these new leaders, see what they’ve been up to in their lives, and for the most part, eight of those biographies follow the formula of most one-page biographies we’ve read in the magazines for years: a short testimony or a testimony-building anecdote about their lives to catch interest, followed by basic biographical information of where they were born and raised and educated, then marriage and sometimes an extra sentence about their wives, and church service throughout the world that prepared them for their calling today.

renludg1fThere is one amazing exception. One that made me say “whoa, I didn’t know I was craving this type of biography.” And that is Elder Dale G. Renlund’s biography. Because you not only get a biographical glimpse into his life, but his wife Ruth is in the very first paragraph and pretty much by his side, metaphorically (and from what I read, in actuality) throughout the biography. It’s a wonderful rhetorical use of bringing these women into spotlight along with their husbands. It matches what needs to happen as these women are just as invested as their husbands into these callings if not as visible. Sister Ruth Renlund is portrayed as a real and active partner by his side. I just love it. [Read more…]

Sins of immorality and misshapen creatures

Part 9 of my series, “Intellectual disability in Mormon thought…”
See also parts 1, 23, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.

2015-01-00-teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-ezra-taft-benson-eng-1Next week is Disability Awareness Week at BYU, so I thought it would be nice to write a post on the subject. A few weeks ago I was asked to substitute teach for elder’s quorum (I usually teach Sunday school). The lesson happened to be chapter 17 of the President Benson manual, “Keeping the Law of Chastity.” While reading over the lesson I found a few good quotes to build the discussion around.1 While preparing the lesson I came across a certain manual balrog.

“Manual balrogs” are excerpts that seem troubling, confusing, or otherwise inappropriate for your particular class. The manuals instruct teachers to “prayerfully select…teachings that you feel will be most helpful to those you teach,” and this particular quote was not selected for inclusion in my lesson:

“Purity is life-giving; impurity is deadly. God’s holy laws cannot be broken with impunity. Great nations have fallen when they became morally corrupt, because the sins of immorality left their people scarred and misshapen creatures who were unable to face the challenge of their times.”

[Read more…]

Empty seats: Black, White, and Mormon Conference

bwmormon“Make sure to get there early and save me a seat.” I texted my husband.

See, I figured that a free conference on the important and sometimes controversial topic of Black Saints in the Mormon fold would have filled the Utah Museum of Fine Art auditorium.

Turns out I needn’t have worried so much. And in a conference full of heartbreaking stories, the fact that there were so many empty seats ranked up there as the saddest thing I witnessed.

But we can change that. We must change that. We can virtually fill those empty seats and sit back and listen and learn from our Black Brothers and Sisters because the Tanner Humanities Center just released the videos to the conference.

Why is this important? Because these men and women are, as they explain “speaking truth” and opening their mouths and hearts in the most vulnerable ways and giving us a glimpse at shared and individual past pain so that we can work together to do what we can to avoid future pain.

And we must do it quickly. Because amidst the spiritual power, the eloquence, the laughter, the anger, the intellect, the creativity, I witnessed something else:

Fatigue. [Read more…]

The Sealing

brigham-city-dipper-temple-la-rae-robertsThe thick, creamy envelope lay heavy in the open mouth of the mailbox. “Office of the First Presidency” was etched in the upper left corner. My heart raced and my hand shook as I handed it to my husband Jon, still standing in the driveway, his coat and satchel dropped on his shoes, not all the way home from work. We had been waiting for weeks—months, years, eons, eternity—for this letter to arrive. Our entire hopeful future rested on what was in that envelope.

I had not been sealed to my first husband. My children were not born in the covenant, nor were they sealed at any time after. There is no easy way to convey the magnitude of this to someone not of our faith; one’s eternal relationship with family and with God can feel like they are on the line. When I got divorced, I assumed this was a door that had been closed to us, and I tucked those hopes away, pretty sure God would love us anyway. I never expected to be holding one of those thick, creamy envelopes with my future in it. [Read more…]

RIP Trevor Southey

Trevor Southey passed away yesterday. Joseph-Smith-three-views-e1374478814675Southey was an artist, sculptor, Mormon, gay man, husband, ex-husband, father and a host of other adjectives. [Read more…]

Book Review: Evolving Faith: Wanderings of a Mormon Biologist by Steven Peck

The cover is intelligently designed.

I’ve previously bemoaned the difficulty in reviewing a book by Steve Peck. Thus far I’ve mostly read (and thoroughly enjoyed) his fiction, however, and so I was curious to hear that he was going to publish a collection of his non-fiction essays through the Neal A. Maxwell Institute (part of their Living Faith series). The result is Evolving Faith: Wanderings of a Mormon Biologist, a work of about 200 pages in a dozen essays. It is a shocking relief to read something of Steve’s which I can criticize. Unfortunately, these criticisms are largely ineffectual; Steve’s short book is a great addition to the already-stellar Living Faith series. Evolving Faith is a worthy whirlwind tour of the intersections of evolutionary biology, consciousness, Mormonism and environmentalism. [Read more…]

BCC Intelligencer: Put us in your inbox

IntelligencerWe’re doing this weekly newsletter thing called The Intelligencer—a mix of BCC posts, Mormon news, amazing tweets, Bieber mashup videos, spiritual insights, and everything else you could possibly want spammed to you weekly.

Subscribe here. See the archive (including this week’s edition) here. Say hi here.

