The Parable of the Merciful Judge

April 27, 2008
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I came up with the following parable to explain to a Born Again Christian friend why I felt his belief that our actions plays no role in salvation at all was setting up a false dichotomy between influence and merit. It floated like a lead balloon, of course. He didn’t even bother to comment back to me. I later reused it with a carpool of Mormons that all seemed to enjoy it quite a bit more. In case you are wondering, yes, it’s a true story too. (Note: because I’m getting questions about this, I’ll add this – this is not…

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Shabbos Yom Tov Pesach with My Friend Sam

April 26, 2008
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Shabbos Yom Tov Pesach with My Friend Sam

It was a sunny Saturday and I was sitting in the synagogue with my friend Sam…

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God’s Hit List in the Book of Mormon

April 26, 2008
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God’s Hit List in the Book of Mormon

One of the most unseemly and disturbing images in the Book of Mormon is when Nephi is commanded to cut the head off of Laban who lies drunken at his feet.  So, what did Laban do to get on God’s hit list?  Did he deserve it?  Was it necessary?  And how did some of the other deserving baddies (such as Laman & Lemuel) escape with their heads intact? 

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What if Joseph Smith Published the Book of Mormon Last Year?

April 25, 2008
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Many of you may have heard about a man named Joseph Smith that recently claimed to have found some plates of gold, shown to him by an angel no less, and then to have translated those plates “by the gift and power of God” into The Book of Mormon. This Book of Mormon purports to be a story about an ancient people living millennia ago. We at the New York Ages decided to do a review of this book with such an interesting back story. But we were disappointed to find the interesting stuff stops at the back story. We’d…

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The Sun Never Sets on the Mormon Empire: Cultural Colonialism

April 24, 2008
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The Sun Never Sets on the Mormon Empire:  Cultural Colonialism

I was talking with a French colleague at dinner about the differences between European politics and American politics, and he made a statement that left an impression. European politics are colored by their colonialist histories and how to balance a preservation of their culture while dealing with the other cultures they have essentially subordinated over time. For example, he mentioned the Muslims in France who demanded equal consideration of their separate cultural preferences in the very strict and isolationist French culture. The French people are very concerned with preserving their culture, values, and language (even governing the number of foreign…

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The Prayer of the Children

April 24, 2008
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A Case Study on Racism and Learning to Forgive: Anthony Walker’s Mother

April 23, 2008
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A Case Study on Racism and Learning to Forgive: Anthony Walker’s Mother

This is the story of forgiveness.

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Preaching in Alamo

April 23, 2008
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Preaching in Alamo

Over spring break, I preached in Alamo. No, not THE Alamo.

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From the Great Wall to the Bloggernacle With Love

April 23, 2008
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Clay Whipkey and I are in China — and visited the Great Wall 2 days ago. As we contemplated what to discuss on top of the wall — there was only one real option. We hope you enjoy. All the best to our long lost friends. We miss you.

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Eating & Drinking in Church: A New Trend?

April 22, 2008
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Eating & Drinking in Church: A New Trend?

It might just be me, but I’ve noticed an upswing in eating and drinking during the three hour block. Now, I am not talking about cheerios, fishy crackers and sippy cups, but older kids and adults.

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Laymen = Clergy: The Genius of Mormonism?

April 22, 2008
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Laymen = Clergy: The Genius of Mormonism?

When the Church of Christ was organized on April 6, 1830, none of its members were professional clergy, but all its adult male members were endowed with “priesthood.” For millennia, Christians had wrestled with defining the roles of lay people and the clergy in expressing piety. If the sacraments were the preserve of the clergy, how should pious lay people channel their devotion to God? The Mormon answer to this question would be straightforward: in the restored church, laymen were the clergy.

