Monday, July 31, 2006

Utah No. 1 in approval of Bush,1249,640198210,00.html

Utah No. 1 in approval of Bush

State's view in sharp contrast to rest of U.S.

Copyright 2006 Deseret Morning News

By Bob Bernick Jr.
Deseret Morning News

      What do Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Texas all have in common?
Deseret Morning News graphic
      They are the only states in the nation where most residents believe President Bush is doing a good job as president.
      In all other states, most residents disapprove of the job Bush is doing, new polls show. And in some states, the disapproval rates are overwhelming — such as Rhode Island, where three of four residents disapprove of the president's job performance.
      But in Utah, a new survey by Dan Jones & Associates for the Deseret Morning News and KSL-TV, shows that a whopping 66 percent of registered voters surveyed "strongly or somewhat" approve of the job the Republican president is doing.
      Thirty-three percent disapproved of Bush. Only 1 percent of Utahns didn't have an opinion, Jones found. He surveyed 900 voters, the poll having a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent.
      Utahns give Bush the highest job-approval rating of any state in the nation, a separate poll conducted a week ago by SurveyUSA found.
      That poll found that across the nation, 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's job performance, while 37 percent approve — just about an even flip from Utahns' views of the president.
      Why are Utahns so out of step?
      Well, most Utahns just plain like Bush, according to leaders of both political parties. Utahns gave Bush the largest margins of victory of the 50 states in both 2000 and 2004.
      "Bush is a deeply moral man," and that reflects well for him in Utah, a conservative, moral state, said Joe Cannon, chairman of the Utah Republican Party.
      "It's partisanship, plain and simple," said Todd Taylor, executive director of the Utah Democratic Party. The fact that in Utah Bush's job approval numbers are about flip-flop from the rest of the nation's shows that "Utah is a different place, politically," Taylor said.
      Even so, Bush's job approval ratings here "are way down from where they were at his re-election" in 2004, Taylor said. And Utah Democrats will try to build on that during the 2006, midterm election.
      Bush will not be on the ballot in Utah, or anywhere else, perhaps, ever again. But the president can still have an impact, especially here. He will visit Utah at least once before Election Day — he's coming Aug. 30 to speak to the American Legion convention.
      Utah GOP leaders will try to get Bush to appear for Republican candidates, if not during the August visit, then later, Cannon said.
      "Utah is the most red (Republican) state in the nation — even more than Idaho and Wyoming" — two other states that gave Bush a positive approval rating, Cannon said.
      "And we are loyal here — we like our incumbents, even (Democratic U.S. Rep.) Jim Matheson," Cannon said.
      But Utah is also the most LDS state in the nation. And members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no matter where they live, are viewed as a "subgroup some of the most Republican voters in the nation," Cannon said.
      "Something like 90 percent of Mormons vote Republican in presidential races. That is one reason the president is so popular here," Cannon said.
      In fact, Cannon said numbers he's seen show that LDS Church members are more loyal to Republicans in presidential voting than any other identifiable groups. "Mormons are the African-Americans of the Republican Party — something like 90 percent of black Americans vote Democratic.
      "Utahns are a little different than Idaho, Wyoming or even Texas (where Bush was governor) because of the large percent of LDS voters" here, Cannon said.
      Does a Bush visit or two before Election Day harm Democratic candidates' chances here?
      Taylor doesn't believe so — even if Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson, a Democrat, organizes anti-Bush-policy demonstrations in Salt Lake City when the president visits.
      "You don't campaign against Bush," Taylor said. "But you do point out his policies that hurt Utahns — like (the GOP Legislature) picking a parking garage over funding for disabled people's dental care" — a program whose funding has been cut in part because of federal reductions in Medicaid payments.
      "You point out that he tried to privatize Social Security. His tax policies hurt most Utahns. And that many Utahns will pay $1,600 more this year in gasoline prices than they did in 2004 when he was re-elected," Taylor said.
      But, Cannon said, in the end, such arguments don't — and won't — dent Utahns' approval of the president.
      "The president takes on the tough issues that resonate with Utahns," Cannon said. "We are where he is on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. In Utah, Bush will benefit our candidates. It is a big plus just to have him here for a day."


Mormon Church is donatesf food and medical supplies to Lebanon

SALT LAKE CITY _ The Mormon Church is donating three months of food and medical supplies to aid humanitarian relief efforts in Lebanon.

