Born Again

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.”[1] 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…]

Do you believe in miracles…

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…]

Exercise and its discontent

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…]

Murder, Mayhem, Sin, and Voyeurism

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…]

On Time for Priesthood Meeting

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…]

On being lost

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…]

Mormons and the Kindergarchy

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…]

Memories of a Year, Up in Flames

[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.)


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Monday Mid-Day Answering the Allegations Set Before Us Poll

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]
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The Perfect Diet for Mormons

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.
[Read more…]

If you’re a woman, are there only six deadly sins?

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…]

Connection Through Disconnection

In my ongoing effort to suck all the fun out of find greater satisfaction and connection from lived Mormonism (Step 1 was axing all pointless debates about immovable rocks), I began an experiment 4 weeks ago designed to force myself into higher levels of sociability and participation during Sunday meetings.

I left my iPhone home.
[Read more…]

What would Jesus do (or not do)?

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…]

Subversion at General Conference

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…]

The Lord hath taken away

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.
Job 1:20-21

*

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…]

Roosts and Nests

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…]

15 Things Heard Behind the Podium During General Conference

Do you ever wonder what the Brethren say to each other up on the stand during General Conference? We do, too. [Read more…]

Moral sensibility and Providence

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…]

Real polygamist housewives

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…]

On second thought, never mind

Over the weekend I wrote a post responding to the court decision to overturn Prop. 8. It was very cathartic for me. I took everything that I’d ever thought or tried to write about same-sex marriage and distilled it to its essence, which was 1,841 words–long for a blog post, but most of my blog posts are (too) long, and when you consider the tens of thousands of words I had to work with, I’d call it a pretty awesome distillation. Of course, you will just have to take my word for it because once I had finished writing, I knew that I wouldn’t publish it. [Read more…]

Monday Night Lived Mormonism Poll: R-rated Movie Spirituality Edition

If yes, can you provide specific examples? If no, what specifically leads you to believe that this is the case?

Bookmark By Common Consent

Good, bad and so-bad-they’re-awesome gospel analogies

Several years ago I had the pleasure of listening to a sacrament meeting talk given by a woman who happened to work for an opthamologist. In her address she described various diseases of the eye and likened them unto various “spiritual diseases” that can afflict an individual. For example, glaucoma damages the optic nerve and gradually leads to an irreversible loss of vision; the loss is so gradual that it often isn’t perceived until the disease is in its advanced stages. Similarly, insidious influences can gradually damage our spiritual perceptions, and before we know it we have purchased a non-refundable, one-way ticket to hell. [Read more…]

Petitionary prayer: the monkey’s paw of my faith

This morning was trash day in our neighborhood. Trash day is an important day in our household because my seven-year-old son is obsessed with garbage trucks. Actually, “obsessed” is putting it mildly, but suffice it to say that he gets up early every Wednesday so he can see the garbage truck come down our street and watch it empty the trash cans into its hopper. Sometimes he gets up at 3 a.m. just to be sure he doesn’t miss it, but that’s really beside the point. Today was trash day, and although my son woke up on time, the garbage truck was late.

Unfortunately, school is still in session here, and my son has to go to school regardless of whether or not he has seen the garbage truck yet. This is easier said than done, of course. If my son hasn’t had his Wednesday morning garbage truck fix, he does not want to get on the school bus, and he will invoke the nuclear option. I had a lot of work to do this morning, including getting two of my other kids to their respective schools, so I was pretty stressed out and really didn’t want to manage an autistic seven-year-old who’d been deprived of his garbage truck, so as the clock ticked ever nearer the scheduled bus-arrival time and the garbage truck still hadn’t shown, I became ever more nervous. I really, really needed that garbage truck to get here fast. I didn’t know what I’d do if it didn’t. [Read more…]

Bloggernacle Classics: The Banner of Heaven Weblog

Welcome back, students of Bloggernacle History, to another entry in Bloggernacle Classics! It’s been a few months since our last lesson, but I hope that you’ve kept your pencils sharp and your notebooks dust-free, because our next lesson is a whopper.

Every community, no matter the size or location, has some common features and characteristics–it has heroes, villains, successes, and failures. Every community also has it’s dark secrets. Mind you, I’m not talking about simple rumors that get passed around the hair salon or ghost stories used to scare little kids into behaving properly–I’m talking about the sort of thing that no one ever talks about. Ever. Anyone who enters the community after such a secret is buried will possibly see passing references to it here and there, but vagueness and confusion surround them, because again, no one will talk about these dark secrets. Naturally, the unwillingness of the locals to talk about these community secrets serves only to make them even more a point of curiosity and intrigue to newcomers, and unless you’ve got the Sheriff on your side, eventually the curiosity will win out and the skeletons will be dragged out of the closet by force. [Read more…]

An Open Plea for Marital Advice

This post comes from mmiles, who has posted earlier at BCC (here and here), and who appears to have unilaterally extended an invitation to guest post to her husband. The BCC Subcommittee on Guest Blogging Ethics has been convened and is considering formal disciplinary action.

Last night my wife and I went to bed by eleven, but didn’t fall asleep until well after midnight. It began with those subtle hints and gestures back and forth, as each of us tried to determine whether the other had the interest and energy to see it all the way through. But one thing led to another, passion and excitement surged, and we soon found ourselves in the throes of a heated Bible discussion. [Read more…]

Growing Up On The Blogs

BCC is thrilled to welcome Sunny Smart as our newest guest blogger. If there’s one thing Sunny wants you to know about her it’s that she peed her pants while horseback riding. She was 17 at the time. If there’s anything you should know about horseback riding it’s that urine eats the color right off a saddle. If there’s a social tip Sunny can give you it’s that you shouldn’t pee on someone else’s saddle. Lesson learned.

In light of the recent revelation on BCC Zeitcast 3.9.0 that BCC Permas can look back through all of a commenter’s participation, I have had cause to reflect on my own questionable and embarrassing foray into the blogosphere. [Read more…]

You Make the Call: Spouses and Boy Friends

Not “boyfriend”: Boy. Friend. [Read more…]

The 2009 BCC Mutual Admiration Society

As our Fearless Leader once said,

It is January, and with it the season of review and reminiscence is upon us. How to combine BCC’s two great loves: lording our elitism over others, and blogging? Why, by gratuitously congratulating ourselves for a year of outstanding blogging. Read on, weaklings.

In that spirit, beloved readers, esteemed friends, civic and educational leaders, and officials from the Church Office Building, we salute ourselves this day. We now instruct you to pull up a chair, pour yourself a mug of Postum, and print out copies of this post for your personal Book of Remembrance as we pat ourselves on the back for the remainder of the day.

You are welcome and encouraged to join in the praise.

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[Read more…]

We Should Be Mormons

It is discouraging to see many Mormons in our day and age following some fundamentalist creedal Christians in taking an anti-science stance relating to organic evolution or other matters in which fundamentalist creedal Christians, based on their own unnecessary inferences from the Bible, have chosen to see faith at war with science. [Read more…]

Caption This MormonAd

The following was submitted by regular BCC commenter blt, whom the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has retained in its membership solely on the merits of his willingness to teach eleven year-olds knots. He currently (p)resides with his wife in Korea where he teaches middle school.

Dear BCC readers,
I recently came across a cache of old MormonAds (they were probably called something else back in the day) while going through some of my Mom’s old things. I thought this might be a comedy gold mine, and I offer this first image (with the original text from the back of the ad beneath) for your captioning: [Read more…]

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