Sunday Sermon: Creation

My wife, Kristine K. (disambiguation: not the same as Kristine) gave this sermon today in the Slate Canyon 13th Ward in Provo.

“[When] in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth . . . the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep . . . the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light” (Gen 1:1-3). [1] In this opening scene of creation, I picture “the Spirit of the Gods . . . brooding upon the face of the waters” (Abr. 4:2), in a way, as a feeling out or trying to get a sense of what is out there. Then realizing that they need a clearer view of the materials they have to work with, the Gods utter, “Let there be light.” What is revealed in that primordial light is primordial chaos—a watery wasteland. I’m sure the Gods realized—maybe in that moment, maybe before—that their work would be difficult, that it would be a long and arduous process. In his book Reflections of a Scientist, Henry Eyring informs us that it takes an average of 250 years to deposit one foot of sediment, or roughly 112 million years to deposit all known sediments. [2] In fact, the Book of Abraham says that after the Gods “prepar[ed] the earth to bring forth grass” (4:11) or “prepared[ed] the waters to bring forth . . . the moving creatures (4:20),” they “watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed” (4:18). [3] [Read more...]

Sunday Sermon: The War in Heaven and Human Agency

My wife, Kristine K. (disambiguation: not the same as Kristine), and I both delivered  sermons today in the Slate Canyon 13th Ward in Provo. I spoke first, on the War in Heaven, and then she spoke on the Creation. I’m posting my sermon now, with Kristine’s to follow shortly, as I believe that it will also resonate with readers of BCC.

For the vital part that the war in heaven plays in LDS theology, much about it remains unclear. The phrase itself derives from Revelation chapter 12, which depicts “a great red dragon” whose “tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth” (vv. 3-4, NRSV). Then, we read, “war broke out in heaven.” This seems to have been instigated by Michael and his angels, as the text mentions their aggression first, going on to say that “the dragon and his angels fought back, but were defeated” (vv. 7-8, NRSV). The effect of this defeat is that Satan “was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (v. 9, NRSV).

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Mormon Lectionary Project: Palm Sunday

Alongside Eric Huntsman’s excellent Holy Week posts we will be continuing with the Mormon Lectionary Project, thus bringing adaptations of  Cranmer’s Anglican collects to our worships, as well as the designated lectionary readings.

Palm Sunday, Year A

Matthew 21:1-11Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29, D&C 93:35

The Collect: Heavenly Father: In your love towards the human race you sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility, and also be made partakers of his atonement; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

On Palm Sunday the Messiah is finally revealed. No more preaching in the Galilean backwaters. No more Messianic Secret. On Palm Sunday, Jesus publicly enacts the prophecy of Zechariah concerning the Messiah:

“Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” [Read more...]

Palm Sunday

Eric and Rachel Palm SundayEric Huntsman continues his series on Holy Week.

Growing up in heavily Catholic Pittsburgh, I always had Palm Sunday in the back of my mind somewhere, but it was not really brought to the forefront until a bishop on our family ward in Philadelphia tried to plan a Palm Sunday procession one year. He actually flew in, at his own expense, palm fronds, and the primary children were making banners that said, among other things, “Welcome Jesus.” Needless to say, when the stake presidency got wind of it, all the plans were cancelled. I did not think about it again until Elaine and I were in Hawai’i one spring that it really impacted me. Visiting the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew in Honolulu on a Saturday, I was struck by the volunteers who were there weaving little crosses out of palm fronds. When I inquired, they explained that they were going to be used for the Palm Sunday service the next day.
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Lazarus Saturday

Eric Huntsman continues his series with us for Holy Week. Today: something a little more ‘orthodox’.

Church of Lazarus - Bethany
In the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Saturday before Holy Week begins is known as “Lazarus Saturday,” and that is the day in which our friends of that tradition commemorate the raising of Lazarus as commemorated in John 11. The reason for putting it before Palm Sunday is because in the Fourth Gospel the raising of Lazarus is the proximate cause of the crowds’ rapturous reception of Jesus at the triumphal entry and the plot against Jesus, which the chief priests begin to organize because they see that “the whole world is going after him.” (In the Synoptics it is the cleansing of the temple that leads to their hardening opposition to Jesus, but of course the Gospel according to John placed that event, or an earlier occurrence of it, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry). [Read more...]

Lovely & Praiseworthy: Because of Him

This week, in honor of Easter and the resurrected Savior, the Church is launching new devotional media dedicated to focusing on Christ in our lives, and reminding us what we are truly celebrating at this and ever Easter.