Church officials say around 800-thousand people have been displaced, injured or otherwise affected by the violence.A planeload or powdered milk, baby formula, hygiene kits and medical supplies will depart Salt Lake City on August first.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also donating 50-thousand dollars to meet the increased demand in blood donation services, ambulance response and other family needs in Israel.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium

This year's SLC Sunstone Symposium will be held Aug 9 - 12.  

'Under the motto, "Faith Seeking Understanding," we examine and express the rich spiritual, intellectual, social, and artistic qualities of Mormon history and contemporary life. We encourage humanitarian service, honest inquiry, and responsible interchange of ideas that is respectful of all people and what they hold sacred.'                  
'At Sunstone symposiums, Latter-day Saints and their friends meet to discuss issues of importance and wrestle with knotty questions—striving for understanding and, ultimately, peace.'            
The program can be read here.  For those who don't attend, browsing through the presentations is always a fun exercise.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Maxwell Institute and BYU Studies

It looks like the new Maxwell institute at BYU will now contain BYU Studies.  Here are some exerpts from an announcement:

The Neal A. Maxwell Institute was established earlier this year by the
BYU Board of Trustees. The main purpose of the Maxwell Institute is to
advance the goals of BYU by organizing, producing, and disseminating
the best possible scholarship on ancient scripture and religious
history as well as related subjects of interest to Latter-day Saints
and others.

The Maxwell Institute ... has four departments: The Foundation for Ancient
Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), ... the Middle Eastern Texts
Initiative (METI), ... the Center for Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts
(CPART), ... and WordCruncher.

Since 1959, another campus entity, BYU Studies, has published a
top-quality quarterly journal. As a well-known voice for the community of
LDS scholars in all disciplines, BYU Studies has published hundreds of
articles that bring LDS perspectives to bear on academic subjects using
scholarly insights to elucidate gospel topics. August 24 will mark the linking
of hands as BYU Studies ... moves toward becoming another
department of the Maxwell Institute.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Why high antidepressant use in Utah?,1442,640196840,00.html

Why high antidepressant use in Utah?

BYU professor says LDS Church is not to blame

By Tad Walch
Deseret Morning News

PROVO — The LDS Church shouldn't be blamed for Utah's reputation as
the runaway leader in antidepressant use, says a Brigham Young
University professor.

And membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
clearly has a positive influence on mental health, according to Daniel
K. Judd's review of 540 studies on religion and mental health.

"With few exceptions, Latter-day Saints who live their lives
consistent with the teachings of the (church) experience greater
well-being, increased marital and family stability, less delinquency,
less depression, less anxiety, less suicide and less substance abuse
than those who do not," Judd said Tuesday during a BYU Forum on

Judd earned a doctoral degree in counseling psychology at BYU, where
he is a professor of ancient scripture. He has focused for a decade on
the mental health of the membership of the LDS Church.

In 2001, a pharmacy benefits company released a study of its members
that showed Utahns gulped down more anti-depressants in 2000 than
residents of any other state.

National media outlets did stories, including one published by the Los
Angeles Times during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

Since then, some psychiatrists and church critics have speculated the
LDS faith and culture had something to do with Utahns using
antidepressants at twice the rate Californians did. Some critics say
the church or its culture demands too much of members, especially
women. About 70 percent of Utahns are church members.

Judd said there are no studies that explain the higher use of
antidepressants in Utah, or for that matter in Maine and Oregon — the
other two states with high rates of anti-depressant use.

Judd also offered an explanation of his own.

"Perhaps one of the reasons the residents of Utah lead the nation in
the use of antidepressants is that since they are generally more
educated and aware of the symptoms and treatments of depression, they
are more likely than the residents of other states to seek medical

In fact, he said, a closer look at the pharmacy study showed Utahns
did appear more likely to seek medical help. The state also ranked
first in the use of narcotic painkillers and was in the top three in
prescriptions for thyroid medications, anticonvulsants and

Overall, Utah ranked seventh in total prescriptions.

The president of the Utah Psychiatric Association thinks Judd could be
right. Dr. Michael Kalm said Utahns, for example, are aware of
world-class research conducted at the University of Utah's medical

"We may be more willing to seek cutting-edge, scientifically based
treatment for these disorders, including antidepressants," Kalm said.

Utah's LDS population also might more readily turn to the medical
profession for help because the church advises members not to use
alcohol and tobacco. Research indicates Latter-day Saints in Utah and
elsewhere are less likely to self-medicate, Judd said, with those
drugs or illegal drugs.

