Toward a More Productive, Fulfilling, and Successful Missionary Program

A little over six months have passed since the Church held its mission president training meeting that was double-billed as a worldwide leadership training meeting relating to missionary work to which all members were invited (either in person at the BYU Marriott Center or virtually, by way of the internet) and which was preceded by unprecedented fanfare. [Read more...]

Twitter at Church

Next week, classes start again. The first day of class, as I provide an overview of the class, I’ll tell my students that, thanks to the magic of the internet, they have easy access to plenty of things that are more interesting and engaging than what I can provide. Seriously, even if I were the most engaging professor in the world—and I’m not bad, frankly—I can’t compete with cat videos, instant messages, and the rest of human knowledge and entertainment available online. Still, I have no interest in banning laptops in my classroom. Instead, I suggest that, entertaining or not, my lecture and other classroom interactions will generally be more valuable than said cat videos.  [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...]

Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace

One of life’s great challenges is learning to lift up our eyes and actually see those around us.  To see them in all their frailties and faults and weaknesses and learn to love them for their whole selves.  I am not particularly good at this.  I don’t think many of us are really pros, frankly.  But every once in a while life arranges for you to look up. [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 Christian Disciplines: Fasting

[All posts in series]

Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and reason; and others have utterly disregarded it (John Wesley).

At the risk of breaking Jesus’ injunction to keep schtum about one’s fasting habits, I am pretty good at fasting. I generally fast twice a week, meaning 2×24 hours without food, and began this year with a two-day fasting (non-)binge. I do this for health reasons, because I simply cannot do moderation — I cannot eat moderately, it is either all or nothing. For five days a week it is all, for two it is nothing. This way I am able to keep my weight down. It works.

So when Foster talks about epic multi-week fasts I think I could do it. I am a faster. Hooray! [Read more...]

So just what do Mormons think about evolution?

The following is a guest post by Benjamin Knoll, a political science professor at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. He teaches classes on public opinion, voting behavior, political statistics, and other topics in American politics. He currently serves as the Elders Quorum President in his ward.

A recent popular headline suggested that acceptance of biological evolution has dropped nearly 10% over the last four years among Republicans. This has prompted renewed interest in many circles on the topic of American opinions toward evolution and, particularly for the Bloggernacle audience, how American Mormons view the topic.

[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...]

The Mormon Lectionary Project: Epiphany

The Epiphany, Year A

Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12, 1 Nephi 13:40-42

The Collect: O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

[Read more...]

O Youth of the Noble Birthrate

The Brethren are concerned with the rates at which LDS couples are having babies. Most recently, Elder Dallin Oaks declared:

Because of what we understand about the potentially eternal role of the family, we grieve at the sharply declining numbers of births and marriages in many Western countries whose historic cultures are Christian and Jewish… In the midst of these concerning trends, we are also conscious that God’s plan is for all of His children and that God loves all of His children, everywhere.

So what, then, can we do as individuals and as a community to increase the numbers of births and marriages among us?
[Read more...]

What’s wrong with this picture? More men in women’s meeting than women in general sessions of conference

I was talking to a friend about these images of gender imbalance in the speaking parts in General Conference. In trying to convey how alienating such an overwhelmingly male meeting can be for women in the audience, I posed this hypothetical: if there were a meeting as female as general conference is male, would men in the audience perceive it as a meeting for them, that related to them, where they felt comfortable and welcome? Or would they perceive it to be a women’s meeting? [1]

It occurred to me that this isn’t merely a hypothetical. We do have a meeting that is mostly female, the annual Relief Society meeting. Although we understand it to be a women’s meeting, there is actually more male participation in this “women’s” meeting than there is female participation in the meetings that are supposed to be for women as much as they are for men, the general sessions of conference. This is illustrated in a newly updated infographic (click to enlarge):

GeneralConferenceInfographic.RS
[Read more...]

Breaking the Faith

As the unofficial Bloggernacle chronicler of TV shows about polygamy, it’s about time that I put up a post about the latest entry in the genre, TLC’s “Breaking the Faith,” which is about eight or so young refugees from the FLDS living in a safe house in the Salt Lake area and trying to acclimate to gentile life.  I have not seen all the episodes, but I just watched several on On Demand. [Read more...]