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Slandering the Lost Sheep

April 21, 2008
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Slandering the Lost Sheep

When I talk to Mormon friends, occasionally someone will mention a mutual friend or acquaintance who claims to have left the LDS Church because of theological differences or personal revelation. In those conversations, someone will usually say something like this: “He’s either cheating on his wife, addicted to porn, or gay.” There seems to be a strong presumption in Mormon culture that anyone who cites theological differences or personal revelation as their reason for leaving the Church is being insincere and dishonest, and that the real reason such a person leaves the Church is that he is guilty of some…

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an ad litem’s request

April 20, 2008
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The ad litem sends thanks for the input.

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Why Hollywood Should Convert to Mormonism

April 20, 2008
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Why Hollywood Should Convert to Mormonism

Very few famous Hollywood actors are Mormon, even fewer are practicing Mormons.  While there are some obvious disconnects (e.g. law of chastity, modesty, time commitments), there are some equally compelling connections between some of the basic values of Hollywood and Mormonism and other values that are close, if not quite aligned.

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Celebrating John Dehlin

April 20, 2008
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Celebrating John Dehlin

Call it what you will….call it brown-nosing in the UK & kissin butt in the US…but I felt extremely frustrated this week trying to follow in John’s shoes and it helped me to realize what an awesome guy he is and the things he might have gotten through to get Mormon Stories to us. I was glad to see him voted as the unsung hero of mormon blogging this year.

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The Evil of Flip Flops and Pants

April 19, 2008
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We had a Relief Society lesson a couple weeks ago on appropriate dress. A few clear conclusions came from the discussion. Women’s pants are evil and flip-flops are of the devil. Denim and the chapel do not mix under any circumstance. And pantyhose make you more spiritual. I’m stretching a bit. But just a little.

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The Greek and Roman Testaments: A Scriptural Analogy

April 18, 2008
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The Greek and Roman Testaments:  A Scriptural Analogy

One of the interesting panel discussions at last weekend’s Restoration Studies Symposium was entitled “The Future Status and Use of the Book of Mormon in the Community of Christ.” The essential question raised is: if you aren’t sure (or don’t believe) that the Book of Mormon is a literal history, do you have to throw the book out with the bath water? (Community of Christ leaders apparently don’t think you have to…) This discussion got me to thinking about scriptures in general and I came up with an analogy that I wanted to bounce off folks. I think that the…

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Rethinking The “Moral vs. Political” Question For An International Church

April 18, 2008
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Rethinking The “Moral vs. Political” Question For An International Church

The general election is looming, which means that soon, we here in the U.S. will be hearing an official First Presidency statement in our wards regarding the Church’s political neutrality. You’ve heard the mantra before: the Church does not get involved in political issues, but it does take a stand on moral questions. Despite its seeming simplicity, this statement raises a host of unanswered questions regarding the wisdom of Church involvement in domestic political movements, and its seeming unwillingness to get involved in issues affecting Saints in other parts of the world.

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A California Mormon visits the other Zion

April 17, 2008
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A California Mormon visits the other Zion

By Joe Geisner (guest blogger) No I am not talking about Utah. I left Sam Brannan’s Zion for Joseph Smith’s Zion on April 11, 2008. I arrived at about 4 pm in Kansas City airport and almost froze to death waiting for the rental car shuttle. I had left 80 degree weather for 40 degree weather and began to wonder who really was the prophet? Obviously it was Brannan. The temperature never rose above 45 degrees, and we had snow in April!

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The End of Polygamy (Again)?

April 17, 2008
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The raid in Texas is interesting (and differs from AZ and UT prosecutorial efforts) in that polygamy is being attacked directly.  So, will this shift in approach result in the end of polygamy (again)?

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The Establishment of Religion & Elder Christofferson

April 16, 2008
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The Establishment of Religion & Elder Christofferson

At the recent press conference (April 6th 2008) celebrating Elder Christofferson’s Apostleship, he was asked to comment about a local issue by The Salt Lake Tribune’s Jessica Ravitz. The question was about a situation that centered around a local group’s wishes to erect a monument displaying their, 10 commandments style, ‘Seven Aphorisms of Summum‘. The group wishes to erect their monument next to an established monument of the ten commandments which is located in a public city park. Jessica asked Elder Christofferson if he had anything to say regarding their wishes.

