Of Cowardice

It’s not really as nice as it looks.

Corbeil-Essonnes is a suburb to the southeast of Paris. Like many Parisian suburbs, it has a broad mix of cultures and incomes, from those who live in private mansions to those who are crammed into immense low-income housing projects. And, like many Parisian suburbs, it has Mormon missionaries running around in it, trying to spread the word. In 1992 I was one of those missionaries. [Read more...]

From the Archives: The Liturgy of Jello

It’s the tri-ante-dodransbicentennial (or something like that) of the Relief Society. Hurrah! Go read the minutes.

Here’s my talk from the celebration in my ward a few years ago (with apologies for not having come up with anything better in the last 4 years!):

I have mixed feelings about our yearly celebration of the birthday of the Relief Society, starting with the nitpicky wish that we called it “founding” or “establishment” or even “anniversary” and not something as redolent of frosting and froufiness as “birthday.” The rest of the country has Women’s History Month (which still isn’t enough) but we only have Relief Society History day. Any excuse for a party will do, and I love our gatherings, but it pains me that it’s not enough time to discover a thousandth part of our heritage of faith as Mormon women. And sometimes even this single evening can feel like too much: I have finally come to accept the fact that some people, even smart, wonderful people whom I love, just don’t want to hear more stories about “pioneer women.” And, although this sentiment is profoundly alien to me, I can imagine how it might arise. [Read more...]

Second Sunday in Lent

MLP

MLP

Mormon Lectionary Project

Second Sunday in Lent

Genesis 12:1-4 (KJV), Psalm 121 (KJV), Romans 4:1-17 (KJV), John 3:1-21 (KJV), Jacob 4:4-8, 3 Nephi 20:35

The Collect: Father, grant us through thy mercy a renewed desire to search the scriptures and a new appreciation of the spirit of prophecy, that our faith may be strengthened in this holy season! May our strengthened faith manifest itself in works that resonate with those who have gone astray, drawing them back into the fold, renewing their desire to seek the gifts of faith and repentance, that they might once again be sanctified by the Sacrament of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who is one with Thee and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen. [Read more...]

What do you wear when you go out with the missionaries?

When I go out with the missionaries, I rarely wear a suit and tie. Instead, I usually opt for trousers and a causal shirt.

This might be completely unsurprising for many people but it has recently come to my attention that, in general (just like when they go home teaching), members will very often wear their Sunday best when they teach with the missionaries. [Read more...]

March Madness – Early Mormonism & False Prophets Regions

After yesterday’s barnburner that saw Deborah eek out a 6-vote win over Noah, we’re down to two regions left in Round 1.  Rather than wait until Monday for the final region, today it’s two for the price one–Early Mormonism & False Prophets are up now!

(Results from Round 1: Modern Mormon Prophets, Ancient Scripture)

A couple of notes:

  • Voting closes in 24 hours.
  • Seeds have not truly been assigned, because we don’t care about numbers–we care about people.
  • Round 2 for all four regions starts Monday Tuesday Wednesday!
  • Relevant questions for your consideration include:
  1. Did they make it to Salt Lake?
  2. Who had poorer attendance at FHE in college?
  3. Who had the most wives? (or HUSBANDS!?)
  4. Who’s really just in it for the free food?
  5. Who would you be most likely to portray in a Hollywood adaptation of the Restoration?
  6. Who haunts the dark hallways of stake centers at night? [Read more...]

March Madness – Ancient Scripture Region

We’re back today with Round 1 in the Ancient Scripture Region, but first let’s recap the action from yesterday’s Modern Mormon Prophets region.

There were really no major surprises in the first round here. As expected, President Monson had no problems overcoming his bye week, and the Tri-DarkHorse-umvirate of Uchtdorf, Holland, and Eyring all walked away with landslide victories.  In fact, the only relatively close matches involved the victorious Elder Oaks (over Elder Bednar), Elder Nelson (over Elder Cook), and, in a nod to pirates everywhere, Elder L. Tom Perry (over Elder Christofferson).

Now, on to the Ancient Scriptures Region. A couple of notes:

  • Voting closes in 24 hours.
  • Seeds have been assigned directly via capital-R Revelation.
  • Early Mormonism, and False Prophets regions are forthcoming.
  • Relevant questions for your consideration include:
  1. Who is more prophetic?
  2. Who is more likely to sell essential oils?
  3. Who has the biggest book? [Read more...]

March Madness – Modern Mormon Prophets Region

It’s March Madness Bracket season, and it’s been too long since we’ve done anything remotely likely this.

