The New FTSOY: Let Them Govern Themselves(?)

M. David Huston lives and works in the Washington DC metro area. He is a husband and father of four who has previously written for poetry, international affairs, and LDS-related publications.

Like many, I was genuinely pleased when I reviewed the recently released For the Strength of Youth (FTSOY) pamphlet. As Elder Deiter F. Uchtdorf explains, the new “guide”—a word that did not appear on the cover of older versions of FTSOY—“focuses on values, principles, and doctrine instead of every specific behavior.” Gone are the specific lists of “standards” to which youth are encouraged to adhere. (See here for a very good comparison of the 2011 and 2022 versions of FTSOY.) Of this shift, Uchtdorf states, “Is it wrong to have rules? Of course not. We all need them every day. But it is wrong to focus only on rules instead of focusing on the Savior.” Fundamentally, it seems, the new FTSOY is premised on an idea as old as the restoration itself: prophets teach people correct principles and the people govern themselves.

But letting go of lists can be so hard — especially when the items on those lists have become a visible part of our culture.

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On Choosing Each Other and Eating the Fruit

Taylor Kerby is an alumnus of Claremont Graduate University where he received master’s degrees in Religious Studies and Education. He is currently finishing his dissertation at Grand Canyon University in Arizona where he is a full-time educator. He has published his memoir, Scrupulous, with BCC Press. A father of two girls, he teaches Sunday school to the 12 and 13-year-olds in his ward

When I turned twelve, my uncle gave me a copy of Joseph Fielding Smith’s Answers to Gospel Questions. For most twelve-year-olds this would (rightly) be a dud of a gift, but for me (see my gripping memoir Scrupulous ) this was perfect. It was the full five-volume set bound in faux leather. As the title implies, each of the five volumes was written in a question/answer format, and often investigated painfully granular doctrinal issues, both of which made it all the easier for twelve-year-old me to indulge in the sort of morally superior trivial pursuit I craved.

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Setting Apart Our Daughters to Prepare and Pass the Sacrament

M. David Huston lives and works in the Washington DC metro area. He is a husband and father of four who has previously written for poetry, international affairs, and LDS-related publications.

“Dad, can I ask you a question about the priesthood?” my daughter inquired on a recent Saturday afternoon. 

“Sure… let’s hear it,” I encouraged.

“In our church we believe that when women are set apart to do a calling, they fulfil that calling using the priesthood.  Is that right?”

I affirmed that she was correct. “Yes, that is what Elder Oaks explained back in 2014. He said that when women act in any calling they exercise priesthood authority in performing duties associated with that calling.”

My daughter nodded at my reply (I guess she knew she was right), and continued along these lines: “Then why can’t the Bishop just call the young women to be ‘sacrament passers’ or ‘sacrament preparers’ and then set them apart to do the calling? I mean, if the church is going to keep saying that the priesthood is needed to do those things, and if women have access to the priesthood through callings, then by calling the young women to these responsibilities and setting them apart they should have all the priesthood they need… right?” She made eye-contact with me and waited patiently for a reply.

I took a few beats to think about her suggestion (honestly something I’d never considered before, at least not in the way she presented it).  “You know what?” I said, “that makes sense to me; I don’t know why we couldn’t do that.”  And with that, my daughter gave a little shrug and walked out of the room.

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The Role of Reconciliation

Photo by D. Clark on Unsplash

M. David Huston lives and works in the Washington DC metro area. He is a husband and father of four who has previously written for poetry, international affairs, and LDS-related publications.

Pope Francis’s visit to Canada in July was a lesson in the importance of acknowledging and accepting responsibility for past missteps as part of moving into world of a new possibilities.  As has been widely reported, Pope Francis’s visit was seeking to address the abuse of indigenous/first nation groups at the hands of Christians generally and Catholics specifically.  Though news reports earlier this year of the discovery of nearly 170 unmarked graves on the grounds of a residential school for first nation children might have been the catalyst for this specific visit, the history of Christendom’s mistreatment of indigenous peoples (in the Americas, but also in many other parts of the world including Africa) is undisputed.  Many Christian colonists and explorers terrorized and subjugated those with whom they came into contact, and often committed these terrible acts on the basis of now-discredited theological ideas. 

