WWJB: What Would Jesus Blog?

February 12, 2008
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It’s been a few months since I first came out to my family and friends. I’d been living a secret double life for too long, and I couldn’t stand the duplicity any longer. As I’ve continued to come out to more friends, I’ve learned I have to be careful and selective about when and to whom I reveal my secret. It makes some people feel awkward and uncomfortable when I tell them about it; others don’t know what to say and simply stare at the ground or abruptly change the subject.

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The Book of Mormon: Paving the Way for the Doctrine & Covenants

February 11, 2008
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In my last post I discussed one possible view of the Book of Mormon as a basic doctrinal text and thus a foundation for Mormon doctrine. Having covered this topic in a Gospel Principles class, I then noted to the class that the Doctrine and Covenants was the “advanced doctrine” book. Consider the following paritial list: Doctrines of Exaltation (i.e. highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom) 1. Need for temples (D&C 109; Kirtland Temple Dedication; See also D&C 84) 2. Washing and Anointing (D&C 88:139; D&C 124:37,39) 3. Temple endowment (D&C 105:12) 4. Celestial marriage (D&C 131:1-4) 5. Exaltation is progressive/progression…

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Mormon Superheroes

February 11, 2008
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Mormon Superheroes

  Dr. Deseret is the sovereign State of Deseret’s official superhero and defender. She takes performance-enhancing drugs to ensure her fighting prowess. She is part of Captain Confederacy, an alternate history comic series where the South maintains its independence, the Mormons and Indians break away and form their own states, etc.          

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Reconstruction Part 2: Abandoning “Being Right” In Search of “Having Joy”

February 11, 2008
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In part one of this reconstruction journey, I talked about how being hyper-focused on being right intensifies the impact when you come to see that ambiguity (essentially the opposite of right/wrong clarity) is inseparably interwoven into the LDS gospel. I’ve been taught my whole church life to “choose the right” and I have heard testimony born time and again that we are so fortunate to have the whole truth (as compared to other partial-truth-holding faiths). Coming face to face with the reality of ambiguity is like diving into a very cold pool of water on a very hot day. In…

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The Reason for the World

February 10, 2008
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The Reason for the World

Continuing the disclosure of my musical hobbies, I enjoy playing the piano. I haven’t taken lessons for several years, but I’ve got a nice little Yamaha keyboard in my room, and I often load up an iTunes playlist and jam along. So when it comes to contemporary music, I tend to have a soft spot for artists who successfully use the piano as their lead instrument—the obvious examples being Billy Joel and Elton John. There has been a quiet alternative movement in the contemporary music scene that has developed into what is termed “piano rock,” led by such artists as…

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Mormon Family Shrinkage

February 10, 2008
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I’m the oldest of ten kids. I spent my teen years (1979–1986) living across the street in Bountiful, Utah, from a family with eleven kids. Two of my aunts and uncles have nine and ten kids, respectively. Even after living through it myself, I still can’t imagine how this was done! How could these super-parents keep going through all those pregnancies and babies and all those expenses, not to mention the drain on their personal time and energy? You just don’t see families that big anymore, even in Mormonism. For my Generation X and perhaps many younger Baby Boomers too, a gigantic…

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Can Mormons Be Savvy Voters?

February 9, 2008
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There’s a lot of talk in the media and across the ’nacle to the effect that Romney’s Mormon identity was the critical factor that torpedoed his candidacy. The argument is that a large percentage of Republican primary voters have anti-Mormon sentiments that kept them from supporting the candidate who, by the numbers, shared all the values positions that mattered to them most. The comparison has specifically been drawn with Log Cabin Republicans: Are Mormons a second group in the GOP’s big tent that find themselves despised by their fellow Republicans? If that’s where Mormons find themselves, we should ask:  What…

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New Rules for Church Music

February 8, 2008
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My favorite part of any church service is the music. Even when the music is poorly done — which all too often it is — it has power to inspire, teach, and heal. That said, I would like some changes to the music section of the handbook. If I were in charge, here are the rules I’d implement:

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A New Take on Fundamentalism, Faith and Curiosity — Or….Does Mormonism Inspire Curiosity?

