Saturday AM: UTAH STATE HEY AGGIES ALL THE WAY Thread

And lo, the Aggies did crush the Coogers, and it was gray and navy and delightsome and if you disagree with me then good luck trying to get your comments in on this thread!

We’re about an hour or so from the start of the session, so feel free to comment on your cereal, your clothing, your key words and candy rewards, or whatever else you’d like until the top of the hour when I’m going to turn on the filter a bit. As for me and my house, we will serve the pancakes.

And we’re underway! [Read more...]

Just War

I have two memories of war as a child. The first was during the Falkland’s Conflict in 1982. We were on holiday in France and my father would listen to BBC World Service Radio to hear reports about the battle to reclaim the Falkland Islands from Argentina.

The second was in 1991 when the First Gulf War against Iraq began. School stopped as we watched images of the air war on the TV.

In both memories, war was a very big deal. [Read more...]

General Conference in (My) Perspective

General Conference has its own culture but the present version of that culture is rather modern. It has been used as a medium to announce policy changes or revelations, for a long time, certainly. But addresses at conference were not particularly regarded as “revelation” in any formal sense in say, the nineteenth century. The April-October cycle seemed firmly in place for headquarters meetings by Nauvoo, but certainly June was almost as important historically prior to that. What is the most important conference ever? I think one could argue that June 1831 was important, and November 1831 too. October 1830 is up there. But of course these were tiny gatherings compared to today’s giant (media) audiences. April 1844 was certainly influential (though it was not a general conference for technical reasons). August 1844 was mightily important, and August 1852 ranks up there. And what about October 1978?
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What do you know about the Mormon Job? Would you like to know more?

Over on the blog Peculiar People, Joe Spencer has taken Michael Austin’s recent book Re-Reading Job to task for promising, and then not providing, a “Mormon Job.” Instead, as he notes, Michael Austin draws from the reception history and secular investigation of Job to provide a helpful overview of this very difficult work, with some devotional content. Austin does spend quite a bit of time critiquing the Sunday School manual’s approach (read the first two chapters and the last, with a couple of other verses thrown in), deconstructing the most common Mormon approach, but he doesn’t offer a Mormon approach to replace it. Or does he?
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Meeting the Ups

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Just so you know, there’s probably no way that anyone who doesn’t fit into the very narrow Venn overlap of “church-going Mormons” and “Up completists” will be able to understand this post. So that means just about everyone can now safely skip over it. [Read more...]

General Conference: here’s the deal.

Conference weekends are big weekends for church bloggers. There’a lot of traffic, a lot of comments, a lot of tweets. We’re going to try something a little different this weekend, so we hope you’ll bear with us. Here’s the scoop. [Read more...]

The Sacrament of Friendship

It seems to me that one of the major challenges of the 21st century involves figuring out how to be present to other people. Technology has given us so many ways of connecting with others, but with these opportunities come some obstacles as well. Part of the value of social media is the way that it can help us keep connected regularly with distant friends, but these connections can often be fairly shallow. For that person who sat across the room from you in middle school math class, this might be okay, but with closer friendships it can feel like a hollowed-out version of something once solid. And in rare cases, social media can foster real friendships with people we’ve never met in real life. Conversely, social media and other forms of technological connection can distance us from the people with whom we are (or ought to be) present all the time, especially our families. Given Joseph Smith’s teachings about friendship as “the grand fundamental principle of Mormonism” and about the eternal potential of family relationships, I believe that figuring out how to be present to other people is a pretty powerful theological imperative. In a recent post I thought about these questions in terms of heaven; for this post, I turn to the here and now. [Read more...]

Attacking the Family

Church leaders remind us, on a not-infrequent basis, that the family is under attack, and that we, as members, have a duty to defend marriage and family.[fn1]

As faithful members, I believe that we have an obligation to take these warnings seriously and, more particularly, to actively strengthen the legal and cultural underpinnings of marriage and family in our respective societies.

