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American Experience: The Mormons

Open thread on the first episode of The Mormons, presented by American Experience and Frontline.  Feel free to chime in with your reactions as you watch.

My Heavy Boat

A lot of people ask me how can I carry my boat everywhere I go. They ask me things like, isn’t it heavy? Don’t you feel silly with that boat on your back? What is wrong with you? And sometimes I ask myself the same thing. What is wrong with me? Read more »

The PBS Documentary

We are pleased to present the following guest post written by Margaret Young:

I was interviewed a total of four times by the Helen Whitney crew in preparation for the upcoming PBS documentary—twice in person and twice on the phone. I was never interviewed on camera, but my co-author, Darius Gray, was. I found every interviewer (all female) to be bright, interested, well-prepared, personable, and easy to talk to.

The word “balance” was the touchstone for everyone involved in the documentary. Read more »

Thoughts on Church: why sometimes less is more. Or, why I have a spiritual hedge fund.

I think that often times we approach Church with the expectations that most or all of the things we learn there will be true, and that people there will be understanding, Christlike, reasonably intelligent, socially competent, open to honest discussion, etc., and that we will come away having had a really good experience at the end of those 3 hours.  If those expectations are firm, some of us are frequently going to be disappointed.  That disappointment can be greatly magnified if we go home from Church without other great experiences and activities during the week to look forward to. Read more »

This Day in LDS History

Of the many significant dates in LDS history, few of us would single April 26 out as one of the more important. However, I can think of few other dates (April 6 for the organization of the church being the most notable) that are specifically mentioned by the Lord in scripture. Read more »

Carried Away

1 Nephi Chapter 1 uses the term “carried away” in two different contexts. Read more »

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Physical Gender vs Spiritual Gender – Is It Really Fixed?

I have recently been thinking more about gender given the continuous push of the Proclamation on the Family that has been occurring. In the Proclamation it states: “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” I interpret this to mean that our gender is fixed since the creation of our premortal spirits and will not change postmortally. This makes inherent sense to me. However, I get confused when I learn there are many instances where children are born neither male or female but with parts of both sexes.
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The Glory of Men

The Deseret News is reporting that Vice President Cheney will be given an honorary degree at BYU’s commencement. My concern, which I’ve expressed on other blogs isn’t that he is being given a platform to speak. It is that he is being honored both by being a commencement speaker and through being given this degree. Imagine the uproar in Utah County if UVSC had given Micheal Moore an honorary degree rather than simply inviting him to speak.

I’m happy that the students of BYU will have the opportunity to hear the Vice President speak, but I’m baffled that a Church affiliated institution would honor a figure such as this right now. I hope students also take the opportunity to hear those that will speak at the BYU Alternative Commencement. That said, I would guess that it won’t be well attended both because of the fact that graduation is a very busy day and because it won’t appeal to the average Cougar. I hope I’m wrong.

Damn It All to Hell: Toward a Christlike Understanding of Profanity

Profanity can sometimes bring a person closer to Christ.

Understanding how this might be the case requires understanding the purpose of language and the appropriate standard for judging right and wrong.

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The weird and transcendent genius of Mormonads

You remember Mormonads. They’re plastered on seminary walls across Utah; they’re waved about by earnest teachers in young adult Sunday school classes. Hordes of eager young Saints undoubtedly wait with bated breath to see which mildly clever pun or timeworn cliché will be enlisted to the moral edification of the youth of Zion in the New Era each month. Read more »

Why 1 Nephi and 2 Nephi?

Here’s a question I ponder from time to time – why are the first two books of the Book of Mormon named 1 Nephi and 2 Nephi?  What merits a division between the two books?  These books appear consecutively and they are named for the same author – so why not just have a larger single book of 1 Nephi?

I have a few speculative answers but I’m curious what others think on the subject.  I’m also wondering if there are any authoritative answers to this question, whether from general authorities or LDS scholars.

Why the old Mitt Romney was better

From the Admin: We’re proud to announce our latest backdoor entrant to our perma-blogger lineup: Dan Ellsworth.

I think LDS folk are watching the Romney candidacy right now with mixed feelings.  On the one hand, they are thrilled to see one of our very best and most competent in a position to make a serious run at the Presidency.  There are people on the left, as well as a lot of Evangelicals in the Republican Party, who are nervous over the prospect of a mormon wielding that level of influence; it is natural to feel that way towards any group that has an elite membership (recommend holders) with access to exclusive places, and institutional secrets.  So when we put a face forward to engage the public, we want it to be someone good and intelligent enough to demonstrate that we are actually rather normal, maybe even boring.  Mitt, in many LDS minds, is the competent and successful PR Moses of the Church, who can bring us the social acceptance we so crave by ascending to become the Mormon leader of the free world.  Read more »

Approaching the MTC

We are pleased to present the following guest post written by Margaret Young:

I am in the process of becoming a former blogger. I haven’t fully extricated myself, but it’s happening. The main motivation for this is that my husband has been called into an MTC branch presidency, serving with missionaries headed for French and Tahitian-speaking missions. (This means I will now learn French.) We will begin serving next week. I simply will not have time for blogging, though I will post an occasional comment, I’m sure. Read more »

Camping and Food

I will be going on a campout pretty soon.  A friend happens to be a ward Scoutmaster and asked me if I’d be willing to come along.  I have fond memories of making tin-foil dinners – but that was many years ago.  I am wondering if there are any food ideas or recipes that people would like to suggest.

