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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The Mormon Therapist on Kids Talking Anatomy

May 26, 2010
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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. So here’s a conversation I wasn’t expecting the other morning started by my 3-year old son and joined in by my 5-year old son as they were getting dressed for the day. 3: “Mommy, what is this?” Lifting his penis and touching his testes. I feel my anxiety rising…

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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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AZ Immigration Law vs. LDS Interests?

May 25, 2010
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AZ Immigration Law vs. LDS Interests?

A recent article in the Arizona Republic highlights the negative impacts to the LDS church of the new Arizona law that steps up enforcement of state immigration lows.  Due to the large population of Mormons in AZ (6% of the state are LDS), and the large population of Latinos (1.8 million, including many who are LDS), this issue is one that poses internal conflicts for members.

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Binding the Broken-Hearted

May 23, 2010
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Binding the Broken-Hearted

Nothing is more painful than a broken heart. When this kind of sorrow gets deep into a person’s soul, all troubles are magnified, blessings are unseen, and it seems almost impossible to bear the daily experience of life. Getting out of bed is misery. Living is torment. A broken heart can cause such an intense reaction that many of us feel our lives have been completely stripped of meaning. Jobs, hobbies, and friends no longer hold any joy for us. In fact, some even experience physical pain with a tight chest, nervous stomach, or terrible insomnia. Nobody understands a broken…

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Politicization of the Church

May 22, 2010
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Politicization of the Church

Today’s guest post is by David H. Bailey. I am concerned about the increasing politicization of the Church in the U.S. during past two or three years. I can definitely sense it here in our ward and stake in the SF Bay Area, and from what I can see the same is true in Utah, Arizona and Nevada. Consider:

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Reflections on Mormon May Day

May 21, 2010
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by Jason B. (Mormon May Day was an international response to recent statements by latter-day McCarthyist Glenn Beck that social justice was a code word for communism; and that anyone involved in a church that preached such a deceptive perversion of the Gospel should leave their congregation and find a new place to worship. Participants in Mormon May Day held teach-ins and discussions around the topic of Social Justice and the Gospel on May 1, participated in a fast, and then bore testimony on May 2 in wards around the country.)

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Truths that are powerful, essential, yet not always helpful

May 21, 2010
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I once knew a woman who complained of her new therapist (she had been in therapy for years) that after thirty minutes he had interrupted and told her that her real problem was that she was trying to be the child in the relationship with her children and husband and she needed to face that her role was to be the adult.  As she complained loud and wide about the therapist everyone she complained to thought “gee, that is the truth.” The truth was essential knowledge that she needed to have.  But telling her was not productive at all, it…

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The Death of McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine

May 20, 2010
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The Death of McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine

Last night on KUTV in Utah, an announcement was made which signals the end of an era.  It was reported that Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine will no longer be published by the Church, and that it will not be sold by Deseret Book.  Since I didn’t see the newscast, I’m not sure what reasons were given, but one viewer stated, “Why? For tighter correlative control, because of the book’s embarrassing clarity, and because of some controversial assertions in the book.”  He also said that the publisher asserted the book was withdrawn because of poor sales.

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Feminist Musings on the story of Jephthah

May 20, 2010
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Feminist Musings on the story of Jephthah

OT SS Lesson #19 You are going to talk about the Biblical Judges in this week’s Sunday School class, and the lesson’s got it pretty well covered (including a discussion of the Judge/Prophetess/Mother in Israel Deborah, yay!) You’ll have to let me know how your respective teachers covered her.  But some of the Judges are peripheral and didn’t make it into the lesson materials.  As is my wont to do, I’d like to investigate the marginal; the story that isn’t mentioned in the manual — that of Jephthah. Whenever I come across an odd story in the Old Testament, I…

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The Mormon Therapist on Effects of Pornography Use on the Spouse

May 19, 2010
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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. I have been struggling with my weight for many many years. For 24 years of married life my husband has had a huge problem with pornography and masturbation. I have continued to find evidence of porn. He has asked me to do odd things sexually – things that he…

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Church History: Principles

May 18, 2010
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Church History:  Principles

There has been a lot of discussion in the b’nacle about what the church can do from a practical standpoint to address the thorny issues in church history.  The current approach has been to: 1) keep the curriculum uplifting and free from controversy, 2) to never speak ill or contradict leaders of the past or present (even if they have been demonstrably wrong), 3) to let FAIR and FARMS apologetics address any tricky issues raised by external critics, and 4) to remind people that ”we simply don’t know” when it comes to conclusions about the trickiest issues.  With the internet and ready access to…

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Sets, Meta-Sets and an Incomplete World

May 17, 2010
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We know we live in a fallen and imperfect world, that God has light and knowledge for us, both individually and as a church that we have yet to earn because of our failure to apply what we already know with diligence. We know that the outward form of the gospel varies dramatically by time, era and place (seen any Levites recently?  Think Abraham relied on them?  Alma?)  Yet we often do not think about how that might interact with us today.  But what does that really mean?

