General Conference and the Flu


Two youths in Mexico with decorated face masks

Due to flu worries, and on the advice of the United States government, LDS church services were cancelled in Mexico today.

On a historical note, how many times has the LDS General Conference been cancelled due to flu outbreaks? [Read more…]

Health baptisms, pond hockey, & Asherah– A New Year’s toast

It’s a blustery 3 degrees F (-17 C) outside right now on the first Sunday of the New Year. In a moment I need to head into the wind for an meeting. But first, two New Year examples of BCC bloggers popping up in daily life in Utah County.

A few days ago we were playing a family game of hockey on a nearby pond. While one of us chased down a puck after an errant pass, the rest of the family paused to rest, and someone commented, “Can you imagine breaking through this ice to get baptized, and doing that for 7 days in a row!” That statement stems from a family home evening lesson we had based around J. Stapley’s and Kris Wright’s Journal of Mormon History article, “A History of Baptism for Health.” If you haven’t [Read more…]

Almost-seen in Provo

A scene from the check-out stand at a local Macey‘s grocery store:

I assume that behind the blue rectangles that decorate our local magazine racks there usually lie images that are thought to offend buyers because too much flesh is exposed, or too explicit a reference is made to this or that technique.

Not so this time. [Read more…]

Mexico research question

April_2008_puebla-capilla-700-pixRecently a sociology graduate student in Mexico posted a question to the ASPMS list asking for pointers to articles discussing the church’s system for youth education (or CES in general), or to discussions of “institutions of socialization within the church.” He is working on a master thesis project which compares religious education among Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses in a particular region in Mexico (Veracruz). He also asked for recommendations on how to make a comparison between socialization strategies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons.

A BYU history professor and student provided a bibliography with some relevant texts. Others pointed him to the half a dozen recent Dialogue articles on the Church in Latin America. But, even in these bibliographies, and in [Read more…]

Pink Cadillac

March_2008_pink-issue-coverOf the various articles in the Spring 2008 Dialogue, Bushman’s essay, “Should Mormon Women Speak Out? Thoughts on Our Place in the World,” is available free to nonsubscribers.

There, Claudia Bushman, as professor, historian, and consummately-involved church member, briefly reviews the history of women’s roles in the church and the development of the Summer 1971 “pink” issue of Dialogue (dedicated to women’s themes). And, almost 40 years after she wrote the introductory essay to that issue, she asks herself and the rest of us for a status report and issues a call for involvement:

“…Mormon women were among the first and best at learning to stand and speak…. But where have we gone since then? Somehow in our liberated society, we have remained as dutiful and quiet daughters and wives. In our Church society where women are valued as daughters of God, as noble followers in the pathway of Eve, we still do not speak out. We know that there are dangers. People don’t always understand. Some take umbrage. Instead of being embraced as sisters, we can be shut out. So I propose a practical program of action for Mormon women to encourage them to speak up and out….”

[Read more…]

Dialogue’s Kindle contest


[Announcing a promotion by the Dialogue Foundation]
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Win an Amazon Kindle with Dialogue!

The Contest: Purchase an electronic subscription to Dialogue and enter to win the $400 Amazon Kindle electronic book reader.
[Read more…]

Dialogue and Amazon Kindle contest

The Dialogue Foundation plans to begin this promotion next week. If any of you have a hankering to be part of the marketing team on this, we’d appreciate your comments.
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[Read more…]

FHE and New England

Growing up, I can remember that at least occasionally our weekly Family Home Evening was regarded as a burden by some of the 12 children in our family.
There were various reasons for that, including the dynamics of teaching/entertaining an audience of children with a wide range of ages. Sometimes the issue was a function of the subject matter of the lessons. Unfortunately, an important factor was sometimes the less-than cooperative/energetic/willing attitude of some older siblings towards activities that presented an impediment to maximum time spent playing sports, or reading.

Sorry mom, sorry dad.

Now, a couple of decades later, I pursue my path towards repentance by [Read more…]

The vanishing sister missionary?

Received by mail:

Dear Father of a Senior Primary son,
The Primary is preparing for our musical program to be performed in
sacrament meeting on November 18th.
We will close our program with the Senior Primary boys singing with
their fathers “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission.” We invite you to
join your boy in singing this song.

The Primary Presidency and Chorister

[Read more…]

Snippet of “V Centenario”

Here is a Snippet of the Los Fabulosos Cadillacs song “V Centenario” for comments 11-17 on SMB’s Happy Columbus blog. I saved it at a fairly low quality (48 b) so it wouldn’t use too much bandwidth. So, you’ll notice the sound quality won’t be optimum.

