Choice Seer, Spokesman, and Scribe

June 12, 2010
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Choice Seer, Spokesman, and Scribe

Guest Post by Christopher C. Smith Chris has a BA from Fresno Pacific University in Biblical Studies, an MA from Wheaton College in History of Christianity, and is pursuing a PhD from Claremont Graduate University in Religions in North America. In the tradition of Jan Shipps, he is a non-Mormon with a particular focus on Mormon Studies and Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon records in 2 Nephi 3 a very interesting prophecy attributed to the biblical patriarch Joseph of Egypt, according to which a “choice seer” would be raised up from the fruit of Joseph’s loins in the latter…

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How tech-savvy is your faith?

June 12, 2010
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I understand that we cannot text message faith. I remember hearing a lesson (at least a couple times over the course of six years of Aaronic Priesthood classes) about the necessity of humanity in faith and the Gospel. We cannot simply build robots (I believe one was named Cal…Q. Later) who regurgitate the lessons. And in fact, the lessons have become more organic and human with new materials. But, still, we live in 2010 and we are moving forward. Technology is a part of much of our lives. How much do we use it to supplement our faith? A while…

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Mormon Marriage Ref: The Johansen’s Daughter is Cohabitating!

June 11, 2010
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While the situation described may be common, the names, events, and dialogue etc. are all fictional. Here’s the situation: David and Sue Johansen have been married for 20 years. They have four children: 19 (girl), 15 (girl), 12 (girl), and 8 (boy). The oldest just finished up her sophomore year in college, about a two-hour drive away. She is doing very well in school, majoring in biology and pre-med with a 3.8 GPA, and her boyfriend of nearly two years is an education major, planning to teach high school English in an inner-city school. Needless to say more, they are…

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The Release

June 11, 2010
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The Release

With every calling in the Church, a release comes at some point. With the exception of Apostles and Prophets, death is usually not the circumstance that warrants the release.  There seems to be a time frame in some cases like Stake Presidents (9 years), Bishops (5 Years), and Mission and Temple Presidents (3 Years). Most are a few years or so. In the past, it was not usual that a clerk or Bishop might serve 25 years!  Or that a Sister might have been in Primary for 50 years! But, nowadays, that is not the case.

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Of course [fill in the blank] isn’t worth trying to save

June 10, 2010
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We all know some groups are not redeemable.  Democrats, heretics who think Christ can be your friend, those who abuse children.  If they aren’t redeemable, then they aren’t worth trying to save?  Or are they?

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You Can’t Ride Two Donkeys With One Ass: Saul and Spiritual Rebirth

June 10, 2010
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You Can’t Ride Two Donkeys With One Ass: Saul and Spiritual Rebirth

OT SS Lesson #22 Ever since I was introduced to the word “liminal,” I have claimed it as my own. This word describes a threshold or a transitional position — a balancing point between two states of being. For many years I have felt poised on the threshold between two totally different ways of viewing the world. One is scientific and rational. The other is a place where angels materialize and shake your hand, where dreams have meaning, where God’s words come out of men’s mouths when they lay their hands on your head.

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Faith, Knowledge, Belief, and Stochastic Theory Part 1

June 9, 2010
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Faith, Knowledge, Belief, and Stochastic Theory Part 1

Faith has always been a perplexing topic for me. The definitions we hear in church, and in the scriptures seem to come up short. Furthermore, faith is almost always accompanied by a discussion of knowledge and belief. But faith is generally what is defined in the scriptures, and we typically just accept the colloquial meanings of knowledge and belief.

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The Mormon Therapist on Sex Talk

June 9, 2010
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The Mormon Therapist on Sex Talk

Natasha Helfer Parker is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and a member of the Church with 13 years of experience working with LDS members. Here she shares with us representative cases from her practice and insights she has gained from her work as a therapist.  She blogs at mormontherapist.blogspot.com. My husband and I don’t really talk during sex. What’s there to talk about? I’m certainly not going to talk about something other than sex because then I get distracted and the mood totally dies. Or we can talk about sex, but talking about sex while you’re actually doing…

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Are you sure you’d like to live the United Order?

June 8, 2010
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We had an interesting discussion on my Prayer and Politics post.  (Unfortunately, we talked more about politics than prayer.)  The discussion focused on economic policies.  Many people don’t like President Obama’s push to “redistribute wealth”.  I made the statement that “the United Order was all about redistribution of wealth, so there would be no poor among us. Brigham went out of his way to lambast capitalism’s evils.” Ken S replied that

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Mixed Belief Marriages

June 8, 2010
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Mixed Belief Marriages

What should a church member do if their spouse is a non-believer?  This is something that many couples encounter, either because one spouse ceases to believe or because one spouse converts and the other does not.  What should the church advise these believing spouses who ask?  What is the “doctrinal” implication in these situations?  Does this put the believing spouse’s salvation at risk as some fear?

