Chariots of Fire

Jessica Moss is a Ph.D. student at Claremont Graduate University

And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

2 Kings 6:15-17

The few times that I have heard the story of Elisha and his servant, found in 2 Kings 6, the servant is likened unto us – the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or to Christians in general.  The narrative is often as follows: we are a small and oppressed group that is being persecuted by the big bad world, out there. I understand the draw of this position. It helps us build solidarity, it motivates faith in the divine, but it also sets us up as innocent.  We are not always innocent.

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Humility and the Revelatory Process

Richard Davis is the author of The Liberal Soul:  Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Politics (Greg Kofford Books, 2014) and Fathers and Sons: Lessons from the Scriptures (Cedar Fort, 2005).  He also is editor of Spiritual Gems from the Imitation of Christ (Catholic Publishing, 2016)

When I was a full-time missionary, the mission president interviewed each of the missionaries about every six weeks at a zone conference.  At one such interview with him, I related that since I had been recently transferred to an area my companion and I had been having success working with several investigators.  He replied:  “Then putting you there must have been inspired.”  

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Resources for My Mixed Faith Marriage

Rachael lives in Arizona with her husband and three kiddos. They moved to the desert from the green hills of Virginia where she did a PhD in religious history and gender. 

Early in our marriage, my husband and I joined the growing ranks of mixed faith marriages when it became clear his spiritual path no longer tracked with the LDS church. Such marriages have risen from around 20% in the 1960s to around 40% or more today, but while we are in considerable company, that didn’t make me feel better about our prospects. Naomi Schaefer Riley’s survey of interfaith couples in Til Faith Do Us Part not only found these marriages were significantly more likely to end in divorce, but in those that remained intact, the families tended to be less religiously observant and parents were more likely to delegate their children’s religious instruction to institutions outside the family.

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Complaints as Precursors to Revelation

Richard Davis is the author of The Liberal Soul:  Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Politics (Greg Kofford Books, 2014) and Fathers and Sons: Lessons from the Scriptures (Cedar Fort, 2005).  He also is editor of Spiritual Gems from the Imitation of Christ (Catholic Publishing, 2016)

A recent “Come Follow Me” lesson covered the exodus from Egypt.  Even though the lesson stressed the importance of sustaining leaders, another, somewhat contrary, message emerged.  That was the value of complaint in the revelatory process.

It appears that Moses tooks actions when the people complained.  It happened when the House of Israel was attempting to escape from Pharaoh.  They chastise Moses for putting them in a position where they will be recaptured by Pharaoh and killed:  “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Exodus 14: 11).  Moses reassures them that the Lord “shall fight for you.” (Exodus 14: 14) He goes back to the Lord who instructs him how to “lift though up thy rod” and part the sea so the people can cross. (Exodus 14: 16) 

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Religious Education at BYU: An Open Letter to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Michael Ing is a BYU alumnus and an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University. This letter was sent to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, BYU’s regional accreditor, during the public comment period of BYU’s reaccreditation visit. The Commission will accept written comments from any member of the public through March 6. Comments should be addressed to: NWCCU at: Attn: Third Party Comment, 8060 165th Ave NE, Ste 100, Redmond, WA 98052.

2/28/22

To Whom It May Concern:

I write in accordance with Brigham Young University’s cycle of reaccreditation with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. I write as a graduate of BYU (BA, 2002), an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University, and an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am writing with regard to credit granted for Religious Education courses.

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How [Not] to Motivate: “Opting In” and Lessons from Authoritarianism

by Abigail J., CES Employee

“Are you opting in or out?” Employees at all CES institutions have been discussing this question in careful conversations recently, since the Powers that Be announced a new policy not only requiring all new CES employees—including faculty and staff at the BYUs—to “hold and be worthy to hold” a current temple recommend as a condition of employment, but also asking current employees to “adopt this standard voluntarily.” Conversations have increased in urgency and angst as employees have received additional announcements, emails, and verbal reminders to declare their decision to opt in or not. [fn1] [fn2] [fn3]

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I Dissent: Questions Regarding the Efficacy and Repercussions of a Dissenting Vote

by John S.

Recently the Church Educational System (CES) announced that “all new employees who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be required to hold and be worthy to hold a current temple recommend. Church members already working at CES institutions will be invited to adopt this standard voluntarily.”