Judd said recent surveys show that some LDS women report higher
incidences of depression than women outside the church, but added, "I
am not aware of any study using standardized psychometric tests that
associates Latter-day Saint belief or practice with increased
depression among LDS women, men, adolescents or children."

Judd began to review studies on religion and mental health in 1983.
His look at 540 studies that measured both mental health and any
religious affiliation, belief or practice showed that 51 percent found
a positive association between religion and mental health. Sixteen
percent indicated a negative relationship.

"The majority of studies I have reviewed are supportive of the
assertion that religious belief, and most especially faithful
religious devotion, facilitates mental health, marital cohesion and
family stability," Judd said.

The positive association held true for most religions.

His review also found that 71 percent of studies regarding LDS samples
indicated a positive relationship, with 4 percent negative, 24 percent
neutral and 1 percent mixed.

Critics have also blamed LDS Church teachings and practices for a
higher-than-average rate of suicide in Utah, but Judd cited a study by
BYU and University of Utah professors, published in 2002, that found
the suicide rate among young men active in the LDS Church was
significantly lower than among young men not active or not members of
the church. The results replicated a similar study published 20 years
earlier and was consistent with other studies.

He said recent research also shows that the divorce rate among LDS
couples falls below the national average.

None of the findings should leave the impression LDS Church members
are superior to or have fewer challenges than other people, Judd said.

He also cautioned against perfectionism, acknowledging that LDS
culture does lead some members to attempt too much.

"It's not our theology that's at fault," he said during a
question-and-answer session. "It's our culture, at times. The doctrine
isn't, 'Come unto me, all ye heavy laden, and I'll give you more to
do.' "

BYU holds forum assemblies several times each semester. Each forum is
a lecture by established professors, either from BYU or other
universities, or other experts who share research and insights from
their life's work.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Accounting for One Enoch in Religious Literature: Beowulf, the Book of Moses and LDS Apologetics

CESNUR 2006 International Conference
July 13-16, 2006
San Diego State University, San Diego, California

Accounting for One Enoch in Religious Literature: Beowulf, the Book of Moses and LDS Apologetics

by Daniel HADLEY


Perhaps the most well known and well respected Mormon scholar is the late Hugh Nibley. Nibley's erudition and faith have inspired a new generation of Mormon apologists. In turn, their work has buttressed faithful Latter Day Saints against the research of Nibley's detractors. This paper outlines a debate between scholars over the historicity of the Book of Moses, a volume in the LDS cannon. That debate is compared to similar debates that took place in the field of literary criticism. The point is to provide a case study of LDS
apologetic scholarship by contrasting it to non-biblical literary criticism.

read the entire article here:

New issue of Irreantum

The Association for Mormon Letters is pleased to announce the publication of its newest issue of Irreantum. The focus topic for this issue is "Film and Religion." It includes an essay considering LDS Church filmmaking as propaganda, four film review essays (including a review by Eric Samuelsen on the HBO series "Big Love"), and the reprint of an article written in 1931 by Gordon B. Hinckley on the use of filmstrips in missionary work. This issue also features the first and second-place winning entries from the 2005 Irreantum fiction contest, as well as some wonderful poetry, thoughtful book reviews, and short essays from our readers on "Film and Religion." The complete Table of Contents is included below.

Future issues coming out include a double-issue on Poetry (Generations Old and New), The Mormon Stage (guest editor Scott Bronson), and Youth Literature.

You can still subscribe or renew your subscription to get this issue and future issues delivered to your door. Go to and follow the links to "Irreantum." To check when your subscription expires, contact Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury at You can also visit us at the Sunstone Symposium to sign up for a subscription and/or purchase back issues.

Table of Contents – Irreantum Fall/Winter 2005 (Volume 7, Number 3)

Focus Topic: Film and Religion

    From the Editor

Critical Essay
Propaganda LDS Church Filmmaking: Gentle Persuasion or Ham-Fisted Handling? by Randy Astle and Lee Walker

Aaron Orullian – "Judgment Day"
Shawn P. Bailey – "They Wandered in Deserts"

Heidi Hart – "Slowing the Song," "In Ordinary Time"
Joel T. Long – "Bread and Plums," "St. Catherine's Finger Sonnet"
Sharlee Mullins Glenn – "As the Gods"
Jennifer Quist – "The Man Lehi,", "Bubbly, Bubbly"
Lon Young – "Rumble of the Falls," "Sycamores by the Bagel Shop on Center"
Maureen Clark – "Curious Tree," "Between the Gods"
Colin Douglas – "Psalm"

Reel Observations
Eric D. Snider – Church Ball
Eric Samuelsen – HBO's Big Love: Negotiating Polygamy
Randy Astle – The Ascension of a Saint: New York Doll
Peter Walters –This Divided State: An Exploration in Civility?

