Godspeed

Lyle Stamps, law student and frequent T&S commenter, has been called up to serve in Iraq as a sergeant in the 250th Signal Battalion, Company A, Cherry Hill, New Jersey Army National Guard. His unit has not yet shipped out, but presumeably will be doing so in the near future. Best wishes Lyle. We will keep you in our prayers. Make sure that you drop us an email or post a comment when if you get access to the internet.

Sensible Kobe Bryant Commentary

I’ve been hearing and reading about what a great player Kobe Bryant is, since he is putting up good basketball numbers while also defending himself at trial. I haven’t been particularly impressed with that feat. And I just noticed an ESPN column by writer Jason Whitlock that is more in line with my own feelings. He writes: “As good as [Kobe] played Tuesday, just think: If the idiot hadn’t stepped out on his wife and slept with a teenage woman he didn’t know, he might have been even better Tuesday night. . . . These are the dangers of a high-profile, married man sleeping with a teenager he’s only known for 30 minutes.” I agree. Writers should not be making this man out to be a hero because he is being forced defend himself from rape allegations — a position he is in only because he either made a horrendous decision (rape) or merely a very bad decision (“mere” adultery).…

Ambulation in Mosiah 4

Ambulation in Mosiah 4. Part 1. King Benjamin has infused his sermons with a theology heavily freighted with corporeal rhetoric. I mean by that, he preaches the gospel of Christ, and living the divine life, by using lots of sensory verbs–seeing, hearing, tasting–and lots of mental operations–believing, knowing, understanding, speaking, asking, rejoicing. He also uses lots of ambulatory verbs: such as walking, standing, running, wandering, falling. Rhetorical ambulation proceeds to itinerancy: travelling a path or taking a journey. I want to explore the significance of the ambulatory and itinerant images. (I haven’t a thesis, only a number of heuristic themes.) So, an informal meditation on a theology of ambulation, in two parts.

Shape-Shifting Lizards — Could They Be in Your Ward?

Since some readers may lack the stamina to wade through 200 comments on the Elite Religion thread, let me make a separate note of a gem of a website mentioned by Dan Peterson. Dan writes: For those who’ve wondered — and (let’s be truthful) who hasn’t? — whether the Church is actually controlled by demonic entities in the form of reptilian humanoids, or lizard men, you’ll find the evidence you’ve been seeking on this explosive Web site. The web site is at This Link, and is mostly links to other sites with more, err, evidence. And don’t let anyone fool you — decide for yourself whether or not “Brigham Young was a reptilian shape-shifter that totally brainwashed founder Joseph Smith”! (Perhaps this explains Eric’s Stone’s Star Trek enthusiasm (recall the Kirk-versus-the-Lizard episode) — and doesn’t Eric look just a little bit like a lizard-man in that picture with Mr. Scott? Also, note that the Post of the Month for April…

The One True (Un-Micro-)Cosmic Church of Jesus Christ

What is it that unites the Church of Jesus Christ? Wherein lies our unity? In a recent discussion of baptism on lds-phil, amiable Protestant Joel Wilhelm asked some rather specific questions about the LDS understanding of baptism, and a very involved discussion ensued. After about a week, Joel remarked, ‘thus far what I have seen here seems to be a mirror image of debates within Protestantism or Catholicism about the sacraments, salvation without baptism or outside the church, etc. I am a bit more confused about “what Mormons think” and will try to sort it out more as I have time.’ Mormons thus appear to be a microcosm of the larger Christian world, a community that recreates in miniature the diversity of the larger community. This is sort of, but not quite, right. In response, Mark Butler observed, ‘The normative doctrine of the Church is broad enough to encompass dozens of traditional sects. The authority of the priesthood is the…

Some More Thoughts on Oaths

As I have a tendency to do, I have been reading law today. In particular, I came across a case dealing with the old rule against party testimony. Originally at common law, a party to a lawsuit could not testify in the suit. There were two justifications for the rule. The first was that the parties to a suit had an incentive to lie in their own interested and therefore their testimony was unreliable. The second justification was that testimony was given under oath, which gave it grave theological significance. Perjury was more than a crime. By virtue of the oath it was a grave sin for which one could be damned. The sin was not lyng per se, but rather oath breaking. The judges reasoned that the law should not present parties to litigation with such a grave temptation. Much better to do without party testimony and not risk people damning themselves.

