Personal Reflections on President Hinckley

January 30, 2008
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“Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah! Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.” -W.W. Phelps, “Praise to the Man,” Hymn #27, LDS Hymnbook, 1985 While this was written for the Prophet Joseph Smith, this line can certainly apply to President Gordon B. Hinckley, who passed away this past Sunday, January 27, 2008 at the age of 97. “And I … bear personal witness, as a witness, of the divine calling of President Gordon B. Hinckley to this holy office and sacred assignment for which he has been so long and so well prepared. And by “preparation” we mean not…

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Joseph Smith, On His Own Terms

January 29, 2008
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In studying Joseph Smith in the 1970s I was struck by how often Joseph Smith would remind the brethren that they did not know as much as they thought they did. He was also clear that he was much more human than they thought and that he did not know as much as he hoped to know or thought he did. He was sharply aware that his knowledge was limited by his language, his experience and his context and that what he could teach and communicate was further limited by the language, experience and contest of his listeners. He also…

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Avoiding the Very Appearance of Evil… (the CleanFlicks story)

January 29, 2008
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Latter-day Saints are often taught to avoid the “very appearance of evil. ” This makes sense for any group that believes deity has called it to be “a peculiar people.” The individual examples of LDS members speak far louder than tens of thousands of missionaries in white shirts and ties (and dresses or skirts, of course). While this wise counsel can be taken to extremes, most seem to understand the principle behind it. A recent news story from Utah, however, has me thinking about appearances vs. reality — something Jesus addressed when he talked about “whited sepulchres.” Several years ago, Daniel…

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President Hinckley Passes Away At Age 97

January 27, 2008
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President Hinckley Passes Away At Age 97

The LDS Newsroom reports: President Gordon B. Hinckley, who led The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through twelve years of global expansion, has died at the age of 97. President Hinckley was the 15th president in the 177-year history of the Church and had served as its president since 12 March 1995. The Church president died at his apartment in downtown Salt Lake City at 7:00 p.m. Sunday night from cause’s incident to age. Member of his family were at his bedside. A successor is not expected to be formally chosen by the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve…

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The Deconstruction of Mormonism

January 27, 2008
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I am trying to keep to a once-a-week blog post, generally on Sunday evening. The passing of President Hinckley is surely sad news for all Latter-day Saints, and for many of us outside the Church who have followed his career. I suppose everyone expects Pres. Monson to become the new Prophet, although this is tradition more than a hard and fast rule.

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Mothers

January 27, 2008
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This post was by Chris W.  Our 1 year old has had a stomach bug the last couple of days – lots of laundry + little sleep = no fun. Watching my wife in action reminded me of something Lorenzo Snow said: A mother who has brought up a family of faithful children ought to be saved if she never does another good thing.

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LDS Myths about Reorganized Latter Day Saints

January 27, 2008
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My uncle emailed me the other day. The bishop in his ward gave a talk about the Kirtland Temple and explained how the LDS church donated $100,000.00 per year to the Community of Christ for its upkeep. My uncle wanted to know, “is that true?” I knew it wasn’t. My work with the John Whitmer Historical Association for the last few years has allowed me to form close connections with a number of Community of Christ leaders. But since this had been preached from the pulpit as a fact, I wanted to respond with definitive facts. So I talked to…

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Robert Millet & Krista Tippet Pt. 1: “God as Man” Doctrine “Theologically Tangential”

January 26, 2008
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I really, really enjoyed Krista Tippett’s latest interview with (perhaps) the LDS Church’s arch-theologian: Dr. Robert Millet. I have about 4 or 5 posts in me (at least) about this interview — and here is the first. Towards the beginning of the interview, the following conversation ensues about the nature of God: Krista: And Elhohim (God the Father) you understand to be a corporeal being, who was once a man? Like us?

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Culture Shock in Orem

January 26, 2008
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A couple Sundays ago in our singles ward, we were reminded on no uncertain terms that if we were not currently enrolled in a BYU religion class, then we should attend an institute class. I have finished all my BYU required religion credits, and as such, fell into the speaker’s target audience. I figured he was probably right and I could benefit from an institute class, so I looked around for what was available. Apparently there was a Stake institute held at the stake center, and also the Orem Institute, located on UVSC campus. I was able to get a…

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Church’s (Official?) Position on Biblical Interpretation

January 25, 2008
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Brother Jensen thinks the story of Jonah spending three days in a whale’s belly is not literally true, but is a beautiful metaphor of Christ’s death and resurrection. Brother Christiansen, on the other hand, insists the story is literally true, and thinks Brother Jensen is going to hell for thinking otherwise. Brother Smith believes the Garden of Eden story teaches true spiritual principles, but is not historically accurate. Brother Young, on the other hand, insists Mormons must believe the Bible’s stories are true both historically and spiritually. For quite some time I’ve been trying to figure out whether the Church…

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What Ethical Standards do Mormon Consumers Have?

