The Latest in the Prop 8 Fight

August 6, 2010
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This past week, Judge Vaughn R. Walker in a U.S. District Court ruled California’s Proposition 8 was unconstitutional because it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the US Constitution in that “Proposition 8 harms the state’s interest in equality, because it mandates that men and women be treated differently based on antiquated and discredited notions of gender and that fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote.” (Excerpts from the federal court decision, from the Los Angeles Times Website)

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Commenting Styles, Posting Styles (and you expected a Sunstone Post, didn’t you?)

August 5, 2010
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Ok, I actually have my entire presentation written down, and I could have posted it, so you could read it at Mormon Matters if you aren’t listening to me talk.  But where would the fun be in that? Instead, it is my turn to do a meta post about the bloggernacle.

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Discussing the Temple Initiatory from a Faithful Feminist Perspective

August 5, 2010
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Discussing the Temple Initiatory from a Faithful Feminist Perspective

I recently had my temple recommend renewed and I’ve been thinking about the temple initiatory for women and wishing I could discuss it from a faithful, feminist perspective. Unfortunately, there are some obstacles which stand in my way of doing this. Number one, of course, is the proscription from discussing certain sacred aspects of the temple. I’m a bit more liberal than many in talking of my temple experiences. I think there are certain parts in the temple which we are clearly told not to discuss, and I’m willing to draw the line there. But can we talk about the…

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The Mormon Therapist on Making Kids go to Seminary

August 4, 2010
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I am looking for some advice. I have 3 children. My oldest is a freshman in high school. We are an active LDS Family. My daughter is refusing to attend seminary. We have begged, pleaded, bribed, punished, fasted, prayed and are out of solutions we can think of. Do we allow her to choose to not attend or do we keep trying to find ways to get her to go? I am so exhausted by the fighting but am also worried that not going to seminary will make her choice of colleges exclude church schools. She says she doesn’t even…

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Elder Brown Defines Political Extremism

August 3, 2010
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There are a large majority of Mormons (especially here in Utah) that think the Church is wedded to the Republican Party.  A very interesting letter was read here in Utah on Mar 22, 2010 as Utah prepared for the upcoming Caucus Meetings. Let me quote something very interesting from the letter.  (The full text from the LDS Newsroom can be found here.) “Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of various political parties.” (Emphasis mine.) Why does it seem that many Mormons don’t seem to believe this, despite the church’s oft-quoted emphasis that the church is…

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Why Do People Struggle? (With Poll!)

August 3, 2010
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Through my time in the church, I’ve known many who have left the church, many others who have seemingly never had an issue, and a vast majority who struggled with one aspect or another yet remained active (or resumed activity after a period of inactivity).  What’s your experience with struggling?

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Why Mormon History is Not What They Say

August 2, 2010
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Why Mormon History is Not What They Say

Our controversial guest post today is from Rock Waterman.  Check out the original unabridged post at his blog, Pure Mormonism, so titled from his observation that the organic religion founded by Joseph Smith was nondogmatic and libertarian. A couple of weeks ago Jeff Riggenbach sent me his latest book, Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction To Revisionism. I’ve had a passion for revisionist history for as long as I can remember, but something I read in Riggenbach’s informative volume caught me up short. It was an essential factor that I had never known or considered before,…

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things that scare you

August 1, 2010
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things that scare you

The best advice I ever received was about a month into my mission. I was naturally struggling to learn the first few principles of the first discussion in Japanese, and struggling to stay interested every day in repeating the same brief sentence to everyone: “chotto ii desu ka?” (roughly, “Hi, do you have a minute?”). I met one day with my Zone Leader, who was short, with dark hair and huge hands. He was from Kentucky. We knelt down on the tatami mats and he asked me how things were going. I explained that I was really glad to be…

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Pyramids-R-US

July 31, 2010
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Last week I spent a supper hour (it took that long) reading an article called “America’s Ruling Class – And the Perils of Revolution” by Angelo Codevilla. The overall article is well worth reading to better understand current political debates, but that wasn’t what called my attention to it as a possible subject for Mormon Matters. Rather, the following paragraph toward the end of the Article startled me: “Nothing has set the country class apart, defined it, made it conscious of itself, given it whatever coherence it has, so much as the ruling class’s insistence that people other than themselves…

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Rules, Principles, Seeds & Shells, Part I

July 31, 2010
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Rules, Principles, Seeds & Shells, Part I

I sometimes wonder where the 32nd chapter of Alma would rank in a list of most iconic scriptures in the entire Book of Mormon. It comes up frequently in discussions, so I have plenty of times to revisit it. I think the reason for this is that it introduces a powerful image that — in every sense of the word — is planted within the mind…and sprouts. And so we start…with a single small seed. The seed is a versatile image and metaphor because it is the start of everything: the start of every life; the start of every endeavor;…

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Marriage Counseling: Waste of Money or Balm of Gilead?

