Doctor-Patient Relationships and the Process of Repentance

If anyone has ever studied the Sociology of Health and Illness you will have certainly come across Talcott Parsons’ ideas on the ‘Sick Role’.  This ‘paternalistic’ model of the Doctor-Patient relationship and other models like it (i.e. the co-operative and the consumerist) can be applied to the process of seeking help from a Bishop in the process of repentance.  This analogy is based on an assumed similarity between the roles of Bishop/Doctor & ‘Sinner’/Patient.  I think this is a useful, though not flawless, comparison but it is one that might help us think through how a Bishop could respond to someone who is seeking to confess and repent.  Further I think it could also facilitate discussion upon the issue of how ‘Sinners’ can navigating this difficult relationship. [Read more...]

Creativity, Generosity and Humility: Grand Fundamentals of Mormonism

At a recent FAIR conference, Terryl Givens, while introducing his work on the history of the Pre-Mortal life in Western thought, made this statement: ‘What I have come to appreciate is this cardinal insight: If the restoration is not yet complete, then other traditions have much to teach us. Not by way of confirming, corroborating, or verifying the truths we already have. But by way of actually adding to the body of revealed doctrine we call precious and true. The Restoration is neither full nor complete… What if, instead of scrambling frantically to find explanations when Joseph appears to have borrowed from the masons, or Ethan Smith, or Tom Dick, we instead see another marvellous possibility of his actually practicing what he preached.’ [Read more...]

Religion Without Culture: Self-Identifying as a Mormon

Since the results for the Pew Forum’s Religious Landscape Study (RLS) were released, there has been fairly little attention paid in the Bloggernacle to the outcomes as they pertain to LDS belief and policy–a few posts here and there, mostly reporting a particular outcome: As a Church, we are more effective at retaining life-long members than any other of the major religions included in the study. However, an eye single to this stat robs us of a more curious one: the LDS Church is the only major religion in the United States in which lifelong members exhibit higher degrees of religiosity than converts. Julie Smith at Times & Seasons provided a link to a summary article on this topic last October, and I recommend reading the comments in her thread, as they touch on the key purposes of this post.[1] The full paper can be found here and contains considerably more detail.[2] [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...]

A Mormon Liturgy for Fourth Advent

I recently left a note here about the “liturgy” that our ward routinely does in honor of Remembrance Sunday and which I look forward to every year. We also enjoy a uniquely Mormon liturgy on Fourth Advent to celebrate Christmas properly as one — as a “ward family”. Hopefully the word “liturgy” isn’t misleading here: make no mistake, the meetings still had the rough and tumble of low church Mormon practices (i.e. this wasn’t a ritualized sung Eucharist or anything, just a slightly different readings-based format to Sacrament Meeting channeling the inspiration received by the Bishop in contemplating the Christmas message for the ward). [Read more...]

Building a Home

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Lately, themes of home–as a project, a problem, a possibility–have been echoing around my head. But considering my own pre-occupations, perhaps that’s not surprising. [Read more...]

Reflections on the Articles of Faith, Then and Now

John's Blazer BannerThe written text of my talk, given February 14, 1982, (when I was age 11 years, 10 months), reads as follows:

This is my Blazer Banner. These emblems show the different lessons we work on to prepare to receive and honor the priesthood. That is our motto, which is written here at the bottom of my banner.

I received these emblems for memorizing the 13 Articles of Faith. The Fifth Article of Faith talks about the authority of the Priesthood. The Sixth Article of Faith names a few of the priesthood offices in the church, such as prophets and apostles.

This emblem shows three Aaronic Priesthood holders at the Sacrament table. The lesson we had helped me understand the Sacrament better so that when I pass it, I will feel greater reverence.

This emblem shows John the Baptist giving Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the Priesthood. I’m thankful for the Blazer program which is helping me to prepare to receive the Priesthood and for the great teachers who have worked with me.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

[Read more...]

Grace Vis-à-vis Violence

Violence permeates existence. I offer six studies from my life to disclose and unpack what I mean. I came to this project because of the amount of internet chatter (and I mean this in the most warm and Heideggerian sense) about grace and mercy and other such positive attributes of the Divine. Three things helped crystallize my need to say something about the place of violence in LDS thought. [Read more...]

