Bishop Caussé’s talk was really good

The implications of stewardship and environmental issues are deeply profound. Even if the talk didn’t go into many specifics, it’s great to see environmental responsibility figure prominently in our doctrine. Tending to the earth is a salvific act.

Steppin’ Out

I was talking the other day with a couple of friends, exchanging crazy mission stories. A recurring theme is the “comp slipped out at night to go visit his secret local girlfriend”. I’m obsessed with these, primarily from a logistical point of view. HOW?? How is the missionary slipping out in the night, undetected? I want to hear from people who either slipped out at night or got slipped out on. Please explain how this was done. It is like some David Blaine-level escape magic.

Hope in the darkness

It’s Advent and I keenly feel the notion of hope against hope, that I am navigating my way with a brief candle in the darkness. I find that I have lost hope in most institutions and groups of humans, but feel hopeful about our individual capacity for goodness. I would really like to hear what you are all hopeful about. I won’t second-guess your sources of hope, but perhaps hearing where you get your hopes will brighten my own. Happy Advent and Merry Christmas.

It is a sin to vote for Donald Trump.

I thought about writing something longer, pointing people to Mosiah 29, enumerating his numerous vices, but there’s not much point in doing so. Casting your vote for an evil person is a sin.

When I said something similar in 2016, folks debated whether voting is a moral choice, whether Trump was really that much worse than Hillary, etc., etc., but I believe I have been vindicated in every respect. He is evil and has led our country closer to the brink of infamy and internal collapse. Voting for him is unjustifiable and morally wrong. Therefore it is a sin.

What have the Joseph Smith Papers taught me?

It seems incredible, but it looks like they’re almost through with the Joseph Smith Papers Project*. The JSPP plans on printing 27 volumes across five series, and 20 are done: 3 of 3 Journals volumes are complete, 10 of 15 Documents volumes have been published, with the next one landing this fall; 2 of 2 Histories volumes are complete; the Administrative Records (C50) volume is complete; and 4 of 5 Revelations and Translations volumes are done, including the Manuscript Revelations book**. Not sure when we will receive the 2 online-only series, Financial Records and Legal Records. It is too early to assess the series as a whole, especially since the next several Documents volumes will contain some of the most interesting content. But it’s not too early for me, as an amateur and dilettante, to give you my observations and impressions, particularly about how reading these volumes has changed my perspective on Joseph Smith. [Read more…]

How to reactivate people

After reading this week about some stake presidencies sending form letters to folks in an effort to keep them active, I got to thinking about what really would work to keep people active in the Church and what sort of approaches would work. Here are some thoughts that represent my personal findings after being involved on the periphery of reactivation efforts over the years. I hope you don’t mind these ramblings, which are mostly to spur discussion and are not meant as a final declaration on the topic of church activity. [Read more…]

Mormonism and White Supremacy

It’s not hard to dunk on the Church when it comes to race issues. 42 years ago today, the First Presidency announced to Church leaders that the priesthood and temple ban on black members would end. 42 years is not a long time! The Church really is a particularly white subset of American Christianity, and yet we have consistently provided the message that we are not racist, that we treat all people as God has directed us. Joanna Brooks’ new book, Mormonism and White Supremacy, probably won’t tell the world or the Church anything it doesn’t already know — Church leaders have said and done a lot of terrible things throughout our history. Her perspectives on Mormon* racial innocence are provocative, and while her interpretations might sometimes be debatable, her book is timely and a worthwhile catalyst for self-examination.
[Read more…]

King Leere is one of our greatest novels

I’ve been rereading Steve Peck’s The Tragedy of King Leere and I’m convinced that it is one of the best works of Mormon fiction there is, but not just because Peck’s work is insanely creative or because his world-building is so hauntingly convincing. I believe it is a masterpiece because no one else captures the Mormon notions of stewardship, personal responsibility and family bonds better than Steve. This is your summer read. [Read more…]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Saturday Saints

Just a quick meditation on Easter, and why Saturday speaks to me most. [Read more…]

Your Friday Firestorm

BYU should be free.


The Bear River Massacre, an Editor’s Perspective

This week, BCC Press launched Darren Parry’s The Bear River Massacre: A Shoshone History. It is a deeply personal book, a wholly unique book, and we’re proud to publish it. It is a history book, but it is a personal history, the story told of one’s own family through several generations and in the storytelling tradition of that family and people. Darren is not describing with anthropological detachment; he is telling us the story of his people and how they have survived — and thrived. [Read more…]

Be careful what you ask for

Just a quick note that if you’re going to send someone to God to ask questions, they might not get the answers you expect. [Read more…]

Book Review Round-up

My goal here is to provide brief reviews to give readers a sense of what the books are about, what they’re like, their general quality and a recommendation of whether or not the book belongs in the collection of the average reader. This time, some heavy hitters in Mormon Studies. [Read more…]

The Splintering

I believe we are near the end of cohesive online community within our Church. [Read more…]

11th Annual International Art Competition

One of my favorite art exhibitions is the International Art Competition run by the Church and exhibited at the Church History Museum. Run every three years, it’s a great opportunity to see some of the artistic talent of church members from around the world. This year, 151 works of art from over two dozen countries are on display, with the theme “Meditations on Belief”, taken from Psalm 77: “I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.” [Read more…]

On Translation

I read with interest this fun column by Stephen Smoot about the Book of Mormon and the necessity to perceive it as a real history of real people. His article has a nice companion piece/counterargument here that I would also recommend folks read. I like Stephen and I find him and the W&T author to be thoughtful. The discussion has caused me to reflect a little about some of the issues in LDS notions of translation, where those issues take us logically, and the ramifications on us as a community when reading scriptures translated by Joseph Smith. [Read more…]

Faith In A Secular Age Conference Q&A

On March 1-2, the Wheatley Institution and Maxwell Institute will sponsor the “Faith in a Secular Age” conference at Brigham Young University. The conference was organized by Miranda Wilcox, Sam Brown, and Jim Faulconer.

This conference will feature topical sessions in which Latter-day Saint and Catholic scholars consider many of the intellectual questions that have animated modern thought. The presenters will consider whether, with help from framing proposed by people like philosopher Charles Taylor and theologian N.T. Wright, there are resources in our faith traditions that might help us broaden the horizons within which we have tended to approach questions relevant to belief and practice in contemporary society.

No registration is required. All sessions are free and open to the public on the campus of Brigham Young University. Free visitor parking is available by the Museum of Art on Friday, and all parking lots are open to visitors on Saturday. The sessions on Friday will be in the Harold B. Lee Library Auditorium, and the sessions on Saturday will be in the auditorium in the Talmage Building (1170 TMCB).

We were grateful to sit down (in the virtual realm) with the conference organizers for a few questions and answers. [Read more…]

Book Review Roundup

The purpose of these periodic book review posts is to provide a succinct layman’s (or in my case, dilettante’s) impression of recent works in Mormon Studies. The ultimate goal is to inform consumer buying choice, as the selection criteria for home libraries can be vastly different from professional or academic libraries. All of these books deserve far deeper examination and hopefully will be the object of further study. [Read more…]

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: 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…]