British Israelism

In some ways, Joseph and the early Saints set about restoring, not just the practices of early Christianity, but also of ancient Israel. As such, they/we were both Christian

Photo of Odin from 1937 and 1942 church lesson manuals

Photo of Odin from 1937 and 1942 church lesson manuals

and Old Testament “primitivists,” seeking to restore the primitive, and presumably superior, institutions of a previous culture.

Since much of the bible is the story of the relationship of one tribe, ”the Israelites”with God, the primitivist Mormons were intensely interested in that tribe. They prepared for the “literal gathering of Israel,” the Book of Mormon identified a new world people as Israelites, and the European Saints, though non-Israelite “Gentiles,” considered themselves to be spiritually of Israel, or to be of Israel through adoption.

But many Saints came to view themselves as literally of Israel; they believed they were genetically descended from Israel (through Ephraim). The Mormon tendency towards a literal “Israelism” seems to have played out over time. [Read more…]

Do Mormons Prefer To Be Underachievers?

From a long time back I have observed that Mormons are so competitive that they want to have a superlative Mormon version of almost any kind of achievement that secular civilization manifests. Thus we have repeated calls for a Mormon Michelangelo, a Mormon Tolstoy, a Mormon Nobel laureate, and so on. Underlying these calls is the faith that, along with having native intelligence and extensive training, Mormon scientists, scholars, artists, and writers can expect to be inspired by the Holy Ghost. However, it is apparent that the call for superlative achievement among the Mormons has gone unanswered. [Read more…]

A more perfect patriarchy

Elisabeth’s recent post, posing the question of whether women are precluded from holding the priesthood by policy or doctrine, particularly interested me. Last month I finished a personal essay on women in the church today for the upcoming summer issue of Dialogue and in tribute to the 3 so-called “pink issues” Dialogue has published. It’s in the can and after it is published, I will welcome your comments. Now I would like to follow Elisabeth’s lead and invite a discussion corollary to her great question and relating to some of my essay. [Read more…]

Tevye says….

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

Should traditions be followed? What fidelity do we owe, if any, to our forebears to pass on the heritage(s) they have bestowed upon us?

It is no great insight to note that depending on one’s perspective, traditions can be either good or bad. The Book of Mormon, for instance, discusses traditions in at least forty different verses I can identify (or, more properly, different verses the search function at can identify): some verses extol the virtues of fidelity to the (correct) traditions of the righteous fathers, while others bemoan the blind fidelity of the “wicked” to the (incorrect) traditions of their fathers. The repeated use of the term seems to bespeak some importance, but as for me, I can’t discern a guiding principle anywhere in the text, apart from an obligation to follow good traditions and reject bad ones, which, so far as I can tell, doesn’t answer the question. [Read more…]

BoM & the 10% Solution

Vol 2 of Golden Plates Comic, CoverWhen we head out on a family venture (say, cross-country skiing), my wife and I try to efficiently share with our children the most relevant knowledge we have, and we try to help them develop the skills to continue to learn and enjoy the activity on their own.

Similarly, when it comes to religious instruction and scripture study, we focus on the teachings we find to be most important for our children’s spiritual development. We give less attention to scriptures that have, at least at this life stage, a lower return on investment. [Read more…]

Once again: Are Mormons Christians?

Posted on behalf of Kathleen Petty, who wrote it but was called away by a family emergency.

Kathleen Petty writes:

I am sure most of you are aware of the article last fall in Newsweek about the church. I was interested in how much space Newsweek allotted in the letters section to response. It was a lot, and the letters, positive and negative, seemed to give a fair picture of how the church is perceived by others. There were at least three letters that disputed the Church’s claim to be a Christian church. One letter said we aren’t Christian because we have allegiance to scriptures other than the Bible. A second said we can’t be Christian because we believe man can progress toward godhood. A third said we claimed to be Christian as part of a nefarious scheme to lure people into conversion. [Read more…]

Improving the religious life of persons with disabilities

Two years ago Dialogue issued a call for papers which asked interested persons to respond to the following question: “What relationship(s) do persons with disabilities negotiate with both the institutional Church and the Mormon folk?” Our decision to run a series of articles on this topic derived from the suggestion of a member of our board of directors who has an autistic son. As you can see from the following list of subsidiary questions which our call proposed, we hoped the consequent submissions would be wide ranging in their consideration: [Read more…]

