Sunday, October 31, 2010

Two Mormon chapels torched

Arsonists Torch Two LDS Chapels In South Salt Lake, One Chapel Destroyed, Another Heavily Damaged; Patrick Ehat Arrested


Friday, October 29, 2010

HBO to wrap 'Big Love'

Series creators for HBO's "Big Love" announced today that the series, about a polygamous family in Utah, will come to a close after it returns Jan. 16 for one final season.

"When we created Big Love in 2002, we had a strong conception of the  journey the Henrickson family would make over the course of the  series, of the story we had to tell," series creators Mark V. Olsen  and Will Scheffer said in a press release. "While we were in the  writers' room this year shaping our fifth season, we discovered that  we were approaching the culmination of that story.

Excerpted from "HBO to wrap 'Big Love'" Los Angeles Times

Dark Sisters: opera about FLDS women

"Dark Sisters

The opera follows one woman's dangerous attempt to escape her life as a member of the FLDS Church (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints), a sect that split from mainstream Mormonism in the early 20th Century largely because of the LDS Church's renunciation of polygamy.  The male founders of the Mormon faith (Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, chief among them) have traditionally loomed large in American history; Dark Sisters puts the women of the FLDS sect front and center. 

The narrative draws inspiration from the flurry of media attention surrounding the two most infamous raids on FLDS compounds (the 1953 raid at Short Creek, AZ and the 2008 raid at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, TX) as well as the stories of the over 80 wives of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.  Set against a red-earthed landscape filled with revelations, dark prophets and white temples stretching towards heaven, Dark Sisters charts one woman's quest for self-discovery in a world where personal identity is forbidden. "


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wilford Woodruff's 1847 reflections

Excerpts of Wilford Woodruff's 1847 year end reflections -- from his personal journal:
...In 1889, Wilford Woodruff became the fourth prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Throughout his life he kept an extensive journal, and sometimes summarized his religious views at the end of a year.  Below are his reflections at the end of the year 1847 (to read his thoughts at other times, see here).
 Important events affecting Wilford Woodruff in 1847:
  • 1847 to 1850 -- Fulfills several assignments to help the Saints migrate to Salt Lake City from Winter Quarters and the eastern United States.
  • 1847 April 7 -- Leaves Winter Quarters with the first company of pioneers bound for the Salt Lake Valley.
  • 1847 July 24 -- Enters Great Salt Lake Valley
  • 1847 August 6 -- Rebaptized with members of the Twelve
  • 1847 August 22 -- Great Salt Lake City government organized
  • 1847 August 26 -- Begins return to Winter Quarters, Iowa
  • 1847 October 31  -- Arrives Winter Quarters
  • 1847 December 5 -- First Presidency reorganized with Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Willard Richards
At the end of 1847, Wilford Woodruff recorded the following reflections in his personal journal:

Church History Library materials archived at The Internet Archive

Excerpts of Today in the Bloggernacle: New Joseph Smith Papers website by Emily W. Jensen
[T]he Internet Archive is in the process of scanning materials from the Church History Library and is already up to 118 items! View the Far West "Elder's Journal," the first LDS hymnal or letters from Orson Pratt and Parley Pratt. And much more.

New Joseph Smith Papers website

Excerpts of Today in the Bloggernacle: New Joseph Smith Papers website by Emily W. Jensen

Joseph Smith: A brand new Joseph Smith Papers project beta website is up! This means you can click through a multitude of scanned-in Joseph Smith documents and study them up close. And you can read about people, places and events relevant to the founding of the Mormon church.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Angels in America -- in Utah & New York

This Broadway play explores family, relationships, Mormonism, drug addiction, homosexuality and a call to prophethood by a Moroni-like angel.  It won the Tony for best play in 1993 and 1994.
RadioWest on KUER 90.1
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Angels in America

In 1995, Salt Lake Acting Company was one of the first regional theaters to
produce Tony Kushner's seminal play "Angels in America." SLAC's Keven Myhre says it's a work that helped define the company, so it made sense to make it part of the 40th anniversary season. But "Angels" also opens in New York this week, where seats are already sold-out and the run has been extended. Thursday, Tony Kushner and others join us to talk about the epic work and its place in the American canon.


Join us for RadioWest weekdays at 11 a.m. Mountain on KUER 90.1 and on XM Public Radio Channel 133. You can also catch a rebroadcast of the program at 7p.m. on KUER. Links to books and other resources related to this topic are available on-line at <> This program will also be available on-line for 3 months following its broadcast.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wilford Woodruff's 1846 reflections

Wilford Woodruff's 1846 reflections
... One year ago this night I was in Liverpool England but this night finds me in the midst of the Camp of Israel, at winter quarters in the Omaha Nation in the wilderness in the land of Joseph surrounded by the Lamanites who are poor wreched and miserable and have been so for many generations in consequence of the sins of there forefathers ...

And my prayer to God is that they may remain with us and our Posperity through all time and through all Eternity and that the same blessings may spedily go to the Lamanites and that 1847 may not pass Away untill the Lamanites with their Chiefs may begin to recieve the gospel which the gentiles have rejected and cast out of their midst and that the Lord will spedily deliver us entirely out of their hands and Avenge the spilt Blood of the Prophets  ....

I have myself been called to part with two of my sons which God hath given me. They lie in the dust untill the resurrecton. And I came nigh being killed by accident by the fall of a tree which broke my breast bone and three ribs. ...

And I pray my Heavenly Father to lengthen out my days to behold the House of God stand upon the tops of the Mountains and to see the Standard of Liberty reared up as an ensign to the nations ...

Read more »

Uchtdorf addresses homosexuality

Excerpt of High-ranking LDS leader weighs in on same-sex attraction, by Peggy Fletcher Stack , Salt Lake Tribune -- reporting on the remarks on first Presidency member Dieter F. Uchtdorf  this past Sunday

Mormons may not know until the hereafter what causes same-sex attraction, but "God loves all his children" and expects everyone to do the same

Monday, October 25, 2010

Terryl L. Givens podcast

FAIR Podcast, Episode 2: Terryl L. Givens by bhodges on July 15th, 2010

Terryl L. Givens

Dr. Givens is Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond. He has authored several books, including The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy (Oxford 1997); By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion (Oxford 2003); People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture (Oxford 2007); The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford 2009); and When Souls had Wings: Pre-Mortal Life in Western Thought (2010).

