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…]

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…]