Prayer for Maundy Thursday

O God of our Gethsemane slumbers: in our fear and confusion, strengthen us in your Spirit, that even though we do not know what tomorrow may bring, we might watch with your Son this night. Amen.

For music, Eleanor Friedberger’s “I Won’t Fall Apart on You Tonight”:

The blessings of the priesthood

On Sunday my younger son, age 14, was ordained a teacher in the Aaronic priesthood. His older brother, who has been a priest for about six months, performed the ordination. It was my husband’s idea; when he was a priest, he had ordained his younger brother as a teacher. It’s not uncommon for teenage priests to perform what ordinances they’re authorized to do—e.g. baptism—for their younger siblings, even when there’s a priesthood-holding father in the picture; I think most families want their boys to take advantage of such opportunities. In my husband’s case, there was no father in the home; his mother had been widowed more than a decade earlier. Ordaining his brother had been a memorable experience for him, and he wanted our son to have the same chance.

Our 16-year-old did very well. I could tell that he was a little nervous, but he gave his brother a very nice blessing. (More importantly, he didn’t screw anything up and have to repeat it, as so often happens with stuff like sacrament prayers. Not that my son has ever screwed up a sacrament prayer!) Afterward, as we walked out of the bishop’s office, my husband turned to our older son and said, “I can honestly say that that was better than doing it myself.” That was a thing I had wondered about. There will be plenty of opportunities for a young man to exercise his priesthood throughout his life; a father only has so many kids and so many such milestones. But there is a different kind of satisfaction in witnessing your child take on adult responsibilities. [Read more…]

I take refuge in the Dharma

Standing orders in Jerusalem — given by Pilate and understood and supported by Caiaphas — required the immediate arrest of troublemakers at Passover. If we want to understand Jesus’ execution, then, we must pay attention to what Jesus did at the temple. His was a total and visceral rejection of the high Jewish theocratic order, whose high priest had been appointed by Rome.

You see it with the fig tree. In leaf and inviting from afar but barren and curse-worthy in fact. You are full of the bones of the dead and all manner of filth. [Read more…]

Lesson 15: “Seek Ye Earnestly the Best Gifts” #DandC2017

Purpose
To help class members identify gifts of the Spirit, seek to obtain them, and use them to serve others. [grin]

The early Restoration, anchored by the Book of Mormon, was essentially an anti-cessationist protest. Moroni is archetypal, but not anomalous. Not only does he riff on Paul’s litany of spiritual gifts, he goes on to say that if miracles have ceased and angels aren’t around, it is because people have lost faith in Christ, and it is there had been no redemption. I don’t want to spoil my book, but next time you read the Book of Mormon, take note of what it says about the Power of God. [Read more…]

Prayer for Wednesday in Holy Week

O God of Truth: grant that we, through the grace of your Son, might learn to love one another as you love us, that when we receive the Comforter of your Spirit, we may also bring comfort to the people we meet in our way, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For music, the Salt Lake Vocal Artists singing Bob Chilcott’s setting of “If Ye Love Me”:

Indiana Jones Is The Avatar Of Mormonism’s Intellectual Golden Age

By Megan Harris & Matt B

 

Thesis: We would like to remind you all that Indiana Jones is definitely Mormon. Probably a jack-Mormon, but definitely a Mormon.  In fact, to understand Indiana Jones is to understand post-Brigham Young, pre-David O. McKay Mormonism: the era sometimes called the golden age of Mormon intellectual life.

Postulate: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles do not exist.

Proofs:

[Read more…]

Prayer for Tuesday in Holy Week

O God of all our troubles: in our longing for them soon to be done, grant us your Spirit to call us home to you, that in our remaining sojourn we might yet walk with those who need your love, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For music, Mahalia Jackson’s “Trouble of the World”:

I take refuge in the Buddha

Which Buddha?

Down the road from where I live, an old Victorian hotel has been converted into a temple of the Amida Buddhist order. Here, the chant Namo Amida Bu (“I call out to Amida Buddha) calls upon the mercy of Amitābha/Amida, the celestial Buddha of compassion.

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Amida in the Pure Land

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Instincts

The Church has long been governed by a fundamental, basic instinct, to restrict access to sources and to control information and thought that doesn’t match its preferred self-perception as the only true and living church on the face of the earth. That instinct served the institution pretty well for much of its history when information about the faith was not so easy to come by. But we now live in the internet age. And all of that stuff the Church wanted so badly to keep under wraps is but a mouse click away. And all of a sudden that deep-seated instinct to hide the ball is not serving the institution so well anymore. To its credit, the Church has endeavored to adjust to the new reality, with the Joseph Smith Papers Project being perhaps the leading evidence and example of a new approach. But the Church still has work to do to enter fully today’s information age. [Read more…]

Prayer for Monday in Holy Week

O God of our long wilderness road: as we approach the end of our Lenten journey, let the light of your Spirit come shining from the west down to the east, in anticipation of the day when, through Christ our Lord, we shall be released. Amen.

