Certain Women: Zion Art Society exhibition in Salt Lake City and Provo, March 2 – May 5.

Today’s guest post comes from Eric Biggart of the Zion Art Society.

Two years ago, the Zion Art Society launched as a way to bridge the gap between the thousands of inspiring LDS artists and potentially millions of LDS art collectors. We have all been consoled to beautify Zion, and we hoped to bring original art into the homes of members across the world. In the years since, we have held two art exhibitions, and international competition, and started a arts-focused podcast, Mormon Visual Culture.

[Read more…]

We All Worship a Different God

cloudsSomeone who studies religion knows that there are many Gods and ideas of divinity throughout theology. They understand the differences between these beliefs and the intricacies of what God means to many people. However, I am not that person, so my knowledge is much more limited. But recently I have started to notice the subtle differences between the God that I worship and the God that people around me seem to worship.

Of course, the God that I have known and learned about throughout my life is different from the one(s) that my Hindu, Muslim, and even various Christian friends know. But the more I question my own beliefs and the more I learn about the beliefs of others, the more I am sure that none of us believe the same things, even when we claim the same religion.

[Read more…]

Lesson 9: “God Will Provide Himself a Lamb” #BCCSundaySchool2018

Silently he arranged the firewood, bound Isaac; silently he drew the knife. Then he saw the ram that God had appointed. He sacrificed that and returned home . . . From that day on, Abraham became old, he could not forget that God had demanded this of him. Isaac throve as before; but Abraham’s eye was darkened, he saw joy no more.  —Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling

Abraham 1:1, 5–20
Genesis 15–17; 21
Genesis 22

I once wrote a thing about Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac. It was a chapter in Julie Smith’s award-winning collection As Iron Sharpens Iron. Mine was the free sample, so you can read it here (but you should definitely buy the book anyway). Following the design of the volume, I wrote a dialogue between Abraham and Job, with Job asking Abraham, “why did you agree to sacrifice your son?”

The original intent of the piece was to have Job, who had lost ten of his children when God took them without asking, attack Abraham viciously for agreeing to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham would wither under this questioning and admit his error. And thus we would see that Job was right to resist God while Abraham was wrong to give in to divine bullying. That is pretty much how I saw things before Julie asked me to write the chapter. [Read more…]

On Media and “The World”

Today’s guest post comes from Rebbie Brassfield, a copywriter in Babyl — err, Los Angeles.  

So I accidentally binge-watched all seven seasons of Game of Thrones last summer, and have spent the last few months wondering how ashamed I should be. Okay but seriously, it’s made me think about media consumption, specifically the way it might affect how we see “the world.”

As a girl, I was very into the Sweet Valley High series. These are not Deseret Book fare, and they’re certainly not high brow literature, but they taught little life lessons that stuck with me in adolescence. Some of them dealt with troubling issues – I remember clearly one story in which Lila was sexually assaulted, and another where a character was involved with drugs and had to deal with the consequences. These were scary things that in my Provo community I had never been exposed to, let alone would dream of talking about with my parents. It will sound silly, but looking back I sincerely think it was a good way to be exposed to the “sins of the world.” It showed me behaviors outside my norm, and allowed me to form opinions on them. [Read more…]

A Short Thought on a Dream: Or, Women and the Priesthood

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 6.55.58 AMIf gender is eternal—and we are told by our prophets and revelators in no uncertain terms that it is—if women are to preside at the side of our brothers in the eternal act of creation, and if neither can be exalted or progress without the other, then it stands to reason that there must be an equally powerful mechanism through which women will exercise that promised and divine power.

As a people, we are told we cannot live on borrowed light, and our current narrative and doctrine has women doing exactly that for eternity—living on the borrowed light of the priesthood of men. As a means of apologetics for this discrepancy we intuitively see but do not quite understand, women are told we “have access” to the priesthood of Aaron and Melchizedek, but it’s not ours. [Read more…]

Prayer for the Second Sunday in Lent

O God, our constant support,
whose constancy often feels like absence:
in our long wilderness walk,
some days find you nearer
than our accustomed busyness allows,
but many days, instead of presence,
we carry heavy doubt,
apparently alone,
tempted to put you, our God,
to the test;
grant us, then, the patience
to walk in our darkness
and learn our own strength,
as Jesus learned his,
that when the darkness is past,
we might walk with you
and with Jesus
in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Which City?

