The Book of Mormon Studies Association Meeting

CALL FOR PAPERS
The Third Annual Meeting of
The Book of Mormon Studies Association
October 11-12, 2019
Utah State University

The Book of Mormon Studies Association (BoMSA) is pleased to announce its third annual meeting, to be held October 11–12, 2019, at Utah State University. The event is sponsored by USU’s Department of Religious Studies and with thanks to both Philip Barlow and Patrick Mason, successive occupiers of the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon Studies.
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Using Language to Support Classroom Learning #TeachingPrimaryCFM

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L. Williams holds a Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology, and is currently completing work towards a PhD. For the last 7 years she has provided speech therapy to children in private clinics, public schools, and research settings. Her background includes training in applied behavioral analysis (ABA), and she specializes in supporting children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) who are minimally verbal.

I appreciated the post by Lyndsey Jarman, and highly recommend that all primary teachers refer to it as an excellent resource for their classroom.  My goal with this post is to provide additional ideas for teachers to consider, specifically with respect to their use of developmentally appropriate language.

Expert vs. Novice

As adults, we often take for granted how much we know.  In my very early twenties, I was called to teach the CTR 4 class.  One of the lessons focused on missionary work, and each child had a turn to talk about people in their family who had served missions.  I had a beautiful map on the wall to point out the locations where everyone served.  I thought it was going really well. They’re learning! They’re participating! Finally, one of the boys raised his hand and asked, “Is the blue stuff water?”  It was the first time I really understood that we have to teach children EVERYTHING, including that water is the blue stuff on the map. Having a visual is good. Having a visual that children understand is better. [Read more…]

Lesson 3: We Have Come to Worship Him: Luke 2, Matthew 2 #BCCSundaySchool2019

The texts for this lesson are Luke 2 and Matthew 2. I welcome the opportunity to put these two chapters in juxtaposition both for what the comparison might tell us about the content (that is, the infancy of Jesus) but also the medium (that is, the two Gospels themselves). Examining them in tandem, far more than reading them individually, teaches us something about how to read scripture generally, and the Gospels in particular. [Read more…]

Do ordinances change? Part 2

On June 11, 1843 Joseph Smith preached a sermon at the Temple stand in Nauvoo. From the History of the Church version of his words, we have the pithy phrase that “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.” [n1] This was included in the Teachings of the President manual a couple years back, and I’ve seen a few folks wave this about lately to show how the church is bull crap, neener, neener, neener. [Deep breath]
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Do ordinances change?

Yes, the short answer is yes. But there is a lot to say beyond that. In the last week I have seen a few people point to statements by various church leaders that ordinances [n1] are unchanged from the foundation of the world (insinuating that older ways of doing things are perhaps superior–fundilicious). The thing is, these are the same church leaders that presided over some of the largest changes in our ordinances. Anyway, here is a brief summary of some of the major shifts in just the first five ordinances revealed in the Restoration. Other liturgies experienced perhaps larger changes, but that isn’t the point. All but the last ritual below find anchoring in Moroni’s ecclesiastical and liturgical missives. They are introduced to the church with Joseph Smith’s Articles and Covenants (D&C 20) by way of Oliver Cowdery’s Articles of the Church of Christ.
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The Pitfalls of Grading in Religious Education

Yesterday, this pair of tweets by a current BYU student sparked some interesting discussion about the role of grading in religious educations:

 

 

Though it was about a decade ago, I remember similar things as a BYU student myself. [Read more…]

Soon We Can No Longer Meet in Public

About a month ago, during church, I got a text from my wife:

 

 

 

I was curious why they were talking about taxing religious people in Gospel Principles, but figured I could ask her after church.

It turns out, though, that the discussion had nothing to do with taxes; instead, a missionary in our ward had said that we were moving to a two-hour block supplemented by home-centered study in preparation for a not-too-distant future when it would be illegal for us to meet together at church. And my wife explained that no, that wasn’t going to happen.

We laughed about it, but didn’t think too much of it. After all, 18-year-old boys are susceptible to outlandish ideas (I was one, once upon a time). And my wife had countered him, so no harm, no foul. [Read more…]

Luke 1: Women, Wombs, and the Feminine Divine

Karen D. Austin teaches composition courses at University of Evansville and gerontology courses at Southern Indiana University. She’s on staff at Segullah as a writer and social media maven. She also maintains a blog The Generation Above Me about healthy aging and supporting older adults. She sometimes slings food at the other sentient beings in her home, but mainly she keeps house by moving towers of books and papers from one room to another.

