The Bundys and Immigration

Recently, Ammon Bundy has made some remarks about immigration policy. These remarks have been made on public radio as well as on Ammon Bundy’s Facebook page. Criticizing the Trump policy as one that is “fear-based”, Bundy said “These are people, the majority of them need help…There is a possibility of danger with some of them, they need to be vetted. And then they need to be brought in here and added to this great, wonderful country.” The reactions have been somewhat amusing. Some right-wing folks consider Bundy’s remarks a serious betrayal. Other people saw this as Bundy trending towards a liberal stance.

Fools, all of you! I shall explain this puzzle. [Read more…]

Movie Review: Jane and Emma

Some topics of Church history are so ugly, so complex and so fraught with conflicting priorities that they seem impossible to talk about in meaningful ways. Racism in the Church is one of those topics. Polygamy is another. Each attempt to examine these topics is like performing an autopsy on a live patient, each little dissection an injury. How, then, can we address these matters, because it is both morally crucial and communally necessary to know ourselves and see as we were then and are now? Melissa Leilani Larson (screenplay, story), Tamu Smith and Zandra Vranes (story) believe that the medium of film, the dramatization of historical characters, can bring us closer to an understanding that is both sensitive and sensible. Jane and Emma is their work, a film that portrays the intersecting lives of the freshly-widowed Emma Smith and Jane Manning, a black woman seeking her spiritual birthright among the Mormons of Nauvoo. While the film is not perfect, it represents the best on-screen attempt to capture the complexity of Nauvoo and the staggering internal conflicts these women faced. [Read more…]

Revelation and name change

I recently chatted with Patrick Mason, Shelby Lamar and Morgan McKeown on the Mormonism Magnified podcast from Claremont University about the recent efforts by President Nelson to use the official name of the church more consistently. I believe President Nelson has displayed a greater tendency to invoke revelatory language than any other president of the Church in the last hundred years. His presidency will be an interesting topic for study by historians.

I recommend listening to the discussion. You can download the podcast by searching “Mormonism Magnified” on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher, or here on their website:
http://www.mormonismmagnified.com/2018/10/03/episode3/. I am curious as to both the short and long term effects of President Nelson’s tenure and rhetoric. I strongly suspect that his style will greatly impact not only future presidents of the Church, but local leaders as well.

What We Fear

I’m going to wade into the waters of the Sam Young excommunication.  Let me suggest that telling the truth about the church is not what got him excommunicated. [Read more…]

The Rest of the Lord

I recent read Adam Miller’s new book, “An Early Resurrection”, a book I recommend (book review forthcoming). One of the parts that stuck with me was a brief discussion about the “rest of the Lord”, as found for example in Moroni 7:3 –

Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.

What is this rest? [Read more…]

James The Mormon, Round Two

I’m eating hot dogs and chips, and across the table from me is James Curran, a serial entrepreneur and app developer, who “as a hobby” has had a #1 track on iTunes for hip hop/rap under the name James the Mormon. We’re talking about artistic integrity, “clean” rap, the future of Mormon culture, the LDS Deseret Book culture machine, and what representation looks like. [Read more…]

Male Friendships

A quick observation, one backed up by science (at least as a five minute google search revealed): it’s getting more difficult to have male friends as I get older. Yes, my time is largely taken up with family and work. Yes, there are lots of activities in the elders’ quorum. But I find that I simply don’t have very many close friendships with men. Maybe a handful. Most live far away. [Read more…]

Some thoughts about Joseph L. Bishop

This is a sensitive topic. I’m speaking for myself here and not for anyone else at BCC.

God does not call us to defend the morally indefensible, or to call wrong things right. Whether we’re talking about people or institutions, the mandate for Mormons is to be honest and to seek to do right. [Read more…]

Two Great Events for Black History Month

Next week are two extremely promising events, both of which I really wish I could attend. [Read more…]

Disagreeing to Agree

At BCC we pride ourselves upon the quality of our unanimity and general agreement on topics. While the authors on other sites may bicker and argue with each other, here we… [Read more…]

MLK Jr. Day

To commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, below is the text of the speech he gave when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. I hope we will all be engaged in the work of further justice, equality and peace.

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: [Read more…]

Doubt vs Faith: A False Opposition

It has been four and a half years since Elder Uchtdorf’s “Come, Join with Us” talk, one of the best talks in recent memory. His talk is inclusive, it is hopeful, it is practical and it is wise. Everyone should watch it and read it, in my opinion. There is one part in particular which has generated a fair amount of discussion, the line “doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” Here is the more full quote, for context: [Read more…]

Book Review Roundup

Once again, I offer some bite-sized reviews of books that deserve far longer and more detailed treatment. Some excellent books here, some a little more rough. [Read more…]

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…]