My Tree of Life

The other day I watched Thea bustle down the sidewalk in front of me, pulling her soft blue blanket as if it were a delicate animal on a leash.  It was unremarkable.  I was unremarkable, she was too.  But a thought so distinctly flashed through my mind that the idea seared on my heart.  The thought was simple, obvious and forgotten.  It said, “This is it.  This is what you’ve wanted.  You are in the middle of it.” [Read more…]

New Permablogger: Emily Grover

groverprofile We’re extremely excited to welcome Emily Grover aboard as our newest permablogger. She’s a talented writer and an amazing person. It just goes to show you that good things can come out of Rexburg after all. All hail Emily!

Book Review: The Prophet and the Reformer

The Prophet and the Reformer: The Letters of Brigham Young and Thomas L. Kane is a collection of letters between the famous Mormon leader and the East coast abolitionist and reformer Thomas Kane, but (perhaps to the chagrin of hard-core historians) it’s also a helpful summary of events and personalities surrounding the exodus from Nauvoo through the end of the Utah War. It’s difficult for a casual reader of history to provide a review of a collection like this, because while I have general familiarity with the time period and I am familiar with Young, Kane and several of the other people involved, I have no expertise with the source documents and no ability to say: yes, this is good history. Will that stop Steve in his review? Surely you jest. [Read more…]

Angels Unawares

I have a dear friend I met through work (obliquely – he’s not an employee) named Bobby. We soon discovered that we’re kindred spirits, despite the fact that we have almost nothing in common: I work in an office, he’s a firefighter and EMT; I’m almost 30, he’s almost 50; I’m white, he’s black; I’m Mormon, he’s nondenominational Christian. But on those happy, rare occasions when our schedules align for lunch, we have hours-long, reflective conversations about a wide range of topics including religion, politics, current events, feminism, and racial injustice. His stories often make me cry (once I’m safely back at home – I’m not a public crier), like his retelling of the time an elderly white woman, in middle of a heart attack, screamed for her purse and clutched it tightly with both hands after Bobby stepped in to perform a life-saving maneuver on her. [Read more…]

Authenticity: Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?

It’s a common claim among participants of Mormon internet groups that people feel they cannot be themselves at church or can’t say what they think for fear of being ostracized.  They feel they are discouraged from being honest or authentic, that they would be rejected if they disagreed with the party line or articulated a non-conforming viewpoint.  Certainly many examples have been given of individuals who were viewed suspiciously for sharing unpopular opinions openly.  These are complaints that they feel they must be inauthentic to be accepted. [Read more…]

Recovering My Sea Legs on the Old Ship Zion

Emily Grover teaches English literature and is finishing a doctoral dissertation about women novelists in the 18th century. She served a mission in Tokyo and married a man who served in Seoul. They have three kids and live in eastern Idaho, where they birdwatch, hike, and play a lot of Dr. Mario.

In the wake of the many maritime metaphors used during the recent General Conference—being “shipshape and Bristol fashion,” scuba-diving into scriptures, avoiding the gaping maws of sin-sharks, and so on—I find myself considering anew my own journey aboard “Old Ship Zion,” Brigham Young’s metaphor for the LDS church referenced by Elder Ballard last weekend.

These last few years have been both exciting and frustrating for me as the church has gone through (dare I say it?) sea changes in doctrine, policy, presentation, ideology, and culture and as I have become more aware of what I consider to be honest, urgent questions about the church’s past, present, and future. While some of these shifts have brought comfort and light, others have struck me like storms and have threatened, if not to throw me overboard, then at least to occasionally send me green-faced and stomach-achey to the sides of the ship. I feel like I’ve lost my sea legs. [Read more…]

I Have A Question: What The Heck Is Canadian Thanksgiving, Anyways?

Our semi-regular feature at BCC, in which we answer questions from our readers and then Rank stuff. Have a question you want us to answer? Send us an email! Your questions have been burning a hole in our inbox. We must answer.

Hi Guys,

So, I’ve heard a lot lately, too much, really, about how I must, we must, one must Defend the Family. From you all too. But when I press for particulars I get either, you know, make my gay friends sad, hurt, and angry or else mumbled non-answers, and sideways glances. If I’m very lucky, I might get a tip o’ the hat to good ol’ fashion gender roles, but though everybody with a podium from the Tabernacle to the Bloggernacle seems to feel that the necessity of a good familial defense is a truth universally acknowledged, people are so, so cagey about the details. Moats? Zone? Alekhine’s? Groucho glasses?

Heed the counsel given in the war chapters of the Book of Mormon. [Read more…]

Polygamy and Baptism Policy


So I’m watching Sister Wives as I type this. One of the daughters is named Madison; she has only intermittently appeared on the show recently because she’s away attending school at Utah State. She has been very clear that she is not going to live polygamy. A recent tangential story arc in the show was that she had decided to be baptized LDS. That was the plan. (Good for her, I thought.) She just reported to her moms that she got two phone calls, including from the mission president, that they’re not going to let her get baptized. Apparently they had wanted her to publicly denounce her family, and of course she wouldn’t do that. She can keep attending church if she wants to but she can’t get baptized. They told her they hope she’ll “reconsider” the Church “when her family isn’t so much in the public eye.” They hope she’s not “bitter” about it. [Read more…]

Was the Sin of Sodom Multi-Level Marketing?


It has only happened to me once, but it was devastating. I was invited to the home of someone I liked and respected. It was going to be a small gathering—just a few close friends—and I was honored to have made the cut. Against all of my better judgment, I even bought new clothes.

And it was lovely for a while. Good food. Good people. Interesting conversation. And then came the sales pitch. It began with the standard opening moves: What if you didn’t have to work full time to earn a living? What could you do for your family with gobs of extra money? Wouldn’t it be great to work for yourself? It was all on a video with through-the-roof production values. [Read more…]


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,905 other followers