February 8, 2008
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How does this apply to Mormonism?

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BYU Baseball Player Kent Walton Reinstated on Team!!!!

February 8, 2008
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I LOVE it when low-level ecclesiastical leaders are overruled (for the right reasons). And here’s the coverage from the SLTrib. From the Salt Lake Tribune: “We may never know the full story since the bishop does not wish to comment and the school is citing privacy to keep things quiet. Regardless, the entire episode may have some stereotypical ramifications on the national level. But at least it has been resolved in a manner that seems more reasonable for every party involved to minimize the damage. “ From the Deseret News: “Brigham Young University baseball star Kent Walton, who had been…

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Breaking News: Romney Dropping Out

February 7, 2008
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The wires are alive with the story that Romney is dropping out of the race. More as the story develops. See Breitbart, TIME and CNN for the story.  Romney is quoted saying: This is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose. My family, my friends and our supporters … many of you right here in this room … have given a great deal to get me where I have a shot at becoming president. If this were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I love America, and because I love…

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Neo-Fundamentalism Part 2 – Historical Millennialism*

February 7, 2008
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Last time I discussed a sub-culture of the LDS church that is increasing as an influential force, especially given the current state of unease in America—that of neo-Fundamentalism.  Semantically this is my term, because I want to peel it apart from what we typically think of as Fundamentalist LDS (those stuck in the pre 1890 church).  A large part of NFLDS thought process is an eschatology of end-times.  This conception is critical if you want to understand the intellectual underpinnings of NFLDS.  NFLDS are betting on the end of faith—the vindication a realization of mystical actuality through a fulfillment of…

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“Theoconservativism” – Extremism under the Guise of Religion?

February 6, 2008
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Being a latitudarian, I hold the separation of church and state as part of my sacrosanct liberality.

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Bill Maher on Larry King Live: Mormons as “Shapeshifters”

February 6, 2008
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The Book of Mormon: Keystone

February 5, 2008
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A few months ago I decided to try an experiment as part of my Sunday School lesson in Gospel Principles. This was a fairly advanced Gospel Principles group that had no new converts at the time. I came into class and issued the following challenge to the class. Challenge: You need to write a book that will introduce the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world in very plain and straight forward teachings. It must not be ambiguous like the Bible. You must accomplish all of the following: It must teach everything you need to know to enter the Celestial kingdom.…

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9 Mormons Who Ran for President

February 5, 2008
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9 Mormons Who Ran for President

During this campaign season I’ve been helping Newell Bringhurst and Craig Foster edit their forthcoming book, The Mormon Quest for the Presidency. The book tells the fascinating story of 9 Mormons who ran for president prior to Mitt Romney’s bid and I thought I’d briefly share their stories while Mitt’s fate is being decided today… 1844 Joseph Smith Jr. (no party) — In an era when the separation of church and state were still absolute, Smith was the first clergyman to run for president. As such, he did not emphasize his role as a prophet or as president of the Mormon…

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The Church is a “what”?

February 4, 2008
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I’ve a friend who is a linguist who often addresses things by asking people to find metaphors for them. It is interesting to ask people just what the Church is, not descriptively, but metaphorically. Something that is extremely accurate, I’ve found, is to compare the Church to a flotilla of barges, being sailed to a destination. Slow, dependent on the wind, dealing with tides and currents, with turbulence issues around the edges.

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Robert Millet & Krista Tippet Pt. 3: Robert Millet as a Budding “Sunstone” or “New Order” Mormon

February 4, 2008
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As I’m sure you’ve discovered by now — my takeaways from this interview between Krista Tippet and LDS Theologian and BYU Religion Professor Robert Millet say much more about me than they do Brother Millet. That said — in part 3 of this series, I’m going to make my argument that within this interview, we can see yet further signs that both Robert Millet, and the LDS Church, are becoming more and more open/liberal/progressive/tolerant in their willingness to allow for a “Sunstone” or even a “New Order Mormon“-like perspective when it comes to an LDS belief/testimony. Here are the signs…

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BYU Baseball Player Expelled for Not Attending Enough Church?

February 3, 2008
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BYU Baseball Player Expelled for Not Attending Enough Church?

