Category: General Doctrine

Eve

(I hope you haven’t discussed this before, at least not in this way.) At the height of national debate over the Equal Rights Amendment, Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that all LDS women should look to Eve: “Eve, the mother of all living, is truly the perfect pattern for all her daughters. Oh that all women would follow the path laid down by the first woman of all women and do the things that she did that all might be saved!” I have done some preliminary research and realized members of the church interpret the Eve story diversely—

Foundation and Apostasy

What if the historical evidence for the foundation of the early Christian church is indistinguishable from evidence for its apostasy? What if the early church and its scriptures only arose through processes of decay?

Religious Pragmatism

Oliver Wendell Holmes famously wrote, “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.” [1] In various writings, he expanded that claim, contrasting a natural law approach to justifying legal and ethical rules of conduct with his own more modest approach rooted in history and experience and falling under the broad perspective labeled pragmatism. Since religion in general and Mormonism in particular have many rules of conduct for which a variety of justifications grounded in natural law, experience, and history are held out, Holmes’ approach may shed some light on how we do this.

Summer Seminar update

For those interested in the BYU summer seminar, I’ve revised the post, adding the titles of and abstracts for the papers.

Perfection

In Comparative World Religions (REL 151) my freshman year I was taught that the word “Holy” is derived, or related to the word “Whole.” The basic idea being that part of being a perfect Divine being is the state of being complete, whole, or finished. I’ve wondered in the past just what perfect really means for individual people. Especially as it relates to our ideas of resurrection, as outlined in Alma, “The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame.” Reading this account of a woman’s efforts to get a leg amputation brought those same thoughts back to my mind.

Prophecy vs. History

Not too long ago, I stumbled across the PBS presentation of Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel (2d ed. 1999). It reminded me of dealing with the book at college and enjoying the ideas presented and the sweeping take of world history that it offered. But while watching the presentation and contemplating the message of the book itself, I was reminded about how much Diamond’s whole analysis depends solely on inference from extremely scant historical evidence.[1]

Chance in Creation

The most recent lesson in the Wilford Woodruff manual contains a quote from a general conference sermon given by Woodruff on April 6, 1872: The Lord never created this world at random; he has never done any of his work at random. The earth was created for certain purposes; and one of these purposes was its final redemption, and the establishment of his government and kingdom upon it in the latter days, to prepare it for the reign of the lord Jesus Christ, whose right it is to reign. That set time has come, that dispensation is before us, we are living in the midst of it.

On the Brilliance of Hollow Slogans

Last week, a bizarre demand was thrust on me by a flier advertising a leadership training program: “BECOME YOURSELF!” the photocopied handout vigorously proclaimed. Who, I wondered, does this flier suppose that I am being right now? Obviously not J. Nelson-Seawright; otherwise, there would be no reason to request that I become J. N-S, would there? Perhaps I have, without quite realizing it, been impersonating Woody Allen? Or Gabriel Garcia Marquez?

Dear Jane

Dear Jane, I don’t know you—at least I don’t think I do—but I have been struck by your willingness to speak openly and honestly about your situation. My Sikh friends speak of “seekers.” You are genuinely a seeker and, so, a person deserving of respect, including the respect of response. However, I haven’t had anything to say in response until now when you ask, “Does the gospel make sense (comment 23)?”

Deny Not the Gifts of God

I think Terryl Givens was right. I think a primary purpose of the Book of Mormon is to drive each of us toward real dialogue with the living God. And I think Moroni is right – that if we as Mormons are not experiencing some kind of regular dialogue with God we are denying the gifts of God.

Theology and Idolatry

Let me present a sketch–though only a sketch and a very broad one at that–of how one might think about theology, both about a problem with it and one of the possible responses to that problem.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

Lately I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the gift of the Holy Ghost. In one sense, nothing profound has come from that thinking. I’ve felt that my thinking has been worth the effort it took. I have enjoyed the spirit I felt while thinking about it and feel better prepared to received the Holy Ghost, but my thinking hasn’t something that can be reproduced in an essay.

Tenebrae

Yesterday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, here at Notre Dame, I attended a service of prayer and lamentation called “Tenebrae”, remembering the darkness of the night when Christ suffered in Gethsemane and was arrested, and anticipating his death. It closed with a final candle carried out, leaving us in complete darkness, and the congregation producing a loud noise, like the rolling of the stone to close the grave. Today I had a conversation with some friends, in which we reflected on the meaning of these events, and the difference in the darkness from a Mormon point of view.

Patience with Joseph

At the time the Church was organized, Joseph was called as its prophet and the Saints were told : “Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.”

Keys and Authority

In Gospel Doctrine class today, we read several verses from Doctrine and Covenants in which the keys of the priesthood are referred to. (We are on lesson eight.) An example is D&C 84:19: “This greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.”

From the Pulpit: Notes on Repentance

In the noble tradition of literary hacks who never miss an opportunity to recycle old material, here are the interesting bits of a sacrament meeting talk I delivered in church today. Repentance is, at its simplest, a turning away from sin and a returning to God.

(When) are bloggers permitted to criticize church leaders?

This topic has come up in recent posts around the bloggernacle. For example, Rusty at Nine Moons discusses an instance where a bishop committed all of the men in the ward to “1) To never watch an R-rated movie ever again. Also, to never watch a PG-13 rated movie without his wife’s permission. 2) To use the internet (at home presumably) only with his wife’s permission (by assigning a password on the computer that only the wife knows).” The comments to Rusty’s post include a number of attacks on him for posting criticism of the Bishop. (e.g., “did you pray [before posting this critique] . . . I can say with absolute certainty that you could not have“). Meanwhile, Steve at BCC wonders whether he is allowed to criticize conference talks for style. (The BCC commenters, perhaps inured to Steve’s views, haven’t yet asked him if he prayed before posting them, but I suppose it’s just a matter of time).…