Technologizing Sunday School Study

“This study guide is designed as a companion to your study of the Book of Mormon. It is divided into numbered sections that correspond with the lessons in the Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine course. Each section provides the week’s reading assignment and questions to enhance your study. You may use these questions to improve personal application of the scriptures and to prepare to make meaningful contributions to class discussions.

“You share with your Gospel Doctrine teacher the responsibility to help the class be successful. The Lord has said that teachers need to “preach … by the Spirit of truth” and that those who receive “the word of truth” should “receive it by the Spirit of truth” (D&C 50:17, 19). Come to class prepared to contribute insights, ask questions, share appropriate experiences, bear testimony, and listen attentively to the teacher and the other class members. When you have studied the reading assignments and pondered the questions in this study guide, you will be better prepared to experience the fulfillment of the Lord’s words when He said, “He that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together” (D&C 50:22).”

I only half listened to the Gospel Doctrine teacher as she read this from the Book of Mormon Class Member Study Guide on Sunday, so engrossed was I in preparing my notes (via mobile phone and tablet, both which sat on my lap)  gathered from the Bloggernacle and

[Read more…]

Whither Mormon Environmental Theology?

The Summer issue of Dialogue, ably guest-edited by BCC’s own Steven Peck, contains a nifty little piece by the only person I’ve ever heard of with a joint degree in Forestry and Divinity, Jason Brown. Jason has kindly agreed to talk about his article a little bit here. Being the aging curmudgeon that I am, I will encourage you to READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE before opining based on the synopsis below.
‘Whither Mormon Environmental Theology?’ was written in its current form during the last few months before
I graduated from graduate school in May of this year. The piece is an attempt to organize my reflections on
approaches to Mormon ecological theology that I have observed in my cursory review of the steadily increasing
literature. [Read more…]

Zane Grey, Arthur Conan Doyle, the Associated Press, and the Resuscitation of the Avenging Angels


If there’s anything that, in comparison, might normalize polygamy to that vast majority of Americans for whom Mormons are but cultural curiosities, it’s probably blood atonement.  I’ve earlier written in this space about the ways in which representations of Mormonism in HBO’s Big Love reflect a certain religious ethos on the part of the producers; the show is in a lot of ways a leap forward in the cultural normalization of Mormonism precisely because it is capable of imagining its Mormon (and by ‘Mormon’ I mean followers of Joseph Smith; this strikes me as a more useful definition of the term than any other) characters as basically normal people, who take their SUVs to the hardware store and have kids with part time jobs. And indeed, this normalization of people in previously exotic marriage relationships is in all likelihood the producers’ agenda. If their ratings are any indication, they may be succeeding; indeed, it appears that members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, can come into the very heart of their adversary, to the shadows of the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, and garner sympathy.[1] Religious freedom and all that. [Read more…]

The Envelope, Please

The winner of the Dialogue subscription giveaway is [Read more…]

The Long-Awaited Day

In 1973, Dialogue published an article by Lester Bush which traced the history of the LDS church policy banning members of African descent from holding the priesthood. That article itself became an important part of that history, as guest blogger Gregory Prince recounts below. If you’ve never read the article, it would be a great way to commemorate this important day in church history.

Update: In this post, I mentioned that a grandson of President Kimball was said to have seen a copy of the Bush article heavily marked up, apparently by the president. Since then I have tried but been unable to confirm that statement. Ed Kimball, who was close to the situation, indicates to me that he doubts the accuracy of the report. –GP

Thoughts on the 32nd Anniversary

My first contact with Lester Bush was indirect. I was in graduate school at UCLA in 1972 and was dating the Dialogue secretary, whose office was across the street from the campus. I noticed a 2-inch-thick book above her desk with the title Compilation on Blacks. Having completed a mission to Brazil three years earlier, I was well aware of the effects of the policy prohibiting ordination of blacks, but I was fuzzy on the cause. [Read more…]

Just Posted in Dialogue Classics


Eugene England–Blessing the Chevrolet
A Conversation with Henry Eyring
Richard Haglund (yeah, my dad :))–Science and Religion: A Symbiosis


The new Dialogue website.