[Updated — More on the story here.] Apparently BYU (and the LDS church) have expelled BYU’s best baseball player for (allegedly) not attending church enough. Some questions for discussion…. What do we NOT know about the story that the church is not able to tell us? (we should always remember that possibility) What do you think about this statement, “They said he didn’t participate in the ward enough, hadn’t been to church enough and hadn’t gone in and asked for a calling,” What do you think about this statement, “All the stake president would say was, ‘I hope you don’t…

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Passage to Zarahemla: An Interview With Chris Heimerdinger

February 3, 2008
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Passage to Zarahemla: An Interview With Chris Heimerdinger

Anyone who has ever set foot in Deseret Book should recognize the name Chris Heimerdinger. His signature novel, “Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites,” was the first in what became a sizable collection of LDS fiction targeted primarily at a young Mormon market. Now, he steps into the film making arena with his new feature film: “Passage to Zarahemla.” Chris uses his time-tested narrative device of modern characters converging in one way or another with scriptural settings and events to tell the story of Kerra and Brock, two young people who somehow collide with a parallel universe which brings them into…

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The Power to Move Mountains and More!

February 2, 2008
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I’ve been reading through a new compilation of early patriarchal blessings, given by the first Mormon Presiding Patriarchs: Joseph Smith Sr., Hyrum Smith and William Smith. These revelations can be mined for any number of treasures — enriching our understanding of the expectations and beliefs of our early Mormon ancestors. The early Latter Day Saints believed that Christ would return in their lifetimes to usher in the Millennium, so I was not surprised at all to see that so many of the blessings included the promise that the recipient would live to see that day. For example, Joseph Sr. blessed…

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Unexpected tears for an exemplar…

February 2, 2008
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Deconstructing the Book of Mormon, Introduction

February 1, 2008
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While in law school I had the chance to talk with Jack Welch about the kingmen in the Book of Mormon. From that discussion in 1980, I started to apply the tools of deconstruction to the text of the Book of Mormon. There is an amazing amount of perspective that can be found by taking the Book of Mormon as what it claims to be and then looking into the text to see what the text says for itself.

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Reconstruction Part 1: Like a Wave, Driven and Tossed

February 1, 2008
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Not so long ago I thought I knew certain things were true and wavering was a self-inflicted condition. I also really thought I was an independent thinker who had chosen to be a conservative Republican, and to believe that homosexuality was an illness, and that the priesthood ban was imposed by God for some reason we just couldn’t understand, and that polygamy was a holy practice when it was sanctioned, and that church leaders past and present were inspired in all things and represented the will of the Lord. I thought I chose those positions because they were simply the…

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Robert Millet & Krista Tippet Pt. 2: Mormon Missionary Work Targeted at “Helping People Accept Jesus as Their Savior”?

January 31, 2008
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The more I listen to this interview — the more I enjoy and respect Dr. Millet. I have even listened to the extended interview now, which I definitely recommend. And while I have at least a few posts planned where I hope to express what I loved about this interview, as part 2 of this series, I want to highlight something that made me a bit uncomfortable. Let me begin with my disclaimer — as some of you may have realized, I am struggling (as a member of the LDS church) with the way that church leaders (as of late)…

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For time and all eternity

January 31, 2008
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This post is by Heather B.  My husband and I were married and sealed to each other in an LDS temple over 6 years ago. We were surrounded by around 30 of his closest friends and family, but none of mine. I was a convert to the church of about 2 years when we married, and since we decided to get married in our home state, none of my close friends could make the ceremony (we were students at BYU at the time). My family members were not at all interested in joining the church, and sat outside during our…

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Whose Record is 4th Nephi?

January 30, 2008
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In the latter part of the Book of Mormon, we see a resurgence of the name “Nephi.” First, we have Helaman’s son, Nephi (Helaman 3:21) This Nephi has a son, also named Nephi. (3 Nephi 1:2) He is the one present at the time of the ministry of Christ. In 4th Nephi however, we’re faced with a tricky ambiguity. We learn that the Nephi here is the father of Amos (4 Nephi 1:19), and it would appear that he is the son of Nephi, the disciple. Our only real clue into who he is comes from the heading of 4th…

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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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