Author: Kaimi Wenger

A New Year’s Exhortation

A new century dawns upon the world today. The hundred years just completed were the most momentous in the history of man upon this planet. It would be impossible in a hundred days to make even a brief summary of the notable events, the marvelous developments, the grand achievements, and the beneficial inventions and discoveries, which mark the progress of the ten decades now left behind in the ceaseless march of humanity. The very mention of the nineteenth century suggests advancement, improvement, liberty, and light. Happy are we to have lived amidst its wonders and shared in the riches of its treasures of intelligence! The lessons of the past century should have prepared us for the duties and glories of the opening era. It ought to be the age of peace, of greater progress of the universal adoption of the golden rule. The barbarism of the past should be buried. War with its horrors should be but a memory. The…

The New Book

There’s an interesting article by Peggy Fletcher Stack about some of the changes in the revised _Gospel Principles_ manual. Among other things, references to _Mormon Doctrine_ have been removed. T&S’s Julie Smith asks some good questions — “Over the years, I’ve heard many, many people express that the Teachings of the Prophets books were very difficult to teach from, so I’m sensing some relief with the shift to the new manuals,” says Julie M. Smith, a stay-at-home mom with a degree in biblical studies. “At the same time, there is a new concern: How does a teacher make a lesson on a very basic topic interesting and relevant to the class?” And a quasi-historian labels the prior manuals, “quasi-historical.” Check the entire article out — it’s a good read, and raises interesting points about the new book.

Unsung: By prophet bards foretold

The text “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” written by Unitarian minister Edward Sears, included haunting verses about war and social inequity. Nowadays, there are several versions of the hymn, as different denominations (including the LDS church) have altered the words in one form or other. The original words remain well worth reading (and singing) this Christmas season:

An initial question

Why do we use first initials for LDS leaders who otherwise use their middle names? M. Russell, L. Tom, D. Todd, L. Whitney — we all know who these people are. What is the reason for continued usage of first initials, rather than simply saying “Russell Ballard” or “Todd Christopherson”?

When spam gets weird

Blog spam is depressingly common (though our filter is top notch); one common spam tactic is a comment which says “hi” or “great post” but then links to some sketchy porn site or gambling or the like. We just got a series of comments which were a variant of those, from some spammer in Italy. I’m not sure if it’s a language issue, if they’re trying to evade filters, or both, but the language was decidedly quirky, enough that it caught my eye. For instance: What’s up everybody under the sun, I’m chic to the forum and justified wanted to roughly hey. hi leaning touch to comprehend unexplored pepole and slice tackle with them contain a happy year I couldn’t have said it any better myself. What’s up everybody under the sun. Contain a happy year!

Whatever happened to Jesus?

Are we as church members downplaying Jesus? I don’t mean this in a theological sense; rather, it seems to me that church members (and leaders) tend to de-emphasize the use of the single-name description Jesus. We regularly use the name Jesus when it is associated with the title Christ. However, when we use a single-word name, LDS speakers — unlike speakers I’ve heard from other denominations — tend to use the name Christ, not Jesus.

Thanksgiving Scriptures

That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you. -Alma 34:38

Parents are people

It’s been a stressful time for us. My father in law had been battling leukemia for over a year, when he suddenly took a turn for the worse. FIL’s illness lasted a few more weeks, and he finally passed away. This has affected the family in a number of ways; most importantly for this post, it resulted in a complicated set of travel plans.

Happy Birthday to Us

Thanks to reader Clair for pointing this out in comments: The first issue of the Times and Seasons was published at Nauvoo. — 170 years ago today [err, yesterday] – Nov 15, 1839 . Happy birthday to us!

From the Archives: The Reynolds Jury Charge

The trial court in Reynolds v. United States gave the following jury charge, which the Supreme Court later found was proper and not inflammatory. I think it not improper, in the discharge of your duties in this case, that you should consider what are to be the consequences to the innocent victims of this delusion.

Photo Series: A Mormon Image

George Q in Prison

In an effort to increase the beauty-to-blather ratio around here, we’d like to kick off a new series of posts featuring photos and other images which carry meaning to us because they resonate with our Mormonness. And we’d like to include all of you in this project. That is, we’re inviting you all to send in submissions for the new T&S series, A Mormon Image.

