President Nelson’s 1st GC Report Card

I made a good faith effort to watch all of Conference this past weekend. I missed a few pockets here and there (in part due to doing taxes), and I missed the whole of the Sunday afternoon session due to a family Easter dinner. But I caught most of it. And for his first effort as the actual President of the Church, I found the result very encouraging. I’m giving President Nelson an A on my report card. Below is what stood out for me: [Read more…]

Teach the Doctrine

teachdoctrine

This morning I attended a regional auxiliary training originating in Chicago and reaching as far as Minneapolis, I believe. The featured speaker was the second councilor in the General Sunday School Presidency. The focus of the presentation was principles derived from the Church’s Teaching in the Savior’s Way initiative, and part of the presentation entailed modeling what is supposed to happen in Teaching Council meetings. [Read more…]

He Rejoiced

indexAbraham

So in GD today we did lesson 9, which includes the story of the miraculous birth of Isaac in Abraham’s and Sarah’s old age. The teacher mentioned that where the KJV said Abraham laughed at the news he was about to become an aged father, the JST corrects that to “he rejoiced.” At first I didn’t give it a second thought, because I vaguely recalled that change. But then a woman sitting behind me said that the name Isaac actually means “he laughed,” and she asked me if I could confirm her understanding, which I did, pointing out that Isaac is an anglicized version of the Hebrew name  Yitzhak (or Itzhak), which comes from the verb “to laugh” (the Y represents an imperfect verb form). (The Lord directed Abraham to name his son Isaac in Genesis 17:19.) And then the teacher said something like “And now we know it also means ‘he rejoiced.'” And the lesson proceeded from there. [Read more…]

Belonging to Isaiah the Prophet

Seal-impression-CROP-1024x640

I’ve subscribed to Biblical Archaeology Review for a long time. I recently got the latest issue, which includes an article by Eilat[1] Mazar, “Is This the Prophet Isaiah’s Signature?” The article is about the bulla pictured above. (A bulla is a piece of clay bearing a seal impression.) It would certainly be exciting to have a physical artifact relating so closely to the great prophet! [Read more…]

Masonic Influence on LDS Temple Worship

thehouseofthelord_p75

I recently read an account of a person’s loss of faith in the Church. Among several challenging issues this person mentioned was learning of the Masonic influence on Mormon temple worship. I had a different experience with learning about that issue, and I’d like to describe it on the off chance the PTB might learn something useful about how best to expose our young people to this sort of thing. [Read more…]

Trek the Movie

So a new Mormon film is coming out in April titled “Trek the Movie.” You can watch the trailer here [Read more…]

Why is it so hard for LDS to find marriage partners?

Somebody apparently added me to a Facebook group called “LDS Doctrines, Questions, and Insights.” This is not a Bloggernacle type of group, but a very mainstream one (it has 14,000 members). I haven’t paid much attention to it, but I noticed a long thread discussing this question: “Why we the single members of the Church find it difficult to get a partner to marry?” [Read more…]

A Commentary on the JST of 1 Corinthians

I have written a paper with the captioned title and posted it on SSRN. You can read it here. I’d like to tell you a little bit about the genesis of this project. [Read more…]

Toward a Paradigm of JST Revisions

As our GD curriculum turns to the OT, we are going to start getting many comments in our GD classes based on the JST. In my experience these comments will invariably be based on an assumption that all such emendations reflect (in English) the original text of the passage, the KJV having been corrupted somehow. And that widespread assumption in most instances at least will be wrong. [Read more…]

The Slaughter of the Innocents

188011-the-slaughter-of-the-innocents_md

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

[Read more…]

Lead us not into temptation

temptation

Pope Francis has been in the news recently for suggesting a change to the Lord’s Prayer. (Indeed, there was a story about this on the Today Show just moments ago.) As succinctly summarized by the Washington Post,

The words in the Lord’s Prayer that ask, “Lead us not into temptation,” can cause confusion, Francis said. To make it clear that God would not lead anybody toward sin, the pope suggested a better translation of the Greek prayer from the New Testament would be something along the lines of, “Do not let us fall into temptation.”

