I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book during a plane ride the other day. It’s a very small book, a hundred and fifty some odd pages, but it gave me I felt some very strong impressions and reactions, which felt a lot like the Spirit but in a far more direct, physical way. If feeling the Spirit is like the burning in the bosom, then this book left me with a gut punch, the sort that knocks the wind out of you and leaves you surprised that such a small thing could leave you breathless. I feel pretty nervous sharing my thoughts about this book, a Canadian Mormon writing about a black American atheist’s work. And I know I’m not Mr. Coates’ audience. In many ways I may be the physical representation of what bothers him. [Read more…]
Hopefully by now you’ve seen the devastating effects of the war in Syria – thousands dead, millions displaced and desperate. Children destroyed by bombs and chemical weapons. Children dead on beaches in attempts to find refuge. Thousands huddled in tent cities across the Middle East and Europe. We are witnessing a horror.
All of our efforts are drops in a bucket, but I’d rather put my drop into a bucket than to not do anything at all.
For today, BCC will match your donations to Oxfam. Here’s a link to donate. Email us at admin -at- bycommonconsent and let us know.
** Update ** – thanks to all for your donations. We feel honored to witness your generosity.
As a new semi-regular feature at BCC, we’ll answer questions from our readers. Have a question you want us to answer? Send us an email!
What’s the best Book of Mormon name to give a kid? I think if you are going to do a BOM name you’ve got to stick with Nephi. That makes it easier for everyone to hate you.
Today the Joseph Smith Papers Project released its Volume 3 in its Revelations and Translations series, which comprises the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon. It is the culmination of a monumental effort, and the books themselves are gorgeous, but the real story is not the volume itself but rather what this means for Latter-day Saints and for Mormons in general. We are entering a new age of transparency and openness about Mormon history. [Read more…]
It seems to me you guys could all benefit from some HARD FACTS about hypocrisy. [Read more…]
TW: Steve continues to wallow in sentimentality.
Lately I’ve been feeling some nostalgia for the Steve of yesteryear, an irritatingly earnest missionary who was was unquestionably vested in spiritual matters. What happens to us as we grow older, more distant from those innocent testimonies we used to feel? There’s an interesting passage in the Book of Mormon where the prophet Alma (Junior) is performing a reform throughout the church, a sort of revival where he calls each congregation to repentance. Speaking to the congregation in Zarahemla, he asks:
And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?
Many times I have found myself asking myself these same questions. Can I feel that same song of redemption inside of me that I used to feel? Where is the spiritual strength I used to have? [Read more…]
To poach from a friend, this is a vignette of the sweetness of Mormon life.
I’ve been thinking about a discussion several weeks ago, about the fate of marital relationships after death. Some people are (quite understandably) worried that the current system of temple sealings means post-mortal polygamy, despite a lack of real teachings around the matter. My answer, which I admit is a bit of a cop-out, was that I cannot conceive of a God or a heaven in which people are plunged into polygamous relationships against their will. It would not be just for God to condition heaven on such an involuntary family bond. In other words, volition matters.
I think volition matters a lot in the gospel plan. It matters, I think, in matters of human sexuality as well. [Read more…]
I’m increasingly convinced that the LDS book marketplace is still in its nascent form. We have fits and starts of great literature, some remarkable early works of theological or devotional expression, but the market still seems to be crucially dependent on the Church for support and marketing of its pieces. Works on the periphery, outside of official Church imprints, struggle for a portion of mainstream recognition, while those published by Deseret Book, etc. are carefully managed and promoted. So, it’s not surprising that some LDS authors publish smaller books with smaller imprints, but the quality of some recent works is really quite impressive. Is micro-publishing the future of non-institutional LDS publishing? William Morris’ Dark Watch, Sam Brown’s First Principles and Ordinances, and Adam Miller’s Grace Is Not God’s Backup Plan invite us to consider the possibilities for LDS fiction and nonfiction. [Read more…]
Shawn Tucker has sent us a follow-up to a recent post. Some great ideas — thanks, Shawn! I will note that I like the optimism of his metaphor.
Steve Evans’ recently presented a sort of thought experiment about a permutation machine. The machine would allow one to see all of the other alternative outcomes for one’s life choices. In order for such a machine to make sense, you have to imagine that time moves in one direction, and that while there are many alternatives for each choice, only one can be selected. In addition, you have to imagine that each choice is completely unique and can never be revisited. You only had one chance to send or not send that note in 5th grade, to say hello or not say hello to that person in your Biology class, or to let or not let that hand linger there a little longer.
Thinking about time, choice, the path of one’s life, and even eternal consequences in that manner can be interesting. [Read more…]
As the MHA 50th Anniversary Conference draws closer, I’ve been thinking about various efforts and groups within Mormonism that attempt to make sense of our history. There have been lots of such groups, with varying levels of professionalism, success, and academic prowess, most of them the output of the sixties . A partial list of groups and journals would include Dialogue, MHA, BYU Studies, the Maxwell Institute, EMSA, Sunstone, Interpreter, and the JMH. None of these organizations is perfect. If you were going to join or be part of a group that looked at Mormon history, what would it look like? What are the attributes of a good Mormon historical association, what would they be? Let me suggest a few. [Read more…]
Do you use the Machine? [Read more…]
Last weekend, I taught the 12-13 year olds all about the longer and shorter endings of Mark. Bible nerds out there are nodding appreciatively, but for the rest of us, here’s the concept. Imagine that Mark 16 (the end of Mark) concludes with this verse:
And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.
