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Introducing Matt B

Matt Bowman spends much of his time figuring out ways to follow the Utah Jazz while living in Washington DC.

49 Posts
Why the Lord’s Supper matters Apr. 13th, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Notes from a lecture, delivered March 25, 2008.

And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Mark 14:22-26

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“I may not get there with you.” Apr. 7th, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Continuing today’s MM theme.

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.

-Robert Kennedy, misquoting Aeschylus, impromptu, forty years ago Friday.

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The raid Apr. 6th, 2008 at 4:04 am

Two days ago state welfare officials raided the compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in El Dorado, Texas.

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Orson Pratt Blows My Mind IV; or, the declension of the classical Mormon apocalypse Apr. 1st, 2008 at 10:11 am

The object in sending “the everlasting gospel” among the nations of Babylon is to save a remnant by literally gathering them out of her midst. St. John says, “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues ; for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Hence, there is connected with the great message of the Book of Mormon, “a voice from heaven,” commanding the Saints to come out from all nations as fast as they obey the gospel message; this they have been doing for these many years, and this they will continue to do, until the work of gathering is fully accomplished. And after the Saints, who are the salt of the earth, are gathered out, those who are left will quickly perish, as did Sodom and Gomorrah. All these events are clearly revealed in the Jewish scriptures; they are also clearly revealed in the Book of Mormon, which comes, saying, that the time is at hand; it is also revealed by the voice of God from heaven, and by the ministry of angels to chosen witnesses sent forth to warn mankind for the last time.

Orson Pratt, “The Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon,” in A series of pamphlets on the doctrines of the Gospel (Chattanooga, TN: The Southern States Mission, 1899) 199.

To be followed by future installments of the Orson Pratt Blows My Mind series.

In which God cuts our throats Mar. 25th, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Dark Night

On a darkened night,
Anxious, by love inflamed,
— O the sheer grace! —
Unnoticed, I took flight,
My house at last at peace and quiet.

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Jeremiah Wright, and Brigham Young, and Samuel the Lamanite, and Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, and Boyd K. Packer, and Isaiah Mar. 18th, 2008 at 6:18 pm

At the History News Network, Ralph Luker makes a valuable point.

Jeremiah Wright’s words, if read politically, are poison. They outrage Americans who are accustomed to thinking and reading first as citizens of a country with noble ideology and honorable commitments. American political language is about exhortation to higher things, reminding us of the beauty of our ideals and praising our heritage.

However, if read another way, Wright’s rhetoric is not political. It is religious. It belongs not to the incendiary drama of the campaign trail, but in the genre of prophecy. It is jeremiad: that form of preaching named for the prophet of fallen Jerusalem. It cries out against moral ills, locating in them the roots of communal weakness, and calls the members of that community to repentance.

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Mormons and Missions II: Daniel Fleming, civilization, and the “lady missionary” Mar. 12th, 2008 at 8:02 pm

By 1910, 55 out of every 100 American Protestant missionaries – a group numbering in the tens of thousands whose reach extended from the cities of the United States to Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America – were women.[1] Furthermore, the congregational associations who supported these missionaries were also dominated by women. Though it could be argued this merely reflects the historic gender gap within Christian congregations, such a boring sociological explanation was not how these missionaries explained themselves to themselves, or how their leaders lauded them.

Rather, it was commonly heard that women’s spirituality was superior to that of men. They had greater skills than men in what was referred to as “Christian nurture,” more talent in creating an atmosphere that enabled the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and presented the gospel in ways more conducive to the emotional, affective conversion experience.[2]

We’ve heard this before, I think, but the argument’s never so far as I’ve heard been applied to the question of mission work among the Mormons. Read more »

Missions and Mormons in the Brick Presbyterian Church Year Book, 1912-1917 Mar. 8th, 2008 at 6:21 pm

I’ve been in the archives of New York for the past little while.

The first two decades of the twentieth century was the golden age of mainline Protestantism. Upper class congregations were secure in their power to influence society, confident in the harmony between their religion, their wealth, their nationality, and, it must be said, wildly optimistic about their ability to “Christianize” and civilize the entire world – two tasks that were more or less understood to be the same thing.

We look back on the comprehensive efforts of nineteenth century Mormonism with fondness, but the children of the pioneers had nothing on Brick Church, a Presbyterian congregation just south of Central Park in New York City.

