As we said last April, we’re not going to be providing live tweeting or open threads. We will, however, provide in-depth analysis and historical context, as well as provide an opportunity to discuss the ideas raised during the talks. Why are we doing this? A few reasons, all linked to the notion that General Conference is a sacred time. [Read more…]
It says Sunday, but obviously, Sunday is conference. And anyway, this, for whatever it may be worth, is best contemplated before that. Happy Conference!
The question of how faith and the scholarship of scripture interface is an old one, but it has a somewhat different meaning for Latter-day Saints. Partly this relates to the canon. For Mormons the canon is at least technically not closed. The rulebook may change. But another even more sensitive matter is the notion of consistency between revelations. It’s one thing to consider biblical inerrancy in the face of historic issues about text and theology. But since Joseph Smith’s publication of the Book of Mormon and his subsequent Bible revision work (1830-33), it has been apparent that Mormons are at least as sensitive to the charge of internal inconsistency as other Christians. They have even more at stake, and they are doubly vulnerable. Since Joseph Smith, Mormons have considered Christian liturgy and theology to be hidden within Old Testament times since Adam and Eve. Adam was baptized! The gospel has been the same for all time, and at least the elites of the Old Testament (Moses, Abraham) were actually Christians (not a unique position among Christians –1,600 years ago it was a way to marginalize Jews).
It’s incredibly easy these days to update online content. It’s also relatively easy to compare updated content to older content, especially with the help of that magical “Way Back Machine.”1 (Check out lds.org in its original “Under Construction” phase, and its first full iteration. Pretty nifty but it needs more animated gifs.) When I was told the “Race and the Priesthood” essay on the Church’s excellent Gospel Topics section of the website was updated it only took a few minutes to make a comparison using that website and Microsoft Word. But before I continue let me say if you haven’t read the essay already, I urge you to read the whole thing rather than focusing on the parts that were updated merely to verify if they comport with your political, religious, or cultural sensibilities. Even if you have already read it, you might read it in full again because we could all use a refresher. So go here first: lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood.
I’ll wait for you, continuing when you get back. [Read more…]
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.”—Ephesians 5:15
In the wretched hive of scum and villainy that we call “the 21st century,” there is probably no issue that demands our attention more than the need to produce faithful bipeds. Perhaps nothing is as fundamentally human as the ability to walk on two legs, freeing up the arms and opposable thumbs for higher things, like grasping tools and folding in prayer. Those who advocate a quadrupedal lifestyle deny, not only what is most human in us, but also what is most divine, for we are made in the image of He who walked, and did not crawl, on the water. [Read more…]
We’re glad to feature another guest post by Ashley Mae Hoiland. See her first post here.
When I was in high school, I was compelled by internal forces to spend a good amount of time celebrating birthdays of people I hardly knew. I spent many nights baking cookies, painting small cards with notes and putting together assortments of birthday packages from treasures I found in my room. Like my mom, I remember dates and people very well, and I was astute in garnering birthday knowledge from kids across the social spectrum.
The only problem was that I would often get too shy to actually deliver the gifts in person, so I also spent a lot of time devising plans to leave the goods on desks before class, strung up to lockers and given through another friend. I was dogged in my efforts, despite the uncomfortable position it often put me in. A lot of these kids I didn’t know well: many of them were the social hang-ups, the kids who did not climb the rungs of high school sociality with ease. For some reason I still cannot fully explain, I felt responsible for helping them to know that someone was celebrating their birthday.
I laugh when I tell these stories now, but partly, I am entirely intent on returning to this place of intuition—this place where I did not question the absurdity of what the spirit compelled me to do, and because I didn’t question, my life was replete was quiet moments of connection and joy that would have otherwise not have happened. [Read more…]
A little over a year ago, the Church History Museum shut down for renovations. The renovations were sorely needed; some exhibits were run down, the museum itself was a bit dated. Today the museum re-opened and the new exhibit, The Heavens Are Opened, is the centerpiece. It was worth the wait. The revamped Church History Museum is a very fine collection of materials and artifacts from our past, presented in a manner that is both engaging and spiritually uplifting. [Read more…]
I realized the other day that, until I went to BYU, I had probably never watched a Saturday session of Conference (other than Priesthood session).
The thing is, my parents were (and are) tremendously active and participatory in the Church. I can probably count the number of Sundays I missed as a kid on one—or at most, on two—hands. And two of those Sundays had me in the hospital after an appendectomy.
I mean, when I was really little, suburban San Diego didn’t get Conference over cable, so my parents would have had to have bundled the three, then four, of us over to the Stake Center. But even when the station that carried nothing 50 weekends out of the year started showing Conference on the other two, I don’t remember watching Saturday sessions. [Read more…]
Pres. Uchtdorf, aka the “Silver Fox” as he is known in my ward and probably everywhere else, hit yet another home run in the Women’s Session, batting clean up for the three female speakers. He opens with:
Today, I too have a story to share. I invite you to listen with the Spirit. The Holy Ghost will help you to find the message for you in this parable.
