Search Results for: advent
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
This is a do-it-yourself entry. The tune is “Hyfrydol,” which we have as “In Humility, Our Savior” in our hymnal. (A very nice organ prelude on the tune starts at 7:56 here. Bonus points if you listen to the preceding prelude, on Rhosymedre, and know which hymn in our book uses that tune). The text is by Charles Wesley. Sing out!
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free; [Read more…]
In the past, I’ve done the 12 days of Christmas, starting them, in snotty pedantic fashion, on December 25th, which is where they begin in the Catholic and Anglican liturgical calendar. But since Mormons tend to frontload our musical celebration, I thought I’d try some Advent music earlier in the season. Today is the first Sunday of Advent–for some possibilities for celebrating, see Eric Huntsman’s excellent post at T&S.
I thought I’d start with some Marian devotion, since we don’t get to do that much at church ;) And also because I know of no fuller instantiation of longing and active waiting than the last month of pregnancy. [Read more…]
Genesis 12 is the first Old Testament chapter that focuses entirely on the life of Abram. It describes his and Sarai’s departure from Haran and journey to the land of Egypt. The LDS Church’s Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual does not assign this chapter in Sunday School, except as an “additional reading” to Lesson 8. Its exclusion from the formally-assigned chapters saves the curriculum writers from having to come up with “How-can-you-apply-this-to-your-daily-life?”-type questions for passages like this one:
I recently left a note here about the “liturgy” that our ward routinely does in honor of Remembrance Sunday and which I look forward to every year. We also enjoy a uniquely Mormon liturgy on Fourth Advent to celebrate Christmas properly as one — as a “ward family”. Hopefully the word “liturgy” isn’t misleading here: make no mistake, the meetings still had the rough and tumble of low church Mormon practices (i.e. this wasn’t a ritualized sung Eucharist or anything, just a slightly different readings-based format to Sacrament Meeting channeling the inspiration received by the Bishop in contemplating the Christmas message for the ward). [Read more…]
The idea for this grew out of a series of conversations I’ve been having with a Mormon kid in my high school English class about the books we read.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has faced considerable criticism over the years: most recently for its use of racist language and a questionable depiction of an African American, more generally for its cynicism regarding human nature and criticism of social authority. Regardless, I would argue that Twain’s Realist premise — that idealism and social mandates ought to be rejected in the face of pragmatism and experience — raises some useful questions for the Mormon reader. [Read more…]
Sometimes these moments come in the darkest hours–and this one certainly did. I was coming off of a year of heartbreak, trying to deal empathetically and lovingly with some challenges that people I care for very much were undergoing. But I was finished. I was empty. There was nothing left in my heart, and secretly I feared that my ability to love had been extinguished, or maybe wasn’t even there in the first place. I was on the way home from a dreadful whirlwind business trip to Jamaica–yeah I know, but trust me, it was awful–and I was sick, jetlagged from a previous trip, and underdressed for a cold dark plane ride. I was huddled into an inadequate cardigan and trying not to cry. It was just one of those “this is too much” times. And I heard a distinct and strong voice in my head: “You need to get a dog.”
What the what???
There is a small subway stop near the southern tip of Manhattan. The cast iron stairs were cold and slick as we made our way upwards, into the grey winter light. It wasn’t raining so much as the air was heavy with mist, just barely above freezing. It’s a bit surprising to find oneself rising from the subway tunnels into a church yard. If you jaunt half a block to the left, you are on Wall Street, the hustling, busy financial capital of the West, and if you reach your hand out to the right, you can touch a 300 year-old tombstone in a very old American graveyard. The dissonance of place and time is startling. [Read more…]
I look forward to the Advent and Christmas seasons each year with great anticipation, but where there is light, there must be shadow. This year’s holiday season has been especially poignant in light of our ward’s efforts to serve a visitor whom I regret won’t be returning, not in this life anyway. [Read more…]
These past weeks I’ve thought a lot about Samuel, the Lamanite. And as I’ve re-read the Book of Mormon this year, I’ve realized that in the past, I’ve glossed over how significant Samuel is to the latter end of the Book of Mormon, and how appropriate a figure he is for advent.
