Another image of faith and devotion…
Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Doctrine and Covenants Section 130. Part 4. Comparing Sources for the MS History.
You can see from parts one, two and three that the text of D&C 130 is founded on the Manuscript History of the Church via its instantiation in the Millennial Star. The Manuscript History is a work of epic proportions, almost entirely due to the planning and effort of Willard Richards, apostle, private secretary to Joseph Smith and church historian and recorder. Richards procured large ledger books in which to copy edited source documents for the history. Richards did not live to see his project completed, but the History more or less followed his source plan, a plan written out in Nauvoo before the apostles journeyed west to Utah. The various scribes for the history include some well known names in Mormon lore, like Thomas Bullock, Jonathan Grimshaw, Leo Hawkins, Robert Campbell and more.
“So what happened next?”
“He came through the doorway and stared at me.”
“He started to beat me with his fists. Then he grabbed at me. But it wasn’t like being grabbed by a man, I could see him grabbing my spirit. He had one hand around my neck and was pulling on it. It stretched out, I could see him pulling it out. Then it snapped back. That hurt my head and my feet.”
“Where was Sister B?”
“She was beside me in the bed at first. She could not see him, but she could see me struggling and later she told me she knew what it was. She got out of bed and knelt down and started praying.”
“Wow. How long did this go on?”
“It was about 30 minutes.”
When I was fourteen years old I had the best job I will ever have. I sold programs at Derks Field, home of Salt Lake City’s AAA baseball franchise. I walked up and down the stairs of the grandstands hawking my wares, just like the beer and hot dog vendors. “Programs here! Get yer program, just one dollar!” It was a great job for a young baseball junkie who was transitioning from baseball cards to the live game. After about the third inning, nobody bought any more programs, so I could get myself a hot dog and a (root) beer, find a place to sit somewhere along the first base line, and enjoy the rest of the game.
Although I didn’t appreciate it sufficiently at the time, I was aware that my father made the effort to drive into town twice, once to drop me off before the game and again after it was over to bring me home. Once, before a Saturday afternoon game, dad told me that he would be delayed for a while after the game, so we had to devise a plan for picking me up. As we neared the ballpark, we saw a storefront bookstore which promised to tell “The Truth About Mormonism!”. Dad suggested that after the game I just walk over to the bookstore and wait for him there. So it was under the direction of my father that I first encountered, as an 8th grader, the Kinderhook plates, Nauvoo polygamy, Mormon racism, and the problems with the Book of Abraham. [Read more...]
Highlighting a very worthwhile project headed by Melissa Inouye.
As Mormonism continues to develop internationally, so too does the field of Mormon studies. More and more foreign scholars are looking to do work in the area, but often lack the requisite resources. The International Mormon Studies Book Project is a new effort to provide critical resources for developing Mormon studies internationally by purchasing books to form a base Mormon studies collection at institutions where scholars have demonstrated a keen interest in doing research on Mormonism. Currently, institutions interested in partnering with the IMS Book Project span the globe, from Asia to Australia to Europe. The first two IMS Book Project collections are slated for donation to Jianghan University（江汉大学) in Wuhan, China, and the newly formed French Institute for Research on Mormonism (Institut Français pour la Recherche sur le Mormonisme) in Bordeaux, France. In the coming months and years we hope to place as many IMS Book Project collections as continued donations will allow and as interested recipient institutions can be found. [Read more...]
Admit it. You’ve done this, too. Likely multiple times. I know I have. Just off the top of my head I can vaguely remember posting on Facebook a couple years ago that the program for a conference I was presenting a paper at–in Krakow, Poland–was just dreadfully long, and I would be presenting at the middle or the end on the third day, and how was I going to sufficiently explore this amazing city, oh my heart. I’m so depressed I’m going to go stuff myself full of that delicious kiszka ziemniaczana. (Did you know that you can only find it here, in Poland? What’s the deal with that, right?) [Read more...]
Imagine you are 16 years old. You are LDS and the church is relatively small. Youth Conference is scheduled to happen at Colby College in Maine. It’s November. There are fun things in store, and you’ll meet other Mormons. The busses gather up the attendees from all over New England. After the get-to-know-you activities, etc. the key-note speaker stands.
He begins to speak and you start hearing names like Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Bonhoeffer, Bultmann, and in this mix somewhere, Joseph Smith.
