Living and Dying in 3/4 Time

But mostly dying.  Also in 4/4, 2/4, and 6/8.

I’ve been a church-goer for decades now, and thought I’d seen everything.  But yesterday I attended church (no, it wasn’t my home ward and I won’t tell you where) and saw something I have never seen before.  [Read more…]

Bloggernacle Classics: The Banner of Heaven Weblog

Welcome back, students of Bloggernacle History, to another entry in Bloggernacle Classics! It’s been a few months since our last lesson, but I hope that you’ve kept your pencils sharp and your notebooks dust-free, because our next lesson is a whopper.

Every community, no matter the size or location, has some common features and characteristics–it has heroes, villains, successes, and failures. Every community also has it’s dark secrets. Mind you, I’m not talking about simple rumors that get passed around the hair salon or ghost stories used to scare little kids into behaving properly–I’m talking about the sort of thing that no one ever talks about. Ever. Anyone who enters the community after such a secret is buried will possibly see passing references to it here and there, but vagueness and confusion surround them, because again, no one will talk about these dark secrets. Naturally, the unwillingness of the locals to talk about these community secrets serves only to make them even more a point of curiosity and intrigue to newcomers, and unless you’ve got the Sheriff on your side, eventually the curiosity will win out and the skeletons will be dragged out of the closet by force. [Read more…]

The Facebook Status Update My Wife Didn’t Send (but should have)

My wife–if you’ve never had the opportunity to meet her–is a pretty hip woman.  She is an extremely talented photographer, smart as a whip, an organizational genius, a fiercely loyal friend, a phenom of a mother, and the very embodiment of everything that I could hope for in a wife.  She also possesses a seemingly endless capacity to forgive and forget almost all of the things I do from the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment I fall asleep at night.  This is vitally important because, other than my ridiculous skillz in the kitchen, I’m kind of a dink.

To wit:
[Read more…]

A groovier Sabbath

I home teach some young single guys, and for Christmas I put together a CD of interesting covers of the Christmas songs from our hymnbook. Last month, they said it would be great to have a rockin’ Sabbath album for the rest of the year. As I thought about it, it seemed to me there were a fair number of songs on my iPod with religious themes. Despite stories about Mick Jagger on an airplane or witnessing demonic possessions at concerts, rock and R&B musicians have explored Christian and more generally religious themes in a way that is inspiring and thoughtful. I decided to put together a playlist from my own collection, and I set up some rules:

  • the artist must be known for secular music generally, so no Christian rock or gospel choirs, as groovy as they might be.
  • the song had to be devotional, however vaguely, and with a minimum of irony. ‘Say a Little Prayer’ doesn’t qualify, nor does ‘Jesus, Etc.’ or ‘Dear God.’

Here’s what I came up with: [Read more…]

Unreasonable Expectations

This guest post submission comes from BCC reader Martin.

A few years back, a man I home taught, whom I’ll call Dave, left his wife of 25+ years to pursue a younger, more attractive woman. He said he’d been having problems with his wife for years and that he simply had too much life ahead of him to waste it living the way he had.

His wife’s take? He didn’t love her anymore because she’d gotten too fat.

She was crushed. She loved Dave and had taken her future with him to be a given. In an effort to win him back, she not only hit the gym with a vengeance, but she even underwent cosmetic surgery. Too late. Dave was gone, and he wasn’t coming back. [Read more…]

Thursday Morning Quickie #14

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the “M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You” used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 7

What Is Love?

DURING World War II a young man-we shall call him John was stationed at one of the army centers in the South. In his native Utah he had gone with several different girls and with one in particular. They had talked some of getting married in about a year. One Saturday evening he was chatting with a couple of buddies on a street corner and two girls came up and started talking to one of the boys whom they knew. The girls were introduced to the others and they chatted and joked with each other for awhile. Then they all decided to go to a show. After the show the young man from Utah accompanied one of the girls to her home. They spent about an hour at her doorstep talking before he left. When he returned to his barracks he woke up his closest friend and said, “Gee, Jim, I’m in love.” [Read more…]