But defending the family against attack requires us to first understand what is getting in the way of familial formation.  [Read more...]

Say it with a Saturday’s Warrior GIF: Part 2

SW-gif-return-with-honor

Saturday’s Warriors GIFs are back. [Read more...]

Church Movie Supporting Characters, Ranked

When our co-blogger John F. suggested that our last ranking had jumped the shark, he not only lost our respect and friendship, but he also unwittingly inspired our hearts and minds by directing Steve and me toward the many great acting performances in Mormon cinema. This week, we give much-overdue praise to some of the lesser-recognized latter-day thespians.

Crow
As always, these rankings are authoritative.
[Read more...]

The Boys Are Alright

mormon-missionariesIn my new ward, my husband (that is still SO weird for me to say) and I have been called as Ward Missionaries. The last time I was really involved with the missionaries was 12 years ago when I walked up to them after Sacrament meeting, baby in my arms, and asked what I had to do to be baptized (Hi Elder Fish and Elder Pendlebury!). After my divorce, it was ridiculously hard for me and my kids to have regular contact with the Elders- and I missed it. (The rules can be explained ten ways from Sunday, but it’s still a drag single mamas aren’t able to have the Elders over for dinner.) With my new calling and marital status, the world has again shifted. [Read more...]

Book Review: The Miracles of Jesus, by Eric D. Huntsman

A Book Review by Michael Austin*.

Miracles of Jesus, complete, 5-27-14.pdfThe Miracles of Jesus
Eric D. Huntsman**
Deseret Books, 2014
$25.99
Hardcover
164 pages
ISBN: 9781609079161
(Click on each spread to enlarge.)

OK, I’m just going to admit it: I was a little bit skeptical when I first got Eric D. Huntsman’s newest book, The Miracles of Jesus, and saw that it was a glossy, gorgeously illustrated book fit as much for framing as for reading. High production values in books make me nervous, as I always wonder what they are hiding. And then there is the fact that it is published by Deseret Book — the official publishing arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Official publishing arms make me even more nervous, as I usually have a pretty good idea what they are hiding. All I needed was a third strike to set it aside and move on to the next book in my pile. [Read more...]

Days of Conference Past: Homeowners’ Edition

In every April General Conference, we hear the Statistical Report for the prior year. Roughly speaking, the Statistical Report tells us the number of church units, the number of members and baptisms, the number of missionaries, and the number of temples.

And reading a Statistical Report in conference has at least a century of precedent. I’ve been skimming through a number of early-20th-century April Conference Reports, and in April 1915, Pres. Joseph F. Smith read a statistical report in his opening remarks. [fn1] [Read more...]

I Watched The General Women’s Meeting–It Was Great

Because of the turbulence within the church over women’s issues over the last year, my hope for the fall general conference was that someone would press the reset button. When I heard the General Women’s Meeting offered if not a reset, something of good report, I logged on to listen. [Read more...]

Interview: The Church History Museum

What is this -- a museum for ANTS??

What is this — a museum for ANTS??

The Church recently announced that it will be closing the Church History Museum next week for a year. During that time, the museum will undergo extensive renovations: its current display, A Covenant Restored, will be replaced with a new exhibition, The Heavens Are Opened. There has been a lot of speculation about the new exhibition and how it will address questions of Church history. The staff and curators of the Church History Museum, including Kurt Graham, Senior Exhibits Curator, were generous enough to respond to a few questions. [Read more...]

Late Church Is the Honest-to-Goodness Worst Thing On Earth

We share a building with like 19 other wards, so every third year we have church meetings that don’t kick off until 1pm. It’s the worst thing in the world, by several yardsticks. Late Church Clock

Saturday is supposed to be a special day–it’s the day we get ready for Sunday! Not with late church, though. Because with late church and our own mortal weaknesses, we put off shining our shoes and washing our hair and all that stuff until Sunday morning, because Jiminy Cricket there is literally nothing else to do for like 5 hours and if I couldn’t kill an hour with making the kids take showers and stuff, I don’t honestly know what I’d do. [Read more...]