Readers Write
"Film and Religion"

    From the Archives

"Romance of the Celluloid Strip" by Gordon B. Hinckley: Missionaries and Technology from The Deseret News (Church Section), May 2, 1936.

Book Reviews
David Pace – Desperately Seeking Spirit: A Review of Martha Beck's Leaving the Saints
R. John Williams – The Jolting Truth: A Review of Gregory Prince and Robert Wright's David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
Lisa Close – The Importance of Identity: A Review of Lael Littke's Searching for Selene
Mahonri Stewart – Nephi Among the Superheroes: A Review of Mike Allred's The Golden Plates, Volume Two: The Liahona and the Promised Land

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bush urges ban on gay marriage

Bush urges ban on gay marriage
Last Updated Sat, 03 Jun 2006 19:48:36 EDT
CBC News

U.S. President George W. Bush on Saturday called again for a
constitutional amendment in his country to ban gay marriage.
George W. Bush blamed 'activist judges' for changes to the definition
of marriage. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

"Unfortunately, activist judges and some local officials have made an
aggressive attempt to redefine marriage in recent years," Bush said in
his weekly radio address.

"An amendment to the constitution is necessary because activist courts
have left our nation with no other choice," he said.

Bush said he believed marriage should be defined as a union between
one man and one woman.

"Marriage cannot be cut off from its cultural, religious, and natural
roots without weakening this good influence on society," he said.

A vote on the proposed amendment is scheduled next week in the U.S.
senate, but it is not considered likely to pass.

An amendment to the U.S. Constitution needs to pass both houses of
Congress with a two-thirds majority, and needs the approval of 38

Bush made a similar call to ban gay marriage more than two years ago
in February 2004.

"Attempts to redefine marriage ... could have serious consequences,"
he said at the time.

Gay marriage has emerged as a contentious issue in U.S. courts in recent years.

Bush noted that voters in 19 states have approved amendments to their
state constitutions aimed at protecting the traditional definition of

European cardiologists urge smoking ban
European cardiologists urge smoking bans

NICE, France, May 30 (UPI) -- Wednesday is "World No Tobacco Day," and
the European Society of Cardiology is observing the event by urging
governments to ban smoking.

The Nice, France-headquartered, ESC also wants higher taxes on tobacco
products to encourage people to not smoke.

"One of the objectives of the ESC is to decrease the number of smokers
in Europe, which will reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease,"
said ESC President Michal Tendera. "To accomplish this we need the
cooperation of politicians who can implement legislation that protects
those who do not smoke from passive smoking, and that imposes high tax
on cigarettes.

"Smoking bans and (high) tobacco taxes, introduced in several European
countries, have proven to be extremely effective in reducing the
number of smokers," he added.

The number of European smokers has dropped by 6 percent from levels 13
years ago, and 80 percent of Europeans told EU pollsters they would
like comprehensive smoking bans implemented.

"Smoking is the biggest totally avoidable cause of death and
disability known to mankind," said Ian Graham, chairman of the
European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation.
"Any support for the growth, distribution or sale of tobacco is
indefensible on public health grounds."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

Marie Osmond's children's shocking behavior

Marie Osmond Shocked By Daughters' Internet Sex Talk

Pop star-turned-doll maker Marie Osmond has launched a personal crusade
to clean up the Internet after learning her two teenage daughters have
been posting sexually explicit correspondence on their

The Paper Roses singer felt compelled to give a statement to US tabloid
National Enquirer after the publication uncovered outrageous content on
her daughters Jessica and Rachael's blogs.

On her site, 18-year-old Jessica, who was adopted by Osmond as an
infant, claims she is a bi-sexual who craves sex "as many times as
possible," while her 16-year-old sister describes herself as a "slut"
and a "whore" in correspondence and opened up about her dreams of
having sex with David Bowie.

In her statement, shocked Marie, a devout Mormon, says, "I am saddened
by some of the choices that two of our children have made.

"The insidious potential for harm from adolescent Internet sites like only exacerbates these kinds of problems.