So You Want to Be a Blogger . . .

A query that I’ve gotten a surprising number of times is, “How do I set up a blog?” I’ve been answering these individually, which has resulted in some nice conversations with readers. However, I thought it might be best to streamline this process, as well as pre-emptively answer the question for anyone who doesn’t want to ask me by e-mail. My credentials, upfront: I can’t claim any special expertise (I have no advanced degrees in blogging), but I do run most of the technical side of T & S. If that’s sufficient credentials for you, and if you want to set up a blog, read on.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for

The votes are in on the Post of the Month ballots for April 2004. Kaimi has plugged the numbers into the Excel spreadsheet that knows all, and in a fun twist, Kristine Haglund Harris was narrowly edged out by . . . Kristine Haglund Harris! The top vote-getter was Kristine’s original, thoughtful, and alliteratively-titled post “Laundry, Lizards, and the Sisters of Lazarus” at By Common Consent. It’s an insightful discussion of Mary and Martha, and the difficulty of making time for gospel study among the many mundanities of life — I encourage everyone to go read it. That post narrowly beat out Kristine’s post at Times and Seasons, “On the Bearing of Complicated and Complicating Testimony.” (As we’ve all noticed, Kristine has a penchant for clever titles — not to mention clever posts). Congratulations Kristine on your excellent April post(s). I’ll be consulting with my co-bloggers to see if we can think of an appropriately wacky prize. And thanks to…

Welcome James Siebach

I’m happy to say that James L. Siebach, a colleage in BYU’s philosophy department, is our new guest blogger. James is a specialist in the philosophy of late antiquity and in medieval philosophy. And, like others among us, he served a mission in Korea. He is also a formidable opponent in an argument, so be forewarned.

A good Fisking

I disliked the recent Meridian article by Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse blaming all of the ills of the world on feminism, but I didn’t have time to sit down and explain why. Fortunatey, Kim Siever, over at his spiffy newly-refurbished blog, did have the time for such an exercise. He gives a nice critique of some of the flaws in the article. (Did he miss any potential critiques? I’m certain that if he did, our astute readers will notice and comment).

True to the Faith

True to the Faith was introduced to the Church in the April 2004 Ensign: “The Church has issued a new doctrinal guidebook aimed at youth, young single adults, and new members. True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference is a collection of brief, simple statements on gospel doctrines and principles. Almost 200 pages in length, the book is intended to supplement the scriptures and the counsel of current Church leaders. Young men and young women may use it as a resource to assist them in achieving their Duty to God and Personal Progress awards. The book is designed to accompany the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet and explains the doctrine behind the standards it contains. Priesthood quorums and Relief Society groups may also offer the book to new members to better acquaint them with the doctrines of the restored gospel. True to the Faith is available at Church distribution centers for $1.50.”

Mormon Nominated to D.C. Circuit

For those who follow such things, President Bush has just nominated Tom Griffith, current general counsel for BYU, to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. For the non-law geeks of the universe, the D.C. Court of Appeals is an intermediate level appellate court (just below the Supreme Court) and after the Supreme Court it is widely regarded as the most important court in the United States, frequently serving as a training ground for Supreme Court justices. (Three of the nine current justices — Scalia, Thomas, Ginsburg — previously served on the D.C. Court of Appeals.) If confirmed, Griffith, to my knowledge, would be the first Mormon to serve on the Court and (in informal terms) the highest ranking Mormon ever in the federal judiciary. Tom graduated from BYU, worked for several years as a CES director before going to law school at Virginia. Prior to taking his current job at BYU, he was Senate Legal…

