A Mormon Image: Quilting the Tree of Life

What counts as art is an interesting question. We have a bias toward thinking of art in terms of oil paintings, bronze statues, or marble carvings. One of the unfortunate effects of this bias is that it makes much of the art done by women invisibile. You’ll note that most of the work done in those mediums has been done by men. However, if we expand our sense of what constitutes art, there are mediums where women clearly dominate. Consider quilting.

The Lord’s Prayer

I’ve been thinking about prayer lately and would be interested in other’s ideas about some questions that have been part of that thinking. Specifically these question have to do with the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:5-15; Luke 7:1-4; 3 Nephi 13:5-14). Here are the verses in question (from Matthew, the longest version, with the differences from the version in Alma marked by underline), each verse followed by a few questions for thought. I’m interested in your thoughts on my questions as well as your own questions.

The beginning from the end

As I was preparing my Sunday School lesson for today, I hit on the idea of using the phrase, “know the beginning from the end” as the hook for class discussion. It is an odd phrase, though I hear and see it fairly regularly in LDS talks and writings. My point was that by knowing the end (as both final point and purpose), we would understand what came before. Thus, Revelation?the revelation of Christ?is a book about the meaning of human history that we see if we understand the end of that history in Christ. But I ran into trouble when I found out that the phrase isn’t a scriptural one.

Lord of the Rings

I saw the third installment tonight. The triology is an awesome accomplishment, but I still liked the books better than the movie. As you may know already, the movie has generated a plethora of Christian reviews (see here for links), mostly positive. Does this strike anyone else as odd?

Baptisms for the Dead

This morning I had the privilege of participating in a youth temple trip to Chicago. My job was to act as a witness in baptisms for the dead. While many Mormons revere this ordinance, people outside the Church often take offense. In fact, a story in tomorrow’s New York Times describes how the Church is under fire again for baptizing Jews.

Mormon Cursing

While reading Wilford Woodruff’s diaries recently, I discovered that I have been living in a cursed part of the country. What am I to make of this, and the more general phenomena of Mormon cursing?

Should I subscribe to Sunstone again?

Sunstone magazine is different things to different people: a gadfly; a breath of fresh air; a gripefest; scholarship for nonscholars; a needed Mormon arts outlet; an enabler of apostate rantings. For me, it was a first introduction to a broader range of Mormon thought than I was raised with. Unlike Nate’s youth, mine was devoid of discussions of hermeticism and hermeneutics over the dinner table.

A Delicate Question

In the interest of fostering discussion, I want to solicit thoughts from the vast hordes of T&S readers (that is how we think of you). We all like to hear from loved ones, and you would hate to discourage contact from those who are far away. Thus, how do you approach the delicate issue of a loved one who spams?


An interesting discussion has sprung up over at Bob and Logan’s blog (which really needs a catchier name) on the nature of truth. What exactly do church members mean when they say that something (the church, the principle of tithing, the law of gravity) is true? What variations are there in the definition of this word?

What Are You Doing on December 23rd?

One interesting point from the Christmas Devotional a couple of weeks back which I’ve thought about a few times since then was that both Elder Faust and President Hinckley made particular note of the fact that Joseph Smith was born during the Christmas season–on December 23, 1805, to be exact. The way they drew attention to the birthday of Smith–who was, completely aside from the language in Doctrine & Covenants section 135, indisputedly the most important individual in the whole history of the church–reminded me of something an old friend of mine from Texas once asked me: why don’t Mormons celebrate December 23rd? This really got me thinking, since I take holidays quite seriously. Back in November Kaimi asked if there was, or ought to be, something formally “Mormon” about the way we celebrate Thanksgiving; I didn’t think much of that idea. In a few days I’ll probably post something on how Mormons celebrate (or don’t celebrate) Christmas, and how…

CTR Rings to be Banned in France?