He shares the story of an 11 year old girl named Eva who did not want to go to live with her Great-Aunt Rose. [Read more…]
Clear President Monson’s calendar.
The recent passing of three apostles means the Church President will likely call three replacements this week, and depending on where they come from, he might just need to call replacements for the replacements as well.
Who will they be? I’m glad you asked.
Today’s guest post is by Ken C, husband to Angela C.
I suspect that most Latter-day Saints do not know that Joseph Smith revealed a new Lord’s Prayer. No, not in the Inspired Version or Joseph Smith Translation, revision, of the Bible. This was a revelation, almost certainly connected to that biblical revision work, but separate from it, a New Prayer for the Last Times, much like the original prayer was a prayer for the last times. To catch the vision here, I’ll take the Mathean prayer and place it in parallel with this new prayer, that was dictated on October 30, 1831. The context of the prayer is important, and it serves as a kind of preface for foundational revelations of November 1831 that defined church polity and established a form of government that carried on through modern manifestations of Mormonism.
As a Latter-day Saint, I embrace my religion and the full, restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I sustain our leaders, especially our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. However, I also connect with Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church. On some occasions, I tell my Mormon friends we should pray for the pope, and I tell my Catholic friends that I support the pope, as well. Do you?
I don’t have a lot of “favorite scriptures.” The occasional verses so designated generally become proof texts that end up trying to support whatever somebody happens to believe. In fact, I would be hard pressed to come up with a favorite verse in the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, or the Pearl of Great Price. But I do have a favorite scripture in the Doctrine & Covenants. Four of them, actually. They go like this: [Read more…]
I really didn’t get a vacation this year. Work has just been too hectic, which is good in that it means I still have a job, but which makes it difficult to get away. I missed MHA, and also missed my usual early August trip to Utah. So I started to eyeball the John Whitmer Historical Association Conference in Independence as a way to help make up for all my hard work earlier in the year. Plus I have a new car (a Mazda 3–a thing of beauty) and I wanted to take it out on a road trip. So I made the arrangements, and here I am at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center in Independence, Missouri. I hope the Second Coming comes while I’m here so it will save me the trip. [Read more…]
It is common for westerners in India to be amazed at the utter chaos and yet the seemingly laissez-faire attitude of the Indian drivers. One of our Indian drivers remarked about the traffic: “In India, nothing is impossible because I-M-Possible.” He chortled over his cleverness, and repeated that saying many times in our nine day trip. [Read more…]
A wonderful, gentle man is dead. Richard G. Scott was 86. [Read more…]
It’s not often that an angel chooses the lectionary scriptures for the day, but that’s exactly what Moroni did when he appeared to Joseph Smith three times during the night of September 21-22, 1823. In addition to instructions about where to find the plates that would become the Book of Mormon, Joseph reports that Moroni’s visit consisted largely of the angel’s reciting scriptural texts focused on the dawning of a messianic age when the wolf will lie down with the lamb (Isaiah), when God will, through prophetic calling (Acts) and the spirit of Elijah (Malachi), gather his scattered people (Isaiah) and pour out spiritual gifts on them (Joel) before judging the earth (all of them). [Read more…]
I’m usually a “shoot from the hip” kind of professor. I prepare notes and presentations, but then I just talk with the students. I ask questions. And I try to lead them to thinking through issues more thoroughly. My class is made up of 10 students from all over the world. None of them are from the U.S. They are here studying “Democratic Governance and Rule of Law” which is a fancy way of saying that we are teaching local attorneys to have the skills to reform their own justice systems. My class is focused on American history and the American legal system, but they have other classes in comparative constitutional law, international law, human rights, issues in transitional democracies, etc. We’re taking a break from the textbook this week to do a module on racial discrimination in America and the civil rights movement. So in preparing a lesson slavery and the civil war and jim crow laws, to a class that includes four students from Africa, I thought long and hard about how to introduce this topic. Contrary to my usual practice, I wrote it down. [Read more…]
[Note: there’s a link to a survey at the end. But if you don’t want to wade through the post first, you can access the survey here.]
I’d been practicing law for about a year when my first daughter was born; when she was born, my law firm offered one week of paid paternity leave. A couple years later, when my second was born, it had upped its paid paternity leave to four weeks.[fn1] (It offers 18 weeks of paid leave for primary caregivers, and up to another 18 weeks of unpaid leave.) [Read more…]
Ashley Mae Hoiland received a BFA in studio arts and an MFA in poetry, both from Brigham Young University. She served a mission in Uruguay. She now lives in Palo Alto, California with her husband, Carl, and two children, Remy and Thea. She has written and illustrated several children’s books and once headed a project that printed poetry on billboards. More of her writing can be found at www.birdsofashmae.com. We are glad to welcome Ashmae as a guest of BCC.
