College Graduate Male Missionaries

Some years ago Dialogue published Tracie Lamb’s interesting essay on her experience as a sister missionary. (25/2, page 137) Some of her comments stemmed from being older than the average male missionary. I do not recall seeing any similar discussion by an older male missionary. (Perhaps you know of one?) One of my nephews, a recent college graduate from a Little Ivy, will begin his mission to Japan Sept. 9. In two years he will resume his dream of a career in an area of cell biology. In addition to having met very exacting academic standards, he boasts a real love of people, a warm personality, a highly trained and excellent singing voice, and a sincere desire to serve a mission. He seems well suited for success in a mission and in life. However, I wonder, what unique challenges and opportunities does the more mature young male missionary face?

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Of Johns and Mean Old People

Today I learned an old friend, 61, architect of all 3 of the homes we’ve owned over 30 years, my husband’s sometimes fishing buddy, enthusiastic gardener of rare hibiscus,  fundamentalist Christian who homeschooled his children to protect them from the world, and seemingly devoted husband was charged with soliciting an underaged prostitute. The FBI says he will be charged with additional offenses. His wife and children must be devastated.
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Ready for Baptism

Tomorrow my oldest grandchild will be baptized. 8 has always seemed to me too young to take on such responsibility, but tonight I think she might be ready.
This is why: As she and her sisters squeezed behind my 9 foot Christmas tree this afternoon to get the candy canes on the branches, she had a major role in knocking over the tree. One of our dogs once brought down a Christmas tree as he lifted his leg on it in the middle of the night, but this was the first time a child had toppled one. The dog jumped; the adults yelled. Sentimental ornaments of 40 years shattered in seconds. Tinsel tangled with branches and lights. Water flooded the floor. Having made sure the stunned children were not hurt, we set to work. I ran to get the ornament storage boxes in the attic so we could rescue the survivors and my granddaughter ran after me. “Grandma, I am so sorry.” Then, with no prodding, she joined the adults cleaning up the mess. Her mother told her to stop and go wash her hands (lead tinsel’s not recommended for fingers, especially small ones) and she refused repeatedly. “I’m going to help.” Defying her mother wasn’t popular, but I was silently very proud of her. In fact, as sad as I was for the loss, I never felt a need to scold her. She made no excuses; she showed no pride; she repented immediately with sincere remorse and a determination to make restitution–and that for a mere careless accident, no harm intended. The next time I carelessly harm another, I hope I do half so well.
So perhaps, even at the tender age of 8, she is ready.

Black Walnuts and the Book of Mormon

A few years ago the New York Times food editor suggested the only way to crack black walnuts was to run over them with a large SUV. But, just before trying our heaviest vehicle, a 3/4 ton 59 Ford pickup, I found a nutcracker strong enough to break the shells. Thinking I might eventually amass enough nutmeat to bake with it, I googled black walnut cake recipes tonight and found a prominent ad for a free Book of Mormon on multiple pages of the black walnut info. The ads are not on all the site’s recipe pages. These were the first ads I’d seen on non-Mormon sites. So I’m curious. Where have you seen Church ads on non-religious sites? Does anyone know what theories currently motivate the Church’s advertising buys? Are we who love black walnuts really more likely to embrace the Church?

Manna in the RS/PH manual

Tomorrow I will teach Lesson 10 in the RS/PH manual. So rare is the very mention of a woman in the manuals that tomorrow’s lesson indeed boasts manna, the name of Sarah Melissa Granger Kimball. Feast a little when you come to page 130. Sarah is quoted regarding instruction JS gave in the School of the Prophets. The manual fails to add that, as the only woman I am aware of attending the School, she heard the teaching firsthand. The instruction is important but not as important as the opportunity to introduce the sisters to a heroine. [Read more…]

Next Dialogue Editor: Kristine Haglund

Today I posted the following announcement on Dialogue’s website. Of course BCC needs no introduction to Kristine. You know her much better than we, though we are excited to try to catch up. Please join me in congratulating her and wishing her every success. [Read more…]

Considering our Dismay

Yesterday a longtime member of our Dialogue Board and prominent sociologist, Armand Mauss, was featured in a front page article in The Wall Street Journal entitled Mormons Dismayed by Harsh Spotlight.. He was quoted as saying ” I don’t think that any of us had any idea how much anti-Mormon stuff was out there.” The article concluded with another statement by Armand: “There will be a long-term consequence in the Mormon Church. I think there is going to be a wholesale reconsideration with how Mormons should deal with the latent and overt anti-Mormon propaganda. I don’t think the Mormons are ever again going to sorrowfully turn away and close the door and just keep out of the fray.” [Read more…]

Atonement–Easier for the Faithful?