July 30, 2010
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I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that most of you could use some good marriage counseling. Yes, you. “…do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us?” –Alma 60:21 I have run into two groups (although there are more) of couples in the church. One group has tried marriage counseling and found it to be mediocre, a waste of money, and even damaging. Unfortunately, this happens. Another group of couples has not really…

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The Dullness of Complaining that LDS Church Meetings are Dull: A Rebuttal

July 30, 2010
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I recently read a piece by Jana Riess on Beliefnet.com “Why Are Mormon Church Meetings So Dull?”. I intended to write an extensive rebuttal on her piece because, frankly, I don’t agree with it. It’s not that I disagree with everything she wrote, it is the implications of some of her points I have a problem with.  And, in a point I think is extremely critical to discuss: Is the meeting itself dull or the people who attend it making it dull for themselves? So, rather than a point by point rebuttal, I offer up a few of my own…

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Higher Criticism, my viewpoint and the Church

July 29, 2010
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I first learned about higher criticism in the context of the archeological excavation of Jericho.  The German higher criticism read was that Jericho never existed and that part of the Bible was a bad gloss.  Perhaps if I had gotten the introduction the other way around, I might have had more interest in something that has such a vainglorious name (“higher criticism” – really?). It did not get much better with my second introduction, when I was doing some research into Ba’l, since the Bible Dictionary reference we inherited for free from the Church of England publishers dates back to…

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Passing the Mantle

July 29, 2010
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Passing the Mantle

OT SS Lesson #29 The prophet Elisha is introduced for the first time in 1 Kings 19.  Elijah has recently had his encounter with the 400 prophets of Baal and the still small voice of God on Mt. Horeb.  On his way from the mountain to the wilderness of Damascus Elijah finds Elisha plowing in a field.  He passes by him and throws his mantle over Elisha.  And scripture says that Elisha arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.  Elisha doesn’t receive another mention until the end of Elijah’s ministry — when Elijah’s mantle falls from him as he is translated and…

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The Moral Panic Causes Trouble in Zion

July 27, 2010
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The Moral Panic Causes Trouble in Zion

Kenny Ballantine is in the process of producing a documentary called Trouble in Zion.  The documentary discusses the events leading up to the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri.  It highlights the Extermination Order and Haun’s Mill Massacre, as well as events leading up to these terrible events.  Kenny showed a pre-release version of the film at the Mormon History Association in Independence, Missouri in May, and he is also showing the film at Sunstone here in Salt Lake City in August.  I really enjoyed the film, and highly recommend it.  I thought Kenny was pretty even-handed, and had experts discuss reactions by…

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Facebook and Marital Fidelity

July 27, 2010
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Facebook and Marital Fidelity

A Salt Lake City news report in early 2009 shared some troubling statistics.  One in 5 divorces in Great Britain cited Facebook in the contributing factors that led to divorce.  In Utah, there has been a corresponding rise in marriage therapists dealing with internet cheating.  It has been reported by some members in various stakes that their SP or bishop has instructed married members never to friend a member of the opposite sex or to drop Facebook membership entirely collectively.  Are such extreme measures warranted? 

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Songs That Touch Our Hearts

July 25, 2010
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Since yesterday was Pioneer Day, I thought I’d share my thoughts on one of my favorite Pioneer Hymns.  Most of you are probably familiar with Come, Come Ye Saints.  It was one of my sister’s favorite songs, and she requested that it be played at her funeral.  While I always liked the song, I can rarely sing it without getting a bit emotional as I think of my sister.

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Should Mormons in the Diaspora Celebrate Pioneer Day?

July 24, 2010
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Should Mormons in the Diaspora Celebrate Pioneer Day?

It has only been in recent years that I have slowly become aware that not every convert to the Church shares my deep identification with the Mormon pioneers. I have loved the epic story of the trek to the Salt Lake Valley. I appreciate its archetypal connotations. My heart thrills with the stories of the pioneer heroes and heroines, and I consider each of their stories part of my legacy as a Mormon, though my LDS heritage begins with myself. In the last few years there has been some grumbling by members who don’t have Mormon pioneers in their genealogy…

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Doubting My Doubts

July 24, 2010
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Doubting My Doubts

I’ve occasionally heard a curious phrase…”Doubt your doubts.” “Be skeptical of your skepticism.” I have wondered what these phrases could mean and of what import they could be. In the past, the sheer foreignness of these admonitions has been like a Langford basilisk to me — I can’t help but take the words in, but my mind, uncomprehending, does not deal with them. Part of this mental incomprehensibility is the voluntaristic nature of beliefs that it presents. I understand that many people think differently, but I do not imagine consciously choosing to believe or to doubt something. Rather, my beliefs and…

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Date Night: When your arguments are always the same…

July 23, 2010
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Date Night: When your arguments are always the same…

Do you ever feel like you and your spouse fight the same way every time? Almost like, “here we go again?” Can you predict how the argument is going to happen before it happens? Chances are you may both be caught in a negative pattern that may be common but can be destructive.

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Ergo the White Shirt and Conformity

July 23, 2010
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Ergo the White Shirt and Conformity

A lot has been written about the oppressive symbol of the white shirt in the Church. I wish to offer a more positive view of this article of clothing.