Now, to be clear, Pope Francis did not directly do the things for which he apologized, nor did the Catholic church over which he now presides.  He did not authorize the colonization of Canada by Catholic adherents. He did not dedicate funds to the building of the now-closed boarding schools where the graves were found. All those actions were before his time.  And yet Pope Francis still sought reconciliation?  Why?

The answer is, I believe, found in the Sermon on the Mount. 

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Bishops on Abortion

Chris Kimball is a friend of BCC and former bishop.

INTRODUCTION

Abortion is controversial. Controversy presents an opportunity and challenge for hard thinking. This is one small corner of the hard thinking, focused on the role and practice of a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is not a global statement or manifesto, and not intended as an invitation to debate all the issues with abortion. 

As an introduction, here is the LDS Church’s position from the General Handbook of Instructions as of September 2, 2022, followed by my personal views and position.

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How to beat an autocrat: Fear not—i.e. don’t cave, friends

by Abigail J.​, CES employee

A few months ago I wrote regarding the problematic nature of changes to conditions of employment (“opted-into” or not) and increased scrutiny over CES faculty. Some of you commented with further information from your corners of the CES world, including changes to the endorsement questions being sent out to bishops. Peggy Fletcher Stack then picked up the story, and her characteristically fantastic reporting subsequently drew out something of a confession (albeit a misleading half-truth of one) from the Church Newsroom hours later: indeed the endorsement questions were changing—“for new hires” so they said.

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New Institute Class: towards a “pedagogy of the question”?

David Aubril is a French teacher and regular BCC guest blogger. He follows with great interest the contemporary debates on Gospel and Church matters from France.

I recently received an email from the Church about a new Institute class, Finding answers to our questions. I went through the materials and found it very interesting. Lesson 3, in particular, questions the idea that “it is inappropriate to ask questions regarding the doctrine, teachings, policies, and history of the Church” and encourages students to accept their questions as part of the faith process. Elder Uchtdorf explains: “Inquiry is the birthplace of testimony. Some might feel embarrassed or unworthy because they have searching questions regarding the gospel, but they needn’t feel that way. Asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness ; it’s a precursor of growth.”

Will that new class initiate a shift in our teaching practices?

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Care and Leading of Church Musicians

Gail Homer Berry has served in ward and stake music roles since the age of 12. She recently moved to Indiana along with her husband, five sons, and conclave of contumacious stuffed animals.

When I was 14, I was walking out of church to go home and break my fast – when the missionaries pounced and asked me to play piano for a baptism starting in fifteen minutes. My mom pushed back, but the missionaries guilted me into agreeing. Mom sighed and promised to come back for me, then wrangled my siblings home. Halfway through the baptism, I began to feel terrible. The room spun, my vision went pixelated with black spots, and I started shaking. A good accompanist blends into the background, and a “good” Molly Mormon is modest and selfless, so I pushed through –barely– without interrupting the service. (Fortunately this medical panic was just low blood sugar from the extended fast plus puberty.) After that, I told the missionaries they needed to ask me a week in advance. Instead, they tried the same stunt three weeks later. I refused and walked away as they panicked.

I have an unusual perspective on church music callings: I was first sustained as a ward organist at 13 even though I couldn’t play the organ. I learned a lot, and I was essential to the ward’s worship, but I was also minimized, dismissed, and even exploited.  I logged many Sundays in which I put in an aggregate of 7 hours: playing for choir practice, Sacrament Meeting, Primary, a baptism, and a youth fireside, plus all the prelude and postlude.

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Loving by Hearing and Listening

M. David Huston lives and works in the Washington DC metro area. He is a husband and father of four who has previously written for poetry, international affairs, and LDS-related publications.

Christianity, at its core, comes down to one word, love.  The radical egalitarianism implicit in Jesus’s use of Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 to explain his gospel message is what draws me in:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-39). 

Indeed, as Jeffrey R. Holland recently explained, the “first great truth in the universe” is that “God loves… wholeheartedly, without reservation or compromise, with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength” (emphasis original).  Love crosses all boundaries and traverses all borders.  Love is the beginning and the end. 

