As I sat watching Interstellar last Sunday with my roommate, as I often do, I turned to her toward and said, “Isn’t this such a great analogy for Heavenly Father? Whatever screw ups well intentioned men may have committed, he’ll come back. He will still come find us. He’ll fix it.” She nodded and smiled politely, but I’m not sure if she was in the mood for me to go off about the failings of General Authorities, so I left it at that. But the analogy none the less stuck with me. [Read more…]
Guest post by Christian Frandsen, BYU student and Assistant Curator at Writ & Vision.
Exciting—even radical—things are happening in the world of Mormon art and aesthetics. Certainly this reflects the recent widening of cultural horizons in the way mainstream Mormonism considers social topics like feminism and race, but the work of Mormon artists even in Mormon-est of all Mormon havens—Utah valley—is digging out a foundation of progressive aesthetics that extends well beyond the plot of cultural square footage that we Mormons have staked out. This is important, especially considering that one of these artists is J Kirk Richards—perhaps the most respected creator of Mormon religious art. [Read more…]
We are sorry for the occasion of this post, but grateful to Hal Boyd of Eastern Kentucky University for this tribute to someone whose work many of us at BCC have learned from and deeply appreciated.
The man who so often contemplated eternity has now stepped beyond its threshold. Dr. Stephen H. Webb passed on this weekend.
A protestant convert to Catholicism, Dr. Webb increasingly dedicated his immense intellect to Mormon theology.
For him, the Latter-day Saint doctrine of an embodied God held the potential to rejuvenate what he saw as moribund mainline theology. The Mormon notion of the material essence of “spirit” was a novel breakthrough. [Read more…]
We’re pleased to feature this guest post from Kristine A., who blogs regularly at Wheat and Tares.
I attended the Church History Symposium in Utah co-hosted by BYU and the Church History Department last week. I live-tweeted quite a bit of the whole weekend using #LDSwomen and #CHsymposium. The most memorable session was Andrea Radke-Moss’ presentation on her paper “Beyond Petticoats and Poultices: Finding a Women’s History of the Mormon-Missouri War of 1838.” I overheard some Mormon historians mentioning that her presentation was likely the biggest reveal/discovery in Mormon history in at least the past 50 years.
Kate Holbrook, PhD specializes in women’s history at the Church History Department. She is coeditor of The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (Church Historians Press, 2016) and Women and Mormonism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (University of Utah Press, 2016).
I don’t always love to read history. Sometimes it is boring. My mom reminded me (in public!) recently that when I was eleven, at the end of a road trip to Southern Utah with her and my grandma, I complained “Does EVERY trip have to be about history?”
My first day on the job at the Church History Library, September 2012, I began working on a document introduction and annotations for the book just now being released as The First Fifty Years of Relief Society. I had never worked on a documentary history before and I worried that it would be highly dull. But then I read the documents. [Read more…]
This talk was given by a 14 year-old young man who lives just outside Washington DC. It was his first talk, and was written entirely on his own.
Seeing as this is my first talk ever, I made the mistake of waiting until Saturday afternoon to write the whole thing. How many people have made that mistake? Can I get a show of hands? Alright, the topic I have been assigned is love in the family. Now, five weeks ago, when the bishop called my house, my step-dad answered the phone and hollered for me and I immediately thought “Uh-oh” because usually when someone yells my name, especially at home, it’s because I did something stupid. But anyway, I come over to him, and while I’m trying to figure out what stupid thing I did, he says “The Bishop’s on the phone for you.” I was confused because nobody ever calls me, I call people but nobody ever calls me. I get on the phone and the bishop gives me the details of the talk. The topic is love in the family, which, now that I think about it, is very fitting because today is Valentine’s Day, and I have a family… and we love each other. [Read more…]
This is a guest post from a currently serving Stake Relief Society President. She has asked to remain anonymous mainly to protect the victims mentioned in the post.
While the seemingly recent statement on sexual abuse in the church has turned out to be several years old, let me share a current experience where I live. I have been serving as a Stake Relief Society president for a few years in North America outside of the Book of Mormon belt. Elder Nelson has admonished women to “defend morality and families in a sin-sick world” and requested we share our “impressions, [our] insights, and [our] inspiration. We need you to speak up and speak out” so here goes.
(Potential triggers ahead.) [Read more…]
Amanda is a longtime reader and lurker on BCC (and has been our guest in the past). She received a BA in French from Yale University and now lives in a Paris suburb with her husband Didier and son James. She is currently working on a law degree while working in a law firm in Paris. We’re grateful for her perspective on this important book.
