A Bishop’s Response

Our friend, who tweets at @judge_in_israel, has written a response to Kristine A’s post. Below is his response.

Dear Kristine A.,

I’m not your Bishop, but I thought I would draft a quick response to your notes, perhaps as a dry run for a conversation I might have with someone in my ward who shares your concerns. Although these issues haven’t yet been raised with me personally in my role as a Bishop, I know that many individuals in our ward – including me – have many of the same concerns you do. As your own Bishop indicated, many of the topics you raise are simply outside the Bishop’s control, but since you’ve been instructed to raise these matters with your local leader, let me attempt to give some responses. [Read more...]

And they were sore afraid.

There are three people in my life who have a true phobia of public speaking: [Read more...]

Dear Bishop

Kristine A. grew up in Idaho with a life goal to be barefoot and pregnant. Heavenly Father had a different plan for her. She now lives in Rexburg with one daughter via IVF and is a relatively vocal moderate mormon feminist. She is most proud of the fact she has suffered a reading injury.

Dear Bishop,

I’m a moderate Mormon feminist with a variety of questions and issues about the Church organization. After repeatedly being told the only approved avenue to have these concerns addressed is via a bishop’s meeting, I’ve prepared this short summary to reference in our meeting.

[Read more...]

MHA San Antonio 2014 Open Thread

Tomorrow will be my travel day; if the gods are willing, I should arrive at the hotel mid-afternoon. I wanted to throw this up early so that people will have a place to share their travel stories. For instance, Jared, Loyd, David, Brad and Colby are as I type this undertaking an epic road trip to get there; if one of you sees this, how about some reports from the road? Is anyone going to try to catch the Spurs v. Heat game tomorrow night? Anyone up for some dinner plans before the festivities begin? For the next four days, please feel free to share all things MHA right here. For those of you who will be there in person, I’m looking forward to seeing you. And please share what you can of your experience here for the benefit of those who are not able to attend in person.

The Anosognosic’s Dilemma, Blogging, and the Body of Christ

One need not spend much time on the internet before coming face-to-face with what looks like raw, unfiltered stupidity. We’ve all seen memes mocking such ignorance. “How could you not see that?” we say, indignantly congratulating ourselves on our own superiority. As an advocate of the Oxford comma, here’s one of my favorites:

Oxford comma

Still, as pleasurable as dumping on such instances of idiocy may be, most of us do recognize that this sort of thing isn’t very Christlike (as some huffy commenter, devoid of any irony, will inevitably point out). Such recognitions notwithstanding, we feel guilty for a few minutes and then jump back into another Facebook battle with one of the utter morons who seem to populate the place. [fn1] [Read more...]

The Christian Disciplines: Solitude

[All posts in series]

Settle yourself in solitude and you will come upon Him in yourself (Teresa of Ávila).

By “solitude”, Foster means also to include “silence” and as usual warns against excess and vanity:

“The person who views the Disciplines as laws will always turn silence into an absurdity: ‘I’ll not speak for the next forty days!'”

Finding peace in the desert places is key to hearing the voice of God, but this does not mean to literally move to the desert. For most of us, that is not our calling. [Read more...]

Otterson Letter: A Response from Two BCC Bloggers

By RJH and Angela C

Does the letter address Mormon feminists’ concerns?
[Read more...]

Official Declaration 2

MLP

MLP

Mormon Lectionary Project

Official Declaration 2

Numbers 27:1-7 (NRSV), Psalm 87 (KJV), Acts 10:19-33 (KJV), Galatians 3:26-29 (KJV), 2 Nephi 26:33, Jacob 3:9, Abraham 2:9-11

The Collect: Heavenly Father, who revealed Thy Gospel through Thy Son so that all who believe and are baptized could become the seed of Abraham and heirs to the promise, grant that we may learn from the process involved in receiving the 1978 priesthood revelation, accepting that Thou hast yet many great and important things to reveal concerning Thy Kingdom and renewing our gratitude and respect for the priesthood power that Thou hast restored and once again made accessible to all, Thy own power which blesses our lives continually, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. [Read more...]

Ordained

jm_200_NT1.pd-P12.tiffIf we’re going to use the Bible as precedent for our understanding of priesthood ordination, we’re going to have to be a little bit more careful about how we approach it. Mormons in 2014 read the Bible in a very presentist way, assuming that the full panoply of priesthood organization and procedure that obtains today has always obtained, notwithstanding the rather obvious development and evolution in these things even within our own dispensation. (After all, we started with a First Elder and a Second Elder; the priesthood framework we know today came only over time.) There are a lot of areas where we could improve our biblical literacy in this sphere. As a small beginning toward this end, I would like to comment on the vocabulary relating to the verb “ordain/ed” in the KJV. [Read more...]