As though Americans needed more evidence of the absurdity of France’s government, today Chirac proposed a law to ban students from wearing religious tokens in school. Chirac thinks this is a moral battle — his conscience leads him to prohibit Jewish boys from wearing yarmulkes at school: “In all conscience, I believe that the wearing of dress or symbols that conspicuously show religious affiliation should be banned in schools.”

STQ: Material Prosperity

My Seminary class is just finishing the book of Deuteronomy and moving into Joshua. This is an important moment in the history of Israel, as the Children of Israel are finally allowed to enter the Promised Land. Of course, Moses is deprived of the right to accompany them, and before he leaves he offers a blessing.

Families: Isn’t It About Time?

Many of you will recognize the title of this post as the tag line for the Church’s latest ad campaign. A previous campaign proclaimed, “Time? I’ve got as much as anybody!” We in the Church are obsessed with time. In a post below, Ady discusses the challenges of being an LDS woman and a scientist. Like all of us, Ady feels the pull of various responsibilities, and the constraints imposed by the scarce resource, time. In my view, time management is one of the most important tasks we face in this life.

Models of Women and Priesthood

A favorite topic of speculation (and angst) among many Mormons and Mormon-watchers is whether or not women will get the priesthood. It is an interesting topic, but I think that most of the discussions of it are pretty uninteresting. The reason for this, I think, is that they are in the thrall of a single, rather simple model of what it means to “get” the priesthood.

Gay Marriage Humor

This was sent to me by my friend Dan Burk, who is currently a visiting professor at Berkeley: The consecration of Gene Robison as bishop of the New Hampshire Diocese of the Episcopal Church is an affront to Christians everywhere. I am just thankful that the church’s founder, Henry VIII, and his wife Catherine of Aragon, and his wife Anne Boleyn, and his wife Jane Seymour, and his wife Anne of Cleves, and his wife Katherine Howard, and his wife Catherine Parr are no longer here to suffer through this assault on traditional Christian marriage. — Paul Emmons, Westchester University

Mormons and the ACLU – Short Redux

A while ago I posted on my blog, discussing whether a good Mormon can also be a good member of the ACLU. (I concluded that it is possible to be both — see the four-part discussion, 1, 2, 3 and 4; see also links to further discussion here). That multi-post discussion in turn kicked off a lengthy e-mail discussion on the LDS-Law list. Now, a reader of this blog e-mails in with an interesting piece of information: This reader was an ACLU member before baptism. Since joining the church, he reports that in his temple recommend interviews, he is asked if he is still affiliated with the ACLU.

The Mormon Blogosphere

I just noticed that my friend and ward member Logan Bobo now has his own blog. As I look at Logan’s blog, I wondered whether we at Times and Seasons have been neglectful of our peers in the Mormon blogosphere. I think we may have inadvertently neglected to discuss other LDS bloggers. So here is a short post dedicated to that topic. (Warning: Post discusses Kaimi’s idiosyncratic blog-surfing preferences).

Christian Taxation

We have been interviewing candidates for a position as tax professor, but here is a question that I haven’t dared to ask any of them: So, how do you feel about reforming the tax code to accord with moral principles of Judeo-Christian ethics? If you haven’t heard, this is the premise of Professor Susan Pace Hamill’s still-controversial proposal, published last year in the Alabama Law Review.

What is the Purpose of the BYU Dress and Grooming Code?

BYU is often ridiculed for its dress and grooming code. The basic argument is that it is silly. It places undue emphasis on essentially trivial issues of facial hair and hemlines. A more telling critique claims that by focusing on trivialities it actually affirmatively stunts real moral development. I think that all of these criticisms, while perhaps true, miss the REAL genius of the BYU Dress and Grooming Code. Their basic mistake is that they assume that the purpose of the Code is for students to follow it, when, in reality, the whole raison d’etre of the Code is to be violated!