Assault on the Family, German Edition

Fridays around these parts used to be a time of firestorms. I don’t know what happened to that, but today I caught wind of what appears to be a development in Germany worthy of closer attention. The Telegraph reports:

“Criminal law is not the appropriate means to preserve a social taboo,” the German Ethics Council said in a statement. “The fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination is to be weighed more heavily than the abstract idea of protection of the family.”

Incest as a fundamental right?! Only in Germany! (Let’s hope!)

[Read more...]

Review: MEET THE MORMONS

I done met them already!

Consider this a review in two parts: first, the film itself, and second, the motivations, production, marketing and purpose of the film. It’s a fine film and a worthy successor to the throne of Church-produced films to play in the Legacy Theater in downtown SLC. Can it transcend that genre? [Read more...]

Chiune Sugihara (杉原 千畝) and the Triumph of Christian Conscience Over Worldly “Obedience”

As spiritual preparation for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (collectively, the “Days of Awe”), the Selichot — prayers and liturgical songs of repentance — are recited and sung on four days before Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year or Day of Judgment/Day of Remembrance [1] that began today at sundown and extends until Friday evening at sundown. This year, the first Selichot (according to Ashkenazik tradition) was on Sunday, September 21 in penitent anticipation of Rosh Hashanah. In fact, Rosh Hashanah falls within the period of repentance known as the “Season of Teshuva” or “Days of Favor” lasting 40 days from the first day of the month Elul until Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. During Rosh Hashanah, we hope that our names might be written in the Book of Life; whether written in that book or elsewhere, the Judgment entered on Rosh Hashanah is sealed (though most believe not permanently!) on Yom Kippur. In anticipation of this, the “Sheima Kolenu” is often sung at first Selichot: [Read more...]

Sacrifice Brings Forth The Blessings . . .

Walking around the campus of the Church’s flagship university today, I noted various states of clothing. No, this is not about skirt length (or pants now, apparently). I just noticed some shoes were *very* used, some other articles of clothing were clearly from a past age. Not a lot, but some. This got me to thinking about my own university experience. In grad school, I rarely had lunch because we could not afford it. And I frequently stayed at the campus until late in the evening studying (3am was not unusual). So I ended up with a piece of toast in the morning and some casserole in the late evening and sometimes if I was lucky enough to get a quarter or two, some sort of junk food from a vending machine during the day. Those Hostess Apple Pies were mighty good.
[Read more...]

Three Nephites, Ranked

Had I known that Steve was never a Zone Leader, I probably wouldn’t have allowed him to have as much influence as I did on last week’s rankings. Fortunately, we both share a high degree of personal knowledge about this week’s topic.

The 3 Nephigos
As always, these rankings are authoritative.
[Read more...]

You never know

Here is a Mormon Channel video that is making the rounds on the Facebook. I don’t usually watch Mormon Channel videos because I don’t usually watch any video unless I think it’s going to be funny, and Mormon Channel videos are not usually supposed to be funny. (This is not to say that they’re never funny, intentionally or otherwise. I just haven’t ever heard of a funny one. No, I do not need links to funny Mormon Channel videos. Try to focus, people!) My life is too short to watch every video that gets shared on Facebook, no matter how inspiring. (I never watch anything on Upworthy. NEVER.) But my husband went to the trouble of sharing this one with me and asked me what I thought, so I decided to watch it (even though I knew it would probably not be funny).

[Read more...]

On the Humanity of Saints

If you know a story about Mary Fielding Smith, odds are it’s one of these four: she blessed an ox that was about to die on the pioneer trail; when, on another occasion, a search party had been unable to find her lost cattle, she prayed and was told the cattle’s exact location; when Captain Cornelius Lott gave her a hard time about attempting the trek as a widow, she swore she’d beat him to the Valley, which she did; or, later, she insisted on paying her tithing because she would not be deprived of the blessings.