Sunday Morning Poem: Milton, “Adam and Eve’s Morning Hymn”

This excerpt from Book V of Paradise Lost frequently appeared under the title “Adam and Eve’s Morning Hymn” or “Milton’s Morning Hymn” in 18th-century anthologies. It was such a familiar set piece that Edmund Burke’s only son, Richard, came into the room where his parents were sitting and recited it just before he died.

These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,
Almightie, thine this universal Frame,
Thus wondrous fair; thy self how wondrous then!
Unspeakable, who sitst above these Heavens
To us invisible or dimly seen
In these thy lowest works, yet these declare
Thy goodness beyond thought, and Power Divine:
Speak yee who best can tell, ye Sons of light,
Angels, for yee behold him, and with songs
And choral symphonies, Day without Night,
Circle his Throne rejoycing, yee in Heav’n
On Earth joyn all ye Creatures to extoll
Him first, him last, him midst, and without end. [Read more...]

Why I speak up: our responsibilities as farm hands for the Shepherd

Last week, Karen wrote a wrenching and important post about her observation that many women she has always known as faithful, devoted Latter-day Saints seem to be throwing in the towel on formal activity. It wasn’t a post about rumored statistics or surveys. It was a personal post about her friends, about women she loves.

[Read more...]

Your Friday Afternoon Chat Transcript

BSG, The Wire, & Buffy

Your weekly, or however often I get around to it, view into some of the weightier conversations between Steve Evans and myself. Today, we talk about an article on the internet that is full of crap. 

_________________

Scott: So yesterday there was that article at Wired or wherever that foolishly claimed to have the “definitive” ranking of every season of every TV show that matters.
And it was BULL CRAP

Steve: Look, it was a noble attempt.

Scott: The collection of shows itself was fine–a few notable misses–but the rankings? BULL CRAP

Steve: Plus who cares what the best season of E.R. was? They’re all the same.

Scott:

Nurse: DOCTOR! HE’S DYING!

Doctor: NOPE, HE’S SAVED NOW!

Nurse: LET’S KISS!

Steve: Gunshot wound! I need a CBC, x-ray, fluids STAT! [Read more...]

Ascension Day

MLP

Mormon Lectionary Project

Ascension Day

Acts 1:1-11Psalm 47; D&C 88:6

The Collect: Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Saviour Jesus Christ descended below all things and ascended above all things that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to see that he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Filmed versions of the Ascension tend to be badly done. The New Testament tells us that “as [the disciples] were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1: 10-11). The literal image of Jesus ascending into the sky may well reflect what happened, but expressing this in art runs the danger of overly reifying what was essentially a mystical experience. One also runs the danger of farce: on his way to heaven, how did Jesus escape the atmosphere? Where is heaven? Is a resurrected body capable of flying? In space? How did he generate lift? Silly. The BBC/HBO Passion sensibly avoids all this by simply having the ascending Jesus disappear into a crowd in Jerusalem. He is gone but he is also all of us.  [Read more...]

An open letter from Otterson: Context missing from discussion about women

The following is an open letter from Michael Otterson, Managing Director of Public Affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A PDF of the letter is available here.

Context missing from discussion about women

Comments on various blogs over recent months about what Church leaders should or should not think and do about women’s roles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prompt me to provide some context from an insider perspective that may be helpful.

Recently a woman posted this comment on a blog: [Read more...]

Some Tax Benefits Are Just for Churches

(I originally wanted to call this “Pastoral Housing, Take 2″[fn1] but, it turns out, pastoral housing is only one small aspect of the case.)

Last week, a federal court in Kentucky issued a decision in a lawsuit that could have far-reaching ramifications for churches.[fn2] In broad strokes, American Atheists, Inc., Atheists of Northern Indiana, Inc., and Atheist Archives of Kentucky, Inc. sued the IRS, arguing that certain tax provisions applicable solely to churches were unconstitutionally discriminatory. [Read more...]

Mormon History Association conference next week

Next week is the annual conference of the Mormon History Association. It will be held in San Antonio, Texas (next year is in Provo). It is probably too late for a last minute trip plan, but if you live in the area, be sure to come down. (Register here; program here)
[Read more...]

Is Mormonism Making You a Better Person?

Hiding behind the church rather than taking responsibility.

