David Salisbury (1836-1918), my great-great-great-grandfather, joined the church in England, crossed the plains and settled in Nephi, where he had 12 children. He wrote an autobiography, so we know a lot about him.

We also have eight letters he wrote to his son Jacob (my g-g-grandfather) between 1916 and 1918. They are not casual letters; they are in the style of Benjamin or Alma, letters of an aged father to a son. Apparently David thought Jacob and his family were straying from the gospel. [Read more…]

Ten Years in Camelot

As I watch the Ultimate Fighter on Spike, I thought I would highlight once again an article from the Dialogue archives. This time I want to highlight an essay of the late Davis Bitton, “Ten Years in Camelot: A Personal Memoir,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16/3 (Autumn 1983): 9-20. You may read it here. In this classic piece, Davis tells the story from his personal perspective of the heady years of the Church History Division under Church Historian Leonard Arrington, from 1972 to 1982. [Read more…]

Museum of Church History and Art

Last week, a group of MHA attendees gathered at the Museum of Church History and Art, across from the Salt Lake Temple, for a special tour. I have been to the Museum before, but some recent changes are notable. Simply stated, the Museum is a treasure. And God bless Marjorie Conder. [Read more…]


I wanted to mark Memorial Day here at BCC. This is the first year that I have lived in adulthood near the graves of my ancestors, and I was grateful for the opportunity to share our Day of the Dead (as secular and patriotic as it is in our culture, it remains our special day to honor those who have left). After some advice, a bit of recovered memory, and an impulse, I found my father’s grave without having to consult the sexton’s list (walked right to it, on the north end of the rather large city cemetery). My children danced on the graves (such a different meaning when the act arises from innocence) [Read more…]

What’s on your Bookshelves?

I love books. I suppose I’m a bit of a minor bibliophile, weighted heavily to Mormon studies. I would love to hear about your books, but I realize that it’s not really feasible for everyone to share a catalog of their 2,000 volumes or whatever. So it occurs to me that one way we could get a sense for your collection is for you to describe your bookshelves, basically shelf by shelf, with maybe a few representative titles for illustrative purposes. Sort of the report an archaeologist would give if he were digging up your bookshelves 200 years from now (and all of the books had survived intact, of course). I’ll go first (to give you a sense of what I’m looking for): [Read more…]

Not Good, but Not Bad either

In RT’s recent post, he asks us to consider the relative value of truth as obtained from Church authority vs. everyone else in the world (combined). Here, I would like us to consider the threadjack that has recently sort of developed in that thread. The threadjack regards birth control and how it has been preached in the twentieth century. [Read more…]

Vain Repetitions

I grew up a very good little Mormon boy. At one point I went through a stage where I took very seriously the scriptural injunction against “vain repetiitons,” well known from Matthew 6:7: [Read more…]

Trusting GAs More than Ourselves

A recurring question in intellectual Mormonism involves what we should do when we disagree with advice or theology taught by the General Authorities. Two extreme answers to this question — what economists describe as “corner solutions” — are the most frequently considered in the ensuing discussions. Neither is sensible. The first corner solution involves always accepting what the General Authority says and disregarding our own moral sense or reasoning. This approach is unreasonable because it makes our own moral sense and spiritual insights unnecessary, or even dangerous. If we believe that God gave us these faculties for a reason, then it is uncomfortable to adopt a rule that totally disregards them. The second corner solution involves always accepting our own beliefs or preferences and disregarding the comments of the General Authority. This is unwise even if we believe that the General Authority has no special moral insight — because that leader does certainly have some moral insight, and it is always irrational to discard information for no good reason. [Read more…]

The Immigrant’s Path

If Thoreau was right and the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, it is the “quiet” part I find objectionable. Quiet desperation accepts its lot; noisy desperation wants something else. Quite desperation worries that things will get still worse; noisy desperation worries things won’t improve. Immigrants by temperament are of the noisy desperation variety–unable or unwilling to sit still while economies, governments and cultures sort themselves out. They are risk takers, people willing to bet they can do something to improve their situation, even when the risks are great. They do so not because they are desperate–many people are desperate and do nothing–but because they are courageous. [Read more…]

Nature and Artifice

I still remember my first visit to the Caucasus, the majestic mountains that reach down southern Europe toward the Black Sea and define the region where Armenia, Georgia, and ill-fated Chechnya stand. As we wound up the Military Highway, I was stunned to see what I thought of as mountaineering cows, grazing contendedly on grassy slopes so steep I doubted I could scramble up them safely. Though incongruously massive, they reminded me of bighorn sheep or mountain goats. I thought to myself how wonderfully animals are adapted to their environment, how glorious nature is.

