Michael Austin, Vardis Fisher, and the Death of the Mormo-American

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Michael Austin, a fellow blogger and old friend, wrote an essay nearly 30 years ago that accomplished what most of us intellectual scribblers can only aspire towards: putting into a words a framework for understanding a problem or question which endures, even if the problem or question does not. This is definitely the case for Michael’s “The Function of Mormon Literary Criticism at the Present Time.” Most of the specific examples and engagements in that essay are probably inextricable from the intellectual debates of American Mormonism during the 1980s and 1990s, but his general observations–that “embedded in the assertion that there is such a thing as ‘Mormon literature’ is the claim that we, as Mormons, and particularly as American Mormons, represent a cultural entity whose traditions, heritage, and experience deserve to be considered a vital part of the American mosaic,” and “we are [not just] Mormons, but…are “Mormo-Americans”–remain provocative and vital. In fact, the deepest importance of his latest book cannot, I think, be fully appreciated without them. [Read more…]

An Entirely Inappropriate, Unseemly, and Unnecessary Personal and Biased Ranking of Mormon U.S. Senators

Seeing as how Senator Orrin Hatch, a man who for over 40 years served in the U.S. Senate as both pillar of and a lightning rod for Utah (and thus American Mormon) politics, passed away yesterday, and seeing as how I’ve used By Common Consent to honor and reflect upon Mormon senators in the past, and also seeing as how no one has posted anything in a while, I hereby submit a ranking, based solely upon my own entirely personal and idiosyncratic judgments, of all the Mormons who have served in the U.S. Senate in my lifetime. Enjoy! [Read more…]

Nobody Watches Conference Anymore

Of course, that’s not true. It might feel that way, and there might be circumstantial or anecdotal evidence to support you feeling that way, but it’s just a likely that, thanks to technology, church scheduling, social expectations and pressure, and more, a greater percentage of the total worldwide church membership is watching conference than ever before. So really, when you think “nobody,” you’re mainly thinking of yourself.

[Read more…]

The Osmonds’ Christmas, and Ours

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

The Osmond Christmas Album came out 45 years ago today, on December 18, 1976. I’m talking the original double-LP, of course, not the corrupt CD version which cut all of Merrill’s and Jimmy’s songs and was released 15 years later. For American Mormons of a certain age, the original–all 20 tracks of it–was an essential part of the holiday canon. It generated intense discussions of Mormon-specific trivia (was Donny singing to his then-girlfriend Debbie on “This Christmas Eve”?), gave rise to heated debates about family rules (surely, because it was the Osmonds and it was the holidays, we could play “Sleigh Ride” on Sundays, couldn’t we?), and required parental intervention as arguments broke out over who was better at picking up and dropping the needle without scratching the vinyl when it came to skipping over “If Santa Were My Daddy” (which, of course, everyone did). Consider the comments your space for your own or your family’s Osmond Christmas stories. Or, if you don’t have any (or at least not any for public consumption), you can always listen to the full thing here. (Or watch the 1976 special, broadcast the day before the album was released. Man, Paul Lynde wasn’t remotely Mormon, but I think he kind of loved our tribe.)

Chris Henrichsen, In Memoriam

No photo description available.

Chris Henrichsen (top right), who passed away suddenly this morning at the age of 45, was many things. A student of political theory, a democratic socialist, and a passionate defender of the legacy of John Rawls. An old-school fan of Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and other early 1980s hardcore punk acts (especially those with roots in his home stomping grounds of Washington DC). An educator who taught on the college and the high school level in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, and Maryland. A one-time Democratic candidate for Wyoming’s single seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, a failed campaign which he described to me at one point as having both completely broken him and entirely re-made him, financially and intellectually and politically, all at once. And perhaps most of all for this audience, a devout but cantankerous Mormon, always looking to situate himself (both publicly and within his own thinking and believing) in the midst of every controversy that roiled the waters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It was these latter efforts which led him to be a inconsistent-but-always-returning mainstay of the Mormon blogging world, whether at Approaching Justice or Faith-Promoting Rumor or Times and Seasons. His history here at By Common Consent was…contentious, as Chris was never shy about fighting for what he believed to be correct, and never too embarrassed to simply walk away from a fight that he believed not be worth pursuing further. But that pugnaciousness, however visible at conferences–like the one featured above, from Kansas City in 2011–or on the blogs or over the years on social media, never characterized any discussions about his beloved wife Lyndee and their three children, Todd, Shem, and Geneva. Them he would celebrate in the most stereotypically weepy Mormon male fashion imaginable…which, perhaps, expresses the delightful paradox of Chris very well: a man of doubts and disputations and abrupt declarations, who also maintained a deeply loving domestic heart.

