Hey, just remember that we’re not live covering Conference, because we’re watching it (or doing something awesome). But we’re providing some more in-depth coverage as we go. If you want a live thread or live tweeting, sorry. Just watch Conference instead. You might enjoy it more that way.
A quick post to start a discussion and get your thoughts.
In talking with friends about Mother In Heaven, it seemed clear that her presence in LDS doctrine is now permanent but that our liturgy and current practice just don’t know what to do with her. We don’t pray to Her, we talk of Her but we have nothing to say; we know nothing of Her except by association. But She is a compelling figure for many and the desire to work Her into a pattern of worship is there.
From our friends at Benchmark Books:
We are very excited to announce that Jill Mulvay Derr, Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook and Matthew J. Grow will be here on Wednesday, March 9th, to discuss their new book, The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (published by The Church Historian’s Press). They will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.—speaking at 6:00—and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make that night but, if not, we can mail signed copies or hold them here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.
Neil J. Young is an historian and author of We Gather Together: The Religious Right and the Problem of Interfaith Politics (OUP, 2015). He graciously agreed to answer some questions about the history (and future) of Mormonism and the Religious right. [Read more…]
You may have heard about the new history by the Church Historian’s Press of the first 50 years of the Relief Society. Excerpts of key documents are found online as well at the Church Historian’s Press. A review will be forthcoming, but to call it a landmark history underplays the importance of the text. Kate Holbrook (a specialist in women’s history with the Church History Department) and Matt Grow (director of publications for the Church History Department), who each were major editors of the volume, were gracious enough to answer some of our questions.
What was the genesis for the volume? Was it a grassroots (or historian-roots) effort, or did the suggestion/direction come from other elements in church leadership?
The book had its genesis around the year 2000 when Jill Mulvay Derr and Carol Cornwall Madsen were professors at the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History at BYU. [Read more…]
Pilate told the people that they could choose to spare the life of either a murderer named Barabbas or Jesus of Nazareth, and they chose Barabbas. Given the same choice, Jesus, of course, would have chosen to spare Barabbas too.
To understand the reason in each case would be to understand much of what the New Testament means by saying that Jesus is the Savior, and much of what it means too by saying that, by and large, people are in bad need of being saved.
-Frederick Buechner, Peculiar Treasures [Read more…]
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you disagree with a given policy of the Church. I’m picking a policy, but this hypothetical isn’t necessarily about THAT policy, it could be lots of different policies. I’m also deliberately sidestepping the policy vs doctrine vs revelation tempest, though of course in this Church you can never fully avoid that tack. Anyways: you disagree with an articulated policy of the Church. What is your duty? What should you do? Let’s run through the permutations. [Read more…]
Patrick Mason is Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies and Associate Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University, and has been a scholar of religion (and Mormonism in particular) for decades. His latest book, Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt, is published jointly by Deseret Book and the Maxwell Institute.
This interview will be interspersed with my own observations and review of the book, which is the sort where you buy multiple copies to share with friends and family. It’s another in the Living Faith series, which has been stellar across the board. The general approach of the series seems to be a bit of a pragmatic focus on living the gospel and cultivating a growing, thriving testimony in a modern world. Planted continues in the same format as previous books in the series: it is brief, it is fairly narrowly focused and its purpose is to reaffirm testimony. [Read more…]
Why don’t Church leaders speak out about gun violence?
I’m asking the question. I don’t know. But I’m not aware of pronouncements from Salt Lake on the topic. Anyone know why?
We’ve reviewed Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings, we’ve interviewed two of the editors, and now we’d like to give a copy away. Thanks to the generosity of the editors and Oxford University Press, we’ll be shipping a copy of Mormon Feminism to a lucky commenter. To enter, tell us who you’d give your copy to, and why. For example, I’d love to give a copy to my mother, to tell her that it has helped me begin to understand what she has been experiencing as a devout Mormon woman her entire life. And to tell her that I’m really thankful for her.
So, your turn — who would you give this book to, and why? The editors — Hanna Wheelwright, Rachel Hunt Steenblik and Joanna Brooks — will judge the entries.
I get a lot of questions about polygamy. Here is my personal bent.
1. Do Mormons believe in polygamy?
Depends on what you mean.
There has been a lot of talk about the policy change and what it means for the Church and for each of us. I deplore the policy change. But guess what — I’m not going anywhere. This is my church and my people. [Read more…]
I’ve received some emails asking about something they heard on Facebook or in the halls at Church about how the Church had to enact this policy change in order to forestall one legal result or another. The goal of this post is to raise the legal concerns I’ve heard and discuss them at a high level. This post is intended to be neutral towards the policy.
Child custody gossip
Here’s an example of what I’ve received: “I’m starting to hear speculation that the real reason behind the recent policy changes was the fear of lawsuits resulting from child custody disputes, particularly if an LDS spouse demanded full custody from a gay spouse on the grounds that their children could not be baptized while living part-time with a parent in a same-sex relationship. A blanket policy forbidding any such baptisms before the child is 18 protects the Church… Is the Church being named as a party in a child custody suit a valid concern? What would be the possible legal outcomes? And is this a plausible origin for the new policy?” [Read more…]
I’m indebted to my friends for these thoughts.
