SBC and LDS vs the Alt-Right

Maybe not everyone follows the news around religious conventions, but this year’s meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention had some fascinating turns. After having at first rejected a proposal condemning white nationalism and the alt-right, the SBC faced some major internal chaos, changed course and adopted a reworded proposal. The proposal itself is worth a close read. [Read more…]

Distilled, Pure Knowledge

We try to give you not just milk around here, but MEAT. Scott and I had a conversation which, following prayerful reflection, we decided was fit to be shared with you. Do not make us regret sharing these pearls.

Steve: Scott, are you there, I need to have an important conversation with you.

Scott: lo, i am with you always [Read more…]

Book Review Roundup

Again it’s my pleasure to bring you brief reviews of outstanding books that deserve (and have received elsewhere) much fuller review by more qualified persons. My goal here is not to replace that more fulsome review, but to give a layman’s perspective and some idea of where these books fit into the libraries of non-professional Latter-day Saints. [Read more…]

BCC Secrets

Earlier this week on BCC twitter a bunch of people DM’d us with their secrets – some benign, some not so benign. I don’t really love our oversharing culture, and I don’t know if this will repeat itself again on our twitter account. But the various responses might give us a picture into how we’re all wanderers, all searching, all hurting sometimes. Reading these have given me more compassion and more desire to be kind: in the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see. [Read more…]

Announcing BCC Press

We started BCC in 2004. That’s a very long time for any internet project, and I’ve been really lucky to be associated with some of the best Mormon writers and thinkers around. BCC is a joyful, faithful, troublemaking crowd and every day I read and learn things here that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I have become a better Mormon because of the minds and souls of the rest of you here. We’re proud of this community, but there’s always been the feeling that we could be doing more. So we’re expanding our efforts to build the community and engage with our faith in a new way. We’ve started a non-profit publishing company: BCC Press. [Read more…]

Conference: New Perspective on Joseph Smith and Translation

If you’re at Utah State this Thursday night, there’s an exceptional opportunity to hear from some of the best in Mormon Studies: Richard Bushman, Terryl Givens, Jana Riess, Rosalynde Welch, Sam Brown and others will be speaking. The concept of “translation” in Mormonism is incredible rich and one where our framing can take a number of different approaches: linguistic, philosophical, theological. These framings matter tremendously.

Anyways, the poster is linked to below, and if you have time Thursday I would strongly recommend attending.

New Perspectives on Joseph Smith and Translation

Matriarchy: NOT THAT BAD


I attended a blogger event this morning in the Presidents’ Room of the Relief Society building on Temple Square.  If you’ve never been to that building, take a trip sometime.  It’s gorgeous.  The room is lined with portraits of past leaders of the Relief Society going back to the beginnings in 1842.  It’s an impressive visual legacy.

[Read more…]

Call for Papers: 1835-1839

From the good folks at the Joseph Smith Papers Project:

In 2017, the Joseph Smith Papers Project will release volumes five and six of the Documents Series, covering major events from the life of Joseph Smith during the years 1835-1839. To celebrate the publication of these volumes, the project invites paper proposals for a conference to be held on October 20, 2017 at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City. While paper proposals need not specifically be about Joseph Smith, they should draw from the corpus of his surviving documents from 1835-1839. We encourage proposals that explore the broad themes covered in these volumes, including missionaries; the role of women and gender in religious communities; religious gathering; communitarian land purchasing strategies and urban planning; frontier violence; religion and the law; and religious dissent. [Read more…]

Kingdom Come

Adapted from a talk I gave recently.

“Thy kingdom come.” Let there come the full establishment of thy realm. This is the first thing Jesus teaches us to pray about after addressing God and honoring God’s name. There’s a Jewish saying used in the yeshivas, “a prayer where there is no mention of the Kingdom of God is not a prayer.”

Jesus puts it up front and center. Zion is not just something to pray for, it is the first thing to pray for. It is both a wish – because the arrival of God’s kingdom means rest and paradise – and a pledge of allegiance, submission to God as the real commander in chief. Whatever authorities and governments we have over us now, Jesus seems to ask us to look to God and say, “thy kingdom come.” [Read more…]

Respect the Office

Hooray for another political post!

When I tell people that I think Trump is an evil man, that I think he is an unintelligent boor who brags about sexual assault, that his election has been irrevocably tainted by the specter of Russian involvement, that his cabinet picks are a mixture between a horror show and pure comedy, that I cannot bring myself to view him with any level of respect, I frequently get this answer: “I respect the office. I respect the peaceful transition of power.”

