Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wilford Woodruff's 1875 reflections

Excerpts of Wilford Woodruff's 1875 reflections,

...Throughout his life he kept an extensive journal, and at the end of some years, summarized his religious views.

Below are Wilford Woodruff's reflections at the end of 1875 (to read his thoughts at other times, see here). 
Thus Ends 1875 the End of the Centaury of the American Independance.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Faith and Modernity

Excerpts of Faith and Modernity by ALAN WOLFE, New York Times
...  Over the past few years, a number of theories have been offered about the rise of fundamentalism. Roy proposes the most original — and the most persuasive. Fundamentalism, in his view, is a symptom of, rather than a reaction against, the increasing secularization of society.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dant, "Adventures of the Soul" (reviewed by Jonathan Langford)


Title: Adventures of the Soul: The Best Creative Nonfiction from BYU Studies

Thursday, December 23, 2010

LDS History -- Dreams

 LDS-Church-History just completed its second topical analysis.  Actually, the first was  a general history of the church.  The second was on the history of tithing

The next topic will cover Dreams.

Dreams were an important component of early Latter Day Saint spirituality.

Should women have the priesthood? Men much more open to the idea

Excerpts of Why Do Mormon Men Want Women to Have the Priesthood More Than Women Want It for Themselves? by Jana Riess, Belief Net

Authors Robert Putnam and David Campbell asked a wide variety of Americans their opinion about women leading churches. They report that "by 2006 majorities of every religious tradition except Mormons had come to favor women clergy," including 93% of both Mainline Protestants and Jews, and 75% percent of "Anglo" Catholics (p. 243). Even 66% of Evangelicals agreed, as compared with 30% of Latter-day Saints. In fact, only 10% of Mormon women favor female clergy in their church, which in an LDS context means giving women the priesthood. As Putnam and Campbell note, "Mormons, and especially Mormon women, appear to be the only holdouts against the growing and substantial consensus across the religious spectrum in favor of women playing a fuller role in church leadership."

Yet the most remarkable finding is that within Mormonism itself, there is a significant split by gender on this question. The number that looks the most extraordinary to outsiders--that only 10% of Mormon women want the priesthood--seems pretty predictable to those inside the faith. But the finding  that 48% of Mormon men say they favor female LDS clergy is truly startling.

Continue reading

Review: Joseph Smith, Jesus & Satanic Opposition

Excerpts of Review: Joseph Smith, Jesus & Satanic Opposition

Douglas J. Davies, Joseph Smith, Jesus and Satanic Opposition: Atonement, Evil and the Mormon Vision (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010).

Davies argues that Mormonism's force as a religion is intelligible through a relational trinity (Jesus, Satan and Joseph Smith) evoked in three paradigmatic scenes: the Grand Council, Gethsemane and the Sacred Grove.  This intelligibility makes Mormonism Plan of Salvation both accessible and appealing.  Davies' attempts to speak to and through a form of Mormonism which is now fading, or at least shifting, gives this text a liminal quality.  He attributes some of the major shifts in LDS ecclesiology and theology to the reconfiguration of this trinity.  And yet, despite being focussed upon Mormonism's past, his book sensitises members of the Church, and interested observers, to those changes currently occurring.

Continue reading

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gay Activists Attend Mormon Christmas Concert As Invited Guests

Excerpts of Gay Activists Attend Mormon Christmas Concert As Invited Guests by Nick Mattos,

In an act of goodwill towards gays, the Mormon Church invited a group of prominent gay activists to attend the Church's annual Christmas concert.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints issued a formal invitation to a group of gay Mormon activists, including Milk director Dustin Lance Black and WordPerfect creator Bruce Bastian, to attend the Church's official Christmas concert last week.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The FAIR Journal: December 2010

Excerpts of The Fair (The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) Journal, December 2010
  • Communication theorist John Durham Peters; Latter-day Prophecy and Revelation
  • Infallibility and Blind Obedience
  • North American setting for The Book of Mormon?
  • What constitutes LDS doctrine? Does it constantly change?

Mountain Meadows may become national landmark

Excerpts of Mountain Meadows Massacre site may become national landmark by JENNIFER DOBNER, Associated Press
The southern Utah site where Mormons massacred the members of a 19th Century Arkansas wagon train is on its way to becoming a National istoric Landmark.

