FHE with a future defense attorney

So, tonight our Family Home Evening was a review of our Family Laws, which were composed when the kids were 6 months, 2, and 4 years old, and which need review and minor adjustments pretty often. We thought that our 7-year-old, and maybe our 5-year-old were ready for the notion that actions can have both natural consequences and consequences imposed by an authority of some sort. We chose what seemed like a simple example–driving through a red light (natural consequence: accident, imposed consequence: ticket). The following discussion ensued:

Marriage According to Biblical Principles

A February 25 statement by Congressman Jim McDermott highlights some of the potential problems of arguing that marriage should be (as the Presidential prayer team has suggested) based on “biblical principles.” Such as: A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. Ouch! (See also this blog providing further textual support for the passages the Congressman didn’t give verses for). (Link via Heidi Bond).

S.T.D.’s – Sexually Threatening Discussions

Stake visitors amble through the hallways during Sunday School time of ward conference in an urban Chicago ward. Suddenly, bellowing from the young women’s classroom, comes the teacher’s mighty voice: “Chastity means NO SEX, NO SEX, NO SEX!” Just how do we communicate sexual standards in understandable, meaningful, practical ways?

Lawyers on the Front Line

Apparently, there was a globally broadcast pow-wow of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society yesterday, during which Elder Boyd K. Packer spoke, condemning the wickedness of the world, quoting Robert Bork on the usual subjects, and calling upon LDS lawyers to work to stem or slow the tide of evil all around us–not just for the sake of the church, but also on behalf of “ordinary people who need your professional protection.” Surely at least one or two of the dozens (hundreds?) of LDS lawyers who visit, comment or blog here heard Elder Packer’s remarks. Any comments? The Deseret News article mentions a list of 21 specific vices which Elder Packer checked off one by one; I’d be interested to know what they are.

“Good Books”

How are we to understand the injunction to “study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people”? More to the point, how do we choose the books we will or will not read? This post was inspired by The Da Vinci Code, which I have been reading with my wife. One of my vices is that I love a well-written mystery. While this book has occasional moments of suspense, Dan Brown is a clumsy writer who makes the story as tedious as it is implausible. But I am not here to do a book review. Instead, reading this book has prompted some thoughts about the nature of “good books.”

Today’s Church Statement on Immigration

Apropos of our recent political discussions, the Church released a statement today proclaiming neutrality on a Utah immigration bill and saying “The Church repeats its oft-stated caution to members that they should never infer that the church endorses their personal political positions.”

Hello, Out There!

Early this morning, our Site Meter rolled over the 20,000 visitor mark. Kaimi noted the first 10,000 five weeks ago, on January 22. That first 10,000 required nine weeks of blogging. Based on traffic this week — which passed 400 visitors per day for the first time on Wednesday — we will reach the next 10,000 sometime well before the end of March. Although I rarely purport to speak for all of the bloggers on this site, I think that I can safely venture the following: we all appreciate the opportunity to engage in this forum, and express thanks to our visitors, particularly those who take the time to share insights about Mormonism. Keep coming back, and tell your friends!

Around the blogs

I had to post an around-the-blogs when I read this post by Autumn about her mission papers. Key quote: “Autumn,” he said “You’re pretty attractive, you’re smart, you have a fun personality. Why don’t you just get married instead?” Yikes! In other blogs: Dave discusses Mormon Shakespeares again; Bob Caswell discusses priorities of church members; some Metaphysical Elders discuss the Mormon (reverse?) diaspora; and (not totally LDS related) Eric James Stone is now a professional author. Congratulations Eric!

A Statute of Limitations on Anonymity?

The Church is often accused of being secretive about its history. My tendency is to think that this is a bit overplayed. No less an iconoclast that Will Bagley (of Blood of the Prophets fame) has stated that he doesn’t think that there is any secret history of Mormonism to be written. This is not to say that there aren’t some documents that I would love to see!

On Teaching Seminary

As regulars here know, I teach early morning Seminary. I love the students in the class, which includes my 15-year-old daughter. My Seminary teaching style is relaxed. Today, for example, we covered the first couple of chapters in Job, intermittantly reading and talking. (“Could Satan really talk to God like that?” “Was Job a real person?”) Tangents — mostly generated by the random firing of dendrites inside the brains of the most outspoken young men — are a regular feature of the class. We laugh a lot. Once or twice a week, we eat breakfast. We learn something new on most days. And occasionally, we have a genuine spiritual experience.

Civic Religion – Again

For those not aware of the fact, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Locke v. Davey a few hours ago, holding that it did not violate the Free Exercise Clause for the State of Washington to exempt divinity degree applicants from an otherwise available scholarship fund. I am not going to comment here on the opinion itself, but there was a line from Justice Scalia’s dissent that brought to mind an earlier discussion here at T&S on civic religion.

Turning BYU into Bob Jones

Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon on one reason the Federal Marriage Amendment is necessary: “Religious freedom, too, is at stake. As much as one may wish to live and let live, the experience in other countries reveals that once these arrangements become law, there will be no live-and-let-live policy for those who differ. Gay-marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination the likes of which we have rarely seen before. Every person and every religion that disagrees will be labeled as bigoted and openly discriminated against. The ax will fall most heavily on religious persons and groups that don’t go along. Religious institutions will be hit with lawsuits if they refuse to compromise their principles.”