Let me preface my post with a little context. Michael spent some time preparing commentary for the BCC Gospel Doctrine Lesson and discovered that, after introducing Matthew, he didn’t have any time or word count for the assigned reading from Luke. I was astonished. I told him, “Well, then I’ll just have to write something because you cannot leave out the women who are most central to the birth of Christ.” [Read more…]

Call for guest posts: #TeachingPrimaryCFM

Pity the poor Primary teachers.

I mean, the new schedule is good for them in many ways: they only have to keep kids’ attention for 20 minutes, and, at two hours total, the kids will be a lot less exhausted from sitting still.

But, at the same time, the church has introduced a new Primary manual. As in, one. This manual is supposed to be the basis of lessons for 3-year-olds and for 11-year-olds. Now, in theory, that’s not a bad idea. The same concepts can be pitched at different levels.

But in practice? Well, as friend of the blog Mette Harrison points out, it’s not quite so simple.  [Read more…]

Lesson #2: “Be It unto Me According to Thy Word” #BCCSundaySchool2019 (Matthew 1/Luke 1)


What did the Jews of Jesus’s time think about the Messiah? Who, exactly, were they expecting to show up? Why would anybody think that Jesus would fit the bill? These, I believe, are questions we need to try to answer before beginning to read the New Testament, and, especially, the Book of Matthew.

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Our Spiritual Relationship with Language

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Natalie Brown is a former By Common Consent blogger. She is currently writing a memoir on the stories we tell about houses. You can follow her on Twitter @BtwnHouseHome.

Someone once asked how I could have prepared better for the temple. My response was bluntly honest: Nothing anyone said or taught me could have altered my initial experience, because the words I found inside the temple felt wrong.

Those words have now changed. Whether something more than words has changed is debatable. Over the past twenty-four hours, I have heard people say that nothing has changed and others that everything has changed. I’m with those who think everything has changed, because for me it has. That’s because I am a woman who learns primarily through words.
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Rethinking Worthiness

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Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.

For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. (D&C 18:10)

I learned an important truth this year: the worth of souls bears no relationship to a soul’s “worthiness.”

A year ago I left the corporate world to pursue my civil rights lawyer dream.  One aspect of my new work is fighting for Muslims’ right to follow the pillars of Islam in prison.  My first visit to prison will forever stand as one of the most spiritual days of my life.  I met with humble men who frankly admitted their mistakes, implored God to grant them the mercy to improve, and asked for an opportunity to practice their faith in peace.  They sought to better the religious experience not just for themselves, but for all of their brothers and sisters.  Sitting with them, I glimpsed the depth of God’s abundant love.

I may have been physically sitting with convicted criminals behind seven layers of lockdown security, but spiritually I stood with angels on hallowed ground.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God.  (Romans 8:38).  Prisons that day became my temples.  For I was in prison, and ye visited me.  (Matthew 25:36). [Read more…]

Mormon Batman

Keira Shae is the author of the phenomenal BCC Press megahit How the Light Gets In, a memoir of her early life in the dark underbelly of Provo, Utah. She will be Julie Rose’s guest on BYU Radio’s Top of Mind radio today at 2:00 PM Mountain Stadard Time. We present her essay “Mormon Batman” as a brief preview of the mature and reflective faith that you will find in her memoir. And because we love Mormons. And Batman.

 

Batman the vigilante is seen as both a hero and a criminal. To those who align with the law and revere the social structure in a unjust world, he is unpredictable and dangerous. To those who view the system as broken or favor less or no regulation, he is a corrective force–one that deals with crime and corruption in a way that the official entities cannot.

As my faith has matured and transformed, , I can see both sides. It is very difficult to place Batman on the scale. [Read more…]

In Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, women were recently given permission to drive. Women had been demanding this right and some had gone to jail for it. Even though women now have the right to drive, those activists who went to jail are still in jail, presumably because of their objection to authority. After all, what they did is no longer illegal.

People who care about human rights don’t punish others because they object to authority and they certainly don’t seek to punish them using ordinances that no longer apply.

Thank You, Sisters: an Honor Roll of those who made the temple changes possible

Today, women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints greeted the news of long-awaited changes to the temple with a range of emotions–rejoicing, contemplation, grief at pain past and ongoing. I respect and hold space for all these reactions. I have many thoughts, many things to say, many aspects of the new version of the temple ceremony to analyze, celebrate, and critique. But I will say those things another day.