No, I don’t think so. [Read more…]

Book Review Roundup: JSPP, Spencer, Johnson/Reeder

Once again, three quick reviews of some highly interesting books, any one of which is worthy of serious long-form discussion. Three very affordable books that really ought to be in everybody’s library/kindle collection, quite frankly.

Ron Esplin, Matthew Grow, Matthew Godfrey, Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (SLC: The Church Historian’s Press, 2016, $10.49). Imagine if your Doctrine and Covenants study guide were an authoritative, thorough historical introduction to each section of the D&C from the best scholars in the Church. Imagine that your study guide also included the earliest extant versions of each section, with all the typos, cross-outs and errors. Imagine that this study guide were published by the Church itself. Imagine that this study guide were only available online as an e-book. Wait, what? [Read more…]

Spirituality as a Skill, Not a Talent

This is an attempt to bat some ideas around that I originally picked up here in a mindfulness/fitness context. Your mileage may, and likely will, vary. It’s entirely possible that this post doesn’t apply to you at all. That’s cool.

Sometimes, when people tell me that they are experiencing a faith transition or challenge, when they fail to meet the spiritual goals they’d long ago set for themselves, I hear that they just don’t think they’re the believing type. I’ve felt that way too sometimes. I wonder if people might find more peace of mind if they thought of feelings of religious devotion as a skill to be honed and refined. [Read more…]

Review: “Immortal for Quite Some Time”

What is Immortal for Quite Some Time, the book from Scott Abbott, the Professor of Integrated Studies, Philosophy and Humanities at UVU? Is it a memoir? Abbott explicitly disclaims this in a preface: “This is not a memoir,” he says, saying the book is a “fraternal meditation on the question, ‘Are we friends, my brother?'”. Yet even that descriptor is both incomplete and misleading, as I’ll discuss. Is the book a collection of Abbott’s pontifications on various LDS topics? Yes, it is that, but it is significantly more than this as well. If a meditation, the book is also incomplete, as Abbott’s book does not necessarily bring a level of mindfulness or self-reflection. Is it a history? It fails at that as well, leaving out key figures and telling us a partial view of major events. I believe that Immortal for Quite Some Time is best viewed as a mystery, in two senses: the author piecing together his brother’s life and what that fraternity means, but also the mystery of the author to himself and to the reader. It is the best book I read all year. [Read more…]

Review: The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl (Part One)

Just a quick review, because this is an excellent last-minute gift idea.  Scott Hales has created something really cool. [Read more…]

War, Famine and Economics #BOM2016

Helaman 11 is a pretty darned fascinating piece of scripture. It raises all sorts of questions about the nature of God, the ability of humans to affect the will of God, and the nature of humans to choose evil over good — and that’s just the first 20 verses. The latter half of the chapter speaks to our penchant for recidivism, our inability to root evil out from among us, and how the only way to vanquish evil is to fight it relentlessly and tirelessly.

But for this post I want to talk about the narrative in the first 20 verses, when the Lord begins to make good on Nephi’s promise from Helaman 10: repent or be destroyed. [Read more…]

Saints At Devil’s Gate: A New Exhibition Opens at the CHM

An example of some of the art of displayA little over a year ago, the Church History Museum unveiled “The Heavens Are Opened,” a new interactive art and artifact exhibit that walked viewers through the early days of the Church through the martrydom. While that period is of course vital to our history, it is far from the complete story of the Latter-day Saints.

A new exhibition, “Saints At Devil’s Gate”, continues the Mormon story as the Saints traveled to the Salt Lake Valley. [Read more…]

Book Review Roundup

Some really exceptional books out there, but not a lot of time to review. Below are some quick roundup thoughts on some of the major Mormon Studies books that have crossed my path in the last several months. Each deserves a far lengthier treatment than I’m able to provide, so view these brief reviews as more of a condensed thumbs up-thumbs down approach. [Read more…]

Eschatology

The Book of Mormon warns us of what happens when more people choose evil over good: the judgment of God is upon them. Helaman 5:1-

For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.

I’ve never been much of a believer in the end times. But I’m starting to believe. We (white Americans) have sent a strong message to minorities, to LGBTQ people, to women, to Muslims. I’m sorry that all this privileged liberal talk did absolutely nothing to make your lives better. I’m sorry for the arrogant belief that of course a man like that could never be president. But now those rights and freedoms you had are at risk. The economy, that arm of flesh, is at risk. Climate change is a foregone conclusion. And now white nationalism reigns.

If we are getting closer to the end of things, followers of Christ need to stand together now more tightly than ever. We need to reassure and help and reach out more than ever. As the mountains tremble, our institutions tumble and the rocks melt with fervent heat, I want you to know that I love you and I won’t abandon you. God help us.