His current projects include a biography of Parley P. Pratt (with Matt Grow, to be published by Oxford in 2011), a sourcebook of Mormonism in America (with Reid Neilson, to be published by Columbia in 2011), a history of Mormon theology (with Steven Harper), and a study of the idea of human perfectibility in the Western tradition. He lives in Montpelier, Virginia.

(Image and info from

To download, right click the link below and select "Save link as…" or download in iTunes here.

Download episode 2

Runtime: 55:26

For this episode host Blair Hodges sat down with Dr. Givens during the Mormon Scholars Foundation Summer Seminar at Brigham Young University. Blair uses selections from Givens's books as jumping off points for further discussion on a wide array of subjects, including: nineteenth-century anti-Mormon literature, the Book of Mormon, prisca theologia, the paradox of searching and certainty, recent developments in Mormon studies, Parley P. Pratt, the preexistence, globalization, thoughtful faith, and dealing with difficult historical and theological puzzles.

Richard Bushman podcast

FAIR Podcast, Episode 3: Richard L. Bushman p.1 by bhodges on October 12th, 2010

Runtime: 61:15

Richard Lyman Bushman is an award-winning American historian, currently serving as the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University and Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University. He is also a general editor of the ongoing Joseph Smith Papers project. Bushman sat down with host Blair Hodges for an extended two-part interview. Part one discusses Bushman's biography of Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling. We discuss polygamy, seer stones, gold plates, and other Joseph Smith-related questions


To download, right click this link and select "Save link as…" or download in iTunes here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Neilson, "Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901-1924" (reviewed by Blair Dee Hodges)

Title: Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901-1924
Author: Reid L. Neilson
Publisher: University of Utah Press
Genre: Mormon Studies
Year: 2010
Pages: 214
ISBN13: 9780874809893
Binding: Paperback
Price: $29.95
Reviewed by Blair Dee Hodges for the Association for Mormon Letters
Heber J. Grant, Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had disappointing news to share at the Church's October 1903 General Conference. "I know that the Latter-day Saints have been greatly interested in the mission I was called to preside over, and I regret I am not able to tell you that we have done something wonderful over in Japan," Grant lamented. The Japanese mission had opened with great excitement in 1901 but progress did not match expectations. "To be perfectly frank with you," Grant added, " I acknowledge I have accomplished very little indeed, as the president of that mission; and very little has been accomplished—so far as conversions are concerned" (120). Grant held out hope that "there will yet be a great and important labor accomplished in that land." But it wouldn't come in his lifetime, as Grant himself directed the "temporary closing of the mission and withdrawal of the missionaries" in 1924, shortly before World War II (120). Eighty-eight missionaries over twenty-three years claimed only 166 baptized converts, only around a dozen remaining active at the time the mission closed (146).
Historian Reid L. Neilson's "Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901-1924" is a concise history of that seemingly-failed missionary effort. The book's careful organization and openness—perhaps its very existence—is evidence of the author's own love for the subject (Reid served an LDS mission to Sapporo, Japan in the early 90s) and love of history (Reid is the current managing director of the LDS Church History Department). Reid argues that the very LDS theology, practices, and traditions that led them to open the Japan mission "were paradoxically also responsible for its eventual demise in 1924" (xi).
Reid's book situates Mormon missionary efforts within the broader and increasingly popular scholarship on Christian missiology. Reid notes that practically all prior treatments of Mormon missiology consist of hagiographic accounts which suffer from a crucial flaw: "they usually lack historical perspective and a relationship with the larger Christian missionary community…As a result, the existing histories of the LDS experience in Asia continue to float outside of the larger historical and academic world" (x-xi). Focusing particularly on Japan, Reid hopes the book will help Mormon and non-Mormon religious scholars better understand the Mormon missionary experience in light of broader American religious history and missiology.
The book is divided into two parts. Part one, "Nineteenth Century Explorations in Asia," describes how Mormons have "mapped" various cultures onto their conception of the world. Early Mormons were intensely focused on the House of Israel and the search for the "elect" whom they would gather into their fold before the millennial return of Jesus Christ. He discusses Mormon interactions with Asia during the nineteenth century and explains how Mormons accounted for aspects of Chinese and Japanese culture which resonated with their beliefs—the "spirit of Christ" which is thought to inspire people regardless of creed or culture, and "diffusionism," which holds that the gospel of Christ was revealed to Adam, later to go through cycles of apostasy and restoration.
Reid describes what he calls the "Euro-American Mormon Missionary Model" and compares it with general American Protestant missionary models (35-58). The model describes how missionaries are trained, financed, and the methods they employ. In part two of the book, "Twentieth-Century Challenges in Japan," Reid reasons that the Mormon model's failure to adapt to circumstances on the ground in Japan account for its failure compared to the larger successes of other American Protestant faiths. Reid's critique of Mormon missionary work is frank and forthright in grappling with the difficulties Mormon missionaries faced (or brought with them) in Japan before withdrawing before World War II. He argues against the hypothesis that President Grant received a revelation to bring missionaries out prior to the war. Perhaps the book's most important contribution is distinguishing an imposing versus an integrating approach of missionary work: "The Mormons, who basically imposed or translated their message, struggled to make headway in Japan, while the American Protestants converted tens of thousands of Japanese, due in large part to their greater willingness to adapt their missionary approach to the needs of East Asia" (119).
Throughout the book Reid is conscious of a broad audience. For instance, he spends more ink on LDS details often glossed over in other works such as the practice of dedicatory prayers, briefly touching on their origins and significance for Latter-day Saints (77-80).
"Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901-1924" is a crucial contribution to Mormon Studies, broadening the scope from the typically-discussed western United States to the wider world of Mormonism. Broader missiology scholars will welcome its bringing Mormon missionary work into the fold. Former LDS missionaries, especially those who served in different cultures and learned new languages, will be interested in the inner-workings of an early twentieth-century mission. Reid discusses literature and translation, tracting and street meetings, convert baptism and retention problems, jingoism and nationalism, polygamy, magic lantern shows, sporting activities, finances, and many other aspects of missionary life. It is a well-documented and well-argued comparison of LDS missionary efforts to the broader Christian desire to "teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19).

Jeffrey Needle

Wilford Woodruff's 1840 reflections

Excerpts of Wilford Woodruff's 1840 reflections,

"... Never have I been called to make greater Sacrifices or enjoyed greater Blessings. I have been called to make a sacrafize of the Society of my wife & children not once beholding their faces, one of which is taken from time. (Sarah Emma is gone to be seen no more in this life.)