In the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that Dialogue cannot survive as strictly a print publication. A new generation of thoughtful Saints and scholars who would benefit from becoming acquainted with Dialogue’s rich history will never find that content if it is languishing in library stacks. Thus, with some trepidation, the Board has decided to make all of Dialogue’s archive accessible online, retaining only the last two years’ content as premium content available by subscription*. [Read more…]

Obama, Joseph, and Interpretation

This is a guest post from Dialogue editorial board member Ethan Yorgason. Ethan is Professor of Geography at Kyungpook National University in Daegu, South Korea. He has also taught history and geography at BYU-Hawaii, and was winner of the MHA’s Best First Book Award for Transformation of the Mormon Culture Region.

He was something of a usurper. Though he wasn’t highly born, many people were quickly impressed by his wisdom. But he had detractors as well. Some of them threatened violence. Outside his real homeland he achieved power more quickly than anybody thought possible. His admirers marveled at his ability.

Once he gained the highest governmental power he would ever obtain, he went to work. He immediately instituted a huge tax increase. The people didn’t see any immediate benefit because, in fact, he hoarded the wealth within government. A financial crisis came. People from throughout the land came begging the government to help, just like he had anticipated. [Read more…]

Every Stroke Disarms a Foeman, and other terrors

We’re delighted to have another installment of our occasional series of guest posts from members of the Dialogue Editorial Board. This one is from Katie Blakesley, an historian (MA, U of U), guest blogger at JI, author of the definitive treatment of the history of “modesty” and women’s dress in the Church, and mother of two adorable kids living in the DC area.

Last Sunday, at 6:20 pm (yes, you read that right) as I was trying to get my two kids in the car to go home from church, while juggling a purse, carseat, church bag, and a couple of gifts, my three year old said, “Mom, why don’t you have three arms. It would sure be helpful.” Indeed. I asked him how Primary was and what he learned about–he is thrilled to be in Sunbeams and sing with the big kids. “Jesus. I learned about Jesus. We learn about Jesus every week.” [Read more…]

Skousen in Dialogue

You may have read the Salon article on Cleon Skousen, a great influence on the thought (?) of Glenn Beck. The article references Dialogue’s review of one of Skousen’s books, The Naked Capitalist. This roundtable review is one of the fieriest and most fun things that has ever been published in Dialogue, I think, so I’m linking to it from here so you can read the whole thing (the Salon link is to an incomplete version.) Here it is. Enjoy! Discuss!
[Read more…]

Apocalypse Whenever

This is another in an ongoing series of posts by members of Dialogue’s Editorial Board. Eric Samuelsen is Associate Professor of Theatre and Media Arts at BYU, and Dialogue’s Film and Theater Editor.

In Sunday school last Sunday, the lesson was about the apocalypse, the End of Days. It’s always a depressing lesson for me, because i don’t want to be around for the End of Days. I don’t want anything to do with the Apocalypse. I think it sounds terrifying–death and horror and disease and war. As Mormons, I don’t think we can even take comfort in the ‘neener neener neener, I’m getting raptured and you’re not’ vibe apparently some evangelicals take comfort in, because we don’t believe in the Rapture, unless we do. [Read more…]

General Conference and the Flu


Two youths in Mexico with decorated face masks

Due to flu worries, and on the advice of the United States government, LDS church services were cancelled in Mexico today.

On a historical note, how many times has the LDS General Conference been cancelled due to flu outbreaks? [Read more…]

Big Love: Res Publica


Last week, for probably the first time in history, TV Guide broke controversial news. And this week, it came to pass; Big Love showed a portion of the LDS temple ceremony; specifically, a fraction of a prayer circle and a portion – probably the most sensitive portion – of the veil ceremony. The consequent and rather predictable Mormon uproar has taken the form of a rally to protect the temple; tiresome email petitions and facebook groups and YouTube videos abound. But what, beneath the surface, is this debate really about? Big Love is a complicated show, and deserves an interpretation that scratches below the surface. [Read more…]

Diablogging: Neylan McBaine

This is the first in a regular series of guest blogs by members of the Dialogue Editorial Board. Neylan McBaine is the Personal Voices editor, and the author of Seeds of Faith in City Soil: Growing Up Mormon in New York City in the Winter 2007 issue of Dialogue. She lives with her husband and three wonderfully literarily-named daughters in Brooklyn, NY.
“Excuse me, are you Jewish?”

