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Amano Chocolate

Amano Chocolate

If you adore chocolate or know a chocolate fanatic, prepare to feel the love.

For those who don’t already know, Clark Goble (our friend who blogs at Mormon Metaphysics, the Bloggernacle Times and Millennial Star) is a partner in a rather exciting business project designed to make the very best chocolate possible. The business is called Amano Chocolate. Clark and Art Pollard (his partner) are now mass-producing (but in small batches) two types of decadently rich high-cacao content (at least 70%) chocolate bars. One type is labeled as “Madagascar” and the other as “Ocumare.” Read more »

The evangelical historians

For the past twenty or thirty years now, a small cabal of historians has gradually come to dominate much of the writing that goes on in American religious history. The works of two in particular, George Marsden (author of Fundamentalism and American Culture and Jonathan Edwards: A Life, among other works) and Mark Noll (author of America’s God and The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, among other works) have covered the story of American religion from Edwards to the present day several times over. Noll recently succeeded Marsden as professor of American religious history at Notre Dame. Previously, Noll taught at Wheaton College, a self consciously Christian school and Billy Graham’s alma mater (where Nathan Hatch, now president of Wake Forest, once provost of Notre Dame, and author of The Democratization of American Christianity, attended. Marsden taught at Calvin College, a similar school). As this might imply, all these men are committed evangelicals. Marsden and Noll, along with Hatch and sometimes others like Harry Stout or Joel Carpenter, have been dubbed, creatively, “the evangelical historians.”

They also have what increasingly appears to be a single story to tell. Read more »

Mental excersize: Mormon Mennonites

It is often on my mind. Whenever I think about healthful food that’s not only good for me but good for the planet, like vegetables grown without chemicals and animals raised (as well as killed) humanely, it comes to mind. Read more »

A Giant Revolving Door

Melissa Holden lives with her husband and five children in New York City. She gave the following talk on October 22, 2006 at the dedication of the new Upper East Side Manhattan chapel (on 87th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues).

Good evening Brothers and Sisters!

When I accepted the call to speak to you this evening, I pleaded with Heavenly Father to help me know what needed to be said, what we as members dedicating our beautiful new building needed to hear. The witness I received was this: The church has made great strides. We have been blessed with this new building, and with that, the Lord has increased his expectations. For as it says in Luke 12:48:

“to whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”

In other words, we need to take it up a notch. Read more »

Following A Spiritual Impression

Some years ago I had an interesting spiritual experience. My wife and I were living in married housing at the University of Utah. I came home from work one day and had a strong impression that I should kneel down and pray fervently. Read more »

Should every member be hometaught?

One of the questions I have struggled with recently is the need for every member to be home taught.  In our ward has something like 400 families and only the 100 or so active families are even assigned hometeachers leaving the remainder to be contacted by the missionaries or, worse, never contacted.  I think that this makes sense as one cannot give every companionship 35 persons to hometeach as that is a recipe for disaster.  Read more »

The sterilities of natural theology

One thing that we’re awfully proud of in Mormonism is our naturalistic theology. We’re very pleased that we’ve managed to slam closed the ontological gap between God and man. We tell each other, like Brigham Young did, that there are no miracles, just things science doesn’t understand yet. Christ is simply our literal elder brother, spirit is actually matter, God is, happily, bound by natural laws or when we do what he says. We have the works of God reasoned out, be it through the list of things he wants us to do that today’s General Authorities offer or the cosmologies of those who taught at the dawn of the twentieth century.

At some level this troubles me.

Because I keep thinking about the weird majesty of that sea of glass.

Read more »

LDS CIO Tech Talk Summary

I attended the Salt Lake edition of Church’s Tech Talks last night. It was well attended, with the keynote pretty much filling up the chapel on the mezzanine level of Joseph Smith Memorial Building, so I would guess there were about 200 people there. It was an older crowd than I was expecting. I had no idea that there were so many geriatric nerds. Note that there will be a similar gathering in Provo on the 23rd. Follow the link for details. I was going to do a full write up but my brother has beat me to it on his blog. So go visit his site now and then come back. Since we attended the same sessions it would be redundant for me to do the full write up, but I’ll add some comments on things that I found interesting.