MHA 2010 Independence Open Thread

I’ve set my alarm for 5:00 a.m., should be on the road by 6:00, and have about an 8-hour drive to the conference hotel. I’m looking forward to the road trip. With my iPod I won’t be limited to country music, but basically have my entire music collection to choose from. When I get there I’ll check in to the hotel, check my work e-mail, pick up my registration materials, and maybe walk around and check out the water park and fitness center. Then a number of us are getting together for some good ol’ Kansas City barbecue (I usually skip the opening reception in favor of dinner with friends). After that is the opening plenary session, and we’re off to the races–two full days of Mormon history action. [Read more…]

Welcome to Sunny!

After three superb posts BCC is pleased to announce that Sunny Smart has agreed to contribute to the blog on a regular basis as a perma. We do, however, want to make it very clear that the fact that she refuses to be a Visiting Teacher had absolutely nothing to do with this decision. [Read more…]

Contest: Starting a New Dialogue

Readers of Dialogue know how indispensable it is. Dialogue represents the best of independent Mormon thought available today. The product of a rich spiritual and intellectual heritage, today’s Dialogue is an immensely valuable tool in promoting interesting conversations and in fostering a thoughtful LDS community. I firmly believe that without Dialogue, sites like BCC would probably not exist today. And now, with some elbow grease on your part, you can win a subscription for yourself. [Read more…]

Angela Hallstrom’s Dispensation: the Fulness of Mormon Fiction

Angela Hallstrom

A confession: before 2008, I didn’t care much about LDS fiction. To me, that genre meant overtly inspirational stories of mediocre literary quality that barely skim the surface of what it means to be Mormon, not to mention what it means to be human. Friends recommended a few better-than-average titles, but saying a book is “very good for Mormon lit” is a half-baked compliment at best (like the time someone told me I was “in great shape for someone with seven kids”). Angela Hallstrom’s novel-in-stories, Bound on Earth, was my first encounter with unconditionally excellent fiction written by and for Latter-day Saints. So when I picked up
Dispensation, the short story anthology she edited for Zarahemla Books, my hopes were high. And I’m pleased to report that when I finished the volume, I was thoroughly satisfied. The quality of writing in this collection exceeded my already-high expectations. Its stories engaged me so completely that I felt fully gratified as a reader—even blessed. And taken as a whole, its artistic and spiritual potency leaves me deeply impressed by the talent of our very own fiction writers, not to mention excited for the future of this genre. Today, BCC welcomes Angela Hallstrom for a conversation about Dispensation and its significance in the realm of LDS fiction. (I was gonna post a photo of the cool book cover, but Steve already did. Besides, Angela is even better looking.)

[Read more…]

Tuesday evening poll: modesty and being tall

As a tall woman whose garments fall about 4″ above the knee (regular, not petite size), am I obligated to wear skirts or shorts that cover the garment well, or that go all the way to the knee?

My thoughts: the church can’t be bothered to manufacture garments to fit too-tall freaks like me (update: see comments #36 and #38), I get that, totally. But, guess what, neither can any commercial clothing company. [Read more…]

Book Review: Dispensation

Angela Hallstrom’s recent compilation of LDS fiction is an impressive undertaking, bringing together 28 stories from the greatest contemporary authors our faith has to offer. And while some might quibble with a few of the authorial choices, and others might find some of the themes or language too much for their taste, there’s no question that Dispensation represents an immensely valuable compilation. While it cannot help but live in the shadow of Eugene England’s landmark anthology, Bright Angels and Familiars, Hallstrom’s work deserves its own recognition and belongs in the library of anyone with an interest in our culture. [Read more…]

Opting Out of Visiting Teaching

Sunny Smart returns…and this time, It’s For Real!

Sisters (and any men-folk who’d like to chime in), can we talk? I’m having a real problem with my testimony of visiting teaching. Namely, I don’t have one. So I’m going to tell you a bit about my story and then I’m hoping you’ll tell me yours. I know there are those of you who feel like me, and then there are those of you who really get a lot out of this program and feel it has great worth. I want to hear from all of you. Maybe somewhere in the middle we can figure out what this visiting teaching stuff is all about. [Read more…]

BCC Papers 5/2: Smith, ‘Suspensive’ Historiography

Is “Suspensive” Historiography the Only Legitimate Kind?

