In his new book, Claiming Christ, Professor Robert Millet, in dialogue with Evangelical scholar Gerald McDermott about the commonalities and differences of Mormonism and the varieties of Evangelical Christianity, makes the observation that the notion of labeling Latter-day Saints as â€œnot Christianâ€ is a fashion that became widespread only about twenty years ago.
While watching last weekendâ€™s General Conference, with the sustaining of President Monson and the calling of new people into Church leadership, one of the things I felt is how fortunate the Church is to have as its leaders men and women who have achieved significantly in many walks of life. This is in contrast to most other denominations, where people with these skills would be excluded from formal church leadership. For example, what other church has attorneys in its most senior leadership?
Mormon Studies has become a relic area for outdated ideas about texts and their transmission. That becomes clear in reading a number of contributions to Early Christians in Disarray: Contemporary LDS Perspectives on the Christian Apostasy (FARMS, 2005)
Ardis Parshall has presented in previous postings â€œThe CSI Effect and Mormon Historyâ€, 3/20/2008, and â€œAnd Yet Another Joseph Smith Photograph”, 4/1/2008, arresting images that have, at first glance, an arguable relationship to our known historical depictions of the Prophet Joseph Smith, but turn out, on further research, to have no chance of being what we wish they were. In commenting on Ardisâ€™ second post (#14, #48), I pointed out the reasons why there are likely to be a great many old images that resemble our mental image of the Prophet, and why it would be extremely difficult to verify any of them as a real image of Joseph.
I’m reading a short book that reviews what one might call the virtues of teaching: learning, authority, ethics, order, imagination, compassion, patience, character, and pleasure. Each virtue (which might be though of as an aspect of the character of an ideal teacher) is reviewed in its own chapter. The ethics chapter suggested an interesting question to me: Is there an LDS ethics of teaching that differs in any particulars from a Christian or secular ethics of teaching?
The April 1st posting of this article may tempt you to think this is an April Fool’s prank. I wish it were. It is not.
This is a big week for Mormon Studies on the Wasatch Front, with events at the University of Utah, Utah Valley State College, Westminster College, and BYU.
Sunday morning. Clicked off This Week with George Stephanopoulos just a couple of minutes after clicking it on. Feeling especially weary of the twenty-four hour news cycle for some reason today… the relentless intensity, the insatiable talking-heads, and a seemingly never-ending electoral season.
[This post was originally put up on Holy Saturday, April 7, 2007. I thought about putting up something different this year, but I couldn’t think of anything that can approach the beauty of this essay. Enjoy]
The Church History Library/Archives staff have been hit with a wave of telephone calls today from Church members looking for confirmation of the latest rumor to hit the LDS fan rumor mill.
One of the distinctive features of the Book of Mormon is its pervasive anxiety about literacy
A few recent comments over at BCC have elaborated on a theme that one hears from time to time on the internet: “I didn’t get the whole scoop on LDS history while I was in Primary.”
Elder Packer’s article in this month’s Ensign closes with some thoughts on Evolution that have the potential to stir up a debate on the issue within the Church after several relatively quiet years.
How about the one about the frog in boiling water?
Remember that one about youth being generals in the war in heaven?
Should a psychologically healthy person be happy, cheerful, carefree? If you are not cheerful is there something wrong with you? Let’s see what Mormon scripture has to say.
Today’s news carries a deja vu article: Surveys show high rates of depression in Utah, and some psychiatrists wonder if Mormon culture is part of the cause. (The story runs under a pretty direct illustration that shows an apparently depressed woman and a photo of the temple in the background.)
The Salt Lake Tribune recently ran a column written by Grant Palmer arguing that Christian salvation turns not on the performance of ordinances but rather on an ethical life. Theologically speaking, the article (as Dave has pointed out nicely) is a pretty pedestrian, anti-sacramental, and essentially Protestant reading of the New Testament. The really interesting question raised by the article is not its theology, but rather what it is doing on the editorial page of an mainstream, secular newspaper. I think that we can safely dismiss the notion that the column was published because the Trib has taken it upon itself to launch a public discussion of Christian soteriology and New Testament hermeneutics. Perhaps the folks at the Trib editorial page think that a decent interest in the eternal salvation of their readers is part of their public function, but I doubt it. So what gives?
Mormons contributed to Mitt Romney’s campaign over the past year and half in some pretty eye-popping numbers (see, e.g., here and here). As such, I decided to comb through the campaign finance contribution records to see who exactly some prominent Mormons were donating to this past election cycle.
Once upon a time, The Great Apostasy by Elder James E. Talmage was on every Mormon’s reading list. But somehow that topic went out of fashion for a couple of decades — no LDS books treated the subject and it received considerably less attention in General Conference talks. Suddenly, the Great Apostasy seems to be back.
The Church issued a press release today annoucing the creation of a “Church Historian’s Press” to handle the publication of the Joseph Smith Papers. (The press release also mentioned “works related to the church’s history and growth.”) I am not quite sure what the rationale for this is. Previous volume of the papers were published by Deseret Book, which did a nice enough job, although of late the physical publication standards at Deseret Book have been falling. Perhaps the new imprint is to insure library quality production values. Maybe it just reduces administrative hassle to have the production done in-house, particularlly in light of the way that technology has been dropping the costs of publishing. Or perhaps something bigger is afoot.
Times and Seasons welcomes its latest guest blogger, Marc Bohn.
In the online Deseret News: “Today in the Bloggernacle,” with links to posts at BCC, Nine Moons, and Millennial Star. I’ve seen similar posts in recent weeks (such as here and here) under different titles but with the same format, so this appears to be a new regular feature. Just one more reason to check spelling and grammar before you hit the “post” button.
Angela Hallstrom’s debut novel, Bound on Earth, is worth reading.
How often do you want to “fix things” for someone you love because you (think you) see so much more clearly than he does?
This talk was given early on in Elder Maxwell’s time as an Apostle and I think it is an excellent example of what I liked about him. “Granted, there is not full correlation among the four Gospels about the events and participants at the empty garden tomb. Yet the important thing is that the tomb was empty, because Jesus had been resurrected! Essence, not tactical detail!”
The temple treats the Garden story as a universal story. Whatever the reason for that, you can make a good case that in some sense each of us has been in the Garden and fallen. In fact, as we’ve discussed here before, making the Garden story a universal story can make sense of the contradictory commandments God gave Adam and Eve.
Today was our stake conference, and we had a visiting general authority: Elder Terrence C. Smith, one of the North American Area Seventies. His talk was one of the finest, most doctrinally insightful sermons I’ve ever heard at a stake conference. But what really caught me came in the first minute of his talk. He’s Canadian, specifically an Albertan, and he mentioned being from a little town “that’s probably 90% LDS.” That’s interesting, I thought.
It’s just not what it used to be, even at the BYU, as shown in a day-before-Valentine’s-Day BYU NewsNet article, “The Evolution of Human Love.”