“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 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. 

[Read more…]

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.

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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July 4th, Amulek Day, and a Mighty Change of Heart

Lori Thompson Forsyth is a long-time New Englander, a part-time aspirational Spaniard, and a current resident of Utah Valley. She edits manuscripts for BCC Press and blogs at lorinotes.wordpress.com.

Brianna Santellan, Unsplash. 

Through the past several weeks of mourning and protests, as our national attention has turned once again to the power that systemic racism holds over many aspects of our communities, a passage from Alma chapter 10 has been running through my mind. It provides guidance as I ponder how to respond to the outpouring of emotions I see on the news and in the streets. It may even have some bearing on the ways in which we, as Latter-day Saints, could commemorate the Fourth of July, which I’m beginning to think of as Amulek Day.

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Mormonism and the Moral Imagination

Robert Bennett is Professor of English at Montana State University. He is the author of Pill (Bloomsbury Object Lessons) and the co-editor of Deconstructing Brad Pitt (Bloomsbury).

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”—1 Corinthians 13:11

Our country is undergoing a long overdue moral reckoning with its ongoing history of racism. Not since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s has race so dramatically occupied the center stage of our national discourse, and the nation’s collective cry for racial equality is rapidly approaching another “I Have a Dream” moment. Only this time we have a more somber national refrain: “I can’t breathe.” These tragic last words of George Floyd have galvanized our nation to demand greater racial justice and accountability.

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The Book of Mormon case for Black Exodus

This guest post is written by James Jones. James is the producer and co-host of Beyond The Block, a podcast centering the marginalized in Mormonism. He’s a musician and voice over artist based in Boston, MA where he serves as his ward’s interfaith specialist, liturgical arts specialist, and an ordinance worker.

This week, we in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be studying Mosiah 18-24. It is a curious case study on how the Lord helps the oppressed deal with their oppression. We have two stories highlighting the oppression of two groups of people. Both groups were in bondage and facing physical and emotional abuse. They couldn’t do much about it as they were outnumbered and outgunned. Both groups, unable to fight back or reason with their abusers, submitted to their subjugation and prayed to the Lord for help. This led to their deliverance in the form of exodus.

I reread these stories in the middle of yet more black death, this time, the young man Ahmaud Arbery. Just in the last five years, we’ve seen literally hundreds of headlines about unarmed black men being gunned down by police officers and white vigilantes under questionable circumstances. There have been few arrests, even fewer convictions – I can count the latter on one hand – and no significant reform as a result of any of the killings. Each one hurts, but this one hit different. As an incident on video where the victim is an unarmed black man posing no threat to anyone and the killers are armed civilians, it might be the most glaring example of the intoxicating power of whiteness in recent memory. [Read more…]

The Paradoxical Appeal of Conspiracy Narratives

Becca Robinson has been teaching college-level rhetoric and writing since 2008 and raising backyard chickens since 2011. She lives in Eastern Idaho.

By now anyone who reads this blog has probably seen someone they know share the “Plandemic” video on social media, or at least seen references to it. This post is adapted from a Facebook post I wrote in response to several of my own family members and friends who had shared it (with varying degrees of credulity) on their social media feeds within the past few days. While it is important to address the video’s falsehoods, that’s not what this post is really about. Rather than respond to the specific claims of the video, my purpose is to explain why sharing it is dangerously irresponsible (which is why I haven’t linked to it here) and why conspiracy theories like it flourish especially in times of crisis.

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When Moroni Symbolized the Rising Generation

This guest post is from Madison Daniels, of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

In the opening hours of March 18th, the Wasatch fault groaned and let out an exasperated sigh. She is dealing with a lot and she is tired. A 5.7 earthquake thundered across northern Utah and rattled a people already anxious about so much. Not two weeks later, the Earth shuddered once more, with a 6.5 quake in Idaho. It was one hell of a March.
While the Coronaquakes of 2020 didn’t claim any lives or injure any people, they did cause a fair amount of property damage. The most obvious and photogenic being Angel Moroni dropping his golden trumpet. Photos of the trumpetless Moroni spread like wildfire through the news and social media. The iconic symbol of modern Mormonism stood, if only for a moment, without his single solitary voice.
At the risk of reading too much into symbolic (herbal)tea leaves, let me speak to what has been swirling in my mind for a while now. [Read more…]

Social Isolation as an Expression of Community

Taylor Kerby, a full-time educator, is an alumnus of Claremont Graduate University, where he earned Masters’ degrees in Education and Religion.

