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.

[Read more…]

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…]

The Importance of Education

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I have previously done two blog posts on our young, budding basketball star, Jabari Parker, the first on whether he should serve a mission and the second on whether he should jump to the NBA. I’m now going to make it a trilogy. [Read more…]

Science!

Today is my birthday (I just turned 58, which I realize is ancient by blogging standards). This morning on the train ride in for some reason I reflected on how, for a few short years, I was destined to become some stripe of scientist, and how through various poor decisions I made along the way I managed to foreclose that particular path in my life. [Read more…]

Anatomy of a GD Lesson

Yesterday I taught lesson 29 on Alma 36-39. I thought I would try to break down for you how I approach teaching a class like that and how in fact this particular class went. When you stand up in that room and begin the class, you really don’t have any idea how things are going to go or what direction the class might take the lesson which, especially if you’re an introvert, could be (in Alma’s words) an “inexpressible horror” (Alma 36:14), but more often (for me at least) is simply exhilirating. [Read more…]

The History and Symbolism of Temples

While looking for something else, deep in a desk drawer I stumbled upon my notes for a fireside I was asked to give on the captioned subject in my ward back in 2011. I thought I would share them here in case some of you may find them useful. [Read more…]

Why (Really) Did You Go on a Mission?

 

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A guest post by Mette Harrison on Jana’s Flunking Sainthood blog caused me to ask the question in the title of myself. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what the answer was. [Read more…]

Yo, Dre, I got something to say!

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Two related points about the Book of Mormon: [Read more…]

Missionary Fights

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While reading Rosalynde’s excellent review at Dialogue of Craig Harline’s (also) excellent Way Below the Angels, for some reason my mind turned to an experience from my own mission when I got into a fight with my companion. [Read more…]

The New Arrington Bio

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At the recent MHA Conference at Snowbird, Utah, I spent some time between sessions browsing the books in the sponsor rooms. I had flown to Utah for the conference and so had precious little space for books. One I knew I was going to purchase so I could start reading it there at the conference and on the flight home was Gregory A. Prince, Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History. I just finished the book moments ago. [Read more…]

MHA Snowbird 2016

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OK, I’m opening up a thread for discussion of all things MHA during its 2016 conference at the Cliff Lodge, Snowbird Ski resort, in the mountains just east of Salt Lake City. [Read more…]

Others in the Land?

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Tomorrow’s GD lesson begins with these verses from Mosiah 25:

 And now king Mosiah caused that all the people should be gathered together.

 Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those who were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness.

 And there were not so many of the people of Nephi and of the people of Zarahemla as there were of the Lamanites; yea, they were not half so numerous.

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Review of JSP Documents Vol. 4

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Let me begin by warning our fair readers that I do not claim the historical chops of, say, my blog mates J. Stapley or WVS, but I do claim a layperson’s interest in Mormon history. So this will be more of a personal reaction than a scholarly dissection.

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Teasings

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So this Sunday’s GD lesson is Mosiah 7-11. The very first verse of the reading, 7:1, reads as follows:

 And now, it came to pass that after king Mosiah had had continual peace for the space of three years, he was desirous to know concerning the people who went up to dwell in the land of Lehi-Nephi, or in the city of Lehi-Nephi; for his people had heard nothing from them from the time they left the land of Zarahemla; therefore, they wearied him with their teasings. (Emphasis added.)

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Putting Women on a Pedestal (Nephite Edition)

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So I’m reading Mosiah 1-3 to prepare for tomorrow’s lesson on King Benjamin’s speech. Recall from Mosiah 2:5 that it was not just men present; it was also their wives, their daughters, their granddaughters who were there. [Read more…]

Restoring Harmony

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I had heard that the Church was restoring some of the historic sites in Harmony Township, Pennsylvania (now Oakland Township), but I hadn’t heard any of the details. Well, yesterday I received my BYU Religious Education Review (Winter 2016), which features two articles that give details on this project. [Read more…]

Sympathy for the Devil

 

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So if you manage to make it through the Allegory of the Olive Tree, you’ll come to the story of Sherem in Jacob 7. [Read more…]

My School of the Prophets

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A long time ago I was called to be my stake’s “institute teacher.”[1] I had taught lots of Gospel Doctrine classes in the stake, and I have always endeavored to make my classes interesting and on the level of a good BYU Religious Education course, and apparently someone had noticed that effort and decided to let me teach on a stake-wide basis. I took the call as quite an honor and of course accepted. [Read more…]

Hebrew School in the BoA?

I had a little time to kill this afternoon, so I decided to run a deltaview comparison of Abraham 4 and 5 against Genesis 1 and 2 to get a good visual map of the variations from the latter to the former. The results were fascinating. Some of the changes seem to have been influenced by Joseph’s studies with Joshua Seixas in the Kirtland Hebrew school (as a number of scholars have opined over the years). I’m at work without resources (in particular my copy of the Seixas grammar), but I thought I would try to identify some of the changes that to me seem most likely to have had a Hebrew-based motivation. These are just a series of (very) rough notes for my own future reference, but I thought some of you might find them interestintg as well: [Read more…]

Grind upon the Face of the Poor

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So as usual I’m beginning to read the assignment for next Sunday’s GD lesson. I’m in 2 Nephi 26 when I come to verse 20 (the verse is quite dense, so I’ve broken it into lines to make it easier to parse): [Read more…]

Isaiah in the BoM

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So I’m preparing for lesson #9, which is the Isaiah lesson, and doing some of the reading. I come to 2 Nephi 12:16, which reads as follows: [Read more…]

JST 1 Cor. 7:1-2

I thought I would share here a snippet from my BYU NT Commentary Conference presentation this past summer. My paper was on the JST of 1 Corinthians. We have a tendency to want to see the JST as almost entirely involving textual restorations, but I frankly didn’t see any of that in 1 Corinthians. The largest category of changes I saw were what I called “Alternate Translations (without Positing any Change in Underlying Text.” I present below the first change I discussed under that category. [Note that by “alternate translations” I intended to take an agnostic stance as to whether these translations were interlingual (presumably by inspiration, since Joseph didn’t actually know Greek) or intralingual (i.e., a paraphrase or English rewording of Joseph’s exemplar, the KJV).

[Read more…]

Pluralizing The Book of Mormon

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There is a long standing debate as to how to pluralize The Book of Mormon. I’ll give you my take; please share yours in the comments. [Read more…]

Gospel Discussion Group

From time to time I’ve made oblique references on the blog to a Gospel Discussion Group my wife and I were a part of in the mid-90s here in the Chicago area. I remember that as an idyllic time, and I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you more about it. [Read more…]

Who’s on First?

So I was reading 2 Nephi 3 in preparation for this Sunday’s GD class, and I realized I kept getting lost. At one point I thought the text said that Joseph Smith was descended from Joseph son of Lehi (which would also make him descended from Lehi himself), until I realized I was confusing Joseph of Egypt as a speaker with Lehi. As I looked over the text, I realized how very confusing it was. There are multiple quotations, some of which are nested, but per KJV usage without quotation marks. It is often difficult to tell what the antecedent to various pronouns is supposed to be. So I copied verses 6-22 and used square bracketed inserts to try to keep track of who was speaking, and braces to try to keep track of who was being referred to. I’m not sure I got it all right;  I found verse 18 particularly vexing. In any event, I think this is a good illustration of the need to read closely, because in my initial quick read I had totally butchered who was referring to what. [Read more…]