Truman Madsen delivers the goods: “God: Personal or Impersonal.”
It was forthwith printed as a missionary pamphlet!
In response to a recent blog discussion about plural marriage, several long-time bloggernacle participants and I got involved in a lengthy and spirited email conversation. We ended up deciding that a redacted, heavily edited, and anonymized version of our exchange would make for interesting blog fodder. The conversation started out by considering whether people today are more scandalized by the plurality of Joseph Smith’s wives, or by (some of) their ages. But it shifted rather quickly in a new, more general dirction, which is where we pick up here. [Read more...]
I subbed for Gospel Doctrine this week and taught lesson 6, which was similar to lesson 5, both on revelation, with long streams of proof texts. Fortunately lesson 6 also had as base texts sections 6, 8, 9. These are the revelations that cover Oliver Cowdery’s interaction with translating the book of Mormon and they are incredibly rich—fortunately more than enough to discuss in the allotted time. We dug into the sections and then reviewed the lesson’s objective of identifying various ways of receiving revelation.
The Department of Religion at Claremont Graduate University presents “Beyond the Mormon Moment: Directions for Mormon Studies in the New Century”, a conference in honor of the work of Armand L. Mauss. The lineup of speakers looks outstanding–Jana Riess, Claudia & Richard Bushman, Mike McBride (aka Mr. ExponentIICaroline), JI types Paul Reeve and Max Mueller, Molly Bennion, Patrick Mason, Wilfried Decoo and Walter Van Beek.
I had a birthday last week. I didn’t turn a remarkable age or anything, although I am now officially older than Jesus. A few short years ago, turning 30-something might not have been a big deal—a special dinner and a gift or two, maybe. But now, birthdays are marked by friendly emails, texts, and tweets, and a wave of Facebook posts.
Most of the well-wishers just left a short note on my wall, something to let me know we’re still friends. It’s a simple gesture, but it’s fun to hear from old friends, even if it’s only a couple words. What’s most fun for me is hearing from all of them at once—high school friends, college roommates, mission companions, more recent co-workers. It’s a post-modern “This Is Your Life” day of happy memories, or a virtual group hug where I’m the only connection between everyone.
Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Doctrine and Covenants Section 130. Part 3. Spiritual Mechanics.
In honor of the Doctrine and Covenants study this year, this is the third post a series on one of the sections that doesn’t get too much play in the Gospel Doctrine course this year.
Now, in the previous part of this post, I showed you where Brother Orson got the text for D&C 130. Why did he go there you ask?
In this part of the post I’m going to explore the text in a slightly different way. The Millennial Star text (Pratt’s source for D&C 130) was derived from the Salt Lake City church newspaper, The Deseret News. The News text was derived from the Manuscript History of the Church, an 1855 era construction (see part 1). The logical thing to do now is ask, where did the Manuscript History text come from? I mean this particular part. The thing as a whole is a maze of compiled texts from a whole lot of sources.
In my GD class today on AoF 4, I asked if the name John Wentworth meant anything to anyone. A couple of people mentioned the Wentworth letter. I then talked about the letter, some of the other numbered lists of beliefs from the time, and the canonization of the AoF as part of the PoGP. By the time I got to that point, there were three comments from three different guys: [Read more...]
I sat on the other side of a very interesting table Valentine’s night. I got proselytized to at a dinner party by a member of a local protestant church. I realized that it’s been a long time since someone tried to put the sell on me, because most of my non-Mormon friends are either not religious, or just openly and non-controversially a happy member of some other religion. I know about it, but it’s not a thing. Anyways, back to the somewhat surprising dinner party. I think the episode was a bit jarring to me, because the motivations were so so transparent, and so clunkily executed. I came away annoyed. Mission not accomplished. [Read more...]
As Joseph and Oliver worked on the translation of the Book of Mormon, they came to this passage in 3 Nephi 11: [Read more...]
In the last several months I’ve been to three (maybe four?) meetings of my local chapter of Feminist Mormon Housewives. I think these events are technically called Bloggersnackers, but I don’t like using that word because it makes me feel silly. It’s the same reason I don’t order the Rutti Tutti Fresh and Fruity breakfast at IHOP. I don’t have a lot of dignity left these days, but what little there is I intend to keep for as long as I can. Anyway. I’ve gone to these meetings because I’m interested in meeting other Mormon feminists. Or feminist Mormons. Whatever we are. I confess it feels kind of weird to say “we,” since I haven’t used the F-word to describe myself for several years. No offense to it. I just find it simpler to be what I am and let other people call it what they want than to try to justify my own label to people who may have very different ideas (than I) about what feminism (necessarily) entails. But that’s another story. I guess if you belong to a Facebook group called Feminist Mormon Housewives, you have started calling yourself a feminist again. So “we” it is. [Read more...]