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My Favorite Calling(s)

Most Mormons have had the opportunity to serve in numerous callings during their lives.  I have had a variety of callings at both the ward and stake level and currently serve as Sunday School President.  This is arguably one of the easier callings in a ward – particularly a ward with one youth SS class, Gospel Doctrine, and Gospel Essentials – three classes with excellent teachers.  On Sunday, when I was having my PPI with the Counselor in the Bishopric, I started thinking about my favorite calling (note – my current calling is not my favorite calling).  I think it would be a toss-up between Young Men’s, Gospel Doctrine Teacher, and Nursery Assistant.  I have a hard time picking just one.  I loved Young Men’s because of the opportunity to work with very excited teens who are just beginning their exciting journeys toward adulthood, in addition, the activities we did were a lot of fun.  Gospel Doctrine forced me to learn the scriptures and history of the Old Testament in a way I had never done so before.  Finally, Nursery Assistant was just fun – I did not learn much in the way of the Gospel, but I had a lot of fun and it was a way to get some child time (we had no kids at the time) without having a child.  So three different callings are my favorite for three very different reasons.  What was your favorite calling and why?

Visiting Teaching Interviews Today

I am the visiting teaching superviser in our ward, which is a paregoric calling.  Today, I have set up interviews with the presidency.  We scheduled them for every 20 minutes for a three hour period today and Thursday.  I’m setting out small snacks and we had this genius of crafts make the cutest magnets to give the ladies.  It has this poem on it:

 They might not need me, yet they might.

I’ll let my heart be just in sight.

A smile so small as mine might be

     precisely their necessity!

-Emily Dickinson

They are also getting phone books and a ribbon wrapped sheet of paper with ten ways NOT to visit teach (the first reads “have no contact at all.  this is the most convenient way to visit teach” -plagarized from Debra Oaks)

We will ask each one to give an accounting of their stewardship, pat them on the back for their efforts and listen to their problems.  This is why our numbers are in the 80’s.  The mens numbers are in the teens.  Guys, doilies are not all as foo-foo as you might think.

Nerdly Nerding This Thursday

The Church’s CIO is going to be giving his first Tech Talk this Thurdsday at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in SLC.

I should mention that I heard about this through the LDS Open Source Software Mailing List. On that very list my own brother suggested meeting at the Crown Burgers at 5 pm prior to the meeting for dinner. It is the 118 N 300 W location. I’ll be there, wearing my Banner of Heaven t-shirt, assuming I remember it. Feel free to come if any of this interests you?

My beef with our cross-referenced standard works, and the questions it raises

On many levels, of course, an index to scripture makes sense; so many levels as to on the face of it not even need justification. However, there’s one way I think that causes problems. The indexes and crossreferences level out scripture. They allow us to dip into our quads selectively via the artificial concept of the ‘verse’ and stand snippets of thought written miles and generations and cultures apart next to each other as though they were the product of a single voice. This encourages prooftexting and discourages consideration about context, author, and narrative style, a tendency which leads us down the dangerous path of using carefully clipped passages to prove that scriptural authors (or God) think the same way we do about a variety of issues. In sum, the index allows us to reconstruct the standard works according to our own devices as a single, unified body of inspiration in which every sentence is functionally equivalent to every other. In a practical sense, of course, this is exactly how we treat them. In a conceptual sense, however, the concept is more difficult. Read more »

Comparing J-Blogosphere With Bloggernacle

I was looking over the Bloggernacle page at Wikipedia and in the process couldn’t help but notice and compare some linked Wikipedia pages for other religious blogging communities.

For one thing, the wikipedia page for St. Blog’s Parish (the Catholic blogging community) appears to be down – or maybe it never existed.

However, I was intrigued to look at the J-Blogosphere page (for the Jewish blogging community) and some of the things that were on it. The people involved with putting this page together have done some impressive things. I think we can learn something from the comparison (between it and the Bloggernacle page) as well as some of the activities that are described. For example, the JIBs (Jewish-Israel Blog awards) and CampusJ looked like interesting ideas.

It may also be of interest to compare the Wikipedia template pages for Judaism, Islam and Latter-day Saints. These template pages are designed to create boxed sidebar links for many related subjects under a larger category.  The sidebar box can then be added to any related page.

Perhaps as a blogging community we can do some things to help add to and improve LDS-related pages at Wikipedia.

Three Missions of the Church

Did you know that it was Spencer W. Kimball that first articulated the three-fold mission of the Church? I did not, but it made our most recent 5th Sunday of the year especially appropriate given that we were about to start studying SWK and we discussed making the three-fold mission of the Church a personal and family priority during the meeting.

