Succession in the Presidency: A Feature, a Bug, or Both?

Most of you I’m sure are familiar with the 1844 succession crisis. When Joseph was killed in the Carthage jail, who would then lead the Church? If his brother Hyrum had survived, as Assistant President it surely would have been him. There is a good chance it would have been Joseph’s son Joseph III if he had been older, but at the time he was but a young boy. There were various claimants by special or secret appointment, such as James Strang, or by virtue of the Council of Fifty. At the time the main decision was between Sidney Rigdon (by virtue of being a counselor in the First Presidency), or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, represented by Brigham Young. Had this happened a decade earlier it likely would have been Sidney, but he had long been out of the loop and so the majority of the Saints in Nauvoo chose to follow the Apostles.

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On Becoming a Liberal-Minded Mormon

I self-identify as a liberal-minded Mormon.[1] But I was just wondering, “How did I get this way?” I was pretty conservative as a kid, and it was not set in stone that I should grow up to become progressive in my religious views. So I thought I would think back over my life’s history and try to identify (at least some of) the influences that shaped my modern perspective on the faith.

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JP is an Israelite

 

I. About a week ago, Christian Parker, Jabari’s older brother, posted the above clip from youtube to his Facebook page. It shows a group of black men telling Jabari that he is an Israelite. Jabari, as is his nature, listens politely, interacts with them a bit, and then goes about his business. I can’t make out what he says, but the men seemed happy, so I’m guessing that maybe he acknowledged that yeah, he was an Israelite. When I first watched the video it made zero sense to me, the conversation just seemed a curious oddity, and I quickly put it out of my mind and went on to other things.

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Welcome!

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We are the most missionary-oriented, proselyting church this side of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. So you would think we would love to have visitors come to our services. And in theory, we absolutely would love that! Come one, come all, you are certainly most welcome!

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MHA 2017 St. Louis

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I’m putting up this open thread for discussion of all things MHA over the next few days as we participate in the 2017 conference in the St. Joseph Convention Center next to the Embassy Suites hotel in St. Joseph, Missouri. Please share your experiences and thoughts here so that others who cannot be here physically can get some of the gist of the proceedings. Have a great conference, everybody!

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Clinging

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So a friend today mentioned that last weekend at church someone gave a talk, in the course of which the speaker said that those who were “clinging” to the iron rod lost their way because they were only “clinging” instead of “holding fast.” My friend said “To me, this makes no sense. Cling, as I’ve always understood it, means to hold on tight, not to hold on loosely. The speaker was using cling to mean the opposite of what I’ve always understood it to mean.”

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Mother’s Day Service Roll Call

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Earlier this year I asked you how your local Easter service went. Today I’d like to ask you how your Mother’s Day service went. [Read more…]

Religious Liberty Today

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Last night the Chicago Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Society (the professional society for Mormon lawyers) sponsored an event titled “Religious Liberty Today: An Interfaith Discussion.” It was a great event, and I’d like to tell you about it.

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“Hold me!”

John 20:17 begins: “Jesus saith unto her [IE Mary Magdelene], Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father….” The key expression “touch me not” reflects Greek mE mou haptou (negative, first person singular pronoun, present middle imperative). The JST rather famously changes this to “hold me not,” which arguably is a stronger translation of the Greek verb haptO (this change may have derived from some secondary source available to Joseph). English translations are pretty evenly divided among touch, hold and cling as renderings of this verb here (Nibley’s take was “do not cling to me so!”).

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LDS Easter Service Roll Call

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I’ve told the story before of how about 20 years ago in the same building I attend church in today (but in a ward that was later dissolved and no longer exists) I settled in for the Easter Sunday sacrament service only to be presented with a program devoted to the concept of tithing. D’oh! That was by far the worst LDS Easter service fail I have ever personally experienced. But even when planners happen to remember the day, there remains a spectrum as to how effective our services are in focusing appropriately on the Easter theme. So I would like to take a survey as to how your Easter services went today.

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Instincts

The Church has long been governed by a fundamental, basic instinct, to restrict access to sources and to control information and thought that doesn’t match its preferred self-perception as the only true and living church on the face of the earth. That instinct served the institution pretty well for much of its history when information about the faith was not so easy to come by. But we now live in the internet age. And all of that stuff the Church wanted so badly to keep under wraps is but a mouse click away. And all of a sudden that deep-seated instinct to hide the ball is not serving the institution so well anymore. To its credit, the Church has endeavored to adjust to the new reality, with the Joseph Smith Papers Project being perhaps the leading evidence and example of a new approach. But the Church still has work to do to enter fully today’s information age. [Read more…]

Ownership of the Kirtland Temple

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In a Facebook Group recently the topic of the ownership of the Kirtland Temple came up. I thought I would take a shot at a (very) brief sketch of the first part of the subject.[1]

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Where Would You Go?

