As a graduate student, I could not figure out how to address my professors. Poised somewhere between the formal address used in college and the first-name basis of the working world, I resorted to simply not using their names. But it wasn’t until I became confident enough to use first names that I felt productive and began to take myself seriously. [Read more...]
Brigham Young offered this instruction in the spring of 1844:
If a man preaches anything in error, pray to God that no man may remember it any more. No Elder will correct another in public before unbelievers unless he has the sinking principle. I call all the Elders together to witness that I always use charity, for it covers a multitude of sins. Let us obey the proclamation of Joseph Smith concerning the Elders going forth into the vineyard- to build up the Temple- get their endowments
The “sinking principle” was explained by Brigham as follows:
the speech and conduct of Elders, one towards another — one Elder will speak evil of another and when you undertake to trample on another you will sink yourself. [such] a man has [the] sinking principle 
The following is a submission from Ron Madson, written on February 23, 2011, the fourth anniversary of his father’s passing as a tribute to his legacy.
My father was a WWII veteran that served in Patton’s infantry in the European theatre. It wasn’t until he was 91 years old before he told me the details of his war experiences—and I am not aware if he told anyone else. My father was the most Christ-like person I have ever known. In the fall of 2002 I sat with my father listening to the war rhetoric seeking to justify our nation’s invasion of Iraq. This man, who rarely showed emotion and spoke seldom, emotionally told me that he did not believe that there was any scripture or Christian principle that would allow us to attack another country as we did in Afghanistan and were about to do in Iraq. He was certain that in our anger, fear and pride we, like the Nephites of old, were abandoning our covenant with the Lord by being the aggressor. He was hopeful that as a people we would surely denounce these wars. Knowing his character I am certain that if he were magically young again, he would have applied for conscientious objector status as to our current wars— as he would have in Viet Nam. [Read more...]
Last night, while my wife and I were having family prayer, I felt an prompting deep within my soul. I recoiled in terror at the urging, because I knew that obedience would be a horrible mistake–one I’d regret for years to come. I felt the doom in my bones, all the way down to my very soul. And yet, I relented, and a wave of fear and sorrow washed over me as I uttered those fateful words:
“Dear Father, please help us to be humble.”
I would like to say a few words on behalf of obligation. And guilt. Two great tastes that taste great together.
Last month a member of our ward passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly. She was a pillar of the community; her husband had been bishop when the ward was first formed, she had later served as the Relief Society president, and they were currently working as Primary teachers. Everyone knew her. Everyone loved her. The loss is still fresh, and the ward is still mourning.
On that first Sunday, when they asked for volunteers to bring the family meals, help with the funeral service and offer other support, the list of those who signed up filled two pages. It was a testament to how beloved this woman was and how much service she had given over the years to so many people. It was heart-warming, but at the same time, it made me think about other people in the ward–people I probably haven’t even met yet, and may never–who go largely unnoticed most of the time but whose needs are just as genuine. People don’t line up to bring those folks casseroles. They’re the type for whom the Compassionate Service Leader has to scour the ward list to find someone willing and able to lend a hand. [Read more...]
So this past weekend I was visiting my sister, who is a Young Women leader in her ward, and she showed me this skit that they did for their New Beginnings. (I found it via a Google search. Apparently it is from Sugardoodle, but I couldn’t find a writing credit, unfortunately. Heck, I couldn’t find a title.) It is about the Value Heroes–Lady Faith, Diva Divine Nature, Individual Worth Woman (“My worth goes to INFINITY AND BEYOND!”), Queen Knowledge, Captain Choice and Accountability, Good Works the Great, Princess Integrity, and Virtue Girl–who safeguard the young women of Mutualopolis. Sadly, some dastardly villains capture the Value Heroes, leaving the poor young women of Mutualopolis at the mercy of the evil opposites of those values which have always protected them. But happily, the young women turn to the scriptures and realize that the Lord is their strength and if they live the Young Women values, they can be their own superheroes. And so the city of Mutualopolis is saved! (At least the young women are in pretty good shape. It’s an all-female play, you see. Like The Women, only without the adultery.) [Read more...]
Today was High Council Sunday in our sacrament meeting. Our ward is going on trek come summer. If you know me, you know that I am not a fan of trek, but that I generally just ignore it.
The high councilor’s speaking companion said, “I know that those noble pioneers suffered what they went through in order to inspire the youth of today.” Martyrdom ain’t what it used to be, folks! [Read more...]