For music, Jack Johnson singing Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”:

Paris Temple

The Paris, France temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been completed. Public tours will be held between April 22 and May 13, 2017. The temple was announced in 2011, however rumors regarding President Gordon B. Hinckley’s work on a prospective temple circulated for more than a decade. Local parties confirmed that land purchase for the temple was a very slow process, inhibited by French regulation and public concerns.

Construction photo, Aug. 2015.

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Prayer for Palm Sunday

Our triumphant God, in whose glory we rejoice this day: pour out your Spirit upon us, that we at last might come in the name of the Lord and be blessed. Amen.

For music, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Benedictus”:

BCC Secrets

Earlier this week on BCC twitter a bunch of people DM’d us with their secrets – some benign, some not so benign. I don’t really love our oversharing culture, and I don’t know if this will repeat itself again on our twitter account. But the various responses might give us a picture into how we’re all wanderers, all searching, all hurting sometimes. Reading these have given me more compassion and more desire to be kind: in the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see. [Read more…]

We Should REALLY Argue More at Church

Image resultI hope I will be forgiven for co-opting Sam Brunson’s excellent post and title (found here), but I wanted to investigate the WHY a little bit more. Ardis points out that debate used to be a staple at church (at least for the men of the YMMIA) during the early part of the 20th century. We also know that in the earliest days of the church, the School of the Prophets was known for hearty discussion and debate (as well as tobacco spitting and smoking). Based on my own memories, growing up in the church in the 70s and 80s, church classes used to involve more debate than they have in my advancing years. That could be the nature of the ward I grew up in, but I suspect that it’s a byproduct of the calcification of correlation that has continued since its introduction. The church–like every organization–becomes more bureaucratic with growth, not less. I’ll explain what I mean. [Read more…]

Prayer for the Fifth Saturday in Lent

O God of freedom: in our mental slavery, we cry for your Spirit to help us sing redemption songs, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Music, Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”:

We Should Argue More at Church

Seriously.

I don’t mean this as some kind of Swiftian modest proposal. I’m completely serious about it. Maybe it’s my background as an attorney, but I believe that disagreement—that the airing of conflicting viewpoints—helps us discover truth. And Truth. I mean, we don’t know everything yet; that’s literally an article of our faith.

And it’s not just a matter of finding truth (or Truth). We don’t have to fully think through our beliefs when we just assert them, especially if everybody nods in assent. Assertion is easy, and allows us to be lazy in constructing our beliefs. When we have to defend our assertions, we see the weaknesses, the places we need to study more, the places we need to look for further revelation. Putting our ideas into the stream of discourse helps us improve and increase our understanding. [Read more…]

Prayer for the Fifth Friday in Lent

O God of the mysterious clouds, who appears most in darkness and speaks most in silence: we who have looked at love from both sides now and find that we do not really know love at all cry out like the bride for her lost lover, pleading for your Spirit to sate our hungry hearts; grant that we might learn to practice the fierce but gentle love of your Son, that in loving one another we may at last love you, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For music, Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”:

Caldey Island, Wales

On Easter Monday, the Mormon Society of St. James will be embarking on its fifth annual major pilgrimage, this time to Rome. Pilgrimage has become something of a “hobby” for me and while one of the highlights of my year is the long yomp with the MSSJ crew, I also enjoy mini-pilgrimages whenever I have the chance.

Last summer I spend a day roaming around Caldey Island off the coast of western Wales. Caldey is home to a community of Trappist monks. Herewith a few snaps taken with my cheap phone: [Read more…]

Why I Wrote This Book

Steven Peck
This book is unusual. In more ways than one. Well, maybe in more ways than ten. It’s a book about theology written by a Biologist. More strange perhaps is that I actually believe that science matters to theology, and visa-versa. Not a watered down science, mind you, but a full-bodied science that embraces all that that word means. No punches are pulled here. Well, that’s the wrong metaphor because it sounds like Science and Theology are entering a cage match in a winner-take-all blood fest. I need something that captures the idea that Theology and Science need each other. That they are better together than apart. That both become something richer and more compelling when they are holding hands on the beach and looking at a sunset than when they are duking it out in the ring. So what metaphor captures that? I know Frodo and Sam in Mordor. There we go. Frodo and Sam carrying the ring of falsehood into hostile territory to toss the thing into the Fires of Doom.
[Read more…]

Announcing BCC Press

We started BCC in 2004. That’s a very long time for any internet project, and I’ve been really lucky to be associated with some of the best Mormon writers and thinkers around. BCC is a joyful, faithful, troublemaking crowd and every day I read and learn things here that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I have become a better Mormon because of the minds and souls of the rest of you here. We’re proud of this community, but there’s always been the feeling that we could be doing more. So we’re expanding our efforts to build the community and engage with our faith in a new way. We’ve started a non-profit publishing company: BCC Press. [Read more…]

Prayer for the Fifth Thursday in Lent

O God, whose breath brooded over the waters: we come seeking the mysterious flow of your Spirit, hoping for a wind to clear away the clouds of our sorrow and reveal the clear light of your Son, and yet here we remain, lost but believing, in prayer telling all we can. Amen.

