Blog Archives

Prayer and Politics

May 30, 2010
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A few years ago, I read a book by Larry King (yes–the one you are familiar with), called Powerful Prayers.  It is one of my favorite books!  Larry discusses prayer with politicians, actors, athletes, atheists, theologians, and celebrities.  There are some fascinating insights from many people.  Two people I really were fascinated with were President Jimmy Carter, and Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition.

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Joseph Smith’s Presidential Platform

May 25, 2010
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Joseph Smith’s Presidential Platform

So, I came across an interview of Richard Bushman at the Pew Research Forum, about both early and modern Mormon politics.  I’ve also been reading a book called The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power by D Michael Quinn on the early leadership of the church.  I want to combine the 2 sources, and talk about Joseph Smith’s presidential plans of 1844.  First, let me quote Bushman.

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Questions About the Exodus

May 16, 2010
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Questions About the Exodus

For more than 1700 years, Christians have been looking for Mount Sinai, the place where Moses received the 10 Commandments.  Constantine’s mother, Helena was probably the first Christian in search of Christian artifacts in the 4th century.  When Christians came across a strange-looking bush at the base of a mountain on the Sinai Peninsula, they erected a monastery claiming that they had found Mount Sinai.  The monastery still exists today, and you can walk the steps that these early Christians have claimed as the real Mount Sinai. During Passover celebrations in 2001, Rabbi David Wolpe created international headlines in Israel…

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Book of Mormon on the Baja

May 2, 2010
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Book of Mormon on the Baja

When I think  of the Baja California Peninsula, I think of the Baja 1000 off-road race where people take lots of vehicles and cross the deserts in all sorts of vehicles.  However, the father-son team of David and Lynn Rosenvall believe the Baja Peninsula (south of California in Mexico–its most famous city you may recognize is Tijuana) could be the location of Book of Mormon lands.  I’ve been promising to do a post on this theory, and it is time to review it in more detail.

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Is prayer a form of “deity panhandling”?

April 25, 2010
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I’m teaching the Priesthood lesson today.  You may have had this lesson already; we may be a week behind you.  Before I get into the lesson, I thought it might it might be nice to get some quotes on prayer. “There are two kinds of people: those that say to God ‘Thy will be done.’  And those to whom God says ‘Ok, have it your way.’  C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters. “Under certain circumstances profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.”  Mark Twain.

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Rachel and Leah: A Modern Perspective

March 28, 2010
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Rachel and Leah: A Modern Perspective

Last year, I posted a topic about Marriage Fitness.  The author is Mort Fertel, and he makes no illusions that his method is a quick or easy solution to a better marriage, but he does guarantee it works, if followed.  Part of the package includes a book with the same name. He has an interesting perspective on the Biblical story of Rachel and Leah.  As we all know, Jacob (who later changed his name to Israel), greatly loved Rachel.  After working for 7 years to marry Rachel, he was duped into marrying Rachel’s sister Leah, and then had to work…

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Dueling Wordprint Studies

March 6, 2010
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Dueling Wordprint Studies

This is the 3rd post reviewing By the Hand of Mormon, by Terryl Givens.  I’ve taken a bit on an interest in wordprint studies.  Givens explains wordprint studies on page 156. Computational stylistics is based on the premise that all authors exhibit subtle, quantifiable stylistic traits that are equivalent to a litereray fingerprint, or wordprint.  The method has been used to investigate other instances of disputed authorship, from Plato to Shakespeare to the Federalist papers. 

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Are Mormon Academics Winning the Debate with Evangelicals?

February 27, 2010
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Are Mormon Academics Winning the Debate with Evangelicals?

I’ve been reading Terryl Givens book, By the Hand of Mormon.  While acknowledging archaeological data isn’t as strong as other aspects of the Book of Mormon, Givens seems to feel Mormon academics have made some impressive contributions.  I posted a longer version of this on my blog.  Givens starts with Hugh Nibley on page 118: No one in the history of Mormon scholarship has done more to establish rational grounds for belief in the Book of Mormon than Hugh Nibley.  Acquiring impressive scholarly credentials (summa cum laude from UCLA and a Berkeley Ph.D. dissertation written in three weeks in 1938)…

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Home Teaching the Mentally Ill

February 21, 2010
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I posted a longer version of this on my blog.  Last month I had the most unusual experience I have ever had in regards to home teaching.

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Mormon Missionaries Die in Romania

January 31, 2010
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Mormon Missionaries Die in Romania

I want to let everyone know of a very unfortunate situation in Romania.  According to this Deseret News article, Elder McKay Choy Burrows, 20, of Highland, Utah, and Elder Jace Edwards Davis, 20, of Logandale, Nevada, died from accidental natural gas asphyxiation due to a gas leak in their apartment sometime Friday night in Romania.  It’s terrible that such a seemingly preventable tragedy happened to these 2 young men.