Are you familiar with the Turing test? The trouble with the Turing test is that it’s a very unsatisfying test. It doesn’t seem to be able to demonstrate definitively what we would want it demonstrate.
But the other trouble is that it’s the only possible test. To decide against the Turing test as a measure for the reality of Artificial Intelligence is to decide in advance of any test or evidence that Artificial Intelligence is impossible and, thus, can never be demonstrated by way of any test or evidence.
But this is what the new church policy does. [Read more…]
Joanna Brooks and Rachel Hunt Steenblik, together with Hannah Wheelwright, are the editors of Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings, a wonderful new anthology of some of the most important feminist Mormon voices over the last 40 years (review forthcoming). Joanna is the author of several books and is Associate Vice President of Faculty Affairs at San Diego State University. Rachel is a writer and Ph.D. student in philosophy of religion and theology at Claremont Graduate University, and frequent contributor to The Exponent. We’re grateful for their work and their thoughtful answers.
1. Your work brings together writings from over 40 years of Mormon feminism. Of course, Mormonism is far older than that, but in looking at that 40-year time span, are there recurring themes that strike you? [Read more…]
Part I is here. Second question for Tarik, Jana, Tracy and Steve: What are we missing in our temple prep courses? If you haven’t looked at the Endowed From On High manual, I encourage you to do so – it is the current course. What’s your opinion? What more should we be doing?
Tracy: I keep circling back to “nuts and bolts”. The temple prep class is basically a re-warmed version of the discussion and new member lessons. I’ve glanced at the lessons and they don’t seem very different than they did 8 years ago, but I’ll give it a closer reading later.
I would like them to actually go over a What to Expect… type lesson. [Read more…]
I’m curious as to what women feel they are currently ok doing in the Church with respect to providing blessings to others. Below is a brief poll for our female readers. I’m sure there are other permutations. [Read more…]
A few friends of mine — Tracy McKay, Tarik LaCour, Jana Riess, and myself — had an informal email roundtable discussion about the preparation we offer our members before they go to the temple. Jana is an author and editor, posting at the Religion News Service and tweeting the Bible. Tarik is a student of philosophy, history and religion, with a personal blog here. We talked about three questions. This is the first one: What would you say to your younger self as you were about to go through the temple for the first time?
Tracy: I was 34 when I went through for the first time. I had been through the church’s Temple Prep class probably 3 times, and people had been trying to get me to go through for several years- I joined when I was 29. I just wasn’t ready for such a massive unknown commitment- and that was a huge stumbling block to me. Having people give vague testimonies about how special it was or how spiritual really didn’t tell me anything. I didn’t want to look at or read any of the websites that detailed the temple, so I relied on my friends. [Read more…]
Trevor Southey passed away yesterday. Southey was an artist, sculptor, Mormon, gay man, husband, ex-husband, father and a host of other adjectives. [Read more…]
The Prophet and the Reformer: The Letters of Brigham Young and Thomas L. Kane is a collection of letters between the famous Mormon leader and the East coast abolitionist and reformer Thomas Kane, but (perhaps to the chagrin of hard-core historians) it’s also a helpful summary of events and personalities surrounding the exodus from Nauvoo through the end of the Utah War. It’s difficult for a casual reader of history to provide a review of a collection like this, because while I have general familiarity with the time period and I am familiar with Young, Kane and several of the other people involved, I have no expertise with the source documents and no ability to say: yes, this is good history. Will that stop Steve in his review? Surely you jest. [Read more…]
Steve Evans: We’re back! And I need to warn you guys that I’m going to be interspersing some lyrics from #Hamiltunes
GST: I don’t know what that is.
Steve: KEN DOES! All right. Let’s get this Spruce Goose off the ground. I call Police Beat my Spruce Goose because I collect my urine in empty milk bottles, just like Howard Hughes. Just FYI.
Ken Jennings: show me all the blueprints
show me ALL the blueprints
show me all the BLUEprints
James Olsen has put together a very good compilation of statements on Heavenly Mother, which are central to the message here.
What kind of mortal love can make you feel, once you have a child, that your life is never, ever your own again? Maternal love has to be divine. There is no other explanation for it.
I add my testimony, such as it is, to Elder Holland’s: that the love of parents for their children is one of the surest signs of God working within us. [Read more…]
A little over a year ago, the Church History Museum shut down for renovations. The renovations were sorely needed; some exhibits were run down, the museum itself was a bit dated. Today the museum re-opened and the new exhibit, The Heavens Are Opened, is the centerpiece. It was worth the wait. The revamped Church History Museum is a very fine collection of materials and artifacts from our past, presented in a manner that is both engaging and spiritually uplifting. [Read more…]