To the Persistent Trolls

We get lots of bots and trolls around here. One of them is more persistent than most: a particularly loathsome dirtbag who goes by BCC Conscience (or whatever variant he needs to avoid our block filters).  Dear BCC Conscience and other repeating trolls: screw you.

Everyone else: please don’t reply to him or others like him. We’ll remove his comments and replies to him as we can. Consider him an example of how far away from Zion we really are.

New Permablogger: Megan Conley

We’re extremely pleased to announce that Megan Conley will be joining us as a permablogger. We’re looking forward to her contributions here — if you have had the pleasure of reading Meg’s work elsewhere, you know she is good, smart and wonderful. You can also follow Megan on Twitter.

Welcome Meg!

Welcome Amber!

We’re really excited to announce that Amber Haslam is joining us as a permablogger. Amber has been our guest previously and we’re fans of how she is able to get right to the heart of complicated topics in a sensitive, profound way. Read her bio here. Everyone, say hi to Amber!

Book Review Roundup

A series of quick reviews from the layman’s perspective to tell you whether you should get a book or not. If you don’t want to read what I say about each book: I have to say, this time, each of these books are worth reading and owning, though some are more specialized in subject matter. I review some outstanding offerings by George Handley, Tom Christofferson, Max Perry Mueller, the Joseph Smith Papers, Craig Harline, and Turley/Johnson/Carruth. [Read more…]

Book Review Roundup

Book reviews are hard. They’re hard to write, and (for the authors) hard to read. People don’t comment on book review posts, normally. This is because there is little to say, unless you vehemently disagree; if you are the sort who vehemently disagrees with a book review, friend, I embrace you. My approach is to be short and to the point, to gear my reviews towards the casual reader (because such is what I am). So: four books for your consideration this week. [Read more…]

Does Prayer Work?

So today, two sorts of explosive news: first, that a prominent general authority has been excommunicated, and second, that Donald Trump is going to rain "fire and fury" upon North Korea if they should threaten the United States again.

These two events make me ask: does prayer work? [Read more…]

Confessions of an Elder

A friend of mine sent me this video yesterday. Please go watch, then let’s discuss…

[Read more…]

Working Backwards From Zion

Some good discussions this week about Zion, a perennial favorite topic of my own. Most Mormons can probably agree that we should be seeking Zion, working towards Zion, consecrating ourselves to the establishment of Zion. But the next steps can seem a little ambiguous at times. We LDS no longer called to a literal gathering, we don’t talk anymore of Jackson County, and the temple lot is not ours (it belongs to other Mormons). At times it feels like we’re in a sort of holding pattern when it comes to Zion. We go to church, we do our callings, we pay tithing. Is that all there is? If we’re not gathering or building (aside from donations and regular callings), what are we doing? Where is our utopia?

Maybe part of what’s missing is some sort of sustaining vision of where we’re headed, the ultimate goal. So here are all the relevant scriptures on Zion that I could find, the ones that tell us what that utopian society is like. [Read more…]

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…]