Loosing faith because of the Internet

Stories like the one below have become common.  I've heard surprisingly high estimates of the numbers of those leaving the church or going inactive because of exposure to troubling information on the Internet.  The following illustrates this phenomena.

Excerpts of Why I Chucked My Mormon Faith and Became an Atheist by Ted Cox, AlterNet

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hedges and Holzapfel, "Through the Lens: The Original 1907 Church History Photographs of George Edward Anderson" (reviewed by Steve Eccles)


Title: Through the Lens: The Original 1907 Church History Photographs of
George Edward Anderson
Author: Andrew H. Hedges & Richard Neitzel Holzapfel

Bigelow and Langford, "The Latter-Day Saint Family Encyclopedia" (reviewed by Reed Russell)


Title:  The Latter-Day Saint Family Encyclopedia
Author:  Christopher K. Bigelow and Jonathan Langford (edited by Don L.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Church softens racial elements in the Book of Mormon

Church removes racial references in Book of Mormon headings
The LDS Church has made subtle — but significant — changes to chapter headings in its online version of the faith's signature scripture, The Book of Mormon, toning down some earlier racial allusions.
The words "skin of blackness" were removed

Friday, December 17, 2010

The American Covenant: Fulfilling the Gospel Promise of One Nation Under God


Title: The American Covenant: Fulfilling the Gospel Promise of One Nation Under God
Author: Timothy Ballard

Mormon Chronicles for mobile devices

Mormon-Chronicles is now compatible with mobile devices.

Pull out your phone and surf to

You can also get Mormon Chronicles via:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jesus as creator, Triassic period

Food for thought.

Picture: Jesus holding and petting a baby dinosaur

Wilford Woodruff's 1868-69 reflections

Excerpts of Wilford Woodruff's 1868-69 reflections,

Significant events occurring during this time frame include:
  • 1869, March 1 -- Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI), a cooperative business system, began in Salt Lake City.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Senators work against Swiss missionary ban

The Mormon temple in Zollikofen, near Bern after its inauguration in 1955
Image Caption:

A group of senators and representatives in the United States is calling on Switzerland to allow Mormon missionaries to continue working in Switzerland after 2012, despite a de facto ban.

The new regulations stem from a

Monday, December 13, 2010

Expound symposium

PictureThe  first  annual   - EXPOUND - symposium will be held on Saturday, 14 May 2011 at the historic Brigham Young Academy building in Provo, Utah.

Come join us for engaging and insightful presentations related to the rich heritage of LDS history, scripture and belief.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wilford Woodruff's 1863-67 reflections

Excerpts of Wilford Woodruff's 1863-67 reflections
Significant events occuring this time frame include:
  • 1862, July 8 -- Morrill antibigamy bill became law, designed to prevent practice of Polygamy in U.S. territories.
  • 1863 August 22 -- Wilford Woodruff predicts the building of the Logan temple
  • 1865 April 14 -- Abraham Lincoln assassinated
  • 1866 October 7 -- First meeting in new Salt Lake tabernacle
  • 1867 December 2 -- School of the Prophets reinstituted
  • 1867, December 8 -- Relief Society program reemphasized by President Brigham Young, under President Eliza R. Snow.
Wilford Woodruff's year-end reflections:
Thus Ends the year 1863. Joseph the Prophet said whoever lived to see 1860 would live to See the Commencement of the downfall of the United States.

The current state of American teenage belief; and how Mormon teenagers are different

...American teenagers follow a mutant creed best understood as "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism." Almost Christian, a popularization of the results of the 2002-05 National Study of Youth and Religion, attempts to help Christian parents, youth pastors, and others who are alarmed at the shakiness and incoherence of most teens' faith.