I love that question. It’s one I’m asked routinely as I walk the streets of my neighborhood, Park Slope, Brooklyn. Usually, I can see it coming from half a block away: two Hasidic men, perhaps one old and one young like a father/son Home Teaching duo, waiting on the corner as I approach the intersection of Union Street and Seventh Avenue. Their black coats and hats and the abundant facial hair on the older companion set them apart of course, but it’s usually what they’re holding that draws the most attention. [Read more…]

Engineering Vision

As the Juvenile Instructor has also noted, we’ve received an invitation in the inbox:

The Claremont School of Religion, the LDS Council on Mormon Studies and the Mormon Scholars Foundation are pleased to present: “Parallels and Convergences: Mormon Thought and Engineering Vision,” a conference featuring keynote speaker Terryl Givens and a panel of LDS engineers. [Read more…]

Health baptisms, pond hockey, & Asherah– A New Year’s toast

It’s a blustery 3 degrees F (-17 C) outside right now on the first Sunday of the New Year. In a moment I need to head into the wind for an meeting. But first, two New Year examples of BCC bloggers popping up in daily life in Utah County.

A few days ago we were playing a family game of hockey on a nearby pond. While one of us chased down a puck after an errant pass, the rest of the family paused to rest, and someone commented, “Can you imagine breaking through this ice to get baptized, and doing that for 7 days in a row!” That statement stems from a family home evening lesson we had based around J. Stapley’s and Kris Wright’s Journal of Mormon History article, “A History of Baptism for Health.” If you haven’t [Read more…]

The Devil’s Mashed Potatoes

The moth-eaten parchment fragment fell from the false lid of the blackened old cedar chest, its letters atrophied, its ink faded. [Read more…]

Almost-seen in Provo

A scene from the check-out stand at a local Macey‘s grocery store:

I assume that behind the blue rectangles that decorate our local magazine racks there usually lie images that are thought to offend buyers because too much flesh is exposed, or too explicit a reference is made to this or that technique.

Not so this time. [Read more…]

Pink Cadillac

March_2008_pink-issue-coverOf the various articles in the Spring 2008 Dialogue, Bushman’s essay, “Should Mormon Women Speak Out? Thoughts on Our Place in the World,” is available free to nonsubscribers.

There, Claudia Bushman, as professor, historian, and consummately-involved church member, briefly reviews the history of women’s roles in the church and the development of the Summer 1971 “pink” issue of Dialogue (dedicated to women’s themes). And, almost 40 years after she wrote the introductory essay to that issue, she asks herself and the rest of us for a status report and issues a call for involvement:

“…Mormon women were among the first and best at learning to stand and speak…. But where have we gone since then? Somehow in our liberated society, we have remained as dutiful and quiet daughters and wives. In our Church society where women are valued as daughters of God, as noble followers in the pathway of Eve, we still do not speak out. We know that there are dangers. People don’t always understand. Some take umbrage. Instead of being embraced as sisters, we can be shut out. So I propose a practical program of action for Mormon women to encourage them to speak up and out….”

[Read more…]

Dialogue’s Kindle contest


[Announcing a promotion by the Dialogue Foundation]
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Win an Amazon Kindle with Dialogue!

The Contest: Purchase an electronic subscription to Dialogue and enter to win the $400 Amazon Kindle electronic book reader.
[Read more…]

Dialogue and Amazon Kindle contest

The Dialogue Foundation plans to begin this promotion next week. If any of you have a hankering to be part of the marketing team on this, we’d appreciate your comments.
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[Read more…]

FHE and New England

Growing up, I can remember that at least occasionally our weekly Family Home Evening was regarded as a burden by some of the 12 children in our family.
There were various reasons for that, including the dynamics of teaching/entertaining an audience of children with a wide range of ages. Sometimes the issue was a function of the subject matter of the lessons. Unfortunately, an important factor was sometimes the less-than cooperative/energetic/willing attitude of some older siblings towards activities that presented an impediment to maximum time spent playing sports, or reading.

Sorry mom, sorry dad.

Now, a couple of decades later, I pursue my path towards repentance by [Read more…]

Tribal justice at Mountain Meadows

I probably should be ashamed of the fact that I paid my own airfare to Salt Lake City for an interview with Helen Whitney during her preparation of the PBS documentary on the Mormons. That’s just another evidence of my vanity. However, the airfare cost me less than $200 and I had almost no other expense. I stayed with Lavina Fielding Anderson, and Whitney’s associate Jane Barnes picked me up at the airport and drove me around. The guestroom in the Anderson house is an immersion in Mormonism—hundreds of books by and about Mormons from early to late line the shelves. And Jane Barnes consented to write an essay for Dialogue about her impressions of Joseph Smith, which will be published in our spring 2008 issue. You don’t want to miss that one. [Read more…]

The vanishing sister missionary?