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Find heroes

July 22, 2010
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I worked for a time on a project involving heroquests and myth structures.  I analyzed historic, legendary and fictional stories and texts, rituals, narratives and constructs.  I was once asked if I ever knew anyone who was truly heroic. Though I did not know it, I did.  My dad.

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Uplifting Non-LDS Music

July 21, 2010
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I really like music. I like just about every kind of music. I like to choose it according to my mood to help me achieve a goal. Perhaps it is to relax, or maybe inspire me. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a distraction. Sometimes it moves me deeply in a very spiritual way. I really like most LDS hymns and children’s songs precisely because they move me spiritually. Nevertheless, there is a plethora of non-LDS songs that lift me spiritually as well.

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Mormon Therapist on Marital Differences with living the Word of Wisdom

July 21, 2010
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When one spouse does not follow the Word of Wisdom but is not being irresponsible (e.g. drinks alcohol responsibly, drinks coffee or tea), what can parents in such a family say to help children understand and not judge the parent due to teachings they receive at church? Would your advice differ if the spouse is a non-member vs. one who has left the church or chooses not to comply with this aspect of his/her religion? Is it best for parents to be open about this or to keep those things (alcohol, coffee, tea) outside the home? How can husbands and…

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Tackling the Mormon Myth about Alice Cooper

July 20, 2010
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Tackling the Mormon Myth about Alice Cooper

If you’re Mormon, you’ve probably heard the myth that Alice Cooper was a Mormon.  Most of you have probably dismissed the myth as complete hogwash.  Well, it turns out there is an element of truth to the myth.  For example, his father’s middle name is Moroni and his grandfather was an apostle!  Yes it is true! Alice Cooper was born with the name Vincent Damon Furnier in Detroit, Michigan.  His  father was a preacher by the name of Ether Moroni Furnier for The Church of Jesus Christ

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Spiritual Guidance: A GC Talk Review

July 20, 2010
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Spiritual Guidance:  A GC Talk Review

I wanted to try a new feature – going through some of the previous GC talks to discuss some of the ideas put forth.  I decided to start with E. Scott’s talk from the Oct 2009 GC session:  To Acquire Spiritual Guidance.  This was a talk I enjoyed when it was first given, although the last 3rd got a little repetitious on the whole porn thing (Did you notice that porn has now gone mainstream?  New motto:  Porn, it’s not just for Priesthood session anymore.)

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Come to….Sunstone, Come to….Sun….stone.

July 19, 2010
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Come to….Sunstone, Come to….Sun….stone.

The wonderfully splendid Salt Lake Sunstone symposium is upon us, once again. When? August 4-7 Where? Salt Lake City Sheraton What? Lots of thoughtful Mormon goodness, including: A plenary with Mr. Deity himself! Our own AskMormonGirl Joanna Brooks on several panels The Book of Job Our Voices, Our Visions: A mormon women’s literary tour encore performance Glenn Beck: Likely mormon or unlikely mormon? Our own BiV (Cheryl) in a panel entitled: “Seeing as Believing” Our own Stephen Marsh, in a panel entitled: “The stories we tell: How an unpleasant truth can be more inspirational than a pleasant fiction” Our own John Dehlin and Natasha…

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The New Mormon.org

July 19, 2010
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The New Mormon.org

Do you ever visit the church’s website for members (at lds.org)? I must confess, I rarely do. It seems so…austere. And somewhat…inorganic. So, I have to confess that as a result, I rarely (if ever) visited the church’s website for non-members (at mormon.org). I thought it would be much of the same, and I thought I’d have to be a little embarrassed for it. …but just a few days ago, the LDS Newsroom (another church site I rarely check…grr, I’m so bad!) announced that Mormon.org had gotten a facelift. I don’t know about you, but I am in awe. Click…

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Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost

July 17, 2010
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Guest Post by Jared The objective of all who are baptized by water should be to receive the baptism of the Spirit. Otherwise, our baptism is incomplete. Baptism has two parts: baptism by water and baptism by the Spirit. (Please reread these three sentences several times.) The prophet Joseph Smith emphasized the importance of being baptized by both water and the Spirit saying, “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and…

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Date Night: What is your couple sexual style?

July 16, 2010
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I was going to law school. Coming home from a mission in Japan, I was going to get a law degree and take Japanese business CEOs golfing and get paid a ton of money. This fantasy lasted right up until I heard a tape by marital researcher John Gottman. I was captivated at how marital conflict could be studied. I have since been immersed in studying couples and relationships, and have been seeing couples in therapy part-time for about three years, primarily using Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). It can be difficult, but is also a privilege to watch. I love…

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Impressions of Martin’s Cove and Other Places

July 16, 2010
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Impressions of Martin’s Cove and Other Places

***Updated with Pictures*** This week, my wife and I took a short road trip while my youngest son was at Boy Scout Camp.  We went into Wyoming and South Dakota, visiting the Mormon Handcart Visitor’s Center, Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Each place was impressive and awe-inspiring.

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