The Conversation We Heard

This post was submitted by MikeInWeHo, a longtime Bloggernacle participant and friend of BCC.

Since Judge Shelby’s decision, I’ve seen discussions about the history of traditionalists’ agenda against gays, suggesting that traditionalists were never anything except compassionate and nice to gays. I read it and thought, “Have I been living on another planet?” No, but there are two conflicting narratives. It’s very different from the conservation I remember:

Traditionalists in the 60s:Homosexuals are criminal predators who recruit our children, which is why homosexuality is a crime. We must close the places they gather and jail them if they refuse psychiatric treatment for their mental illness.”

[Read more...]

When Do You Take Down the Xmas Tree?

This morning on the Today show they were talking about the different times when people take down their Christmas trees and other decorations.  Some people take everything down promptly on December 26; others opt for the weekend after New Year’s; others on January 6 or 7 (to observe the full 12 days of Christmas); others more or less don’t take them down at all.  I took our tree down today (New Year’s Day), which is my normal practice.  I like to keep them up for the full holiday (the 26th is too quick a hook for my taste), but I sort of like the idea of beginning the New Year fresh.  So, as I sit here in a major snowstorm with the last hours of New Year’s Day ebbing away, I got curious.  When do you take your Christmas stuff down?

Introduction to the Old Testament

I’m doing an Intro to the OT lesson tomorrow. Below is some of the gist of what I hope to manage to get across. [Read more...]

Holy Innocents II

A response, of sorts, to RJH’s post. This is the text of the end of my ward’s Christmas program from last year. The program was scheduled just two days after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and we were all sick and stunned. I still think it’s too glib a response–it’s too easy to love the idea of vulnerability from a safe distance. And yet, and yet… [Read more...]

The Mormon Lectionary Project: Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents, Year A

Jeremiah 31:15-17Revelation 21:1-7Matthew 2:13-18Psalm 124, Moses 7:28

The Collect: We remember today, Heavenly Father, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. [Read more...]

Why Mormons Should Be Hopeful Gay Marriage Won’t Tear The Church Apart

December is traditionally the time for Oscar-bait dramas but this year they’ve been upstaged by a 43-year-old federal judge. Judge Shelby was confirmed to the United States District Court for the District of Utah on the recommendation of Senator Orrin Hatch. He enjoyed support of Tea Party favorite Senator Mike Lee who endorsed him as “pre-eminently qualified” and predicted he would be an “outstanding judge”.

On Friday, only a little more than a year and a few months after being confirmed to the bench, Shelby struck down Utah’s law banning same-sex marriage. Depending on your politics you might view Shelby’s opinion as one of the best heel turns ever executed–up there with the moment Andre the Giant challenged Hulk Hogan to the title in WrestleMania III. [1] If you lean left Shelby looks like the second coming of David Souter following Planned Parenthood v. Casey. [Read more...]

The Mormon Lectionary Project: Christmas II

Christmas II, Year A

Isaiah 62:6-12, Psalm 97, Titus 3:4-7, Luke 2:1-7, 8-20, Mosiah 5:7-9

The Collect: Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

[Read more...]

The Mormon Lectionary Project: Christmas I

Christmas I, Year A

Isaiah 9:2-7, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-14, Psalm 96, 2 Nephi 25:23-27

The Collect: O God, on this day when we rejoice in the birth of thy Son, whom thou hast given to us in everlasting love, instill in us thy presence, that, as we still await the consummation of all things, the babe in the manger might yet dwell with us in our hearts, through the grace of thy Holy Spirit, forever and ever, world without end. [Read more...]

Christmas Eve

If I could only have one recording of Christmas music, this performance of Vaughan Williams’ Hodie would be it. Christmas for me is Milton in the voice of Janet Baker, and Hardy and Herbert in John Shirley-Quirk’s lugubrious baritone.

[Read more...]

Families: Ordained of God

Merry Christmas from Brad Kramer

Just a quick post to wish everyone a very happy Christmas. Whether you’re in Utah or in the mission field, thanks for reading BCC and being part of the crowd. Many of you will spend this holiday with your families: others will not. Still others will wish they weren’t with their families. [Read more...]