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16 [NRSV])

All we wanderers, all we watchers, have been called: called to live in a city God has prepared for us. And moreover, at least according to some interpretations of scripture, we have been called to do more than that: we have been called to help build that city. But which city is it? [Read more…]

A list of actionables you can tell my daughter you took when she will soon ask about her place in this church.

remy with net

This is a follow up post from the piece I wrote a couple of weeks ago titled, “Men, what will you do when my daughter asks about her place in this church?”  First, I want to say thank you for the dozens and dozens of well-thought out, empathetic and kind comments that so many of you left.  It was heartening to know that in many ways, I can tell my daughter, and in effect, myself, that although things can look pretty dire for women having an efficacious voice in this church, there are at least circles of men and women working quietly and effectively in a myriad of ways for greater equality.  I will try and include some of your suggestions from the comments here in this post, but the thread (at least part of it) is worth going back and reading through for more ideas.

[Read more…]

UVU Mormon Studies Conference

Utah Valley University will be hosting its 2018 Mormon Studies conference, “Between Heaven and Earth,” on the 22nd and 23rd of February in room 511 of the Classroom Building. Find the schedule of events here. Our own Steven Peck will be delivering the Eugene England Lecture. For those of you not near Orem, a livestream will be available at the link above.

Domestic Abuse Resources for Bishops

Laura Brignone Bhagwat is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies technology and domestic violence.  Her dissertation tracks a public health intervention in hospital emergency rooms meant to prevent intimate partner homicide.

On a hot summer morning last year, I sat in a small room with fifteen pastors and ministers. Coffee and pastries were tucked into a corner, and the men and women of my county’s Interfaith Coalition to End Domestic Violence were introducing themselves. At the end of introductions, the pastor facilitating the meeting asked: “What are the biggest challenges facing your congregation when it comes to domestic violence?”

The answers started flying. “The abuser is a member of our church board!” “She just keeps going back to him and I don’t know what to do.” “Women in our church are taught to be meek and submissive, so when the abuser tells them something, they think they have no options.” “Victims are often looked down on when they speak out.” “Abusers misuse scripture to justify their actions.” “Even after [theological] seminary, I just don’t feel I have the training I need to respond to this issue.” [Read more…]

Lesson 8: Living Righteously in a Wicked World #BCCSundaySchool2018



Guido Reni’s “Lot and His Daughters” (1615)


Genesis 13–19 (but mostly chapters 18 & 19)
Ezekiel 16:49–50

Learning Outcomes

Students will more capably and confidently live their lives with integrity, peace, and hope, even when their world around them is harsh, upsetting, and seemingly without love. [Read more…]

Masonic Influence on LDS Temple Worship


I recently read an account of a person’s loss of faith in the Church. Among several challenging issues this person mentioned was learning of the Masonic influence on Mormon temple worship. I had a different experience with learning about that issue, and I’d like to describe it on the off chance the PTB might learn something useful about how best to expose our young people to this sort of thing. [Read more…]

On Stumbling Blocks and Being Strong (Sometimes)

On Sunday, was reading Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and these verses jumped out at me:

Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died….

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble….

We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. (Romans 14:13-15, 19-21; 15:1-2 [NRSV]) [Read more…]

Prayer for the First Sunday in Lent

Blessed God, the bread of life,
who feeds us with the spiritual food of your Son:
grant that this our wilderness journey,
undertaken to remind us that our lives
draw nurture from more than bread alone,
may send our roots deep into the loam of your love,
that we, blossoming into abundant life
through the nourishment of the Holy Spirit,
might share the feast of love together,
one people as you are One God. Amen.

Cover-up: Third Wheel

This is the first of an occasional series of posts exploring my process for creating many of the covers for BCCPress’s amazing books. #CoverUp

I’ve been a lover of book covers since I was in diapers—my mom, may she rest in peace, knew the value of books and I was surrounded by them from a very young age. And it was always their covers, first and foremost, that grabbed my attention. To this day, I’m drawn to books whose publishers take the time to dress them properly.

That’s why I was so tickled when I was asked to head-up cover design for our publishing group. I already had big shoes to fill… the cover to Tracy McKay’s The Burning Point (review) is a truly exceptional example of the craft. So with my first cover, I really wanted to put my best foot forward.

[Read more…]

How do women spiritually override bad Priesthood leadership?

Wrestling with “Women Submit” Language in Personal Scripture Study

One night a decade ago, I sat in a college dorm conducting a Sunday-night Bible study with my boyfriend.  We’d been working our way through the letters of Paul, and now were on Ephesians 5.  In that passage Paul calls for unity among the saints, and reproves various “unfruitful works of darkness” before reaching a famous passage:

Giv[e] thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. … Let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

The passage didn’t strike me as odd; it seemed to exactly track everything I’d been taught in Young Women:  follow the Priesthood.  By divine design, men are the heads of households.  A husband should love and consult with his wife, but he ultimately presides as the Priesthood Holder in the home.  I had learned that even if the husband was falling short in some way, the wife should not undermine his authority, but instead “submit” and “reverence” him even more, in order to inspire him to step up and fulfill the mantle of his Priesthood responsibility. [Read more…]

Armageddon, Guns, and Walking Away from Omelas

They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas. –Ursula Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”


I’ve been to Armageddon, and it’s not as bad as they say. It’s actually called Har Megiddo, and it is a major archaeological site in Israel. It is the highest place for miles, so you can always see what is coming. It has an ingenious tunnel to its water source, which shows that its inhabitants were willing to do extraordinary things to keep its people safe. And it is in a country that strictly controls access to guns for non-military use. [Read more…]

My Short Valentines

It is strange to sit on a hard chair in a classroom
Reading a presentation called
“Can I love them enough?”
Foster Parent Training is not for 
Those with weak souls or hesitant hearts.