My wife and I were in Puerto Rico when the world shut down. Somehow we had talked our parents into watching our two daughters for the duration of our trip and were in paradise enjoying what was essentially a second honeymoon. When we left Phoenix, the coronavirus was still something happening somewhere else; one of those very real world problems that existed only on news reports. The island got its first case of the virus just before we left, being about a week behind the continental states. During our stay, our experience with the virus came only through news of school closures and travel restrictions back home, all of which contrasted sharply with the island’s continued normalcy, which left us with the false impression that these stories were obviously temporary. I am a school teacher and even joked that I hoped I’d end up with an extra week on top of our spring break.

[Read more…]

Is not this the fast I have chosen?

Breanne loves hiking and biking and traveling.  She is a friend of all faiths.

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.   (Isaiah 58:6-8)

Fasting is a shared religious tradition.

I remember when I first learned that Jews have yearly fast days beyond just Yom Kippur. I was a graduate student in Jerusalem and was talking to a friend, who mentioned that he was fasting that day for one of the annual fast days commemorating the destruction of the Second Temple.

I was familiar with Yom Kippur and thought I understood a lot about fasting, so I asked him what he was fasting for. He looked confused, so I explained that in my religious tradition, we fast for something…perhaps something that requires greater faith than just prayer can provide. There is generally a goal of something that we want or need, so we sacrifice to show God that we truly desire that thing and hope to open ourselves up to further blessings. So what was he fasting for?

“No, no, no,” he said, shaking his head. “Fasting isn’t for something. It’s…” and here he paused, trying to think of the right way to explain it to me. [Read more…]

Flowers and Face Masks

This guest post is from BCC blogger emerita Christina Taber-Kewene. Christina is an admissions coach, writer, recovering lawyer and wrangler of four locked-down kids just outside NYC.

When I arrive home from my evening walk with my older son, six new cloth face masks are tied to my porch railing. My FIT-graduate friend has sewn them for our whole family and left them for us. I don’t sew, but another friend has pulled out her sewing machine and started production, so earlier in the day I put out my giant Ziploc bag of thread for her to pick up from my porch. I don’t know why I have approximately 78 spools of thread in a rainbow of colors, but now they can be put to good use. That same afternoon my younger son and our next door neighbor chase a bike thief all through the neighborhood and then run down a police officer in an attempt to rescue our neighbor’s bike. And earlier that morning another neighbor leaves me a bag of fresh dry erase markers so I can continue to teach my students online using my whiteboard. Through all these interactions we keep our distance, bleach exchanged items, and express gratitude profusely. [Read more…]

Exclusivity and the True Jesus Church

Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye is a Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Auckland. She is the author, among other books, of Crossings, published by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.

On Sunday, 29 March, Russell M. Nelson, president of the 16-million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, released a video from Salt Lake City calling on church members everywhere to join in a fast “to pray for relief from the physical, emotional, and economic effects of this global pandemic.”

Some 71 years before, on 6 April 1949, members of the True Jesus Church around the world responded to the call of their leader, Wei Yisa to fast and “pray for peace.” Communist forces were advancing on the city of Nanjing, where the church headquarters was located. Shortages were severe and prices were skyrocketing. [Read more…]

The Eighth Day

jf-martin-ahVhxPfs22g-unsplash

Jennifer Champoux is a lecturer in art history at Northeastern University and vice president of Mormon Scholars in the Humanities.

The old and familiar patterns are disrupted. Some among us are facing serious health risks from coronavirus. Others are busy tending to the sick. Many are facing emotional or economic stress as we hunker down in our homes. Businesses are closed, schools shut down, and church meetings cancelled. The situation is grave. And yet, although our current condition seems like an ever-growing accumulation of limitations and endings, it might also be an opportunity to respond to life in new ways. Rather than a sad ending, this unprecedented time can be a hopeful beginning, a Sabbath-like time outside of time, and an unexpected break from the bustle of “regular” life offering a chance to refocus our priorities.

We tend to talk about the Sabbath as a time of rest at the end of something. Yet in the scriptures, the Sabbath is both an end and a beginning. In Genesis, God rested on the seventh and final day as an end to his work of creation (Genesis 2:1-3). But in Acts, the followers of Christ recognized the Sabbath as the first day of the week in remembrance of the day Christ was resurrected and as a symbol of new life (Acts 20:7). [Read more…]

Domestic Violence and Coronavirus

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Laura Brignone Bhagwat is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies technology and domestic violence.  Her dissertation tracks a public health intervention in hospital emergency rooms meant to prevent intimate partner homicide.

Imagine yourself scared. Maybe you’re scared for your life; you’re definitely scared for your health and wellbeing. You’re probably scared for those around you, and scared for what your future holds. Imagine yourself terrified to go to the doctor, unable to secure your financial wellbeing. It probably isn’t that hard to do, as we’re all living in the age of the coronavirus.

Now, imagine that this coronavirus-like being lives in your house. [Read more…]