Saw me in prison and came unto me …

July 8, 2010
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The Dallas District Attorney’s office preserved DNA evidence.  When advances in science occurred, they were able to retest many samples in cases where people claimed innocence.  As a result, some men were freed.  Other counties destroyed the same material.  Those men are still in prison. The innocent who are still in jail we can sorrow for.  But what about the guilty?  Should we care about them?  Really?

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Latter-Day Morality

July 8, 2010
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Latter-Day Morality

You may not be aware of this if you grew up Mormon, but the LDS definition of morality is rather different than that which is generally accepted. Morality is very easily defined to Mormons — it means not having sex. That’s all. End of discussion. Immorality means having sex. That’s what we teach our teenagers, and that is the definition we carry with us from our church meetings into our daily lives. Today I’d like to talk about some of the nuances to the word “morality.” The meanings that we don’t get in Mutual or Seminary or Sunday School. For…

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Free Will vs. Determinism…FIGHT!

July 7, 2010
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Free Will vs. Determinism…FIGHT!

One of the most basic and fundamental premises of Mormonism is the idea of free will. While we take this for granted in Mormonism, in the secular world the debate is far from settled. In fact, the debate over determinism vs. libertarianism (not the political philosophy but the metaphysical philosophy) has raged on and on for centuries.

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The Mormon Therapist on Interracial Marriage

July 7, 2010
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Recently I’ve been in contact with a girl by means of the internet. We haven’t met but plan to soon. I like her a lot. She has told me she loves me and wants to start a family with me. She isn’t a member of the church but said she is willing to join it if it means being with me.  I find her attractive, yes -but there are other factors as well. She is from a mixed race (half African, half White American). I know love can put aside all differences but at the same time this would cause…

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Eastern Orthodoxy: Theosis/Deification

July 6, 2010
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Eastern Orthodoxy:  Theosis/Deification

Covenant Theological Seminary is a Presbyterian Seminary.  They have online courses that you can listen to for free!  If you pay tuition, you can get a Master of Divinity Degree online.  I have found the podcasts incredibly interesting. I’ve learned some interesting concepts from class on Ancient and Medieval Church History.  Session #23 discusses Eastern Orthodoxy.  First, let’s have a little background.  The Eastern Orthodox Church officially split with the Catholic Church in 1054.  The Pope excommunicated the Patriarch in Constantinople, so the Patriarch did the same to the Pope.  There had been some different emphasis on theology for quite…

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Ward Cliques

July 6, 2010
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Ward Cliques

Does your ward have cliques?  Are cliques a good or bad thing?

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When the Fourth of July Falls on the Sabbath

July 4, 2010
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When the Fourth of July Falls on the Sabbath

Yesterday’s activities began with a Pancake Breakfast over at the Church, followed by a softball game.  We loaded up several of the kids from the Ward, my children’s friends, and hauled them all to the beach in both of our vans.  Arriving home at 5:00, we joined some neighbors for a potluck and barbecue.  There were even some small fireworks lit out in the field behind our house.  I enjoyed the day very much.  It was a lot like what we’ve done on the Fourth of July in years past — but this was on the third.  As I read…

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Song Practice: Not Music to Our Ears

July 3, 2010
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Song Practice:  Not Music to Our Ears

“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all Song Practice Ladies, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”—Fabricated Quote from Joseph Smith circa 1842.  Today’s guest post is by Matt Workman.

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The Next Victim

July 3, 2010
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This post is by our guest, Leah. He is getting his temple recommend renewed. He has his humble face on. He has paid up his financial obligations to his children. He is going through the outward steps of repentance again, assembling the props he needs to act the perfect husband. But this time it is not for me, it is for her. He is telling her that he wants the white picket fence, the family and a dog. He couldn’t have told her how the most significant times when his abuse became physical were when I was pregnant. I don’t…

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Best and Worst: Bible Verses!

July 2, 2010
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“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you… and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29) “Happy shall they be who seize your infants, And dashes them against the rocks!” (Psalms 137: 9) Today’s “Best and Worst” post comes from Steve at Pine Mountain Walker, the originator of the “best and worst” series, with “Best and Worst Bible Verses.” Here is his choice for the #1 verse in the Bible, as well as a fun (and gruesome!) selection of “worst verses.” His comments are…

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Have You Ever Wondered…..

July 2, 2010
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A set of random questions to aimlessly ponder on a Friday.