The first site, “Because of Him” launches a brand new inspirational short reminding us of the grace and unlimited potential found through Christ. It’s a new format— current, relevant and contemporary. The Church is trying something new here, and it’s beautiful, quite moving and worth your time. This video will likely be shared through social media by members and non-members alike, with it’s focus deeply meaningful for all Christians.

Along with the video, which you are welcome to share, there is missionary information on Easter and on the ministry of Jesus.

The second campaign is “Starting Today” which challenges Christians of all denominations to dedicate themselves to making small, immediate changes in their lives to reflect their love of God and of the Savior.

Starting Today also is encouraging people of faith to use the hashtag #StartingToday to create and share memes and pinterest-style testimonies on social media. It’s Christ-focused and reminds us that through small and simple things, great things can come to pass. Really, we can all make small changes to bring us closer to God.

 

 

 

Introduction to Holy Week

Eric Huntsman received his BA from BYU in Classical Greek and Latin in 1990 and then went on to receive an MA and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in Ancient History in 1992 and 1997.  In 1994 he began teaching full-time at BYU in Classics.  In 2003 he transferred to Ancient Scripture, where he is currently an associate professor specializing in New Testament.  After a year teaching at the BYU-Jerusalem Center from 2011-2012, he returned to BYU and began serving as the coordinator for the Ancient Near Eastern Studies (ANES) program in the Kennedy Center for International Relations.  The ANES major has two tracks, one in Hebrew Bible and one in Greek New Testament.  A co-author of Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament with Richard Holzapfel and Thomas Wayment, Huntsman is the author of God So Loved the World, a study of and devotional reflection on the Passion Narratives, and Good Tidings of Great Joy, a similar treatment of the Infancy Narratives.  This August his new book, The Miracles of Jesus, will be released by Deseret Book.


 

I was excited when John Fowles approached me about guest blogging for By Common Consent. I have checked on blogs here from time to time and been particularly interested in the Mormon Lectionary Project. As a self-confessed “high church Mormon” (when I am not veering towards a more evangelical style when speaking and teaching!), I love using holidays and elements of the traditional liturgical calendar to structure my personal study and our family worship.  Scriptures that reflect pivotal moments of Jesus’ life and ministry, together with music that conveys the feelings of these events, have always spoken powerfully to me. [Read more...]

A Warning About Alonzo Gaskill’s New Book

Taylor G. Petrey is the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Assistant Professor of Religion, and Director of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Program at Kalamazoo College. He holds a ThD and MTS from Harvard Divinity School in New Testament and Early Christianity.

As a scholar who writes about gender in early Christianity, I was initially happy to discover that Alonzo Gaskill, an associate professor in BYU Religious Education’s Church History and Doctrine department has recently published a book on supposedly ancient apocryphal teachings of Jesus related to women, titled The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women (Ceder Fort, 2014). I was quite disappointed to discover that the text Gaskill’s commentary is based on is a well-known forgery. Readers deserve to be warned against this problematic book in the strongest terms. [Read more...]

Is the internet creating disaffection?

People who report their religion as ‘none’ are rising in the US. Between 1990 and 2010 the size of this group rose 10% points. Concurrent with this decline is the rise of the internet. Are these phenomena related?

This is the claim in a recent paper that has been receiving some interest on the internet over the last few days. Sounds plausible, right? [Read more...]

Should Mormons be concerned about alcohol policy?

The Word of Wisdom is often interpreted as a code for healthy living motivated by the ‘evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days’. Alcohol is major risk factor for many non-communicable diseases, which account for two-thirds of all deaths globally. Alcohol-attributable mortality is 2.5 million (4% of all deaths) every year, more than the number attributed to HIV/AIDS or Tuberculosis. Despite increased awareness of the health consequences of excessive alcohol, there has been little recent interest among Mormons in using public policy to control alcohol consumption. [Read more...]

Noah–The man, the myth, the movie

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Darren Aronofsky’s movie Noah. If you don’t want any major plot points revealed before you see it, don’t continue reading. If spoilers don’t bother you, go ahead. If you don’t intend to see the movie and nothing anyone says could possibly persuade you otherwise, you’re probably safe too, but whether or not you’re interested is another story. Don’t worry if you haven’t yet read the Bible story; nothing could possibly spoil that.

noah true storyLast Thursday Brother J and I went to see Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. My husband and I both very much enjoyed The Fountain, so we were eager to see what Aronofsky would do with a big Hollywood budget. I didn’t realize there was any controversy over the movie until right around opening weekend, when I started seeing indignant posts on Facebook about how much the movie gets “wrong,” i.e. deviates from the Biblical account. [Read more...]