Today, my thoughts keep returning to women. Returning to all my Sisters whose lives were touched by the temple experience, and especially those whose courage, sacrifices, and vision played a role in shaping that experience. These changes are not a man’s gift to us. We always knew they were ours, a gift of our Heavenly Parents. So tonight in this post I want to offer words of gratitude for the women who knew. The women whose vision, writing, pleading, and work made this day possible.  [Read more…]

“We Are Responsible for Our Own Learning” #BCCSundaySchool2019

It’s a new year, and with the new year comes a whole new approach to Sunday School in the LDS Church. I’ve given the manuals–excuse me, the “resources” or “materials”–which the church has provided a part of the “Come, Follow Me” program some thought, and as I approach this first week, which fundamentally is all about “encourag[ing] class members to learn from the scriptures on their own and with their families,” as our ward’s Sunday School president, I have a couple of thoughts.

1) The sow’s ear

To begin, let’s be frank: the actual scriptural material included in the new approved Sunday School resources is thin to the point of non-existence, and pretty terrible overall. I don’t consider myself a true scriptorian (though I was fortunate enough to have been taught by a few), but I’m hardly alone–especially here, among the readership of By Common Consent–to have felt great frustration over the years at the overly simplistic and much-too-short scriptural guides produced by the church for its Sunday School classes. [Read more…]

Review of Swindler Sachem

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Jenny Hale Pulsipher, Swindler Sachem: The American Indian Who Sold His Birthright, Dropped Out of Harvard, and Conned the King of England (Yale University Press, 2018).

Dr. Pulsipher is one of the most serious and interesting of the historians of the early American colonial period and of Native histories. In this accomplished study, she tells the story of a notorious but little understood seventeenth-century Nipmuc man named John Wompas (sometimes called “White” in the sources, with all the complexity and confusion about ethnic and tribal identities that such surnames imply). Historians have known Wompas (often as Wampus) for many years based on his presence in Boston and his brief tenure at Harvard College. Until Pulsipher’s detective work in the archives and this resulting biography, though, little was known about the details of his life and of his wife. [Read more…]

A Translation for Latter-day Saints

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Not only do we have the new Maxwell Institute Study Edition of the Book of Mormon by Grant Hardy hot off the presses, we have now also been blessed with a study edition of the New Testament prepared by Thomas A. Wayment specifically intended for Latter-day Saint readers. The timing of this publication is particularly propitious, for tomorrow (i.e., December 31, 2018) begins our 2019 Sunday School curriculum focus on the New Testament. Further, under the new two-hour block system, individuals, families or informal groups will now bear more of the burden and responsibility for pursuing such study, so this new volume has the potential to be a primary resource that our people can turn to as they tackle our NT curriculum. [Read more…]

Magnificat


The Magnificat is the oldest Advent hymn. It is at once the most passionate, the wildest, and one might even say, the most revolutionary Advent hymn ever sung. . . . . This song has none of the sweet, nostalgic, or even playful tones of some of our Christmas carols. It is, instead, a hard, strong, inexorable song about collapsing thrones and humbled lords of this world, about the power of God and the powerlessness of mankind. There are the tones of the women prophets of the Old Testament that now come to life in Mary’s mouth. –Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Mystery of Holy Night

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Last week, the Washington Post ran a feature story on the Magnificat, the song that Mary sings in Luke 1: 46-55. It’s about time, really, the song is more than 2,000 years old and has been an important part of Christian liturgy for nearly all of those years.

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Mormon Law 2018 Year In Review

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Jeff Breinholt is an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School, where he teaches a course on prosecuting terrorists. The views in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of his full-time employer, the Department of Justice.

Several years ago, I tried my hand at Mormon blogging as an outlet for some intense legal research I had been doing on modern American religions. I eventually wrote a total of 16 posts for Mormon Matters, which reviewed LDS legal history on several topics, with occasional comparative perspectives from the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists. In late 2009, I wrote a piece entitled “Mormon Law 2009 Year in Review.” Now, a decade on, I decided to come out of blogger retirement and revive this practice with the 2018 Mormon Law Year in Review.  This article offers some comparisons to a decade ago, and focuses on my survey of this year’s judicial opinions containing “Mormon” and its variants. [Read more…]

Maxwell Institute Study Edition

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15 years ago, Grant Hardy published a landmark volume in BoM studies: The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Edition (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2003). This was the first attempt to put forward an actual scholar’s edition of the text of the Book of Mormon. I reviewed this volume in Kevin L. Barney, “An Elegant Presentation,” FARMS Review 16/1 (2004), available here. Suffice it to say, my review was highly positive. 15 years later, Grant has published a new study edition, with the standard title of the BoM (i.e., The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ) followed by the subtitle Maxwell Institute Study Edition. In this review I shall refer to the new edition as the “MISE.” [Read more…]

2018 BCC Year in Review

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In 2019, By Common Consent will enter its 15th year of Bloggernaccle existence.  The state of our imperfect union of informal bloggers is strong:  2018 clocked in as second only to 2015* in total traffic.  As the sun sets on 2018 , I thought I’d compile some highlights. [Read more…]

Brief Encounters of Kindness

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T. L. Peterson is an editor who lives in Utah. He is also known as Loursat.  This post is about random acts of kindness: their blessings, their perils, and their relationship to love.