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“As a new religion it is too bad you don’t have a theory of …

July 1, 2010
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.. war” a friend of mine said. ” Once your theology develops, it should be interesting to see what kind of nuanced debates you have.” “Well,” I said, “we actually do have some doctrine and theology on the subject.” “Then why haven’t I seen more discussion of it?  Or is it pretty simple, direct and pro-war or pro-pacifism. Is there a reason that there haven’t been  many Mormons in the public eye?  What does the doctrine say?” Ah yes, what does the LDS doctrine, practice and scripture say or imply?

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Approaches to Psalms

July 1, 2010
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Approaches to Psalms

OT SS Lesson #25 The Book of Psalms is one of the most beautiful and meaningful books of the Bible, and it is agonizing to realize that our Sunday School schedule only allows one lesson to cover the entire oeuvre.  In this post, I’d like to outline several possible ways to approach a one-hour lesson on the Psalms, and to request your input as to which appeals to you personally.

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Faith, Knowledge, Belief, and Stochastic Theory Part 4: Finding Truth – An Optimization Problem

June 30, 2010
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In part two of this series I discussed Bayesian inference. Specifically, I discussed how Bayesian inference provided us with a mechanism for deciding in what we should place our confidence given all the information we possess and will yet obtain. This was all framed in the context of confidence. I’d like to discuss an alternative way of looking at Bayesian inference – namely optimization.

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The Mormon Therapist on “Honoring” our parents.

June 30, 2010
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I have been depressed off and on for the thirty years since I joined the Church and almost ten years before that when I wanted to join. I was a teenager at the time and due to opposition and threats from my parents, waited until I married. Since the time my husband and I were baptized, we have been obtusely criticized/put down, not invited to certain family gatherings but required at others, and our Church activity ignored.

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A Horrific Tale of Forgiveness

June 29, 2010
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A Horrific Tale of Forgiveness

I really miss my book club, but I am participating in the Stay LDS Book Club.  The first book that we have decided to read is Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza.  It is her story of the Rwandan Genocide.  I previously discussed the movie Hotel Rwanda, describing the events from Paul Russebagina’s point of view.  Immaculee has an incredibly inspiring story as well.  The book is intensely moving.

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Priesthood as a Puberty Rite

June 29, 2010
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Priesthood as a Puberty Rite

A unique aspect of Mormonism is that all males over age 12 can hold an office of the priesthood, and that they are expected to use that priesthood in service to both the community (sacrament, callings) and to individuals (healings, blessings, and acts of service).  When the church was first organized, most of the offices of the Aaronic priesthood were held by adult males, not teens.  Has teenage priesthood ordination evolved into a form of puberty rite?

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Wandering Mormons as Nephites

June 27, 2010
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More than two years ago, the Holy Spirit began insisting that I re-read the Book of Mormon. Of course, I didn’t immediately recognize the impulse as anything but a good idea originating within my own intellect. That’s what I do with anything – process it intellectually first. I knew spending more time reading scriptures would be the spiritual equivalent of walking more for my heart, so I put it on my to-do-list. You know all about the to-do-list that never seems to get any shorter because of emergencies and recurring requirements. So, re-reading the Book of Mormon stayed on the…

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Writing a Life

June 26, 2010
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Writing a Life

“It’s the people who write, who last. If any woman out there has any inclination to to remembered in the future, the next few generations, she’d just better get busy and write out her story, her experiences.” –Claudia Bushman I haven’t been very satisfied with the writing of my own story. I wish I had a more representative record of my life. I began journaling in 1974 when I was 14 years old. I had a diary all through my high school years. I was certain that when I was a teenager I had some intelligent thoughts. But reading back…

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Mormon Marriage Ref: Bikinis, Garments, & Facebook

June 25, 2010
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WARNING: Sophisticated readers have described The Mormon Marriage Ref as a painfully artificial and repellent reality TV way of solving arguments, as using incredibly silly black and white binary thinking, and as sorely lacking in nuance. Read at your own risk! Here’s the situation: Matt and Sarah are a young couple living in Las Vegas. They are very physically active, and put a high priority on health and exercise. They love the warm weather and their big neighborhood pool. They originally met in Germany (Sarah is German, and speaks fluent English) while Matt was on his mission. Matt went back…

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The Fallibility of Infallibility

June 25, 2010
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The Fallibility of Infallibility

The Prophet Joseph Smith said “ … a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.”  (History of the Church, Volume 5:265). This simple statement, made to a “brother and sister from Michigan” has invoked much discussion about when a prophet speaks for the Lord and when he is simply offering good advice.

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So what is a Mormon? What is a Feminist?

