Palestinian Mormon on Hamas and the Wall

Sahar, my Palestinian Mormon friend, wrote me an email which, with her permission, I am posting here. She talks about the election of Hamas and her adventures scaling the security barrier around Bethlehem. (Sahar is currently a PhD student in Turkey and has previously posted at United Brethren here, here and here.) [Read more…]

A more perfect patriarchy

Elisabeth’s recent post, posing the question of whether women are precluded from holding the priesthood by policy or doctrine, particularly interested me. Last month I finished a personal essay on women in the church today for the upcoming summer issue of Dialogue and in tribute to the 3 so-called “pink issues” Dialogue has published. It’s in the can and after it is published, I will welcome your comments. Now I would like to follow Elisabeth’s lead and invite a discussion corollary to her great question and relating to some of my essay. [Read more…]

Too Smart for My Own Britches Sometimes

Have you ever thought you were being all smart about something, only to find out you were actually being pretty ignorant after all? Here are a couple of illustrations (both based on my love of words) where this has happened to me.

I remember sitting in an elders’ quorum lesson at BYU (roughly 25 years ago). The lesson was on the atonement, and, predictably, the teacher wrote at-one-ment on the board. I had just started to study ancient languages, and I raised my hand and pointed out that words just aren’t formed that way. “Atonement” was obviously some sort of Greek or Latin five-dollar theological technical term, and this way of viewing it clearly obscured the real meaning of the word. (Perhaps that I did not myself know the real meaning of the word should have been my first clue that maybe I didn’t know what I was talking about.) [Read more…]

Who’s/Whose Jesus?

Ed Snow is a Mormon humorist yearning to be taken seriously. It doesn’t help that his writings evidence a wide variety of inconsistent theological and historical views, found mostly in the pages of Sunstone, Dialogue, Irreantum, The Sugar Beet, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, and FARMS Review of Books, among others. He authored Of Curious Workmanship: Musings on Things Mormon published by Signature Books. Ed is a banking and finance lawyer in Atlanta.

Some of my Baptist friends say Mormons worship a different Jesus. If so, one is led to ask just how many are out there? [Read more…]

OT: Ezekiel’s Sticks

When I was on my mission, back in the late-Jurassic before quads were common, we used to call our scriptures “sticks.” In our flipcharts was a painting of Ezekiel, holding a scroll in each arm, one representing the Bible and the other the Book of Mormon, representing the scene portrayed in Ezekiel 37:15 et seq. It did not take long, however, for me to see the problems with this traditional understanding. The writing was actually on the wood, not on a parchment scroll wrapped around the wood. Further, the context of the passage clearly had to do with the reunification of the tribes, not scriptural records. [Read more…]

Archipelago: Final Call for Papers

Archipelago: a Mormon Studies e-Journal has made a final call for papers (for the first issue). Deadline: 31 March. Time to dust-off that post and send it for review!

I Can’t, She Said

I recently read a comment about a father rejoicing that he was able to bless his young son, who was in a coma and near death. In his comment, the father said that he was able to bless his son because of his own personal worthiness to exercise the priesthood, and that he couldn’t imagine any sweeter feeling. After reading this comment, I immediately dashed off my reply, “Neither can I, Geoff”, but I didn’t send it. [Read more…]


After JNS’s latest post, we’ve decided to make him a BCC permablogger. Welcome aboard, J.!  Good work thus far, and we’re looking forward to many great posts in the future.

Poverty and Resurrection

Poverty is perhaps the major curse of our world. The many millions of poor and even destitute people throughout the world certainly suffer from reduced quality of life in comparison with those of us who are lucky enough to live in better economic conditions. Perhaps even more vivid is the reduction in quantity of life that often accompanies poverty: according to the United Nations World Development Report, people born into the least developed countries in the world in 2002 had a life expectancy of 51.06 years; those born into high income countries, by contrast, had a life expectancy of 78.19 years. Would all those who would happily sacrifice 27.13 years of their lives please raise their hands? [Read more…]

Weird OT: Euphemisms (‘Uncovering the Feet’)

Kevin Barney studied classics at BYU, where he worked as a teaching assistant to S. Kent Brown. He has published a couple of dozen articles on Mormon scripture, and is currently working on a book to be entitled _Footnotes to the New Testament for Latter-day Saints_, which is scheduled to be published by Covenant later this year. He practices tax-exempt finance law in Chicago.

