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Introducing bfwebster

Convert since 1967; living in Parker, CO, with my sweet wife, Sandra. I also blog at http://adventures-in-mormonism.com.

35 Posts
A Mormon life Oct. 15th, 2011 at 8:39 pm

My late father-in-law, Avard “Andy” Anderson, was far from perfect, as all his children — including my sweet wife Sandra — can tell you. It was in the closing year of his life, dying of cancer, that my wife came to terms with his imperfections and that he earnest sought forgiveness for the same.

Now, nearly 20 years after his death, my wife put together this video, capturing all that she loved and loves about her dad. To go with that are my own words from his funeral, where — by request of my wife’s family — I gave Andy’s eulogy. I felt to post it here (with the video) because there are still — maybe more than ever — those in the Church who are overly concerned about “status” and “accomplishments” within the Kingdom. I stand by everything I said back then:

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Parsing Nephi: First Nephi IV (1 Nephi 15) Oct. 4th, 2011 at 6:00 am

This is fifth in a series examining apparent chapter divisions within the original Book of Mormon manuscript as they apply to Nephi’s writing — here are the earlier posts:

Book of Mormon quotes here, as for the entire series, is taken from The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (Royal Skousen, ed.).

This is the first (though far from the last) time that Orson Pratt”s chapter division matches that found in the 1830 first edition of the Book of Mormon (and, as explained in the first post, apparent chapter divisions indicated as Joseph dictated the contents of the Book of Mormon). This is also quite a bit shorter than Nephi’s first three chapters, which suggest that there may be thematic reasons this chapter stands alone…and I think there are.

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Parsing Nephi: First Nephi III (1 Nephi 10-14) Sep. 27th, 2011 at 4:00 am

Last year, I started a series of articles examining apparent chapter divisions within the original Book of Mormon manuscript as they apply to Nephi’s writing:

I then went on a general blogging slowdown, not just here but on my own four blogs as well. But I decided this past weekend that it was time to get myself in gear and finish up this series. Be sure to read the four posts above and especially the excellent comments to see where I’ve been and where I’m going. The new post is after the jump.

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Gordon B. Hinckley and Mountain Meadow Sep. 21st, 2010 at 11:52 am

Virginia Hinckley Pearce, daughter of Gordon B. Hinckley, talks of taking two trips with her father to the site of the Mountain Meadow Massacre — once as a young girl of six years, and again only a few years before her father’s death. Here’s the first visit:

When he finally parked the car, we got out and walked quite a distance until we came to an inauspicious but distinct rock cairn. It was, I believe, surrounded by a simple low rock wall. We all sat down on the wall and after a few moments of silence, Dad told us the story of the Mountain Meadow Massacre.

I don’t remember, of course, the exact words he used, or even the chronology of the events he recited. What I do remember is the compassion and heartbreak evident in Dad’s voice. He wasn’t angry. He said nothing about who was to blame; he simply related as much of the story as he knew, and expressed incredible sadness about the inhumanity of it all.

Read the whole thing.  ..bruce..

Quote for the week Sep. 14th, 2010 at 10:59 am
Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. . . . Do not anger again because of mine enemies.
— 2 Nephi 4:27-28
Discuss amongst yourselves.  ..bruce..
Like the trash pickup, I’m a day late… Sep. 8th, 2010 at 8:26 am

…because of Labor Day. But the more I read this, the more it makes me chuckle.  ..bruce..

Whoops! It’s Tuesday! I’m supposed to post today… Aug. 31st, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Offensive or funny? You decide.

Topic for discussion Aug. 24th, 2010 at 4:08 am

The theologian corrupts theology by wanting to turn it into a science.
By looking for rules for grace.

Don Colacho (Nicolás Gómez Dávila)

Discuss amongst yourselves.  ..bruce..

New Bible edition! Aug. 17th, 2010 at 9:48 am

From the Onion:

CHICAGO—A new translation of the Bible released this week directly mentions the Second Amendment on eight occasions, and includes a version of Psalm 23 that begins, “The Lord is my shepherd, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Positive early feedback praised the new edition for its clean design, readability, and beautiful rendering of proverbs that condemn the foolish ban on semiautomatic weapons for personal use. “For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you,” Deuteronomy 23:14 reads. “Your camp shall be holy, and if that means exercising your constitutional right to purchase a firearm, then that’s your own damn business.” The leather-bound book also comes with a handsomely crafted carrying case and a fully loaded, nickel-plated Glock 17 8mm.

