Category: Guest Bloggers

Faith’s Fear Factor

I recently had a co-worker ask me how many wives my husband had. “Just one,” I answered. Red-faced, I hurried to explain that Mormons don’t practice polygamy. By the end of our conversation, he looked unconvinced and I felt uncomfortable because I belong to a church outside the mainstream. The innocuous encounter gave rise to one of my least favorite emotions—feeling guilty for feeling embarrassed about the most important thing in my life. Religiosity, I often worry, isn’t chic.

What death can teach us about heaven and hell

People are always making assertions about what heaven must contain in order for it to qualify as heaven for them, some of these assertions being more jokes than anything else. “It’s not heaven without sex.” “It wouldn’t be heaven if [insert name of favorite pet dog] isn’t there.” “If heaven doesn’t have Egg McMuffins, I don’t want to go there.”

Why We’re Confused

An old adage among outsiders who study Mormonism states that determining what is and is not Mormon doctrine is a lot like trying to nail jello to a wall—except that the latter feat is entirely possible while the former remains a struggle to this day. Evangelicals who interact with Mormons often express frustration to that end. It seems that as soon as we think we’ve figured out what Mormons believe and how to respond to it, the next Mormon we meet will tell us “we don’t believe that,” “that’s not doctrine,” or “that’s just his opinion.” It would probably help if evangelicals spent more time genuinely trying to understand Mormonism and less time sizing it up for the best spot to throw a punch,1 but to some of us, the desire to understand is earnest and the frustration is genuine.

Reflections on the Islamization of Knowledge

The historical grandeur of Islamic intellectual achievement has been both a blessing and a burden for modern Muslims. There is, on the one hand, a great and justified sense of pride in the accomplishments of the giants of the tradition—the Sibawaihs, Ibn Sinas, Ibn Haythams, and Al-Ghazalis.

Old School Scripture Mastery

Although Moroni was anxious about the Nephites’ “weakness in writing,” he does note that the Nephites were able to “speak much,” and that their spoken words were “powerful and great” (see Ether 12:23–27).

Thank You Guest Bloggers

Times & Seasons would like to thank guest bloggers Rory Swenson and Bruce Webster for their contributions over the last few weeks. We have more great guest bloggers in the works, so stay tuned.

Uber-Deep and Important Doctrinal Questions

After reading the post from a couple days ago about optimal tithing rates, I started to think about some of the unanswered questions that have come to mind while I’ve been playing Brick Breaker in Elder’s Quorum pondering the mysteries of the Gospel.  It seems like this audience might be able to offer some differing perspectives on these conundrums that, up to now, have kept me at a loss.  A lot of you seem to be much smarter than I am. Have at them.

Brotherhood. Friendship.

Key to this is our ability to strip ourselves of pretense; to lay bare our faults, our doubts, and our struggles. It is a refreshing – and frightening – experience to be completely candid, to trust the others within the group to listen and respect our experiences, even as they candidly respond and criticize. It can be brutal at times, but behind that brutality is always a sense of love and friendship.

What Does My Lack of Personal Trials Say About Me?

I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I should talk about in my inaugural post on this blog.  Quite honestly, when I agreed to do a stint as a guest blogger, I thought it would be pretty easy.  But, lately, it seems that all my Mormonism-related thoughts have been trite and meaningless.  For example, I considered drafting a post complaining about one of the teachers Elders Quorum and his refusal to teach out of the manual.  But, honestly, I think that post would have just ended up being a rant about a quorum discussion outlining the evils of facial hair (true story, by the way) and I don’t think that’s what the faithful readers of this blog are looking for. 

Musings on Drifting Faith

The question becomes not if our policies and teachings will adapt, but rather how. And further, what statements are we making today – strident and bombastic – for which we will be judged tomorrow? Statements and positions that our future generations will be pressed to reconcile, to explain, or to disavow?

Four sources of the Apocalypse

With the past two months, I have read — for various reasons — four different novels laying out apocalyptic events within the United States. Here are the novels, in the order I read (or re-read) them, and with the reasons why I read them: — Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (1977): a comet fragments and strikes the Earth in numerous places, collapsing much of world civilization, including the United States. I’ve read this several times before; I saw it cited on a blog (Samizdata) in a discussion on “the best end-of-the-world novels”  and decided to dig it out and read it again.

Speaking of Faith

Religion can be divisive. We read of historical confrontations and we witness the divisiveness in the world around us – between major world religions and among the sectarian branches they foster. But while religion and faith claims can be divisive, it needn’t be this way. There are ways to approach faith and differences of faith in constructive, expanding ways. One example is carried on over 200 public radio stations each week, a program called Speaking of Faith. The host, Krista Tippett, explores faith in a narrative approach that draws out the complexities of, the power in, and the wisdom gained from a life of faith.

The Ninety-Nine and the One

It isn’t easy to be inconvenienced, especially when we are asked to tolerate the views or the actions of the other, and love them too! It would be easier to ignore them, cast them out, keep things easy and pure. But that isn’t the plan.

The Gospel of Gluttony and Sloth

Some years ago, I noticed a trend among female general auxiliary leaders. With few exceptions, they all lean (no pun intended) to the slimmer side of the LDS population at large (ahem). Much as missionaries have a particular grooming code, is there an unwritten appearance requirement for “upper-level” service?

Why Mormons Build Temples

The church has a channel on YouTube called Mormon Messages. Yesterday they posted a new video titled, “Why Mormons Build Temples.” (Comments and ratings are not open on this video.) How do you think this will work as a response to the upcoming airing of recreated temple ceremonies (accurate or not)?

Be Mannerly

In the spirit of President Hinckley’s six be’s, I’d like to submit some suggestions for visiting/home teaching etiquette. Here are my 12 be’s of assigned teaching. Please add your own!

Colonel Kane, Righteous Gentile

From nearly the moment Thomas L. Kane walked into Mormon history in 1846, Latter-day Saint leaders promised that his name would long be honored by the Saints. In part, they wanted to bolster Kane’s determination to take the deeply controversial stance of defending the Mormons. When his father John, a powerful federal judge, learned of Kane’s decision to befriend the Mormons by traveling to their refugee camps in Iowa in 1846, he saw only potential ruin in associating with such a disreputable cause. “The case has no bright side,” he lamented, as Tom “is about to deal a blow to his own character as a right minded man, which he will feel through life.” Thomas’s younger brother Pat agreed, calling it the “damndest foolish” notion.

Mormonism and Communal Studies

Scholars of Mormonism (like scholars of most topics) need to find ways to connect their subject to larger scholarly debates and frameworks. Mormon academics have used frameworks from American religious history to western history to the history of family and gender to legal studies. Another possibility is communal studies.