On the way back down, we discovered one of the cows had fallen and lay dead, its legs sticking into the air. [Read more…]

Part-time Jobs and Part-time Daycare

I have a very good friend with a 3 year-old little boy. He’s very smart. Ask him the planets. He’ll tell you. What’s the name of our galaxy? He’ll tell you. What kind of galaxy is it? He’ll tell you. (Spiral, if you don’t remember). He can even tell you the names of the biggest moons of mooned planets. It is surprising how bright he is.

It’s also clear that she spends a lot of time with him. And she’s proud of him, but she’s also really depressed. [Read more…]

Forthcoming from FAIR and FARMS

I realize that Mormon apologetics is something of a minority taste among participants in the Bloggernacle. But for the benefit of those who have an interest in this sort of thing, as I do, I would like to alert you to some forthcoming developments. [Read more…]


Some of you may have heard of the latest 5-minute internet phenomenon, lolcats. published a brief slideshow of lolcats here (featuring my personal favorite, the lolrus).

Presenting, for your consideration: lolnacle. [Read more…]

What is faithful Mo-blogging?

Over at Blogger of Jared, they are discussing what Mormon-Friendly Anti-Mormonism would look like (hat tip: Dave at DMI). This was inspired by an email received by Eric in which someone was arguing that the Bloggernacle was that. Eric specifically asked that the thread there not turn into general bashing of the Bloggernacle; after all, that’s what all their other threads consist of ;)

On being implicitly called insufficiently faithful by this anonymous emailer, I am mildly irritated. [Read more…]

Fallible Patriarchal Blessings

Receiving my patriarchal blessing was the spiritual highlight of my youth. The whole event carried an intense and happy feeling that God knew me personally and that the church — being the repository of such wonders — was true. The effect my patriarchal blessing experience had on my subsequent life cannot be overestimated. [Read more…]

Hebrew Translations of the BoM

Someone just asked a question I see from time to time: Has the BoM ever been translated into Hebrew? In this post, I will try to summarize what I know about this subject, partly to have a convenient place to point people who raise this question in the future, and partly to garner in the comments additional information from readers to fill in the holes in what I know. [Read more…]

Quizteaser #2 (Humanities)

The first quizteaser was a little statistics-heavy, so for the second quizteaser, I have decided to offer something more appropriate to people with little interest in numbers, something like a Name that Tune for texts. In the late 19th century, a Mormon writing in an official publication offered the following advice: “agreeable reading or conversation, beautiful soul thrilling music and even agreeable food; all these and much more are essentials.”

Here’s the question: to what did s/he refer? [Read more…]

Jerry Falwell and Larry Flynt

Last week, Reverend Jerry Falwell, founder of Moral Majority and religious-right pundit, passed away. I’m sure he will be missed by his community. Tributes poured in from the expected sources.

[Read more…]

Cosmology and More

In the Summer 2006 issue of Dialogue, Kirk D. Hagen wrote an article called “Eternal Progression in a Multiverse: An Explorative Mormon Cosmology.” He looks at the Big Bang theory of the formation of the universe, and gives his reflections on how well it fits with Mormon cosmology (not too well.) He also compares Mormon cosmology with more speculative formation theories having to do with “multiverses” (potentially a better fit.) Along the way he gives a cogent summary of how official Mormondom has related to science from the time of Brigham Young onward. [Read more…]

Elder Nelson doesn’t believe in Evolution

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has posted a transcript of a recent interview it conducted with Elder Nelson and Elder Wickham. One of the questions discussed concerned evolution. Here is the relevant section:

Forum: The church has said it neither promotes nor opposes capital punishment. It says it “opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience.” It does not oppose removing a medical patient from “artificial means of life support.” Different denominations deal differently with questions about life’s origins and development. Conservative denominations tend to have more trouble with Darwinian evolution. Does the church have an official position on this topic?
[Read more…]