Read more »

Mormons & Global Warming

I just watched “An Inconvenient Truth”, the Al Gore movie on global warming.  First, I should state that I am a scientist and tend to lean slightly liberal in my thinking (at least socially, not fiscally – hmm, sounds like the new Democratic congress).  Nonetheless, I honestly do not know a single scientist who does not think that global warming is an issue (of course the press can find a few hack scientists out there willing to sell their souls – not unlike the hack scientists who claim creationism is a valid science).  In addition, it boggles my mind that anyone could think that there is not a buildup of carbon emissions due to humans and that this buildup won’t have some detrimental effects on the planet (whether or not you think global warming is occurring).  Since Mormons believe that we are stewards of the planet and all things on it, we should be particularly concerned about the effects of carbon emissions on the planet.  I would hate to have questions around my destruction of the planet come up at the judgement - I have enough other issues to deal with there.  My wife and I have tried to do little things like buy programmable thermostats and the new light bulbs to make our house more energy efficient, our next car will be a hybrid, and we unplug all appliances and electronics when they are not in use (Note – I realize minor steps, but every little bit helps).  However, I am perplexed by the blank stares I get in the Mormon community as it is not seen as an issue – perhaps it is due to the quasi-political nature – Mormons tend to be Republicans who tend to not give a hoot about the environment.  Therefore, I have a couple of questions – Why have Mormon leaders been so silent on the issue?  Why are so many Mormons not concerned about it?  What should we as Mormons be doing in our personal lives to reduce our contribution to the problem?

The Molester Is in the Building

He molested his own children, and there were several of them — boys and girls. He served 10 years in prison for it, and now he’s out. This much is public record. He’s now attending our ward again. This is the third time he’s shown up at our ward with a new wife, his previous two marriages ending after he continued to molest children. He is, unfortunately, disarmingly charming. I do not know the status of his membership. He does not hold a calling that I know of, but he is a frequent and articulate participant in class discussions.
Read more »

Mayor Teddy Kollek

I am reading in the news that Teddy Kollek, formerly mayor of Jerusalem for six consecutive terms (twenty-eight years), has passed away at the age of 95. As I heard it, he was a good friend to the LDS Church, a friend who supported the plan to build the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies that now stands so beautifully on Mt. Scopus. This couldn’t have been very easy at the time, as it was a controversial project. Since it was built, that building and its programs have played a very important role in the lives of many LDS people. It is a very special place in that most special, historic and sacred city.

I had the opportunity to meet Teddy Kollek once at the BYU Jerusalem Center. I can’t remember what the occasion or function was but we were in the “upper room” as many of us called it at the time. I remember him as a distinguished older man, dressed very nicely and carrying a cane. He was obviously a VIP guest but he was very approachable and warm. He took time to shake my hand and chat with me for a few minutes. It’s one of those special memory snapshots I’ll always carry around with me.

I’m sure there are a large number of LDS people who have Teddy Kollek stories to tell, though I wonder if any of them read blogs.

Update: Justin B. was kind enough to provide me with some more links (1, 2) of interest regarding Teddy Kolleck. Link #2 is titled: “Reflections on Howard W. Hunter in Jerusalem: An Interview with Teddy Kollek”

Update 2: Now there is an article in the Deseret News as well.

Did Mary have a choice to be Jesus’ Mother?

One thing I have thought a lot about over the recent holidays was stimulated by a discussion I heard on NPR regarding a new movie on the Nativity (thenativitystory.com) that has been released.  One of the callers asked if Mary had a choice in the whole matter.  This really caused me to think.  If God or an angel comes down and tells you that you are going to be the Mother of the Savior of the World, do you or can you say No?  I really don’t think so given the circumstances.  Therefore, it is hard to see how she had a choice (not unlike someone who is called to be a General Authority or General Auxiliary Leader – has anyone really ever said no?).  Not to mention did Joseph have a choice in the matter or did Mary inform him of the impending birth?  Perhaps none of this matters, but as a new parent, I am amazed at the many thoughts and feelings (both positive and negative) one has with a mortal child, but, I could not imagine the feelings of inadequacy or sheer terror (as well as immeasurable joy I am sure) the parents of the Savior must have felt.  Every time He fell down learning to walk or was sick you would feel horrible and very worried.  You would always be second guessing yourself, etc.  Perhaps they had a special comforter with them to help, but, that must have been one nervewracking parental experience – as well as a wonderful experience.