The whole year has been spent in a foreign nation combating error with everlasting truth, meeting with many contradictions of Sinners who oppose themselves against the Truth, Being Stoned mobed & opposed. Yet the Lord hath blessed me ..."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Poll: gay suicides thought to be linked to religious messages

Excerpts of Survey links gay suicides to religious messages by Kristen Moulton, Salt Lake Tribune

Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that messages from U.S. religious pulpits are connected to the rising rates of suicide among gay youths, according to a new poll.

72 percent say religion contributes to negative views of gays and lesbians.

[T]oo few Mormons took part to draw conclusions about their own leaders' handling of the homosexuality issue.

The nationwide poll's high percentages startled Cox, whose nonprofit institute conducted it Oct. 14-17, prompted by a rash of teen suicides linked to anti-gay harassment and bullying. 

[M]ore than twice as many Americans give places of worship low marks in handling the homosexuality issue as give them high marks.

Younger people, women and Democrats are most likely to say messages from faith communities contribute to the suicides and negative perceptions of gays and lesbians.

Eric Ethington, a gay-rights activist who organized the protest of Packer's speech, says messages from the pulpit clearly cause stress for gay and lesbian LDS youths. But he suspects most Mormons would give their church high marks on the issue.

"Only members actually affected by it can recognize the [negative] effects," he said.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wilford Woodruff's 1836 reflections

Wilford Woodruff's 1836 reflections

... O time how swift & how precious thou art. How great the events that are bourn upon thy wings, esspecially in the dispensation of the fullness of times.
1836 is gone. It cannot be recalled. Europe hath began to tremble at thy departure. The endowment of the Latter Day Saints hath bspake a God in Israel, & is sufficient to show that though the heavens & earth pass away the word of God spake through the Prophets must all be fulfilled. ....
Continue reading here

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wilford Woodruff's 1835 reflections

I Have been looking at Wilford Woodruff's journals, and have found his occasional philosophizing to be quite interesting.  I wrote up a brief introduction of his life to 1835,  followed by two summaries of his views at the time.  See Wilford Woodruff's 1835 view of life, examiner,com, an excerpt below:
Wilford Woodruff ... kept an extensive journal, and at times, summarized his philosophical and religious views.  Below are the first two such summations, one in mid-1835 and the second at the end of 1835..
... I Consecrated & Dedicated Myself, Properties, and Effects unto the Lord befor the Bishop in Zion on the 31st Dec 1834 A coppy of which is in the fore part of this Journal. This that I may be A lawful heir to the Celestial Kingdom of GOD. ...
... The Sable shades of night have allready spake the departure of 1835 And the Queen of the night is issueing forth her brilliant light to wellcome the dawn of 1836 Which approaches us in a calm to go out in a storm. O momentious & important year which Will hurl thy millions to the tomb & shake Kingdoms & bespeak A God in Israel. O God enable my heart & hands to be clean for A year to come. When God speaks Who can but Prophecy?

Read the entire article here

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dead Sea Scrolls to be made available online

Excerpts of Dead Sea Scrolls to be made available online, by Kevin Flower, CNN

In an ambitious application of 21st century technology brought to bear on a first century wonder, the Israel Antiquities Authority and internet search giant Google Tuesday announced a plan to digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls and make the entire collection available to the public online.

Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) General Director Shuka Dorfman called the project a milestone that would enhance the field of biblical studies and people's understanding of Judaism and early Christianity.

Gallery: Digitizing the Dead Sea Scrolls

The project will employ the latest in spectral and infrared imaging technology to scan the thousands of scroll fragments into one large database.

"This is the ultimate image of the scroll you can get get," explained IAA project manager Pnina Shor, as she showed reporters an example of the imaging. "It presents an authentic copy of the scroll, that once online, there is no need to expose the scrolls anymore."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: Staker, "Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith's Ohio Revelations"




Title: Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith's Ohio Revelations

Author: Mark Lyman Staker

Publisher: Greg Kofford Books

Genre: LDS History, Kirtland History

Year Published: 2009

Number of pages: 694

Binding: cloth

ISBN-10: n.a.

ISBN-13: 978-1-58958-113-5

Price: $34.95


Reviewed by Roy Schmidt for the Association for Mormon Letters


Author Mark Lyman Staker has produced a landmark study placing the revelations received by Joseph Smith while in Kirtland Ohio in a historical perspective. Staker serves as a Senior Researcher in the Church History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has been involved in historic sites restoration for more than fifteen years. He holds a Ph. D. from the University of Florida in cultural anthropology. His book will be of great value to scholars as well as to casual readers.


The book itself is attractive, and well made. Greg Kofford Books deserves accolades in making such a fine product. I found the typeface easy to read, and, while I generally prefer footnotes to endnotes, I feel the choice of endnotes was the correct way to go in this case.


There are several "extras" that appeal to me. The author has provided a fifteen page chronology of events occurring in Kirtland starting May, 1796 and concluding July 6, 1838. Readers will find this addition to be of value. Ten maps help the reader visualize where events took place, and a number of historical photographs (most of which I had never seen) make things come alive. An extensive forty-eight page bibliography will satisfy the needs of those wishing to do additional research. Most exciting to me is a collection of eight sermons by Brigham Young and George A. Smith. LaJean Purcell Carruth, an employee of the LDS Church Historical Department, has transcribed them from the original Pitman shorthand recorded by George D. Watt. They are marvelous.


Staker divides his work into four parts. Part One: Ohio's "Mormonites" introduces us to one "Black Pete" and his involvement in bringing the black "shout tradition" and "speaking in tongues" to the Mormon tradition. I must say I had never heard of "Black Pete" prior to this time, and found the discussion fascinating. We also learn of the Isaac Morley family who set the stage for the concept of communal living among the Saints.


Part Two: Consecration concerns itself with concepts of caring for the poor, and the creation of the office of Bishop. The Newell K. Whitney family is central to this section. Sidney Gilbert and Lyman Johnson also play major parts. I feel I know them better, and have a greater appreciation for their parts in the Restoration. I have a far better understanding of the "Law of Consecration" and the part the Ohio period played in the United Order programs taking place in Utah some years later.