The content of that faith is simple and as American as a smile in an airport. The tenets of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD) include belief in a god who watches over us and orders life on earth, and whose major moral concern is that humans should be nice to one another

Hedges and Holzapfel, "Within These Prison Walls: Lorenzo Snow's Record Book, 1886-1897" (reviewed by Blair Dee Hodges)


Title: Within These Prison Walls: Lorenzo Snow's Record Book, 1886-1897

Saturday, December 11, 2010

LDS Singles over 30 Survey

LDS Singles 30+ Survey

LDS singles over the age of 30 please take this survey. The information is being gathered to create the documentary "Thirty Seconds to Thirty," which is film about being single and over thirtyin the LDS faith. It tells the story of those who have never married,been widowed or who are divorced.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wilford Woodruff's 1862 reflections

Excerpts of Wilford Woodruff's 1862 reflections

1862 Has past and left its trace upon the Historians Record. It has been a vary important year. It has fulfilled the Historians predictions & the predictions of the prophets

Monday, December 06, 2010

Marriage in middle America in trouble

Executive Summary: In middle america, marriage is in trouble 
In middle America, marriage is in trouble. Among the affluent, marriage is stable and appears to be getting even stronger. Among the poor, marriage continues to be fragile and weak.
But the newest and perhaps most consequential marriage trend of our time concerns the broad center of our society, where marriage, that iconic middle-class institution, is foundering.

Mormon Feminism: A Patheos Symposium

Excerpts of Mormon Feminism: A Patheos Symposium--

Kathryn Soper
As Sisters in Zion: Mormon Feminism and Sisterhood
by Kathryn Soper
It's a good time to stop worrying so much about who's a feminist and who's not, and instead focus on how women who care about gender issues can better cooperate by emphasizing similarities and respecting differences.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Wilford Woodruff's 1861 reflections

Excerpts of Wilford Woodruff's 1861 reflections,
... This year has brought to pass much of the fulfillment of the predictions of the Ancient and Modern Prophets of God. See this Journal Jan 1st 1861. I there declaired as a Prophetic Historian that this year would be the most distressing year America Ever saw since they were an independant Nation. Time has proven it so.

Swinton, "To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson" (reviewed by Larry Jackson)


Title:  To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson
Author:  Heidi S. Swinton

Friday, December 03, 2010

New Release: The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy

Just released, The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy edited by Craig Foster and Newell G. Bringhurst, published by John Whitmer Books in association with the John Whitmer Historical Association.

Description: The first of three volumes dealing with the controversial topic of polygamy and its history in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Proposition 8 case will be televised Monday

Monday on CSPAN-1 at 10 a.m. pacific / 1 p.m. eastern
Justices hear arguments in the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the Proposition 8 (or the California Marriage Protection Act) case. The 9th Circuit is hearing an appeal of an August ruling by U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who presided over a trial that examined such questions as whether homosexuality could be changed and whether same-sex parenting harmed children. Walker wanted to broadcast the trial on the Internet, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 to ban cameras on the grounds that witnesses could be intimidated during testimony. The December hearing will involve legal arguments by lawyers, not testimony by witnesses. The 9th Circuit has said the first hour of the hearing will examine whether the sponsors of Proposition 8 and Imperial County have legal authority, or standing, to appeal Walker's ruling. Standing generally requires an appellant to have been directly affected by a court decision. The state has standing because it enforces Proposition 8, but Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to appeal. The second hour will be spent discussing whether the gay marriage ban violates equal protection rights. Judges: Judge Michael Daly Hawkins Judge Stephen Reinhardt Judge N. Randy Smith 


"New and Improved" Now Fully Live
LDS Newsroom

In September, Newsroom published a story about -- a new version of one of the Church's primary websites that, until now, has been in test form. Beginning today, becomes the official

This latest revision, which includes changes in content, processing and online appearance, also includes upgrades to the search functionality.

Author Interview: James D'Arc, ...The History of Moviemaking in Utah

For nearly a hundred years, the state of Utah has played host to a number of Hollywood films, from potboilers on lean budgets to some of the most memorable films ever made, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Searchers, Footloose, and Planet of the Apes.

When Hollywood Came to Town - The History of Moviemaking in Utah gives you the inside scoop, telling how each film was made, what happened on and off the set, and how audiences reacted.

To learn more about movie making in Utah, check out this Interview of  James D'Arc by Donnie Morris, owner of Confetti Antiques & Books in Spanish Fork

NOM Demanding Prop 8 Appeals Judge Recuse Himself

Excertps of Mormon-NOM Demanding Prop 8 Appeals Judge Recuse Himself,  by Eric at

Note also that one of the three judges who will hear the case is a BYU alumni.