No Mary Magdalene, no snake handling, no injunction to go out into the world and preach to every creature. Nobody sees the risen Christ. [Read more…]
We’re extremely excited to announce that Adam Miller has agreed to join BCC as a regular permablogger. Adam’s thoughts on grace have been fantastic and we’re looking forward to much more. Please join me in welcoming Adam aboard!
A couple of weeks ago, Elder Oaks hinted at his upcoming General Conference address: the importance of the parables of Jesus for current issues. Today, we saw the complete perspective, namely what sort of reception are we going to provide for the Savior’s message? [Read more…]
So, this would normally be the post where we tell you about our open threads, live coverage and other reporting on General Conference. BCC’s Conference reporting and coverage has been a bloggernacle staple for years. But this time, we’re doing things a little differently, and we hope you’ll understand.
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
I had a conversation over email the other day with a good friend, who is concerned that we continue to lack the individual and organizational tools to talk about serious faith issues at church. What’s the best way to react and help others when they are at a low point in their testimonies? [Read more…]
During an interview following yesterday’s press conference about the need to balance the protection of religious freedoms and gay rights, Elder Dallin H. Oaks addressed the issue of apologies. When asked specifically about whether church leaders saw a need to apologize for past language on homosexuality he broadened the discussion somewhat. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
But Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court justice, wasn’t sure apologizing for past language on homosexuality would be advisable.
“I know that the history of the church is not to seek apologies or to give them,” Oaks said in an interview. “We sometimes look back on issues and say, ‘Maybe that was counterproductive for what we wish to achieve,’ but we look forward and not backward.”
The church doesn’t “seek apologies,” he said, “and we don’t give them.”
Today’s press conference regarding religious liberty and LGBT rights made frequent reference to Section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which describes the policies and duties of the Latter-day Saints towards government. It is worth remembering some of the history and quirks of this Section. First quirk: it’s not a revelation. [Read more…]
Every once in a while we receive letters to the editor that demand the public eye. As an apologist, I think it is important that each of you read and memorize this email in its entirety. This is about 1/3 of it. Get cracking! There is much knowledge here to be gleaned and this will be an important resource for your Book of Mormon classes.
From: “David McKane”
Date: Jan 23, 2015 7:54 PM
Subject: A second written of Christ visit to America.
To whom it may concern:
Could somebody please find out way FAIR and the Neal A Maxwell institute will not do any research about the overwhelming evidence for the Book of Mormon found in North America. [Read more…]
A book sits on our shelf in our home: Helen Andelin’s infamous tome on marital manipulation, Fascinating Womanhood. The book details for women how to get a man (if they don’t have one) and how to control the one that they do have. It includes helpful tips such as dressing and acting in a childish manner, nonsensically flattering your husband’s superiority [intellect, strength, driving skills, etc.], and deliberately playing dumb, even sabotaging household items for your husband to fix, so that your husband can feel proud of his manliness. It also condones marital rape and domestic violence. [Read more…]
Those of you who are super cool have probably already read them, but the rest of you should check out Eric Snider’s remarks about the new TLC show My Husband’s Not Gay. Here are few snippets for your thoughts, but you really should read the whole thing here.
reading about the show reminded me of two things. One, that the people on reality TV are pathetic attention whores who should be ignored, for their own good and the good of society. And two, that I don’t like the term “same-sex attraction.”
All easy missions are alike; every hard mission is hard in its own way. [Read more…]
The great thing about Mormonism is that you can call yourself an LDS historian without actually having any training in the matter. Some of my best friends are LDS historians; a few of them actually have degrees in history, and of them there are a couple that actually studied LDS history. The barriers to entry are low, friends, and it pays dividends to amass a library of your own and start passing yourself off as an ‘amateur LDS historian’. As a friend of amateur LDS historians, let me provide a review of Documents, Volume I and II from the Joseph Smith Papers Project. My aim here is to (1) provide a layman’s review of the books, (2) explain their value to amateur LDS historians, and (3) to explain why, even if the only LDS history you know is by authors whose last name ends in “ousen”, these volumes are worth owning. [Read more…]
I’ve removed my earlier post in which I linked to an incendiary and insulting piece. [Read more…]
The premise of Avi Steinberg’s The Lost Book of Mormon is of undeniable interest to many: a quirky, somewhat narcissistic author composes a travelogue as he voyages through the lands of the Book of Mormon: Jerusalem, central America, upstate NY and Missouri. It has the potential of a Sedaris-esque memoir coupled with a somewhat whimsical view of Mormonism — in other words, Mormon-nip. Unfortunately, Steinberg’s tale does not quite live up to its potential, and while some readers may find the book entertaining, it is ultimately a frustrating journey, and perhaps offensive to some. [Read more…]
Those who hunger and thirst after religious news have been blessed over the last week, as the Roman Catholic church has held an extraordinary general assembly synod (or council) of bishops with the subject, “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization”. In other words, this group of bishops is particularly focused on ministering to families in the modern age, and in finding answers quickly. Some basic information on the Synod can be found here, but the newsworthy item is that the Synod has just issued its mid-term report, and it is a really interesting read. It presents some limited parallels to Mormon approaches to families (including non-traditional families), and provides an interesting comparison to our own Proclamation on the Family.
I watched Elder Oaks’ Saturday afternoon remarks with great interest; being somewhat familiar with talks he has given over the last few years, I anticipated that he would address the issue of same-sex marriage, as he has done in the past. And while same-sex marriage was one of the subtexts that ran throughout his address, Elder Oaks’ topic was instead on the challenge of loving others and living with differences. He focused on a key question: why is it so difficult to have Christlike love for one another? He addressed that question and by so doing, offered counsel that was heartily welcome if not new. [Read more…]