Lent

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season for many Christians. At Christmastime, there was some conversation about the virtues of non-Mormon worship, including the observance of the Christian calendar.

The Kingdom of Heaven is Like Unto…a Starbucks?

Jesus loved teaching with metaphors from the mundane. You remember the stories in Matthew: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed….like unto leaven….like unto treasure hid in a field. He holds up a comparison and invites his listeners (sometimes with His help) to extract meaning and insight. Imagine my surprise in a recent epiphany that the kingdom of heaven in my day is also like unto a Starbucks!

Welcome Our New Guest Blogger: Linda Hoffman Kimball

Many of you may already know Linda Hoffman Kimball from her work as a columnist at beliefnet.com and for Exponent II. Or from her novels (Home to Roost and The Marketing of Sister B). Or perhaps from the essay collection she edited, Saints Well-Seasoned: Musings on How Food Nourishes Us — Body, Heart and Soul. Her latest work is Chocolate Chips & Charity: Visiting Teaching in the Real World, which has already cracked Cedar Fort’s Bestseller List even though it just came out in January. I first met Linda in the Hyde Park Ward on the South Side of Chicago, where she, her husband (Chris) and three children were the backbone of a very transient ward. Like me Linda was baptized into the Church during college (Wellesley College), having been raised a devout Methodist. After Wellesley, she earned an MFA from Boston University, where her thesis was on Art as Propaganda in Nazi Germany. She now lives in Evanston, Illinois,…

The Receding Second Coming

As a kid growing up on the Wasatch Front, I figured that the Second Coming was just around the corner. I remember being Primary age and thinking that I would not have to worry about post-mission plans — the world would be over by then anyway.

Sunday School Lesson 9

Lesson 9: 2 Nephi 11-25 This week’s study questions are a little longer than usual but much shorter than last week’s. Chapter 11 Verses 2-3: Nephi tells us he has two reasons for delighting in the words of Isaiah and writing them down: he can liken them to his people, and Isaiah, like Nephi and Jacob, is a witness of Christ, so that the three stand together as witnesses of him. What reasons might there be for the words of Isaiah to be given to us? For other reasons, see 1 Nephi 19:23; 2 Nephi 11:2-6, 8; 2 Nephi 25:3.

Church Canards

When you hear it over the pulpit, it makes you cringe. You know that it isn’t true, but you also know that this will not be the last time you hear it. Somehow, these stories, sayings, or beliefs have infiltrated the Church consciousness (my theory is that many of them are borrowed from “mainstream Christianity”), and we have the most difficult time getting rid of them. Here is my favorite: “As Jesus said, ‘I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.’” Aarrgh! Here at Times & Seasons, we want to provide a non-violent means of relieving yourself of your frustration. Share your favorite canard. If you don’t have a canard, exactly, perhaps you have a favorite trite story or poem (“Footsteps in the Sand” anyone?). Or the musical number from hell. (No, not that. I’m talking about the song that you just cannot abide.) Share away. We’re here for you.

Family Ordination?

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” reads in part: “The family is ordained of God.” What does this mean? (This is one of my wife’s puzzlers.) My inital reaction was that it meant something simple like, “The institution of the family — being defined as a husband, wife, and children — was created by God for the eternal benefit of His children.” But the use of the word “ordain” seems to imply something more than mere creation or invention of the institution. It implies a Divine imprimatur and may suggest that the family is the exclusive vehicle for eternal progression. This seems consistent with Church doctrine (whatever that is), as I understand it. More interestingly, use of the word “ordain” connotes some connection to the Priesthood. The word “ordain,” of course, is related to “ordinance” and to “order,” thereby invoking the notion of authority. Is this significant? Perhaps this is intended to refer to the temple sealing ordinances. Any…

Education and Class

As someone not that far removed from a “redneck” heritage, I think that Gordon has hit on something very important: often our discussions of R-rated movies and such is, for both sides, really a discussion of class. One side sees itself as sophisticated and informed. The other side sees itself as obedient and faithful. The first sides accuses the second of being anti-intellectual. The second side accuses the first of being proud and unwilling to take counsel.

Millet on “The Passion,” R-rated Movies, and Evangelicals

Another one of those typical “what-do-the-Mormons-think?” articles this morning in the Deseret News, this one on “The Passion of the Christ” and the supposed challenge which its R-rating poses for members of the church. (I always love these articles by the way, because they differ not a whit in their form from the sort of articles we often had to write back at The Daily Universe: call up some random religion professor–it was usually a religion professor–and get them to talk on the record about what everybody had already beaten to death in elder’s quorum the week before. The more straightforward Deseret News article on showings of “The Passion” in Utah is here.) This one has some notable nuggets in it though, because Professor Robert Millet (the BYU religion professor they managed to get on the phone) was willing to elaborate at some length on why he’s going to see the movie.

Welcome again, Kristine!

For the past two weeks, we have all enjoyed Kristine’s thoughtful presence on this blog, in posts like this and this and this. No one wants this to end, including Kristine, who recently agreed to carry on as a permanent blogger. Welcome again, Kristine!