Sometimes as active members, we are caught up in being the best Mormon we can be, the most observant, ticking all the boxes, perceived well by other ward members.  We can forget that the point is to become a better person by following Christ’s teachings, not just to become a better adherent to a set of religious requirements or a better person as defined by the community.

But shouldn’t this be the same thing?

No, of course not. [Read more...]

The Book of Mormon: My Testimony

So in Priesthood today, I offhandedly remarked that I believe that Nephi made a mistake in killing Laban. And boy-oh did that ignite some pushback.[fn1] And I realized that I ought to explain how that belief fits in with my testimony of the Book of Mormon.

As a starting point, I believe that the Book of Mormon is true.  [Read more...]

Sunday Morning Poem: “The Agonie,” by George Herbert

This series could not continue long without featuring George Herbert…

                                The Agonie

     Philosophers have measur’d mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walk’d with a staffe to heav’n, and traced fountains:
     But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sinne and Love.

     Who would know Sinne, let him repair
Unto mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
     His skinne, his garments bloudie be.
Sinne is that presse and vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruell food through ev’ry vein.

     Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the crosse a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
     If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquour sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as bloud; but I, as wine.

Sometimes I Feel Like I’m Almost Gone

Our Sisters are Leaving

There is a painful conversation swirling in our culture; whispered sorrow, frustration, anger, fatigue, and a tentative raising of voices asking for more representation in the governance and care of this institution that we call our spiritual home.  Millions of women are members of this institution charged with doing God’s work on earth, an institution that theoretically demands the very best that each member has to offer.  What can be said to those women who feel that their best is not wanted, valued, or needed?    [Read more...]

Remember when everyone was into blogging?

Hey guys, you remember blogs? Man, those were great. I miss them.

Especially today.

Because earlier this morning in the process of cleaning out a bunch of old folders in the dusty and cobwebbed corners of my hard drive, I came across a folder containing my user archive for a long-forgotten web browser. Based on the contents, I think it was created two computers ago–probably when I got the computer that my current computer (which is itself several years old, and about to be replaced) replaced, and just copied all of my user data and files over from the old box so as to make sure I didn’t lose any of the obviously vital information that I apparently didn’t look at again until today. Anyway, I started clicking through the folder, and found a sub-folder containing a great big long list of bookmarks–sites that, 5-7 years ago I visited regularly. Most of it was blogs–holy smokes the blogs. Blogs from the days when Blogger was just exploding, and every family in the ward, every old high school friend, and every bored office dweller with too little to do was creating a blog, posting some pictures, and feeling like the king of the internet because that one post got like, I swear, 9 comments, and none were from your mom. [Read more...]

The Spirit of Elijah

Angus Mackay, Piper to Queen Victoria

Angus Mackay, Piper to Queen Victoria

When my twelve year-old son Jeffrey wanted to learn to play the bagpipes, I thought it was cool. I honestly did— I have always loved highland bagpipes, and find them haunting and beautiful. While our surname is an obviously Scottish clan name, I never really gave it much thought beyond knowing we were one of thousands of families whose “Mac—” became “Mc—” during the emigration to the United States. I knew my ancestors came down through Canada via Nova Scotia, but I somehow missed picking up Nova Scotia is NEW SCOTLAND.

So when Jeff picked up the pipes, I started poking around. (He is also a tuba player, and his younger brother plays the bugle. Take a moment to grieve for our neighbors) Jeffrey also wanted a kilt. My uncle is a judge who wears full Highland Dress for formal occasions, and I discovered our family has a tartan. A specific tartan, tied to very specific ancestral lands in the northern highlands of Scotland. Cool, right? We don’t just have a modern tartan- we’ve got an ancient tartan, a hunting tartan, a formal tartan… [Read more...]

Sunday Morning Poem: “Fault”

I find that poetry occupies a place very near the heart of my worship. Nobody in my High Priest’s Group is at all surprised anymore when I bring a poem into the discussion, and I’ve even been known to read them over the pulpit in testimony meeting. In that spirit, I’d like to inaugurate an occasional series in which I post a poem on Sunday morning, leaving the verse to speak for itself. (Discussion in the comments is, of course, both welcome and encouraged.) I’ll start things off by sharing an effort of my own, now six years old.

Fault—an interesting word:
culpability as chasm—
the building pressures
of an inner tectonics
resulting in rupture,
the riven self reveals
the illusion of identity.

The first tremors throw
off the balance,
and the aftershocks
reiterate the wound,
the trembling gap between
the self I framed
and the charted graphs
of my seismic soul.