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Absolute Truth, Inclusivism, Lumen Gentium, and Emeth

June 7, 2010
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Guest post by Thomas In C.S. Lewis’ final Narnia book The Last Battle, there is a powerful scene of an encounter between the Christ-symbolizing lion Aslan and Emeth, a noble-minded worshipper of the false Calormene demon-god Tash: “[The Lion] touched my forehead…and said, Son, thou art welcome.  But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.  He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.  Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and…

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Then I Will Believe

June 6, 2010
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Our guest post today is by SilverRain, who blogs at The Rains Came Down. When Jesus was suffering on the cross at Calvary, those who put Him there surrounded Him to mock Him. They jeered, “If [thou art] the King of Israel . . . come down from the cross, and we will believe . . . .” (Matt 27:42) I have emerged from the other end of a marriage that stripped me of my ability to trust myself. It is taking hard work to believe the things that I have survived. I have been accused of things I did…

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Facebook Declarations

June 5, 2010
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Facebook Declarations

Today’s guest post is by Matthew Workman.  I lived a few blocks from Venice Beach for many years, so I thought I’d seen quite a few surprising things in my life. But nothing quite prepared me for this. A long-lost friend of my older sister put in a friend request on Facebook and I accepted because I’m fairly promiscuous that way.

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Bloggernacle Performance Art

June 5, 2010
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As an outsider and newcomer, I must admit that there are just some things about the Bloggernacle that I cannot even begin to grasp. One of the things that I totally missed out on (but which I am [very] slowly scratching the surface about) is the (dark) period of Bloggernacle history regarding the Banner of Heaven. I can’t even begin to comprehend it all, but I am fortunate for the glimpse and expose that Scott B is providing for it. One thing I can’t help but think about is the sheer artistic nature of this undertaking. It is literary, first…

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Best and Worst of Mormonism: Primary Songs!

June 4, 2010
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*Note: For my Best and Worst series, my intent is not to be negative for its own sake. Rather, I believe in balance, moderation, and critiquing personal sacred cows. Such is my love/cringe relationship with primary. I first heard the words “Janice Krapp Perry” in the MTC. Perry is the source of quite possibly the best and the worst of what the primary songbook has to offer. Having spent the majority of my post-mission years on the primary piano bench (and/or herding packs of sunbeams), I’m quite familiar with the songs. Here are some keepers… and some kick-to-the-curb-ers!

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The Doctrine of Grace: After all we can Do?

June 4, 2010
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The doctrine of grace is one of those things not very well understood within Christianity. While most traditional Christian denominations accept the doctrine of “Salvation by Grace Alone,” The LDS Church stands mostly by itself with a firm rejection of that doctrine. We believe that a combination of a belief in Jesus Christ as Savior, the knowledge and understanding of His Atonement and the resulting good works that emanate from that testimony are necessary for our complete salvation, to return to live with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ throughout the eternities. Exaltation, we call it.

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The Paradox of Organized Charity

June 3, 2010
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Experimental ethics is an area that teaches lessons we may not expect.  Some of the lessons make sense.  Panhandlers working in front of a bakery are more successful than those next to an open sewer.  Our peers affect what we will do.  Someone standing around doing nothing makes it less likely someone else will get helped. Participating in organized charity makes people less charitable — it consumes their general allocation of charitable feelings rather than expanding them.  That leads to the question of how to encourage kindness if organized activities are often counterproductive.

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Patriarchal Hierarchy and the Kingship Model

June 3, 2010
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Patriarchal Hierarchy and the Kingship Model

OT SS Lesson #21 When we lived in Saudi Arabia a few years ago, I obtained a faculty position in the fairly newly-formed department of Health and P.E. at a university which was strictly segregated by gender.  The women’s side of the university operated independently, with our own female custodians, technical staff, professors and administration,  and very little oversight from the male president.  Our department consisted of five women, and we made all decisions collectively, with no titular head.  After the first semester I was there, one of our staff meetings was dedicated to the question of whether we should…

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A Control Freak’s Lament

June 2, 2010
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I’m a control freak. Yep, both professionally, by training, and naturally. I like to be in control of machines, robots, airplanes, my life, my spirituality, my kids, my wife, etc. Some of this is healthy! Some if it is not. Yet, despite my proclivity to control I occassionally find myself in situations where I am not in control of my emotions, my spirituality, etc.