"If my being a celebrity figure is good for anything, let it be as a
voice of warning to other parents that no matter how protective we
think we may have been with our children in the past, we need to become
more knowledgeable and even more vigilant now in order to protect

MHA awards

Joseph Smith bio claims top award

      CASPER, Wyo. — A highly touted biography of LDS Church founder
Joseph Smith earned top honors Friday at the 41st annual Mormon
History Association conference.
       "Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling," by Columbia scholar
Richard Bushman, was named Best Book on Mormon History. Penned after
decades of research into Smith's life, family and teachings, the book
was published by Knopf last year and received wide critical acclaim.
       Bushman is now working with other scholars and historians of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints toward publication of
the Joseph Smith Papers project. Spearheaded by the Family and Church
History Department and Brigham Young University, the first volumes of
the anticipated 26-volume work are slated for publication in 2007.
       Other winners announced at an awards banquet Friday night are:

      • Robert S. Wicks and Fred R. Foister, Best First Book Award for
"Junius and Joseph: Presidential Politics and the Assassination of the
First Mormon Prophet."

      • Greg Prince and William Wright, Best Biography Award for
"David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism."

      • Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera, Best Documentary
Award for "Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A
Documentary History," and "The Nauvoo Endowment Companies, 1845-1846:
A Documentary History."

      • Stephen C. LeSueur, Best Article Award for "Missouri's Failed
Compromise: The Creation of Caldwell County for the Mormons."

      •Craig Livingston, Awards of Excellence for, "Eyes on the Whole
European World Mormon Observers of the 1848 Revolutions," and Gregory
Prince and Gary Topping for "A Turbulent Coexistence: Duane Hunt,
David O. McKay and a Quarter-Century of Mormon-Catholic Relations."

      Students Matthew Grow, Stanley Thayne and Benjamin Allred were
also honored for their papers. Publisher Robert A. Clark and former
University of Illinois Press associate director Elizabeth Dulaney were
lauded for their contributions to the popularization of Western and
Mormon history.

Reduction of academic freedom diminishes education

Reduction of academic freedom diminishes education
David R. Keller

The dismissal of Brigham Young University adjunct philosophy
instructor Jeffrey Nielsen, on account of an op-ed published in these
pages, brings to light several important issues regarding academic
freedom in different institutional settings.
   First is the difference between private and public academic
freedom. The mission of BYU is the study of reason circumscribed by
faith. Recently at Utah Valley State College, President Kim Clark
responded to my question about academic freedom at BYU-Idaho by
stating that open inquiry is unfettered as long as this scope is
   Those critical of Nielsen's firing are quick to point to the
American Association of University Professors ongoing censure of BYU
for violations of academic freedom. This criticism, however, misses
the point. Private institutions have the right to implement rules and
enforce them, no matter how unfounded those rules may be to public
sensibilities. As long as professors choose to teach, students choose
to enroll and the LDS church chooses to fund, BYU has every right to
its own standards.
   Second are the differences among private institutions. Both Nielsen
and I did graduate work at Boston College, a Jesuit school, where one
morning I saw the chairman of the philosophy department coming down
the hall clutching The Future of an Illusion and The Communist
Manifesto. After greeting him, I remarked on the strange choice of
reading material for a Jesuit priest. He looked into my eyes and said,
"David, I've got to master Freud and Marx so I can explain how they
went wrong."
   This experience contrasts with another at UVSC. I enrolled in a
general biology course, and, on the day we reached the topic of
evolution, attendance dropped from 70 to seven. Puzzled, I quizzed the
instructor, who informed me that this happens semester after semester.
Students decide that evolution is something they do not wish to learn
about - before they learn about it.
   The lesson is that religious cultures have dissimilar philosophies
of education. One approach is to learn about many subjects in order to
engage in dialogue with others, bolstering and promoting one's faith;
the other is to avoid topics which are inconsistent with one's faith


the worry that such exposure could threaten spirituality. Catholics
seem to favor the former approach, LDS and evangelical Protestants the
   No wonder Notre Dame philosophy professor Janet Kournay expressed
befuddlement on KUER's RadioWest June 19 regarding Nielsen and BYU.
Kournay pointed out that Mark Roche, dean of the Notre Dame College of
Arts and Letters, publicly questioned in a The New York Times op-ed
("The Bishops and the Catholic Vote," Oct. 11, 2004) the alignment of
Catholic bishops with the Republican Party.
   Presumably, as inquisitive persons of faith, Roche and Nielsen had
the same motivation in publishing their opinions. But the outcome was
opposite. Roche set an example for thinking Catholics, while Nielsen
set himself up for disciplinary action.
   Third is the question of the role of education in the drama of
democracy. Given the case at hand, is the on-campus silencing of
reasoned concerns by an instructor a favorable example for students
preparing for civil dialogue with persons of a plurality of
perspectives in the public square?
   The answer is no. Democracy cannot function without an educated
citizenry. This requires students be well-versed on complex
public-policy issues. Muting voices in a critical preparatory stage
for citizenship hinders moral education and hampers civic engagement,
no matter the institutional setting.
   Moral injunctions by the upper hierarchy of any social organization
affect the common good. Such injunctions consequently are fair game
for informed critique and frank discussion, those of ecclesiastical
leadership not excluded.
   David R. Keller is director of the Center for the Study of Ethics
and associate professor of philosophy at Utah Valley State College.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