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I [the Lord] restore all things: D&C 121&132

Laura Brignone (PhD, MSW) is a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies technology and domestic violence. Part 6 in a six-part series on the domestic violence implications of D&C 121 and 132. Find Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 here.

The language D&C 132 uses to describe women’s relationship with plural marriage paints a pretty bleak picture. As we’ve discussed for the last two weeks, it may even appear to mirror, trigger or justify the abuse of women in the here and now. So what happens next? 

The section header begins to address the rhetorical challenge of D&C 132 by presenting the most uplifting interpretation of the text in summary, using a tone consistent with validations of individual worth throughout most of the scriptures. [1]

In my opinion, though, the most interesting question centers on the survivor. What happens next in her story? How does her narrative evolve? As we discuss this concept, we’re going to zoom back out and discuss abuse more generally. Throughout D&C 121 and 132 we’ve talked a lot about the theft, manipulation or coercion of a survivor’s agency through the power and control of a perpetrator of abuse. How can a survivor heal from this violence and harm — physically, emotionally and spiritually?

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[Virgins] are given unto him: D&C 121 and 132

Laura Brignone (PhD, MSW) is a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies technology and domestic violence. Part 5 in a six-part series on the domestic violence implications of D&C 121 and 132. Find Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 6 here.

Once upon a Tempernacle, I was a brand-new missionary in a small Utah town. We had temple trips twice per transfer, and my companion and I usually went with our district leader and his companion. Every temple trip, once we got to the Celestial Room, my district leader would walk behind me and whisper phrases from D&C 132 in my ear, hijack meaningful conversations to get my take on whether it was even worth it for women to go to the Celestial Kingdom as plural wives, etc. [1]

Harassment like this is common. Even if not all men harass women — and, indeed, he was the only one of my district leaders who did — most women experience harassment. [2] Given, as we discussed last week, how a modern reading of D&C 132 mirrors the framing of abusive and violent relationships, it’s easy for ill-intended members of the church to use its potent language to harass, manipulate or terrorize women through fears of losing exaltation, eternal degradation, eternal separation from children, eternal subjugation within plural marriage, and more.

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She shall believe or she shall be destroyed: D&C 121 and 132

Laura Brignone (PhD, MSW) is a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies technology and domestic violence. This is Part 4 in a six-part series on the domestic violence implications of D&C 121 and 132. Find Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5 and Part 6 here.

Doctrine and Covenants 132 introduces the law, covenant or doctrine of plural marriage. It poses a significant challenge to many readers and teachers in the church, especially women, and especially domestic violence survivors. Originally articulated as a private document in 1843, it was the only surviving written record explicitly describing plural marriage after Joseph Smith’s death. [1] Joseph F. Smith reflected in 1878 that, when written, the text “was not then designed to go forth to the church or to the world. It is most probable that had it been then written with a view to its going out as a doctrine of the church, it would have been presented in a somewhat different form.”

Time and language have only evolved since 1878; read now, the language used to present D&C 132 mirrors the rhetoric and origin of abusive relationships. While the language in D&C 121 relates to the priesthood and abuse across a wide variety of relationships, the language in D&C 132 specifically mirrors the origin and pattern of intimate partner violence against women, or, abuse perpetrated by a man against a woman he has ever dated, been married to, or with whom he shares a child in common.

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Without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever: D&C 121 and 132

Laura Brignone (PhD, MSW) is a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies technology and domestic violence. This is Part 3 in a six-part series on the domestic violence implications of D&C 121 and 132. Find Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 here.

This week we’re going to talk about the end of D&C 121, verses 41-46. This is a very-often-discussed scripture in LDS circles, and I’m going to sidestep the most common points of conversation on it. (What did “reproving betimes with sharpness” mean in the 1830s? Go ask your Sunday School teacher.) 

Instead, let’s talk about the covenant in these verses. What’s it about? What will flow without compulsory means forever? What does this covenant have to do with abuse? (Spoiler: a lot, but it’s mostly not about the survivor.)

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“Mormon” is deeply Christian

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash. Chosen to serve as a fanciful depiction of the Waters of Mormon.

Spencer Greenhalgh is a nerd, Francophile, and big fan of the Book of Mormon. Professionally, he is an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky’s School of Information Science, where he teaches information communication technology and researches social media in meaningful contexts such as education and religion.