Heh.  ..bruce..

Another Utah get-rich-quick scheme gone awry Aug. 10th, 2010 at 10:11 am

I’m sure the novel is in the LDS young adult fiction section of Deseret Book.  ..bruce..

The “Utah Mormon” debate, part MCMXVII Aug. 3rd, 2010 at 4:00 am

At the start of this year, I had a journalist write me to ask for my thoughts on the Utah-vs-non-Utah Mormon experience. I replied, but never saw a resulting article, with or without my comments. Given that it’s been six months, I thought I’d post a slightly expanded version of my response here.  I’m not sure if I’ll have anything original to say or add to the subject, but that hasn’t stopped me in the past. Standard disclaimers (these are my own opinions, all generalizations are false, etc.) apply.

First, my own background. I joined the Church in 1967 at age 14 in San Diego, only member of my family to join. After graduating from high school, I attended and graduated from  BYU (1971-78, less two years for a mission [Central America]). Upon graduation in 1978, I lived in San Diego (CA) and Houston (TX). I moved back to Utah in 1985, and left again in early 1988. Otherwise, I have lived in California (both San Diego and the Bay Area), Texas (Houston and Dallas), the Washington DC area (Virginia, Maryland, and in the District itself), and Colorado (outside of Denver). Not counting the BYU wards and Central American branches I attended, I have been a member of 16 wards/branches. I’ve been active since joining and have held a variety of callings, including two stints as a counselor in a bishopric. On the other hand, I’ve had a beard most of my adult life (including during both bishopric stints); make of that what you will.

As I see it, there are at least three key factors that make the experience of being LDS in Utah different than that of being LDS outside of Utah.

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Your thoughts on Godhood, creation, and eternity? Jul. 20th, 2010 at 4:00 am

The age of this universe is currently estimated at just under 14 billion years, though there have been a few recent suggestions that it could be older than that. In any case, LDS concepts of existence and eternity very strongly suggest, then, that all of us predate the universe itself, an axiom I take as given. I also take as given the axiom that God (the Father) created this universe for His purposes (as per Moses 1). This has strong implications of extra-dimensional existence, which I’ve written about before.

However, I occasionally run across comments from Latter-day Saints who, in interpreting the King Follett Discourse (or their understanding of it), seem to feel that God the Father experienced mortality within this universe, that is, He lived a mortal life (albeit in a Christ-like role) on some planet within this universe during the course of its existence.  I don’t believe that — I think that when God the Father “dwelled on an earth the same as Jesus Christ”, that it took place in a  universe and an existence separate from and that predates this universe. In my opinion, that makes far more sense and is far more consistent with other LDS doctrine and scriptures than the “experienced mortality in this universe” idea.

I’m curious, however, what everyone else thinks.  ..bruce..

Thought for the day Jul. 13th, 2010 at 4:00 am

More than one presumed “theological problem” comes only from the lack of respect with which God treats our prejudices.
Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Thoughts at the checkout counter Jul. 6th, 2010 at 11:11 pm
O my beloved son, how can a people like this, that are without civilization — (And only a few years have passed away, and they were a civil and a delightsome people) — But O my son, how can a people like this, whose delight is in so much abomination— How can we expect that God will stay his hand in judgment against us? . . .
And now, my son, I dwell no longer upon this horrible scene. Behold, thou knowest the wickedness of this people; thou knowest that they are without principle, and past feeling; and their wickedness doth exceed that of the Lamanites. Behold, my son, I cannot recommend them unto God lest he should smite me. — Moroni 9:11-14, 20-21
This passage came to mind (semi-humorously, semi-seriously) while looking at the magazines  and tabloids at the checkout stand at the grocery store this afternoon.  Comments?  ..bruce..
Parsing Nephi: First Nephi II (1 Nephi 6-9) Jun. 29th, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Here’s the introduction to this series, and here are the first and second entries. Go read them (if you haven’t already), including comments, then come back here.

So, Nephi has written the first chapter of his “reign and ministry” record on what we refer to as “the small plates”. As noted, Nephi touches on almost every major point of contention between him and his brothers: primogeniture leadership, the brass plates, the sword of Laban, divine calling, being led by God out of Jerusalem, and so on.