January 25, 2008
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Amy Goodman from Democracy Now Interviewing Charles Kernaghan, the executive director of the National Labor Committee

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Should I Care if My Christian Neighbors Call Me a Non-Christian?

January 24, 2008
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Evangelical Christians have been very vocal over the last century in denouncing Mormons as a “non-Christian” religion. Even the more moderate Catholic and Protestant sects have followed suit. Should I care if my Christian neighbors call me a non-Christian despite my belief in Jesus as Son of God, God the Son, and Savior of the world? With the Mitt Romney’s presidential run I’ve seen much written on the subject of Mormons being “non-Christians.” While some reporting is better than others, the general consensus of the media seems to be that “Christians” don’t consider Mormons to be Christians, but Mormons want…

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Puddleglum as a Skeptical Believer

January 24, 2008
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My wife says I have a naturally skeptical personality, sometimes to the point of pessimism. I have probably passed up being a millionaire many times by refusing to take serious any network marketing scheme. And come to think of it, I’ve probably let many a conspiracy run amok due to my refusal to believe in conspiracies unless there is, ahem, some sort of evidence worth mentioning. So maybe this is why I can relate to C.S. Lewis’ character, Puddleglum. Puddleglum is a wet blanket who is skeptical of just about everything. He’s as much a joy to read as he is…

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Krista Tippett Interviews Robert Millett on Mormonism for “Speaking of Faith”

January 24, 2008
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Krista Tippett Interviews Robert Millett on Mormonism for “Speaking of Faith”

I love Krista Tippett’s “Speaking of Faith”, and I love Mormonism — which makes this a must-listen. I hope it’s good. What did you think?

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A Primer on Neo-Fundamentalism

January 24, 2008
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There is a fascinating community of—I’ll call them neo-fundamentalist LDS (NFLDS) for now—out there who illuminate a cultural template that I find greatly missing on the Bloggernacle, at least any intellectual variety. Struggling to find my voice on a message board such as this, I have decided to help illuminate more of the fundamental side of LDS culture—not that I am a true believer of any sort—I’m kind of like the George Noory of fundamentalism. I find it fascinating and it prickles my hair follicles, but I wouldn’t say I’m a true believer; more of a hedge-better. Doctrinally or theologically…

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Polygamy, what it really implies (Part Two)

January 23, 2008
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Leaving aside the implications of polygamy as to the lessened value of males to society and to families, the other question that arises is just what is polygamy? While some are bothered by the fact that Joseph Smith engaged in polygamy, others are perturbed by the fact that he had so few children by anyone other than his first wife. As the recent DNA studies reflect, he and Emma buried more children than the other women had with Joseph between them.

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Bigfoot, the Three Nephites and the Lost Tribes of Israel

January 23, 2008
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Today’s post is by SuperNerd.  I would like to give a shout out to all the Ward crazies…Where have you all gone? Every Ward has them and every Ward needs them for comic relief. You know who I’m talking about, that member of the ward who bears his/her testimony every month and always has a miraculous story about angels, the Three Nephites, Bigfoot, the return of the Lost Tribes of Israel, the building of New Jerusalem or some other end time event. As a teenager my friends and I used to sit in the back pew next to the door…

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Album Review: First Light—Scenes from the Restoration

January 22, 2008
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Album Review: First Light—Scenes from the Restoration

I count my enjoyment of film scores as my eccentric musical hobby. While others examine the credits of movie posters looking for actors or directors, I almost without fail look for the “Music By:” line. Some find instrumental or orchestral music terribly boring to listen to, but I feel that it grasps my imagination and makes me a part of the music in a way that typical radio tunes simply can’t. I suppose that’s why I took such a liking to Brett Raymond’s album entitled “First Light: Scenes From the Restoration.” He explains that the album is is much like…

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Got Gender?: A Modest Proposal

January 22, 2008
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Men don’t understand women very well. I understand them even less because I grew up with brothers. No sisters. This may have contributed to my girl-craziness in high school and college. Getting to know my wife better has helped me to begin to understand women and their motivations, but I’m still learning. I work with women. My boss is a woman. The majority of my co-workers are women. Such is a career in education. I really like it, because I’ve been able to see that women are no different from men in very fundamental ways. We are all capable of…

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Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection…

January 21, 2008
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This post is by Heather B.  About a week ago, I had to explain death to my four year old. It was one of those conversations that every parent hopes to put off for as long as possible, and made a little more complicated by the circumstances.

