Friday, August 31, 2007

Iowa allows same sex marriages


Gay couples rush to marry after Iowa court ruling

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Homosexual couples in the conservative midwest
state of Iowa rushed to apply to marry Friday after a judge ruled that
a state law forbidding gay marriage was discriminatory.

One male couple married and 22 others applied to wed Friday one day
after Des Moines county judge Robert Hanson reversed the law banning
the act.

The two men paid an extra fee to skip the usual three-day wait and
formally registered their marriage Friday morning, according to Des
Moines county official Trish Umthun.

"Twenty-three couples applied for a marriage license. And one got
married. They got a judge to waive the three-day delay," said Umthun.

But by midday, the same judge suspended applications at the demand of
the county prosecutor, who intends to appeal Hanson's ruling to the
state supreme court.

Local gay activists cheered Hanson's decision overturning the law.

"Same-sex couples all across Iowa woke up Thursday morning believing
they might never be allowed to marry in their home state, and by the
end of the day, a wonderful world had opened up for them," said
Camilla Taylor, an attorney with gay rights advocates Lambda Legal.

Hanson's ruling Thursday revived for the 2008 presidential race
already underway a polarizing issue that played heavily in the
hard-fought 2004 election.

In the 2004 campaign, hardline Republicans sought to stir fears after
Massachusetts became the first state to allow gay couples to wed by
saying it would destroy the institution of marriage.

That the issue arose anew in Iowa is more significant, since
presidential hopefuls spend a lot of time in the state wooing voters,
who traditionally are the first to vote to choose who will be the
final candidates for the White House.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney quickly condemned
Hanson's ruling Friday and called for a constitutional amendment to
block any gay marriage.

"The ruling in Iowa is another example of an activist court and
unelected judges trying to redefine marriage and disregards the will
of the people as expressed through Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act.

"This once again highlights the need for a Federal Marriage Amendment
to protect the traditional definition of marriage as between one man
and one woman," Romney said.

Hanson overturned the Iowa law banning gay marriage on the grounds
that the law violates "due process and equal protection rights" and
was "unconstitutional and invalid."

"This court has yet to hear any convincing argument as to how
excluding same-sex couples from getting married promotes responsible
reproduction in general or by different-sex couples in particular," he
said in his decision.

The Case for Sunstone

The Case for Sunstone, a 10 minute promo film by retired BYU professor J. Bonner Ritchie.

Polygamy in the Afterlife

Mormons: Is Polygamy in Afterlife OK?
By Lisa Miller

No group is more emphatically and publicly opposed to the practice of
polygamy than the Latter-day Saints. The topic is, however,
irresistible and perennial. While the Mormon Church banned plural
marriage more than 100 years ago and promises excommunication to those
who practice it, its spokespeople find themselves having to explain
polygamy's legacy over and over to reporters who watch "Big Love" or
are curious about Mitt Romney's ancestry. "I wish to state
categorically that this church has nothing whatever to do with those
practicing polygamy," said LDS president Gordon B. Hinckley more than
a decade ago.

Much less clear is the church's position on polygamy in the eternal
hereafter. When a Mormon man and woman are married in the Temple, they
are "sealed," which means they and their children will be bound
together forever in heaven—what Mormons call the celestial kingdom. If
a Mormon man becomes a widower, or if he is divorced, he can remarry
in the Temple—and thus be sealed to more than one woman. (Mormon
women, on the other hand, need to have their previous sealings
canceled before they can be sealed again.) Doesn't this mean, in
effect, that men can have multiple wives in heaven? LDS Church
officials decline to answer specifically, saying only that "the Lord
has not given answers to all the details of life after death. There
are some things we simply don't know."

All this may seem an obscure theological question, but in an age of
divorce and mixed families, it's a matter of great concern, especially
to Mormon women. On the Web site, women
worry over celestial polygamy in all its permutations, and the topic
was also on the agenda at a symposium of Mormons last month in Salt
Lake City. Here are the kinds of questions that come up: Would a
woman, in the event of her untimely death, be big-hearted enough to
share a cherished husband with a "sister wife" in heaven? Would a
divorced LDS mom have to live forever with an ex-husband she despised?
"Most Mormon women are worried about the polygamy issue," says
Margaret Toscano, a professor at the University of Utah who was
excommunicated by the LDS Church for her feminist writings. "They're
worried they're going to be forced into polygamy in the next life." As
with all questions about heaven, these are unanswerable; the most
devout members put their trust in God. "We have great faith that it
will all work out," says LDS spokeswoman Kim Farah.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bill Maher's Anti-Religion Documentary

"Robert Parham's editorial "How Shall We Think about Bill Maher's
Upcoming Anti-Religion Documentary?" provides some details about the
documentary "Religulous."