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For God’s Sake, Blog!

January 24, 2010
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I wish I could claim credit for the title of the post, but it actually comes from this MSNBC article.  Apparently the Pope is encouraging Catholic Priests to blog.  It reminded me of Elder Ballard’s admonition back in 2007.  Even though the pope doesn’t love computers, he said,

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Mormon Innovations: the Pre-Mortal Life

January 16, 2010
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I’m teaching the Gospel Principles lesson #2 tomorrow.  I’m going to attempt to utilize proper sources, only utilizing personal experiences and church magazines.  We’ll see if I bore everyone to tears or if we can have an enlightening conversation. The title of Lesson #2 is “Our Heavenly Family”, but I think it is mis-named.  Most of the lesson deals with the pre-Mortal life.  As I thought about this, I think this is one of the biggest theological innovations in Mormon theology.  I can remember teaching about the pre-mortal life as part of the plan of Salvation.  I also remember that…

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Did Mormon Influence Increase over the Decade?

January 2, 2010
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My wife brought this to my attention while reading the front page of the Deseret News:  2000s: The First Decade-Mormon Church Influence Soars.  Without providing any sources, it says, President Thomas S. Monson has been named the most influential 80-year-old in America and Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are listed among the most important 100 Americans in history Other noteworthy items from the article include from the past decade:

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Virtual PH/RS Lesson: Elder Eyring’s talk and the New Year

December 26, 2009
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I was asked to teach the lesson in Elder’s Quorum on Elder Eyring’s General Conference talk from October:  Our Perfect Example (click here for video.)  Inspired by Hawkgrrrl’s Virtual RS/PH lessons, I thought I’d give it a try again.  I’m not sure if everyone is supposed to review this talk, but I believe this is the talk our stake has chosen.  I think Elder Eyring’s talk is a perfect lead-in to New Year’s Resolutions.  Shouldn’t we all resolve to be more like Christ?  So, before I get to Elder Eyring’s talk, I want to discuss the History of New Years…

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Christmas Gifts: Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh

December 20, 2009
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Christmas Gifts:  Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh

Many lament that Christmas has turned into a commercial gift-giving holiday.  However, the Bible shows that gift-giving happened right after the birth of Christ.  The Book of Matthew tells of 3 gifts the Wise Men gave:  gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Prof Deirdre Good of the General Theological Seminary in New York tells us the meaning of these particular gifts in Mystery of the 3 Kings: “The gift of gold is for royalty.  The gift of frankincense is for divinity.  The gift of myrrh is for death.”

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12 Days of Christmas and 3 Kings Day

December 13, 2009
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12 Days of Christmas and 3 Kings Day

Everyone is familiar with the Twelve Days of Christmas. It’s a funny song where the gift-giver gives strange gifts of “lords a leaping”, and various birds, including turtledoves and a “partridge in a pear tree.”  (Really, who would want all those birds?)  With the 12 days of Christmas, it seems the gifts are given the 12 days before Christmas.  The Bible tells us of the first gifts given in celebration of Christ’s birth by the Wise Men, and one tradition holds that the Wise Men visited 12 days after Christ’s birth.  January 6 is celebrated in some parts of the…

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A Different Perspective on the Wise Men

December 9, 2009
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The Wise Men are a big part of the Christmas story.  Oddly, they come in and disappear.  The Bible seems to indicate that they were not Jews, and they came from the east.  I came across a DVD called Mystery of the Three Kings by Questar Entertainment.  I thought it brings up some really interesting points, and after learning a bit more about these Wise Men, I thought it brought up some interesting facts:  these Wise Men probably came from Iran, and probably were members of a religious sect called Zoroastrianism, which is still in existence today.

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Peruvian Setting for the Book of Mormon

December 3, 2009
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Peruvian Setting for the Book of Mormon

It’s been some time since we talked about alternative Book of Mormon geography theories.  For those new to the site, you may want to see some of these other theories I mentioned:  Malay, and South America. From time to time, I get an email from George Potter.  He has a website called the Nephi Project.  I heard him speak a few years ago on research he has done in Yemen.  His research is pretty well-respected, and it appears he has a very good candidate for Nephi’s Harbor, and he may have found the River Laman in Saudi Arabia that is…

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Hate Crimes up for Gays, Religious

November 24, 2009
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So, what do you make of this?  This AP article says that Hate crimes up against gays, religious groups – “Overall, the number of reported cases increases 2 percent.” Now the FBI says this could be the result of better reporting, and not really an increase.

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Michael Smith Suspended for Iran Comments

November 21, 2009
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Ok, I am when someone who get bothered when someone makes disparaging comments about another ethnic group.  Fox suspended LA Clippers announcers Ralph Lawler and Michael Smith for one game because of one email from “a viewer who e-mailed Fox to complain.”  Give me a break.  Please, what is so offensive about this conversation?

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