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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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A Non-Historical View of the Book of Mormon

May 15, 2010
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A Non-Historical View of the Book of Mormon

Perhaps the time has come in the church to recognize that some members want to openly espouse a non historical view of the Book of Mormon?

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The Repentant Sinner – Extreme Edition! (aka too many rules)

May 14, 2010
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Suzy: Dad, I’m sorry I scratched the couch! Dad: It’s okay, just don’t do it again. 2 minutes later Suzy: Dad, I’m sorry I picked my nose. Dad: Yeah, we don’t pick our noses or they bleed. 2 minutes later Suzy: Dad, I’m sorry I kicked the chair. Dad: Yeah, it’s okay, don’t worry about it. repeat ad nauseum next day Suzy: Mom, I need to tell you a secret.

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Circumcision Rock & Roll

May 13, 2010
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Circumcision Rock & Roll

OT SS Lesson #18 The advantage of blogging the SS lessons instead of teaching them is that I get to cover the chapters that are totally skipped by correlation. (This one [Joshua 5] probably for good reason, but it deserves a mention SOMEWHERE.) Everyone knows that good Jews are circumcised. God instituted the covenant with Abraham, and faithful Jews have been performing this ordinance on their 8-day-old males ever since, right? WRONG!

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Should truth be simple, easy to comprehend?

May 12, 2010
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Should truth be simple, easy to comprehend?

OK, friends and pals of MormonMatters…let’s play a game. (You just can’t get this at any of the other blogs, btw.) Some of you may have played this game before…or understand how it is played. If you do, then think back to the first time you played the game (when it was as unknown to you as it is to many), and don’t spoil it for the rest. There will be prizes. Although, they will be the nonphysical kind. OK. So, here’s the game. There are three doors in front of you. What I can tell you is that one…

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Tapping into the genius of youth in a church run by old men by Chris Jones

May 12, 2010
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Tapping into the genius of youth in a church run by old men by Chris Jones

Chris Jones is a 6th generation Mormon and graduate of Brigham Young University where he studied journalism.  He served a mission in the Sweden Stockholm Mission from 2001-2003.  He is currently living in Valparaíso, Chile and will begin a JD/MA program in law and economics at Duke University in the fall of 2010. Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Joseph Smith and Jesus.  I suspect this would make for an entertaining dinner party to say the least.  This may sound like a strange collection of ancient and modern figures, but they all have one important characteristic in common.  Their most important achievements…

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Pharisaical Observation

May 11, 2010
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Pharisaical Observation

I wrote a post some time ago on whether they Pharisees were given a bad rap in the New Testament. It can be found here. One of the other bad raps against the Pharisees is that they were more concerned about the performance of the Law than the spiritual meaning of the Law. The story of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:10- 14) is meant to illustrate the point. Since modern Judaism is the outgrowth of Pharisaical Judaism, the same charge is made of the most observant Jews of our time.  More on that a bit later.

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Leavitt Alone, You Idiot!

May 10, 2010
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Leavitt Alone, You Idiot!

Our guest post today comes from Renn Oldsbuster, a somewhat passionate (!) polygamy sympathizer who blogs occasionally at The Fall of Reynolds. Okay, yes, I’m all amp’ed up about this one. Stupid David Leavitt has jumped on the anti-polygamy wagon again. He has taken on the custody case of a Juab County, Utah, woman who doesn’t want her soon-to-be ex-husband to have their children near any fundamentalist Mormons – see the following recent article from the Salt Lake Tribune: (and I have pasted some paragraphs below [emphasis mine]) -

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What Makes a “Good Person?”

May 10, 2010
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What Makes a “Good Person?”

In the landscape of conflicting ideologies and differing theologies, there is one area that almost everyone can agree on: the importance of being a “good person.” But what does that really mean?  WikiHow offers: Philosophers have been debating what is good and what is not for centuries. Many people find that it’s more complicated than just being kind, and several complex religions have arisen with the attempt to understand the difference between good and evil. While every person’s journey is different, being good has a lot to do with discovering yourself and your role in the world. (reference) As we…

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Our MM Mothers

May 9, 2010
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Our MM Mothers

John Dehlin: I love my sweet Mom (Nan McCulloch) — for a hundred different reasons. She’s a wicked cook. A spectacular actress. A fantastic decorator and homemaker. She lets me come stay at her house at a moment’s notice, whenever I need a place to sleep. She’s empathetic. Supportive. Witty. Wise. EXTREMELY thoughtful. And smoking hot (as far as Mom’s go, anyway). I could go on, and on, and on. But what do I admire most about my Mom? I would have to say….it is her openness and curiosity. As a multi-generational, faithful Latter-Day Saint, she has always taught me…

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