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Mormon Therapist on Empty Nesting

June 2, 2010
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Mormon Therapist on Empty Nesting

Natasha Helfer Parker is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and a member of the Church with 13 years of experience working with LDS members. Here she shares with us representative cases from her practice and insights she has gained from her work as a therapist.  She blogs at mormontherapist.blogspot.com. Is it common for one to feel resentful of the other spouse when empty-nesting?  All I see in my spouse now are all the wrongs I’ve ever felt.  I’m having a really hard time getting over it.

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A Schismatic End to the Mormon History Association meetings.

June 1, 2010
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A Schismatic End to the Mormon History Association meetings.

I attended the Mormon History Association meetings in Independence, Missouri this past week.  I thought I’d share some pictures.  If you’d like to read more about the conference, here are some links to my posts from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. CoC Independence Temple at Sunset

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Eternal Progress vs. Eternal Increase: A Poll

June 1, 2010
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Eternal Progress vs. Eternal Increase:  A Poll

One of the distinct LDS doctrines is that of eternal progression:  the idea that we continue to grow and develop as individuals throughout eternity unless through our own choices we stop progressing.  But there are two different interpretations of this doctrine that both seem to be supported by authoritative statements.  Are both interpretations correct?  Or is one correct and the other incorrect?

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A Memorial to Peace

May 31, 2010
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A Memorial to Peace

“War, rather than any foreign state, is the supreme enemy of country and mankind. One day citizens will covet for this nation the prestige of being the first to escape the shackles of war.” (Jessie Wallace Hughan, Founder of the War Resisters League 1876-1955) Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday which “commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country.”   At the risk of coming under the condemnation of Mormon bloggers everywhere, I wish to register my objection to the deplorable sentiments underlying this holiday.

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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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Does God Squash ETs: How Human is Human?

May 29, 2010
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Distinctly Mormon doctrines relating the physical appearance of humanity to God’s own “preferred” form grew gradually in early Restoration history rather than springing forth in full. Although there are references in the Book of Mormon to the Brother of Jared seeing the “finger” and then the full vision of Christ (the earliest recorded of Joseph Smith’s prophetic writings), even the earliest published accounts of the First Vision do not feature descriptions of two personages appearing as does the “official” version eventually recorded several years after formation of the church. This doesn’t mean that later descriptions were contradictory to the first…

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Church history and our quest for the Great Mormon Novel

May 29, 2010
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About two years ago, Carter Hall wrote an article on this very site comparing and contrasting the types of heroes that Superman and Spiderman represent, noting the different cultural settings from which the two were born and, consequently, identifying different generational appeals to the different superheroes. As he wrote: Everyone knows Superman.  He is simply the most powerful superhero ever created.  Invulnerable to almost everything, his list of abilities includes flight, speed, strength, heat vision, x-ray vision . . . the list goes on.  His private life also seems pretty sweet.  He was raised by two stead[y] parents (although in…

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How Being a LOST Fan and a Church Member is Pretty Much the Same

May 28, 2010
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New Convert: “I watched them all back to back this year on DVD. And I’m very glad I did. And I’d do it again.” Dogmatic: “If you didn’t like the Lost finale, you’re an idiot! Literally, you probably just didn’t understand it. You have my sympathy.” DAMU: “After so many years spent on this show, I feel cheated.”

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Toting to Church

May 28, 2010
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Toting to Church

I remember when I starting attending Church that many members, mostly woman carried around large white cardboard tote boxes filled with materials, usually for primary or young women. I tried in vain to find a picture of one of these beauties, but they are no longer sold by the Church and nothing came up during my Internet searches.  The men, on the other hand, carried authoritative-looking briefcases and not necessarily those in leadership positions. Just like at work.  I can’t say that I ever saw a sister with a briefcase!

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On becoming a [p]rophet (small “p”)

May 27, 2010
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I often meet two kinds of people.  The first has a voice that others hear.  The other has a desire to be heard, but they don’t know how to bridge the gap, how to become a prophet (that is Prophet with a small “p”).  That is what this essay is about.

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A Closer Look at that Virtuous Woman

May 27, 2010
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A Closer Look at that Virtuous Woman

OT SS Lesson #20 Sometimes I wonder how women in the Judeo-Christian tradition got stuck with the gender role identifications they have. The Old Testament doesn’t include many detailed descriptions of women, but when they do appear, they are not what you’d think. To prove my point, I’m going to investigate two women featured in this week’s Sunday School lesson, plus Deborah the judge/prophetess, and the ubiquitous “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 37.

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The JST of the Bible and Early Christianity

May 26, 2010
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Early Christian Theological Differences I recently read Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman. One of the interesting realities on which Ehrman elaborates is that early Christianity was anything but homogeneous. More specifically, there were many factions, some heterodox, some orthodox, some in the middle. Some of the books of the apocrypha, gnostic texts, and other early Christian writings seemed to support various theological ideas not represented, and in fact, even repressed in what became the canonized New Testament.

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