Nephi’s second chapter (which maps to 1 Nephi 6-9 in modern editions) is shorter and covers just three major themes:

  • how Nephi’s reign-and-ministry record (the small plates) fits in with all the other plates (the brass plates and Nephi’s other plates)
  • the second trip back to Jerusalem for Ishmael and his family
  • Lehi’s vision of the tree of life

Let’s look at each of these (after the jump).

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Evolution vs. creationism: a startling new perspective Jun. 22nd, 2010 at 7:12 am

From a trusted news source:

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—The process of evolution, through which single-celled organisms slowly developed over billions of years into exponentially more sophisticated forms of life, has inexplicably culminated in local Albuquerque resident Mitch Szabo, leading evolutionary biologists reported Monday.

According to baffled sources within the scientific community, the exact same mechanisms responsible for some of nature’s most spectacularly ingenious adaptations have apparently also produced a 35-year-old office assistant who has only worn pants that actually fit him a total of five times in his adult life.

“The identical processes that have given us the remarkable camouflage of the stick insect and the magnificent plumage of the bird-of-paradise have, it would seem, also given us a man who cannot scramble an egg,” University of Pennsylvania biologist Ann Goldwyn-Ross said. “Despite evolution’s emphasis on the inheritance and replication of advantageous traits, a man walks among us today who sweats profusely in any temperature and went to see Anger Management in theaters twice.”

“Mitch poses a real challenge to the whole notion of survival of the fittest,” Goldwyn-Ross added in reference to the biological triumph who has never held a full-time job for longer than seven months. “He’s turning evolutionary theory on its head.”

. . .

Creationists, meanwhile, have been surprisingly muted in their celebration of a man whose existence would seem to disprove so much of evolutionary theory.

“It’s great that Mitch has been so disruptive to the evolutionist camp,” Jim Moore of the Colorado Springs–based Genesis Ministries said. “But quite honestly, there’s no way we can explain him in terms of a perfect or loving God, either.”

“We’re just going to sit this one out,” Moore added.

Read the whole thing. ..bruce..

P.S. The First Nephi series will continue next week.

Parsing Nephi: First Nephi I (1 Nephi 1-5) Jun. 15th, 2010 at 4:00 am

Here’s the introduction to this series, and here’s the first entry. Go read them (if you haven’t already), including comments, then come back here.


So, Nephi is now starting his second historical record on plates, the first being his transcription/abridgment of his father’s record along with his own historical additions (the “Book of Lehi”, lost with the first 116 pages of manuscript, along with the first few chapters of Mosiah [I told you you should go back and read]). He’s trying to set the record straight, as he sees it, because his brothers are determined to kill him and take over (or wipe out) his people.

And, boy, does he try, touching on almost every major issues between him and his older brothers all within the space of his first chapter (more after the jump).

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Parsing Nephi: First Nephi, title and introduction (1830 edition) Jun. 8th, 2010 at 4:00 am

Here’s the introduction to this series; briefly put, it is looking at the original ‘chapter’ divisions in the Book of Mormon manuscripts (original and printer’s, resulting in the 1830 first edition). As noted in the introduction, it appears from original manuscript evidence that these chapter divisions were somehow indicated on the plates themselves and thus would represent editorial decisions by the author, in this case, Nephi1 (whom I’ll just refer to as “Nephi” hereafter). All my chapter-and-verse citations will use the modern edition, and I’ll link to the LDS Church’s on-line edition; however, when I quote text directly, I will quote from The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (Royal Skousen, editor, Yale University Press, 2009), following Skousen’s layout.

Here is a table that shows how the 1830 edition chapters map into the chapters in the present-day edition.

The rest is after the jump.

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Parsing Nephi: the earliest Book of Mormon text (introduction) Jun. 1st, 2010 at 11:42 am

Most of you are probably aware that the earliest editions of the Book of Mormon (starting with the 1830 first edition) had different chapter divisions than the current LDS editions. The chapter-and-verse divisions that we are used to were devised by Orson Pratt in 1879 for what was the ninth published edition (chronologically speaking); in so doing, he chopped up the original chapters, which were for the most part longer than the ones we have now. For example, First Nephi chapter I in the 1830 edition maps to 1 Nephi chapters 1-5 in the current LDS edition.