The name “Mormon” is obviously connected to The Book of Mormon, but this name carries different meanings within and outside the text. The external, often derogatory, meaning is enough that the three largest denominations accepting the Book of Mormon as scripture now reject the derived adjective “Mormon,” often preferring to redirect attention to their Christian credentials. This is understandable—and even laudable—but the meaning and history of this name within The Book of Mormon suggests that “Mormon” is, in fact, a deeply Christian word.

“Mormon” also seems to begin as a derogatory term in The Book of Mormon. In Mosiah 18:4 (9:32 CofC), we read of a “place which was called Mormon, having received its name from the king, being in the borders of the land having been infested, by times or at seasons, by wild beasts.” There’s no straightforward explanation here of what “Mormon” means—our identically named narrator might be too embarrassed to do so. Nonetheless, the implication is that “Mormon” is a name kings give to infested places, places no one would go unless they were desperate, places so undesirable that the king’s servants might not look for you there.

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Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man: D&C 121 and 132

Laura Brignone (PhD, MSW) is a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies technology and domestic violence. This is Part 2 in a six-part series on the domestic violence implications of D&C 121 and 132. Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 can be found here. 

Welcome back! Last week we focused on spelling out the problem of abuse described in D&C 121:1-6 and experienced in modern LDS congregations. This week we skip ahead to D&C 121:36-39. These verses describe a slippery slope into using the priesthood as a tool of power and control to commit abuse, along with consequences for priesthood holders who do so. This is one of the clearest, most poignant, and most powerful condemnations of abuse in all of scripture.

It’s also not straightforward to put into practice. 

Let’s dive in.

D&C 121:36-39

[T]he rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and […] the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man…. 

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

There we have it. Anyone who self-aggrandizes or abuses another person automatically loses the Spirit as well as their priesthood power and authority. This bright line protects both the integrity of the priesthood and the safety of non-priesthood-holders. 

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O God, where art thou?: D&C 121 and 132

Laura Brignone (PhD, MSW) is a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies technology and domestic violence.  Her recent research examines an emergency room intervention meant to prevent intimate partner homicide. This is Part 1 in a six-part series on the domestic violence implications of D&C 121 and 132. Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5 and Part 6 can be found here. 

We’re fast approaching D&C 121 and D&C 132 in the Come Follow Me manual. In honor of domestic violence awareness month in October, let’s spend a few weeks exploring the story these two sections tell about domestic violence and abuse in the church, both then and now. [1] 

Note: this first post describes abuse and may be triggering for those who have experienced it. Future posts in this series will primarily focus on church policy and may be less triggering. 

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Why LDS Women Turn to the Media

Natalie Brown holds a PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. She is currently guest editing an issue on the role of homes and houses in LDS culture for Irreantum, the literary journal of the Association for Mormon Letters. She encourages anyone interested in this topic to read the issue-specific guidelines and submit by July 31.

This is not a post about the content of the July 21 New York Times article on women’s garments, though in full disclosure I privately wrote the Distribution Center with similar complaints years ago and found them highly responsive. This is a post on why I believe we have seen, and will continue to see, many LDS women turn to the media or to outside organizations in order to voice their complaints, despite the fact that the Church (and I suspect most members) would prefer to resolve concerns internally rather than through a mainstream media that has often sensationalized the Church, its members, and its underwear. The short answer, of course, is that there is no effective channel for most members’ voices to be heard when working within the Church.

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Social Justice Sunday School

A guest post from Christina Taber-Kewene

My husband of twenty years gazes back at me from across our cafe table with tears welling in his eyes. 

“I just don’t know that I can go back.” 

Framed, limited edition print reproduction of Banned Books by Joel Penkman.
The original artwork is painted in egg tempera.

What began as questions and concerns as we evolved in our understanding of queer rights has grown into a pain that is eviscerating him. Our son is gay. Theologically and pragmatically, this means there is no place for him on the Mormon covenant path. The hetero supremacy of the church is wrong. We feel that. We know that. The pandemic provided space for us to spend a year away from church attendance, but with pressure from leadership mounting, and the pull of my husband’s role in the bishopric, a decision is imminent. 

“If we leave, we will never return. You should consider that,” I nudge back, gently. “Are you sure this is what you want for our family?” 

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Book Review: David Bentley Hart’s That All Shall Be Saved

Peter Munk earned his undergraduate degree in History from the University of Utah and J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. He practices law in Atlanta, Georgia, where he lives with his wife and five daughters.