“Great news! Sister Burton and Sister Oscarson are coming to our Stake to give a training meeting, followed by a fireside. … Amanda, will you translate for Sister Burton and accompany her after the meeting to translate for the sisters wishing to speak with her?”
Would I! [Read more…]
Gregory A. Prince is the author of several articles and books, including Power from On High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood, and co-author of David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. He is president and CEO of Virion Systems, Inc. and he is a board member of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and The Journal of Mormon History.
In the late 1970s, while serving as an Elders Quorum president, I witnessed what may have been the only same-sex wedding (same-sex in the sense that both partners had Y-chromosomes) ever to be performed in a Latter-day Saint temple. A year earlier, a woman who had undergone transsexual surgery was baptized in our ward. Leaders in the mission and the ward were fully aware of her status—indeed, the baptism recommend (which the bishop later showed me, since the subsequent wedding involved a member of my quorum) bore the words, “She is a transsexual.” Several months later an elder moved into the ward, the two of them fell in love, and they announced their engagement. They expressed to the bishop a desire to be married in the temple, and after he and the stake president interviewed the couple, the stake president wrote a detailed letter to the General Authority who supervised that area of the country, explicitly stating that the bride-to-be had undergone transsexual surgery. [Read more…]
Elijah (age 4) is one of the blog’s younger friends. He likes Star Wars, superheroes, and Thelonious Monk. He gave this talk in Primary today. We share it with his (and his parents’) permission.
When we serve others, we serve God. Serving other people means being nice to them. When people are sad or lonely, I can be their friend. I can be silly to help them be happy. When they fall down and are bleeding, I can get them a band-aid. I can give people hugs when they need them, or I can share my stufties* to help them feel better. If someone is being left out, I can ask them to play with me. We should love others. That is part of God. Jesus would help people who are left out or alone. That is important! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Amanda is a longtime reader and lurker on BCC. She received a BA in French from Yale University and now lives in a Paris suburb with her husband Didier and son James. She is currently working on a law degree while working in a law firm in Paris. We have been shocked by this and other recent attacks by religious extremists around the world, and mourn with Paris, the West Bank, Egypt, Nairobi, Nigeria, Bangkok… and the list continues.
For the second time this year, my country is reeling under the shock and grief of a terrorist attack. [Read more…]
Alan B. is a long-time friend of the blog. His experience resonated with many of us.
In the wake of the recent changes to LDS Church policy regarding LGBT people and their children, I made a donation to the Utah Pride Center as a way of showing love and support. A childhood friend, who is gay (as I learned a few years ago), expressed appreciation. To explain why I donated, I recounted an experience I’d had with him.
Once there were three Boy Scouts. One day at Scout Camp, two of the Scouts played a trick on the other, as Scouts do. While one of the Scouts was in his tent, the other two detached the tent poles from the tent. The tent collapsed and the two pranksters laughed as the other Scout flailed about, struggling to find a way out. It was harmless fun. [Read more…]
Eric D. Snider is a film critic, author, humorist, and gay Mormon. We’re glad to have his voice here.
(A talk I gave in sacrament meeting in Portland, Ore., on Oct. 18, 2015.)
To talk about “the elements of testimony,” I decided I had to talk about the elements of MY testimony. Elements are building blocks. They’re the parts of a thing that, without them, the thing isn’t the thing. [Read more…]
D Fletcher is a musician, actor, and friend. Cross-posted from his personal blog.
I needed to jot down some of my feelings, like many of you on- and offline. I’m not a writer, so this may be awkward and reader-unfriendly.
Several events of my life have colored my expectations for gay people in the Church. I have known I was gay since I knew about sex, and when I was a teenager I was sent to behavioral therapists to try and change my orientation, without success. Even then, I understood that it was simply a preference, liking “green” curtains instead of “blue” ones. My last therapist at BYU told me I needed to repent, and then it would change. Repent, of what? I had exactly zero experiences, sexually. I stopped the therapy, and never went back.
My mission was aborted when I matter-of-factly mentioned that I was gay. BYU would not let me return without a period of adjustment, because I was gay. [Read more…]
Heather O. is a lifelong Mormon. She is a licensed speech and language pathologist who specializes in hippotherapy. She lives in Virginia with her husband, two children, and a big yellow dog.
