Category: Features

Sunday School lessons – Book Reviews – Interviews

12 Questions for Rodney Smith

Rodney Smith, the president of Southern Virginia University, has agreed to participate in our next installment of 12 Questions. Smith took over as president of SVU in June 2004, after serving at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law (University of Memphis) as the Interim Dean and Herff Chair of Excellence in Law. Among other positions, he has been a law professor and administrator at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the Capital University Law and Graduate Center, and the University of Montana School of Law. He was also the City Attorney in Bishop, CA for two years. Smith received a Doctorate in Juridical Science from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of BYU’s law school.

Sunday School Lesson 27

Lesson 27: Alma 30-31 We are all familiar with the story of Korihor, sufficiently familiar that we may read it too quickly. When we read quickly, we tend to skim over the text and “see” in it what is already in our heads rather than what it says. So take time to read through this story slowly, looking for places where it says things that you do not expect it to say. Those are places where you are likely to learn something new. Since Alma 31 fits naturally with Alma 32-35, lesson 28, I’m going to include it in those lesson materials rather than here.

Sunday School Lesson 26

Lesson 26: Alma 23-29 Those who may not have a printed lesson manual can find it here. At the heart of this material we have the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, converts of the sons of Mosiah. That story has a great deal to teach us today, but it may not be what we expect, whether we read it as a story of pacifism or as something else.

Sunday School Lesson 25

Lesson 25: Alma 17-22 Though this week’s lesson contains sermons by prophets, they aren’t its focus. Instead, it is primarily an account of part of the mission of the sons of Mosiah, particularly the missions of Ammon and, to a lesser degree, Aaron. This account makes a good story, with its tale of Ammon’s service to Lamoni and his battle with those who wanted to steal Lamoni’s sheep. We often use that story as an illustration of things such as faithful service or doing missionary work by service. Are those the reasons that the story of Ammon and Lamoni is included in the Book of Mormon? How does this story as a whole (not only the story of Ammon, but also that of Aaron and the other sons of Mosiah) fit in the context of the Book of Mormon and what are that book’s purposes for the story? How do the missionary approaches of Ammon and Aaron compare and contrast?

Sunday School Lesson 24

Lesson 24: Alma 13-16 The outline of the story in these chapters, from the Sunday School manual: a. Alma 13. Alma gives a powerful discourse on the priesthood and the doctrine of foreordination. b. Alma 14. Alma, Amulek, and other faithful believers are persecuted for their righteousness. The Lord delivers Alma and Amulek from prison because of their faith in Christ. c. Alma 15. Zeezrom is healed and baptized. Many people in Sidom are baptized. d. Alma 16. The words of Alma are fulfilled as the Lamanites destroy Ammonihah. The Lord prepares people’s hearts to receive the word preached by Alma, Amulek, and others. I will concentrate on chapter 13

Sunday School Lesson 23

Lesson 23: Alma 8-12 This is the manual’s synopsis of the story in the chapters assigned: a. Alma 8-9. After preaching in Melek, Alma calls the people of Ammonihah to repentance, but they reject him. He leaves but is commanded by an angel to return. Alma is received by Amulek, and both are commanded to preach in Ammonihah. b. Alma 10. Amulek preaches to the people of Ammonihah and describes his conversion. The people are astonished that there is another witness to Alma’s teachings. Amulek contends with unrighteous lawyers and judges. c. Alma 11. Amulek contends with Zeezrom and testifies of the coming of Christ, the judgment of the wicked, and the plan of redemption. d. Alma 12. Alma further explains Amulek’s words, warning against hardheartedness and wickedness and testifying of the Fall and the plan of redemption. To keep the study materials to a usable length, I will concentrate on chapters 11 and 12, with brief questions for chapters 8-10. Perhaps the outline will help keep things in context.

Book of Mormon FHE: Lesson One

In our family, we tie our FHEs to our daily scripture study. We go through the standard works sequentially, study one story per week, and base our FHE on that story. We’ve made it through the OT and NT this way and it has been great. We’re starting the Book of Mormon, and I have decided to post my lessons here in case anyone is interested.