Christopher C. Smith*


I am a PhD student at Claremont Graduate University, doing History of Religions in North America, with a particular focus on Mormon Studies.  I also happen not to be a Mormon.  I have never been a Mormon.  My interest in Mormonism is academic, and I’m especially interested in Joseph Smith.  Joseph Smith is a fascinating puzzle to me, and I have struggled to make sense of who he was and what motivated him to do the things he did.

That of course puts me in a difficult position, because here at Claremont I am surrounded by believing Mormons, and so I’m constantly aware of the risk that the way I make sense of Joseph Smith and the Mormon movement may be offensive to some of my friends and colleagues here.

As a result, I’ve thought a lot about this question of whether it’s legitimate for me as a scholar and a historian to talk about LDS truth claims.  Is it legitimate for me to express views about Joseph Smith that fly in the face of what Mormons believe?  Will this be perceived as an attack?  Will I be considered biased and anti-Mormon by my colleagues?

My Mormon colleagues here at CGU face a similar problem, but from the opposite direction.  If they speak as faithful Mormons from a position of belief in the Church, they run the risk of alienating non-Mormons, of being labeled biased apologists, and of being seen as non-academic and perhaps even unemployable by secular universities. [Read more…]

Just Posted in Dialogue Classics


Eugene England–Blessing the Chevrolet
A Conversation with Henry Eyring
Richard Haglund (yeah, my dad :))–Science and Religion: A Symbiosis

Missionary Racism

From BCC Guest mmiles

The following is the weekly email update that arrived today from my brother serving a mission in Idaho. [Read more…]

Those in Favour, Manifest it? Part 2

Part 1 can be found here.  This second post is concerned with the process of sustaining and asks whether we sustain the person or the office? [Read more…]

Can a Good Mormon Make Over $100,000 a Year?

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

This post is, in a sense, a sequel to two older posts: “Can a Good Mormon be a Meritocrat?” and “Can a Good Mormon be a Socialist?” In case you can’t be bothered to read until the end, the answers to the three questions are: “Probably not,” “Yes,” and “Sometimes, maybe, but seriously, why would you want to take that risk anyway?” [Read more…]

Ads that don’t suck

While recently visiting a commercial website, I noticed the following advertisement prominently displayed on the homepage:

[Read more…]

The Top 10 LDS Musicians You’ve Never Heard Of, No. 2

Arthur Hatton is a connoisseur of music and the founder of Linescratchers, a site that highlights LDS musicians who play music other than LDS-themed music. We’re pleased to have him as our guest for a special series of posts.

Last time, I featured the first in my series of the Top 10 LDS Musicians You’ve Never Heard Of, delightfully eccentric violinist and songwriter Roxy Rawson. This week, I continue with my personal favorite rap star. But maybe I’m a bit biased in his favor. [Read more…]

An Interview with Robin Jensen, Part 2

This post is the second of a two-part interview with Robin Jensen, editor with the Joseph Smith Papers Project (Part 1 available here). Robin continues to discuss his research in early Mormon record keeping.

[Read more…]

You oughta be in pictures.

Two weeks ago, I got an email hinting at significant changes afoot in the Missionary Department of the Church. It referred to “a massive research/rebranding exercise” undertaken over the past year that has led to “some shocking and fascinating discoveries related to people’s perceptions of Mormons,” and a resulting new social media strategy centering on the relaunch of a “progressive” approach that could “revolutionize” missionary work.

Yes, my hyperbole-meter immediately hit the red zone. But when it comes to institutional Mormonism I’m a sucker for all things progressive and revolutionary; plus, the email addressed me as an “influential blogger” and I certainly couldn’t fail in my duty.  So despite cynical remarks from my fellow BCC permas (who were clearly envious), I agreed to attend a preview meeting designed to leverage feedback from the Mormon blogging community. At the appointed time (roughly) I settled into my seat at the JSMB, regarded the suited array of Bonneville/COB guys, and silently challenged them to impress me.