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The art of prayer Mar. 2nd, 2008 at 6:06 pm

At about 650 different points in the Bible, somebody approaches God in prayer, a rate surely echoed in the other scripture of the Mormon Restoration. These prayers are improvisational (like Samson‘s), in song (as with Hannah’s hymn) and formal litugies (as with Moroni’s transcription of the words of the Eucharist rite). They are offered in joy (The 100th Psalm) and humility (Daniel’s cry of repentance), and anguish (the psalm of Nephi).

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Mormons in the Pew Report Feb. 25th, 2008 at 6:41 pm

A long time ago, I wrote a post discussing, in part, the Pew Forum’s John Green, whose presentation at the Princeton symposium compared Mormonism to other religious traditions in America using the top secret intelligence about faith in America that organization has been gathering for at least nine hundred years.

You will all, I am sure, be as pumped as I to learn that (the first part) of the Pew Report is now available.

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On immigration (and politics): measure twice before you cut Feb. 14th, 2008 at 11:27 am

At Westminster College in Salt Lake City last night, Elder Marlin Jensen of the Seventy spoke on illegal immigration. He noted that the First Presidency had directed him to comment on the issue, and, more particularly, to ask the Utah Legislature (considering right now a variety of punitive measures), to “slow down, step back and carefully study and assess the implications and human costs involved.” This because “a more thoughtful . . . not to mention humane, approach is warranted.”

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What is scripture? Feb. 10th, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Reproduced, somewhat altered, from a recent email to a friend.

Mormons are in a unique place when it comes to scripture. We have problems and opportunities creedal Christians do not.

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How to build a community Feb. 2nd, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Two ideas, first off: Read more »

In Memorial: Gordon B. Hinckley, 1910-2008 Jan. 27th, 2008 at 11:40 pm

In closing I plead with you to control your tempers, to put a smile upon your faces, which will erase anger; speak out with words of love and peace, appreciation, and respect. If you will do this, your lives will be without regret. Your marriages and family relationships will be preserved. You will be much happier. You will do greater good. You will feel a sense of peace that will be wonderful.

-Gordon B. Hinckley, October 2007

Deseret News

Salt Lake Tribune

Are Mormons Evangelical? Jan. 24th, 2008 at 5:31 pm

The problem, of course, is in defining ‘evangelical.’

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A Mormon Bigfoot Jan. 15th, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Thanks to the esteemable Dallas Robbins (see comment number 9), for the past two years or so mine has been the email of choice for folks interested in finding out whether Cain is actually Bigfoot.

This has not been entirely a bad thing. Gmail’s pretty good about spam, and I’ve made a few interesting acquaintances. Their ranks, with one notable exception, are rather less wacky then you might expect. (I found the same to be true of the MUFON people, who asked me to present the paper at one of their Salt Lake City conferences.) They are also somewhat more numerous. Fortunately, the paper is now published,* and I can simply refer my new friends there (after assuring them – to their occasional disappointment, that I cannot provide them a smoking Bigfoot gun).

In any case, because I enjoy blogs that reproduce primary sources, I’ve decided to reprint my correspondence with one such investigator below. I’ve removed his name and everything he wrote, so what’s here are my words, slightly edited.

This hopefully will also provide interested readers with a survey of the paper.

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Three Octobers in sacramental history Dec. 15th, 2007 at 7:11 pm


Arguably the most important moment of the Protestant Reformation occurred October 2, 1529. Read more »

Quick Thoughts on Romney and “The Speech” Dec. 3rd, 2007 at 12:38 am

Here it comes.
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Notes on atonement, the nature of God, and a different Jesus Nov. 27th, 2007 at 3:25 am

Over at BCC, JNS uses the work of the political theorist W. B. Gallie to describe the debate over Mormonism’s Christianity as a struggle between Mormons and the rest of Christendom over the legitimizing title of “Christian.” This is useful because it reminds us that the conflict at its core isn’t based in misunderstanding or bigotry (despite the shallow grasp of the issues that some polemicists like Jack Chick have), but on real theological distinctions.

This holds true, I believe, even for the term “a different Jesus.” Read more »

A kaleidoscopic report on the Princeton conference Nov. 12th, 2007 at 7:17 pm

I attended the Princeton conference, mostly. The following is based on memory rather than notes.


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