For music, Nick Drake’s “Riverman”:

Don’t Shoot the Messenger!

In response to Ashmae’s thoughtful reflections on the dearth of women’s voices at the last General Conference, a reader shared the following comment on a popular social media website:

You are all focused on the wrong thing. Why does it matter who said it as long as it is truth? The message is far more important than the messenger.

Someone else made a similar comment here on the website, so it must be a thing:

I don’t think it matters who speaks to be quite honest. It’s what is spoken about that is important and it applies to everyone.

I admit that my first response was to heave a sigh of exasperation. After all, as members of a culture steeped in the rhetorical traditions of our fathers, we all know that the credibility of the messenger matters at least as much as logical arguments and emotional appeals as a mode of persuasion. [Read more…]

Prayer for the Fifth Wednesday in Lent

O God of all we are: halfway from coal, halfway to diamond, we come before you rejoicing in the abundant grace of this moment, knowing our faults, but not needing any more than all you have given us; send us, then, your Spirit to make our delight in simple beauty full, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For music, the piano demo of R. E. M.’s “Beat a Drum”:

Families vs. Dynasties

Image result for dynasty

Dynasties are all about appearances. And shoulder pads.

A disturbing trend surfaced in the last year or so in which parents wrote letters to their young adult children explaining that if they did not stay active in the church, they would be cut from the inheritance.  These letters were shared in various Mormon internet groups. At roughly the same time, LDS Philanthropies published a video featuring a father who said that if his sons continued to follow church teachings, they would keep their inheritance, but otherwise, he would simply donate his money to LDS Philanthropies.  The video was subsequently removed due to backlash.  It’s an interesting parenting trend, some might say alarming.

First of all, my own view on inheritances is that nobody should count on it.  If you are living so close to the edge that the inheritance will make or break you, maybe you should be focusing on more sustainable sources of income.  Furthermore, it is the right of any individual to donate their earthly goods as they see fit.  And yet, it is unsavory to imagine parents using their inheritance as a bribe to control their children.  It also seems like a recipe for hypocrisy, if one’s children are encouraged to pretend to be living one way for the benefit of the parents, but in reality feel differently.  Do some parents really only love their children if those children do as the parents wish?  That doesn’t feel like love.  That’s something more like a dynasty than a family. [Read more…]

Prayer for the Fifth Tuesday in Lent

O God, whose voice in our hearts goes beyond words: grant us your Spirit, that we may be ever more enveloped by the mystery of the Word made flesh in your Son, until our rejoicing breaks forth into our own songs without words, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For music, the marvelous Jacqueline Du Pré playing Mendelssohn’s “Song without Words in D major, Op. 109”:

One Thing Missing: Beautiful Conference, but Where Were the Women?

Painting029

Conference this past weekend was peaceful and calming in the way I remember it being as a kid. The lilts and accents of certain voices felt familiar and a lot like home. Elder Holland’s talk was a sermon to anchor my mormonism in, as so many others have also noted. Many of the talks reminded me of what it is to step away from all other things and find a place where the spirit dictates my thoughts and actions. It made me want to be better. It was a good conference.

Still, I couldn’t help but notice that only one talk out of twenty-seven in the course of eight hours this weekend was given by a woman. [Read more…]

Prayer for the Fifth Monday in Lent

O God of our abandonment, whose night seems to know no dawn: grant that we, in the darkness of your Spirit, might hear the beating of your heart and find peace as we remain in the twilight of its shadow, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For music, this stunning live version of Florence and the Machine’s “Cosmic Love”:

Why is April “the Cruellest Month”? The Downside of Hope

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain
–T.S. Eliot, “The Wasteland”

Here are two things that everybody should know about April. First, it is National Poetry Month, which means that anything I write for public consumption is going to be about poetry. Second, April is famously, according to actual poet T.S. Eliot, the “cruellest month.” [Read more…]

Ownership of the Kirtland Temple

kirtland temple 13

In a Facebook Group recently the topic of the ownership of the Kirtland Temple came up. I thought I would take a shot at a (very) brief sketch of the first part of the subject.[1]

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Prayer for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

O God of our weary hands, which rest today from their labors: may your Spirit fill us with strength to take others’ hands in our own, that, feeling the tactile witness of their work, we might at last understand one another in love, through the grace of Him whose hands were pierced for us, Christ our Lord. Amen.

For music, “Rest These Hands,” by British-born composer Anna Clyne (b. 1980):

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