A couple of notes:

  • Voting closes in 24 hours.
  • Seeds have been assigned in the only appropriate fashion: Apostolic seniority.
  • Ancient Prophets, Early Mormonism, and False Prophets regions are forthcoming.
  • Relevant questions for your consideration include:
  1. Who is more prophetic?
  2. Who would win in a leg wrestle?
  3. Whose talks better to read than to listen to? [Read more...]

Re-Introducing the Mormon Texts Project

This is guest post from our Magnifying Your Calling: Mormon Book Geek dept., by way of Tom Nysetvold, the Director of the MTP. Tom is a Texan mechanical engineer involved in the refining industry who likes to hike and read old books in his spare time. He served in the Brazil São Paulo South Mission, speaks increasingly rusty Portuguese, and is studying Italian. He’s married to the beautiful and extremely supportive Elissa Nysetvold.

The Mormon Texts Project aims to make every out-of-copyright Church book available for free in Kindle, epub, HTML, and plaintext formats, forever. After a year or so of slow progress, we’re back in business, with eight books released on Project Gutenberg so far this year and many more in the works. In this guest post I’ll discuss our philosophy, the process we use to make books available, what we’re working on, and how people can help, in that order. [Read more...]

The First Sunday in Lent

MLP

MLP

Mormon Lectionary Project

The First Sunday in Lent, Year A

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11; Psalm 32; 2 Nephi 2:17-26

The Collect: O God, thou who hast sent us forth into a world of opposition and trial: bless us, through the ever-present grace of him who overcame all, with the joy that surpasses understanding.

That Lent should be a season of joy seems, well, not quite right. Why voluntarily enter a world of deprivation when life is usually hard enough as it is? We can hardly follow Jesus into the wilderness if that’s where we’re already living, having been cast out of Eden alongside Adam and Eve. Sin and death really do seem to have the dominion here. [Read more...]

Event: “Milton and the Anonymous Authority of De doctrina Christiana,” 3pm on 11 March at BYU

In addition to our blogging, BCC permas do occasionally write other, non-internet type things. If you’re interested in witnessing this strange phenomenon, I will be giving a talk, “Milton and the Anonymous Authority of De doctrina Christiana,” next Tuesday, March 11, at BYU. It will take place at 3pm in B042 JFSB. Here is an abstract: [Read more...]

The 1983 Mercer Island Ward Cookbook

I sometimes look at the used markets for research materials and I recently found a copy of the 1983 Mercer Island Ward Cookbook for sale on ebay. I remembered that my current ward was organized in the mid-1980s and that previously it was part of the Mercer Island Ward. A quick email to the ward list and responses confirmed my suspicion. Within a few weeks a friend lent me a copy from their own shelf.

[Read more...]

When God Talks

Inspiration is a tricky thing, and, at least for me, the muse is always elusive. Recently, quite unbidden and utterly unexpectedly, the sky split open and gave me a downpour of light and inspiration. I hadn’t realized the fog had gradually gotten so cottony and thick around my spirit; but there it was, suddenly blown away by the shocking and beautiful flood of light. This appears to be my pattern with the divine. There are people who seem to carry quiet, constant inspiration with them, on a slow drip like irrigation pipes under straw on a hot summer day. I used to wonder what was wrong that I didn’t always feel the small but companionable whispering. It would make me question my faith. [Read more...]

A Kick in the Gut

From one birthday to the next — there but for the grace of God go we all:

Civil War in London. Unimaginable?

[Read more...]

The Resurrection of a Mazda

When I returned home from work a few weeks ago, I broke into a wide grin at the happy sight of a familiar Mazda Protégé in the parking lot. She’s a scientific wonder affectionately known as The Maz; 24 years old, baby blue (in places), boasting all of her 406,000 kilometers with every inch of her peeling, rusting, dented and pockmarked body. She’d just spent nearly a month at the shop before coming home to us, her engine once again purring like a kitten. “It’s not worth it,” the auto shop had told my husband, Jon. “Why don’t you just go buy a used Corolla instead?” O ye of little faith. [Read more...]

Taxing the Temple

10439537According to yesterday’s news, the Church lost an appeal in the European Court of Human Rights and, as a result, will have to pay property taxes on the Preston, England temple.

Of course, the decision raises a number of questions, not the least of which is how a property tax dispute gets to the European Court of Human Rights in the first place. Other fair questions include whether this evinces European prejudice against the Mormon church and what ramifications this decision will have for the Church.  [Read more...]