On the night of November 23, 1998, Bill Weise—a Protestant Christian—had an out-of-body experience. Weise found himself in a prison cell. It was hot—very hot. And Weise was joined by two horrifying beasts. One beast flayed Weise’s flesh with its clawed hand, while the other threw him across the cell. The beasts tortured Weise against the droning screams of “billions” of fellow inmates, wailing in agony as demonic creatures subjected them to similar horrific acts. The duration of Weise and every other inhabitant’s suffering? Not a life sentence. Not two life sentences. Not a trillion life sentences. But eternity.

As you have probably guessed, Weise was describing hell—the place where most Christians (albeit not necessarily in such vivid and sadistic detail) think some combination of “bad” people and non-believers go when they die. Weise recounted his experience in a 2006 book, 23 Minutes in Hell. And lest you think Weise is a complete outlier in the Christian community, 23 Minutes in Hell spent three weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list for paperback nonfiction. Weise parlayed his book’s success into a church speaking tour and was able to leave his career to enter the ministry full-time in 2007.[1]

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On Walls, Stones, Slings, and Olive Wood: A plea for peace for the Holy Land

Two boys walk down a street in Jerusalem’s Old City, July 2000. Photo credit: Becky Roesler

Dr. Rebecca Roesler is a Professor of Violin and Music Education at Brigham Young University–Idaho. She received a PhD in Music and Human Learning from the University of Texas at Austin, and Bachelors and Masters degrees from Brigham Young University. Becky has presented at national conferences in music education, and at the Mormon Studies Association, the Book of Mormon Studies Association, and she has published in Dialogue. Her latest publication in Psychology of Music presents her research in collaborative problem-solving within music ensembles.

I stare across my living room at the olive wood sculpture I purchased from Omar over two decades ago. I am still captured by its swirling, circling, compressed topographical lines, the tightness of the grain. I believe no wood on earth quite matches olive wood in beauty and complexity. It appears as tortured as its land of origin, home to people and peoples living on top of one another, tightly, in conflict, each claiming the same hill as theirs. Their history, their identity, their religion. Even if this wood is as old as some olive trees can be, it would have seen few lasting periods of human peace in its lifetime. 

I was lucky. When I was there, it appeared peaceful. Jubilant, even.

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Please Preserve Minerva Teichert’s Priceless Treasure—The Manti Temple Murals

Margaret Tarkington is a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, and active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in the Cincinnati stake.

On March 12, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that the Manti Temple murals would be “photographed, documented, and removed.” I respectfully implore the Church and any involved to reconsider this decision, especially as to the Minerva Teichert World Room murals. Teichert is a renowned artist and was the first woman to be commissioned to paint a mural in an LDS temple.[1] Her World Room murals are a masterpiece and a crowning accomplishment of her career. They are arguably the single greatest artistic achievement by an LDS woman. No amount of photographing can replace actually experiencing Teichert’s murals, which are vast in conception, scope, vision, and size (the room is 28 feet tall, 50 feet long, and 25 feet wide). The murals cover nearly 4000 square feet. Unlike prior World Room murals depicting fighting animals, Teichert portrayed the pageant of human history in a fallen world. Beginning with the Tower of Babel portrayed in the back of the room, she painted the history of the Gentiles and Israelites on opposing side walls (including Abraham, Joseph, Moses, the crusaders, Columbus, the Pilgrims on the Mayflower) culminating in the gathering of the early Latter-day Saints to the North American Continent and their efforts to build Zion, portrayed on the front wall. All human history marches towards the restoration, the gathering of the Saints, and ultimately the establishment of Zion. To remove these murals is akin to painting over the Sistine Chapel—in terms of LDS art, history, and women’s contributions and achievement. Most importantly, the decision is irreversible if the murals are destroyed.

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Valentine’s Day

This guest post is from Christina Taber-Kewene, OG BCC Permablogger and self-described “writer, business owner and very pandemic-depressed mother of four trying to survive February.”

I thought I had done an adequate mothering job in preparing for Valentine’s Day this year. I remembered more than a week ahead to order craft supplies from Target so we could make and mail cards for the grandparents, although not before all the pre-made ones were sold out and not in time to have them delivered before the Sunday afternoon I had set aside for crafting. Fortunately, my Sunday morning walking buddy is better stocked than I, and she loaded me up with enough stickers and doilies to get us through the first round of card making.