June 24, 2010
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To answer the question “what is a Mormon?” I found myself asking the question “what is a Feminist?” I was at a lunch.  I was talking with someone who was putting a program together to support female attorneys and make them feel included.  She was talking to several of us about how important it was to have good role models, to make certain that girls knew that any education they wanted, any choices they wanted or needed would be supported and were good and encouraged and how important it was to be inclusive.  She was looking for groups to reach…

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King David and the Doctrine of Blood Atonement

June 24, 2010
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King David and the Doctrine of Blood Atonement

OT SS Lesson #24 The following statement was made by the LDS Church last Wednesday in conjunction with the execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner by firing squad in Utah.  I see this as a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation of what was taught in the past regarding the doctrine.

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Faith, Knowledge, Belief and Stochastic Theory Part 3: Putting It All Together

June 23, 2010
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In part one I introduced the problem I see with our current understanding of faith, introduced some basic statistics, and weakly drew a comparison to faith. In part two I introduced deductive and inductive reasoning, and showed how Bayesian inference leads to good inductive reasoning. I also gave a brief example of how this might work in real life. In this post I would like to put all these concepts together into at least one way of viewing faith, knowledge, and belief. I will do this by examining the plausible reasoning of three individuals: a stereotypical believing Mormon, a Mormon…

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The Mormon Therapist on Parental Concerns re Toddler Masturbation

June 23, 2010
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The Mormon Therapist on Parental Concerns re Toddler Masturbation

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 am LDS, married, and a stay at home mom of a 2 year old son. He’ll be 3 in October. My concern is about his increasing interest in masturbation. I’m frustrated by the lack of guidance I’ve found on parenting websites, where pediatricians do not deem early masturbation…

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Joseph and Sidney: A Strained Friendship

June 22, 2010
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Joseph and Sidney: A Strained Friendship

The friendship between Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith is very fascinating.  Sidney was one of the earliest, and most impressive converts, joining the church in December 1830.  His training as a Baptist minister was especially helpful to Joseph, and he often preached many wonderful sermons.  As time wore on, there were some really interesting issues between Joseph and Sidney.  Richard Van Wagoner wrote a biography called Sidney Rigdon: Portrait of Religious Excess.  The Missouri and Nauvoo periods were especially tumultuous. With Sidney running the church in Quincy, Joseph and others were still in the Liberty Jail.  Through the first 10…

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Mormonism: Nature Religion or Social Religion?

June 22, 2010
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Mormonism:  Nature Religion or Social Religion?

“God against Man.  Man against God.  Man against Nature.  Nature against man.  Nature against God.  God against nature–very funny religion!” ~Dr. D. T. Suzuki.  Is Mormonism as a restorationist church a “nature” religion or a “social” religion or something in between?

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Official Doctrine vs. Personal Speculation

June 21, 2010
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Mormonism, in its very short history, has a rich tradition of theological speculation.  The foundations of the Church were based on burning desires to know concrete answers about the great mysteries.  The existing answers in the early 19th century felt stale or unsatisfying as the world was changing and new frontiers opened up.  Formerly settled religious questions were thrown back into the ring for debate.  This happened within a frontier tradition attempting to interpret and combine ideas from the newly forming materialistic sciences with the long-established magical world view held in western culture.

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Father’s Day Reflections

June 20, 2010
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Father’s Day Reflections

Stop to capture your answers as you read through the scenario.  Imagine . . .  You have set off to climb a mountain, in search of a fabulously rare stone.  (1)What is your impression of the mountain as you stand at its foot? . . .  After a hard search, you still haven’t found the stone, and now the sun has fallen.  (2) What will you do next? . . . You have finally discovered the stone you were seeking.  (3) What kind of stone is it?  Describe its size, weight, and value. . . Now it is time to come down from…

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How Many Mormons Does It Take to Screw in a Lightbulb?

June 19, 2010
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Today’s post is by Matt Workman.  I waited backstage with my small troupe of comedians. One more act to go, then it was our turn to perform. Would the act on before us whip the crowd into a frenzy? Take all the steam out of the room? Perhaps overshadow our under-rehearsed sketch? The performance started and it took us a while to figure out what was happening, but soon it was painfully obvious: our lead-in act was a PowerPoint presentation. It may not surprise you to learn that the venue for this particular comedy performance was a church activity organized…

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Faith & Doubt

June 19, 2010
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Today’s guest post is by Glenn.  When I was at BYU, I got interested in the study of folklore – the way that traditional culture informs our understanding of the world. I worked in the BYU folklore archives cataloguing missionary stories – encounters with the three nephites, miraculous experiences (some easier to believe than others), initiation stories of greenie missionaries, cautionary tales — just a whole bunch of really interesting stuff. I was hooked.

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