When I met you, I was determined to love you enough.
At first it was a conscious love,
A resolute love.
An act of will.
I loved you with stubbornness through tears and fright.
I commanded myself
And then I cried, exhausted.

I loved, but my soul ached from stretching.
I ran an obstacle course I could not finish,
Every muscle sore and seized.

And then we learned to laugh.
And I hug you and blow your hair from my face while we watch tv.

And, our feet intertwined, you tell me secrets.

I dance, and you are delighted.

Now I hold you.
You and me and blanky snuggling in the dark room.
I cannot hug you tightly enough.
Can you melt into my chest?
So tomorrow when you are away, my arms will not ache?

Lesson 7: The Abrahamic Covenant #BCCSundaySchool2018


Genesis 12:1-8 (KJV, NRSV), 15 (KJV, NRSV), 17 (KJV, NRSV)

Romans 2:25-29 (KJV, NRSV), 4 (KJV, NRSV), 9:1-18 (KJV, NRSV) [fn1]

Learning Outcomes

I’d hope that class members come away from this lesson with circumcised hearts, believing God’s promises to all people so that they can have that belief reckoned to them for righteousness.


For me, the tension animating this set of texts is one between exclusivity and inclusivity. The manual includes a quote from Joseph Fielding Smith conveying the idea that most (but, implicitly, not all) members of the Church have the literal blood of Abraham flowing through their veins. This gesture works to make us as Mormons genetically part of an exclusive club to whom particular promises are due, and the manual uses quotes from Pres. Benson and Elder Packer to emphasize the responsibility that people in the club have to evangelize the people outside. Taking this stuff literally, though, requires disregarding the probability that if a man who lived ca. 5000 years ago has any living descendants at all, then every person on earth is likely to be among their number. (It also has messed up racial implications; see fn1.) Whom shall we proselyte if everyone’s already in the club? [Read more…]

Valentine’s Day Surprise

Look, it might be the first day of Lent, but it’s also Valentine’s Day. How do you make sackcloth sexy? HAVE WE GOT THE BOOK FOR YOU. Today only as a Valentine’s Day present, Adam Miller’s excellent treatment of the Song of Solomon is HALF PRICE, and the Kindle version is only 99 cents. Tonight is the night to get Biblical.

The Joyful, and Mournful, Journey of Lent

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

This year my employer, Friends University, a non-denomination Christian liberal arts college in Wichita, KS, decided to develop, in conjunction with our regular chapel observances, a calendar of Lenten devotionals, and they asked for students, faculty, staff, and others to contribute. Some of those who contributed were Roman Catholic or from other high church Protestant traditions, and thus the language and rituals of Lent were familiar to them. For Mormons like me, obviously, that isn’t the case. Still, this is my contribution; hopefully it fits the spirit of the occasion well. [Read more…]

Prayer for Ash Wednesday

O God of abundance, Creator of all that nurtures us,
Giver of breath and Pulse of our hearts’-blood:
we come before you in a spirit of repentance
as we take the first steps of our Lenten journey,
not forsaking the things of life that you have given,
but leaving behind all that chokes your life in us.
Cleanse us, we pray, from whatever stops the flow of love
as it runs in eternal circuit from you to us and back again.
Fill, O Lord, these newly empty places in our lives
with the riches of the Holy Spirit,
that we may learn to love ourselves as you love us
and then learn to love others as you love them,
and, loving them, find that we at last love you.
May our fast so feed our souls with love for all people,
that we may be one as you also are one,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.

The Baby Blessing I Wish I’d Given my Children

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 8.51.39 PM

. . . to give you a name and a blessing. The name you will be known throughout life and on the records of the church is Tardigrade Spellbinder Peck.

I bless you that you will be lucky. That you will have an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time. As you go through life, I bless you that people that can help you will be drawn to you, and feel a desire to assist you.