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The Vitality of the Latter-day Saints

This guest post comes from Calvin Burke, a student at BYU.

On the heels of the development of a new committee addressing issues of systemic racism within the campus community, Brigham Young University’s Religious Studies Center published
a book this year by an Egyptologist detailing the “viable hypothesis” that childhood sexual trauma is a component of LGBTQ+ identity. The book further described victims of sexual violence as “more likely to become sexual abusers of children.” [1]


It would be easy to conclude the prejudice evident in the publication of such work is representative of all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, BYU’s sponsoring institution—but an expert rebuttal to that work authored by another BYU professor [2] led the BYU Religious Studies Center to pull the offending text from shelves; and earlier this year, hundreds of BYU students protested the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community by the Church Educational System. Dismissing this incident as the product of inherent Latter-day Saint bigotry is to miss critical aspects of the Latter-day Saint religion which explain its place at unique crossroads in modernity, and which also demonstrate its continued vitality.

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Why I Signed the Radical Orthodoxy Manifesto

Dan Ellsworth is a Latter-Day Saint consultant and writer living in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Radical Orthodoxy Manifesto became public almost a week ago, and if we are not reacting to every criticism and every blog comment about this project, it is not out of lack of conviction; it’s more about mental and spiritual health.  Online discussions so often generate vastly more heat than light, and it’s not a healthy impulse to try to account for every criticism by every single person.  There is a lot of wisdom in the phrase “Don’t read the comments.”

When I first heard about the Radical Orthodoxy project — the manifesto and its accompanying essays — I was ecstatic.

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Interwoven

Navajo corn people Yei rug. 78″x54″ Believed to be a first half of the 20th century weaving, made for personal use within a family, to be gifted or inherited and not for sale. Courtesy of the Kimball family. 

Cynthia W. Connell holds a BA in English from Brigham Young University. She served a full-time mission to the Navajo and Hopi Indians and upon her return was asked to serve as Native American, Polynesian and Hispanic Cultural Specialist and Trainer for Temple Square, LDS Church, Salt Lake City.  Her writings have appeared in newspapers, the Ensign magazine and in the Amazon International Best Selling Spectrum Parent’s Survival Guide:  Tips, Tricks and Strategies for Navigating Through Autism by Karen Pellet. This post appears on BCC in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

My Grandfather Weldon was a weaver. A weaving loom wasn’t what you might expect to find in a Brownstone apartment in The Bronx, but then neither was a Native American. The neighborhood that accepted his family was filled predominantly with Jewish and Italian immigrants.

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Reflections on Heartbreak and Choice

Dear Brother Givens,

I came across your post on abortion today.  I confess that I did not read it carefully because I am trying to be kinder to myself.  From what I did read, you quote several writers and statistics, and ultimately ground your opinions in your own visceral reactions to abortion and especially the procedures used in the second and third trimester.  I wonder, though, did you try to speak directly to any women who have had abortions?  Did you read any firsthand accounts of abortions by women who do not regret them?  Did you send out a call to your general female acquaintance to share their experiences with you?  I guarantee that you personally know some women who have had abortions, though, given what you wrote, I am not sure they would have trusted you with their experiences.

Here is what I would have told you.  I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from childhood.  I served a mission.  I have held many callings.  I remained chaste until marriage and remain faithful in my marriage.  And I had an abortion a few years ago on the first day of my fifteenth week of pregnancy.  

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Dream Homemaker: A Review of Netflix’s Dream Home Makeover

Natalie Brown is a former blogger at By Common Consent and a PhD candidate in English and comparative literature. Her dissertation focuses on nineteenth-century writers who obsessively sought places to call home. Follow her on Twitter at @nataliebrownist.

In a year when many of us are confined to our homes, Netflix offers up its latest distraction in the form of Utah-based design show Dream Home Makeover—or, as I keep slipping and calling it for reasons my LDS friends will understand, “Dream Homemaker.” In many ways, it’s the latest installment of the cultural fantasy that remodeling a home can remodel a life—a fantasy of intervention through design that has feminist predecessors in the likes of Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. To Utah or LDS audiences, the career of the show’s star, Shea McGee, an influencer who converted the skills she learned improving her California home into a design studio business located in Utah, potentially offers an additional fantasy: a path toward monetizing skills learned at home in order to achieve recognition and financial success within a religious-cultural environment in which the imperative to stay home with children is also increasingly expensive and in which employment conditions are often unfriendly to families—a reality that has only become more apparent during the pandemic.

