Author: Rachel Whipple

Call to Repentance

It is rather presumptuous to call someone to repentance, don’t you think? The act implies at least two things: that the caller knows better than the called, and that the caller has the authority to issue the call to repent. In a world of increasing moral relativism, many of us are uncomfortable with the idea that one person can or ought to impose his or her standards on another. This discomfort illegitimizes the call for repentance by not only undercutting the moral authority of the caller, but the very standards by which a call may be justified. But the call for repentance has always been a call away from the world. It is a beacon that returns us to the Lord’s standard, a corrective guide. In our church today, we accept that our leaders, especially the prophet and apostles, have the authority to call us (and the rest of the world) to repentance. And in part because of the cultural…

Out of the Bubble

It is nice to take a break from the bubble that is Utah Valley. Last month we moved to Belgium for a year-long sabbatical, and I hoping that this time will be restorative. I’m ready to reenter the conversation.

Who gets to be a Mormon?

I have a few questions about boundaries and numbers that I would like to put before the group for your collective insight. While the questions are related, they are not building any particular argument. 1. If the Church excommunicated everyone who quietly disbelieves any or all of the core doctrines that John Dehlin has rejected, how many people would we lose? 2. If the Church dropped from its rolls all those people who have slipped or stomped out of activity, those who opt out of meetings and callings and the home and visiting teaching programs, how big would be the fold of the Lamb of God? 3. Can people remain “Mormon” without belief and/or activity? Has our church been around long enough to have secular Mormons? What does it mean to be a Mormon? 4. John Dehlin has said that he will continue to call himself a Mormon, but “Mormon” is trademarked. Is the Mormon Stories Podcast vulnerable to legal…

Sunday Morning Session of General Conference

We spent yesterday listening to General Conference while assembling IKEA furniture in the hopes that the spirit of the meeting would help reduce the desire to curse associated with strange pictorial instructions and screw heads that really want to strip. It went as well as could be expected. This morning I read about theology, love and literature (Alan Jacobs), cleaned some, made tea for my sick husband, harvested from the garden to make omelets (squash and onions, parsley and sage, tomatoes, with mushrooms and provolone not from the garden) for a late breakfast. And now I’m ready for conference to start.   President Uchtdorf conducting.   Pres Henry B. Eyring, 1st Counselor, 1st Presidency   Many are seeking revelation. We need a constantly renewed stream…a continuing blessing of communication with God. Quote from Packer: Revelation continues in the church Process of revelation begins, ends (?), and continues as we receive personal revelation. Example: Lehi’s dream and Nephi’s confirming revelation. A…

FairConference, Thursday Afternoon Sessions

Bob Rees A review of Earl Wunderli’s Imperfect Book   Started with this Card Colour changing trick video ( to illustrate that too much focus on one thing can cause you miss the many other things that are going on. What aren’t you noticing? Emerson said,  “Tell me your sect, and I’ll tell you your argument.” How we approach the Book of Mormon will determine what we find within it.  Rees was impressed with Earl’s thoroughness. He has read extensively and carefully. He approached as though cross-examining it in a court of law, and like any good lawyer making a case, he has been selective in choice of witnesses. Wunderli’s book does not give a balanced presentation, although it gives an impression of having done so. And he does raise important questions about the Book of Mormon, from the use of KJV language, internal stylistic consistency, anachronistic scientific understanding, mythology, and so one. Wunderli sees himself of side of reason,…

FairMormon Conference Thursday Morning Sessions

I’m not quite up to live blogging, so my coverage of FAIR will lag slightly behind the fact. I will be posting summaries of talks posted after completion rather than subjecting you to my sloppy notes in real time. Kerry Muehlstein, Ph. D. Brigham Young University Unnoticed assumptions about The Book of Abraham While the assumptions discussed in this talk are applied to Abraham, they also have more general application. What is apologetics? Apologetics to some means to try to defend a certain assumption. For Muehlstein, it means to try to understand what is true, what is accurate. In our search for truth, we need not be afraid, we have nothing to hide, and everything can be put forward as in the exemplary Joseph Smith papers project. No need for a strident tone in apologetics if we are seeking truth and working to disseminate it.   The beginning premise is crucial. We (Muehlstein and LDS apologists generally) take as a…

As Instructed

On Tuesday, Ally Isom, Senior Manager of Public Affairs with the LDS Church, encouraged listeners to have respectful conversations about their concerns with and faith in the Church.