Shrove Tuesday/Ash Wednesday

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MLP

Mormon Lectionary Project: Ash Wednesday, Year A

Joel 2:1-2,12-172 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10Matthew 6:1-6,16-21Psalm 103; 2 Nephi 4: 15-35

The Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Like Advent, Lent signals new life on the horizon. Shorn of all the secular trappings of Easter, the beginning of Lent is thus, along with First Advent, perhaps holier than the holiday it precedes. It is a day worth paying attention to, but in doing so, we admit our Anglo-Catholic tendencies. We Protestants (and Mormonism, whatever its doctrinal divergences, is culturally Protestant) have had an uneasy relationship with Lent, the 40 days (not counting Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Henry VIII, for example, allowed the eating of dairy products, hitherto forbidden during Lent, in his new English church. The Puritans abolished Lent altogether before it was reinstated by Charles II in 1664. By Victorian times, it had almost disappeared from English custom as one Yorkshireman ruefully noted in 1865: [Read more...]

He will find his way home.

It was 10PM on a Sunday in August, a decade ago. The next day was the first of three day-long sessions that comprised my comprehensive PhD exams. I was just thinking about how I probably should call it a day pretty soon when the phone rang. It was the police. [Read more...]

BFFs With the Mormons Except When We’re Totally Not

With the recent decision from BSA to allow openly gay scouts, a number of long-time scouting supporters were, and continue to be, upset. So upset, in fact, that a new program has been established: “Trail Life USA – the new Christian-based alternative that excludes openly gay boys.”  

Naturally, the question on everyone’s mind, of course, is whether our super-allies will let us Mormons join. Will “Trail Life USA” become the new official Activity Wing of the Aaronic Priesthood? Let’s consult Trail Life USA’s FAQ page for answers!
[Read more...]

Hunger Banquet 2014

BYU Hunger Banquet 2014, Co-hosted by The Kennedy Center for International Studies at BYU (source: http://tinyurl.com/lfz42t3)

BYU Hunger Banquet 2014, Co-hosted by The Kennedy Center for International Studies at BYU (source: http://tinyurl.com/lfz42t3)

BYU’s 24th annual Hunger Banquet yesterday was a perfect way to welcome in Fast Sunday and as a prelude to the upcoming season of Lent beginning this week. The Hunger Banquet was a wonderful success, as it has been in past years, and I would like to express my thanks to the students from various initiatives across campus and the Kennedy Center for their work in continuing this important experience for the community. Fasting today on the food I received as someone assigned to the “developing world” in last night’s events has directed my mind to the less fortunate even more starkly than on a normal Fast Sunday. [Read more...]

Unbreakable

praise-you-god-i-give-it-all-to-youWhile everyone’s journey into faith is unique, there are often archetypal threads and motifs that wind through our stories, drawing us together into a unified chord- stronger and richer for our unique contributions to the whole. I came into the church backwards. When I asked to become a member of the church, I wasn’t even sure I believed in Jesus as the Christ, but I suspected God was real and I had felt both the burning and the whispering of the Spirit- in fact, I had felt it all my life, in different moments and times, but hadn’t the language to give it a name. [Read more...]

Temple Worship and Temple Worthiness

E.-SanctuaryHandshake
A good friend of mine recently returned to Church activity. His story is a complicated one. Tyler (I’m going to call him Tyler) is a returned missionary and prior to his period of inactivity had served as an EQP, Executive Secretary, and temple ordinance worker in his ward. About a year ago, Tyler came out of the closet. First to himself, then to immediate family members and a few close friends. He did not tell his bishop or any of his fellow ward members. Instead, he moved out of his ward and eventually stopped attending Church altogether. He also began to date in an effort to get into a serious relationship with another man. So while he had spent most of his life as a model Mormon, coming out and embracing his sexual identity led him into a period of general non-engagement with the Church. He occasionally drank (though did not abuse) alcohol, and generally his lifestyle reflected a shifting (and distinctively less LDS) perspective on morality and right and wrong. He also began attending the Episcopal Church, which he enjoyed in part because it was new and different but still Christ-centric, but also very much because he fell in love with the richness of the liturgy. He spent a total of 6 months basically totally inactive in the LDS Church, and not conforming to certain key LDS behavioral standards.

Then he received an email from a close friend (actually a mutual friend of both of ours, I’ll call him Jake). [Read more...]

The Shape of Faith to Come

ornettejazzWhen I was in high school or college, I bought The Shape of Jazz to Come, Ornette Coleman’s seminal 1959 free jazz album. I listened to jazz at the time, especially Miles’s electric stuff, but even more I listened to James Brown and Prince and P-Funk and various alternative rock bands. In fact, I’d probably never heard Ornette Coleman before I bought the album.[fn1] I bought it because I knew it was important, and I wanted to like it. [Read more...]

From the Archives

The best two minutes in the history of the bloggernacle, period.