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MYTHBUSTERS: The “One True Church”

January 21, 2008
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There are a lot of myths both inside and outside Mormondom about the LDS claim to be the “one true Church.” That claim is difficult for people of other faiths to accept for obvious reasons. But some Mormons may struggle with it as well because it may seem difficult to reconcile that claim with our belief in a just and merciful God who loves all his children equally. I do not expect it will ever be “easy” to accept the “one true Church” claim. However, I think Church members can unfortunately make it more difficult to accept the “one true…

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Converts to the Church: Quality versus Quantity

January 20, 2008
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In 2006, there were more than 272,800 convert baptisms in the Church. A year later, I wonder how many are still active? As President Hinckley has said, “…it will do no good for you to baptize someone and have that individual fall away from the Church shortly thereafter. What have you accomplished? You may have labored long and hard, you may have fasted and prayed as you taught a particular individual the gospel. But if he does not remain active in the Church, all of your labor has been in vain. The whole process counts for nothing. Any investigator worthy…

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JS and MLK — Blood Brothers?

January 20, 2008
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This is the first in my posts with the title “The Continuing Crisis.” Each will discuss issues that either are, or should be, front and center in Mormonism today (at least in my opinion…) Imagine my surprise when I learned that Martin Luther King Jr. died at the age of 39! This Monday is a holiday celebrating Dr. King. Another young man lost his life at about the same age — Joseph Smith, Jr.  Both had a dream, both were either loved or hated by the people.  Both based their beliefs in religion.  Both died martyrs. My question: would Dr.…

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“I don’t know that we teach it”

January 20, 2008
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In the latest LDS manual for priesthood and Relief Society sunday meetings, it features the teachings of Joseph Smith and will be in use for the next two years. Today’s lesson is on the topic of God the Father. There is a particular passage in the manual that I was surprised to see, especially in contrast to the famous comment quoted in this post’s title made by Gordon B. Hinckley in Time magazine.

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What Is “Mormon Doctrine?”

January 19, 2008
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In my first post I discussed why God was concerned with creating creeds and using them as a test of one’s allegiance to God. In my last post I explained what it means to not have creeds and gave examples of the LDS Church following that pattern. I am now prepared to tackle the question of “What is Mormon Doctrine?” To outsiders, our doctrines must seem slippery or downright fluid. It’s impossible to pin us down on anything that they care about! What informed (semi-informed?) outsiders want to know is what our specific teachings are on all the juicy subjects…

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God as Codependent

January 19, 2008
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God as Codependent

If there is something truly unique about Mormon doctrine, it is the image of God. I agree with Sterling McMurrin, that its not always easy to tell these days what the mainstream LDS church really teaches, or at least how much it actually resembles the church Joseph Smith founded. Nevertheless, there was a time in our past when leaders were much more willing to voice their opinions and theories, especially Joseph himself. The nature of God was no exception. Lately in General Conference, I get the impression that the canonized First Vision is the official standard for the nature of…

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Scientologists – The Only Ones Who Can Really Help

January 18, 2008
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This post is by Chris W.  You may have seen this video of Tom Cruise floating around the tubes. It’s a video from an award ceremony where Tom was given some kind of medal for being an upstanding scientologist. It’s jargon-ridden, so it’s hard to follow what’s going on most of the time, but there are some priceless gems of Maverick wisdom. Money quote: “When you’re a Scientologist, and you drive by an accident, you know you have to do something about it, because you know you’re the only one who can really help… We are the way to happiness.…

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Is there a cause for which you are prepared to kill? Ghandi vs. Henry V

January 18, 2008
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Defending the Faith

January 17, 2008
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I’ve never been very political. It’s not that I’m a total slacker – I always read the platforms of both parties and I keep up on presidential candidates’ basic positions. I have preferences about who should win. Mostly, though, I’m disgusted by the divisive nature of our partisan system and my interest is politics is a casual affair. That’s all changed. This year, I am a political junkie. I watch all the debates and follow the polls the same way the wealthy follow stock prices. I have strong opinions on the merits of the major candidates and I know the…

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As Christ Noted

January 17, 2008
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The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. I thought I’d also note that the same is true of the Church. The Church was made for man, not man for the Church. The purpose of the Church is to support us in seeking God. I guess it is easy for people to forget that, but in approaching the Church it is important to realize that it is only a support structure, a tool, designed to help us become Saints. I’ll do my second half on polygamy next week, but in the context of a number of posts,…

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McConkie In Action

January 16, 2008
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Today’s post is by Wade Nelson.  I hope this doesn’t come across as a slam on Elder McConkie. While I disagree with many of his teachings and writings, I respect him for his devotion, integrity, and commitment. What follows is an anecdote from my family history that exemplifies how that devotion and commitment became action.

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