Today, a friend texted me and told me she is leaving the Mormon church. She is the second friend in the last few days who has told me this, but not the first story of leaving I’ve heard. I doubt she will be the last. When I read her text I started crying. Again. It’s all I seem to be doing these days. [Read more…]
Being gay/same sex attracted in the LDS church just got real…and that is saying a lot because it has been incredibly real for a long time…so what I’m really trying to say is that it just got real all over again because the same already extremely taut tensions around this complex experience just got wound a little tighter. [Read more…]
LaShawn Williams-Schultz is a certified social worker and an adjunct professor at Salt Lake Community College.
When missionaries come to the homes of black people then and now and defend the Priesthood & Temple ban or deny racism in the LDS Church, it causes confusion and contention in the home because that’s what the devil does. He causes confusion when the philosophies of men are mingled with scripture. [Read more…]
It’s Reformation Day yet again, number 498 with 500 coming soon, and to commemorate it yet again Craig H. (a professor of Reformation history) delivered the DeLamar Jensen lecture at BYU on Thursday, on the twin themes of 1) how a Mormon farm-boy like DeLamar Jensen (or for that matter a Mormon suburb-boy like himself) ever in the world got interested in the Reformation, and 2) what the youngish sixteenth-century monk Martin Luther might possibly have to say to other Mormons too. Jason K. was in attendance, squished among the Axe-sprayed hordes (as certain BYU colleagues affectionately call them), and asked Craig whether he might publish excerpts at BCC, especially Craig’s assorted Luther-style theses on what an infusion of Luther-style grace into Mormonism might possibly look like. Though Craig is a (very occasional) blogger at T&S, he, in good ecumenical spirit, agreed. And though he has written mostly about the Reformation, Craig is also the author of a missionary memoir, Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary, which is exactly as amazing as that title makes it sound (see Russell Arben Fox’s review here). We’re glad to welcome Craig as a guest at BCC.
The body of the talk went something like this: most Mormons (like most people) don’t know much about Luther, but plenty still tend to think of him as a sort of forerunner of their own religion. Maybe. But his big main point, that justification comes by grace, through faith, isn’t exactly the dominant Mormon way of thinking about salvation.
In fact, despite some recent flashes of something close to Luther-style grace in Mormonism (coming from Stephen Robinson, Elder Uchtdorf, or Adam Miller), Mormons are still more likely to believe the version of salvation Luther was protesting against: justification by grace, through doing every dang thing you can possibly do to earn that grace. Or more formally, doing all that lies within you.
Rebecca Moore is a writer and NASA enthusiast. She has a personal website here. She is also quite tall. We’re grateful that she sent us this guest post.
Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.
Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world.
This weekend, as I sat at my ward retreat listening to a few people make homophobic remarks, I thought to myself, “Do I want to get into this right now?” [Read more…]
For Cathy Gilmore, what started as family history hobby soon developed into a passion of uncovering stories and writing about them over at thisgreatdeep.wordpress.com. She is also currently working on a documentary history of her grandmother Dorothy Smith Clark. Cathy graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in English and a Russian minor, and works as a contract consultant in marketing communications and design. She is married to Ed, an English bloke from Northeast Lincolnshire, and together they have four daughters. She’s also in the market for a new minivan.
The first Monday after conference is a always hopeful one for me— a spiritual New Years Day of sorts, where all the conference rubber hits the road. But which road to take? My path leading up to conference was an increasingly awkward hopscotch through life’s competing needs and opportunities. Still in the weeds of parenting, every direction led to an unsorted pile, an incomplete project, a waiting repair, or a collection of dusty Cheerios. My own long-held desires to nurture professional paths in more fulfilling directions have been marked with both disappointment and fresh opportunity. Spread thin as a dime, I was overwhelmed both with what I had and what I wanted. It was hard to know just where to begin. [Read more…]
Neylan McBaine is founder and editor of the Mormon Women Project and author of Women At Church: Magnifying LDS Women’s Local Impact, as well as a contributor to the recent volume, Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings.