BYU art show

BYU art show to exclude nudes
                  By Rodger L. Hardy
Deseret Morning News                           PROVO — An exhibition of works by
illustrator Burton Silverman will open later this month at the Brigham
Young University Museum of Art.
       Nude illustrations in his collection, however, won't be shown.
       Silverman, who chuckled about the religious university
eliminating his nudes from the show, said he began doing nudes by
visiting burlesque houses.
       "Nudity in public life is relevant," he told the Deseret Morning News.
       BYU officials take exception to that view, maintaining that
nude illustrations are irrelevant to the exhibition that will open
July 29.
       "The purpose of the show was not to show a retrospective of all
of his work," museum spokesman Christopher Wilson said.
       Rather, the exhibition is to show how Silverman, whose works
have appeared on covers of Time and Newsweek, captures the human face
and the essence of humanity.

        "We picked works that reflect what we wanted to show about
Burt's work," Wilson said. BYU officials told Silverman which pieces
they plan to exhibit.
       Nudes don't fit the theme of the exhibition titled "The
Intimate Eye: Drawings by Burton Silverman," he said.
       The museum will exhibit 33 of Silverman's life drawings. Many
were preliminary to paintings, while others were commissioned.
       Silverman's work, which spans four decades, has appeared in a
variety of national publications, including The New Yorker magazine.
       Silverman has exhibited in galleries and museums since 1956. He
has had 30 solo shows in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington,
D.C., the Mexico City Museum of Art and the Royal Academy of Art in
       This is not the first time BYU, which is owned and operated by
       The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has decided
not to show works of art featuring nudity.
       In October 1997, the university attracted attention by refusing
to show four sculptures by 19th century French sculptor
Francois-Auguste-Rene Rodin — "The Kiss," "Saint John the Baptist
Preaching," The Prodigal Son" and "Monument to Balzac."
       A "lack of dignity" was the issue then, not nudity, museum
director Campbell Gray said at the time.
       BYU stored the four pieces until the entire exhibit was
returned to the Cantor Foundation, which loaned the exhibit.

D. Michael Quinn: Joseph Smith's Experience of a Methodist "Camp-Meeting" in 1820

D. Michael Quinn: Joseph Smith's Experience of a Methodist
"Camp-Meeting" in 1820


    Since 1967, disbelieving critics of Joseph Smith Jr.'s accounts of
his "First Vision" of deity have repeated the arguments and evidence
given by minister-researcher Wesley P. Walters against the existence
of an 1820 "religious excitement" (revival) in or near Palmyra, New
York, as affirmed by the Mormon prophet's most detailed narrative.
Since 1969, Smith's believing apologists have repeated the rebuttal
arguments and evidence given by BYU religion professor Milton V.
Backman Jr. in support of such a revival which, Smith declared, led to
his vision in 1820. For four decades, both sides have continued to
approach this debated topic as if there were no alternative ways to
examine the materials Walters and Backman cited, and as if there were
no additional sources of significance to consider. The skeptics have
been uniformly intransigent, while some apologists have made
significant concessions.

    This essay maintains that both sides have examined their evidences
with tunnel vision, while both have likewise ignored issues and
documents crucial to the topic. As an alternative to myopic
polarization, this essay provides new ways of understanding Joseph's
narrative, analyzes previously neglected issues/data, and establishes
a basis for perceiving in detail what the teenage boy experienced in
the religious revivalism that led to his first theophany. This is
conservative revisionism.

Rebuilding the Neaderthal genome

454 and Max Planck Institute to Sequence Neanderthal Genome

By Kevin Davies, Bio-IT World

July 20, 2006 | At a press conference in Leipzig, Germany, today, 454 Life Sciences announced that it is embarking on a collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Leipzig, to sequence the Neanderthal genome.