My closest brush with an apostle was a random encounter a couple of decades ago in the Salt Lake Temple, where I was attending a cousin’s wedding. In the Salt Lake Temple, most of the sealing rooms are located along a rather narrow hallway that runs next to the celestial room. It was a busy day for weddings. After our ceremony was over, the hallway was full of people from at least two other wedding groups. I made my way slowly along the corridor, skirting past people who were happily, quietly buzzing about their momentous day. [Read more…]

Five Silent Nights (Plus One)

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Probably just about right now (or if not now, then within the next few hours), in Oberndorf, Austria, at Central European Standard time, many are or will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the very first time “Stille Nacht” was ever performed. The lyrics had been written a couple of years earlier by Father Joseph Mohr, while the music was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, an organist and schoolmaster in a nearby village, for the Christmas Eve services Mohr would be conducting on December 24, 1818. Legend has it the organ was broken, and so Mohr asked for the composition to be for two solo voices, with guitar accompaniment, but the truth of that story is unknown. What is known is that John Denver was right–this song has become, very simply, “the most beloved of all Christmas carols.” Here are five versions that matter a great deal to me.

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Pants!

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The Victory-for-Satan Newsroom announced this afternoon that sister missionaries can wear dress pants.

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!

But as I take a breath between celebrating, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect. [Read more…]

When Presents Become Revenge: Retaliatory Altruism and the Spirit of Christmas

The worst thing I ever did at Christmas was buy somebody a present. I am still ashamed of my actions on this occasion. I was a truly horrible human being, and my failure still haunts me every Christmas season.

Let me explain.

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Discovering the Truth About Santa and Other Gift Givers

‘Twas the night before Saint Nicholas Day, and my wife and I blew it. We had stashed St. Nick’s gifts in the linen closet for easy deployment the next evening when the giver of gifts stops by unannounced to reward good children by leaving gifts on the doorstep. The closet doesn’t see a lot of traffic and I didn’t think twice about its suitability as a short-term hiding place until my daughter opened it up in search of a certain cuddly blanket. 

To make a long story short, she didn’t buy our explanations for why St. Nicholas would come early and go to all the bother of leaving the gifts in a closet when we all know that he leaves them on the doorstep. So we confessed the source of the gift. But even with one down, there are still two distinct gift givers to go whose reputations remain intact—the Christkind and Santa Claus—waiting in the wings of our Austro-American family tradition. 

Weiter zur Bescherung

Joy to the World, the World Is Come

My son learned his first Christmas song when he was four years old–“Joy to the World,” but he sang it wrong. Instead of “Joy to the world, the Lord has come” he sang “Joy to the world, the world has come.”  

When he was six, I decided to try to correct him. “You’re missing the point of the song,” I told him. And he replied, as only a six-year-old can, “no daddy, YOU’RE missing the point of the song.” It has taken me 15 years to realize that he was right and I was wrong. Joy, in its most essential form, is precisely the profound comfort that we take in the goodness of the world. 

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Age Changes for Youth Progression and Ordination

This morning The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent a digital letter to church members and leaders announcing changes in the advancement of youth through the ecclesiastical and ministry structures of the church. Before this announcement, children and youth graduated from Primary (the children’s ministry program) and their respective classes (young women) and ecclesiastical quorums (young men) on their twelfth, fourteenth, and sixteenth birthdays. Today’s announcement indicates that beginning in January 2019, youth will now graduate and advance through their organizations as cohorts at the new year, similar to a school class (you don’t go from sophomore to junior on your birthday). Moreover eleven-year-olds will begin to receive temple recommends for proxy baptisms in January as part of their advancements.
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Lesson 47: “Let us Rise Up and Build” #BCCSundaySchool2018

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Gustave Doré’s Ezra reading the Torah to his people

Lesson Objective: To talk about the complications of what it means to build Zion.

Scriptures: Ezra, Nehemiah

Introduction: Ezra and Nehemiah came from a single scroll in early Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Bible; Christianity would separate the text into two books later on. [Read more…]