When Ronan introduced this series at BCC, he mentioned euphemisms as a possible topic, so I would like to follow that lead.

There are some topics that inherently have the potential to offend the squeamish: genitalia, nakedness, sexual intercourse, homosexual acts, excretory functions, death, possible affronts to God, and so forth. There are several possible strategies to soften these types of topics. One could simply avoid them altogether; one could dance around them with some sort of circumlocution; or one could euphemise them. That is, one could use a mild, delicate or indirect subsititute for the offensive word or concept. (Of course, in the case of one’s enemies, one could go the other direction and employ a dysphemism, which is the opposite of a euphemism, such as Beelzebub “lord of the flies” for Beelzebul “Baal the prince.”) [Read more…]

Tevye says….

A guest submission by B. Bowen, a good friend of BCC.

Should traditions be followed? What fidelity do we owe, if any, to our forebears to pass on the heritage(s) they have bestowed upon us?

It is no great insight to note that depending on one’s perspective, traditions can be either good or bad. The Book of Mormon, for instance, discusses traditions in at least forty different verses I can identify (or, more properly, different verses the search function at can identify): some verses extol the virtues of fidelity to the (correct) traditions of the righteous fathers, while others bemoan the blind fidelity of the “wicked” to the (incorrect) traditions of their fathers. The repeated use of the term seems to bespeak some importance, but as for me, I can’t discern a guiding principle anywhere in the text, apart from an obligation to follow good traditions and reject bad ones, which, so far as I can tell, doesn’t answer the question. [Read more…]

OT Straight Dope: Names of God

David J from Faith-Promoting Rumor has provided this Mormon Dummies’ Guide to the names of God in the Old Testament. Every Kool Kat has to know his El Shaddai’s from his El Elyon’s.

In the cultural milieu in which the OT was written, knowing the name of a person or thing opened up channels of communication between the two. The one who knows the name of a person or deity can appeal to that person or god. [Read more…]

“Brokeback Mountain” in Sacrament Meeting

Yes, you read that right. I’m sitting in Sacrament Meeting today, feeling a little sick, wondering if the talks are going to bore me to death, thinking about hanging out in the hallway and playing with the primary kids (rather than sitting in the pew like a responsible adult) when it happens … the speaker starts talking about “Brokeback Mountain.” (For those of you who don’t know what “Brokeback Mountain” is, I invite you to leave your Montana cabin and come back to Civilization for a couple weeks, and then we’ll talk). “Oh goodie!,” I said to my wife. “This should be entertaining.” [Read more…]

Interpretation: A Place of Peace in the Book of Mormon Wars

Everyone who pays attention to the academic Mormon Studies literature is aware of what Terryl Givens, among others, has described as the “Book of Mormon wars”
(see By the Hand of Mormon, pgs. 130, 132, 143, 173, 175, and 179). In short, the Book of Mormon wars revolve around questions of historicity: did the events described in the Book of Mormon actually happen somewhere in the Americas between 600 BC and 400 AD, and should Latter-day Saints condition their religious loyalty on the answer to this question? [Read more…]

New Guest-blogger: J. Nelson-Seawright

J. Nelson-Seawright has agreed to hitch his wagon to ours for a little stretch as a guest blogger.   You may have read his work before under a different name.   We’re happy that he’ll blog with us for a stint!  All those that can welcome JNS to BCC, please show it by clicking the right mouse button.

Any opposed, by the same click.

OT: Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Life…

…or so says Bible scholar Jack Sasson (Bible Review Summer 2005). Here’s the gist (and with no attempt to find a Mormon hermeneutic): [Read more…]

BoM & the 10% Solution

Vol 2 of Golden Plates Comic, CoverWhen we head out on a family venture (say, cross-country skiing), my wife and I try to efficiently share with our children the most relevant knowledge we have, and we try to help them develop the skills to continue to learn and enjoy the activity on their own.