At the request of the PTB, I’m going to repost my BoH series, as well the entire library of BCC Zeitcast episodes, since they’ve been lost from the Internets somehow. [Read more...]

George Herbert, Priest

MLP

MLP

Mormon Lectionary Project

The Feast of George Herbert, Priest, 1633.

1 Peter 5:1-4; Matt. 5:1-10; Psalm 23; Alma 4:11-20

The Collect: O God, who broughtest thy servant George Herbert through the disappointment of his worldly aspirations to become a priest to thy Temple, a poet of thy praise, and an instrument of thy undivided love in a contentious time: guide us also by thy inner light so that we might worship thee together in the beauty of holiness.

[Read more...]

A Temple Heart

Twenty years ago today, I was endowed in the Idaho Falls Temple. This temple was where my parents and grandparents had been endowed and sealed. [Read more...]

Have Mercy on us Whiners

I don’t wanna wait for Church to be over; I want to whine right now on BCC.

Periodically (i.e. with frequency) I’ll read some comment about how BCC is full of complainers, about how we’re missing the point of the Gospel and heck I’m done with this site, I gave it a shot but you guys are just such whiners and complainers, it’s like Laman and Lemuel!

There’s something to that, I admit. Look at the last 10 days of posts here: Firestorm on modesty, leaving the Ensign behind, how to revamp Church magazines, the Church as corporation, missionary policies re: opposite sex, wearing pants and then Mark’s post contrasting dinners. If the occasional complaint is steadying the ark then BCC must be like a full suspension system like none other.

I’d like to offer up a little explanation of what’s going on here. If you’re predisposed to dislike this site then I suppose these will make little difference. [Read more...]

Two Dinners

I volunteer at a shelter for homeless people two nights per week, helping with the evening meal. I do pretty much the same things there I do with my Mormon priesthood on such occasions, i.e. set up tables and chairs and take them down again. The events I describe in this post took place last week on consecutive evenings.

Wednesday: I notice on the schedule that an LDS ward from the suburbs is scheduled to furnish the dinner tonight. Right on time, three women from the Relief Society arrive, and they are like the two or three dozen women in any ward who make things happen: efficient, capable, and hard-working. They have done this before, and they each know what to do to get the meal ready on time. They are serving chili dogs, so one sister sets a big pan of water on to boil to heat the hot dogs, another starts heating the chili, and I help the third woman fill disposable cups with water. The guests at the shelter start lining up for chow, and after a blessing, the production line starts. Two hot dogs in buns are arranged on each plate, then a ladle full of chili is poured over it all. The guest then moves down the line and helps himself to a baggie of chips, and individual size can of fruit cocktail, and a baggie of sandwich creme style cookies for dessert. They told me that they budget less than a dollar per meal, and I believe them. There are extra hot dogs left over, so they will go home to the freezer until next month, when it’s their turn again. They also told me that they turn in their receipts to the bishop and he reimburses them out of the fast offering fund, which seems like a good arrangement. The only complaint I hear from the guests is that there are no second helpings, and that seems quite petty to me, at first. But upon reflection, many of those people probably had not had lunch, and when you don’t have a refrigerator or pantry, the feeling of having one’s belly full probably takes on more importance.
[Read more...]

Jesus in Isaiah 52:13-53:12

We in the Church—along with many other Christians—read the “Fourth Servant Song” in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 as transparently about Jesus. It’s kind of hard not to: phrases like “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” fit the Christological narrative almost too perfectly. And yet the presence of this passage in the Hebrew Scriptures suggests the possibility of a reading that has nothing at all to do with Jesus, because Jews obviously do not accept Jesus as the Messiah. So what is this other reading? More pointedly, why should we as Christians bother to look beyond the seemingly straightforward identification of the “servant” in this passage with Jesus?

[Read more...]

Polygamous Tax Evasion

In the litany of evils perpetrated by polygamists, one evil stands out above the rest: tax evasion. Feel the chill? Yes, tax evasion.

O RLY? you might ask. [Read more...]

Authoring the Old Testament

This post is a review of David Bokovoy, Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2014); 237 pp.  This book is the first of three projected volumes, which are meant in some measure to parallel the three parts of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh: Law, Prophets, Writings). The review is written in three parts: first, some personal reflections on my interactions with the Documentary Hypothesis (hereafter “DH”: the theory that the Pentateuch was not authored as a whole by the prophet Moses, but rather was created later by one or more redactors weaving together multiple documentary sources); second, a consideration of the first half of the book, chapters 1-5, specifically on the DH; and third, a consideration of the second half of the book, chapters 6-9, on the interaction of the DH with Mormon scripture. [Read more...]

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