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Standing where the Savior stood: Eight Questions

I’ve been thinking lately about the admonition to “stand in holy places,” partly because of Elder Rasband’s tweet a couple weeks ago:

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A quick note to the new Newsroom

ilovethisjobAs the Church Newsroom undergoes leadership changes, I have some completely unsolicited advice for the PR team:

Stop talking so much. Please. The kingdom of God on the Earth already has mouthpieces, called Prophets and Apostles. You are not the face or the voice of the Church, they are! Help them be effective in their role.

God wouldn’t have called them to be Prophets and Apostles if He didn’t trust them to speak in public. Set them up with the biggest possible platforms on which to speak for our Savior.

I would love to read their columns in newspapers. I’d love to see them on TV more. I’d love to follow an actual Twitter feed from an actual Apostle. Enough with the canned quotes. It doesn’t have to be that hard…

“I had a fresh insight during scripture study this morning…”

“The Wasatch Front looks beautiful in the Spring.”

“We sang ‘Abide with Me’ in Sacrament Meeting today—my mother loved this hymn.”

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A few words about Prince

tumblr_n9qvk8570x1r3s3a3o1_500There are so many threads to this complicated human being. The blend of committed spirituality and enthusiastic sexuality (which, tbh, Mormons have no right to be offended about). His intense introversion and control issues, paired with bright-as-the-sun charisma and onstage courage. The way he flouted social conventions about gender, race, even geography. (Can there any cool thing come out of Minnesota? Yup.)

He could have been any age. He could sing in every register. He could expertly play every instrument.

From what I can tell, Prince applied that creativity and flexibility to everything he did. Beyond being a musical genius, he was a business genius and a technological genius. He hacked and reimagined existing structures to fit his needs (he basically broke the radio promotion and metrics system). He incorporate new technologies into his work (he was always the first to incorporate new sounds, new instruments, and digital tools). And he completely rejected industry trends that he felt compromised his work.

That combination of big abstract creativity + systems thinking is crazy to me.

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The 10 Conference Commandments

For all you Hamilton and/or Biggie fans, some #LDSConf hip-hop action… (and btw, that Biggie link is NOT safe for Mormons (sfm):

 

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…
It’s the 10 Conference Commandments

Number 1:
The challenge: Stay woke for two hours,
With nothing to look at but some podium flowers.

Number 2:
If you don’t, that’s alright, people doze,
Sometimes that’s the way the AM session goes.

This is commonplace, ‘specially on a soft couch,
So grab a place to sit where you won’t zone out.

Number 3:
Pick a snack, something easy to make,
Skip the first talk if there’s baked goods to be baked. [Read more…]

The Intelligencer: Filling Inboxes with Faith Since Like October 2015 or Something

giphyIf you still aren’t subscribed to The Intelligencer, BCC’s weekly email newsletter, we can only assume you don’t like Mormon news, By Common Consent posts, funny GIFs, the scriptures, or chocolate Easter eggs. Either that or you’re holding out for the BCC Snapchat channel to launch.

That’s not going to happen. We’re all-in on this email thing. You might as well subscribe.

And who is my family?

“…the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”

-The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995

Given our history and evolution of doctrine around families and marriage, I think it’s fair to paraphrase a certain lawyer and ask: “And who is my family?”

Not sure if this is a firestorm question or too obvious to be interesting. By my understanding, it isn’t obvious at all.

 

The Intelligencer: Are YOU Subscribed?

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That’s OK, just subscribe and then you will!

As part of By Common Consent’s plan for global domination, we’re invading inboxes around the world with The Intelligencer newsletter, a quickie recap of the week in Mormonism. If that sounds like the kind of thing you want in your life, subscribe right the heck now.

 

 

Book Review: A Global Testimony

61da02d9-cf78-44ea-bbbe-805751eed7a6“I’m so glad to be reminded that the church is the same everywhere.”

My ward gets a lot of out-of-towners in sacrament meeting each week, so we hear this line quite often during fast-and-testimony meetings. I think they’d see some differences if they stuck around for the other meetings, in which our ward members are teaching lessons, asking questions, and sharing their stories. That’s where the differences between wards, geographies, and cultures become apparent.

Take Katarina Jambresic. Her own story is global and incredible (and hers to tell, I won’t recap it here), and as she bears her testimony in front of our ward, she reminds us that the gospel is working its way into corners of the world we don’t often think about, and it’s touching lives in wonderful ways.