Agreeable, Vol. IV

Welcome to Agreeable, a bimonthly advice column in which I will tell you, dear Reader, as to whether your planned course of action is “agreeable” or “hmph”. Direct your questions (max 200 words, please!) to the admin address (see ‘About’, above) with the subject line “Agreeable”.   

My wife and I recently had a baby girl. She is going to be blessed in sacrament meeting and we plan to host a luncheon at our house afterwards. We expect seven couples made up of family and close friends along with their many children for a total of about 45 people. We originally planned to prepare a main dish and have our guests bring side dishes but after looking at the cost and prep time decided it would be easier to hire a local food truck to serve tacos.  [Read more...]

Your Friday Afternoon Chat Transcript

Deep Fried Fair Food

One time, many months ago, Steve and I tried to start a recurring feature in which we post the unrehearsed, unplanned, and (basically) unedited transcripts of our IM conversations that deal with the weightiest of matters. It didn’t go over so well, and everyone got super mad and that was a darn shame, because it was an amazing post and I’m not remotely bitter about it nope not at all.[1] Anyway, we are going to give it another whirl today with a topic no less divisive than last time: Deep Fried Foods. If you’re interested in seeing what spurred this conversation into existence, go here.

Scott: Gotta say, the whole deep-fried fair food thing just puzzles me. I think it’s all gross. Like even when people are showing “the greatest” fried stuff at fairs, none of it is appealing to me.

Steve: I like fried foods. Those little donuts.

Scott: Me too–but not fried for the sake of frying. Like, I think a decent corndog is great.

Steve: yes.

Scott: But they go so over the top that the result isn’t a corndog anymore–it’s 6 lbs of batter with a gargantuan sausage in the middle, and leaves you sick. [Read more...]

Pure for God

Only $85!

Only $85!

I subscribe to Meridian Magazine. This past week I kept noticing that the same article was appearing in every issue, by Maurine Proctor, titled “Stumbling upon a Treasure in Jerusalem.” I finally opened the page and read it, and then learned why it kept being repeated; it was actually a sort of essay-advertisement for a necklace based on a reproduction of a bulla (the impression made from a seal) that had been discovered as part of an archaeological dig in the Temple Mount area of Jerusalem in 2011. The inscription on the bulla had the letters DKA LYH, which was interpreted as Aramaic deka leyah, “Pure for God.” The presumption of the archaelogical team was that the seal had been used to stamp items declared as ritually pure and therefore acceptable for use in the temple. Meridian is selling these reproductions for $85 each; the gold-plated ones have sold out, but silver-plated ones are still available in limited quantity. [Read more...]

Protology, Eschatology, and High School

So, Joseph Smith waxed eloquent on the social aspects of the before life, and the afterlife. We get a pithy summary courtesy of Orson Pratt and William Clayton:

“that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there”

And this makes me shiver a bit. Niles Crane, fictive Seattle psychiatrist expresses my thought best:

I’ve always liked the notion [after I die] of meeting the great figures of history. But then I think, what if it’s like high school, and all the really cool dead people don’t want to hang out with me?*

—————–
*On the wall in the St. George temple is a painting. All those cool dead people? They’re hanging out with Wilford Woodruff.

Emily Dickinson

MLP

MLP

Mormon Lectionary Project

Emily Dickinson

Isaiah 6:5-8 (NRSV)Psalm 111:7-10 (Common Worship psalter); John 3:16 (KJV)1 Cor. 13:9 (NRSV); 2 Nephi 2:103 Nephi 8D&C 93:23-27

The Collect: Beloved God, who revealedst thy love for Emily Dickinson in the midst of her wrestlings with thee, and who hast now made that love known to us through her verse: grant that we also, in our strivings, may find thy love for us revealed in thy Son through the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[Read more...]

A Jungian Interpretation of the First Vision

You may say I’m a dreamer.

The traditional LDS perspective of the First Vision is that it was a literal visit from two Heavenly beings to an awake and alert Joseph Smith.  Joseph consistently refers to it as a vision, not a visit, and his earlier accounts sound (at least to me) more dreamlike than the 1838 version we have recorded in the Pearl of Great Price.  Often, visions in scripture are vivid dreams with a meaning that is applied to a broader group than the individual who has the vision.

What if we take the First Vision in the opposite direction, and consider it as a dream with significance to the dreamer rather than a conscious and world-altering event?  If a dream, then it is likewise a foray into the subconscious mind of Joseph Smith. This approach is not to dismiss a divine source for the First Vision; just to explore a Jungian perspective on the elements of the vision without regard to its source, as Jung might have done had Joseph been on his couch. [Read more...]

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