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…

Main Street

Slightly-older-than-breaking (“already broken”?) news: The ACLU’s suit against the church has been dismissed at the district court level; an appeal is probably likely. (Via A Soft Answer).

Mother’s Day

It’s almost Mother’s Day. I don’t like Mothers’ Day. You might expect to hear that from a woman who is childless, or who has strained relations with her children. I’m a married, at-home mom, and I enjoy being a mom. But I still don’t like Mothers’ Day.

This Must Be Good…

I just found a new blog entitled www.ilovethehonorcode.com (that is “I Love the Honor Code Dot Com”), by an aspiring stand-up comedian in Utah Valley. With a name like that, how can you not love it? (Link via Brayden King)

Thanks, Steve!

How time flies! It seems like just yesterday Steve Evan’s stint as a guest blogger was starting (wudn’t he a cute widdle bwog-baybie!), and now, Steve’s guest time is over. We’ve enjoyed having Steve here as a guest (and as the #4 commenter according to the latest scoreboard). Of course, he won’t be quitting his commenting duties (and only 600 to go till he passes Clark!); for regular blog posts, he can be found at By Common Consent.

Theology on the Model of Kuhnian Science

Many LDS thinkers are skeptical of “systematic” theology (e.g. Richard Bushman, whose posts we so enjoyed recently). Here’s a stab at a compromise. Thomas Kuhn presented a powerful way of understanding the development of scientific theories a few decades back in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions; here’s a first pass at appropriating his work to think about how our knowledge of God and his ways might develop, in a way that is friendly to continuing revelation and eternal progression.

An Open Letter to the Blue Planner

Dear Blue Planner, So it has finally happened. You’ve gone the way of Mr. Brown and projection films. I suppose I knew that someday you’d be gone, but I’d hoped against hope that you were somehow less transient than other proselyting aids that have fallen by the wayside. To me, you were nothing less than the platonic ideal of Planner.

Moutain Meadows in the Supreme Court

De Toqueville once remarked on the strange habit that Americans had of eventually turning every great question of politics and policy into a lawsuit, and presenting the issue to the courts for resolution. As it turns out, the Mountain Meadows Massacre also eventually found its way into a lawsuit and in the fullness of time reached the Supreme Court of the United States.

Whom the Lord Calls, He Qualifies (Hopefully)

I’m a believer in the principle that callings and responsibilities in the Church are given according to inspiration and revelation. When I get a calling extended to me, I fully believe that Heavenly Father in some way has prompted the leader to give me that calling, and that in some way I am meant to have this calling. What I can’t figure out is just how inspired these callings are.

Walter Kirn, golden contact

In today’s New York Times Magazine, critic and novelist Walter Kirn uses his family’s conversion to Mormonism as a hook for his (dare I say stale) riff on Christianity as pop culture: “I remember my own family’s Great Awakening back in the Jesus-haunted 1970’s, when President Carter was advertising his piety and ”Godspell” and ”Up With People” were packing concert halls. In the same way that it does now, three decades later, religion seemed to be everywhere back then — except in our house. We were secular suburbanites, prone to all of the usual middle-class miseries, and when one of us felt particularly low, we called a doctor, not a priest. But then one day two missionaries came knocking, and everything changed. They were Mormons, two crewcut, fresh-faced boys weighed down with books that they promised would save our souls — souls that we weren’t even certain we possessed. Reading the books enlightened us, however; we converted to Mormonism a…

The Figurative Bible and the Literal Book of Mormon

On another thread, BCC contributor and Sunstone editor managing editor John Hatch makes a very interesting observation. He writes: I’ve spoken to plenty of Church members who are more than willing to accept the Adam and Eve story as a metaphor. I recently spoke to a friend who is a bishop who told me he loved Abraham, even though he may not have existed, and if he did exist, the stories the Bible attributes to him most likely didn’t happen. Yet I suspect my friend would be most uncomfortable saying the same thing about Nephi, or Alma, for example.

“Don’t Be Evil”

Unless you have been spelunking for several days, you have heard a lot more about Google recently than you ever wanted to know. (Of course, if you want to know even more, I invite you to check out my other blog where I have been writing about Google ever since the filing.) This event has attracted so much commentary because Google has provided so much fodder. Most importantly, the founders wrote a letter — “‘An Owner’s Manual’ for Google’s [Future] Shareholders” — that has struck a chord with many who fancy themselves as part of a “corporate social responsibility” movement. And no line in that letter has attracted more attention than this one: “Don’t Be Evil.”

A Contract Theodicy

A theodicy is a justification of the ways of God to man. Most frequently, the term is used in discussions of the problem of evil. Succinctly stated this problem goes like this: 1. God is all powerful 2. God is Good 3. Evil things happen 4. God can and should prevent these evil things (from 1 & 2) I don’t want to get into all of the intricacies of this debate. Generally speaking, Mormons “solve” the problem by in effect denying (1), claiming that there are metaphysical as opposed to merely logical limitations on God’s power. It strikes me, however, that there is another possible Mormon theodicy: An argument from consent.

The Malaysian Model

So now it’s not just the limited geography and the hemispheric models anymore, now there is the Malaysian model. (Link via Dave). The Malaysia idea is certainly novel, and presented as well as I think it possibly could be. The author, Ralph A. Olsen, notes that it avoids a large number of standard Book-of-Mormon location problems, like use of Egyptian, and presence of animals and crops. (For example, he writes that “Wheat, barley, and other cereal grains have long been cultivated in Southeast Asia. There is no evidence of their cultivation in Mesoamerica.”) I’m not convinced.

It’s Official: U. Goes Mormon

The Board of Regents of the University of Utah have selected Mormon law professor and dean Michael Young as the new President of the University. The Deseret News has a story here. (Link thanks to Jared Jensen.) The story says: He said he is a “committed, active member of the LDS Church” and doesn’t see that as a conflict in his new role. “It’s an important part of who I am and why I do what I do,” he said. “At the same time I have spent my entire academic career outside of Utah. It has never been a problem.” Jardine [a member of the Board of Regents] said Young’s religion was not brought up as an issue as the regents discussed the candidates. The Salt Lake Tribune has a story here, which also touches on the Mormon angle: Young said his Utah roots and his faith are a part of who he is. “I am a committed, active member…