We need reminders that the world is big, and that it is the Lord’s. The church is bigger than we think—it’s easy to forget that as an American Mormon. Joseph Smith wrote in my language. I have a fat hymnbook to sing from. I can watch BYU games on TV. That’s the church I know, but it’s far from the entire church.

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16 Reasons Why Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is the Best Movie Ever Made

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1. Kevin Costner, so in his prime he doesn’t even bother with a British accent!

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2. Mystical Muslim Morgan Freeman! Delivering a breech baby!

3. A tree village! With running water!

4. Bryan Adams!

5. A soundtrack that’s still played on every other movie trailer! With tons of french horns!

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The Stakes of Zion

Let me start with three points of cultural context:
  1. I’m a believer, I’m not going anywhere, and this isn’t intended to be a radical post.
  2. I live in a big city, and work in the ad industry in close proximity to gay people. They’re my friends, neighbors, employees, coworkers, and ward members.
  3. I was born the year after the priesthood ban was lifted. Mine is the first generation to have grown up in a Mormon church without false doctrinal cover for racism.

Let’s just call things what they are, at least for the moment. Because we need a moment of honesty right now, to clearly consider what’s at stake.

If this policy and our anti-gay views (again, calling things what they are) are somehow cemented as doctrine, in time we will be labeled a hate group, and no amount of Mormon bloggers and commenters and online missionaries and ad campaigns will sway that opinion. It will be our brand identity. Within 10 years we’ll be seen as a fringe group. In 20 years we’ll be a bigoted, extremist anachronism.

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BCC Intelligencer: Put us in your inbox

IntelligencerWe’re doing this weekly newsletter thing called The Intelligencer—a mix of BCC posts, Mormon news, amazing tweets, Bieber mashup videos, spiritual insights, and everything else you could possibly want spammed to you weekly.

Subscribe here. See the archive (including this week’s edition) here. Say hi here.

Subscribe to the BCC Weekly Intelligencer

BCCKnopeWe’re excited to announce the (beta) launch of the BCC Weekly Intelligencer newsletter, which shall distil upon your inbox as the dews of heaven. Each week, we’ll send you a fresh batch of By Common Consent posts, along with stuff we’re reading around the web. It’ll be a grab bag of our favorite comments, LDS news, tweets from #TwitterStake, upcoming events, and who knows what else.

Sounds good, right? You need this in your life. Subscribe here, and share with a friend.

Church-Hacker #18: Stick to the Manual (Margins)

After a four-year hiatus, it’s time to reboot the Church-Hacker series. For those of you who weren’t here four years ago, everyone’s input is welcome, and this series is simple: We post ideas that you can try in your ward or calling to make the meeting block more spiritual or more engaging.

Routine can become rut, and after a lifetime of sameness, even very small changes to The Way Things Are Done can make people sit up, put their phones away, and pay more attention in lessons and meetings. Church-Hacker hunts for those small ideas that can have an outsize impact.

And now for this week’s idea:

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Sunday Resolutions and Peter’s Denial

This post is a mashup of a Gospel Doctrine lesson I taught last week and a response to Steve’s excellently sentimental post earlier this week. 

Mark 14:72  And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.

“My heart goes out to Peter. So many of us are so much like him. We pledge our loyalty; we affirm our determination to be of good courage; we declare, sometimes even publicly, that come what may we will do the right thing, that we will stand for the right cause, that we will be true to ourselves and to others.

“Then the pressures begin to build. Sometimes these are social pressures. Sometimes they are personal appetites. Sometimes they are false ambitions. There is a weakening of the will. There is a softening of discipline. There is capitulation. And then there is remorse, followed by self-accusation and bitter tears of regret.”

Gordon B. Hinckley

That’s one of my favorite quotes from President Hinckley. The example of Peter in this instance really hits me, because I tend to be a victim of “Sunday resolutions,” those bold declarations that are so easy to make and so difficult to live up to.

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Nostalgic Stake Youth Dance: The Playlist

J. Stapley this morning asked the BCC bloggers for our Top 10 Stake Dance Songs. There was enough overlap in our responses that we figured it’d be worth making a playlist, so we can all be nostalgic together.

So here you go, a sweet musical journey to the cultural halls of yesteryear.

spotify:user:kylemonson:playlist:53IWuWEmfMV7btGXaU5bOm

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Using Social Media to Come to Christ: José A. Teixeira at #LDSConf

Social media is one of the most transformative, most disruptive, and potentially destructive technologies facing us as modern humans (as are other technologies, like television, the internet, artificial intelligence, nuclear power, and Dippin Dots).

In his Sunday morning conference talk, José A. Teixeira of the First Quorum of the Seventy discussed the potential of social media to bring people to Christ (good), or to shut out the real world around us (bad).