Part Three: "It Came from God": The Johnson Family, Joseph Smith, and Mormonism in Hiram, Ohio. Although the Johnson family is introduced in the previous section, this part of the work centers on them. I had some idea of their contributions to the early church, but Staker puts flesh on the bare bones. There is an interesting chapter on Ezra Booth and his influence on the Johnson family. The same chapter details the story of Joseph Smith healing the arm of John Johnson's wife Elsa. I had not realized it was Booth who introduced Mormonism to Symonds Ryder and his Disciples of Christ congregation. Ryder is one of the little known but fascinating people from the Ohio period. Ryder joined the Church after "hearing a young Mormon girl prophesy about an earthquake that would destroy Peking, China, during the excitement in February over a predicted eclipse, and six weeks later he read a report about the earthquake and was converted. The article was published April 5, 1831 (287)." Booth baptized Ryder in May. The story of the eventual apostasy of both Booth and Ryder is detailed in the following chapter. Author Staker, to my mind, successfully debunks the tale of Ryder leaving the Church because his name was misspelled in the Doctrine and Covenants. More important to Ryder were the doubts he had about consecration. Booth became disillusioned during his mission to Missouri. He was officially "silenced from preaching as an Elder in this Church," on September 6, 1831, and he, refusing to repent, left the Church. Both he and Ryder published letters attacking the Church. Both stories are tragic, and should be explored in greater depth. The coming forth of numerous revelations in the Johnson home, including Section 76, "The Vision," is nicely detailed. The background provided helps me understand and more earnestly appreciate those manifestations.


"Kirtland's Economy and the Rise and Fall of the Kirtland Safety Society" is the subject of Section 4. I would submit this part of church history is one of the least understood of all. To help us understand, the author spends time introducing the reader to the founding of Kirtland, and its development as a community. He looks at the difficulty of the Saints in keeping the commandment to raise funds for, and to actually construct, a temple, the first in this dispensation. Joseph Smith and John Johnson (Jr,?) applied for and received a tavern license on April 5, 1834. The Johnsons ran the place where "(w)hiskey was the second most popular drink, but records indicate the inn also sold rum, wine, brandy, and small amounts of gin." (416) There were also a sawmill, print shop, ashery, and other business enterprises all or in part aiding in reducing the debt of the Church and building the temple. Most of us are aware of the Kirtland Safety Society, and have at least heard of the panic of 1837. We sometimes forget the whole nation was caught up in land speculation, and other questionable activities. Soon the bottom fell out, and the Kirtland economy fell into a severe recession. What happened to the Kirtland Safety Society, and to the leaders of the Church because of their role in it is very heady stuff, and will intrigue the reader.


I must say I find "Hearken, O Ye People" to be a work of great worth. Although the text reads well, the magnitude of the subject will require several readings before one gets the full effect. Author Mark Lyman Staker deserves all the accolades he has or will receive. The book has received a major award from the John Whitmer Historical Association, and I feel more such awards will follow.



Monday, October 18, 2010

Book of Mormon Lands conference

Excerpts of Book of Mormon Lands conference on Oct 23, Mormon Times

The latest research on the Book of Mormon studies including archaeology, geography, anthropology and literary studies will be presented at the Book of Mormon Lands Conference on Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Sheraton Hotel, 150 W. 500 South in Salt Lake City. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

The keynote speaker, Richard Lyman Bushman, will discuss "The Gold Plates in Mormon Thought and Culture."

Featured presenter Ugo Perego will speak on DNA and the Book of Mormon. Perego has given nearly 150 lectures on DNA and how it relates to ancestry, history (including LDS history), and population migrations. He is a leading DNA researcher with his main focus of study being the origins of Native Americans.

see for more info

Friday, October 15, 2010

Should LDS couples be allowed to marry civilly first as a courtesy to those who can't attend the temple ceremony?

Excerpts of Temple Wedding Petition


To our Latter-day Saint friends and families, this petition is NOT about allowing non-members or those who do not hold a temple recommend into an LDS temple. It's about giving LDS couples throughout the world the choice to hold a civil ceremony first (if the couple desires it) prior to temple sealing without the mandatory one year waiting period.

You see, when an LDS couple is married in an LDS temple, Mormon and non-Mormon relatives and friends who, for a variety of reasons do not possess the required 'temple recommend', are excluded from the ceremony. Also excluded are younger siblings, nephews and nieces, or possibly children of the bride or groom; in fact anyone who has not previously received their own "endowment". Under current guidelines and practices as outlined in the Church Handbook of Instructions, no male LDS member under the age of eighteen is eligible for the "endowment" ceremony.  Young women are encouraged to marry and be sealed to a returned missionary in the temple.

This unnecessary and divisive policy (worthy LDS couples who choose a civil marriage first outside of the temple are penalized with a one year wait before they can be "sealed" in the temple) that can foster marital disharmony is harsh for the couple and their loved ones who do not fit the 'acceptable standards' required for entrance into the temple wedding. There are suitable alternatives to this exclusionary policy.

{click here to read further, or to sign the petition}

Waiting outside the temple on wedding day

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Obama's Mormon Ancestry

President Barack Obama's Mormon Ancestry

Barack Obama is the first United States president known to have Mormon ancestry.

President Obama is a great-great-grandson of Nancy Ann Childress Osburn Armour Turner, who was a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS).

President Obama's Mormon Ancestor
Genealogical research reveals that the much-married Nancy Ann Childress (1848-1924) is President Barack Obama's Mormon ancestor. She married 1) James Osburn in 1868, 2) George W. Armour (ca. 1849-1889) in 1871, and 3) James T. Turner who had previously married Nancy's sister, Sarah Catharine. Nancy and James were wed in 1897.

Nancy was born in Clark County, Missouri, the daughter of John Milton and Nancy (Conyers) Childress. (In some records the surname is spelled Childers.) She died in St. Mary's Township, Hancock Co., Illinois. Both of her parents had been born in Kentucky. Her three marriages all took place in Lewis, County, Missouri and there is no indication that any of them were bigamous.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Salt Lake Tribune explains their coverage of Elder Packer

The Salt Lake Tribune, coming under fire from critics from both sides of the issue surrounding Elder Packer's remarks, has issued a rare statement of clarification, explaining the importance of giving voice and coverage to both sides of the issue, especially as Salt Lake's only major independent newspaper.  Excerpts of Tribune reports LDS remarks on gays so you can decide by Lisa Carricaburu, The Salt Lake Tribune
[Tribune reporter Peggy Fletcher] Stack, emphasizes that she did not listen to Packer's talk intending only to extract remarks that would evoke controversy, as some of you alleged. Rather, she recognized his conference speech and those of other general authorities as what they are to LDS faithful: a twice yearly opportunity for leaders to interpret doctrine and offer guidance on issues of the day.
Stack did what good journalists do: She listened carefully and relied on her own expertise and interviewed other experts to provide context and perspective to help readers understand the significance of Packer's remarks. In her story and a follow-up Tuesday, she asked Mormons and the church itself to react. Her assessment of Packer's comments as significant to LDS faithful was apt . His words inflamed passions that go to fundamental beliefs on both sides of the gay-rights debate — for Mormons and non-Mormons alike.
Read the entire article here.