Reader Question Box is a series where we answer questions and just generally respond to Google search terms from our website traffic monitoring statistics that led people to us. Copious oddities are to be found in the search term logs, and some worthwhile questions. (In case you missed our previous editions: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10).
Question: “Wearing panties with LDS garments.”
Answer: We recommend that you not do this, particularly if you are a man. However, if you feel that wearing panties with garments is for some reason necessary, just keep in mind that there is a kind of order you should follow when donning both, or certain results are likely to follow. [Read more...]
“It is so important that you young men and you young women get all of the education that you can. The Lord has said very plainly that His people are to gain knowledge of countries and kingdoms and of things of the world through the process of education, even by study and by faith.” 
Encouraging women to get an education is something our leaders do with frequency. It’s easy to find quotes from Presidents Hinckley, Monson and Benson, and from a myriad of apostles, and frankly, I believe them in their sincerity with this counsel. When you hit up the church websites, women are well represented in the text and in the photographs. [Read more...]
Part 8 of my series, “Intellectual disability in Mormon thought…”
Throughout the nineteenth century the concept of the “natural” was largely replaced by the concept of the “normal.” This was a massive cultural shift which was produced by and which produced various new social sciences, statistical analyses, Darwinian evolution, and the industrial revolution. This shift is detectable in the writings of various political, religious, and social thinkers all across the spectrum. For example, Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine alike leaned on the rhetorical power of the natural versus the unnatural or monstrous. As one historian described the shift:
The natural was good and right because it conformed to the intent or design of Nature [as for Paine] or the Creator of Nature [as for Burke]. Normality, in contrast, was an empirical and dynamic concept for a changing and progressing world, the premise of which was that one could discern in human behavior the direction of human evolution and progress and use that as a guide.
The ascendance of normality [in the work of people like statistician Adolphe Quetelet] signaled a shift in the locus of faith from a God-centered to a human-centered world, from a culture that looked within to a core and backward to lost Edenic origins toward one that looked outward to behavior and forward to a perfected future. Just as the counterpart to the natural was the monstrous, so the opposite of the normal person was the defective.1
Mormonism was born as this shift was underway, a fact which is reflected in its developing theologies. [Read more...]
I remember that one time, when I was a teenager, my father was speaking in church and he mentioned that he had always enjoyed singing, even though he’d never been very good at it. This came as a surprise to me because I’d always thought my father must be a pretty good singer; after all, he did it all the time. He sang a lot at home, and he always sang with enthusiasm at church (a rarity in Mormon congregations, as anyone who’s ever paid attention to one of our worship services knows–granted, I’m not sure how many people have actually done that). He had also always been in every ward choir in every ward we were ever in. I kind of wish he had never mentioned that he wasn’t a very good singer because after that I began to notice the limitations of his voice, even though I continued to enjoy it. [Read more...]
We are pleased to have Casey from ExpertTextperts return with another guest post.
demanded politely asked that I write a post the Let Women Pray in General Conference campaign…with gifs. With the February 22 deadline for the letter-writing campaign approaching, I have duly complied. The purpose of this is educational: Most regular BCC readers will be familiar with the issues and arguments, but when your non blog reading relatives or ward members bring it up, then direct them here for a concise and hopefully accurate summary!
Ben F. checks back in from the halls of science, with a second installment in his BCC guest series on faith and physics. (Read his first post here.)
I would like to ask a simple question as the basis for this post: Is God a native of our universe? Although I lack any significant polling data, I suspect the gut instinct for most Mormons would be a confident “yes.” After all, Mormon theology emphasizes the shared characteristics between God and his spirit children—we believe he has a physical body that exists somewhere in space and time; we believe that his origin is not so different from our own; and we even believe that we can, with sufficient grace, become like he is. Therefore, it seems only natural that he is from the same place we are from—that is, this universe we find ourselves in. Besides, what would the alternative be? That he is from some sort of parallel universe? That would just be crazy, right?