We are a lesser tribe for Chris’s passing. Please send your prayers and best wishes to his family, and if you have any tales of Chris’s many online adventures over the years, please share them here. Stories can be the best medicine, sometimes.

A Non-Believer’s Benediction for Cumorah, and Other Things

Mormonism’s Sci-Fi Swan Song | The Point Magazine

A little less than two weeks ago, the church broadcast a Hill Cumorah Commemorative Devotional, acknowledging that the Hill Cumorah Pageant was no more, and celebrating its legacy. However, for better or worse that commemorative devotional was very much a product of the contemporary church–not the church in which creative, inventive, deeply devout, culturally oblivious, and definitely slightly crazy Mormons came up with the pageant, and kept it going, over the decades. I never saw the Hill Cumorah Pageant live (shout out for the Manti Pageant, however, my personal favorite!). Andrew Kay, a non-Mormon writer and a native of the Hill Cumorah region of New York, did see it however–saw it in 2019, in fact, in what turned out to be its final performance. The essay he has crafted about the experience, and what he has thought about it since–“Mormonism’s Sci-Fi Swan Song“–is the finest essay I have read about our church and our culture in many years. Using the pageant as a lens, Kay sees the American Mormonism that was–but isn’t so much anymore–whole: devout, campy, decent, rich, insular, plainspoken, charitable, practical, kind of racist, kind of sexist, and really very weird. It is a deeply compassionate essay, one that captures the vagaries of a genuine, comprehensive belief in a society where belief is mostly compartmentalized into discreet boxes for the sake of the believer and the non-believer alike. Here’s a taste: [Read more…]

Fathers, Friendship, and Holding onto Your Platoon (or Not)

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

This old Cal Grondahl cartoon, from many years ago, has been on my mind for while:

[Read more…]

Some Comments on the Possibilities for Mormon Socialism, or Communalism, at the Present Time

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

1) First things first: obviously, there isn’t any real world possibility for the (re-)emergence of Mormon socialism, or communalism, at the present time. [Read more…]

The Story of the Lost Sheep, Revisted

[A guest post from Glen Henshaw, a husband, a father, an engineer, a lover and raiser of animals, and a longtime reader of the blog.]

We found this lamb, named Pearl, hiding under a bank of the creek that runs along the back of our property one morning last week. This is the near bank, which means she could not be seen from our side of the creek – we had to wade the creek or jump the bank to see her. Pearl was not making a sound, and it took some careful counting to realize she was missing, and some careful searching to find her.

[Read more…]

Ritual, Remembrance, and Minerva Teichert’s Art

Manti Temple's Minerva Teichert murals will be preserved by church -  Deseret News

Recently, in connection with the controversy over the church’s decision to renovate the Manti Temple, and by so doing remove the murals by the famed artist Minerva Teichert contained therein, my old friend Jonathan Green wrote a short, smart, pithy defense of the church’s decision on the Times and Seasons blog, which I think I can mostly fairly summarize as: “you’re focusing on the wrong thing, everyone; as far as murals in a temple are concerned, It’s Just Art.” I strongly disagree with this take–but I want to be clear on why.

[Read more…]

Of Mormon Angels and Catholic Missals

An old friend of mine sent me this story; it has no great message, but it is worth pondering, in these post-Christmas days, as we wait the beginning of, we all fervently hope, a much better year. Enjoy!

Some of us may be familiar with Jorge Cocco Santángelo, an 84-year-old Argentinian Mormon artist who, after a lengthy career making and teaching art in Argentina, Spain, and Mexico, was recently “discovered” by our community. Since much of his recent work depicts the life of Jesus, it has found admirers far beyond his co-religionists; for example, shortly before the covid lockdowns began, the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas held an exhibition of his work. Recently, he was commissioned to do paintings for some Christmas postage stamps (not USPS), which should come out next year.

