Our stake conference meeting today was on the topic of caring for refugees. It included a talk by an ethnically Korean member of our stake who was raised in Iran, where his family investigated and joined the church. During the upheaval of the Ayatollah’s regime, his family came to the United States as refugees. They were taken in by an American family, who cleared their own children out of one of their home’s bedrooms to make room. Other speakers drew on the scriptures and the church’s recent strong statements in General Conference and its media channels on the topic of our responsibility to care for refugees. During his remarks, the Stake President clarified that they had decided on the theme and began finding speakers 5 months ago. That’s before Election Day, let alone the Executive Order. The Stake President testified that before any of this happened and before any of them could have known how relevant it would be, they felt a spiritual witness that this should be the theme of the conference. [Read more…]
I heard over the weekend from a friend who wanted to hold her baby while her husband blessed him. She would not be, or even appear to be, participating in the ordinance itself in any way. She simply wanted to cradle the child while it was blessed, like any mother would do during a sick baby blessing and anointing by priesthood holders. She and her husband told the bishop of their plans to bless the baby at home at an extended family gathering, and for her to hold him. Up the chain the news went, to stake president and area authority. The message came back down the chain that she was not to be allowed to do this. [Read more…]
They told me that it was a gosh darn shame that Prop 8 and the policy make gay people feel sad, which certainly was the furthest thing from their intention! You see it’s not that they hate gays, they just love family values so much, and the Divine Institution Of Marriage is so crucial that other things must be sacrificed, even when those sacrifices are painful and unfortunate. That’s what they told me. They told me during Prop 8 that they knew that California law already granted all rights and privileges to domestic partnerships that were granted to marriage, so they were really just fighting over a word, a symbol–the word marriage. But they told me that symbols are important, that what symbols the government symbolically holds up matter so much that we need to prioritize that even over the lives of our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters. Because should even the tiniest tarnish come to the image of the sanctity of the institution of marriage, all of society would collapse. So you know it’s just awful what the gays are experiencing but you see their hands were tied. That’s what they told me. [Read more…]
Pokemon Go has taken over my Facebook feed, the local parks and downtown streets, and hearts of kids and adults alike. Our family did Pokemon Go as our FHE last night, and I’d say conservatively that 75% of the people out on the streets were playing Pokemon Go. Here is a quick guide to letting it take over your Monday nights for the rest of summer, by hosting an entire month of Pokemon Go-theme FHE!
- Week 1: Gifts of the Spirit (Gotta Catch ‘Em All!…sort of)
- Week 2: “All these things shall give thee experience [points] and be for thy good”
- Week 3: Noah’s Ark and collecting each kind (just like Pokemon!)
- Week 4: Family History (Ancestors: Gotta Catch ‘Em All!)
Bike to Church Month continues here at By Common Consent blog. This week we feature the completely car-free Farley family of Oakland, CA, @maryaagard of Boise, ID rocking her Mother’s Day corsage, and BCC’s own Sam Brunson of Chicago, IL. Keep biking to church all month long in May (and beyond!), and send us your pics on Twitter @bycommonconsent #BikeToChurch, Instagram (I’m sisterblah2), or email email@example.com.
Happy May Day, and welcome to ByCommonConsent’s 2nd annual Bike To Church Month!
This morning I appeared on KUER’s Radio West with Doug Fabrizio, alongside Erin Alberty of the Salt Lake Tribune and Prof. Andrea Radke-Moss of BYU-I. We discussed sexual assault in the Mormon context. You can listen to a podcast on KUER’s website, and I welcome further discussion of the issue here.
This month, The Salt Lake Tribune has been following the story of BYU students who say they’ve been punished under the school’s honor code because they reported sexual assaults. Some of the questions these women are facing have been experienced around the country: will they be believed, shamed or blamed for being a victim? Tuesday, we’re asking how LDS culture and theology of chastity complicates this, and if there are lessons from the Mormon experience that might help challenge assumptions about rape in America.
Rational Faiths has posted a conversation between Mormon author Greg Prince and an anonymous friend. The friend writes:
I never expected being a Mormon to be easy either but I always expected that being Mormon would mean standing up for what’s right amid voices outside the church telling me otherwise. And even though that would be difficult it would be worth it because I would know inside that what I was standing for was right. I never dreamed that I would be in the church standing up for what I felt was right amid the voices in the church telling me that I am wrong.
This guest post comes from Jon, who is a friend of the blog. He’s a student of statistics and son of parents who follow the admonition of Paul.