Sunday School Lesson 22

Lesson 22: Alma 5-7 In these chapters we have two magnificent sermons by Alma the Younger, more than enough material for several Sunday School lessons. These materials will focus on chapter 5, with a few things also from chapter 7. To whom is the address of chapter 5 given? How is it particularly relevant to their situation? To whom is the sermon in chapter 7 given? How is it particularly relevant to their situation?

Sunday School Lesson 21

My apologies for posting this so late. I’ve had family visiting, so blogging has had to take a back seat, along with Sunday School preparation. I think I’ll have the next lesson up by Sunday or Monday evening. Lesson 21: Mosiah 29, Alma 1-4 Mosiah 29 Verses 7-9: Aaron has just been converted in a miraculous manner, and he is obviously serious about his conversion. His mission is evidence of that. Nevertheless, here we see Mosiah worried that being king might destroy him. Does he lack confidence in his son? If so, why? If not, how do you explain Mosiah’s remarks?

12 Questions for Sarah Barringer Gordon, part two

Here’s the second half of our dialogue with the esteemed Professor Gordon. [Click here for part one.] I’m sure everyone joins me in thanking her for such intelligent and provocative responses to our questions. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out her landmark book, The Mormon Question. Again, our questions are in bold and her responses follow in plain text. Enjoy! 7. There has been some discussion here at Times and Seasons about the apparent analogies and disanalogies between the nineteenth-century antipolygamy movement and the current battles over same sex marriage. To what extent do you think that cultural and legal strategies employed by antipolygamists are (or are not) available to those who now seek to define marriage as between a man and a woman? I was waiting for this one!

12 Questions for Sarah Barringer Gordon, part one

Without further ado, we are pleased to present Professor Gordon’s responses to questions submitted by the T&S community. Questions are in bold; her preface and responses are in plain text. Look for the second half Friday. (For background on Professor Gordon and her work, click here.) * * * First and most important, I would like to thank Nate Oman, Greg Call and other member of Times and Seasons for your interest in my work and for the opportunity to participate in the forum. I will try to keep my answers short, but the questions you all have posed are challenging (in the best sense of the word) and thought-provoking. I apologize in advance for any long-windedness. Most of all, I look forward to engaging in a dialogue about the meaning and worth of scholarship with a new group of people, and especially to learning from the process. Last, a warning: I am typing my responses on a laptop while traveling in a large van up to Cape Breton Island, Canada, to participate in a relay race on the 185-mile Cabot Trail. Please excuse any and all typos! Here goes. 1. As a non-Mormon who has studied Mormon history, what aspects of the Mormon past do you think are of most interest to the broader, non-Mormon community?

The Curtain Draws on Seminary

My year as a Seminary teacher ended today. This job is one reason among many that I have been absent from T&S for the past month or so. The time demands on an early morning Seminary teacher, when added to having a full-time job and trying to raise five children … well, let’s just say that this was not an easy year for me. Next week is Seminary Graduation, but I will be out of the country, so we had our own little graduation party today. One feature of today’s class was reading some of the funny comments that had been made during the year (dutifully recorded by my daughter). Below is a sampling …

Sunday School Lesson 20

Lesson 20: Mosiah 25-28; Alma 36 Warning: the materials for this lesson may be the longest I’ve produced so far. As always of course, they are intended only to help you think about the material. No lesson could cover all of the significant ideas and questions that come up in these chapters. The first part of the materials is a chronology created by Arthur Bassett. I post that chronology in response to Tom Johnson’s note (here) that I was not clear about the chronological relation between Mosiah and Alma in the materials for Lesson 19.

Sunday School Lesson 19

Lesson 19: Mosiah 18-24 Chapter 18 Verse 1: Many of the conversion stories in the Book of Mormon are more detailed and more dramatic than this brief description of Alma’s repentance. (Compare Enos’s story and Alma the younger’s, for example.) Why might this story be told so briefly?