[Read more…]

Messages of Gratitude from the Desert (and for it, Sort Of)

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

For years, our family has had a “Thanksgiving Tree” tradition. We write on cut-out leaves something we are thankful for, then hang them on a “tree” of dead branches, and on Thanksgiving Day, we share them all. Since we’ve saved these leaves over the years, I can look back at mine, and there are several constants. Among other things, it seems that at this time of year I regularly feel gratitude for changing seasons, for frost on the grass, for fall foliage, for the smell of the earth after a November rain. It wouldn’t be wrong to sum up one of the main themes of these leaves simply as: I am thankful I don’t live in a desert.

[Read more…]

Thoughts on the Difficulty of Friendship at the Present Time

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

[A slightly altered version of a presentation on civility I gave at Friends University on October 26.]

I have seen a lot of anger among my family and friends during this election season; I presume I am not alone in that. After I was asked to give this presentation I thought about that anger, and talked with my wife about it at length. To her, Jesus’s cleansing of the temple is the emblematic scripture story of our moment, and I think she may be right. But what kind of guidance does it provide, if any, when we’re thinking about a Savior who called all who aspire to be servants of Him to love one another, without reservation?  A Savior whose most loving words, to those who served Him best, was to call them friends? [Read more…]

Sukkot and Settling Into Fall

[Cross-posted to In Media Res]

This year I planted a spring garden for the first time. Probably because of the pandemic, but because of other plans that I’ve been thinking about for a while, I decided early this year to up my gardening game–putting in raised beds at last, planting in mid-March, expanding the range of vegetables I aimed to grow: lettuce, broccoli, eggplant, green beans, and more. Most didn’t work out, but it was a good struggle along the way. But with August and September, and the need to convert my classes online, the pressures on my time increased, and the garden (along with some of those other aforementioned plans) got pushed to the side. Perhaps not coincidentally, my once rewarding garden took a serious dive, in terms of both productivity and the enjoyment I took from my increasingly limited engagements with it. So it was with some satisfaction that yesterday I ripped out all the wilting tomatoes and long-since-exhausted peppers, as I usually do around this time of year. But this year, I also started prepping for a fall and winter garden. It’s Sukkot, after all; time to build my settlement anew.

[Read more…]

Family-Centered, Church-Supported Thoughts About (Not Yet) Attending a New(ish) Ward

That’s our ward building, right there. We call it the “Westlink Building,” because its address is along Westlink Avenue, here on the west side of Wichita, Kansas. It’s more than a half-century old, having been built by the Mormon faithful here long before the church’s building program was centralized, back when local units needed to raise their own money and, perhaps, pour their own concrete and lay their own stones. Today, meetings were held there for the first time in months. Despite having attended church in that building ever since moving into our Wichita home–also on Westlink Avenue, just a third of a mile away, an easy Sunday walk–back in 2006, this week we weren’t there. [Read more…]

Our Own Vines and Our Own Fig Trees: a Post-Independence Day, Post-Hamilton-Watching Sermon

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Like plenty of other Americans (and, given likely demographics, probably in particular like plenty of readers of this blog), my family and I watched the musical Hamilton over the July 4th weekend. Our second-oldest daughter, who was home to join us yesterday, had actually seen the show in 2016 on Broadway; for the rest of us, as familiar as we were with the music, watching the show was a new experience–and it was a lovely one, a wonderfully funny and dramatic, visually and aurally compelling, and historically challenging (in more ways than one), piece of filmed theater. It was three hours very well spent. [Read more…]

Eugene England’s “Easter Weekend” Fast

Some of you are fasting today. In recognition of that, and in recognition of Good Friday, I am doing what I often do this time of year: return to what is, in my opinion, the finest, most powerful, and most Christian personal essay which Mormon-Americana has yet produced: Eugene England’s “Easter Weekend,” which is the story of a very different–and yet also, very universal–kind of fasting. It was originally printed in the Spring 1988 issue of Dialogue, was reprinted in the Autumn 2001 issue of Irreantum, and is available in full in The Quality of Mercy, a collection of his essays long out of print. You can read the whole thing here. I will include some excerpts below.