Parody in Dialogue

July_2007_37-1To read past issues of Dialogue I usually leaf through my collection of the hard copy journals, or I open up my copy of the DVD archive. But right now the Dialogue team is exploring how we might enhance readers’/researchers’ online experience. To that end, for this post I spent a half-hour using our new index and the search engine for the online archive to explore discussions of parody (my sample research topic) within Mormon studies. (1)

What did I find? In “Poetic Borrowing in Early Mormonism” (18:1, Spring 1985), though parody isn’t the main thrust of the article, Michael Hicks provides some examples of early Mormon parodies. These included “The God That Others Worship” (parodying “The Rose that All are Praising”):

“The God that others worship / is not the God for me;
He has no parts nor body / and cannot hear nor see;
But I’ve a God that lives above / A God of Power and of love,
A God of revelation / O! that’s the God for me…”

[Read more…]

Curses (on Cain and Ham), foiled again!

June_2007_cain-and-abel-vouet-pietro-novelliIt’s going to take me a few paragraphs to get there, so here’s advance notice that this post is intended to be a pointer to recent scholarship on how biblical curses associated with the stories of Cain and Ham came to be misinterpreted by some Christians as applying to dark-skinned Africans.
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In 18th and 19th century America, prior to the Civil War, the Cain and Ham curses were interpreted by many Christians as explaining the skin color of black Africans and as justifying the practice of African slavery. After slavery ended, and as late as the 1960s, the curse on Ham continued to be put to work by some Christians to justify ethnic segregation. (1)

Given Mormonism’s geographic beginnings, it’s not much of a surprise to find occurrences of Mormons making the same uses of these stories. For example, the early Mormons swung back and forth between fairly strong abolitionist tendencies to the eventual 1850s legalization of slavery in the Utah Territory. (2) In lobbying for the territorial law, Brigham Young is quoted as stating “In as much as we believe in the Bible, inasmuch as we believe in the ordenances of God, in the Preisthood and order and decrees of God, we must believe in Slavery- [Read more…]

Graduation Day, 2007

April_2007_peace-signs-7289e-cropped-350-pixVP Cheney’s speaks at BYU’s commencement later today (at 4pm). At noon BYU students and faculty demonstrated in a “Go Forth – Establish Peace” rally. It was held at the west entrance to campus, at the “Enter to Learn – Go Forth to Serve” sign.

In general, it was focused on peace. The most prominent signs were 10’ tall scrolls with Peace written in 28 languages. Some of the other signs were:

“Support this: “Therefore, Renounce war and proclaim peace. D&C 98:16”
“If we’re going to fight a war, let it be a war on poverty”
“1/2 the world lives on less than $2 a day”
There were a few signs that targeted Cheney such as, “Was it Divine Inspiration to Vote Bush/Cheney…or just Temporary Insanity.” [Read more…]

Sit-in at BYU’s JFSB Quad

Demonstrators, April 4, 2007, BYU

Demonstrators, April 4, 2007, BYU

Here’s a shot of today’s demonstration/sit-in/protest at BYU. By my rough estimate, there were about 250 students and faculty participating at any one time, with a total count during the 2 hours of 700-800 (not counting passers-by).

Some of the signs hoisted by the participants were:
“One Nation under…..Surveillance.”
“That’s Ok, I didn’t need my civil rights anyway.”
“Cheney should go to…..BYU.”
“You Lied [under large photo of Cheney] — They Died [with large photo of Bush made up of 1″ photos of what may have been servicemen and women].”
“Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Torture.” [Read more…]

RFK at BYU in 1968


As bloggers have pointed out in the recent discussions over the prospect of Vice-President Cheney speaking at BYU, Senator Robert F. Kennedy spoke at BYU on March 27, 1968. [Read more…]

Maori, Mormons, and Metagenealogy

In December, my family had the chance to spend several weeks with my sister-in-law and her family, who, fortuitously, happen to live in New Zealand.

Aside from the usual daily chores (sea-kayaking, snorkeling for kina, fishing for snapper, collecting and cooking shellfish, cavorting in the waves, hiking, bone-carving, photography…), one of the activities we enjoyed most was visiting Maori historical and cultural sites.

Imagine my surprise when I kicked up a post-tour conversation with a Maori guide about the Treaty of Waitangi and heard him tell of how some 19th century Maori drew theological support for bloody resistance to British rule from a belief that the Maori were Israelites, and that the Old Testament provided those Maori both hope and permission for a violent uprising against their perceived oppressors.

Since returning home, I’ve researched some of my NZ blind spots so I’ll be better prepared next trip (for example, I couldn’t prepare sea urchin roe so that it was consistently excellent, and I obviously hadn’t absorbed lesson 18 of the 1937 LDS Junior Genealogical Class manual, titled “Maori Traditions and Genealogies,” and I couldn’t have answered that lesson’s question #9, “Can you show that the natives of New Zealand are also of the covenant people of Israel?”). [Read more…]


August_2006_1921 Eugenics Congress 400 px1

Around the turn of the twentieth century, a eugenics movement developed in the U.S. (and elsewhere) –a formal movement complete with societies, annual congresses, lecture circuits, and multiple journals or magazines. Eugenics was considered the science of selective human breeding, and the express objective of the movement was “betterment of the race.” This was to be achieved through public policy initiatives (including marriage, sterilization and anti-immigration laws) and encouragement of private reproductive choices through public relations measures such as sermon competitions and “fittest family” and “better baby” contests. [Read more…]

Why you should subscribe to BYU Studies

Stirling Adams, a member of the Dialogue board of directors, is one of BCC’s regular guest Dialogue bloggers.