Arguably, the three figures that loom the largest over Helaman through Ether are Jesus, Mormon, and Moroni. And all three of them draw attention to Samuel and his prophecy. When we read Samuel’s prophecy about the destruction of the Nephites, it’s easy to see that as referring to the destruction that befell them at the time of Jesus’ death. But Mormon sees it, along with the prophecy of Abinadi, as referring to his own day (see Mormon 1-3). When Moroni describes the curse that befell the Jaredites, while abridging the record of Ether, he uses the same language that Samuel used when pronouncing his curse on the Nephites, and that his father, Mormon used when describing it’s fulfillment, suggesting that Samuel’s curse and prophecy permeated not just the way Mormon and Moroni thought about their present, but the way they thought about the past. Mormon and Moroni appear to have seen Samuel as perhaps the major prophetic figure of the latter parts of the Book of Mormon. Jesus also arguably identifies Samuel as the major prophet for the descendants of Lehi (see 3 Nephi, 20:24, more on that below).
Today we celebrate the heavenly rest of the saints—all of the saints. We celebrate rest because we all pass through life pursued by beasts, although they’re usually more like Sara Teasdale’s ordinary “wolves along the road” than Daniel’s apocalyptic allegories. Rest here comes only in fleeting moments, the occasional “evening of content” that opens our eyes as it were to the innumerable company in the world to come, leading us to sing God’s praise in the congregation of the faithful.  But most of life does not give us that rest, and we must accept such moments as down-payments for our future rest. [Read more…]
Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the new National Museum of African American Arts and Culture, the latest and long-anticipated Smithsonian museum on the National Mall in Washington DC.
Like all the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall, entrance is free. However, due to demand and crowds, and the design of the museum, you do need to request a timed and dated pass for entry to the NMAAHC. Currently, they anticipate this to be the case through spring 2017. If you’re going to be in DC, request your pass here. They’re still free, and there is a standby line, if you don’t have a pass and want to try your luck. [Read more…]
About a year ago I gave myself permission to label all the activities that I waste my time on as “hobbies.” Sudoku? One of my hobbies now. Driving randomly around on the county roads near my house, then seeing if I can get home without GPS even though all I see is cornfields? (Weird) hobby. Watching dog training videos, even though I don’t have a dog yet? Hobby. Teaching myself to cook Korean food based on internet bloggers? Delicious, delicious hobby. But when the temperature starts to dip (please start to dip soon), then all I want to do is make soup stock. [Read more…]
Let’s start with one of the most devastating satirical moments in Don Quixote. This scene begins in Chapter VIII of the first book. Quixote has already had his adventures with the windmills and the prostitute at the roadside inn, and now he encounters a group of travelers accompanying a lady on her way to meet her husband. Assuming (as he is wont to do) that the woman is being held against her will, Quixote rushes to her defense, starting a fight with a Biscayan gentleman attending her.
Quixote and the Biscayan fight for a while, and the latter gains the advantage. He raises his sword for a killing blow, and just as he does, the narrative stops abruptly–and the narrator tells us that the record doesn’t go any further and that this is everything we now can say about Don Quixote de la Mancha. But the narrator refuses to give up, and, one day he finds an Arabic manuscript in a marketplace that references Dulcinea del Toboso. This turns out to be the work of the famous Arab historian, Cid Hamete Benengeli and, conveniently, it begins at exactly same point in the story that the previous manuscript left off. The narrative problem is solved. [Read more…]
Part 9 in a series; see the rest of the series here.
The year after Archie was married to 34-year-old Norwegian Serena, Archie was married and sealed to his youngest—and, at six feet, his tallest—wife yet: his 8th wife, Sarah Jane Hamilton. Sarah Jane married Archibald just ten days after her 15th birthday. She was the youngest of Archie’s wives by nearly a decade, and she was a full 24 years younger than his first wife, Margaret (my g-g-g-grandmother). Two years into this marriage, Sarah Jane would give birth to a boy, James Hamilton Gardner. This would be the only child she and Archie would have together, as Sarah Jane would leave Archibald soon afterward, followed by a divorce. [Read more…]
Part 8 in a series; see the rest of the series here.
“Let us think with pride of our pioneer dead
And follow the exemplary lives they led.”