Predictably, he has been receiving significant push back, the sentiment being “Leave the Lord’s Prayer alone!” [Read more…]

A New Church in Chicago

 

15.04.06-Chicago-Meeting-House-left-utility-1024x614

I used to be part of the regional public affairs group, so I knew the Church was constructing a new church building on a prime parcel of real estate at 822 North Clark Street in Chicago. But I wasn’t really clear on the schedule. Well, earlier this week I got a flier to the effect that the building was done and they were going to give tours this weekend. The first tour would be at 3:00 p.m. Friday afternoon (i.e., today), which was perfect for me, so I decided to hop in a cab and go check it out. [Read more…]

On Visibly Not Partaking of the Sacrament

37108_all_027_01-passing

Occasionally I will notice someone not partaking of the emblems of the sacrament. This is always inadvertent on my part, usually when I’m checking to see from which direction a deacon will be sending the sacrament down my row. And I feel very uncomfortable witnessing such a public (non-)action that seems to disclose something that, it seems to me, should be very private and not at all public. [Read more…]

Free Agency

The last speaker in yesterday’s F&T meeting talked about the concept of free agency. First, he explained that that terminology was very flawed, because agency isn’t free, but was bought at great cost by our savior’s atoning sacrifice. Second, he told how his seminary teacher insisted that free agency only existed to make righteous choices, not wicked ones. He had great trouble understanding that, but finally concluded she must be right. [Read more…]

Dementiadventures

My wife and I recently purchased long-term care insurance. I told my insurance guy that if he had suggested it to me even three years ago, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But in very recent years we’ve had to deal with the effects of old age on our parents. My father-in-law had to move into a nursing home and eventually died. (The insurance we bought is pricey, but the annual cost is about equal to the one-month cost of keeping my FIL in a nursing home, so it’s all a matter of perspective.) That left my mother-in-law living alone in a big house on an almost two-acre lot outside of town by herself, and my wife worried herself sick over her being alone like that, so we sold the house and moved her into an assisted living facility (for now it’s basically an apartment with meals provided, but services can be added as needed). My own father died many years ago, but my mother recently had a health issue arise such that she could no longer live alone–she now lives with my oldest sister. [Read more…]

Sisters on Bikes in Chicago

fob_transportation-mormon_bikes-2

As usual on a Thursday, on the commuter train home I crack open my copy of the Reader, an alternative weekly in Chicago. And there is a full page article by John Greenfield, who concentrates on transportation issues for the City Life section. This article is all about sister missionaries using bicycles for transportation in Chicago. It was a fun piece, so I wanted to share it with my blog friends. [Read more…]

The BoM and the Aeneid

aeneas1636

Today we tend to lump the Greeks and Romans together as “classical civilization.” But at the time, one can argue that Romans had a bit of an inferiority complex vis-a-vis Greece. Certainly not with respect to militarism, but as to things like philosophy and literature. The Greek stuff was considered the state of the art; wealthy Roman parents would often hire Greek tutors for their children, that sort of thing. [Read more…]

$35 Million

In a stunning turn of events, the LDS Church has purchased the Printer’s Manuscript (designated P) of the Book of Mormon from the Community of Christ for $35 million (with donated funds). A few years ago at the JWHA conference there was an entire plenary devoted to P, so I thought it might be a public service to post here my notes from that session: [Read more…]

Kohanim

Tarik-Cohen-Backflip-catch-two-balls

The Chicago Bears have a rookie running back who has had a sensational beginning to his young career, named Tarik Cohen. (The above picture shows Tarik catching two footballs while doing a backflip.) A lot of people were trying to figure out whether he was Jewish, because Cohen is a prominent surname among Jews. He is not in fact Jewish. But there is an unusual Mormon connection to this question. [Read more…]

Joys and Concerns

My advice column of choice is “Ask Amy,” by Amy Dickinson (a descendant of Emily Dickinson), which succeeded the Ann Landers column after her death and is syndicated in about 200 newspapers, originating from the flagship Chicago Tribune (where I read it). I recently read her book Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things, about how she moved from the big city (Chicago) back home to the tiny town where she grew up (Freeville, New York) and eventually remarried there. I enjoyed it so much that I’m now reading her earlier book, The Mighty Queens of Freeville. [Read more…]

International Night

IMG_0168

I’ve mentioned before how very diverse my ward and stake are. That diversity was on full display this evening, as my stake put on an International Night. I just got back from it. [Read more…]

Coffee

275px-A_small_cup_of_coffee

On Thursday mornings on the way into the office I pick up a copy of The Reader, a free alternative weekly published in Chicago. One of its regular features is The Straight Dope, by Cecil Adams.[1] Today’s question read as follows: [Read more…]

Good and Bad Apologetics

So last night I’m sitting on the couch with a fairly new iPad in my lap. (I recently upgraded my phone, and they threw the pad in for a nominal amount. I’ve never used one before, so I’m still getting used to it.) All of a sudden this video popped up on the screen. I recognized the space as being Writ and Vision in Provo.  It was a roundtable discussion of that new Kofford book on apologetics, featuring Blair Van Dyke, Stephen Smoot, Joe Spencer, Amanda Brown and Loyd Erickson.[1]

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

Welcome!

welcome

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!

[Read more…]

MHA 2017 St. Louis

Embassy

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!

[Read more…]

Clinging

iron rod 1

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.”

[Read more…]

Mother’s Day Service Roll Call

happy-mothers-day-quotes-wallpaper-full-hd

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…]