“Peace” was a consistent theme this last General Conference. Elders Cook, Eyring, Scott, Christofferson, and Uchtdorf all spoke on this topic in various ways (I’m probably missing some others who also addressed the theme of peace). Here, I specifically want to focus on Elder Cook’s talk, “Personal Peace: The Reward of Righteousness” and President Uchtdorf’s address, “The Hope of God’s Light.” I’m not going to summarize the entirety of either of these talks, which, of course, will be fully available shortly on lds.org. Instead, I want to comment on a common theme in both these talks, which is a particular response to the problem of evil and suffering. [Read more...]
April is National Poetry Month in the U.S., and I’d like to share a poem by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a Lutheran theologian of extraordinary courage and insight. Author of the classic The Cost of Discipleship, and a vocal anti-Nazi, he languished in a concentration camp for two years before being executed in the early morning on this date in 1945, just weeks prior to the collapse of the Third Reich. He wrote numerous letters and some poetry while in prison, of which the following is an example. It is not, perhaps, the most artful of his verse, but I have chosen it for its autobiographical—and yet universal—poignancy.
In his Sunday Afternoon Conference Talk, Elder D. Todd Christofferson focused on the Redemptive power of the Atonement in our lives. While it is historically accurate and theologically legitimate to discuss a redemptive power and an understanding of Atonement tied to a redemption of humanity from some great debt, I feel like it can interfere with our understanding of the Atonement’s purpose.
In the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference, Elder Holland (hereafter “EH”) gave an address with the title “Lord, I Believe.” He sets the stage by recounting the story of the father of an afflicted child, desperate for whatever help might be afforded. The disciples were not able to provide the needed blessing. The father then appealed to Jesus with last-resort desperation: [Read more...]
Let me confess that I’ve become a little suspicious of the deep affection which seems to characterize so many discussions about President Dieter F. Uchtdorf amongst the Intellectual Mormons (use whatever definition your prefer) that I frequently associate with. I have a hard time buying the idea that this man is some kind of Great Liberal Hope for the church; there’s no way any person (even a non-American!) can get to the highest levels of church leadership and not be fundamentally at peace with–and have real faith in the divinity behind–the corporate Mormon institution which we all know and love. He’s a general authority, a man we give the title “apostle” to, and that ought to be more than good enough. There’s no need to look at him as one who has great and unique and needed insights which his fellow general authorities lack.
Except that, well, he keeps giving beautiful, thoughtful, wise talks after which I have to tell myself: “Honestly, I’m not sure there’s anyone else in the Church Office Building who would have said that.” His sermon in Priesthood session this past Saturday is a case in point.
I will say here that we should give our wives and children the opportunity to pray in the family circle. There are men who think that unless they pray the Lord does not hear the prayer, and they are in the habit of doing all the praying in their families…We should ask our wives and our daughters to pray. Let them do some of the praying in the family…Brethren, do not get the idea that the Lord will not hear your wives and daughters. [n1]
Elder Bednar’s Saturday morning talk was about chastity. Let me start by saying I’m a believer in chastity. I believe that premarital sex creates a lot of hassle, at minimum, and generally speaking I’m against hassle. It can result in much worse than hassle in its worst cases – eroded self esteem, teen pregnancy (that I oppose even in married form), STDs, and bad patterns for future relationships. I believe that extramarital sex (infidelity) destroys families, irreparably harms children, and is very human and very selfish. [Read more...]
(Hey, it’s better than the original.)
Choir in pink (!), Andrew Unsworth at the organ, Wilberg conducting.
First Presidency is sitting down. President Eyring conducting.
Whoa–it’s not just women praying this time, they’re even letting Democrats pray!!!
Let’s get ready for the releases and sustainings…
After the annual report, Elder Richard G. Scott is on deck.
We’re By Common Consenting as we speak! [Read more...]
So you say you want to watch General Conference? So do we. Here’s the deal for BCC’s coverage, and all the information you need to know. [Read more...]
Yesterday, emeritus church patriarch Eldred G. Smith passed away at 106. As Peggy explains “Eldred G. Smith, who served for 32 years as Mormonism’s ‘presiding patriarch,’ died Thursday evening in Salt Lake City. At 106, Smith was the faith’s oldest living and longest-serving LDS general authority.” [Read more...]
CTR: Crap That’s Real is a column devoted to discussions of whatever I deem worthy of discussion. It might be Mormon-related; it might not be. This week, we are going to talk about General Conference Snacks, Movies, Baseball, and other related minutiae. If you have something you think is worthy of inclusion in next week’s CTR, shoot me an email.
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It has been nearly one and a half years since I last struck the keyboard here at BCC. During that absence, people have asked where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing, why I left, and even whether or not I am actually the same person as Steve Evans, who was also absent during that same time period. These are all worthy questions, but the easiest one to answer is why I left. It’s very simple: Over time, I became increasingly afraid of the possibility that Brad Kramer would eat me. [Read more...]
Recently Discovered Letter from Nietzsche Reveals Most Devastating Argument Against Christianity of All Time
A letter written by German philosopher and anti-Christian gadfly Friedrich Nietzsche was recently discovered in a home near St. Moritz, Switzerland. The letter is one of a series of letters written to various friends and transcribed in the handwriting of his friend and occasional secretary, Heinrich Köselitz, dated March 27, 1887. Philosophers have called the letter the “most significant philosophical find of the last 500 years.” [Read more...]