Gene has been dead for nearly 20 years. I didn’t know him well, though there are many members of the BCC community who did. But whether you knew him well or only a little or not at all, we all can re-read his words, and look forward to someday hearing his voice again.

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Presidents’ Day Questions for Ralph Hancock

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Ralph Hancock, a political theorist at Brigham Young University, is a fairly notorious figure in certain tiny Mormon slivers of the internet. I never took a class from him when I was a student at BYU, but I’ve interacted with him, in person and online, dozens of times over the decades; we’re friendly, if not necessarily close friends. Recently, Hancock made waves with a piece he published in the Deseret News, arguing, in reference to the recent impeachment vote, that Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee, who voted, along with every other Republican save one, to find President Trump not guilty of the impeachment charges, had acted like a true statesman; Mitt Romney, the only Republican senator who voted to convict Trump, had not. This is a position I disagree with, as I’ve made clear already. So this President’s Day, I’d like to pose some questions for Ralph–not with any illusion that anyone’s mind will be changed by voicing such questions, but because I honestly want to understand just what it is he’s claiming about American statesmanship circa 2020, and why. [Read more…]

Religious Liberty and Joseph Smith in Park’s Kingdom of Nauvoo

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Benjamin Park’s Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier is going to be released in two weeks. You should buy it and read it. It’s a first-rate work of Mormon history–the best book about this era I’ve read since Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling–and if it doesn’t quite become the work of intellectual history that I think Park sensed writing the story of Joseph Smith and the Council of Fifty could become, it’s not for lack of trying. Park takes up the many radical threads–political, economic, racial, and sexual–which were part of Smith’s final, and greatest, effort to establish his vision of a distinct community, and weaves them together into a compelling, fascinating tale. And now that Park has provided an interpretation of Smith’s kingdom-building which no previous historian was capable of–with the minutes of the secretive Council of Fifty only finally being made public in 2016–early Mormonism will likely soon find itself occupying a new and even more important conceptual place in the never-ending academic arguments about American democracy, religion, liberalism, and pluralism. Nerds like me who delight in such arguments will keep coming back to Park’s work as a foundational treatment, and we’ll be rewarded for doing so by Park’s delightful read. [Read more…]

Thanks, Mitt

McKay Coppins on Senator Mitt Romney’s vote to convict President Trump on one article of impeachment, the only Republican to do so:

“Romney’s vote will do little to reorient the political landscape. The president’s acquittal has been all but certain for weeks, as Republicans have circled the wagons to protect Trump. But the Utahan’s sharp indictment ensures that at least one dissenting voice from within the president’s party will be on the record—and Romney seems to believe history will vindicate his decision.” [Read more…]

An Brief Post About a Complicated Topic

Today I attended a local ecumenical Christian conference here in Wichita, KS. While there, Fr. Stephen Freeman, an Orthodox archpriest, gave a wonderful plenary address–ranging from deep philosophy to pastoral counsel–on boundaries, the other, and shame. At one point, while making the point that everything that exists is, and should be, bounded in some sense or another, he suggested that even in the perfect unity of the Trinity (what we Mormons tend to call the Godhead), there must be a “no,” a limit, or else everything collapses into one, and love of another becomes impossible. This made me think of two things. The first was 2 Nephi 2:11. The second was: was Father Freeman going off on this own here, or was this the correct Orthodox understanding of God? [Read more…]

The Mormon-American Boy Scout, 1913-2019. RIP.