Church says members should stand against homophobia

The Human Rights Campaign delivered a petition to the LDS church decrying Apostle Boyd K. Packer's remarks regarding homosexuality.  After receiving the petition, the LDS church responded.  Excerpts of Church Responds to HRC Petition, NewsRoom
While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men.  We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason.  Such actions simply have no place in our society.
Our parents, young adults, teens and children should ... be especially sensitive to the vulnerable in society and be willing to speak out against bullying or intimidation whenever it occurs, including unkindness toward those who are attracted to others of the same sex. This is particularly so in our own Latter-day Saint congregations. Each Latter-day Saint family and individual should carefully consider ... their attitudes and actions toward others.
The Church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social and physical feelings. The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand and behavior on the other. It's not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.
There is no question that this is difficult, but Church leaders and members are available to help lift, support and encourage fellow members who wish to follow Church doctrine. Their struggle is our struggle. Those in the Church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the Church's teachings can be happy during this life and can enjoy full fellowship with other Church members, including attending and serving in temples, and ultimately receive all the blessings afforded to those who live the commandments of God.

Analysis of the Packer incident

Want to hear more analysis and commentary on Elder Packer's conference address?

Radio West will spend an hour on Wednesday, Oct 12 at 11:00 AM and repeating the show at 7:00 PM on KUER 91 FM in Salt Lake, or streamed live at their website.  The episode will be available later for download or podcast later. 

Details available here.

Integrity of Deseret News called into question regarding coverage of Elder Packer

Times and Seasons blogger Julie M. Smith writes An Open Letter to the Deseret News stating their latest editorial shows "a disturbing lack of integrity."  The letter quotes from the Deseret News:

 "We encourage all to read President Packer's talk rather than simply rely on the media interpretations and selective quotations."

Then the Times and Seasons points out:

You do not mention anywhere in this editorial that reading President Packer's talk means reading a redacted versionnot the version that so incensed gay rights advocates.

Read the charge by Times and Seasons here.

Award winning Mormon historian Richard Van Wagoner dies

On a personal note, as recent as this past weekend, I found myself referencing some writings of Richard Van Wagoner while doing family history ("A Book of Mormons").  Virtually everything I've read by him has been memorable, and enhanced my understanding and influenced my evaluation of Mormon history.  He approached Mormon history courageously, not shying away from difficult areas -- always doing so honestly with solid scholarship.
I appreciated the opportunity to meet him at a study group several years ago.  His speaking ability and commanding knowledge of history was amazing.

I understand he has written a draft of a book dealing with the New York era of Joseph Smith's life.  I look forward to its publication.
Below are excerpts of  Acclaimed Utah, Mormon church historian dies,

A Utah clinical audiologist whose work chronicling Utah and Mormon church history earned him awards and acclaim has died.
Richard S. Van Wagoner died unexpectedly Sunday at his home in Lehi. He was 64.
An official cause of death was not immediately available.
As a historian and author, Van Wagoner was widely published in journals chronicling the history of Utah and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including the Utah Historical Quarterly, Dialogue and Sunstone.
Van Wagoner was best known for his books "Mormon Polygamy: A History" and "Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess."
Van Wagoner is survived by four children, 11 grandchildren and 1 great-granddaughter.

Facebook group supports Elder Packer

Excerpts of Facebook campaign supports Mormon leader's speech, By JENNIFER DOBNER (AP)
A Facebook campaign launched in support of a Mormon church leader's sermon on same-sex relationships has drawn more than 4,500 responses.

The "I support Boyd K. Packer" page was started Oct. 5.

In the speech, he said: "Some suppose that they were born pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember he is our father."

On the website, the word "temptations" has replaced "tendencies" and the question about God's motives has been removed entirely.

National gay rights activists, including the Human Rights Campaign, have denounced the speech as factually inaccurate and dangerous, and have called on Packer to recant his remarks.

A poster from the United Kingdom said those who speak at conferences "say the things we, as a Church, and the world as well, need to hear. They speak the words that Jesus Christ Himself would say, if He were here."

The HRC has said it will deliver more than 150,000 letters to the Mormon church's downtown Salt Lake City office building Tuesday.

A second Facebook site started by a group described as LDS Young Men and Women seeks to counter the HRC effort with its own "We Love You President Boyd K. Packer" campaign. The page calls for Mormon youth to send 100,000 letters of support to Packer by Friday.

"... simply tell him how much we love him and sustain him as a prophet, seer, and revelator," the site organizers wrote. More than 6,800 people had signed on as fans by Monday afternoon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

No stranger to controversy: Elder Packer

Elder Packer has been a bold apostle, not afraid to take a stand.  Doing so has raised the eyebrows of some, while supporters appreciate his bravery in dealing with controversial issues. Below is a brief history of some of those areas he has spoken out on.