The essay released yesterday entitled “Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple and Women,” known among the people now as “the women essay,” has been a long time in coming. I don’t just mean in the sense that we’ve had a societal expectation that official words on this subject of women were needed and hoped for. That is definitely true. But I also mean that the authors at the Church History Library have been working on this essay for a long time. And it’s easy to understand why: we are in medias res on the subject of women in the Church, deep in the heart of a lively discussion that may signify “better days,” as Joseph described them, for women, but which still leave a very long way to go. [Read more…]
Naomi Watkins is the cofounder of Aspiring Mormon Women, a non-profit organization that supports and encourages Latter-Day Saint women’s professional and educational pursuits. Currently, she works as an instructional coach in a Title I high school in the Salt Lake City area, charged with improving teachers’ literacy instruction and students’ literacy skills. She earned her B.A. in English Education from Brigham Young University, a M.Ed. in Language and Literacy from Arizona State University, and a Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning with a literacy emphasis from the University of Utah.
Since my teens, I had wanted to serve a mission, and knowing that a mission was a worthy path, I submitted my mission papers a few months before my 21st birthday. I didn’t bother asking the Lord if a mission was for me. Serving a mission was a righteous desire, so why would He say no?
One week after submitting my mission papers, and with some prodding from my parents, I decided to finally ask the Lord if a mission was indeed my next step, and I received a pretty strong “No” as an answer. I felt that this answer had to be wrong, and so I asked Him again, and I received the same no answer. How could the Lord tell me no? I knew that I would be a stellar missionary, and I was more than willing and able to serve. I had sincere intentions; I wanted to serve a mission—and not because I had nothing better to do or wasn’t yet married. I was confused and hurt and angry. How could the Lord not want my service and sacrifice? How could He refuse me? [Read more…]
Shelly B. is a mother of two who works with university math departments to improve K-12 math instruction. We’re glad she shared these thoughts with us.
Could a traveling October General Conference help members around the world feel more included and valued?
When word spreads that a new bishop is going to be called, Mormon wards in the United States awaken with excitement and speculation. So it is not surprising that the excitement in the Mormon world over the calling of three new apostles in conference sent speculation soaring through the roof. With all the anticipation, there was bound to be disappointment among some members when their favorite seventy wasn’t called. [Read more…]
Clear President Monson’s calendar.
The recent passing of three apostles means the Church President will likely call three replacements this week, and depending on where they come from, he might just need to call replacements for the replacements as well.
Who will they be? I’m glad you asked.
Today’s guest post is by Ken C, husband to Angela C.
As a Latter-day Saint, I embrace my religion and the full, restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I sustain our leaders, especially our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. However, I also connect with Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church. On some occasions, I tell my Mormon friends we should pray for the pope, and I tell my Catholic friends that I support the pope, as well. Do you?
Cory Crawford is assistant professor of Biblical Studies in the Department of Classics and World Religions at Ohio University. He completed his AM and PhD in Hebrew Bible in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, and just finished a Volkswagen/Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the University of Tübingen in Germany. His BA was in Linguistics at BYU. His recent article, “The Struggle for Female Authority in Biblical and Mormon Tradition”, is in the Summer 2015 issue of Dialogue.
Neylan McBaine‘s name seems to be a bit like Joseph Smith’s—known for good and evil (though without the same kind of among-all-people reach). It’s fascinating how to some she is Moses come off the mountain and to others she’s Uncle Tom. I think she’s sensible enough to reject both those labels, but if those were the only two options, I would choose the former. But if she is Moses, she’s more of a Greek Moses, not with anything written in stone, but with a wandering series of questions and reasonable answers and followup questions that lead to a seemingly inevitable conclusion. [Read more…]
Richard Bushman is an American historian and Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University. He is the author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling: A Cultural Biography of Mormonism’s Founder. He also serves on the general advisory board of the Joseph Smith Papers. We’re very grateful for his thoughts.
In a way the pictures of the seerstone are nothing new. We have known for a long time that Joseph found a stone that he used to discover lost objects and later to help him translate. The Urim and Thummim which has long been part of the story consisted of crystal stones, and there is the passage in D&C 130:10 about celestial beings receiving a white stone to reveal things about higher kingdoms. (Something like each missionary receiving an ipad.) This is all tucked away in corners of our memories as part of the technology of revelation. [Read more…]
Longtime BCC reader Carolyn is an attorney and religious liberty law enthusiast in California. She wrote an amicus brief in Holt v. Hobbs defending accommodations for religious prisoners.
Religious freedom advocates rejoice! The Supreme Court has issued its second major victory for religion this year. In January, it unanimously held in Holt v. Hobbs that it should be easier for religious prisoners to get religious accommodations in prison. Last week, it held 8-1 in EEOC v. Abercrombie that it should be easier for religious employees to get religious accommodations in the workplace. [Read more…]