Your Late Night Firestorm: While the men were inside Priesthood Session…

From the comments section at KSL:

“I went to Tai Pan Trading for the bi-annual Ladies Night they have every conference weekend. The store was full to the rafters with women acting like…well acting like women who rapsodized over plates, wreaths, vases and easter decorations. Many were with at least 3 if not 4 generations of women. Grandmas, Mothers, daughters and granddaughters. They laughed together, asked each other for opinions on home decor ideas, and had a great time. It was a sisterhood of women shoppers, doing only what other women can understand. Any man would have felt like a total fish out of water at Ladies Night, just as I would feel at Priesthood Meeting.

I know a night of shopping for home decor seems trivial, and it is, but what lies behind it has a greater meaning. For most of us, home is where the heart is. We receive our greatest rewards and power within our homes and families.

I’m all for women who want to go for the board room. Do it, if that is what you want, but don’t drag me into by assuming that is surely what I want. It isn’t. I was proud to be a part of the sisterhood at Tai Pan tonight. After getting through the long checkout line, I had to hurry home so I could hang my new spring wreath on the front door. It looks beautiful.”

Discuss.

So What Should Brother Jabari Do Now?

Here at BCC in the wake of conference we tend to have a flurry of post-conference commentary. In the Priesthood session Saturday night President Monson quoted Jabari Parker (who in turn was quoting his father, Sonny) as saying: “Just be the same person you are in the dark that you are in the light.” So for my contribution to the post-conference commentary, I would like to explore the question of what Brother Jabari should do now. The choices are: (a) serve a mission, (b) enter the NBA draft, or (c) return to Duke for his sophomore year. [Read more...]

The “Mormon Olympian” Sunday afternoon session

Welcome BCC fans to the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference.

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The “imminent apocalypse” Sunday Morning session

Welcome to the Sunday morning session of General Conference. Lets take some notes! 

In the meantime, check out some photos (bottom right) from the sessions yesterday or watch ‘Music and the Spoken Word’.

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Fifth Sunday in Lent

 

MLP

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Mormon Lectionary Project

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A

Ezekiel 37:1-14, Romans 8:6-11, John 11:1-45, Psalm 130, 2 Nephi 4:16-35

The Collect: Almighty God, who weepest with us in the depths of our extremity: console us, we pray, but also breathe life into our dry bones, that we, encircled in the robe of thy righteousness, may put our trust in thee and live in the Holy Spirit, through the mercy of thy gracious Son. Amen.
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The “don’t write Apostles” Saturday afternoon session

Welcome back fellow watchers. Time to get supernal.

President Eyring conducting. Is the opposite of conducting a meeting, insulating a meeting?
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The “Temple in Kirtland” Saturday morning session

BCC welcomes you to the annual conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

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Merging Religious and Secular News(papers)

deseret_news_private_collecThe Church News is moving. It has just announced that stories from the Church News will be posted on DeseretNews.com, that LDSChurchNews.com will redirect to the DN site, and that eventually the archives will be moved as well.

Which is fine and good, I suppose. Apparently, the Church News was hosted on a platform that couldn’t be supported or upgraded.[fn1] So the consolidation seems to make sense from a technical point of view.  [Read more...]

Announcement: LDS Friends & Foes Rendezvous

This coming weekend is General Conference. You probably already know about that. But did you also know that there is also a bloggernacle-oriented get together, put together by long-time BCC BFF, J. Max Wilson? That’s right–it’s the first ever “LDS Friends & Foes Rendezvous,” which is intended to be a “recurring event hosted semiannually around LDS General Conference weekend in April and October.”
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Must Wear Watch

Priorities!

Last week I was going through my old high school keepsakes (mine fit in a hatbox, my husband’s span two countries, but this is neither the time nor place for that complaint) when I came across what used to be one of my most valued possessions. It’s a list in my 16 year old sparkly pink gel pen handwriting entitled “The Man of My DREAMS!”, the result of a Mutual activity planned with extremely limited resources and no imagination. In lieu of doing anything fun, we did this. [Read more...]

An Apologia for “High Church” Mormonism

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MLP

Readers of BCC will have noticed a persistent interest here in things Anglican. If it isn’t Kristine reminding us once again that on the eighth day God made British choirboys, there are all the posts in the Mormon Lectionary Project, Ronan’s Christian Disciplines series, or John F.’s posts about occasions when Mormons get liturgical (including this Rosh Hashanah post). Occasionally, people wonder about the implications of all this crypto-Anglicanism. I mean, isn’t it good that Mormons left some of this stuff behind, the light of the Restoration dispelling the shadows of apostasy?