I saw this phrase first on the door of a Catholic parish in Santa Fe, Argentina: “Every child that is born is proof that God has not yet given up on human beings.” The idea appealed to me at the time, both because babies are adorable and because as a missionary I had a daily habit of giving up on humanity. An element of that phrase has been working on me in the nearly 10 years since: the idea that people enter the world bearing divine information—that we are each a revelation. [Read more…]
I recently made a brief visit to Utah. I’ve never lived in Utah, not even briefly for school or a stint in the MTC. But there is a sense of being among my people that has always imbued my visits with a deep soul sense of returning home. Tracy M described it well. On this trip, I was so focused on business and rushing in and out that I didn’t have much time to soak in that feeling. Just about 24 hours after arriving, I was dashing back to the airport to leave again. As I handed the keys to the rental car return attendant, he saw the BYU logo throw blanket I carried, and the BYU institutional charge for my rental, and asked me cheerily if I was a member of the LDS church. He was older and a little stooped, but very spry in doing his job. I said yes. Suddenly his mad rush of handling the many arriving customers stopped, and he gazed directly into my eyes with an intense earnestness. He told me about his wife. He told me about how he lost her. And he told me how every minute of every day he makes decisions conscious of a striving for total righteousness, to return and join her one day. “I know she’s going to the Celestial Kingdom!” I can’t imagine anyone having more intense focus and determination than he had to join her.
I thought it could be helpful to others to post a few resources for how I approached this month’s topic, Ordinances and Covenants. I want to both normalize Mormon high church liturgy, and also highlight what is unique and special about our approach. (If you aren’t sure what those words mean, feel no shame because we don’t use them in our day-to-day, though they do nicely describe us. Click the words for simple definitions.) To do this, I showed a series of videos of formal oaths taken in secular contexts.
This is a post examining the number of members living in jurisdictions where the legal status of marriage changed due to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Among members of the church in the U.S., Obergefell triggered celebration from some, angst from others, and plenty of Facebook conflict between the two. It also triggered an unusual, highly visible step by the brethren: sending a letter to all U.S. bishops, accompanied by lengthy member education talking points, to be read to all teen and adult members of the church. The impending reading of the letter unleashed a wave of concern among members at variance with the church’s position, questions about whether to attend or skip, and worry about emotional harm to LGBTQ members. The primary message of the letter is that a change in the nation’s laws does not affect church doctrine, to correct any notion some might have had that Obergefell would cause or force a change.
On a day when many will say “secularism” is winning (both those who think that is a bad thing, and those who think that is a good thing), we have an absolutely overwhelming demonstration of the power of God and the power of shared religion:
May is Bike to Church Month here at By Common Consent. See our previous weeks of celebration here, here, here, and here. Today we have pictures from readers Lori, Jon, Lisa, and Mark, biking to church in Valencia, Spain. Thanks for sharing your fun family commute with us! Keep reading below the fold to see BCC writer EmJen and her kids enjoying a bike ride to church in Farmington, Utah, USA. I hope this inspires you to #biketochurch. Snap a pic and share it on Twitter and/or add a link to Instagram here in the comments. Happy biking!
There’s just one more Sunday in our month-long celebration, so hop on your bikes and send us pics! Share with us by commenting, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweeting @bycommonconsent #biketochurch. [Read more…]
I’m declaring May “Bike to Church” month at ByCommonConsent. May has good weather for biking to church in both the northern and southern hemispheres. I’d love to see photos of BCC readers biking to church. Email email@example.com, or tweet them @bycommonconsent with hastag #biketochurch.
It has been a difficult few years for me, trying to sit and listen and just be with several friends in my ward and larger circles going through acute crises of faith. The causes are varied: feelings of having been hurt by the church’s policies or actions, social alienation for having the wrong kind of family, troubling historical facts, or just feeling like they needed a break from church activity. At times I felt overwhelmed by selfish personal sense of loss of not having these friends with me at church, overwhelmed by the emotional exertion they sometimes called on me to help them bear for a time, overwhelmed by my own complex feelings and faith in a time of tension between different parts of the flock. So often talks from our leaders seemed to ignore or belittle these struggles I saw all around me and within me. Even when it was addressed in conference, it often felt oblique or keeping the doubts (and by extension the doubters) at a safe arm’s length. Speakers usually seemed to misunderstand or mischaracterize the concerns, and there was a lack of feeling like voices of this struggle were even heard, much less having an impact. Then came today’s talk by President Wixom. Wixom, tenderly quoting a woman in her ward who faced doubts and left activity for a time:
“I did not separate myself from the Church because of bad behavior, spiritual apathy, looking for an excuse not to live the commandments, or searching for an easy out. I felt I needed the answer to the question ‘What do I really believe?’”