There I am, a little sprite of a girl, lion-haired and scrape-kneed, taking bouncy skipping steps along the dirt path. Quiet morning sun peers through the leaves like the light through stained glass at the front of a cathedral. As a thirty-year-old, I stand at the top of my childhood hill and look down. I can see my 8-year-old self stopping to bend near the ground and hold some leaves between her fingers. I hear the scuffle and scrape of dust and rocks beneath worn tennis shoes. My tiny self is alone and canopied by the canyon oaks and crooked spruces.
I almost remember perfectly the visceral magic of endless possibility I felt in this space. My parents were both new to the church and the missionaries still drove up the long canyon road and the steep driveway to our house every Monday evening—we knew so little. Our naïveté left us unencumbered and free, because the few facts we really grasped on to were handed to us by the joy we felt as we were sealed in the temple just months before, or when the ward wrapped their arms around my parents and celebrated their goodness. [Read more…]
“I think this is the best-known story in the world because it’s everybody’s story. I think it is the symbol story of the human soul. I’m feeling my way now—don’t jump on me if I’m not clear. The greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears.
“I think everyone in the world to a large or small extent has felt rejection. And with rejection comes anger, and with anger some kind of crime in revenge for rejection, and with the crime guilt—and there is the story of mankind.
“I think that if rejection could be amputated, the human would not be what he is. Maybe there would be fewer crazy people. I am sure in myself there would not be many jails.
“It is all there—the start, the beginning. One child, refused the love he craves, kicks the cat and hides his secret guilt; and another steals so that money will make him loved; and a third conquers the world—and always the guilt and revenge and more guilt. The human is the only guilty animal.
“Now wait! Therefore I think this old and terrible story is important because it is a chart of the soul—the secret, rejected, guilty soul.”
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden
I didn’t get to part II of the last post, but I’m going to work on it this week if I can. It turned out to be more complex than I thought, and my vision of what I should do about it got completely out of hand. So, here is some more New Testament stuff that I’ve been thinking about.
In the sixth chapter of Acts, Luke narrates a very old tradition about conflict and dissent in the early Christian church. When we talk of this episode, we usually ignore the meaning of the outcome, which may be the most important influence on the course of Christianity after Jesus.
Luke tells us this (Acts 6:1): “in these days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews.” “Hellenists” refers to Christian believers in Jerusalem who had a Greek background in some way, Luke doesn’t explain, but he does give some names: Phillip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolas (the proselyte), all are Greek names. They are Jews, but the text draws a distinction between them and the “Hebrews,” meaning natives of the city perhaps. That both groups are Jews and Christians, is the important point. As Luke tells us about Hellenist leaders he makes sure to say that one of them was a proselyte (convert to Judaism) meaning that the rest of them were born Jews.
Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Well done.
(Video provided by Wendy Williams Montgomery.)
We would like to make our viewers aware of a significant event at the University of Virginia next weekend. Under the auspices of the Mormon Studies chair, the University is sponsoring the first of the Joseph Smith lectures on religious liberty. The initial speaker will be Senator Harry Reid, Senate Democratic Leader. The lecture will be held on Saturday September 26 at 2:00 p.m. in the University of Virginia’s Newcomb Hall Theater. Parking is available in the Bookstore garage immediately behind Newcomb Hall.
The conversation will be comprised largely of questions from the audience. [Read more…]
On the 31 May 1964, in the upstairs of a small home he rented with my mum, my father tuned his radio to 6155 khz. Between 18.30 and 18.45 GMT he could hear the radio programming broadcasted by Österreichischer Rundfunk. He subsequently sent a transmission reception report to Austria and received this card in return: [Read more…]
Literary historians can learn many things by poking around in the pre-history of Deseret Books—the oldest official publishing arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though Deseret has historically published doctrinal books and curricular materials, it has, in each of its incarnations, published just enough fiction to make life interesting. [Read more…]
Last month, my mom was in Chicago, visiting us. On the last day of her visit, we took her on the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Historic Treasure of Culture and Commerce tour. Over the course of about ten blocks and two hours, we learned about and saw a number of amazing buildings in downtown Chicago. I’d seen all of them at least in passing, of course, but I now know the history, the reasons, and the thought that went into them.
For me, the highlight was probably the Chicago Cultural Center’s giant Tiffany dome. But you could make a plausible argument for the Art Institute of Chicago, the Tiffany dome in the Marshall Fields (now Macy’s) store, the metalwork of the Sullivan Center, or basically anything else we saw that day. [Read more…]
Do you like that title? It just came to me. (It’s a play on Hymn #226–GET IT?) I’ve been interested to see what comes of this new Keep the Sabbath Day (Better) campaign the church has started. The first thing I saw was this meme about how the Sabbath should look different, feel different, sound different. As much as I endorse the idea of the Sabbath being different, I’m kind of cutesy-Pinterest-memed out these days. I’m a terrible human being, but it makes me kind of nuts that all gospel teachings are instantly transformed into some attractive design you can tweet or post on Facebook. (Personally, I’d rather not read the words of God’s prophets out of context and randomly chopped into different fonts and sizes and pasted against the image of someone standing on a cliff, but different strokes, I guess.) Besides which– [Read more…]