I Love to See the Temple

Today I went on the open house tour of the new Manhattan New York temple. It was, as expected, a great experience. The temple is in the old stake center building. The first and second floors and the fifth and sixth floors are the temple; the third and fourth will remain a chapel (that split layout seems decidedly odd to me). The anti-Mormons were outside, as expected: A half-dozen well-dressed professional-looking folks, one hippie-looking yeller, and a cute-as-a-button little girl, perhaps seven years old, who was cheerfully handing out pamphlets about why polygamy is bad. (If I have a moment, I’ll try to go get pictures one of these days).

Light bloggernacking

I’ve just noticed a few goings-on today that may be of interest: The Sons of Mosiah have a new, snazzy layout. They also have a new guest-blogger, Robyn Goodwin.* John Hatch has posted an interesting discussion of post-Manifesto polygamy over at the polygamy blog, BCC. I can all but guarantee that there’s something for everyone — to disagree with, that is — in his discussion. Finally, I noticed that Universalist Unitarian (UU) blogger Philocrites has a new post discussing the question, “How universalist is Mormon theology?” Check out the discussion, and you can find out how universalist Mormons are. That’s all for today — happy reading! * Little-known fact: Mosiah had not only sons, but daughters. In fact, his daughter Eowyn went to the Lamanites as well, and famously struck down an evil Zoramite chief of whom it was said that no man could slay, as she cried out “I am no man.” Or, of you prefer the book text,…

My Daughter, the Universalist

During sacrament meeting yesterday, I was reading to Caitlyn, our four-year-old, from New Testament Stories, an illustrated scripture-reader which the church first published over twenty years ago. She turned to the story of “The Ten Young Women,” and asked me to read it to her. Which I did: I read about the ten young women, waiting at the door with their lamps burning; I read about the bridegroom who would open the door, but no one knew when; I read about the five women who were wise, and had brought extra oil for their lamps, and the five women who were not wise, and had not. I read how the five wise women refilled their lamps while the other five left to buy more oil when all their lamps burned out; I read how the bridegroom came in the meantime, and invited the five wise women in to the wedding; I read how the other five women came back, found…

Mothers Day Revisited

The diveristy of opinions that my previous post on Mothers Day generated has led me to spend a lot of time this week pondering the following question: If I had to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting on Mothers Day, what exactly would I say?

Come Join the Ranks

When I was a missionary one investigator asked me why I (and presumably the other missionaries) was going around trying to teach people. In hard-learned Japanese I said something to the effect of, “Going to heaven alone would be kind of lonely, wouldn’t it?” She later told me if I’d said anything else she would have lost interest right there. I think we in the Church do have something of the greatest value to share with non-members, but I think they have a lot to offer us, too — indeed, they themselves are most precious. How can we best reflect this in the way we approach them?

Post of the Month contest for April 2004

The last Post of the Month contest was fun, and generated some thoughtful comments. It’s that time again (actually, a little past that time — I’m running behind, as usual). We are now accepting nominations for Post of the Month for April 2004. Here are the rules (mostly the same as they were last time):

12 Questions for . . . Sarah Barringer Gordon

Just a reminder — please submit questions for Professor Gordon by Monday, May 10. For more information on Professor Gordon, here is an article she wrote in Legal Affairs on polygamy and gay marriage; here is an interview she did on NPR on a similar topic; and here is a Tribune article about a speech she gave at Weber State.