Don’t believe the (happiness) hype

Will Wilkinson, commenting on Catherine Rampell’s “The Happiest States of America” article on the NYTimes’ Economix blog, suspects “a skoche of culture-driven upward inflation” is at play in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which puts Utah at the top of states reporting a general sense of happiness (HT: Greg). More specifically, he states:

I’ll vouch for the fact that Utahns are exceptionally chipper. Though perhaps it should be noted that some Mormons are almost ideological about the idea that they ought to be happy.

Just some Mormons, Will? Happiness is inherent in our ideology. [Read more...]

Truth Claims

This post originally began as a comment on Natalie’s excellent thread, but I decided that a statement from the First Presidency deserves more than a blog comment.

[Read more...]

Tuesday Afternoon Theological Poll: Christian Paradox Edition

Could Christ have sinned prior to the age of accountability?
Answer after the fold.
[Read more...]

So is that the Church I want to join?

I took two of my children to a Black Baptist church last year, bribing them with the possibility of some great music. It worked. They both accompanied me, and they loved it. My son could never remember the name of this other church, but he’d later ask me, “What’s the name of that church where they play the drums and guitar?” And sometimes, “What’s the name of that other church I want to join?” [Read more...]

Astrid grills a phone-missionary about evolution

The following is a dialogue my friend Astrid sent me between herself and a Missionary (both names changed) manning the church’s live chat at

    Astrid: Do you believe in Evolution?

    Charles: hi, how are you

    Astrid: do you believe in Evolution?

    Astrid: is anyone there? [Read more...]

Some things too sacred to share

Too sacred to share. I’ve been thinking about that for a few days as I readied a post on my faith-science blog that for a long time fell into the category for me. I changed my mind. There was some discomfort with it because we run across the words ‘too sacred to share”, but I’m not sure what they mean. Here are a couple of uses I pulled up on a search on the Church’s web site: [Read more...]

The Dead Thing in My Can of Tuna

Guest Blogger, Steven Peck is an associate professor and evolutionary ecologist at BYU who blogs on issues of science and faith at the Mormon Organon. He is currently doing a year sabbatical with the United Nations in Vienna, Austria working on African tsetse fly population ecology.

After class one day, I guiltily grabbed one of those over-packaged lunches so indispensable for those in a hurry to gulp down something quickly. This one was canned tuna salad and crackers. I felt guilty at the amount of unnecessary material piling up as I squirreled through the packaging to find my meal. [Read more...]

Personal Barometers of Institutional Apostasy (or, Your New Weekly Firestorm/Poll)

For those of us who consider ourselves to be believers in the basic claims of the Restoration and the authority claims of the LDS Church, I offer the following query:

In your opinion, what would constitute a signal that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had drifted into institutional apostasy? [Read more...]

The Parables of Jesus: Part 2, The Mustard Seed

After a long hiatus… [Read more...]

Testing God

Let’s go back to robots (as all theological discussions ultimately must). In Dan Simmon’s SciFi masterpiece, Hyperion, one of the main characters Sol has a reoccurring dream in which he hands over his daughter (who has been aging backwards due to Merlin’s disease) to a spatial and temporal shifting mechanical creature called the Shrike. [Read more...]

Desert Ranches in the News

Two ranches are featured in today’s U.S. headlines: [Read more...]

The Core of a Mormon Man

The assertion has been made in hundreds of media articles, blog posts, and comments to both that there was no core to Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate — that he seemed phony, plastic, robotic, and of course, that he seemed to have flip-flopped on issues. [Read more...]

Cain and Race

I still haven’t had the chance to see the new Beowulf but advertisements for the film and anticipation of seeing it eventually prompted me to use my daily commute to re-read the epic poem a couple of months ago. It was very rewarding. [Read more...]