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“From the crossroads of the West”

April 16, 2008
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“From the crossroads of the West”

Years ago, my wife and I skipped our ward meetings to attend Music and the Spoken Word and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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A Non-Member Kirtland Experience

April 15, 2008
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A Non-Member Kirtland Experience

I recently read an interesting post by a non-member couple and their visit to Kirtland.  IMO, their contrast of the Kirtland temple (Community of Christ) tour guides and the missionaries at the LDS-owned sites was cringe-worthy and brings up a few questions about how we as church members respond to (non-investigative) questions.

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The Banking Industry: A Moral Hazard

April 15, 2008
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The Banking Industry: A Moral Hazard

Those who know me know that I have a lot of vitriol for bankers. As an industry, they have their “New World Order” in the palm of their hands….or if you look at it from the working man’s perspective…our democracies by the gonads!

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Nepotism in the Church

April 14, 2008
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As I watched the press conference last week between the Sunday sessions of General Conference, I found out that the new 2nd Counselor of the Young Women General Presidency, Ann Dibbs, is a daughter of President Thomas S Monson. It got me thinking about how many relatives of Church leaders also become leaders themselves. Is nepotism a problem in the Church today?

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Putting Away Childish Things: My Evolving View of God

April 14, 2008
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Putting Away Childish Things: My Evolving View of God

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (1 Cor. 13:11.) As I’ve grown older, the things I’ve unlearned about God are just as significant to me as the things I’ve learned about Him. In fact, the God I believed in as a child is almost unrecognizable to me now.

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Nauvoo or Disneyland?

April 13, 2008
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Nauvoo or Disneyland?

On a personal note, my wife and I are scheduled to be sealed in the temple next month. We have a week’s vacation and with great apprehension, I muse over our options. My wife wants to spend the time going to southern California, romping through Disneyland, Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, possibly Knots Berry Farm and Magic Mountain. I have never been to a single one of these attraction, though I have had opportunitites which I have declined. I would like them see them, though.

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Drop it! Who’s Worthy to Take the Sacrament?

April 12, 2008
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Drop it!  Who’s Worthy to Take the Sacrament?

Is it ever appropriate to intervene when someone “unworthy” is going to take the sacrament?  What level of “unworthiness” makes such intervention justified?

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Bootlegged: Utah and the 21st Amendment

April 12, 2008
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The Word of Wisdom has come to be a central and defining tenant of the Mormon faith. The phrase “don’t drink, don’t smoke” is almost universally included in a description of Mormon values or behaviors. Perhaps due to its clear-cut nature (or at least the clear cut nature of its prohibitions, not its recommendations) the Word of Wisdom has nearly been elevated to the status of the commandment of commandments. But anyone who has actually bothered to read D&C 89 will know that the Word of Wisdom was given “not by commandment or constraint”, but as just what it claims…

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Shouldn’t This Be Against the Honor Code?

April 11, 2008
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Shouldn’t This Be Against the Honor Code?

Some background.  The University of Utah athletic teams go by the name “Utes”.  BYU are the “Cougars”.  The Utes are also an American Indian tribe.  The Trail of Tears was the forced expulsion of the Cherokee, during which many died, from their ancestral lands in the eastern United States to what is now Oklahoma. Reservations are the remnant of the old lands where Indians were confined after their treaties were for the most part ignored by the U.S. government in the nineteenth century.  These pictures were taken at BYU in November 2007 during a volleyball game between the U and…

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Awakening to Our Awful Speculation

April 11, 2008
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Awakening to Our Awful Speculation

I had the opportunity of late to score a read from a family member’s library. This family member is an activist on the fringe set of fundamentalism and preparedness, dabbling into the occult and mysticism as well—happy times! I happened to return it so this will be a bit rusty on the documentation side. The book is called Awakening to Our Awful Situation by Jack Monnet. It even comes with a nifty little CD that explains how the United States took down the World Trade Center. If you want to find this book, you can buy it at the Chevron…

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