-- Jan 17, 1974
The ROLLING STONE publishes an article "The Mormon Word: No Hair, Sex or 3 Dog Night" which tells of the ASBYU Social Office's cancellation of a scheduled appearance by the group "Three Dog Night" immediately after a conference address by Boyd K. Packer. The article quotes Mark Alexander, BYU social vice-president: "In light of Elder Packer's talk, we are taking a closer look at the groups we are booking, and we are making sure we are in harmony with church standards". In the previous Oct General Conference, Packer referred to the "shabbiness, the irreverence, the immorality, and the addictions" associated with many contemporary entertainers, and intimated that the music itself was inherently evil. (1)

-- Feb 1, 1976
While speaking at a twelve-stake fireside at BYU about Mormonism and the arts, Apostle Boyd K. Packer says that some LDS musicians are -more temper than mental.- (1)

-- During 1976
Apostle Boyd K. Packer gives a talk in which he condones physical violence by young men of the Church (including missionaries) against men who appear to be showing sexual interest in them. (2)

-- Jan 8, 1977
Apostle Boyd K. Packer speaks at an anti-ERA [Equal Rights Amendment - providing equal treatment for women] rally in Pocatello, Idaho. He specifically asks that the amendment, originally passed by the Idaho legislature with a two-thirds majority, be rescinded. On the platform with Packer is Allen Larsen, speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives, who was also a stake president. Two weeks later the Idaho Legislature rescinds the ERA vote by a simple majority. (1)

-- Jan 14, 1977
Apostle Boyd K. Packer, in a talk at Brigham Young University, preaches: "We've always counseled in the Church for our Mexican members to marry Mexicans, our Japanese members to marry Japanese, our Caucasians to marry Caucasians, our Polynesian members to marry Polynesians. The counsel has been wise. . . . Plan, young people, to marry into your own race." (1)

-- Feb 1, 1977
Utah Senator Jake Garn, a faithful Mormon, inserts an anti-ERA speech by Apostle Boyd K. Packer into the Congressional Record. (1)

-- Mar 5, 1978
Apostle Boyd K. Packer gives a speech entitled "To the One" during a twelve-stake fireside at BYU. Although the entire speech deals with homosexuality, Packer uses the word "homosexual" only once because,"we can very foolishly cause things we are trying to prevent by talking too much about them." Packer says that finding the cause of homosexuality is an "essential step in developing a cure" and theorizes that the cause "will turn out to be a very typical form of selfishness." (1)

-- Apr 21, 1978
Robert Stevenson, an African-American Mormon, marries Susan Bevan, a white Mormon. They had met at Brigham Young University as students, but her Mormon family questions the viability of the relationship. Stevenson later notes that "everybody from the garbage man to the stake president had told her that marrying me would be to her eternal detriment." They seek an interview with a general authority, Boyd K. Packer. Packer calls in Marion D. Hanks. According to Stevenson, "Elder Packer squared off on one side, and Elder Hanks squared off on the other." Packer argued that Stevenson "could accomplish [his] mission in life and be more effective without being married to a white woman." Hanks said, "I think it's the best thing in the world that you marry Susan. I think that you'll be more effective and you'll be able to break down racial barriers easier." (1)

-- During 1980
[When Apostle Ezra Taft Benson faced a possible rebuke by fellow General Authorities for repeatedly using his church office to promote the politics of the John Birch Society] Ezra's biographer indicates that the most effusively supportive general authority in attendance was Apostle Boyd K. Packer: "How I admire, respect and love you. How could anyone hesitate to follow a leader, an example such as you? What a privilege!"  (3)

-- 22 August 1981.
Elder Boyd K. Packer, speaking to Church Education System personnel, warns that church history, "if not properly written or properly taught, may be a faith destroyer" and may in fact give "equal time" to the "adversary." He states, "There is no such thing as an accurate, objective history of the church without consideration of the spiritual powers that attend this work" and urged taking a selective approach to history. (4)

-- Aug 22, 1981
Apostle Boyd K Packer instructs BYU religion faculty, all seminary and institute teachers, and administrators of Church Education System that Mormon history, "if not properly written or properly taught, may be a faith destroyer," and he affirms that Mormon historians are wrong in publicizing controversial elements of Mormon past [originally scheduled to appear in the February issue of the Ensign, the address is withdrawn but later published in Brigham Young University Studies.] (1)

-- Feb 7, 1982
NEWSWEEK article on the rift between LDS historians and Church leaders: "A major conflict is brewing between professional Mormon historians and a group of church elders who insist that LDS scholars write only `faith promoting' accounts of the church. . . . [Apostles Boyd K. Packer and Ezra Taft Benson] "have been harshly critical of the methods and motives of LDS scholars who attempt `objective' histories of the church.  . . .  Mormon history should be presented as a sacred saga so that students can-in Packer's words-'see the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now.'" The article further quoted a lecture distributed to all Mormon educators in which Elder Packer denounced professional scholars who " write history as they were taught in graduate school, rather than as Mormons" and enjoined LDS historians to write selectively about "the faults and contradictions of church." (1)

-- 28 February 1982.
At a meeting of the B. H. Roberts Society, James L. Clayton of the University of Utah denounces the archival restrictions and challenges Elder Packer's position: "Selecting only those topics and historians that are comfortable in order to lead the membership more easily into the promised land is, to put it bluntly, intellectually and morally irresponsible from the historians' point of view." (4)

-- 10 August 1985.
Speaking at the regional priesthood leadership conference in Winder Stake on 10 August 1985, Elder Packer says: "We are in a time when `magazines' are available which defame and belittle the brethren. Authors are `scratching out' articles which seek these goals--and some young people are following. . . . These people argue, 'i[f] it's true, then say it.' . . . There are those who are crying sin and falsehood about the brethren and the prophets--especially regarding the Manifesto and polygamy. They are `offending little ones.'" Michael Quinn interprets the statement as referring to [his article documenting post-manifesto polygamy]. (4)

-- Mar 10, 1991
DESERET NEWS publishes report by national Associated Press of first counselor Thomas S. Monson's allowance for conscientious objection against Persian Gulf War. Although emphatic that LDS church leaders and membership support national decisions concerning war, Monson adds that a Mormon conscientious objector "can serve in some capacity that will suit his conscience and country together." This contrasts with LDS hierarchy's position during Vietnam War when only public statement was Boyd K. Packer's condemnation of conscientious objectors. (1)

-- 8 August 1992.
An Associated Press story by Vern Anderson quotes church spokesman Don LeFevre's acknowledgment that the "Strengthening Church Members Committee" "provides local church leadership with information designed to help them counsel with members who may hinder the progress of the church through public criticism." It also reports the experience of Omar Kader of Washington, D.C., formerly of BYU's political science department. Kader says a BYU administrator told him that Nelson, then Kader's stake president, kept a file on his political activities as a Democrat in Provo in the late 1970s. Nelson "categorically denied keeping a file on Kader" and also denied "knowing Omar and Nancy Kader."
        Nelson is director of the Evaluation Division, Church Correlation Department, which reports to Elder Boyd K. Packer... (4)

-- May 18,1993
[Utah] Apostle Boyd K. Packer tells All-Church Coordinating Council that LDS church faces three major threats: "The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals." (5)