The German team is led by institute director Svante Pääbo, the acclaimed evolutionary geneticist. In 1997, Pääbo's team published a landmark paper in the journal Cell in which it painstakingly purified and sequenced a small fragment of mitochondrial DNA from the original Neanderthal fossil, uncovered in a cave in Germany's Neander Vally 150 years ago. Based on the number of DNA mismatches with human mtDNA, Paabo's team concluded that Neanderthals were not ancestors of modern humans, but represented an extinct branch of the hominid evolutionary tree.

Pääbo described the partnership with 454 as "an ideal collaboration. The advent of 454 sequencing has enabled us to move forward with a project that was previously thought to be impossible." The project will take an estimated two years, with funding provided by the Max Planck Society. That decision was made after review of a sample sequence of 1 million bases of Neanderthal DNA produced by 454 recently from a 45,000-year-old Croatian Neanderthal fossil.

"We are excited to collaborate with the Max Planck Institute to sequence the Neanderthal genome, as it promises to yield more insight into human biology than the sequencing of any individual human," said Christopher McLeod, CEO of 454 Life Sciences. "This ambitious project is further validation of 454's sequencing technology and demonstrates that we can sequence any genome, even one from highly degraded samples." 

The robust composite skeleton
of a Neandertal (left) is
unmistakably different from
that of a modern human (right).

The 454 single-molecule sequencing method assembles complex genome structures from millions of small DNA reads. These reads are about 100-200 bases in length, similar to the optimal fragment lengths that can be extracted from fossil DNA. In addition, contamination from bacteria and other microbes is a major problem.

Pääbo's goal is to marry his own group's expertise in extracting and sequencing ancient DNA with 454's high-throughput technology and produce a draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome, which was likely the same size as the human genome. Neanderthals are thought to have disappeared in Europe about 30,000 years ago as Homo sapiens thrived. 454's Genome Sequencer 20 System allows some 250,000 single DNA strands from small amounts of bone to be sequenced in only about five hours by a single machine.

A key issue in the project's success is that of contamination. "We'll extract [Neanderthal] DNA and prepare for sequencing, then it will be shipped to [454] directly from our clean room, since we're so afraid of contamination," said Pääbo. "Then it will be in [their] hands." The actual DNA analysis will probably be performed on several 454 machines, though in theory it could be done on a single instrument.

Scientists believe that of the 1 percent difference between human genomic DNA and chimpanzees, Neanderthals share 96 percent of it with Homo sapiens, and 4 percent with the chimpanzee. "The analysis of the estimated 4 percent of genome variation that Neanderthal shares with the chimpanzee will help us to understand the evolution of characteristics specific to the Homo sapiens and perhaps even aspects of cognitive function," Pääbo said. "This next leap in Neanderthal research will also identify those genetic changes that enabled modern humans to leave Africa and rapidly spread around the world."

"Sequencing of the Neanderthal [genome] will certainly be a major milestone, both for the insight it gives us into the origins of Homo sapiens as a species, as well as into what makes humans special," said Jonathan Rothberg, founder and chairman of 454 Life Sciences.

Documentary maker backs Mitt Romney, looks at Mormon issue

Documentary maker backs Mitt Romney, looks at Mormon issue
LAST UPDATE: 7/19/2006 12:56:31 AM

Watch Video

A new poll is being released, one that shows a lot of misunderstanding about the LDS church. And because of this, a new documentary is being made which hopes to educate Americans about Mormons.
When documentary maker Mitch Davis kept hearing news reports about why a Mormon can't be elected president, he grabbed his camera in California and started asking why not? But Davis isn't just doing a documentary, there's also a poll of 600 South Carolinians asking them about the LDS church. South Carolina could be an important presidential primary state for Mitt Romney.
Davis, a Mormon, makes it very clear: He wants Mitt Romney to be president. But he also wants Romney to be able to run without religious discrimination. And in addition to a full length documentary, Davis is also creating a political action group to support Romney's expected presidential campaign,

Story by Chris Vanocur  


From the American Journal of Epidemiology



reprint requests to Dr. Gardner

Mormons have been shown to have low cancer rates at several common sites, particularly those associated with tobacco and alcohol use. This likely reflects adherence to their Church doctrines advocating abstention from the use of these substances. All Mormons, however, do not adhere to the health practices of their Church, and this study classifies Utah Mormon men by their lay priesthood offices, which reflect degree of adherence to Church doctrines. Follow-up cancer rates for 1966–1970 indicate that the most devout group (Seventies and High Priests) have lung cancer rates 80% lower than those of the least devout group. The same was seen for all smoking- and alcoholassociated cancer sites combined. Cancer of the stomach and the leukemlas and lymphomas also had lower rates in the most devout group. Cancers of the colon-rectum; prostate, and pancreas showed little difference In rates when classified by lay priesthood office. These data provide a demonstration of the effects of a healthy lifestyle on cancer occurrence in men.