Before we get to the good, let me testify of the bad. Social media has the power to include, but it is just as often a tool of exclusion, whether wittingly or unwittingly. FOMO (fear of missing out) is real–it’s that isolated feeling you get on Instagram, or Twitter , or Facebook, as you see people sharing photos of parties and playdates you weren’t invited to, or of concerts you didn’t attend, or vacations you couldn’t afford. It damages friendships, sparks jealousy, and can reinforce social cliques within our wards and stakes.

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General Conference Reflection: The True vs. The New

I know we’re a couple weeks out from General Conference, but I figured I’d get ahead of the reflection pieces this year with one of my own.

For a few years now, I’ve been trying to figure out how General Conference can play a bigger role in my life. I’ll listen to a session here and there, or liveblog one for BCC, and when I was YM president, it was a good forcing function to get me to General Priesthood Meeting with my young men.

But it’s been a long time since I really connected with a session the way I think I’m supposed to. The mind wanders, the clock slows down. I try not to take my phone out, except to take notes or check #ldsconf on Twitter. I pray for guidance and insight, and sometimes it comes, but not in that get-really-excited-about-10-hours-of-talks-this-weekend kind of way that I know some people experience.

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Thoughts on the first week of New Testament study

Sermon on the MountI’m looking forward to studying and teaching the New Testament this year in Gospel Doctrine. (And thanks Kevin and RJH for helping me with my lesson this week.) I’ve taught the other books a couple times, but never the New Testament, so I’m not as familiar with it as I should be. This year is my chance to figure out some stuff I’ve had on the back burner for a long time. I plan on spending this year learning and reading and talking about Christ, and letting his words sink in and challenge me to rethink things.

Because the teachings of Christ are a lot more difficult and radical than we give them credit for. There’s friction in his words, and there are calls to action. The same guy who said “My yoke is easy” also told a certain ruler to give away everything and follow him. I don’t imagine it was any easier for the fishermen to leave their nets than it would be for us to leave ours.

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It’s Just Business

One of the underlying meta-narratives in the torture report last week is the story of two Mormons who may or may not have just been doing their job. John C’s post teased at this just a bit, but the commenters took it further. (You should read his post before reading this one, BTW, as I’m leaving out almost all of the details around what happened.) 

One commenter asked “What about LDS people who work in the weapons industry making killing machines?” Are they to be judged by the same standard?

Is it fair to expect an LDS moral code to help us make decisions about how we make our living?

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Ancient Prophets

Something to think about as you lie awake in bed tonight:

Twenty years from now, David A. Bednar’s only going to be 82. Dieter F. Uchtdorf will only be 94. L. Tom Perry will be 112.

By 2034 standards, it’s possible that those men will no longer be considered that old.

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Raising Kids in the Heart of the Pride Cycle

Pride CycleThis is my third time working through the Old Testament as a teacher (Gospel Doctrine twice, seminary once, kinda), which means I’ve drawn a lot of pride cycles on chalk boards. There was no chalk this time though, so I just used my finger on the chalkboard to trace the familiar circle during class on Sunday, while we talked our way through first Joel and then Amos.

The faint circle was still on the board during Elder’s Quorum, as the class discussed how we can raise our kids to be faithful adults. The instructor asked what we’re most worried about as we think about our children’s futures.

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The Desert Blossoms as the Rose (at Burning Man)

Burning ManThis week, somewhere in the middle of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, 50,000 people are gathering for the Burning Man festival, where they do…well, pretty much whatever they want. They trek in their RVs, buses, cars, motorcycles, and erect Black Rock City, where they live for a week in a state of “radical inclusion” and “radical self-expression.” The name “Burning Man” comes from a huge wooden effigy (‘The Man”) they erect at the beginning of the week, and which they burn at the end of the week—the Burning Man.

At the end of the week, no trace of Black Rock City remains. The whole city is built by Burning Man attendees, inhabited for a week, and then torn down and completely erased. (This is not as easy as it might seem—imagine your total water needs for a week in the desert. You’d have to bring that with you, and then carry out any waste and trash.)

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You’ll Get the Type of Church Members You Write For: 8 Suggestions for The Ensign

I started writing a comment on Russell’s recent blog post, in which he explains why he’s canceling his Ensign subscription. Once the comment got past a couple hundred words, I figured a full complementary post might be more appropriate. So here goes.

I haven’t subscribed to the Ensign in over a decade. I read it a couple times a year, usually when I’m at my parents’ house, and the experience is sufficient to remind myself why I don’t subscribe, and why I don’t feel particularly guilty about it.