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Today, the Mormon church officially ends its formal involvement with Boy Scouts of America. This change was announced more than a year and a half ago, but when you’re looking at a form of social organization that has shaped the lives of millions of people, involved the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars, and has more than 100 years of history and tradition and norm-building behind, change can be hard. While I have no direct knowledge of this–though perhaps someone reading this blog does–I am confident that in some ward or branch (maybe many wards and branches) in the United States there is, right at this moment, some teen-age boy or weary Scoutmaster or desperate mother scrambling to get forms filled out for the last merit badge the boy in question will ever earn, or setting up the flags and rushing to get the tablecloths for that last Eagle Court ever to be held in the local chapel or stake center, all with the aim of squeezing everything under the wire at the last possible second. I’d like to pay tribute to such folks, if I may. All of us Mormon believers and members who, one way or another, will get caught up in the church’s new youth program owe them our respect. They’re holding on, until the bitter end, to something that the church as a whole may very well be better off without–but which I am positive we’re going to miss in a more than a few ways, all the same. [Read more…]

Christmastime, Still (Sometimes) in the Dark

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

I woke up this morning early, the day following last night’s arrival of the Winter Solstice, of Midwinter, giving us the shortest and darkest day of the year (at least in the northern hemisphere). The only light in the house was from our tomten display–the nissen and gnomes who watch over our home, every Christmas season. Did someone forget to unplug the lights, as we are supposed to before everyone goes to sleep? Or did our watchful friends want to remind us of something? I wouldn’t doubt the latter at all. The whole house is silent, but that’s understandable; after all, as Astrid Lindgren taught us long ago, the tomten speak a “silent little language,” that presumably only our dog Stella could understand.

Exactly ten years ago, I wrote about the way some of our family’s holiday traditions revolve around the silence, and the dark. Well, children grow, and times change (as Lindgren wrote, “winters come, and winters go”). Some of our story-telling traditions have been retired, perhaps to return when our children return with their children. But midwinter still comes every year, and I remember (or am reminded, by our small, silent wintertime companions), of all that is happening out there in the darkness. So I am reposting it below. I’m the Sunday school president in our ward, but still, this is not a lesson that I would teach this Sabbath day, the final Sunday of Advent. More’s the pity, perhaps. Anyway, there will be family and friends at our home this evening all the same, as some traditions endure, even as they change. So this foggy, silent morning, I listen to the day’s most appropriate carol (whether you prefer the majestic version, or the humble one) and I am thankful for a God–and, perhaps, His little servants–who moves in the dark. [Read more…]

Some Personal Thoughts About the Book of Mormon as a Text

Last Sunday, I completed my march through The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, a version of the Book of Mormon edited by Royal Skousen. Published 10 years ago, it is employs multiple critical analysis tools to account for every textual variant found in the badly damaged original manuscript of the BoM, the printer’s manuscript, and several early printed editions as well, all with the aim of reconstructing, as much as possible, exactly what Joseph Smith recited to his scribes during those “days never to be forgotten,” as Oliver Cowdery put it, 190 years ago. I started through The Earliest Text about a year and a half ago, and it’s been a fascinating read. I’m by no means a scholar of the BoM’s historicity, but I think I’m fairly well-read in the many interpretive arguments which surround the book (which in different versions I’ve read all the way through perhaps a dozen times). Skousen’s achievement didn’t settle any of those arguments for me, but it did give me a new way to think about them–a way that I had, over the past several years, come think I could never apply to Mormon scriptures. [Read more…]

A Quick Query About the Proclamation on the Family

Today, at an early morning priesthood training meeting, our stake president made reference to the Proclamation on the Family, particularly the following brief section:

“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.”

He referenced this while telling a story–which I’m pretty certain, on the basis of a couple of details he mentioned, wasn’t entirely apocryphal–about a family where the husband, insisting to his wife that they need to be “equal partners,” pushed and pushed her to apply for a better-paying job that she didn’t really want. Our SP described this as a complete misreading of the Proclamation. Which got me thinking about how he understood the “individual adaptation” part of this passage as well. [Read more…]

Where Does “Restoration Christian” Authority End, and “Mormon Christian” Authority Begin?

[I recently was invited to speak about Mormonism and authority at local ecumenical Christian conference here in Wichita, sponsored by the Eighth Day Institute during their annual “Florovsky-Newman Week.” I’ve done stuff with Eighth Day a few times before, but this was a real challenge, talking about Joseph Smith and the Mormon doctrine of apostasy in front of a mostly Catholic and Orthodox audience. The following is an expansion of my comments.]