Catching up on fun reading, tonight I read a brief Dec. 2 NYT mag interview of Ian McEwan about his novel and film “Atonement.” For him, an atheist, the impulse to atone is human rather than religious. I agree. He adds that atheists “have the same problem of how they reconcile themselves to a bad deed in the past. It’s a little easier if you’ve got a god to forgive you.” [Read more…]

“believing, modern and neighborly all at once”

I pulled a string and Lori Levinson, Dialogue’s excellent business manager, sent me her advance copy of the Winter 2007 issue. Yours and mine will be along soon. I haven’t made it past the poetry (I usually read the poetry first and this batch is hauntingly appropriate for winter), Neal Kramer’s review of Wayne Booth’s autobiography My Many Selves (which I loved so I had to read the review- good review) and Ethan Yorgason’s interview of John Durham Peters, professor of communications theory at the U. of Iowa and branch president. I’m now too busy googling Peters. [Read more…]

Hugh B. Brown, a place to start

MCQ’s request today for posts on Sterling McMurrin and Hugh B. Brown lit all my Dialogue antenna. I apologize I haven’t time to attempt a bibliography, even a Dialogue only bibliography with its numerous citations, but I will point you to a start: Volume 17, No. 1, Spring 1984, for Blake Ostler’s interview with Sterling McMurrin and a reprint of one of my favorite talks of all time, Hugh B. Brown’s address to BYU on May 13, 1969. Entitled “An Eternal Quest: Freedom of the Mind,” it is a classic. A wise blend of deep testimony and humble acknowledgment that “Our revealed truth should leave us stricken with with knowledge of how little we really know. It should never lead to an emotional arrogance based upon a false assumption that we somehow have all the answers–that we in fact have a corner on truth. For we do not.” [Read more…]

A Cherishing So Deep

Speaking from the grave, the main character of the film American Beauty, Lester Burnham says he doesn’t feel regret for his death, only intense gratitude “for every single moment of my stupid little life.” [Read more…]

Celebrating those who serve

This morning my Relief Society president and I bought goodies to fill Christmas baskets for many in need in our ward. At her suggestion, we also bought for some of those who particularly generously serve other ward members all year long. My husband and I have usually given a homemade thank you gift to the bishop at Christmas, but my RS president really has the right idea. We don’t say enough thank yous to the workhorses of the ward. So, along with my wish for the merriest of Christmases to you all, I send the suggestion you or your wards might say a special thanks to the givers this week.

Milk and Meat

Two articles in the latest, Winter 2006, Dialogue dovetail nicely. Writing of the Church in Japan today, Jiro Numano treats challenges of cultural paradox and of historical information on the internet. He argues that the fact that only 25,000 of 120,000 Japanese members are active can be traced in part to the dissonance resulting from comparisons of official and online Mormon histories. Numano’s article is posted on the Dialogue website,

Challenged for printing 2 historically groundbreaking Dialogue articles, David John Buerger’s on second anointings and D. Michael Quinn’s on post-manifesto polygamous marriages, Jack Newell’s Personal Voices essay, unfortunately not available on our website, sets forth the criteria he and Linda used for publication when they edited Dialogue. They were three: “(1) Is the evidence unimpeachable? (2) Is the interpretation responsible? and (3) Is the issue important to a rounded understanding of the Mormon experience? [Read more…]

Elder Ballard’s “O Be Wise”

Elder Ballard’s October Conference address deserves careful thought and implementation. He counseled us to be innovative in service, adding that “to innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify.” And he suggested we make greater use of the phone, emails and snail mail to minimize meetings. [Read more…]

Why I Stay

Friday I spoke on Sunstone’s “Why I Stay” panel. At the risk of condensing so brutally that I render my comments illogical, I share here a very brief summary in hopes of enticing you to add why you who stay in the church do stay. Reasons others go are familiar: leadership and policy issues (political issues, official barriers to serious scholarship, excommunications, etc.) and lack of intellectual or spiritual stimulation (read boredom), for example. I stay though I share many of the complaints of those who go. [Read more…]

Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons — UPDATED

We who blog under Dialogue’s tent are in a somewhat awkward position. On the one hand, we blog to share our passion for Dialogue The Journal and under its umbrella and, on the other, we quite necessarily share our own opinions. We’ve all come to care about you and your opinions and enjoy our conversations with you in the same way you care about and enjoy each other. We personally like being a small part of your community. But Dialogue the institution’s mission is to further dialogue, not to take sides in any cause but our own. Dialogue is governed by one belief: that dialogue is good because we are most likely to learn the truth in a free and open exchange of ideas. [Read more…]

A Christian by Yearning

Levi speaks on his upcoming book Rascal by Nature, A Christian by Yearning, A Mormon Autobiography at the University of Utah tomorrow, April 11. You Utahns still have time to make plans to see him. [Read more…]

What is Joseph Smith’s Enoch?

Few scriptural puzzles challenge us as does Enoch. Now that the Old Testament and the Pearl of Great Price are again front and center, I would love to know how you analyze the problems and what you think of Joseph’s Enoch. [Read more…]

A more perfect patriarchy

Elisabeth’s recent post, posing the question of whether women are precluded from holding the priesthood by policy or doctrine, particularly interested me. Last month I finished a personal essay on women in the church today for the upcoming summer issue of Dialogue and in tribute to the 3 so-called “pink issues” Dialogue has published. It’s in the can and after it is published, I will welcome your comments. Now I would like to follow Elisabeth’s lead and invite a discussion corollary to her great question and relating to some of my essay. [Read more…]

Race and the Church

My name is MollyBennion and I am looking forward to posting occasionally with other Dialoguers. New to blogging, I am enjoying your world. By Common Consent drove home its advantages of immediacy, honesty and insight in this last week’s discussion of the Seattle sex abuse judgment. Thanks J. Stapley for starting an enlightening and important exchange.

Another equally painful social issue is on my mind of late. I have a good friend, a black Mormon man in his early thirties, impressive on every front, a man of deep testimony who is questioning continuing in activity in the Church because of persistent racism. Even a recent bishop told my friend he bore the mark of Cain and its inherent inadequacies. Testimony is not an issue for him; the issue is can he bear and should he be asked to bear the weight of Mormon folklore? [Read more…]