Mormons at the University of Chicago Divinity School

I occasionally try to push people to examine the Dialogue archives for the many treasures to be found therein. But I realize that is too general a suggestion. So I think that from time to time I’ll point you to a specific article for your consideration. [Read more…]

Neighbors and stumblingblocks

Over at T&S, Rosalynde Welch responded to a provocative (and obnoxious) assertion I made that we need not care what the neighbors think with a discussion of Romans 14:13-15. (Sorry for keeping this going, but I found I had a lot to say about it and didn’t want to pack on a massive response.) [Read more…]

LDS dating sites

I have a friend, a convert to the church, who is handsome, faithful, smart, gainfully employed, and lonely beyond words. I had lunch with him yesterday and was horrified to see the depth of his loneliness: he pays for a membership in some kind of email exchange involving improbably beautiful Eastern European women. It’s not porn, but it’s unseemly nevertheless. Invariably, these “women” will ask him for a few hundred Euros to come and visit him. A scam, in other words. I think he’s fallen for it because everything is in English and his English is ropey. I’ve decided to suggest to him some cyber-alternatives. [Read more…]

The Relief Society Literacy Project

gmfptyooue asflkjhtr tlaeiew.

There are probably people in your ward or branch who see something like the previous sentence when they see the ward bulletin. Adult illiteracy is a problem in the United States, with about 10% of the population over age 16 judged to be unable to read or write. [Read more…]

PR Primacy?

Some people were a bit surprised with the Church’s reaction to the recent PBS documentary on the Mormons. The Church was quite positive. I have heard some accusations that good public relations required that they respond positively, but that the actual leadership of the Church likely thought it was horrible. Some people are disturbed at what they believe is the primacy of Public Relations in the modern Church and that in some ways the tail is wagging the dog. I don’t think that is accurate. [Read more…]

The reality of the appearance of evil

Thessalonians 5:22: ‘Abstain from all appearance of evil.’

This was used, in my youth, to explain why you should not, among other things, drink ginger ale in a bar, go to drive-in movies with a girl even if you are completely virtuous, go into a liquor store to buy candy or pretend a Tootsie Roll is a cigar. Maybe some of you could add to this list. The idea was, you shouldn’t even LOOK like you’re sinning, even if you’re behavior is innocent. [Read more…]

An Unusual Baptism

Reba and Lori Schappell are conjoined twins living in Reading, Pennsylvania. You can read about them and see pictures in this article from BBC News. A friend’s mother, who also lives in Reading, reports that one of the conjoined twins (I think Lori, although I’m not entirely sure) was recently baptized, as was the twins’ aide. But the other twin, Reba, was not. Nevertheless, since they are joined at the left sides of their heads just above the eye, Reba had to kneel in the font as a part of the baptism. [Read more…]

Down the Memory Hole

I was feeling locked into the role of lone deranged harpy combatting the idea that if there is anything sappy, sentimental, pink, fluffy, or produced by Hallmark or adorned with flowers, we should dredge it up once a year and present to women in Sacrament Meeting. I have therefore consigned my ill-advised post to the cyberflames. Don’t worry, if anything in this life can be said with certainty, it is that the bloggernacle will provide everyone with ample opportunities to opine on gender roles in the church. Just wait a few minutes…

Caffeine Content: Poll!

[Read more…]

Deciding to stay married

I would like to invite you to read a short story recently posted as an e-paper on Dialogue Paperless. Titled “The Newlyweds,” it has been written by joshua foster (who prefers not to capitalize his name). It is our first venture with fiction on Dialogue Paperless. You can access this story at the Dialogue website by clicking on the e-papers icon.

It is a story about two high school students who have to get married. The young woman has a miscarriage while they are on a brief honeymoon, and they settle down to a marriage that the young man isn’t sure he wants. They move into a shabby apartment and get poorly paid jobs without much of a future. Almost immediately the husband becomes fascinated by a tawdry woman in the apartment just across the hall, going so far as to attempt–quite disastrously, as it turns out–to steam open some of her mail, which she has asked the young couple to pick up while she is out of town for a week. [Read more…]