Success in Life

My daughter just turned 12, and her new Young Women’s advisor and the  one other Beehive in the ward came over to introduce her to the program, give her a slew of pamphlets, and welcome her to Young Women. After they left, I read through the Guidebook for Parents and Leaders of Youth that they had left for me. It is a nice little booklet. In the section “Role of Parents” it states: “Your sons and daughters are children of God who have great potential. Although the Church has many leaders and resources to help them, you as their parents have the primary responsibility to help them succeed. the Church’s programs and materials for youth, described in this guidebook, are designed to assist you as you help your children develop the skills and attributes needed for success in life.” And that sounds good. But remembering Craig’s piece Bo Knows Heaven, I have to admit that I don’t know what success…

The Bad Side of Jesus

Last week, as we were walking to school, my 6 year old spontaneously started telling me about his latest Primary lesson.  He does this often, and usually reports the talking points accurately. “I learned about the bad side of Jesus,” he said. “Really? Jesus has a bad side?” I responded, wandering if they had talked about casting moneychangers out of the temple. “Yes. A very bad side. You know, when we were all in heaven, and he decided that one third of the spirits shouldn’t be allowed to have bodies, and that made them really sad, and Jesus did that, so that was the bad side of Jesus. Can you believe Jesus did that?” So that particular lesson about the plan of salvation and the pre-existence didn’t get through as clearly as his teachers must have hoped. But I do like the way that slightly distorted view casts a different light on those experiences we lost when we passed through…

The Wrongness of Being Right

It seems to me that any time you turn something into a point of conflict, you risk being in the wrong. It becomes more important to be right than it is to understand your fellow brother, to exercise compassion, to be humble and teachable.

The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Volume 2

After Peter Whitmer  signed this, the paper was folded-note the ink smudges opposite his signature-and then transported for Hyrum Smith and Reynolds Cahoon in a different ink.

On Monday I attended a launch event at the Church History Library for the second Documents volume of the Joseph Smith Papers. We were given a brief introductory presentation from historians and production editors who worked on the project. Documents Volume 2 covers the time period from July 1831 to January 1833. Three themes emerge through the documents covering this period of time. The first document is a revelation from July 20, 1831, which later became canonized as Doctrine and Covenants Section 57. It identified the land of Missouri as the land of Zion. This set the stage for the first theme of tension between the leadership in Missouri and Ohio, as well as the pedestrian difficulty of dealing with logistical issues of land acquisition and settlement. A second theme is that of Joseph Smith as a husband and father. The volume includes two letters to Emma, written in Joseph’s own hand. As with many of the documents, a facsimile…

Bittersweet Thanksgiving

We grew up. All of those kids I went to high school with. Not just high school; my family never moved, so I started in with them in kindergarten and went through to graduation. Part of me never felt like I fit in. Being the only Mormon in my class may have had something to do with that. Not that many new people moved into our little town, although many of us have since moved away. How many, I’m not sure, as I’m one of the ones who left. But every once in awhile, I get a glimpse into the lives of those people who were once children that I knew as a child. They’ve all grown up. They have kids of their own who they haul around to ball games and dance recitals and piano practice, just like we went to when we knew each other, just like I do with my kids now. They have jobs. Several of…

Everybody Ought to Have a Body

A distinctive Mormon doctrine related to creation and stewardship is the idea that embodiment is a necessary prerequisite for god-like exaltation. This doctrine includes within it the ideas we can be exalted to become like God, and that God himself has a physical body. The soul of man is the spirit and the body. Although we believe we had a premortal existence as spirit children of God, we were not completely created until we were born into our physical bodies. Our mortal parents acted as co-creators with God in having us. Our bodies are the temples in which our spirits dwell, and which the Holy Ghost may visit. So in a Mormon view, having a body is necessary for the development of our spirits. The traditional Christian view that holds that God embodied himself as Christ in order to make himself approachable to us. While we believe in the condescension of God, we believe our embodiment has the potential to…



It’s one thing to know that what you are witnessing is wrong; it’s another thing altogether to know what to do about it. I do know that inaction is often taken as tacit approval, and I do not want to be guilty of the sin of complicity

Bloggernacle PSA: fMh Tracy McKay Scholarship

“If you haven’t heard around the ‘nacle– The fMh Tracy McKay Scholarship fund drive is in full force! Last year many around the bloggernacle rallied together to help the awesome Tracy McKay finish the last few months of her degree when her ward could no longer help her out. fMh is keeping the tradition going by helping more single Mormon mothers go back to school.

Guest Post: The Parable of the Two Sons

My friend and neighbor has written a beautiful parable that I am pleased to share with you today. David Harding works actively in his ward and neighborhood. His daughter is my daughter’s best friend. As those of you with children know, it is a great blessing to have your offspring fall in with good people who help support them as they grow into themselves. Periodically, maybe once or twice a year, David writes something that he thinks could be shared beyond his close circle. The topics range, but as often as not they are gospel related. And so I’m introducing David, and one of his writings, to you.   The Parable of the Two Sons by David Harding The master of the vineyard was setting out to travel foreign lands for a number of years. He had two sons whom he loved more than anything else. They had recently come-of-age and now had their own budding households. The first son was…

I’m not sorry

The problem with repenting is that it is not just an intellectual exercise. It’s emotional. To repent, one must feel penitent. But how can you repent when you don’t feel like repenting?