Gays and the Church: Whose Ox is Being Gored?

When people talk about Prop 8 or gay-Mormon relations generally, a common theme is that a smaller, less powerful group is the victim of an unfair attack from a larger and more powerful aggressor. This theme is used repeatedly on both sides of the debate. It was a central theme in Elder Oaks’ recent talk about religious liberty. And it was immediately raised in criticisms of that talk, with church critic Fred Karger telling the Associated Press, “They are trying to be the victim here. They’re not. They’re the perpetrators.” It’s clear that this basic framing is employed by both sides in the argument. This raises the question — who is the bully here? Whose ox is being gored? Interestingly *both* the LDS and gay communities have plausible evidence to support the claims that they are the victim group.

Religion as Friendship

Yesterday in Elders Quorum I taught Lesson 40: “How Glorious are Faithful, Just and True Friends.” It was a lot of fun — it’s a great set of discussion materials. Today, I read a fascinating article in the New York Times about the science of human friendship and connection. I love the idea of Zion as a community. Most of our most rewarding experiences come in the context of interaction with other people. And when the church community is functioning right, it can not only provide a setting but also facilitate the building of those kinds of bonds of friendship — nudging us constantly to build and renew friendships.

Sportsmanship dead at BYU?

Writing about the punch after the Boise State-Oregon game, Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN notes, (emphasis added) Sportsmanship isn’t dead in Football Bowl Subdivision programs, but it’s on a respirator. I covered the Minnesota-Syracuse game Saturday, then watched large chunks of the Charleston Southern-Florida, BYU-Oklahoma and Alabama-Virginia Tech games. On Monday night I watched the Miami-Florida State game. You know how many times I noticed a player helping an opposing player off the ground? Zero. Is good sportsmanship dead in college football? Is it dead at BYU? And if so, what can or should we do about it?

Walk and not faint

According to scripture, what ought one do in order to run and not be weary, walk and not faint? That’s easy, right. The answer is set out in plain view, in the Book of Isaiah. Wait — Isaiah?

Rough Dawn Breaking

The marble skin of Joseph’s perfectly-muscled chest sparkled like diamonds in the Palmyra sun. Emma stared, captivated by the velvet tones of his voice, the intoxicating scent of his tousled bronze hair. “You should stay away from me,” he had warned her moodily. “I’m too dangerous.” But he couldn’t seem to stay away from her . . . My masterpiece will be available at fine bookstores everywhere, just as soon as I get it all written. I expect you all to purchase copies for home and office, and as Christmas gifts for nieces, and open-minded nephews.


We’ve all heard of Mormon crickets. But did you know that there are not just one, but half a dozen types of Mormon butterfly? They’re named for their practice of polygamy (heh), and they’re beautiful. The Great Mormon butterfly (Males are blue or black, females have striking speckled patterns of red, black and gray).

Tired-blogging from Sunstone, Day 3

It’s early, and I’m still recovering from karaoke, but I’m at the Sonia Johnson panel. I’m sad to miss Kristine singing this morning, but this panel has a distinct advantage — I can sit with a laptop and write my talk for next time. I’ll try to type up some notes on this session (and not get them mixed up with my talk).

Liveblogging Sunstone, Day 1

I’m going to be live(ish) blogging Sunstone, at least some. The level of effectiveness will depend on a lot of factors, including access to wireless (which seems to be a little spotty). If you’re here (or just here in spirit), please weigh in in comments with your own thoughts.

Wednesday Conference Talk: Finding Joy in the Journey

I really liked President Monson’s recent talk, Finding Joy in the Journey. President Monson talks about enjoying life and focusing on our relationships with the people around us, especially family: Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us.

Mormon Studies on a Kindle?

I was kind of excited when I got my Kindle a few weeks ago. I liked the idea of having lots of books in one place, not having to haul the usual load around. I liked the idea of searching a book easily, of highlighting text and copying it out. Other features, like mailing in my own papers, also sounded intriguing. Unfortunately, the Kindle doesn’t deliver particularly well for Mormon studies.