The Mormon-controlled National Organization For Marriage is calling for Judge Stephen Reinhardt to recuse himself from the Prop 8 Appeals Trial because his wife works for the ACLU. Despite the fact that his wife has no significant involvment in the case.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt, prop 8, nom, recuse, gay marriage

Judge Stephen Reinhardt

Judge Reinhardt's wife is the executive director of the Southern Chapter of the ACLU, which has not been involved in the Prop 8 case whatsoever. However because the national organization of the ACLU has been involved, and Mrs. Reinhardt made a personal contribution to the "No On 8″ campaign,  . . .

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Review: Avery, "Hidden Wives" (reviewed by Russell Y. Anderson)


Title: Hidden Wives
Author: Claire Avery (a pseudonym for sisters Mari Hilburn & Michelle Poché)
Publisher: Forge Books
Genre: fiction
Year Published: 2010
Number of Pages: 336
Binding: Paperback
ISBN10: 0765326892
ISBN13:  978-0765326898
Price: $14.99

Reviewed by Russell Y Anderson for the Association for Mormon Letters

(Editor's note: an additional review, by me, will be sent out soon. Russell caught much of the idea of the book; I will have a few additional thoughts.  JN)

Hidden Wives is an engaging story about two sisters and their lives in a polygamous society. The older (by a few months) more beautiful sister Rachel must be "placed" into a marriage before Sarah can be married. Now that they are approaching their 16th year, events are moving forward for those marriages. Sarah is promised to her father's half brother and the prophet must decide which of the 16 men who have received a testimony that they are supposed to marry Rachel will actually be her future husband. That leads to an interesting twist where the prophet decides it should be a 17th man.

I would think that this story is a composite of several real-life stories of people that are living a polygamous lifestyle. However, there is no room in this story for a foundation of faith and religion. For Hidden Wives this is simply an example of lecherous men who let their evil motives control the lives of wives and innocent children.

Even though the Blood of the Lamb church is obviously based on the Mormon church, this book seems to depart from that foundation unnecessarily. No Mormon church would ever have a "massive pine cross suspended from the ceiling above the lectern." (p. 34) Nor would you expect Rachel to have been "soothed" by the cross. Normally, after an opening hymn, there will be a prayer, but one of the apostles gives a short speech instead of a prayer that concludes that a wives duty "is to bear the fruit of your husband's seed" (p. 34). Applause is also very out of place in a Mormon meeting, but it was very common for the Blood of the Lamb meeting.

It would seem that positions of power and influence can be bought in the Blood of Lamb church. I have known of one person who joined a polygamous group in Manti, Utah, who was also ordained an apostle for what seemed to be a response to his large donation. So I suppose that even though this is very foreign for LDS church leadership, this does seem to occur for fundamentalist groups.

We are treated to a short history of Joseph Smith as one of the wives is required to teach school. The facts about Joseph Smith are not always accurate, but that might have been intentional to show the limits of the teacher. For example she says that the Book of Mormon was written in Egyptian, instead of the more accurate "reformed Egyptian" because Hebrew would have taken too much room.

I also find it amazing that just to satisfy a teenager, both he and the two sisters are allowed to participate in a full temple ceremony. But I suppose this could also be an attempt to show the separation from LDS practice of the Blood of the Lamb group.

The girls' father and the prophet are very clearly the villains in this story. The father whips Rachel because other men found her attractive and interesting. They are so easy to hate as they make decisions that violate normal social norms and marriage practices.

It is very interesting to see the process of first Sarah and then eventually Rachel seeing the false foundation of prophet Silver's teachings and decisions. Overcoming racism also find its way into this story as the process of education and growth continues to the point that both Sarah and Rachel are able to escape.

This is a believable story of overcoming indoctrination and limited experiences. It moves well and draws you into the action and events.

Although this is a fun book to read, I think it takes an approach that is too simplistic. It is easy to see polygamy as simply evil men who are guided only by passion. But that doesn't explain the reason for all those that have desired to live in polygamy. If you watched the recent reality TV show "Sister Wives", you saw a very different perspective that showed a loving father and husband that tried hard to live a difficult lifestyle. I think it is too easy to simply assume the worst for the people that practice this type of marriage and family life. It would be more honest to examine the spiritual foundational reasons that lead people to do something that is very much against their cultural background.