Church Finances, 1947-Style

In April 1959, the Church published its last financial report. The last here is important, though, because, for almost half a century leading up to that report, the Church presented a relatively detailed financial report in each April General Conference.

Until a couple months ago, though, I’d never seen the financial reports that the Church issued. In the course of his reading and research, J. Stapley came across the Church’s 1947 financial report, and offered to let me blog it. I jumped at the chance, and the disclosure turns out, in many ways, to be as fascinating as I’d hoped.  [Read more...]

My Hopes & Fears for the Next General Conference

We still have several weeks until the October General Conference, and given what’s happened in the meantime, many Mormons like me are concerned it could be gloat-mageddon.  If I were putting together a General Conference, here are the things I would include and what I would cut.  Of course this is already unrealistic because there are over a dozen speakers, each of whom has his or her own areas of focus and points of view.  But this is my list; YMMV.  I’ll start with the Fears and end with the Hopes. [Read more...]

Mormon Jargon 2

Now in a slightly less abridged form!

One of my most popular posts ever was a Mormon version of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary, a satirical version of definitions of words according to Mormon culture. [1]  I thought it was time to expand that first effort.  I’ve included original definitions, a few reader suggestions, and added to the list with some more of my own.  With this preamble, I bring you Mormon Jargon the Sequel:  2 Mormon 2 Jargon.

[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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

183rd Semiannual General Conference Portal

DRAMATIZATION

This page is a portal to all content at BCC related to the 183rd Semiannual General Conference, held October 5-6, 2013. [Read more...]

Conference talks filled with love

Wordle provided by Connor Boyack  @ http://connorboyack.com/ldsconf/apr13.html

Wordle provided by Connor Boyack @ http://connorboyack.com/ldsconf/apr13.html

For my conference talk report, instead of focusing on just one talk, I decided to focus on an overarching connection in all of the talks. The first theme I tried worked wonderfully as it was mentioned in every talk and, in some cases, captured that talk’s pure essence quite beautifully.

The theme: Love.

[Read more...]

“This is my favorite thing.”

Hushpuppy and the girls (photo from collider.com)

In his Sunday Afternoon Conference Talk, Elder D. Todd Christofferson focused on the Redemptive power of the Atonement in our lives. While it is historically accurate and theologically legitimate to discuss a redemptive power and an understanding of Atonement tied to a redemption of humanity from some great debt, I feel like it can interfere with our understanding of the Atonement’s purpose.
[Read more...]

183rd Annual General Conference Portal

HABBENINK // ILLUSTRATION
http://www.habbenink.com

This page is a portal to all content at BCC related to the 183rd Annual General Conference, held April 6-7, 2013. [Read more...]

(Re)Conceptualizing our Gendered Missionary Image

First and foremost, let me say that I am absolutely thrilled with today’s announcement lowering the age for prospective missionaries, for many of the reasons that have (and will be) written here and elsewhere: the transforming popular image of sister missionaries, the increase in scriptural knowledge and service opportunities amongst female members, the growing possibilities for female leadership, the adjusted goals of the young women’s program, the larger amount of young adults being tethered to the gospel (and humanity), and many other examples of the slow, uneven steps toward gender equality. All of these are important results that I fervently celebrate; I suppose that such things, if proved true, will make today a significant milestone in our ever-growing progression as God’s Kingdom.

But I’m interested in another impact this policy change could have on our culture: the possibility of re-conceptualizing our highly gendered image of missionary work. [Read more...]

The Sunday Afternoon We Broke the Sabbath to Buy Lunch in a Seedy Downtown Bar Thread

With City Creek not open to Sabbath breakers, it was an effort to find lunch. Sunday pm coming up . . .

A banner is unfurled

Singing away the anti-Mormons

[Read more...]

Becoming a Mormon: Thinking about a Brand with Elder Ballard

I am a recent convert to “Mormonism” myself. Not too many years ago you could find me vigorously arguing on Mormon-themed blogs about the importance of avoiding the word “Mormon” as a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[1] At the time, it felt like a concession to detractors of our faith to self-identify by the nickname they derisively gave to us in the nineteenth century. Ironically, however, it was precisely our nineteenth-century ancestors in the faith who had made peace with the descriptor and good-naturedly co-opted it to describe themselves, leaving us with the lasting nickname. [Read more...]

An Open Letter to My Son

Dear A. ,

Fourteen years ago today your father and I were married. Not much the sealer said before the ceremony has stuck with me. However one thing has stayed with me,  “Don’t fritter away your time.”