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

The question of “secularism” in the (formerly?) Christian world today is often expressed as one of authority. It is one thing to place one’s faith in the existence, teachings, and salvific promises of Jesus Christ, but another thing entirely to trust that one is in an “authorized” relationship with Him. The guiding assumption of this conference, grounded as it is in the legacies of John Henry Newman and Georges Florovsky, is that such confidence is to be found by orienting oneself–whatever that may mean–to the Church Fathers. As the conference’s own announcement describes it, “by returning to the common Tradition, by learning to read the Fathers as living masters, rather than as historical documents…[we] deepen [our] understanding of the authority by which the Church grounds her faith and morals.” [Read more…]

Just Read This Right Now

A Honduran asylum seeker, recently released from federal detention with fellow immigrants, holds the hand of her 6-year-old daughter at a bus depot in McAllen, Texas, on June 11, 2019.Christ in the Camps,” by Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic:

“I humbly reach out to the only faction of Americans I know of who have both the ear of the administration and who care about children: my brothers and sisters in Christ who attend Evangelical churches….I ask the pastors to request of the administration that all of us–the volunteers and charitable givers of all faiths and of no faith, the army of us who are so eager to help these children–can have access to the sites. Allow us to bring cots and toothbrushes and blankets and food. Allow us to arrange for carefully screened volunteers to work shifts at the sites, to help with diapers and bedtimes and combing for lice and checking for fevers. Allow us to be there when one of these children wakes up from a nightmare or breaks down from sorrow.”

As they used to say back when blogging actually worked, read the whole thing.

On Not Going to Girls Camp

For ten years, I was this guy: the goofball priesthood leader who volunteered for Girls Camp. I promised myself and others that I’d go as long as I had daughters going to camp; since college professors don’t work much during the summer, and since the stake was always scrambling to find a few men who were able and willing to spend a whole week playing water-carrier, blessing-giver, tent-erector, and general rented-mule for over a hundred young women, it worked out well. But times change and leadership changes, and this summer, though two of our daughters are leaving tomorrow morning (one for her fourth and final year, one for her second), I won’t be going with them to spray hornets, lead hikes, play lifeguard, or contribute to some ridiculous skit at their side. Instead, since this year’s camp is taking place rather close to our city of Wichita, each ward was asked to send multiple individuals one day at a time to get a brief Girls Camp experience, and I wasn’t one our bishop picked. I kind of miss it already. [Read more…]

Michael Austin’s Enemies, and What He Says About Them

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Michael Austin (who, for the record, is an old and close friend) does not fit most people’s stereotype of a “patriot,” the sort of person would would proudly fly an American flag and attend parades on Memorial Day. After all, he’s an academic, a cosmopolitan, a liberal Democrat, a scholar of 17th-century English rhetoric, Mormon environmentalism, world literature, and the book of Job; when he wrote an earlier book about the Founding Fathers, it was entirely about how right-wing patriots completely misunderstand them. So it would be easy to assume that Michael’s attachment to the idea of “America” would be distant, contextual, and intellectual at best.

That assumption would be wrong–or mostly wrong, anyway. You’d very likely be correct about the flag and the parades. But Michael’s latest book, We Must Not Be Enemies: Restoring America’s Civic Tradition, makes it clear that his attachment to–indeed, his “belief” in–the civic idea of America is both serious and strong. As long as I’ve known the man, it surprised me to see in these pages so much genuine passion and concern over the direction of the United States at the present moment. When he takes a line from the famous closing paragraph of Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address–“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies”–as his title, he really means it: he really believes that America’s liberal democracy both provides a vital opportunity for, and levies upon us all a specific demand for, friendship. That friendship is, in his view, essential to America’s “civic tradition”; democratic legitimacy in the American state–to say nothing of good government–is impossible without it. [Read more…]

“O Grave, Where Is Thy Victory?” #BCCSundaySchool2019

The Come Follow Me manual’s resources for the week of Easter include no set reading from the New Testament. Instead, there is a broad range of scriptures referenced–mostly from Matthew, but also from Luke, John, and 1 Peter–all dealing with Jesus’s resurrection, and how the story of the resurrection, and the story of the week preceding it, are emblematic of Jesus’s power to help us overcome trials and weaknesses and sins, and even death itself. This is, of course, a vital message; one that is captured in the exultation of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:55: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” [Read more…]