Mormons, Global Warming, and the Second Coming

In our local Sunstone symposium I was asked to be one of three respondents to an article in Dialogue about whether or not science supports the story of Noah and the flood. My assignment was to comment on a statement near the end of the article that proposed the story of Noah could be used as scriptural backing for environmental causes. One statement I made in passing was that I feared believing that changes in the environment are part of the “signs of the times” would mean members of the church would not be very vigorous in supporting environmental causes. [Read more…]

The Lay in our (Church) Land

A friend of long standing is about to be ordained as an Episcopalian priest. She grew up Catholic and after study and training served as a chaplain at a hospital. She became increasingly frustrated that what she wanted to accomplish was denied her because of her sex, and made the decision to leave Catholicism and study for the priesthood as an Episcopalian. This has taken a long time (as she is also a wife and mother): the classes she took as a Catholic wouldn’t transfer for “credit”, she had to study out of state for a six-month period. There has been a long apprenticeship. She isn’t free to go anywhere she might be needed so has had to wait a long time for local opportunities. Her final examinations are in early January and will take four days. When I asked her would they would cover, she said that it could be anything: history, scripture, liturgy, pastoral care. [Read more…]

Summer Blog Thought

In the spirit of “summer reading”–that is to say, not taxing– I want to talk about a phenomenon I call the Inverse Ratio of Response. As a regular reader but rare responder to BCC blogs I have observed that the more light-hearted posts, such as Levi’s about dress standards for home teachers, will generate responses in the hundreds while more serious topics will generate far fewer. I have some thoughts as to why. [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…]

Translating Correctly

A young man gave a talk in our Sacrament Meeting that was a first for me, in that instead of using scriptures and written notes, he used his PDA. He said he had come to appreciate the Old Testament, as he discovered how New Testament writers (he focused on Paul especially) had drawn from the Old Testament, particularly the Psalms. He was using his hand-held devise to track himself from one testament to the other, showing how a phrase in Paul had its match somewhere in the Old Testament. My thoughts strayed from his presentation to wonder if he was using a computer program that would search and match phrases for him, and then to think about problems of translation. [Read more…]

Could We Serve More?

It has often struck me (Kathleen from Dialogue) how willing the people in my ward are to participate in service projects. The best attended Enrichment Meetings are the ones to assemble whatever hygiene kit ,back-to-school kit for needy kids project, or food bank drive, that comes down the pike. Through an Interfaith Council our stake participates in a program that provides meals and a place to sleep for homeless men. Our church never hosts the sleeping arrangements, but whenever it is our ward’s turn to provide dinner, lunch, and breakfast for these men, it’s an easy sell for the sister in charge. Considering service more broadly, it seems as though all my Salt Lake nieces and nephews have gone to Africa or South America to help out in a orphanage for a month, or gone with somebody to Tibet or Mongolia or some other far away place to deliver medical equipment that some church member has managed to collect. I know Young Men and Young Women leaders are always looking for ways to involve the kids in meaningful service. [Read more…]

Safety Valves

This is Kathleen from Dialogue. I would like to address the topic of the safety valve sins and modest heresies. [Read more…]

Not Polygamy Again!

A couple of months ago I (Kathleen from Dialogue) spoke to some younger women in my ward about polygamy. This was in a non-official setting. They were curious. One said, “There is nothing about polygamy on” She grew up thinking polygamy was a way of providing for the widows. [Read more…]

Free Agency in the Bathtub

This is Kathleen from Dialogue. A young woman teaching in Relief Society mentioned that sometimes when she is trying to get her reluctant twin sons into the bath tub she distracts them by offering them a choice: “Would you like to play with? The red duck or the blue duck? The frogman or the bathtub chalk?” She pointed out that these are really false choices, because the boys have no choice about the issue at hand: the bath. Similarly she offers them choices about what clothes to wear when there is really no choice about getting dressed. She said what she is doing is like Satan’s plan. I suppose it is, if you think Satan’s plan is to make us think we have choices when we don’t, as opposed to offering no choices, period. I think her analogy is more like predestination, which would say everything we think we are choosing to do will have no final effect on where we will end up. [Read more…]

Thinking about Easter

This year Easter is April 16. In our ward, there will be a musical number, flowers on the podium, and a couple of talks to mark the occasion. It will not be surprising if the lessons in the auxiliaries and Sunday School go on with the pre-set lesson schedule and make no mention of the holiday (holy day). It would be a big surprise if talks the week before Easter made reference to Palm Sunday. There will be no mention made of Good Friday, and most Mormons wouldn’t understand a reference to Maundy Thursday. [Read more…]

Eating Meat

This is Kathleen from Dialogue writing. I was trolling through some Dialogue magazines looking for information about the Word of Wisdom and found this in the opening paragraph of an article by Thomas G. Alexander. (“The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement, ” 14, No. 3 [Fall 1981] 78 – 87). In May of 1898 the First Presidency and the Twelve were discussing the Word of Wisdom. One member read from the 12th volume of the Journal of Discourses where Brigham Young seems to support the idea that the Word of Wisdom is a commandment. “Lorenzo Snow, then President of the Council of Twelve agreed, saying that he believed the Word of Wisdom was a commandment and that it should be carried out to the letter. In doing so, he said, members should be taught to refrain from eating meat except in dire necessity, because Joseph Smith had taught that animals have spirits.” Wilford Woodruff agreed the Word of Wisdom is a commandment, but thinks no action should be taken except that “members should be taught to refrain from meat.” (p. 78) [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…]

The Mormon Science Landscape

By way of introduction, I am Kathleen Petty, the second of the team of six representing Dialogue magazine invited to post on this site. I have been a Dialogue reader since its fist issue. Currently I help edit the letters to the editor for the magazine. This is the first time I have posted on this, or any, website, and I am looking forward to being part of this–(cough)–diablog.

In the Spring 2005 issue of Dialogue there was an interesting article by Stephen L. Peck entitled “The Current Philosophy of Consciousness Landscape: Where Does LDS Thought Fit.” (You can find this article posted on the Excerpts section of the Dialogue website.) He focuses on what he calls the “hard” problem in consciousness studies: phenomenal consciousness. (The “easy” problem of consciousness involves finding and mapping the mechanisms of consciousness–how the brain processes information, the neural pathways, how the brain communicates with itself.) Phenomenal consciousness is the “aspect of consciousness identified by that ‘what is it to be like’ feeling that we associate with personal subjectivity.”

[Read more…]