Received by mail:

Dear Father of a Senior Primary son,
The Primary is preparing for our musical program to be performed in
sacrament meeting on November 18th.
We will close our program with the Senior Primary boys singing with
their fathers “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission.” We invite you to
join your boy in singing this song.

The Primary Presidency and Chorister

[Read more…]

Parody in Dialogue

July_2007_37-1To read past issues of Dialogue I usually leaf through my collection of the hard copy journals, or I open up my copy of the DVD archive. But right now the Dialogue team is exploring how we might enhance readers’/researchers’ online experience. To that end, for this post I spent a half-hour using our new index and the search engine for the online archive to explore discussions of parody (my sample research topic) within Mormon studies. (1)

What did I find? In “Poetic Borrowing in Early Mormonism” (18:1, Spring 1985), though parody isn’t the main thrust of the article, Michael Hicks provides some examples of early Mormon parodies. These included “The God That Others Worship” (parodying “The Rose that All are Praising”):

“The God that others worship / is not the God for me;
He has no parts nor body / and cannot hear nor see;
But I’ve a God that lives above / A God of Power and of love,
A God of revelation / O! that’s the God for me…”

[Read more…]

Affirmative Action in Zion?

Patrick Mason is one of ourDialogue guests. He may or may not be related to one of our permabloggers.

In March 1961 President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925. It dictated that any contractor doing business with the federal government “will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” [Read more…]

Curses (on Cain and Ham), foiled again!

June_2007_cain-and-abel-vouet-pietro-novelliIt’s going to take me a few paragraphs to get there, so here’s advance notice that this post is intended to be a pointer to recent scholarship on how biblical curses associated with the stories of Cain and Ham came to be misinterpreted by some Christians as applying to dark-skinned Africans.
– – – –
In 18th and 19th century America, prior to the Civil War, the Cain and Ham curses were interpreted by many Christians as explaining the skin color of black Africans and as justifying the practice of African slavery. After slavery ended, and as late as the 1960s, the curse on Ham continued to be put to work by some Christians to justify ethnic segregation. (1)

Given Mormonism’s geographic beginnings, it’s not much of a surprise to find occurrences of Mormons making the same uses of these stories. For example, the early Mormons swung back and forth between fairly strong abolitionist tendencies to the eventual 1850s legalization of slavery in the Utah Territory. (2) In lobbying for the territorial law, Brigham Young is quoted as stating “In as much as we believe in the Bible, inasmuch as we believe in the ordenances of God, in the Preisthood and order and decrees of God, we must believe in Slavery- [Read more…]

A Cherishing So Deep

Speaking from the grave, the main character of the film American Beauty, Lester Burnham says he doesn’t feel regret for his death, only intense gratitude “for every single moment of my stupid little life.” [Read more…]

Mormons Believe _________________.

A guest submission by B. Bowen, a good friend of BCC.

That Mormonism has been placed under the contemporary American microscope is old news. First the Olympics. Then “Under the Banner of Heaven” and Warren Jeffs. Harry Reid’s assumption of the role of minority and then majority leader in the Senate. The Napoleon Dynamite phenomenon. And, of course, the Romney campaign has provided bountiful fodder for bloggers, pundits, and mainstream media outlets for months now (speaking of which, Battlefield Earth? What have you been smoking, Mitt?). [Read more…]

Graduation Day, 2007

April_2007_peace-signs-7289e-cropped-350-pixVP Cheney’s speaks at BYU’s commencement later today (at 4pm). At noon BYU students and faculty demonstrated in a “Go Forth – Establish Peace” rally. It was held at the west entrance to campus, at the “Enter to Learn – Go Forth to Serve” sign.

In general, it was focused on peace. The most prominent signs were 10’ tall scrolls with Peace written in 28 languages. Some of the other signs were:

“Support this: “Therefore, Renounce war and proclaim peace. D&C 98:16”
“If we’re going to fight a war, let it be a war on poverty”
“1/2 the world lives on less than $2 a day”
There were a few signs that targeted Cheney such as, “Was it Divine Inspiration to Vote Bush/Cheney…or just Temporary Insanity.” [Read more…]