On Being a Female LDS Scientist

So where do I begin? First of all, there are not many LDS scientists to begin with and I?m not exactly sure why. There are approximately 2000 LDS scientists currently according to this link. I don?t know how many of those are women. What?s interesting is that Utah produces more scientists per capita than any other state for the last 60 yrs, 75% of whom are LDS. Of these, 83% percent classified themselves as strong believers and 90% of these felt that their religious beliefs and science theories could be harmonized. I think these statistics show that there is a great love for learning amongst LDS people and that most don?t believe that science and religion are mutually exclusive. Here?s a great paper on science & LDS scientists by Robert L. Miller.

Could it be . . . Santa?

In the spirit of Kaimi’s Christmas themed post, I offer another musing on the season. My wife Cirila and I have a two-year old. He is just becoming aware of Christmas-time and all the stuff that goes with it. As a result, Cirila and I have been trying to forge a unified front on the all-important issue of Santa Claus. As I see it, there are three approaches:

BYU Law School

Since we have been having a discussion about BYU, I thought I would post a little bit about BYU and my particular discipline: law. Although I went to BYU as an undergrad, I didn’t go there for law school. Still, I have friends that did, I know some of the faculty, and I have always been interested in the school. Here are some of my impressions:

Ben Olson

If you do not know the name Ben Olson, you are not a BYU football fan. A few years back, he was the No. 1 high school football prospect in the land, and he chose to attend BYU. After one year as a “redshirt” player (meaning that he did not use one of his years of college eligibility), Ben decided to go on a mission, and he was called to Canada. ESPN recently published a story about his mission. This is from the author of the story: “Ben said something during our interview that stuck with me,” Wojciechowski said later. “He said, ‘Some things you pay a price to do, and you don’t count the consequences.’ Ben isn’t counting the consequences this might have on his own playing career, or on the careers of others. I respect that sort of commitment.” Me, too.


Like almost everyone, I am thrilled that Saddam is finally in custody. He is a bad man, and the world is a better place when he is not in power. As I see the reactions of the Iraqui people, I feel a cautious joy for them. Cautious because they have a long road yet to travel. Another part of me wonder whether this is a prelude to the opening of Iraq and perhaps other countries in the region to missionary work. After watching the Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain fall less than a decade after completing my mission in Austria, I am open to all kinds of miracles in the name of missionary work.

“Chances for learning”

Here is a scripture that concerns me: And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning, yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches. Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God. And thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up…. (3 Nephi 6:12-14) A few years back, the Church announced that it would not be building another Church university (at least at the time) and that BYU for the first time would begin rejecting applicants who had met minimum educational achievement requirements. I believe that this development has unleased an important change in Church…

Christmas and Commercialization

I realize that there is a general belief that Christmas has become terribly over-commercialized. It’s hard not to notice at this time of the year. But is this the answer? Fighting commercialization with, well, more commercialization?

What Did We Learn From Polygamy?

Beware: lengthy reflections on the politico-theological problems of Mormonism follow. Way down towards the bottom of the comments attached to Nate’s post “How to Make a Mormon Political Theory” (which I never commented on, but should have), Nate makes reference to an article by Fred Gedicks, a BYU law professor, titled “The Integrity of Survival: A Mormon Response to Stanley Hauerwas” (DePaul Law Review 42 (1992): 167-173). I’ve a copy of that article sitting on my shelf right now, and it has always bothered me. Specifically, I’ve been bothered (though perhaps in a good way) by a single footnote Gedicks included in that essay; a footnote that is, in my view, fairly explosive in its implications (though what the fallout from that explosion exactly is I’ve never been quite certain). The context is as follows: Stanley Hauerwas had just delivered a powerful address on Christianity’s interaction with the modern state, in which he claimed (among other things) that American Christians’…

A Mormon Image: Temple Murals and Art Missionaries

While many members don’t realize it, there is actually a fairly strong tradition of impressionistic painting among Mormon artistists. The origins of the tradition go back to the decision of the Church to send some budding young LDS artists to Paris as “Art Missionaries” in the late 19th century. This painting, a study for the mural in the Garden Room of the Salt Lake Temple, is an example of this impressionist tradition.