What you may be less aware of is that Royal Skousen, as part of his critical text analysis of the Book of Mormon, believes that the (original) chapter divisions existed on the plates themselves:

It appears that Joseph Smith himself specified the placement of the original chapter breaks. In the translation process, Joseph seems to have seen some visual indication at the end of a section that the section was ending; perhaps the last words of the section were followed by blankness. Recognizing that the section was ending, Joseph then told the scrip to write the word chapter, with the understanding that the appropriate number would be added later. Scribal evidence from the original and printer’s manuscripts supports this interpretation. Oliver Cowdery’s Chapter is always written rapidly and with the same ink flow as the surrounding text. But his chapter numbers are almost always written with heavier ink flow and more carefully. In many cases, Oliver took time to add serifs to his roman numerals. And in one case, the chapter number was written in blue ink while all the surrounding words (including the word Chapter) were written using the normal black ink.

The use of the word chapter and he corresponding numbers is not part of the original text and can therefore be considered noncanonical. But the breaks that Joseph Smith apparently saw can be considered a part of the original text and should be indicated in the [critical] text, perhaps by placing white spaces between sections. (Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, Part One: 1 Nephi 1 – 2 Nephi 20, Royal Skousen, FARMS, 2004, p. 44).

Note that, by contrast, the paragraph breaks in the 1830 edition are not extant in the original and printer’s manuscripts and instead were added by the typesetter; ibid., p. 45. [more after the jump]

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Time enough for love May. 25th, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I’m still not sure what triggered this thought (and associated mental images), but I’m pretty sure it happened while listening to random (audio) chapters from the Book of Mormon on my iPhone (that’s the bulk of my scripture study these days — that and random audio chapters from the New Testament).

Let me start with a story I’ve told before (so if you’ve heard it before, apologies). A bit less than 30 years ago, I was visiting Utah from out of state and attended church with an acquaintance of mine. Said acquaintance had a PhD from the Ivy League, of which he was quite proud, and was at that time teaching at BYU; we attended his ward in Orem. Though I was not at that time a high priest, I attended high priest group meeting with him. When it was over, and we were walking back to his home from the chapel (this is Orem, after all), he said something to the effect of: “You know, I look around the high priest group, and I see men such as myself and [named a few others], all with PhDs and academic positions; and I also see 3rd- and 4th-generation farmers who never got beyond high school; and I marvel that the same church and gospel can encompass both.” To which I replied, “Maybe from where God sits, there isn’t any real difference.” He was not amused.

In the years since then, I have continued to dwell on that concept: that in most areas that we discern differences, the Lord sees few, if any. That’s why I smile when I hear the common dismissal of Abrahamic religion as “the local god of some wandering nomads.” We tend to be snobs of space, time, culture, education and wealth — what could we have in common with pre-literate Semitic tribes in 1000 BC? Again, from where God sits, I think the differences between our civilization and theirs are trivial and unimportant, much like two small kids arguing who has the nicer t-shirt. We tout our sophistication, as if sophistication ever led someone towards Christ-like service and love rather than away from it.

What struck me the other day is that we may well be just as myopic when it comes to duration (and circumstances) of mortal life. We see tragedy and inequality in lives “cut short” — while from where God sits, they’re all cut short, they are all cut infinitesimally short, and the major difference between dying at 5 and dying at 50 is that we have a touch more rope to hang ourselves with in the latter case. From an eternal perspective, we’re like 100 billion popcorn kernels popping within the space of a minute or so; the fact that some kernels took a bit longer than others to pop is a fine distinction and one irrelevant to the overall event.

Anne, bless her heart, worries about swearing, while God’s mind and love encompasses her, a tribal chief in Indonesia thousands of years ago, a baby girl put out to starve to death in 12th century AD India, and someone of uncertain gender walking around here on Earth 50 years from now and sees them all equal in His sight. One of the things that rang true in my heart as I learned and converted to the gospel some 43 years ago, and that has continued to ring true for those 43 years, is how encompassing God’s grace and love is.

None of this denies agency, sin, accountability, or evil. But for those of us who stick around in this life long enough to become accountable — and that’s probably less than half of everyone ever born on this planet — He gives us every break and opportunity to make things right and come back to Him.

His grace is not only greater than we imagine, it is greater than we can imagine. And however long or short our lives, God always has enough time to love us home. ..bruce..

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