-- Oct 11, 1993
Steve Benson goes public concerning a conversation he had earlier with Apostle Dallin Oaks concerning Apostle Boyd K. Packer contacting Paul Toscano's stake president, Kerry Heinz, concerning Toscano's disciplinary council [Toscano was one of those excommunicated as part of a purge thought to have been orchestrated by Elder Packer, and would go on to be known as one of the 'September Six']. Oaks had publicly stated that "if Elder Packer is having any conversation with" President Heinz, "it is contrary to what I know about Elder Packer and how he operates." Benson states that Oaks had previously told him that Packer had contacted Heinz and that, "You can't stage manage a grizzly bear," adding that "it was a mistake for Packer to meet with Heinz and a mistake for Heinz to ask for the meeting." (1)

-- Oct 17, 1993
First Presidency issues statement concerning procedures for disfellowshipment and excommunication. 1995-1996 CHURCH ALMANAC states that this was in response to "extensive publicity given to six recent Church disciplinary councils in Utah." Coordinated by instructions from the Strengthening the Members Committee and apostle Boyd K. Packer to their stake presidents, six scholars and feminists had been excommunicated or disfellowshipped in Sep.  (1)

-- Oct 15, 1996
Boyd K. Packer, Twelve's acting-president, tells BYU devotional assembly that Bishops should exercise strict control over LDS funerals because families are conducting funerals where "several family members speak in a funeral, we hear about the deceased instead of about the Atonement." DESERET NEWS notes that he speaks about "unwritten laws" of church conduct, but does not quote or paraphrase Apostle Packer's statements against content of LDS funerals by grieving families. (1)

-- Oct 3, 2010
In a conference address, Boyd K. Packer indicates homosexuals are not born with same-sex attraction. "Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?"  Later that week, several thousand march on Temple Square in protest of his remarks. The following day the church releases an altered version the text of Elder Packers remarks -- with some of the more controversial items changed or removed.

1 - On This Day in Mormon History,
2 - LDS Gay History Timeline [Unabridged],
3 - Quinn, D. Michael; Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought
4 - Anderson, Lavina Fielding, "The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology," Dialogue, Vol.26, No.1
5 - Quinn, D. Michael, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Appendix 5, Selected Chronology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1848-1996

Sunday, October 10, 2010

God in Utah -- a supplement to PBS's God in America

Excerpts of 'God In Utah' gives local flavor to PBS documentary by Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune

KUED-Ch. 7 will air a pair of half-hour programs as supplements to the six-hour "God In America."

As you might expect, "God In Utah" (Monday, Oct. 11, 10 p.m., Ch. 7) opens with a bit of background on the LDS Church and the integral part it played in the establishment of Utah.

KUED also will air a follow-up program, "Utah Voices: God In America" (Wednesday, Oct. 13, 10 p.m., Ch. 7). Ken Verdoia will discuss the series with a panel of religious leaders.

PBS: God in America

Beginning Tomorrow (Monday evening) tune in to God in America ... 
PBS will present three documentaries that explore faith and the varieties of religious expression in the United States — one of the most religiously observant and spiritually diverse countries in the world.

GOD IN AMERICA, a six-hour documentary series from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, will tell the sweeping and dramatic story of religious life in America, examining more than 500 years of American religious history from the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the 2008 presidential election. GOD IN AMERICA will examine this history as it has played out in public life, exploring the complex interaction between religion and democracy in the United States; the origins of the American concept of religious liberty; the dynamics of the ever-evolving American religious marketplace; and the vital role played by religious ideas and institutions in many social reform movements in the country's history.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Elder Packer alters his remarks against homosexuality

Excerpts of Mormon Church makes changes to Packer's sermon regarding homosexuality, ABC 4 News
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has changed the text of Boyd K. Packer's sermon on morality, homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

Packer's sermon claimed that homosexuality was not born of inbred "tendencies."

In the Church's online text version of Packer's talk, the word "tendencies" was changed to "temptations."

During his original talk, Elder Packer spoke of homosexual tendencies saying, "Some suppose that they were pre- set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our Father."

Another change to Packer's talk includes the omission of the entire sentence, "Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?"

As president and the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Packer is next in succession to become president of the church.



Thousands protest remarks of Elder Packer

Excerpts of Thousands of gay activists protest at Mormon Church headquarters, Fox 13
Thousands of gay activists held a silent protest outside the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Thursday.

The protestors expressed outrage to comments made by church leader Elder Boyd K. Packer.

Activists at the protest said the remarks are hurtful and could lead some gay Mormons to suicide.

"Our message is very simple. It's hate speech equal LGBT suicides," said Eric Ethington, Pride in Utah blogger organizer of the event. "You can not tell kids for their entire lives there is something wrong with them. You need to change what's impossible to change and expect them to come out to the other side health."

Ethington organized the event using the social networking site Facebook. He said his event staff counted nearly 4,500 participants involved in the protest, who all wore black in symbolism of the loss of gay Mormons to suicide, who lay down, forming a human chain surrounding the Church's headquarters and Temple Square.

"This last September there were three confirmed suicides LGBT youth in Utah," said Creig Neilson, leader of gay rights organization, the Trevor Project. "In Utah this last weekend there was another one. When these brothers and sisters take their lives, it's because they think that there's no other answer, I understand. When ending your life becomes the better answer, or the better solution, something is wrong."

The LDS Church released a statement in response to the protest saying, "Of course, the Church recognizes the right of groups to voice their opinion in the public square. However, those familiar with the Church's doctrine on the importance of marriage and family know it is based on principles of respect and love for all of God's children."

The Church also issued another statement saying, "We have continually emphasized that there is no room in this discussion for hatred or mistreatment of anyone."

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Gay teen suicide movie in the works by maker of "8: The Mormon Proposition"

Excerpts of '8: The Mormon Proposition's' Reed Cowan Working On Teen Suicide Film, On Top Magazine
Reed Cowan, the openly gay director behind 8: The Mormon Proposition, is working on a gay teen suicide movie.

Proposition is the controversial documentary that exposes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' (the Mormons) involvement in promoting California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8.

He added that the documentary-style, made-for-television film will take a look at some of the gay teens that have called out for help.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The History of Tithing

I mentioned last week that LDS-Church-History was going to be updated and reformatted to a new -- topical approach. 

All the kinks now seemed to be worked out -- and is up and in operation.  The 1st topic is:

The History of Tithing

In addition to being available via blog and email, it is now also available at facebook,  and twitter.