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Let’s say, for the sake of argument only, that you were done with Mormonism. (Really, it’s just a hypothetical, don’t freak out!) In such an event, where would you go? [Read more…]

Crafting Your Own Mission

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This afternoon I did some home teaching. One of the people we visited was a retired single (divorced) sister who lives alone. She is fairly new in our ward, having moved in maybe half a year ago or so. I’ll call her Sister Jones. [Read more…]

Great Grandpa

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I went to the dentist this morning. Somehow the conversation got around to travel in Europe, and he asked me if my wife had ever gone, and I told him about a trip she and her sister are planning in a few months to Prague and Germany. They are half Czech but have never made it back to their maternal grandparents’ homeland before, so this is something they’ve always wanted to do. Sort of continuing on that theme he had asked me about my ancestry, and I had told him I was mostly British, so he asked whether Barney was an English name. It was not a simple question to answer so I told him I’d explain it when he was done. [Read more…]

Emergency Sub

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I’m sitting in GD class and within the first few minutes I get pulled out by a counselor in the bishopric. One of the youth SS teachers hadn’t shown up, and since I’m a counselor in the SS presidency I’m an emergency sub. This was a class of mostly 13 year olds, with a few 14 year olds. I think one was in early morning seminary, but most were eighth graders and not yet in seminary. [Read more…]

JS and the Fate of the Unevangelized

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If salvation comes through Jesus Christ, what happens to the billions of human beings who have lived on earth without a reasonable introduction to the Savior and his Gospel? There is an array of different theories on this question, which have been ably summarized in John Sanders, “Those Who Have Never Heard: A Survey of the Major Positions,” in Salvation in Christ: Comparative Christian Views, ed. Roger R. Keller and Robert L. Millet (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005), 299–325 (link here). Those who are interested in this topic should read the entire article. [Read more…]

On Getting New Garments

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So I’ve needed to buy some new garments. For, like, a long, long time. But I had been putting it off. Being a participant in the Bloggernacle had sort of freaked me out, because of all the conversations (dominated by women) about how horrible the fit is and all the money they’ve wasted on ill-fitting, uncomfortable garments. And I have to admit, all that talk worried me. But I finally screwed up my courage and decided I was gonna do it. [Read more…]

Significant Anniversaries

The First Presidency circulated a letter dated January 24, 2017 that reads as follows: [Read more…]

Does the Source of GA Allowances Matter?

In the wake of the recent GA allowance leak, a Church spokesman made this statement: “None of the funds for this living allowance come from the tithing of Church members, but instead from proceeds of the Church’s financial investments.” I’m trying to figure out whether this caveat should make a difference in how we perceive this practice. [Read more…]

Cleaning the Church

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Today our turn on the cleaning schedule rolled around once again. My wife and I both have colds, but not wanting to leave the team leader in the lurch I went in and emptied all the garbage throughout the building. Since there was a family of four and a single sister also on the team, many hands made light work and after about an hour we were done and I came home. (It helps that I only live a five-minute drive away from our church building.) [Read more…]

Bishops Performing Civil Weddings

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My son and his fiance are flying back home to SLC tonight after a quick four-day visit over the holiday weekend. [Read more…]

Our Christmas Traditions

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So I’m interested in learning about your family’s Christmas traditions. I’ll begin by suggesting a possible outline to follow, then share my own traditions, and then ask you to share yours with us. [Read more…]

Should Bishops Be Able to Counsel Divorce?

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Let me start with a disclaimer. I have virtually no personal experience with divorce. Also, I don’t have access to Handbook 1, so I don’t know for sure what it currently says on this topic. But I know that in recent history, the Handbook provided that bishops were not allowed to counsel couples to divorce. See for instance this 2007 GC talk by Elder Oaks, which includes the matter of fact line “Bishops do not counsel members to divorce.” Whether that is the current standard is on-topic for this post. But whatever the current standard, I’m interested in what you think the standard should be. Are there ever circumstances where it would/should be appropriate for a bishop to counsel divorce? [Read more…]

Becoming Converted

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Below is an approximation of a talk I gave in sacrament meeting this morning on the assigned topic of “Becoming Converted.” (I had a little more time than I expected, so I also talked about several other practical ways to become converted that are not in this written out version, such as being humble = teachable [riffing on the become as little children part of the Matthew passage], studying the scriptures, and communing with the Saints.)

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Pro Bono Publico

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Attorneys from time to time are supposed to do pro bono work (short for pro bono publico, “for the public good,” meaning (legal) work for the disadvantaged without compensation). I just now returned from such a pro bono effort, and I’d like to tell you a bit about it.

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An Index to My GD-Related Posts

So I was released as my ward Gospel Doctrine teacher last week. I had been doing it for six years, so it was definitely time for a change. A couple of my blogmates opined that it was too bad we didn’t have some sort of an index to my GD-related posts, since preparing GD lessons was a significant engine for my blogging. And that thought inspired me to assemble just such an index. Below, in inverse chronological order, I give a list of posts that were either inspired by GD preparation or classes or would arguably be relevant to a GD class. I give the title of each post and its date and, if not clear from the title, a scripture citation or other indication of the topic. The titles are not linked to the posts; to find a post just copy and paste the title into the Search function on the BCC home page (or use my name and the title in a Google search):

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Jackson County and the Specter of Slave Rebellion

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So this morning I went to see The Birth of a Nation, which is about the Nat Turner-led slave rebellion in Virginia in August of 1831. He and a group of other slaves rebelled against their masters, killing about 60 men, women and children over the course of two days, when the rebellion was put down. Nat evaded capture for a couple of months, but eventually was taken and hanged. White mobs killed about 200 blacks in retribution, many of whom had had nothing to do with the rebellion. [Read more…]

His Own

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So I’m reading the assignment for GD lesson 37 this Sunday, and at 3 Nephi 9:16a I read this:

I came unto my own, and my own received me not.

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Practical Home Teaching

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It finally happened. I had sort of given up hope that it would ever happen. But it just did, moments ago, in Elder Holland’s talk during the Priesthood session of GC. [Read more…]