alcohol drinking; cancer; religion; smoking

Fwd: Deseret Book severs relationship with Seagull

Deseret Book severs relationship with Seagull
By Jenifer K. Nii
Deseret Morning News
      Deseret Book confirmed Wednesday that it will no longer sell any
of its products to retailer Seagull Book & Tape, citing disagreements
about how Seagull handled and promoted Deseret Book merchandise.
      But Seagull seemed determined Wednesday to mend fences.
      Jeff Simpson, Deseret Book executive vice president, confirmed
that there were disagreements and differences of opinion with Salt
Lake-based Seagull, resulting in the severing of relationships between
the two.
      "We changed the nature of our relationship with them a few weeks
ago," Simpson said Wednesday. "There was a difference of opinion about
how they merchandised, marketed and promoted our products."
      Deseret Book didn't like the way Seagull handled its products,
for example, and had information that certain merchandising programs
were not being honored, Simpson said. Seagull customers likely will
see Deseret Book's products thinning from Seagull's shelves over the
coming weeks.
      Like the Deseret Morning News, Deseret Book is a wholly owned
subsidiary of Deseret Management Corp., the holding company for
businesses owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
      Seagull spokesman David Politis said Wednesday that "Seagull has
been working, and continues to work towards a goal of continuing its
long-standing relationship with Deseret Book. Seagull Book had
previously scheduled a press conference for Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
That press conference has been postponed. The expectation is that
there will be greater clarity on the relationship between the two
parties next week."
      Seagull declined further comment Wednesday regarding what was to
have been addressed or announced at the press conference or the
implications of its statement.
      The company, which was formed in 1987 by V. Lewis Cofford, was
designed to provide a new distribution channel for LDS media —
specifically, for other LDS publishers and for Seagull's sister
company, Covenant Communications. Seagull has 24 stores in Utah,
Idaho, Arizona and California.
      Simpson downplayed the notion of ill will in the relationship
between Deseret Book and Seagull, stating that the decision to sever
ties was made "in the normal course of business."
      "We make these decisions as part of an ongoing evaluation of how
we're conducting our business," Simpson said. "It really boils down to
how our products are represented in the marketplace, how they're
merchandised and promoted. It's important."
      What it isn't, according to Simpson, is a change in strategy for
Deseret Book on how it deals with outside vendors.
      "Our products are still available at hundreds of outlets across
the West, the country and the world," he said, citing vendors like
Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Smith's and, along
with independent retailers.

Fwd: Philosophy of Religion Articles

A nice collection of Philosophy of Religion Articles under the
following categories can be found at


    * Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
    * Faith & Reason

Religious Epistemology

    * Miscellaneous

Arguments for the Existence of God

    * Religious Experience
    * Pascals Wager
    * Ontological Argument
    * Transcendental Argument
    * Cosmological Argument
    * Teleological Argument
          o General
          o Cosmology & Physics
          o Biology & Chemistry
    * Aesthetic Argument
    * Anthropological Argument
    * Argument from Desire
    * Argument from Reason
    * Moral Argument
    * Soul & Mind/Body Issues
    * Resurrection Argument
    * Trilemma
    * Argument from Prophecy
    * Cumulative Arguments
    * Miscellaneous

Responses to Atheistic Arguments

    * Coherence of Theism
    * Against Naturalism
    * Problem of Evil
    * Divine Hiddenness
    * Problem of Hell
    * Sociological & Biological Arguments
    * Miscellaneous

Philosophical Theology

    * Atonement
    * Incarnation
    * Trinity
    * Petitionary Prayer
    * Miracles
    * Revelation
    * Religious Diversity & Particularism
    * Original Sin
    * God & Time
    * Divine Foreknowledge
    * Free Will
    * Divine Simplicity
    * Religious Language
    * Immortality
          o General
          o Near Death Experience
    * Miscellaneous

Science & Religion

    * General
    * Philosophy of Science
    * History of Science & Religion
    * Models for the Interaction of Science & Religion
    * Scripture & Modern Science
    * Scientific Accounts of Divine Action
    * Theistic Evolution
    * Status of Intelligent Design Theory
    * Against Darwinism
    * Miscellaneous