While these stories have the benefit of being more or less true—on Lavina Fielding Anderson’s search of primary sources, they seem to agree that Mary asked her brother and another elder to bless the ox—the fact that they represent the sum of what we as a people generally know about her ought to give us pause. [1] To say that she was more complicated is obvious, and complicating details aren’t hard to find: letters between her and Hyrum indicating some disagreement over her tactics as a step-parent, as well as other evidence suggesting that her marriages to Hyrum and, later, to Heber C. Kimball as a plural wife left her feeling lonely and not altogether satisfied. [2] I share these details not to point out with gleeful cynicism that Mary Fielding Smith wasn’t all she’s been made out to be, but rather to reflect on what it means for us as Latter-day Saints to honor our forebears.

[Read more...]

Mormon Adventures with Alcohol

I was born and raised in the Church, and have been an active member all my life. From those two facts, you might reasonably assume that these lips have never touched alcohol. And you would be wrong. [Read more...]

An Economic Explanation for BYU-I’s Dress Standards(?)

Ashton Kutcher couldn't walk around BYU-I like that.

Ashton Kutcher couldn’t walk around BYU-I like that.

As Steve highlighted earlier today,[fn1] the BYU-Idaho dress and grooming standards are arbitrary and relatively absurd. I mean, seriously, as a born-and-raised Californian, I can’t comprehend a dress code that bans flip-flops.[fn2] The dress and grooming standards can’t be all about modesty, because ankles and toes and beards, oh my! And if all they’re about is obedience, well, that’s stupid. There’s no spiritual value to obeying arbitrary rules.[fn3]

But maybe their actual function isn’t modesty. Or obedience. May it’s economics.  [Read more...]

From our friends in Rexburg

Presented without comment:

Exhibit A

[Read more...]

Shazam for Hymns, and other LDS app brainstorm ideas

Shazam-Auto_webIs it just me, or has the LDS library app become a bit cumbersome to navigate? If I preload the Screens with one screen each of Hymns, Old Testament (or current Sunday School scripture book), Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith (or current RS/PH manual), and Children’s Songbook, then it’s more manageable. But if I ever stray away from that structure within a screen, heaven help me try to go through layers and layers of library menus to get to the hymn we’re singing sooner than about verse 3 (yes, our ward enjoys wonderfully at tempo Sacrament meeting chorister and organist!).

As I was sitting at the back of the overflow in Stake Conference last Sunday, without a program, struggling to identify and then pull up the hymn we were singing, I had the Eureka! moment: my phone should just be able to hear the organ’s opening notes or measures, and pull up the corresponding page of lyrics. Shazam for Hymns, if you will.

[Read more...]

Is the temple canon?

This is not canon.

An interesting question just came up: is the temple liturgy canon? [Read more...]

The Myth of Traditional Marriage

Ooh, baby.

According to the song, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.  But when it comes to the history of marriage, pairing marriage with love is putting the cart before the horse.  If we look at why people used to get married, traditionally, we’ll quickly see why marriages today are less stable.  And why that may not be a terrible thing.

The phrase “traditional marriage” [1] is currently in vogue to describe opponents of gay marriage.  Just what does marriage look like over time?  Why do people marry and why is marriage changing so much? [Read more...]

Raising Kids in the Heart of the Pride Cycle

Pride CycleThis is my third time working through the Old Testament as a teacher (Gospel Doctrine twice, seminary once, kinda), which means I’ve drawn a lot of pride cycles on chalk boards. There was no chalk this time though, so I just used my finger on the chalkboard to trace the familiar circle during class on Sunday, while we talked our way through first Joel and then Amos.

The faint circle was still on the board during Elder’s Quorum, as the class discussed how we can raise our kids to be faithful adults. The instructor asked what we’re most worried about as we think about our children’s futures.

[Read more...]

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