[Read more…]

Moral Choices Are Hard Because They Are Supposed to Be Hard


Witches can be right.
Giants can be good.
You decide what’s right.
You decide what’s good.
—”No One Is Alone” from Into the Woods


As I understand it, the main point of Stephen Sondheim’s magnificent musical, Into the Woods, is that moral decision making is hard. The scripts that our culture gives us are wrong. But they aren’t always wrong, or wrong in entirely predictable ways, so we can’t just reject them and do the opposite of what they say. We have to muddle through and make our own moral decisions, even though that means we will make mistakes.

This argument resonates with me a lot because, as a Latter-day Saint, I believe that this is also the main point of the founding myth of the Judeo-Christian world—the story of Adam and Eve—and a reasonably good description of the moral universe that we inhabit. [Read more…]

Book Review: Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved

I read Kate Bowler’s new book in one sitting while a gurgling, nocturnal eight week old breathed into my neck. I am not sure I recommend reading another mother’s account of dying while still squinting through the haze of postpartum depression. But I am not sure I don’t recommend it, either. Sometimes solitary communion is just the thing for a dimmed heart. Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved is many, many things.

[Read more…]

Liturgy, authority, and gender: Wasatch events the week of Feb 19

Next week I’ll be in Utah and in conjunction with the release of The Power of Godliness, with Oxford University Press, I’ll be participating in three public events hosted along the Wasatch Front. Come join us. Each event will cover different material in a different format, and each of the events is being sponsored by excellent groups that support Mormon scholarship.

First the publisher’s blurb:

The Power of Godliness is a key work to understand Mormon conceptions of priesthood, authority, and gender. With in-depth research and never previously used documents, Jonathan Stapley explores the rituals of ordination, temple “sealings,” baby blessings, healing, and cunning-folk traditions. In doing so, he demonstrates that Mormon liturgy includes a much larger and more complex set of ritualized acts of worship than the specific rites of initiation, instruction, and sealing that take place within the temple walls.

[Read more…]


I spent the night on an outdoor couch on the front stoop of a boy’s apt at BYU-Idaho in the summer of 2001. We had worked together at Hogi Yogi, and he was beautiful. I had only ever been kissed one other time (when I asked a friend of a friend to teach me how) but this boy was the first to hold my hand (at the Bar J Wranglers Chuckwagon in Jackson Hole). He fell asleep holding me, and I loved being in his arms so much that I decided to just fall asleep, too. The next morning, I woke up and slipped back to my own apartment, where I WAS WRACKED WITH ALL THE PANGS OF GUILT AND HELLFIRE AND SACKCLOTH. [Read more…]

Not a Tame Lion

Mette Ivie Harrison is a regular guest here at BCC and author of many books, including The Book of Laman.

I remember years ago a religious friend of mine talked to me about her view of God. She told me that she didn’t see why God couldn’t be a woman, or a bird, or a tree. She felt God in all of those different things, because to her, God had many different aspects. For her, feeling God in every part of the world was part of her practice of worship. It enabled her to widen her spirituality. It let her find the divine in herself, as well.

At the time, I thought that was kind of hippy-dippy and just plain wrong. I actually made that judgment in my head because I felt that as a Mormon, I was very clear on who God was and wasn’t. God was a white man with a beard who looked like he did in the temple film or in other paintings I’d seen of God. God was a physical being, not a bird or a tree. He was a man, and that was all there was to it. To have the wrong idea of God was to not understand anything about the “true gospel” and meant that basically anything else you told me about your religion or your worship practice was built on a false foundation.

How times have changed. [Read more…]

Lesson 6: Noah Prepared an Ark to the Saving of His House #BCCSundaySchool2018


Moses 8

Genesis 6-9, 11

Learning Outcomes

To understand the importance of the story of Noah and the flood.

To come away with an appreciation for the complexities of Godhood, prophethood, regularpersonhood.


I know there are many spiritual lessons to be learned from the story of Noah and the flood, but what I really want to focus on is exactly how large the ark was, how many cubits deep the water would have been, and how the animals managed to not eat each other. [Read more…]

We Must Do Better On Violence Against Women

I am sick of Mormon women not being believed about abuse.

I can’t even count the number of first-hand accounts I’ve heard at this point, and I only started paying attention a few years ago.  Easily dozens.  Probably hundreds.

But they all go the same way.  A Mormon woman is a chaste, obedient, temple-worthy, nurturing woman.  She gets married in the temple, moves in with her brand-new husband, and desires to start her eternal family. Within mere weeks or months, it becomes obvious her husband is angry, controlling, and abusive.  He usually quotes Church authority about men presiding and women hearkening to justify the behavior.

She doesn’t like it, but she tries to accept it.  She has been taught that she must protect her temple marriage above all else.  She has been taught that her husband is the leader of the home, and she needs to respect his authority.  She has been taught that if she just prays harder, submits harder, follows traditional gender roles harder, the problems will go away.  

They don’t go away.  They get worse. [Read more…]