I’m proud of you. You worked really hard and saved to help buy your iPod. I notice you‘re pretty attached to it. Yesterday while inspecting it I noticed you recently added more games and other apps beyond Angry Birds. [Read more...]

Devotion, scripture and memorization: Elder Scott

Elder Scott, in his recent Conference address, extended a call to greater devotion of our scripture. This devotion, in his life, seems, in part, to have emerged from the practice of memorizing scripture. Within Mormonism memorizing scripture is tightly bound with seminary and the experience of Missionaries. The practice is often geared toward establishing as truth a particular doctrine or concept through a specific verse from the standard works. The ability to do this well seems to have become the Latter-day Saint definition of a ‘scriptorian’.  As such, I fear this association has lead some to conflate the practice of memorization with the act of proof-texting but this is not necessarily the case and it under-appreciates the religious value of this form of devotion.

[Read more...]

A Little More Conversation

I was having dinner at Cynthia L’s house tonight, and she pointed out something that I’ve noticed as well: our Mormonism makes us more interesting to other people. People like inviting us to social events and chatting with us because we have that one weird thing that makes us distinct—a built-in conversation starter. “This is my friend Kyle…he’s a mormon!”

Of course, the chatting is easier lately, what with the “Mormon Moment” we’re enjoying. The stranger who just found out I’m mormon has a million ways to break the ice—BYU’s newly improved football visibility, the Broadway musical, the presidential candidate(s), the crazy polygamists, The Jimmer. The conversations can start in any number of ways, but they always seem to follow the same well-worn path:

  1. “Why aren’t you drinking?”
  2. “My best friend in high school was a mormon.”
  3. “What’s it like?”
  4. “I went to church as a kid but…”

[Read more...]

Elder Cook and Songs Unsung

It’s cold comfort when, as a faithful Saint in a situation outside the ideal, you get repeated platitudes about everything being better… after you die. If you’re a sister who is righteous, you will find a husband… after you die (Though Steve P’s scientific demographics cause one to wonder.) If your children are not sealed to you, it will be worked out… after you die. If you have questions that you simply cannot resolve in the hallway outside Releif Society where you sit crying yet again, never fear sister, you can ask the Lord… after you die.

I have to admit, it was with this ever-so-slight tinge of bitterness that I began listening to Elder Quentin L. Cook’s talk in the Sunday session of General Conference. Oh no, please…not again. Perhaps it was time to go start the breakfast dishes? Or build another block tower with the kids? Yet there I sat, in my sunbeam on the couch, perhaps from laziness, and I forgot about hiding in the kitchen. I was rewarded as I listened to an apostle of the Lord address me in a way I found surprisingly candid and valuable. [Read more...]

Self-Assessment and Babies

Casual listeners* to general conference may have come away with the impression that the Church, as represented by Elder Neil L. Andersen, really wants us to have more babies. There is plenty of reason for this, but I’m going to suggest that Elder Andersen was making a subtler and more nuanced point. The target of the post was not childlessness; it was selfishness. [Read more...]

Boyd K. Packer and Prophetic Despair

I’m just going to say it. Please don’t throw things.

I loved President Packer’s talk. [Read more...]

Daring to Stand: President Monson’s Priesthood Address

President Monson’s address during this October’s Priesthood session at first seems somewhat unremarkable in theme: he bemoans the lack of moral compasses found in folks today, and calls on members of the Priesthood to stand up and be counted as Mormons and to adhere to the laws of God. This is a familiar theme for President Monson, who is a missionary through and through. The talk raises a few questions and takes a novel approach in describing what it means to stand as a Mormon. This post is a brief walking tour of President Monson’s address, going through the themes and issues of his remarks in order. The audio of the talk is available here. [Read more...]

Uncle Buck Demonstrates the Wisdom of President Dalton’s Counsel

President Elaine S. Dalton, speaking in this morning’s conference: “Fathers, if  your daughter isn’t back from her date on time, go get her!” [Read more...]

Sunday PM General Conference: The Languatron Memorial Session

And we are finally here–the final session of the 181st Semi-Annual General Conference. We are still giving constant coverage on Twitter as well as here on the blog. We also encourage you to (if you’re not already doing so) watch Conference live, streaming from LDS.org.

————
Lunch for me today was just nuts. Brazil nuts, pecan nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc… Salty!

Okay, John C. on the live-blogging this session, Scott B. on Teh Tweets.
[Read more...]