A Birthday Toast

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

Dear Brother Joseph,

Like many of my fellow wanderers, I celebrate you this week. Yesterday was “Joseph” day at church, and I think you would have liked it: a youth talk with all the typical mythological worship-speak (You could do no wrong! Miracles and power! Boy genius!); a nice summary drawn from your mother’s memoir; and the coup de grace, a thorough, trembling tribute, not to the myth, but to the deconstruction of the myth, the kind of which we see far too little these days. [Read more…]

Why the Church is More True in Argentina

My name is Stirling Adams. I’ve been invited to be one of the Dialogue guest bloggers.

If the Mormon wards you’ve attended in the U.S. are similar to mine, it’s likely you’ve heard periodic reports in sacrament meeting about a visit to another ward and the comfort in finding that the church is the same wherever you go.

For most of 2003, my wife and I and our 3 children (then 9, 7, and 3), lived in Buenos Aires. Based on our experience, my report is a little different. In case I take too long to develop my point below, let me summarize it now:

In Argentina, I felt like I experienced a Mormonism stripped of a heavy overlay of U.S. politics; a Church less burdened by assumptions of cultural superiority and institutional pride that I feel can be associated too often with the U.S. Church; a Mormonism with members more attuned to how individual and institutional actions fare when judged by scriptural teachings (particularly the injunctions towards social justice in the N.T. and BoM).
[Read more…]

Race and the Church

My name is MollyBennion and I am looking forward to posting occasionally with other Dialoguers. New to blogging, I am enjoying your world. By Common Consent drove home its advantages of immediacy, honesty and insight in this last week’s discussion of the Seattle sex abuse judgment. Thanks J. Stapley for starting an enlightening and important exchange.

Another equally painful social issue is on my mind of late. I have a good friend, a black Mormon man in his early thirties, impressive on every front, a man of deep testimony who is questioning continuing in activity in the Church because of persistent racism. Even a recent bishop told my friend he bore the mark of Cain and its inherent inadequacies. Testimony is not an issue for him; the issue is can he bear and should he be asked to bear the weight of Mormon folklore? [Read more…]

The Mormon Science Landscape

By way of introduction, I am Kathleen Petty, the second of the team of six representing Dialogue magazine invited to post on this site. I have been a Dialogue reader since its fist issue. Currently I help edit the letters to the editor for the magazine. This is the first time I have posted on this, or any, website, and I am looking forward to being part of this–(cough)–diablog.

In the Spring 2005 issue of Dialogue there was an interesting article by Stephen L. Peck entitled “The Current Philosophy of Consciousness Landscape: Where Does LDS Thought Fit.” (You can find this article posted on the Excerpts section of the Dialogue website.) He focuses on what he calls the “hard” problem in consciousness studies: phenomenal consciousness. (The “easy” problem of consciousness involves finding and mapping the mechanisms of consciousness–how the brain processes information, the neural pathways, how the brain communicates with itself.) Phenomenal consciousness is the “aspect of consciousness identified by that ‘what is it to be like’ feeling that we associate with personal subjectivity.”

[Read more…]

Are Citizens of the Bloggernacle Liahona Saints?

May I assure our colleagues at BCC that the team of bloggers that Dialogue is fielding is not designed to overwhelm this site with our posts but, given the multitude of other duties that distract us, simply to assure that we make at least one appearance a week. It goes without saying that it is my turn this week.

For my purposes today I will clarify that what I assert about the Bloggernacle also applies to all kinds of computer-based Internet communication, including not only blogs, wikis, and podcasts but also email groups, chat rooms, and instant messaging. My recent introduction to blogging has led me back to a hypothesis that I formulated about a decade ago when I first began to participate in email groups. People who inveterately communicate via the Internet on topics devoted to a treatment of Mormonism that is affirmative or at least respectfully objective tend to be, or eventually turn into, liberal Mormons. Or, to put it more softly, since the term “liberal” has acquired a pejorative connotation among the vast majority of Latter-day Saints, they are or tend to become Liahona Saints.

[Read more…]