“My testimony had become like a pile of ashes. It had all burned down. All that remained was Jesus Christ.”
In 3 Nephi, it reads:
5 And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.
6 And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
7 Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.
Since his ascendance as Pope, Francis has provided a bold new vision of engaged, bridge-building religious leadership in the 21st century. From brokering a detente between the United States and Cuba, to perhaps suggesting animals can also attain heaven, to taking a strong religious stance on preserving creation by stemming global warming, Pope Francis has successfully caught and held the attention of a world that had seemed to be slipping inexorably to secularism.
This has even left some Mormons, especially more liberal-minded Mormons, thinking aloud about a growing Holy Envy (or maybe just envy) of the Holy See. What could LDS leadership or LDS people learn from the Pope? [Read more…]
Here’s a computer science lesson and craft activity that speaks to my geeky heart. I do it with groups of all ages, and it would be perfect for Activity Day girls. It could also work for Cub Scouts, perhaps with a hemp cord for a masculine look. It was inspired by the Code.org-sponsored “Hour of Code” event last year. The lesson plan by Thinkersmith is excellent, and covers everything you need to know. It is comprehensive enough for someone without any computer science background to run the activity successfully. I’ll summarize a few points here, but you should go read it. The necklace craft was my own addition. My daughter is modeling her necklace in the photo at left.
I was asked to give the faculty address at Stanford’s annual LDS Convocation, held in Stanford Memorial Church. This is the text of my remarks. Video production is by Ken Allen, posted with permission.
In Computer Science, our traditional greeting is, “Hello, world” So, “Hello, world!”
My task this evening is to join our identities as scholars and saints, and so I want to explain what I think is a particularly Mormon moral obligation we assume as members of the Stanford community. [Read more…]
I understand some of you spent last night watching some game where guys run around carrying a ball that isn’t even spherical, when you could have been watching an epic Giants-Nationals game that ran the longest in MLB post-season history: 18 innings for the Giants win. The game clocked in at 6 hours 23 minutes, shattering the previous playoffs record by over half an hour. And here we gather for hours 7 and 8 of the general sessions of General Conference weekend….
As a reminder, all comments on this thread will be moderated by me. Giants fans only, please.
Is it just me, or has the LDS library app become a bit cumbersome to navigate? If I preload the Screens with one screen each of Hymns, Old Testament (or current Sunday School scripture book), Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith (or current RS/PH manual), and Children’s Songbook, then it’s more manageable. But if I ever stray away from that structure within a screen, heaven help me try to go through layers and layers of library menus to get to the hymn we’re singing sooner than about verse 3 (yes, our ward enjoys wonderfully at tempo Sacrament meeting chorister and organist!).
As I was sitting at the back of the overflow in Stake Conference last Sunday, without a program, struggling to identify and then pull up the hymn we were singing, I had the Eureka! moment: my phone should just be able to hear the organ’s opening notes or measures, and pull up the corresponding page of lyrics. Shazam for Hymns, if you will.
Julie M. Smith has a thoughtful and measured look at some comments by Elder Ballard (clip or full) that have been garnering some attention. I’m inclined to be forgiving of a man who has consistently spoken out in favor of council-based decision-making that includes women, and I agree with Julie that several interpretations are possible and it is unclear if he was attempting a joke. However, whether a joke or serious, clearly there is some feeling that “too much” is a threshold that could be crossed, or he wouldn’t have said it. So, either way, the interesting question is, how much is too much?
A common complaint of recent decades, from both within and without the church, is that the church leadership culture is too corporate. Complainants say there is too much of an MBA aesthetic, as opposed to, say, some ideal of religious leadership that exudes a more Zen, ascetic, or monastic sensibility. Not me! I wish we took the MBA theme just a little bit further! Case study: a flyer for a Europe area “Sisters’ Meeting” featuring photos of three headline speakers, all of them male.
I dearly hope we can yet step back from the brink, but assuming Kate Kelly and John Dehlin are excommunicated, I predict it will have no effect on Internet Mormonism. There will be anguish, bickering, and loads of clicks, but the world of Internet Mormonism will go on unchanged. The Bloggernacle vs “Nothing Wavering” vs anti-Mormon lines were etched in stone long ago; we’ve long since self-sorted into a stable system, and that system isn’t going anywhere. Neither will there be much of a chilling effect, because there is simply no way the church can discipline every blogger, and it’s not going to happen. But don’t call me a Pollyanna. My prediction is that the outcome will be much, much worse than the loss we would suffer if Internet Mormonism were damaged in some way.
Instead, the outcome will be great damage to bricks-and-mortar Mormonism. [Read more…]