In Sunday School recently we discussed the story of Nicodemus, whose encounter with Jesus is depicted in John 3. In this famous encounter, Jesus tells Nicodemus that being “born again” (or “born from above,” as most interpreters probably correctly argue) is a prerequisite for “see[ing] the kingdom of God.” A member of my ward argued against a view he sees as prevalent in which being “born again” is seen in typically evangelicalistic terms as a one-time event at which time a person is first and finally saved. This class member worried that a) not every LDS has such a powerful spiritual experience, and b) even those who have such a powerful spiritual experience will often waver in their sense of having been born again.
I agreed with this gentleman, a view that has been strengthened by my study of early Mormon adoption theology. [Read more...]
In Mormon circles, people typically express the views that faith precedes miracles and that the truly righteous do not need miracles to develop their faith. I want to argue that this view overlooks the importance that miracles do and should play in our decisions to follow Christ. [Read more...]
I run. Intermittently, but I do run. I ran a marathon a few years ago and I’m training to run another one in June (Utah Valley Marathon, if you are interested). I’m not always certain that this is a good thing. [Read more...]
Like many Americans, I consider murder to be a form of entertainment, and I’m a bit ashamed by that. I can’t really survive international flights without a good gripping murder mystery in my hand. The more creative and depraved, the more I can count on it to keep me occupied, make the flight seem short, and stave off air sickness. I spent the new years holiday watching a marathon of “Castle” on cable. More murder. Somehow it doesn’t seem like such a horrible sin and terrible tragedy when it is presented as a “whodunit” or when it’s presented by characters who quip chirpily as their flirtation weaves its way through crime scenes, witness interrogation, and visits to the medical examiners and their corpses. [Read more...]
So I’m sitting in a two-hour stake priesthood meeting, looking around the chapel, and trying to calculate the opportunity cost of such a meeting. [Read more...]
This last week I lost one of my kids. The five year-olds and I leave school together and walk through a square and down a pedestrian-only street about 500 yards to the bus stop. One of the boys had stopped for a moment to play in a snow pile and the other and I walked a little further along and stopped just around a corner to look in a shop window.
When I looked back, the first was gone. I wasn’t too worried as the area is fairly self-contained and not terribly busy, but then we started walking again and couldn’t see him at all. And then, way up by the bus stop, we saw a flash of his blue woolen hat, and we ran to catch up to him. He had just run out of a store and headed to the bus stop, obviously looking very hard, and I started shouting his name, but he was clearly panicked, literally running back and forth on the sidewalk trying to sort out what to do. People standing around him looked at me, this giant American shouting on the street, but then the light changed and he ran across the street toward another bus stop we sometimes use. His brother and I ran after him, shouting his name, but he just couldn’t hear us, probably sobbing himself and deafened by the adrenaline. He was running down the sidewalk in a frenzy, and I just ran and kept shouting his name. Just as he was deciding whether to cross the street again, a woman stopped next to him, knelt down, said something and pointed toward me. Finally he looked back and saw me and ran toward me. I gave the woman a wave and a thank you, and knelt down to hug my hysterical son. [Read more...]
A couple years ago I read this Weekly Standard piece by Joe Epstein. The subject is “kindergarchy”: rule by children. Mr. Epstein’s beef is that parents these days (“these days” starting about 30 or 40 years ago) pay too much attention to their kids, which is bad for both kids and parents, and worse for society in general. This isn’t a new idea, of course. Parents have supposedly been spoiling their kids rotten for, well, at least the last 30 or 40 years; the world keeps getting worse, and still we persist in making child-rearing the center of our adult universe. Go figure. [Read more...]
[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]
Last night the historic Provo Tabernacle, the most beautiful building in Provo, Utah, caught fire. The fire burned through the night, with firefighters working both within the building and without to contain it, without avail. Word is, the building is a total loss, and will have to be demolished. (More links and words about the tragedy at Ardis Parshall’s blog and Juvenile Instructor. Also, more photos below the fold, courtesy of David H. Bailey.)
Yesterday, in a heated comment thread, a reader made the following statement:
Bycommonconsent.com used to be a blog that actually [had] interesting and meaningful content, since so many others have jumped the shark. Not anymore. Now it’s a [race] to the bottom between this and feministmormonhousewives.com.
Being a relative newcomer to these parts, this sort of comment–and they do appear from time to time–always make me curious: How do readers here view the path that BCC has taken? Has BCC become more thoughtful? Less so? More political? More Liberal? More Conservative? Stayed basically the same? Here is your big chance to weigh in on these extraordinarily important questions.
Please vote below, and add clarification below. [UPDATED POLL QUESTION]
Recurring Guest and BCC Man-Crush Kyle M returns with honor.