—Annie Gardner Francis (Serena’s youngest child)
Archibald’s 7th wife, Terjer Serine Torjusdatter Evensen, was born in Risør, Norway, an untamed land surrounded by lakes and hills, fjords and fens, wrapped round with a coastline that had already been an important fishing and shipping port for hundreds of years. [Read more…]
The Nephites in the time of Alma and Korihor apparently had principles of law that recognized the importance of religious freedom, like our First Amendment free exercise guarantee. But the nature of that freedom–what it protected, the reasons they gave for it, and how they thought about it–were different from our concept of religious freedom. [Read more…]
I drive by miles of cornfields every day to and from work. I watch as the fluttering leaves and straight stalks slowly grow. I pass only two or three cars on my 20 mile commute. I arrive at work energized, ready to meet with students, plan lectures, research, and write. And I return home relaxed, looking forward to watering my tomato and herb garden and then cooking a homemade dinner. On my frequent traveling adventures doing student oversight or recruiting, I enjoy the time in other places, but look forward to returning home to the peace of this place of belonging that I’ve created. After a year of upheaval and change, I did not expect to find this harmony. But one day, I looked around and realized that I was happy. It was an unexpected moment of grace that has continued with me—quiet in my heart—the whole summer. [Read more…]
Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk from the latest Women’s Conference is now a book. I reviewed the talk here, and my opinion was that it was a great success given the audience. His story about a young girl reluctantly visiting her spinster great-aunt was particularly on point given the inclusion of 8-year-olds in the “Women’s” conference. His talk was inclusive of all sorts of women: singles, married, with children, without, cat people, women with messy houses, career women, depressed (but not clinically) women, eccentric dressers, women whose lives are different than they had planned, etc. Just like Relief Society should be an amalgam of sisters of different life experiences. [Read more…]
Note: This is the second part of a discussion of Alma 1-4–and the Nehor/Amlicite War–that began here.
The story of the Great Amlicite War in Alma 2-3 is a good example of how winners write history. Mormon’s account of the event could not make the Amlicites look worse: they tried to overthrow the new system of judges but were defeated at the polls; they rebelled against the state; they joined the Lamanites and marked their own foreheads; they caused the needless death of thousands of people; and they were ultimately defeated because God was on the side of the Nephites.
Underneath Mormon’s narrative—which has few elements of legitimate history and pretty much all of the marks of historical propaganda—there is a different and more disturbing story that explains the actions of the Amlicites and casts some light on the failure of the United States in one of its most recent military ventures. It is the story of religious majoritarianism. [Read more…]
Angry? You bet. Tyler Glenn’s latest song and video boil with rage. Glenn, a gay man and former missionary, was embraced by the church for his advocacy in building the inclusivity bridge. That is, until the LDS church’s November 5th policy change regarding homosexuals—a change that codified those in same-gender marriages as apostates, required their excommunication, and forbade the baptism of their children under certain conditions. The policy change hit him hard, like a gut punch, he says. Feeling himself betrayed, denigrated, and literally dismissed over his sexual orientation, Glenn took a hard look at less-visited areas of Mormonism and decided he could no longer believe. The release of “Trash” depicts a stunning reversal of attitude toward his faith heritage. [Read more…]
I’ve spent a lot of my recent spiritual wandering thinking about the idea of creativity and what role it can play in a spiritual life, and how I can better implicate it into my everyday practices. It’s a not a quandary with a quick answer, but one that is answered in endless and varied ways. After watching a recently released series of short films, The Adam and Eve Series, I was inspired by the quality of the production, moved by the humor and realness of the characters, and reaffirmed in my notion that creativity within spirituality is most definitely worth pursuing. I could say a lot about what I love about the Adam and Eve Series, but I would rather you spend your time reading through the well-articulated and thoughtful responses of its creators, Davey and Bianca Morrison Dillard. This is the first in a series of spotlights and interviews with people who are pursuing creativity within their mormonhood. The interview questions are in italics and I’ve bolded some of my favorite lines from Davey and Bianca, but the entire interview is most definitely worth your time. [Read more…]
1 Nephi 20-22
The dreaded “Isaiah Chapters” of First and Second Nephi loom large in my childhood memories of the Book of Mormon. My teachers told me to just skip over them and get to the good stuff, and the general consensus of adults in the Church seemed to be then (and still seems to be now) something like, “we all know that this is the boring part of the Book of Mormon that nobody understands, but great are the words of Isaiah and all, so let’s pretend that it means something significant and try to sound really serious whenever we talk about it.”
The thing is, though, that it really does mean something significant—or at least something as bold, audacious and spiritually thrilling as any act of biblical interpretation ever has been. [Read more…]