Mitt Romney civil marriage

I’m reading a book about Mitt Romney,  A Mormon in the White House, by Hugh Hewitt.     Mr. Hewitt is a non-Mormon who likes us :).  I’m barely into it, you guys, I’m running a million miles an hour these days and I have so little time for blogging.

 But I’ve read something that struck me: Brother Romney was married first in a nice civil wedding so that his wife’s family could see them be married, then they flew to Salt Lake and were sealed in the temple the next day.  I think it was in 1978.

 I recall us talking about it somewhere on the blog and the general understanding was that the church had discontinued this policy. 

 So I called Church headquarters and after being re-directed to the Office of the First Presidency, presented this question.  The secretary (rather coldly, I thought) told me I should call my stake president or bishop and ask them this question.  I called my bishop and he said he didn’t think there was anything prohibiting this practice in the handbook, but that he would check and get back to me.

 I will report back to you, but in the meantime, is anyone aware of the policy?  Has anyone experienced this first hand?

I think it’s awesome if couples can do this and I hope it’s allowed.  I don’t think it detracts in any way from the sacredness of the temple ceremony.  Plus I think it will do much more good than harm in terms of good will.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Strange Coincidences or Purposeful Meetings?

I had a very interesting experience yesterday. I travel 2-3 times a week for work and this week I had to go to Raleigh, NC on Tuesday and Wednesday. Since it was school vacation week in Massachusetts, I had to park in the economy parking as the main parking garages were full (I always park in the main garage). My flight home was delayed two hours and when I finally arrived in Boston, I had to wait 20 minutes for the economy lot shuttle bus. I got on the bus and there were four other people on the bus. The four other people were my Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, and her daughter – the only family my wife and I have in the state. They were returning from a visit to a family member in Texas (I had no idea they were traveling). What is extraordinary about this experience is the number of random events that had to conincide for us to get on the same bus:

1. I had to return on Wednesday as did they
2. Their flight was delayed coming from Texas as was mine from NC
3. We landed at roughly the same time
4. I actually parked in Economy (my uncle said he parks there all the time since it is less expensive)
5. We both parked in the same Economy lot – there are 3 of them, each with a different shuttle bus
6. We got on the same shuttle bus
7. They actually traveled – they fly maybe once a year, if that

I don’t always put purposes to coincidences, although in this case the coincidence is extraordinary. I wonder why such an event occurred given the improbable nature of it. This is the second time such a random experience has occurred in my life.

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On Dutcher, and explaining inactivity

There’s no evidence that Richard Dutcher has left the Church.
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Obedience in Piety and Cowardice

After recess one day in the fourth grade, Mrs. Karns gave us an impromptu quiz on the homonymous words “there” and “their” by pointing to successive students and using one of the homonyms in a sentence. The specified student would spell the word that she had used, she would pronounce her verdict, and she would move on to the next student. Soon after she began, I recognized that Mrs. Karns was alternating each time between “their” and “there.” When my turn came, she broke her alternating pattern. She gave me a sentence that used the same word as the preceding student.

So I faced a dilemma: I could either answer Mrs. Karns according to what I knew was right, or I could answer her according to the pattern that I had observed. I am sorry to report that I gave the answer that conformed to the pattern that I had observed. Read more »

Opposition in this too?

Saturday night, my husband and I attended Easter Vigil at his church.  It was very beautiful and enjoyable.  Rebecca over at FMH has posted eloquently on this already.  After the candles and the singing they held mass.  About mid-way through, I noticed that he looked very uncomfortable.  I asked if he wanted to go but he shook his head.

Later he told me that he’d been experiencing a feeling similar to one of his allergic reactions, except that he hadn’t eaten anything that would cause it.  He said that he wondered if perhaps it was Satan trying to keep him from taking the Eucharist and renewing his covenants.  I firmly told him no.  I didn’t believe that Satan would be able to influence our bodies.  He can tempt us but he can’t make us ill.


Except I’d promised myself I’d go get my Endowments this month and the ear infection I got last week threw a spanner into my plans.   It’s a small thing.  People get infections all the time.  However, with our schedule this month, that small thing may have been just enough.

So now I’m wondering.

My take on Don Imus

I think Don Imus is totally hot. I love to listen to him slur out something pointed and profound and funny. I don’t listen to his show, I’m not that big a fan and I don’t even know what show he’s on. I see him on Larry King once in awhile, that kind of stuff and I have liked what he says. I haven’t always agreed, but I like his unflinching honesty.

I listened to a brief clip of what he said about the Rutgers team (I know absolutely nothing about women’s basketball) and at first it sounded kind of flattering — not the comments, but the tone. It sounded to me like he wasn’t saying “nappy headed ho’s” but tough, good players. But the more I think about it (and believe me, Al Sharpton doesn’t influence me in the least, I think what he was saying is that they looked like gang-bangers or prisoners or scary women. Read more »

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