Similarly, when it comes to religious instruction and scripture study, we focus on the teachings we find to be most important for our children’s spiritual development. We give less attention to scriptures that have, at least at this life stage, a lower return on investment. [Read more…]

Mormons and Euthanasia

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Oregon’s euthanasia law today. Oregon’s law allows terminally ill patients, defined as patients whom at least two doctors agree have six months or less to live and are of sound mind, to choose when to end their lives. [Read more…]

Common-law marriage

Legal-dweeb question: does the Church recognise “common-law” marriages? A Mormon definition of sexual immorality involves the question of “legal” and “lawful” marriage. So, if a couple are married according to “common-law” does this make them “married” in the eyes of the Church, and therefore not “living in sin”? As I understand it, common-law marriage (where you act like a married couple, you talk like a married couple, you live like a married couple, but you have never officially been married in a ceremony) is accepted in 16 states including Utah. [Read more…]

Day of Remembrance

I went to a dinner party last night at the house of some Haitian friends. It was a wonderful (if chaotic) time. Over the past few years, I’ve become acquainted with many Haitians and Haitian culture, and I am usually blown away by how kind, how wise, and how filled with enthusiasm for life, for friendships and family they are, even in the face of recurring tragedy. Visiting their country was an experience I’ll never forget. [Read more…]

F is for the Family

Continuing to wind our way through the True to the Faith doctrinal booklet published by the Church in 2004 (earlier posts here), I settled on Family from the long list of F-words covered in the book. There’s nothing in the entry you haven’t heard before, as after a five-line introduction it simply repeats (in full) the Proclamation, described as an “inspired proclamation” that is now “the Church’s definitive statement on the family.” [Read more…]

The OT at BCC

BCC needs some Old Testament-action, what with the nerds* and the permabores* already sharing their Hebrew love. Here’s the plan: [Read more…]

Reconciling Eternal Coincidences

I recently read over my patriarchal blessing and found myself asking some rhetorical questions. I don’t have issues with the blessing itself. In fact, it’s quite lovely (to me). It reads more like a story than like a blessing and offers a condensed version of Mormonism with me as the central figure. But the strong focus on our earthly experience within the context of eternity often causes me to reflect on some very powerful coincidences. [Read more…]

Mormons and Mental Illness: Demonic Possession

Many people believe that the demonic possessions described in the Bible were, in fact, mental illnesses. Eric Russell wonders whether, on occasion, what we call mental illnesses are, in fact, demonic possessions.

When people ask me what my greatest fear is, I tell them it’s Satan. People often chuckle, thinking it’s a cute answer. I usually let them think it is, but it’s not. My greatest fear in this world is encountering — perhaps not Satan himself — but a spirit enslaved to him, possessing the body of human being. Though the very idea is an archaic one in today’s enlightened world, I believe it happens. And I think it’s one possible cause of behavior we usually attribute to a mental illness. [Read more…]

In Harm’s Way

It has been a tough couple of months for LDS missionaries (see here and here and here). In response, Elder Ballard met with members of the media on Friday to discuss the topic of missionary safety, as reported in an online Deseret News article Safety of Missionaries is Priority, LDS Leader Says. We all sympathize, of course, with family and friends of these (or any) missionaries who die or are injured while serving in the field. Few tragedies go deeper than the death of a loved one, whatever the circumstances. But this post is about the policy side of the issue, not the personal side. How exactly does LDS policy treat the issue of missionary safety?

[Read more…]

Mormons and Mental Illness: The Pain of Depression

Hannah submitted this guest post on her struggle with depression. It illustrates the pain and desperation that seems to accompany mental illness, and reminds us of the dark cloud of misery many people live under. A poem by Sarebear follows. Again, please: anyone suffering out there need not suffer alone.

I am a woman in my early twenties and have been diagnosed with both major depression and general anxiety disorder. I have been on and off of medication and in and out of counseling. [Read more…]

Nothing Gold Can Stay

I love being a blonde. LOVE it. Love the feeling of coming home from the salon, looking in the mirror and feeling like a million bucks. [Read more…]

Once again: Are Mormons Christians?

Posted on behalf of Kathleen Petty, who wrote it but was called away by a family emergency.

Kathleen Petty writes:

I am sure most of you are aware of the article last fall in Newsweek about the church. I was interested in how much space Newsweek allotted in the letters section to response. It was a lot, and the letters, positive and negative, seemed to give a fair picture of how the church is perceived by others. There were at least three letters that disputed the Church’s claim to be a Christian church. One letter said we aren’t Christian because we have allegiance to scriptures other than the Bible. A second said we can’t be Christian because we believe man can progress toward godhood. A third said we claimed to be Christian as part of a nefarious scheme to lure people into conversion. [Read more…]