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A French perspective on secularism

Par François Dubois (1529 – 1584); Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts

David Aubril is a French teacher, fond of didactics, literature, UNIX systems and free diving (with no order of preference). He follows with great interest contemporary debates on Gospel and Church matters, from across the Atlantic Ocean.

On the French version of the Church website, there is a video called “religious freedom brings balance”, with many excerpts of Elder’s Rasband last talk. As far as I can tell, there is no English version. I supposed it was especially made for French-speaking people, to make us aware of the dangers of secularism. How kind. Indeed, we have gone quite a long way with the principle of secularism in France. Maybe our experience can shed some useful light on the topic?

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Missionaries’ Discomfort: A Parent’s Perspective

Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash

Last year, Elder Kopischke’s talk on mental health finally spoke of missionaries’ discomfort. But as things go back to normal after the pandemic, and Church leaders repeatedly ask young men to prepare to serve missions, I feel that there are some more things that need to be said.

I remember attending a youth meeting a few years ago in Western Europe. One of the highlights of this meeting was the broadcast of several videos of missionaries performing wonders: a team of sisters taught dozens of investigators by video conference, a team of Elders had made a video that had been viewed 180,000 times.  Instead of inspiring me, however, these perfect stories made me worried that any missionary who is not as successful will doubt their faith or self-worth.  Missionary work should not be measured by clicks or other quantified goals.

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Lectures on Obedience

David Aubril is a French teacher, fond of didactics, literature, UNIX systems and free diving (with no order of preference). He follows with great interest the contemporary debates on Gospel and Church matters, but from afar, from “the other side of the water”, as Pascal says.

When I was in high school, my reading of Pascal’s Thoughts and my friendship with a Latter-day Saint classmate made me wonder about the existence of God. The answers I found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon gave me a deep desire to obey His commandments.

Despite the incomprehension of many relatives, I was baptized and went on a mission. When I got home, I went back to the studies I had left for a while and got married.

My wife and I firmly believed in the promises repeated in the Book of Mormon: “Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land” (2 Nephi 4:4). We were confident that our obedience would enable us to obtain the blessing of an eternal family.

It is difficult to express how affected we were when a series of trials shook our home. Not only was our dream collapsing, but our certainties were shattered.

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What Does it Mean When Most of Us Are Not at the Table?

M. David Huston lives and works in the Washington DC metro area. He is a husband and father of four who has previously written for poetry, international affairs, and LDS-related publications.

Christian historian Justo Gonzalez notes that in the ancient Christian church Communion (what we in the LDS faith tradition call “the Sacrament,” a shortened version of “the Sacrament of the Lords Supper”) was a time when believers, the Body of Christ, came together to share in the joy that Jesus’s resurrection offered.  By celebrating the resurrection as a community, the burgeoning church embodied what Communion represented: believers were expressing their faith in, and physically enacting the belief that, a community of disciples from different walks of life, through Jesus’ atoning work, can (1) be bound together, (2) be collectively bound to Jesus and (3) become a community that takes part in the divine destiny of creation.[1]  It was bold, and theologically powerful, statement of unification.  In fact, at times, this celebration was held at the tombs of faithful Christians, thereby joining “the living and the dead into a single body.”[2]

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Nephi, Alma, Batman, Superman

Photo by Yulia Matvienko on Unsplash

Eric Hachenberger comes originally from Austria. He served his mission in Barcelona, Spain, studied Peacebuilding at BYU-Hawaii, and lives with his wife and daughter in Berlin now. He loves writing and everything outdoors.

I can tell you the exact moment I stopped liking Nephi. It was when the church released the Book of Mormon Videos. Laman and Lemuel were just so much more relatable than Nephi. Their response to Lehi leaving Jerusalem was human. Nephi’s response was that of an unfeeling robot. Most people I talked to during that period of time about the videos felt the same. We all felt much more like Laman and Lemuel than like Nephi. 

And therein lies a problem. Nephi in his perfectionism becomes unrelatable. His youthful zeal borders on fanaticism, his treatment of his brothers lacks empathy or at least evinces an inability to read the room. Although Nephi is the first ‘hero’ we meet in the Book of Mormon, he becomes somewhat stale over time.

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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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