Memories of President Monson

President Monson has died.  I hope he and his dear wife, Frances Monson (d. 2013), are celebrating a joyful reunion this morning.


Photo courtesy of

Our dear prophet spent more than 60 years of his life devoted to the Church, serving as a Bishop in his 20s, a Mission President in his 30s, and then as an apostle since the age of 36.  He strived to follow Christ, preaching the gospel through his words and actions.  He proclaimed peace, cared for the widows, and loved the children. [Read more…]

The Event Horizon: Death(3)

[Part 2 here.]

We take this feeling with us each day and it drains the gall out of our years, sucks the sting from the rush of time, purges the pain from our memory of the past, and banishes the fear of loneliness and death [In Richard Wright. Twelve Million Black Voices. (Reprint) Basic Books, 2002. p. 73]

Our past disappears behind us, memory fades and our helplessness in the face of the inexorable progress of time is repeated billions of times over in human history. What are we really? Just a few pounds of interconnected neurons, a “bundle of perceptions,” coupled with a biased and limited view of thought threads and events gone by? “What is mankind, that thou art mindful of them?”

Our concept of permanence is flawed. Our individual temporal horizons are supremely narrow: they extend over a microscopic interval of the existence of the physical universe and that in turn is the tiniest part of infinity, a necessary consideration within Mormonism.

What does our brief moment on earth mean in this vastness? Mormonism does claim some answers (in fact according to Joseph Smith, it would be useless if it did not provide something concrete there), but the answers that turned out to be (eventually) most important for me did not really lie at the surface of its modern presentation, which seems driven in some ways by a kind of quasi-Christian-fundmentalist agenda.[1] I’m not suggesting that the Church is going in the wrong direction with this. There is plenty of support in foundational Mormonism for it. I’m only saying that my own search for, I’m not sure how to phrase it, maybe comfort, ultimately did not lead there.
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The Event Horizon: Death(1)

I offer the following series as an addition to your cultural sea. For me however, it has little to do with culture. It is a singularity which I orbit in a decaying fashion, eventually to be swallowed by it. You are following the same trajectory, whether you want to or not. I shall be fascinated to read your thoughts along the way, because many of you are traveling at high velocity, though you may not know it. Death awaits us.

What is death? And what happens when you die?
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James Adams. Part 3. Textual Landmarks. Conference Primer.

Part 1 is here, part 2, here.

As you watch General Conference this weekend, appreciate it for some of the textual certainties. And you never know what you may hear.
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James Adams. Part 2. Aspects of the Sermon.

For part 1, see here.

The late summer and early fall of 1843 was not a healthy time in Nauvoo. Philadelphia had yellow fever in the summer (and it emptied the town) and Nauvoo had malaria. If you could survive a year, the general weakness would usually subside and you had a good chance of staying alive. But the elderly and the very young had a more guarded prognosis. Often, malaria teamed up with pneumonia or cholera or some other bug to take out even the robust. In James Adams’ case, cholera got the blame for his August 11 demise:
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Measuring the Infinite

The infinite is the line of demarcation in every important bit of what separates man from machine and the rest of creation. In Mormonism it is the barrier that divides the mortal from the premortal and postmortal, it is the desert between God and His past, and for man, it is not a gulf of nonexistence, but an endless sea of personhood. The infinite is what lies before us, and after us. The infinite is inside us. The infinite *is* us. It is what lies beyond the firmament.
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Marie Osmond, Mormondom’s Princess Di

Like so many other women, who didn’t think they thought much about Princess Di while she was alive, my grief at her death surprised me. Many in the media expressed confusion that average people would care so much about a woman who spent more on cosmetics in a year than many of us earn. A woman who, even before marrying into a royal family, and after divorcing from it, had a life of great privilege. I myself couldn’t understand it. But just as the news from Paris thirteen years ago cut an unexpectedly personal wound in me, so too did today’s news of the death of Marie Osmond’s son.
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The Dead Thing in My Can of Tuna

Guest Blogger, Steven Peck is an associate professor and evolutionary ecologist at BYU who blogs on issues of science and faith at the Mormon Organon. He is currently doing a year sabbatical with the United Nations in Vienna, Austria working on African tsetse fly population ecology.

After class one day, I guiltily grabbed one of those over-packaged lunches so indispensable for those in a hurry to gulp down something quickly. This one was canned tuna salad and crackers. I felt guilty at the amount of unnecessary material piling up as I squirreled through the packaging to find my meal. [Read more…]