This is another installment in a series of posts based on the monthly themes from, “Come, Follow Me,” the new youth curriculum for the Church. Here are the previous posts for January, February, and March.
A mother gives birth to her child, a composer writes a new song, and a gardener’s planted seed sprouts, all to some degree of surprise. It’s not that these events were unexpected, but that the specific manner of their unfolding could not be entirely predicted. There was a moment of prestige—of revelation—natural to each. We live in an age of almost constant scientific, historical, and creative revelation, and therefore of surprise. How fitting, then, that this dispensation was inaugurated by a young man who turned out to be—and is still turning out to be—full of surprises as well.
More great news. Morgan Davis* (who has been our guest here on many occasions) has joined BCC as a permanent fixture. Morgan is a thoughtful blogger and all around great guy, and we’re immensely proud that he has agreed to be part of our merry band. Everyone, please welcome Morgan!
*Picture may not be representative of actual Morgan Davis.
When I first moved to this area, the EQP extended a call to me to be the Executive Secretary over HTing. And I was all prepared to turn him down flat; no way did I want to get sucked into that morass. But he had anticipated my reaction, and told me he had just come from Stake leadership training, in which they had authorized contact by any method necessary. While in-home visits by two HTers still constituted the gold standard, casual visits in other locations, phone calls, letters (this was a little bit pre-email, I think) would all count. So with that qualification I accepted the call. And of course we had 100% home teaching every month. Whoever hadn’t been visited (very broadly defined) by the last week, I’d just send letters to them to make sure everyone was covered. [Read more...]
What if the prophets are right and wickedness will cause the destruction of the last days? But what if it’s not indirect causation such that people are wicked therefore God looking down smites the Earth? What if the wickedness itself causes the destruction? What if the seas are heaving themselves beyond their bound** because the wicked are using up the resources of the Earth in wicked ways: selfish, unnecessary, greedy, used to adorn the flesh of a few, and to vaunt vanity? [Read more...]
This week, Utah Valley University plays host to what promises to be a fascinating conference on Mormonism’s scriptural canon. Five reasons you should attend: [Read more...]
I suppose that yesterday’s paper in Nature deserves to be more broadly known, because it has some implications for the faith/science debate. A brief outline is in order. Beardy Card’s lab at MIT has completed the most extensive dark matter (DM) analysis ever done. As we’ve learned dark matter (an unidentified form of matter) is found throughout the universe in great abundance. Dark matter detectors were pioneered by Card and this is the first analysis of the DM contained within our planet ever conducted. The results are stunning. In a news release Card says, “We are still reeling over this, but there can be little doubt that we’ve done the analysis correctly. It’s been confirmed in six independent labs and they are all reporting the same finding. [Read more...]
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor 15:17-19) [Read more...]
We have had clear weather for the last few weeks with very cold nights and mornings and temperatures coming up just below freezing during the day. It has been a cold March, and although the spring solstice has come and gone, we are definitely still in the throes of winter for Easter.
Having grown up with the stories, I tend to forget just how strange this Easter thing really is. I found myself thinking again this year about the incredibly perplexing central claim of Christianity. To the declarations of faith delivered by poets and prophets, I add the voices of two who decried the scandal of the cross. Their unbelief lends clarity to my belief:
“Obtuse to all Christian terminology, modern people can no longer relate to the hideous superlative found by an ancient taste in the paradoxical formula ‘god on the cross.’ Nowhere to date has there been such a bold inversion or anything quite as horrible, questioning, and questionable as this formula. It promised a revaluation of all the values of antiquity.”1 [Read more...]
9 No seas como el caballo o como el mulo, que no tienen entendimiento;
cuyos arreos incluyen brida y freno para sujetarlos,
porque si no, no se acercan a ti
10 Muchos son los dolores del impío,
pero al que confía en el SEÑOR, la misericordia lo
11 Alegraos en el SEÑOR y rogocijaos, justos;
dad voces de júbilo, todos los rectos de corazón.
Madrid, March 30, 2013 — john f.: A motley crew of Mormons walking The Way of St. James might seem strangers on the Camino indeed. This will not be the first time that Jordan and I have raised eyebrows as Mormons in a culturally non-Mormon setting. Nearly fifteen years ago we studied Yiddish together in Vilnius — many of our fellow students young and old, I recall, found it very amusing that a couple of Mormon brothers were among them. [Read more...]
J. Kirk Richards is my favorite LDS artist. His newest book is a limited edition anthology of fine art prints, hand bound in leather and hand finished with wood panels. Each of the forty works contained in the book is a different image of Christ. I’ve been a huge fan of Kirk’s work for years, and I am honored that he recently asked me to write a short forward to the book. For me, this is devotional art at its absolute best, and I explain why in my introduction to these striking images, which follows below:
It is not uncommon for Mormons to speculate about which LDS Apostles have seen Jesus Christ in person. [Read more...]
I wrote the following post in the wake of my son’s baptism, Easter weekend, two years ago.
I baptized my son yesterday. The coinciding of this event with the celebration of Easter was not deliberately planned. Isaac (my son) share his baptismal date with his cousin, so a time was selected that worked best for all the people involved. We met at a stake center in Spanish Fork, Utah, sang hymns and prayed together, witnessed collectively the performance of this sacred rite along with the conferral of the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then we shared a delicious meal of smoked pulled pork sandwiches, baked lasagna, and homemade cinnamon rolls. [Read more...]