Hopping along

I can’t help but be impressed by the consistency and quality of Christopher Bradford (aka Grasshopper)’s new blog, Let Us Reason. Over just the past few days, there have been several high-quality posts. Grasshopper discusses covenanting, particularly the question of who sets the terms of the covenant. He also discusses the tension in the church between inclusiveness and exclusiveness. He has a post wondering why God would want to use evolution as a tool. And there’s also a post wondering in what sense the final judgment is final. This trend is rapidly moving Grasshopper’s blog onto my personal A-list of LDS blogs, which is pretty short — that is, blogs I try to read daily, even if I’m pretty busy (I read a lot more if I’m not busy). My list varies from time to time, I would say that at the moment it is comprised of T & S, BCC, Sons of Mosiah, and Dave’s. And now Grasshopper. Of…

A poem you will probably not hear read over the pulpit this Sunday

if there are any heavens my mother will (all by herself) have one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor a fragile heaen of lilies-of-the-valley but it will be a heaven of blackred roses my father will be (deep like a rose tall like a rose) standing near my (swaying over her silent) with eyes which are really petals and see nothing with the face of a poet really which is a flower and not a face with hands which whisper This is my beloved my (suddenly in sunlight he will bow, & the whole garden will bow) –e.e. cummings (as if you couldn’t tell ;>))

Our Duty to Present the Church in a Favorable Light at All Times, Just in Case a Non-Member Happens to be Listening

I’ve touched on this subject before, but it’s on my mind again. I was just over on Eric D. Snider’s site, browsing and chuckling, and I read something that touched on a recurring theme. Eric wrote a column about boring sacrament meetings, and a reader (you’ve heard of her) wrote in to say, inter alia: For some non-members and less actives, your voice may be the only one they hear describing our Sacrament meeting, and if it is, they will have a very different impression than I have from attending. That statement sums up the sentiments I’ve heard often echoed by church members — that any statement which could be interpreted in a way potentially critical or embarrassing to the church is a violation of the member’s Duty to Present the Church in a Favorable Light at All Times, Just in Case a Non-Member Happens to be Listening. This rule, oft-invoked, seems preposterous to me, for several reasons.

Mormons Complain About Prayer Day

As I am sure that we are all aware (or something), today is “A National Day of Prayer,” which has been an official national holiday since Harry Truman lead the pilgrim fathers to our sacred shores (in other words, the early 1950s). This year, The Washington Post breathlessly informs us, President Bush will be attending a ceremony run by “evangelical Christian leaders” (play sinister music here.) The most interesting part of the article, however, comes near the bottom, where The Post interviews those who feel left out of the protestant love fest at the White House. It says: In Salt Lake City, Mormons have complained that they are not allowed to lead prayers during the local observance. No other details are provided. Any idea of who these folks might be? Has the Church PR department come out against “National Prayer Day,” or did Mormons for Equality and Social Justice manage to get themselves in The Post but not get themselves…

The Epistemological Tensions of Mormonism

Now how is that for a pretentious blog-post title? What the [explitive deleted] am I talking about? In a nutshell, I am talking about the way in which Mormonism deals with how we gain knowledge and how that ability is socially situated. Here is my basic idea: Mormonism has a radically decentralized and democratic epistemology which is balanced by a highly centralized institutional structure.

Mormons Oust Instapundit

The LDS Blogring has ousted Instapundit from the top spot in the Ecosystem. And not just by a little bit: Mormons 3538 unique links Instapundit 2794 unique links Something’s fishy here. The LDS Blogring has 67 blogs and it generates over 16,000 links from 3538 unique sites?

Club for LDS (non-Group) Blogs

Dave Underhill over at Mormon Inquiry has a fun idea: A Mormon Blog Club. He notes: What are the benefits and duties of club membership? Simple. A club member must visit each of the other club sites once a day (weekends optional) and leave a comment (as simple as “Nice post. Love the lawyer joke.”). That’s it. Think about it: if there are 8 club members, that’s 35 comments per week on your solo blog. Oh, and members must post a blogroll of fellow club sites. Zero cost. Quit anytime. Hmm, that sounds fun! (Note: If interested, sign up in his comments section, not here). (Too bad I’m ineligible; T & S won’t work, and my old solo blog has been shelved for a newer small group blog). Dave plans on future expansion as necessary, to potentially accomodate themes like “Mormon Law” or “Mormons and Science.” (Hey, as long as he’s not planning on starting a “Club for Baby Seal…