Governor Grinch

Gary Herbert
Every Gay down in Zion
Liked Gay Marriage a lot…
But the Gov, Who lived just North of Downtown,
Did NOT! [Read more...]

Review: Stephen H. Webb’s Mormon Christianity

webbcoverWhat if Joseph Smith’s vision of God really does have something important to say to all Christians today?
— Stephen H. Webb

The recent “Mormon moment” exasperated theologian Stephen Webb. It wasn’t that Mitt Romney’s presidential run lent undue legitimacy to the LDS Church, or that Webb thought the media went too soft on the religious background of the Republican nominee. Although he is not a Mormon himself, Webb was unnerved by shallow discussions about Mormon underwear and other apparent trivialities. According to Webb, such conversations fail to pay due attention to Mormon metaphysics—the way Mormons understand the nature of matter, humans, God, and existence. His new book, Mormon Christianityexplores the development and coherence of this core belief taught by Joseph Smith: “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes…” (D&C 131:7). Mormons make no ultimate distinction between spirit and matter, the natural and supernatural, which largely sets them apart from the broader Christian tradition. “The Mormon imagination is solidly grounded in material reality,” writes Webb, “but it takes the physical world to new and unheard-of heights” (10). Webb believes Christian lungs can benefit from the rarefied air of these heights.
[Read more...]

Non-Christmas Programs in Sacrament Meeting Today

I’m a big fan of Christmas, so I was looking forward to the Christmas program at Church this morning.  While the choir sang two Christmas numbers and two of our congregational hymns were also from the Christmas section of the hymnal, the talks had nothing to do with Christmas.  We have five missionaries serving in our ward (three sisters and two elders), and each of them spoke.  I’m not sure what the theme was supposed to be, or if there even was one; I guess it was on missionary work.  I couldn’t believe it; we had visitors in the congregation who doubtless had come expecting a Christmas service, but no such service was presented; I imagine them scratching their heads as they left the building. [Read more...]

The Surprising Nativity: A Chrismas Homily

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

The passage from the New Testament which always hear this time of year includes these important, well-known lines:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field , keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo , the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold , I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

The phrase “sore afraid” is a translation of the Greek word phobeō; it communicates the idea of, not just fear, but of taking alarm, and of sudden surprise. The shepherds, in other words, were terrified–not because, or at least not solely because, the appearance of the angel was a terrifying vision, but also because it was unexpected, and shocking. This was not something they ever could have been prepared for. [Read more...]

Advent IV–Rorate caeli

A final Advent post from Jason Wood

This will be my last post in this series, as Advent draws to a close and Christmas Eve approaches. It’s been fun to share some of my favorite music for this season, and I appreciate the chance to do so. The Rorate caeli returns for the fourth Sunday of Advent as the Introit, this time with a new plainchant in mode 1.

[Read more...]

The Mormon Lectionary Project: Fourth Advent

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A

Isaiah 7:10-16Romans 1:1-7Matthew 1:18-25Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18, 1 Nephi 11:16-22

The Collect: Heavenly Father, purify us through the Spirit, that thy Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; and if not a mansion, then a manger . . . for there is room for him with us. [Read more...]

Judge Robert Shelby: 2013 Boggs-Doniphan Gentile (Non-Mormon) of the Year

The Boggs-Doniphan Gentile (Non-Mormon) of the Year award honors the non-Mormon who had the greatest impact on Mormonism, for good or ill, during the year. (See that other blog for Mormon of the Year.) The previous winners are John Turner, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez, Judge Vaughn Walker, Stephen Colbert, and Mike Huckabee. There’s no need for nominations and voting this year. This happened:

[Read more...]

Book Review: To Mormons with Love

I was hoping for a little more whoop ass, but the book was very sweet and sincere.

I just finished reading a fascinating book a couple months ago called To Mormons, With Love by Chrisy Ross. She blogs here and gives a quick overview of her book here. You can buy her book on Kindle here. Chrisy and her family are nondenominational Christians who live (voluntarily, not because of Witness Relocation or anything like that) in Utah County – and even enjoy it mostly! I’m not sure I know many Mormons for whom I could say the same, but I might live in the opposite of a Mormon bubble. [Read more...]

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