I haven’t had a carb in over a week now, and you know, it hasn’t been that bad. December might be the perfect month for Atkins or South Beach Diet, because I’m literally surrounded by carbs and sugar for a whole month—sugar cookies, candy canes, hot chocolate, seasonal peppermint ice cream (the best kind). If I can forgo all the carb temptations of December, that’s like skipping carbs for two regular months, and as a reward to myself, I won’t set New Years resolutions.
So in October we had a fifth-Sunday combined RS/PH lesson, and the bishop talked to us about pornography. Or rather, about the problem of pornography. (I don’t want to make our fifth-Sunday lessons sound more exciting than they are.) It was depressing to me. Depressing mostly because my son just turned ten, and it really hit home to me that what’s left of his innocence is destined to be taken from him very quickly, and there’s nothing I can do to stop that. We live in a pornified culture. You know, sex is everywhere, everything’s about sex, blah blah, sex sex sex, blah blah. A local frozen yogurt shop used to have this billboard featuring a very attractive set of female breasts clad in a tight sweater, and the slogan was “We’ll fill any cup size.” And, you know, that’s not hardcore or anything, but it’s just…come on. Et tu, yogurt? This is the world we live in. So, yeah, I came home and told my husband (who works in Primary and doesn’t get to attend the combined fifth-Sunday lessons) that he had to have another birds-and-bees-ish talk with the ten-year-old. Then I shook the oogies off, and my work was done. [Read more...]
Back when I was in college, I overheard a classmate talking about how she wanted to buy her boyfriend a cross—as in the kind you wear around your neck—but her boyfriend was very particular about his crosses and would only wear one made of wood, and wooden crosses were hard to come by these days. When he looked at crosses made of gold or silver or other precious materials, he insisted, “God wouldn’t wear something like that.”
To which I responded, even though it was none of my business, “Why would God be wearing a cross necklace in the first place?” [Read more...]
It has been a month and I have yet to see the most controversial talk at General Conference discussed. I suppose it falls to me. [Read more...]
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
My life hasn’t been that hard. I have always had enough to eat and a roof over my head. I live in a free country. I have it better than most people in the world, and certainly better than most people who have lived in this world throughout history. I like to think that I am grateful for these things, and yet, like most people who have lived privileged lives, I’ve come to expect a certain level of ease and comfort. I take difficulty and discomfort like a slap in the face from the universe. What did you do that for, universe? [Read more...]
I have twice been mistaken for a homeless person. Once was funny, the other devastating. Both happened in college. The first time, I was wandering from my dormitory to the Student Union for breakfast, when a pleasant middle-aged woman started chatting with me about the Boston area. After several minutes of gentle circumlocution that left me uncertain what she wanted, she revealed that she needed advice on where best to solicit donations (“panhandle”). I was so delighted that she had thought I was homeless and been such a pleasant companion on my walk, that I tried to take her out to breakfast (she was embarrassed despite my reassurances, so I brought her breakfast outside the Union).
The second experience was devastating. [Read more...]
Do you ever wonder what the Brethren say to each other up on the stand during General Conference? We do, too. [Read more...]
I took my oldest camping last night for her daddy-daughter activity. We ended up in a canyon we didn’t know long after dark, trying to find a place to camp. We finally found an official campground (packing had consisted of throwing random warm clothing and sleeping bags into an old duffle; I remembered a stove but forgot to bring any food), but couldn’t find a tent spot amidst the endless rows of RVs. We ultimately found the camp host, who revealed to us that there was one tent spot that had just become available, and my daughter glowed with satisfaction at a prayer answered, as she revealed to me that she had prayed when we turned off the main road into the campground that we would find a spot. Her satisfaction turned to bemusement when we discovered that the only reason the spot became available was that the prior occupant had broken her wrist. [Read more...]
So last week when Judge Walker issued his decision overturning Prop. 8, one of my friends posted as her status update, “Is polygamy next?” I didn’t know if she was being silly or sincere, but if any of you all are wondering the same thing, let me reassure you: No. Polygamy is not next. That’s just something we conservatives make up to scare people. Ha ha, that was a joke (sort of). You know how I know polygamy isn’t next? Because unlike attitudes toward homosexuals, attitudes toward polygamists haven’t improved much in the last hundred years. Most people have at least one friend or someone in their family who is gay, but not many people know any polygamists. Also, when was the last time you saw a movie or TV show character with a sassy polygamist friend? Never, that’s when. And you’re not likely to start anytime soon. (Not until someone options my screenplay, that is.) [Read more...]