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April Fools

This April Fool’s Day, I bring you a gift: a collection of a few of the more memorable comments some of our favorite trolls have left over the years. I swear I am not making these up. How many of these names do you remember? [Read more...]

Mormon March Madness – The Final Four

Monson & Uchtdorf

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Halfway

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent, often called Mothering Sunday. It marks the half-way point between Ash Wednesday and Easter…It’s the day when, though still observing the Lenten fast, one might apply its rule more generously. The rules are softer, there is room to breathe, your mother says you may have “just a little bit more.”
It’s a little bit like this…

A terse encounter at the rental car counter. Having paid to rent a navigation device that didn’t work properly, I had girded up my loins to ask for that portion of the rental fee to be refunded. The man behind the counter was annoyed. [Read more...]

The Dialogue Diet

Faith crisis–often leading to faith transition–is a “thing” these days. Someone innocently does a google search, travels down some online rabbit hole, and soon discovers weird–sometimes really weird–stuff about the Mormon past. These substantive issues are troubling enough on their own, but pretty soon they cease to be the primary issue. Rather, the fact that the person was never taught about these things at Church becomes the dominant issue. The person feels as though she has been lied to all of her life. The image she has constructed in her mind of a church that never changes, where everything is perfect, where the prophet has afternoon tea with Jesus Christ himself every Thursday afternoon in the temple, comes crashing down around her shoulders, as she considers for the first time the very human institution that is the LDS Church. [Read more...]

The First Semi-annual Ladycast

I knew it had been a long time since I’d written anything for BCC. Turns out, it’s been five months since my last post. Hard to believe, since it used to be that I couldn’t slack off for five weeks without Steve Evans threatening to fire me. The aforementioned post was a response to the announcement that the church was doing away with the annual General Young Women and Relief Society broadcasts and replacing them with a semi-annual General Women’s Broadcast for females eight years and older. Not coincidentally, the topic that has prompted me to write this thing I’m writing right now is the maiden voyage of that very broadcast, which occurred just a few short hours ago. (Or maybe several regular-length hours ago, depending on what time you read this.)

Historically, our stake has not shown the YW and RS broadcasts live. They would show them when they had finished preparing all the food that would be served afterward. I guess. At their leisure, anyway. Since this was a historic broadcast, though—first of its kind and all—they decided to break with history and show it live. And then serve dessert afterward, like usual. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend our stake’s ceremonial celebration of the historic live broadcast and traditional dessert serving. I’ve come down with a terrible head cold, and at 6:00 p.m. MST, I was in no shape to stand shoulder to shoulder (or hip-to-shoulder) with my sister church members in the stake center. Instead I sat on our benighted family room sofa, folding laundry in front of the TV, which had been hooked up to the internet, which was also showing the broadcast live. (But not providing dessert afterward. Come to think of it, I still haven’t had dessert. But I’m getting ahead of myself.) [Read more...]

What Bill Gates could learn from the church about philanthropy?

There has been some debate about whether the LDS church should be investing in shopping centres and upscale housing when it could be saving lives by lifting people out of poverty. This debate has missed a key feature of the broader landscape of philanthropy over the last 70 years, the move toward philanthrocapitalism. The similarities and differences between philanthrocapitalists, such as Bill and Melinda Gates, and the LDS church are revealing because they highlight to whom particular criticisms should be addressed. In short, while dissatisfaction with this model of charitable giving is a defensible position, consistency might suggest that such criticisms also be directed toward a neoliberal culture of giving currently ascendant in our societies. [Read more...]

Mormon March Madness – Elite 8

Many were called, and 8 were chosen. But only 4 get to keep playing.

The win-loss results of the Sweet 16 vote were largely unsurprising, with possibly the exception of Moses falling to Enoch and Hyrum losing to Emma. However, the magnitude of some victories was a bit shocking to me–especially the all-1st Presidency match-up between Uchtdorf-Eyring, where the 2nd Counselor took 85% of the vote. Hal, we love you still!

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The Annunciation

MLP

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Mormon Lectionary Project

The Feast of The Annunciation

Isaiah 7:10-14 (KJV), Psalm 40:5-11 (KJV), Hebrews 10:4-10 (NRSV), Luke 1:26-38 (KJV), 1 Nephi 11:14-22, Moroni 7:22-26, 29-32

The Collect: Father, we thank Thee for the ministration of angels as agents of Thy grace, revealing the incarnation of Thy Son Jesus Christ, as announced by an angel to Mary, Thy servant and chosen vessel both to bear Christ’s body and lifelong testimony of Him. May we heed that angelic message and exercise faith in Christ, becoming sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. [Read more...]

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