Its that time of year. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is traditionally the media’s time for reflection on the past year — the time when we see story after story on the best or most important stories of the year, or the most important person of the year (as Time magazine just named — no surprise there). I enjoy these looks at the past year, and given how much LDS Church members don’t usually know much about news that involves the Church, it seems to me these lists might be quite useful. So let me pose the question: “Who should be the Mormon of the Year?”
One Christmas, Everlasting
Merry Christmas from Christmases past!
The Slaughter of the Innocents
After the wise men came, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
Tithing Settlement 2008
Tithing Settlement is a great part of the Christmas season.
Holding the Messiah
On the sweetness of Mormon life.
The Book of Mormon is a reliquary in prose. In some extensive sections and at some critical moments, what drives the narrative is the question: how did a set of golden plates, a steel sword, a ball of curious workmanship, a breastplate, and two translucent stones end up inside a stone box buried in a hill in the state of New York? For a religion that attaches little to no significance to relics, it’s striking that large sections of our distinctive book of scripture are concerned with the provenance—the origin and the later cultural significance—of a particular set of holy artifacts.
Christmas Devotional 2008
President Uchtdorf said that the angels came to the shepherds, the poor, not to the rich. At one point in my life that would have bugged me. Today I realized that the rich should want it that way. If you’re wealthy and still looking for something, you don’t want to be told that your wealth is all there is.
Release Time v. Early Morning Seminary
Below is a forward I recently received about a perceived effort to eliminate the release time seminary system in an Idaho school district. The email is from a CES employee to parents of students in the school district encouraging them to oppose one of several proposed schedules currently under consideration that apparently would restructure the district’s trimester system and eliminate the class flexibility that enables the release time seminary program. It’s unclear whether preventing the Church from offering seminary during school hours was the intent of the proposed schedule at issue, but it nonetheless raises some interesting questions about the release time seminary program.
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin Has Passed Away
Elder Wirthlin died at 11:30 p.m. last night in his home. He was the oldest living apostle at 91. We invite you to share your memories and thoughts about Elder Wirthlin as we mourn his passing.
A More Fortunate Ensign Article
Since I was rather critical of an Ensign article on the Word of Wisdom earlier this year, I feel obligated to point out that this month’s article on the Word of Wisdom is a much better piece.
What the Smith Boys Said This Year
Previous installments can be accessed through this link.
Each in his Own Language
BYU’s Religious Studies Center recently announced that it had begun publishing books in Spanish, Portuguese, and German, an encouraging development, given how little is being produced outside of English. In his blog post about the news, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel writes: Today, it is estimated that there are nearly 7,000 spoken languages in the world, of which some 2,600 have a writing system. He goes on to say: Equally impressive is the effort to provide translations of the Book of Mormon to the world. Today, the complete Book of Mormon has been translated into seventy-nine languages, and selections are available in another twenty-three languages. This represents 99 percent of the languages spoken by Latter-day Saints. Efforts continue to translate this book into more languages to fulfill the Lord’s command. What he doesn’t say is that, in terms of the work still to be done to fill the directive in D&C 90:11, that “Every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language.”
Rhetoric, Ideology and Prop 8
In the run up to and in the wake of Prop 8, Latter-day Saint proponents of the measure have often tried to parse their words carefully when discussing their support for it in order to avoid charges of bigotry and hate for opposing the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. Echoing a refrain from the late Gordon B. Hinckley, Mormon Prop 8 supporters have often tried to explain that they are “not anti-gay, but pro-marriage.” This effort, however, has clearly failed to shield members from allegations of discrimination.
One of the subterranean threads running throughout the Book of Mormon is the mystery of whose bones are heaped upon the land northward.
Sunday School Redux 2
The Joseph Smith manual had one of my favorite quotes in it this week: â€œI say to all those who are disposed to set up stakes [limits] for the Almighty, You will come short of the glory of God. To become a joint heir of the heirship of the Son, one must put away all his false traditions.â€
The Canonization of the Book of Mormon?
Penguin Books has just published a “Penguin Classics” edition of the Book of Mormon edited by Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp. Penguin Classics, of course, are the paperback editions of literary staples like Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. They are printed and marketed largely as texts for college classes. The assumption is that a text included in the Penguin series has become a stable part of the high-brow diet of books, or at least ought to be. It is worth reflecting a little bit about what this edition of the Book of Mormon might or might not mean. The Penguin book itself is based on the 1840 edition of the text rather than our current edition of the scriptures. The text was chosen because this was the last version that Joseph Smith was personally involved in editing. Also strictly speaking there is no standard 1830 version of the text for the simple reason that Grandin edited the book as he was printing it, with the result that different copies of the 1830 edition contain different versions of the text. Our current edition, in contrast, contains an elaborate set of interpretive aids that were added long after Joseph was murdered. Hence, the Penguin edition is printed without versification or the current chapter breaks, both of which were added in Utah by Orson Pratt. Rather, it is printed as regular prose â€“ much like a novel â€“ with the original chapter breaks, which were…
How the Other Half Preaches
A pool in our area had a free admission day this summer and I’m nothing if not cheap so there we were. Imagine the delighted looks on my kids’ faces when they saw not only a FREE pool, but FREE inflatable bouncers, FREE snowcones, FREE hot dogs, FREE chips, and FREE games with prizes.
Just Say No (to members)
A few months ago, a sister in our ward asked my daughter to babysit. On a Monday evening. Thatâ€™s right. Monday Evening. We try to be diligent with family home evening on Monday night, so the answer needed to be â€œno,â€ but I was a bit confused about how to convey that message.
Hum together, right now
While the candidates have been talking the talk about cooperation and unity, a few humble LDS editors have been walking the walk.
What of the Mormons (in Congress)?
The results are in, and the Mormon officials in congress is facing some changes as a result. From what I can tell, the new congress will include either 5 or 6 Mormons in the Senate and 9 in the House of Representatives. [FWIW, outside of the U.S., I only know of 1 LDS Church member currently serving in a national legislature, down from 4 eight years ago.]