June_2006_45-1 cover1The latest issue of BYU Studies (45:1) just came out. After my initial glance at the cover art (by Brian Kershisnik) and the table of contents (which includes Givens’ “’Lightning Out of Heaven’: Joseph Smith and the Forging of Community,” and David Paulsen’s “Are Christians Mormon? Reassessing Joseph Smith’s Theology”) I’m excited to dive into the text.

Before moving to Utah, I had little sense of the academic focus or past content of BYU Studies. I’ve now been a subscriber for several years, and have used its archive for research on many subjects. I’m confident that whatever your area of interest in Mormon studies, odds are there are multiple, useful, BYU Studies articles exploring the topic. If you doubt, test that assertion. Go to the search option at, or to the BYU library on-line BYU Studies archive, and search on your topic. As examples, two ongoing interests I have are Latin American Mormon Studies, and the intersection of ichthyology and Mormon history. BYU Studies is a main source of quality works exploring those topics (though I’d certainly like to see more on the piscine practices of the peculiar people). [Read more…]

Conference Report (Immigration)

Saints from around the world convened on Temple Square yesterday, and here’s my report of the conference proceedings–of two immigration bills before the U.S. Congress. I’ll summarize some of the public policy April_2006_statute of liberty jig 239 pix 4  pieces gone supernovachoices offered by the proposed changes, then end with these questions:

Do LDS scripture and teachings inform your/my/our attitudes towards U.S. immigration policy, and, should they?

But first, here are some notes on the context in which we find ourselves:

  • Through the mid 20th century, U.S. laws regarding who could immigrate to the U.S. (and who could become a citizen) were racially restrictive, with a judicially and legislatively expressed goal of shaping the U.S. populace to be “white.” As one of various instances of this, in 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act preventing Chinese from immigrating here. As another, in 1921, Congress established a temporary quota system expressly designed “to confine immigration as much as possible to western and northern European stock”; this quota system was made permanent in the National Origin Act of 1924 (these quotas were ended in 1965).
  • The U.S. response to the presence of large numbers of illegal immigrants has been varied. In the early 1930s, we [Read more…]

British Israelism

In some ways, Joseph and the early Saints set about restoring, not just the practices of early Christianity, but also of ancient Israel. As such, they/we were both Christian

Photo of Odin from 1937 and 1942 church lesson manuals

Photo of Odin from 1937 and 1942 church lesson manuals

and Old Testament “primitivists,” seeking to restore the primitive, and presumably superior, institutions of a previous culture.

Since much of the bible is the story of the relationship of one tribe, ”the Israelites”with God, the primitivist Mormons were intensely interested in that tribe. They prepared for the “literal gathering of Israel,” the Book of Mormon identified a new world people as Israelites, and the European Saints, though non-Israelite “Gentiles,” considered themselves to be spiritually of Israel, or to be of Israel through adoption.

But many Saints came to view themselves as literally of Israel; they believed they were genetically descended from Israel (through Ephraim). The Mormon tendency towards a literal “Israelism” seems to have played out over time. [Read more…]

BoM & the 10% Solution

Vol 2 of Golden Plates Comic, CoverWhen we head out on a family venture (say, cross-country skiing), my wife and I try to efficiently share with our children the most relevant knowledge we have, and we try to help them develop the skills to continue to learn and enjoy the activity on their own.

Similarly, when it comes to religious instruction and scripture study, we focus on the teachings we find to be most important for our children’s spiritual development. We give less attention to scriptures that have, at least at this life stage, a lower return on investment. [Read more…]

Why the Church is More True in Argentina

My name is Stirling Adams. I’ve been invited to be one of the Dialogue guest bloggers.

If the Mormon wards you’ve attended in the U.S. are similar to mine, it’s likely you’ve heard periodic reports in sacrament meeting about a visit to another ward and the comfort in finding that the church is the same wherever you go.

For most of 2003, my wife and I and our 3 children (then 9, 7, and 3), lived in Buenos Aires. Based on our experience, my report is a little different. In case I take too long to develop my point below, let me summarize it now:

In Argentina, I felt like I experienced a Mormonism stripped of a heavy overlay of U.S. politics; a Church less burdened by assumptions of cultural superiority and institutional pride that I feel can be associated too often with the U.S. Church; a Mormonism with members more attuned to how individual and institutional actions fare when judged by scriptural teachings (particularly the injunctions towards social justice in the N.T. and BoM).
[Read more…]