And yet, I spend time in the bloggernacle, where I tend to stick to faith-promoting sites with some level of orthodoxy. When I started reading and later writing for By Common Consent, it was specifically to fill the Ensign-shaped hole in my heart. A faith community needs an outlet where it can share struggles, devotional thoughts, and personal experiences with the divine, and interact with the culture beyond congregational boundaries.

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Is Church Music “Good”?

BCC guest blogger Sharon H. has a background in Humanities education and arts administration, and in her free time, she’s been organizing a pretty epic Christmas concert for the New York, NY stake.

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 9.59.27 PM

I remember it was over a mediocre burger within my first week of moving to Texas. My colleague was being friendly, telling me about her church in case I needed one. As we were both music educators, she went into extra detail about her church’s music. She told how their previous music minister was a good Christian man but really impossible to work with as a director. But they had just hired a new minister and purchased a completely new sound system all built directly into the sanctuary—I should hear it—and this new music minister was full of ideas and was already asking her opinion for upcoming events. Exciting, I agreed. Had I found a church yet? I had, actually. Do they have good music?

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Ideas for Easier Journal-Writing

I love our church’s emphasis on journaling, which is hypocritical because I totally suck at it. I enjoy writing, and I see the value in documenting my life, if only for myself. But when it comes to sitting down and writing a bit, I’ve always had a terrible time getting into a routine.

I totally buy into the importance of it. Cataloging my spiritual experiences helps me remember them. Remembering them keeps the foundation of my testimony top of mind, and comes in handy during those moments when I need them. If I don’t record them somewhere, specific spiritual moments leave my memory so quickly.

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Quantum Mechanics and The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Yoda

Ben F. checks in with a third installment in his BCC guest series on faith and physics. (Read his earlier posts here and here.)

YodaEveryone knows that Star Wars is nothing more than a (brilliant) allegory of the Gospel and the Restoration. Luke is Joseph Smith, Yoda is Peter, the Force is obviously the priesthood, and so on. With this understanding, I learned a lot as a child about how spiritual things work, including the important fact that you can use the priesthood to control things with just your mind.

Naturally, this is also how God does his work. Miracles, answers to prayers, revelations, and all other heavenly manifestations are instantaneously and immaterially transmitted from the mind of God directly to his children in need. God, bodily present at some physical location, wills something to occur, and millions of lightyears away, a mountain moves, or a voice is heard, or a prayer is answered. This is what I learned from Star Wars.

I should be careful not to poke too much fun at either Star Wars or God’s miracles, since both are actually quite important to me, but the tiniest bit of creativity is enough to realize that there are much richer and more impressive ways that God could choose to bring about miraculous occurrences other than just thinking something in his mind.

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Strengthening the Strong Ties

Facebook birthdayI had a birthday last week. I didn’t turn a remarkable age or anything, although I am now officially older than Jesus. A few short years ago, turning 30-something might not have been a big deal—a special dinner and a gift or two, maybe. But now, birthdays are marked by friendly emails, texts, and tweets, and a wave of Facebook posts.

Most of the well-wishers just left a short note on my wall, something to let me know we’re still friends. It’s a simple gesture, but it’s fun to hear from old friends, even if it’s only a couple words. What’s most fun for me is hearing from all of them at once—high school friends, college roommates, mission companions, more recent co-workers. It’s a post-modern “This Is Your Life” day of happy memories, or a virtual group hug where I’m the only connection between everyone.

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Cosmological Convergence: The Pavilion That Covers God’s Hiding Place

The Universe

Ben F. checks back in from the halls of science, with a second installment in his BCC guest series on faith and physics. (Read his first post here.)

I would like to ask a simple question as the basis for this post: Is God a native of our universe? Although I lack any significant polling data, I suspect the gut instinct for most Mormons would be a confident “yes.” After all, Mormon theology emphasizes the shared characteristics between God and his spirit children—we believe he has a physical body that exists somewhere in space and time; we believe that his origin is not so different from our own; and we even believe that we can, with sufficient grace, become like he is. Therefore, it seems only natural that he is from the same place we are from—that is, this universe we find ourselves in. Besides, what would the alternative be? That he is from some sort of parallel universe? That would just be crazy, right?

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Poll: Should the BSA end the ban on gays?

It could happen. Maybe it should happen. What do you think?

Whatever your opinion, the BSA is gathering feedback. Call 972-580-2330 during business hours, or email nationalsupportcenter@scouting.org. And, as always, explain yourself in the comments.

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