Abortion Theology

john f. is a lawyer with an interest in literature, foreign languages, history, theory, and comparative religion. He has been blogging with his brother Jordan F. at a bird’s eye view since July of 2004 and has been commenting at By Common Consent for even longer. In ancient Bloggernacle history they were once described as “the most dangerous minds on the net” although they never quite figured out what this meant except they are pretty sure it wasn’t a compliment.

The anniversary of Roe v. Wade today falls within an election season that could conceivably threaten a fissure in the coalition that the Church seems to have formed in recent decades with Evangelical Christians on certain social issues, including abortion. Specifically, the vocal opposition of many Evangelical Christians to Mormonism and the faith of its adherents has found new outlets in the mainstream media because their view of Mormonism and its adherents now has some relevance on the national political stage as a result of Mitt Romney’s candidacy for the presidency. The increased intensity of Evangelical denunciations of Mormons has also given opportunity to reflect on the political positions of Evangelical Christians (and other creedal Christians) and, more specifically, why they take those positions. [Read more...]

The enemy of good is perfect

A song today reminded me of a troubled acquaintance. I have genuine affection for this man, although we are not intimate friends. I am also currently in a stage of life that involves vanishingly small emotional and temporal reserves. I would like to write a kind note to him, some expression of solidarity and remembrance for his recent trials. Part of me fears, though, that he would call me on it. He would ask me to be present for him at a much higher level than an occasional kind word. And I would either become enmeshed in a turmoil that distracts me from my family, or he would decry me as a hypocrite.
[Read more...]

Q & A – The Community of Christ and Latter-day Saints

By Common Consent has invited David Howlett, a believer in the Restoration and a religious scholar, to be a guest blogger. We have started with a question and answer format to help our readers understand how the CofC and LDS communities are similar and how they are different. Please welcome David to BCC. [Read more...]

June 8, 1978: Selected Reading

As a warm-up for BCC’s week-long celebration of Spencer W. Kimball’s 1978 revelation on the extension of Priesthood ordination of people of African descent, I’ve put together this basic, short bibliography [Read more...]

Not Good, but Not Bad either

In RT’s recent post, he asks us to consider the relative value of truth as obtained from Church authority vs. everyone else in the world (combined). Here, I would like us to consider the threadjack that has recently sort of developed in that thread. The threadjack regards birth control and how it has been preached in the twentieth century. [Read more...]

Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian?

I have recently been studying the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WBTS) blood taboo as part of my work on the cultural history of death and the body. I have been grateful for the vistas opened for me by certain Witnesses into the intellectual and spiritual life of this remarkably complex community, however much it does not represent the religion I would choose for myself and my family. Just today it struck me to wonder whether outsiders consider them Christian. What’s the verdict from the Mormon Blogdom? Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Christian? Please explain your thinking rather than simply stating yes or no. If they are as Christians as Mormons, what does that say about how Christian Mormonism is? Does it matter?

Richard Dutcher, Vehicle of God’s Grace

I was talking to Jay yesterday about Keith Merrill’s response to this talk from Richard Dutcher, and for the millionth time, I noted how utterly incomprehensible it is to me that people could see Dutcher’s work as unsupportive of faith or religious devotion, or in any way detrimental to the church or its members. In my experience, Dutcher’s films are so very supportive of both our community and its faith that I find Merrill’s response to Dutcher’s work utterly mystifying. [Read more...]

My Testimony, Saturday Morning, March 31, 2007

This morning, as the Tabernacle Choir (or whoever they were) sang “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing,” I came to the same realization that I come to every Conference. I love the Church. [Read more...]

Was Joseph Smith a henotheist?

Mormons are often accused of polytheism, and the accusation is generally meant to exclude them from the respectability of Abrahamic religion (the established monotheism of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). The notion that the LDS would be excluded from Abraham’s legacy would strike many LDS as bizarre, particularly given the fact that the scripture named for Abraham is a vital text in understanding Smith’s vision of the nature of God’s relationships to humanity and to other beings.

I have often been reminded by reasonably knowledgeable and well-intentioned Latter-day Saints that in point of fact Smith was a henotheist. While I am sympathetic to the underlying impulse (shielding Smith from the opprobrium of the monotheists), that answer is misleading. [Read more...]


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