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Troublesome

Andi Pitcher Davis, is an artist and musician who lives in Orem, Utah. She is the Art Editor for Dialogue and a member of the Dialogue Foundation Board.

The truth is, this is my place, no matter how dark. I love hearing the familiar tick of the baseboard heaters and feeling crisp frost on my bare toes in a mid-August dawn.

I love all 9,000 feet of my childhood, blurred with time and soaked in hazy winds from my own fires. The mist off the lake that I am too frightened to dive headlong into as a grown woman, made sweet with wild strawberries. And sometimes, alright always, I worship the smell of butterscotch coming off the largest pine tree in the lower meadow — nose pressed to bleeding sap, pine gum pitch in mouth.

You should try it.

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How to Forgive?

Today’s guest post is by Eric Hachenberger.

When the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement took off last May, the US started to tear itself apart over one of its most fundamental conflicts again. At about the same time, church filmmaker Brian Faye gave us a sublime and personal message of reconnecting and forgiveness. In his vulnerable story, he tells us how after years of estrangement he was finally able to forgive and reconnect to his mother when she broke down in tears before him. 

The stark contrast between these two messages got me thinking. Why is it often so hard for us to forgive? 

In conflict, our first reactions to others are often violent retaliation or simply ending the relationship. Reconciliation is most often forgotten.

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The Clergy Privilege in Mormon Cases: The Strange Case of Richard W. Miller

Jeff Breinholt is a member of the State Bar of California, and serves as an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University Law School. The views in this article are the authors own and do not reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Is there equality among religions when it comes to the recognition of the clergy-penitent privilege? This question is relevant because of the apparent patchwork of incidents in which the LDS Church’s commitment to the privilege – if not judicial recognition of the privilege in Mormon cases – seems to vary.

To understand my interest in this story, we need to go back to July 1986. I was a 22-year old intern, working in downtown in Los Angeles for federal judge William Gray. I had just finished my first year of law school at UCLA. Because Judge Gray was a senior judge, he took advantage of the benefits to avoid criminal cases.  I was somewhat bored. I had planned to go into criminal law, and was looking for little enrichment. One Friday after lunch, I saw a crowd gather outside of Judge David Kenyon’s courtroom. I decided to see what the fuss was about and curiously entered the courtroom with the throng.

It turned out to be the first of many federal criminal sentencings I witnessed over the course of my career, and it was a big one, involving the first FBI agent in history convicted of Soviet espionage.  The defendant was a short obese Mormon guy named Miller. 

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Accusers and the Myth of a Meritocracy

Photo by Brijesh Nirmal on Unsplash

Samuel Alonzo Dodge is a PhD candidate studying American Religious History at Lehigh University. He teaches a variety of history courses at DeSales University and has published with the Journal of Mormon History, Methodist History, and the Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University. He lives in Allentown Pennsylvania with his wife and three children.

It is a challenging time for many reasons not the least of which is the social distancing that though necessary, keeps us from meeting together in person and can stress our sense of community. This sense of the importance of community is what shaped my thinking as I read the Come, Follow Me lesson earlier this summer, Alma 30-31. Though perhaps not immediately apparent, The account of Korihor and his contention with Alma has important lessons for us regarding our conduct, vulnerability, and responsibilities as members of religious and civic communities.

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Saving Faith and Expertise

This guest post is by Kevin Shafer, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Brigham Young University and an adjunct associate professor of Health & Society at McMaster University (Canada). He holds a PhD in Sociology from The Ohio State University. His scholarship focuses on mental health and father involvement in a cross-national perspective.

In October 2018, President Dallin H. Oaks cautioned that “expertise in one field should not be taken as expertise on truth in other subjects.” In his new book, Saving Faith, Egyptologist John Gee makes assertions about child abuse victimization, LGBTQ+ identity, and the potential for child abuse victims to become perpetrators of abuse in adulthood. These are questions that are central to social science and strong claims are being made by someone without training in psychology, sociology, social work, economics, or related disciplines. Professor Gee’s lack of expertise in these areas is may have led him to make errors that lead to problematic claims that are not born out by research. In contrast to Professor Gee, I am a sociologist that researches gender, mental health (including childhood adversity), and family life. Here, I discuss two claims made in the book and why they are not based in science or current church statements on sexuality.

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