You may be surprised at how interesting the history of tithing is.  Check it out:

Elder Packer's remarks regarding homosexuality stir controversy

Excerpts of FAIR's Front Page for Tues 5 Oct 2010


Mormons divided on LDS apostle's speech on gays

By Peggy Fletcher Stack

Salt Lake Tribune -

Scores of Mormons felt confused and bruised this weekend by LDS apostle Boyd K. Packer's unequivocal condemnation of same-sex marriage and insistence that gays can change their attractions with enough faith.

It wasn't the substance of what Packer said on Sunday during the faith's 180th Semiannual General Conference. No one expected the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to revise the church's stance. The speech prompted thousands of online comments and dozens of blog entries.

What bothered many, they say, was the style of his presentation that left them feeling Packer's views were at odds with the more nuanced and compassionate recent statements by other Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaders.

Packer's words "are an anomaly in the parade of statements coming out of the [LDS] church," said Carol Lynn Pearson, a Mormon writer in northern California who has worked to make gays feel welcome in the Utah-based church.

She pointed to interviews and articles by LDS leaders such as apostles Dallin H. Oaks and Jeffrey R. Holland, as well as the church's own pamphlet on same-sex attraction called "God Loveth His Children."

The speech "hurt my heart," she said in a phone interview, "because I receive all the time e-mails from young gay Mormons who feel so diminished and defeated."

Pearson said Packer's approach seemed so different from the style of Elder Marlin Jensen, LDS Church historian and member of the First Quorum of Seventy, who, while on assignment last month, listened and wept with gay and lesbian members in the Bay Area. . .


LDS Church affirms stance on marriage

Deseret News

The LDS Church on Monday reiterated its stance on same-gender marriage, saying the church's "doctrine on the importance of marriage and family and its implications for same-gender marriage are very clear and are based on principles of truth, respect and love for all of God's children."

Earlier Monday, the Human Rights Campaign called President Boyd K. Packer's Sunday General Conference address "inaccurate." The HRC says it is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.

The LDS Church's statement went on to say: "We have continually emphasized that there is no room in this discussion for hatred or mistreatment of anyone."

The LDS Church pointed out that President Packer's address, along with all General Conference talks, can be viewed in their entirety at


LDS Apostle Says Same-Sex Attraction Can be Overcome

By Joanna Brooks

Religion Dispaches

As has been explored here on RD, Mormonism accords a unique theological priority to marriage as a spiritual rite necessary to salvation. In addition to being theologically orthodox, Packer's message was very much in keeping with the profile he has established in 40 years as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, including a speech to an All-Church Coordinating Council in 1993 declaring gays and lesbians, feminists, and intellectuals "dangers" to the LDS Church.

In the academic discipline of religious studies, there are those who focus on institutional discourses of religion--official church histories, theologies, and declarations--and there are those who study "lived religion," the way the practice of religion feels to those who give their lives to it.

Even as I listened to Elder Packer in the Conference Center and knew his address would be making headlines, what I most wanted to share with Religion Dispatches readers were the "lived religion" images and experiences of 21st century Mormon life in its richness and globalizing diversity. . .


Is there a conflict within the LDS hierarchy over gay marriage?

By Doug Gibson


That's a remarkable statement, an apology for the church's failure to feel empathy for the predicament gay Mormons and others endure on the issue. It's my opinion that Elder Jensen would not have made that public a statement without permission from church leaders. However, the impact of the apology, which received scant attention as it was, is for all intent gone after the forceful statement of senior Apostle Elder Packer. Of course I have no insight into the discussions between general authorities, but I think it's worth suggesting that there is quite a debate over how to approach gay marriage in high-echelon meetings, and Elder Packer's position is winning. . .

Monday, October 04, 2010

Tidbits from the Church Historian

Excerpts of Svithe: What Elder Jensen said (in closing) at -- a report of a fireside in Berkley CA given by Elder Marlin K. Jensen, Church Historian

When called as Church Historian/Recorder, the position had been vacant for several years (about seven). He did not ask President Hinckley why that long hiatus and it's too late now.

Jensen: What are your expectations for me as the Historian.
Hinckley: Read the scriptures and do your duty.
Jensen: What are your expectations of me as Recorder.
Hinckley: I haven't given that a bit of thought. But you better.

The Church is about to begin a big project turning Harmony, Pennsylvania into a Church History site. Upon completion of that, turning US sites into historical attractions will cease and the Church History Department will turn more to the internationalizing of Church History. This has already begun in a small way in Britain and will soon begin in earnest in Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines and other nations.

Each area of the church is working on calling area historians and 50 are already working worldwide to collect the stories of History Happening Now throughout the world.

Minutes for the Council of Fifty and Nauvoo's Relief Society will soon be online, neither of which have ever fully been available before. This is exciting. [That's both a sorta quote and an editorial comment.]

A new Comprehensive History of the Church is being planned for the bicentennial (2030). The expectation is that it will be four volumes with a massive web component.

The Church is beginning to digitize the gazillions [my word, not his] of records in Granite Mountain and hopes to have them online by [. . . 2015?].

The Joseph Smith Papers is selling like gangbusters in its first two volumes, 65,000 and 15,000[?] copies respectively. In addition to the books to be published in hardcopy, everything will eventually end up online.

The Church no longer needs to apologize for itself or its history. We are in the era of transparency. But we will still always have critics.

Coffee, tea linked to lower risk of brain tumor

NEW YORK - Coffee and tea lovers may have a decreased likelihood of developing the most common form of malignant brain tumor in adults, a new study suggests.

The findings, from a study of more than 500,000 European adults, add to evidence from a recent U.S. study linking higher coffee and tea intake to a lower risk of gliomas, a group of brain tumors that makes up about 80 percent of malignant brain cancers in adults.

It does not, however, prove that the beverages themselves confer the protection.

"This is all very preliminary," said lead researcher Dominique Michaud, of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and Imperial College London. "This study shouldn't be the reason that anyone changes their coffee or tea intake."

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Elder Packer discusses same-sex attraction

Saturday, October 02, 2010

BYU grads highly ranked

BYU Grads 11th in WSJ Rankings

Recruiting companies ranked BYU grads 11th in the nation, according to the Wall Street Journal. Entrepreneur magazine and the Princeton Review ranked BYU's entrepreneurship programs fourth.