Sunday AM General Conference: The Gordon Jump Memorial Session

Welcome to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the Sunday Morning session of the 181st Semi-Annual General Conference! Don’t forget to check out our minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter in addition to coverage on the blog. We also encourage you to (if you’re not already doing so) watch Conference live, streaming from LDS.org.

————
Alrighty…had some problems with my Interwebs this morning, but we are finally up and running now.

I had a Ziplock baggie full of Reese’s Puffs for breakfast today. How about you? [Read more...]

Let My People Pray: It’s time to consider having women give opening/closing prayers in General Conference

To my knowledge, no woman has ever given an opening or closing prayer in a general session of General Conference. It is time to reconsider this practice of not calling women to share in the giving of these prayers.

The church has been engaged in a sustained effort to identify and end inequalities between men and women that are without doctrinal justification, such as women not being allowed to give opening prayers in Sacrament Meetings and women’s voices not being adequately included in Ward Councils. In particular, the new Handbook and accompanying Worldwide Leadership Training Broadcast explicitly emphasize this theme. In doing so, the church is showing its awareness that seemingly little things, like restrictions on who gives the opening/closing prayers in Sacrament Meeting, can send a big message that “you aren’t important,” or, when working as they should (as under the new handbook), a message that “we really do value everyone’s voices.” These messages radiate from the little things to all aspects of how we treat one another.
[Read more...]

Saturday Evening General Conference: The Connor Macleod Memorial Priesthood Session

It’s evening. It’s the Priesthood session. We’re kicking back and relaxing a bit, so feel free to provide your own thoughts on the talks as they come over the satellite. We’ll update as we have energy…
————
[Read more...]

Saturday PM General Conference: The Edgar Albert Guest Memorial Session

Welcome to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the Saturday afternoon session of the 181st Semi-Annual General Conference! Don’t forget to check out our minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter in addition to coverage on the blog. We also encourage you to (if you’re not already doing so) watch Conference live, streaming from LDS.org.
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We ate (lousy) teriyaki for lunch. What about you? [Read more...]

Saturday AM General Conference: The T&S Memorial Session

Welcome to The Times & Seasons Memorial General Conference Thread, as part of By Common Consent’s live coverage of the 181st Semi-Annual General Conference! We will be providing you with near-continuous live commentary, and other goodies throughout the weekend’s activities. Don’t forget to check out our minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter and updates on Facebook, in addition to coverage on the blog. We also encourage you to (if you’re not already doing so) watch Conference live, streaming from LDS.org.
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It’s go-time!

In case you’re wondering, I’m munching some Peanut M&Ms, John C. is eating Golden Oreos, and Stapley is scarfing down the Nacho Cheese Doritos. What are you consuming with your GC this morning? [Read more...]

Come, Follow #ldsconf

It’s that Semi-Annual time of year again, and the rumors of an announcement regarding the 2-hour block have reached a fever-pitch.

It's not like they're mutually exclusive options...

BCC’s coverage of the 181st Semi-Annual General Conference kicked off with President Beck last weekend. This weekend, settle in with a casserole dish of funeral potatoes and a bowl of Jell-O salad while J. Stapley, John C., and Scott B. spoon-feed The Only True and LivingTM conference coverage: Live-blogging, tweeting (#ldsconf), Facebook (guaranteed to all be Top Stories!), and analysis of the proceedings throughout the weekend. As always, free babysitting will be provided, courtesy of Times & Seasons.

What you need to know:

1. Live-blogging, with BCC perma commentary, photos, and open threads for all sessions here at By Common Consent, starting about about 30 minutes before each session.

2. Twitter Updates throughout the weekend at Twitter.com/ByCommonConsent. Use the #ldsconf hash tag on Twitter for more (albeit inferior) updates from the Twittersphere.

3. Commentary, quotes, and photos on Facebook. Be sure to “Like” or Subscribe to BCC’s Facebook page in order to access this new area of coverage! [Read more...]

BCC Zeitcast 73: Ken Jennings vs. GST

BCC’s beloved podcast returns! It’s been months since the last podcast, but we hope the new episodes are worth the wait.

In this episode, Scott B. listens in as John C. outlines his hopes for the upcoming General Conference (Hint: 2-hour block!), BHodges talks with long-time BCC friend Ken Jennings about Ken’s new book “Maphead,” and Mormon blogging legend GST makes an appearance to tell the world what it feels like to be humiliated on national TV. And if that lineup isn’t sufficient, we also have the sound of our very own Kristine Haglund listening to songs by Michael McLean.

Episode Content Guide (below the fold) [Read more...]

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