Notes, commentary, and questions for LDS Sunday School teachers using the ‘Doctrine & Covenants and Church History’ manual. Feel free to share your thoughts or ideas regarding the lesson in the comments.
We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
My take on this lesson will be to compare the doctrine of Article 4 with the related confessions in the Anglican formulation known as the Thirty-Nine Articles (39A). As a Mormon living in England, it seems worthwhile to consider what these ideas mean in the common religious tongue before considering whether there is a distinctly Mormon reading. (It would also be interesting, but beyond my ken, to understand these ideas in their Second Great Awakening context. Please add literature in the comments.) [Read more...]
[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]
Today, February 11, my father James Russell Fox (who was named after his father, James Wesley “Little Bill” Fox, who was in turn named after his father, James William “Big Bill” Fox), turns 70. Even in this era of plastic surgery, third or fourth careers, and aging rock-and-rollers, that still counts as old. (Check it out: my father is older than three out of the four current surviving members of the Rolling Stones. That’s saying something.) He carries his age well: still waking up early, still golfing almost every day, still heading in to the office for a day’s work, still laboring with Young Men’s organization at church. He is, seven decades into his mortal life, the most healthy and firm and disciplined and well-rounded and loving and accomplished and thoroughly good man I have ever personally known, and probably ever will personally know. I am taller than him, and have more university degrees beside my name, and I suppose can–in a few ways–see some things which he cannot. But if that is so, it is only because I am, like my eight siblings, a dwarf who stands upon the shoulder of a giant. I am lifted up by him, yet I am also in his shadow as well. So he is above me as well as beneath me, and all around me as well. Jim Fox will follow me all my life, and for all the ways we disagree, I feel that as an enormous blessing, one I am unworthy of in so many ways. [Read more...]
Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Doctrine and Covenants Section 130. Part 2. Comparing the Immediate Source with Section 130.
In honor of the Gospel Doctrine course of study this year, this is the second in a series of posts examining Doctrine and Covenants section 130.
Having fun yet? If you missed the vital part 1, better click here. In short, in part 1, you’ll find a manuscript that served as background for D&C 130. However, it is not the actual source of the section. In reality, Orson Pratt extracted his material from the History of Joseph Smith as it appeared in a church publication. Here’s a side by side with some of D&C 130 (on the left) and that source:
John Turner’s recent biography of Brigham Young, besides receiving lots of praise (including the most prestigious award possible), has raised some important questions about Mormonism’s second prophet. Perhaps the most common question is some rendtion of, “Why would anyone want to follow the cold, tyrannical, and unsympathetic Brigham Young presented in the biography?” This quesition can come in two forms: first, the person questions the validity of Turner’s reconstruction of Brigham Young’s character; surely, this reasoning implies, Young couldn’t have been that bad, or else no one would have accepted him as a prophet, thus leaving the fault with the author. Second, the person could agree with Turner’s interpretation, and are therefore flummoxed over why 19th century Mormons actually chose to follow such an unlikable fellow. While I personally don’t have many problems with Turner’s depiction of the Lord’s Lion, I will leave aside the question of the biography’s success in handling this issue, since even those who disagree with Turner will probably still admit that Young would have been a tough individual with whom to get along. Thus, I’d like to reflect for a moment on the question, “why would someone follow Brigham Young?” [Read more...]
An actual question I received in an email:
From what we’ve read Finland is a secular and socialist country. How do members of the church protect there (sic) families and stay strong in the gospel there?
Here is my response:
The premises of this post are simple:
1. Mormons can be really weird or strange (read: royally peculiar). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all, but
2. Married Mormons can double the weird
3. Newly married student Mormons can re-define the weird completely.
This post was suggested to me by Friends of the Blog who were discussing some of the strange stories they heard from people who had lived in married student housing on LDS campuses. Like most college campus housing units, these units aren’t usually designed for, uh, privacy. All kinds of interesting/unusual/creepy goings-on can be encountered in married student housing. In one story, for example, were accounts of couples who would sing hymns together after lovemaking.
No, seriously. Look, I didn’t say there was any conceivably good reason for this. It’s not like we could interview the post-coital choir as to what could possibly possess them to sing “I Am a Child of God” after sex. What? Haha, yeah, “How Firm a Foundation” is even better.
Ok, that’s enough.
Tell us about your experiences in married or family student housing, LDS as well as non-LDS. Anything particularly memorable?