Some thoughts on Relief Society

Yesterday on Twitter there was a pretty interesting conversation about the Relief Society. We put together a consolidated story so that you could read these in one place (for the most part – there were numerous side conversations).

You should check it out here – I would embed but I don’t think our site allows it.

What would you have added to that conversation?

BYU’s Title IX Report

President Worthen announced today that the Advisory Council on campus sexual assault has provided its report, and that BYU is going to adopt all of the council’s recommendations.

BYU’s Title IX Site is here

The report is here

This is such good news, and such a good step forward. [Read more…]

Why I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

A brief post to explain my political position here. I don’t speak for the other permas at BCC and won’t pretend to make this a generalized editorial.  I also won’t waste time on the countless reasons Donald Trump is not qualified to be president, as the Deseret News and other papers of record have already articulated those points. [edit: I’ll just focus on one]  [Read more…]

Christofferson: God’s Love Is Unconditional #ldsconf

*Breathe in*
God’s love is unconditional.
*Breathe out*
*Breathe in*
God’s love is unconditional.
*Breathe out*

Say it with me. [Read more…]

Movie Review: THE NEXT DOOR

I saw GOD’S ARMY in a theater in New York City after it came out. Richard Dutcher brought a level of realism to missionary work that I’d never seen before in a movie by an LDS filmmaker, let alone in one about missionary work. And there have been many good LDS movies since that time, including by Dutcher but also others: Hess, Little, Batty, Nelson and more. I believe it is very wrong to say that the best days of Mormon cinema are behind us. My belief is reconfirmed by THE NEXT DOOR, a short film by Barrett Burgin, a young filmmaker at BYU. You can view the trailer here. [Read more…]

The Body

Your body didn’t look like you, Dad, not anymore. It seemed like some wax figure of you, some rough approximation, but thinner, older, without the spark that made you what you are. You didn’t look anything like your driver’s license photo from years ago. Mom had called the home teachers, and we went together to the funeral home with your temple bundle. There, in a small back room, we men offered a word of prayer and began the work of dressing you for the last time. [Read more…]

The Laundry List

People sometimes talk about what changes they’d like to see at Church.  I’ve decided to compile a little list of things that I would change, provided that (a) my voice mattered and (b) God ever ratifies my list.  These items are in no particular order.  Some may respond that the Church already offers some of these things.  If so, you’re welcome to explain in the comments.  My response, generally, will be that there are pockets within Mormonism where such things are offered/taught, but not as a general matter. [Read more…]

So about that Op-Ed

I provided a brief op-ed to the Salt Lake Tribune about the BYU situation. They tell you never to read the comments, but I’ve seen some floating around the internet and wanted to address a couple of points.

[Read more…]

Campus Rape: What’s Left Unsaid

A few weeks ago, I participated in a town hall about rapes on college campuses. Madi Barney, Erin Alberty and Jodi Peterson were fantastic participants; I was glad to be there and listen to Madi’s experience, Jodi’s excellent advice and Erin’s solid reporting. BYU’s Julie Valentine provided a prerecorded message and it, too, was very powerful. I didn’t have much to say for my part, other than I think BYU should apologize and that an honor code that shields rapists is a false sort of purity. It’s been a couple of weeks, and I don’t know what impact that town hall actually has had — or what’s next. It was clear that this was only the very beginning of a longer and more difficult process. Here are a few things that might be worth talking about some more.

[Read more…]

Nov 5

screen-shot-2015-11-06-at-11-00-03-amLast November, the Church abruptly changed the Handbook of Instructions. It added being in a same-sex marriage to the definition of apostasy. It also stated that children of married (or cohabitating) same-sex parents cannot receive a name and a blessing, be baptized, ordained, or serve a mission without First Presidency approval, and even then on conditions that the child (1) is committed to living the doctrines of the church, disavowing the practice of same-sex cohabitation and marriage; and (2) is of legal age and not living “with a parent who has lived or currently lives” in a same-sex marriage or cohabitation. [Read more…]

New perma: Christian Harrison

We’re very excited to welcome aboard our friend Christian Harrison as a permanent addition to our group. Christian has posted with us in the past here, here and here, and his presence at BCC will class up the joint. His is a powerful voice of spirituality and awareness. Read Christian’s bio here. Welcome, Christian!

Book reviews: Brown, Holbrook/Bowman, Mason

Book reviews never do the books justice, not fully – the complexity of argument, the fine examples, these are always lost. So, try not to be too disappointed in micro-reviews of these three fine books, each of which are extremely valuable resources. [Read more…]