And they did. [Read more…]

An Open Plea for Marital Advice

This post comes from mmiles, who has posted earlier at BCC (here and here), and who appears to have unilaterally extended an invitation to guest post to her husband. The BCC Subcommittee on Guest Blogging Ethics has been convened and is considering formal disciplinary action.

Last night my wife and I went to bed by eleven, but didn’t fall asleep until well after midnight. It began with those subtle hints and gestures back and forth, as each of us tried to determine whether the other had the interest and energy to see it all the way through. But one thing led to another, passion and excitement surged, and we soon found ourselves in the throes of a heated Bible discussion. [Read more…]

Thursday Morning Quickie #13

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the “M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You” used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 15

Relatives and You

Ted and Joan were married in their early twenties and both thought they would get along well together. They lived in the same city as did their folks on both sides. All the relatives were pleased with the match, the beautiful wedding which was consummated in the Salt Lake Temple and the attractive and pleasant reception which was held in the evening. The couple went on a short honeymoon trip to Sun Valley and returned with confidence and a happy outlook toward the future. And then trouble began. [Read more…]

An Interview with Robin Jensen, Part 1

In 2009 the Joseph Smith Papers Project published their second volume, the first in the Revelations and Translations series (review here). This volume included the “Book of Commandments and Revelations,” which had previously been unknown to researchers. Robin Jensen (RSJ) is an editor with the JSPP and worked specifically on Revelations 1 (Robin introduced some important aspects of the text in a series of posts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). Robin also recently wrapped up his thesis involving early Mormon record keeping and has graciously agreed to an interview about his important work. This is the first of two posts with him.

[Read more…]

Those in favour, Manifest it? Part 1

This just a short, two part series on sustaining.  This first post tries to ask some questions regarding the purpose of sustaining (both others and ourselves) and the second post will look at the process of sustaining by examining the question of whether we sustain the person or the office. [Read more…]

SoCal Mega-Weekend: Bloggersnacker, Miller-Eccles, & Mormon Scholars

A fantastically eventful weekend is about to take place in SoCal for the Bloggernacle and Mormon Studies. [Read more…]

How to Sincerely Enjoy Working in Nursery

Welcome to the nursery.

A friend of mine was recently called to be Nursery leader and solicited advice on how to run a successful nursery. (Actually, his question was whether or not I thought it was acceptable to teach the kids Klingon, but that’s another story.) I know this is a calling that many people dread, and may even turn down. It doesn’t have to be that way! Working in nursery can be fun, uplifting and educational, and needn’t lead to insanity. I’m probably too opinionated on this topic, both in number of opinions and how passionately they are held, but I wanted to share the advice I prepared for my friend with a wider audience in hopes of inspiring others with at least a few of my suggestions.

In no particular order, here are my tips for running a happy, nurturing, enjoyable nursery for all involved:
[Read more…]

Mormon Day at Slate

Besides a review of Grant Hardy’s new book, yesterday’s edition of Slate carried an article by Dialogue’s poetry editor, David Haglund (also one of my multitudinous cousins), in which he becomes the latest in a long line of Mormon thinkers to wonder where those Mormon Miltons and Shakespeares might be. The novelty, perhaps, is in his musing about whether we may have skipped a few centuries and produced a Mormon Philip Roth instead, [Read more…]

Bishop Desmond Tutu and Moral Authority

Westminster Abbey: If you had only an hour to take in London, that’d probably be the place to go. Kings and queens, explorers and philosophers, artists and soldiers are buried there, their effigies made to resemble them as they were in life. Effigies of Mary Queen of Scotts, and Elizabeth I, who ordered Mary’s execution, lie in close proximity with this shared epitaph: “Consorts both in Throne and Grave, here we rest two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, in hope of our resurrection.”

In another section, along a wall far beneath Gothic arches, is the tomb of William Wilberforce. His epitaph says: “His name will ever be specifically identified with those exertions which removed from England the guilt of the African slave trade and prepared the way for the abolition of slavery.” [Read more…]