Regarding Mitt Romney's view we need a religious president, Maher
said: "No, we need a person of doubt in the White House. Stop with the
faith and start with the doubt."

Mahr reported that "We went everywhere. We went to every place where
there's religion. We went to Vatican City, and we went to Jerusalem,
and we went to Salt Lake City. And, you know, I think I've insulted

The entire article can be read here:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dialogue, Fall 2007

Articles & Essays from the Fall 2007 Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.
For the entire contents, go to
Note that Underlined items are available online.

    The Case against Same-Sex Marriage
      by Randolph G. Muhlestein, pg. 1
    A Case for Same-Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlestein
      by H. Wayne Schow, pg. 40
    The Encounter of the Young Joseph Smith with Presbyterianism
      by John Matzko, pg. 68
    On Balancing Faith in Mormonism with Traditional Biblical Stories: The Noachian Flood Story
      by Clayton M. White and Mark D. Thomas, pg. 85
    The Death and Resurrection of the RLDS Zion: A Case Study in Failed Prophecy, 1930 to 1970
      by David J. Howlett, pg. 112

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Apologetic Scholarship


John Charles Duffy has written an excellent article discussing the phenomena of church scholarship and apologetics.  It is quite lengthy, but is a key article in looking at the role of apologetic scholarship in the church.

Two quotes from his article seem to illustrate your point:

The Book of Mormon shows so many striking similarities
to the Mesoamerican setting that it seems to me impossible
for rational people willing to examine the data to maintain
any longer that the book is a mere romance. . . .

Not a single person, place, or event that is unique to the
Book of Mormon has ever been proven to exist. Outside
the fanum of true believers, these tales cannot help but
appear to be the product of fantasy and fabrication.

On 8/27/07, Derek Larsen wrote:

I understand scholars to mean people who are actively researching and writing in peer reviewed material.... this movie is a promo piece... scholarly?  How scholarly is something that gets no peer review by others in the fields covered in the movie.... I know there are scholars at byu.... however those who get their bs, ma and phd at byu are hardly scholars….. I would love to see something that farms does get published in a non mormon periodical that represents real scholarship….  All the other stuff is fodder for those inside the belief system….


Cheers,  Derek

Monday, August 27, 2007

Senator from Idaho pleads guilty to gay solicitation charge at Minneapolis airport

Idaho senator pleads guilty to disorderly conduct

Mon Aug 27, 2007 8:30PM EDT

By JoAnne Allen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Republican senator confirmed on Monday that he
pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge of disorderly conduct
after he was arrested at a Minnesota airport.

Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho was arrested in June by a plainclothes police
officer investigating complaints of lewd conduct in the men's public
toilet at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the Capitol
Hill newspaper Roll Call reported.

In a carefully worded statement, Craig made no mention of the incident
that prompted his arrest or the charges brought against him.

"At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were
misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate
conduct," Craig said in a statement.

"I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In
hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this
matter myself quickly and expeditiously."

Craig pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct on August 8 and
paid more than $500 in fines and fees. He also was given one year of
probation, Roll Call reported.

According to the police report, Craig entered a bathroom stall next to
the investigator, placed his bag against the front of the door and
tapped his foot in a signal commonly used to try to pick up men in
public toilets.

"I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd
conduct," Roll Call wrote, quoting the investigator in the police
incident report.

Craig, a married father of three, is in his third term and up for
re-election next year. He is a former chairman of the Republican Policy
Committee, the No. 4 leadership position in the Senate.

With a close margin, Democrats effectively have a 51-49 majority in the
U.S. Senate.

In a June 2006 Senate vote, Craig voted in favor of an amendment to the
Constitution to define marriage in the United States as a union between
one man and one woman. The amendment was defeated by one vote.

A gay rights activist claimed in a Web log in October last year that
Craig had had several gay relationships. The senator's office denied it,
telling the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Washington that the
allegations were "completely ridiculous" and had "no basis in fact."

Mother Teresa's Spiritual Crisis

In a rather shocking article, Time Magazine chronicles the spiritual
crisis of Mother Teresa. As the icon of what it means to be a
Christian and a Saint, she apparently did not feel God in her life for
the past 20+ years of her life. A new book using correspondences
between her and church leaders (Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light) has
been published and detail her life, showing her frustration with her
inability to feel God in her life, and doubt his existence.,8816,1655415,00.html

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mormons defining torture

Apparently Mormons have been key persons in writing the book on torture techniques for the CIA and the department of defense according to a Vanity Fair article:

Mitchell and Jessen's methods were so controversial that, among colleagues, the reaction to their names alone became a litmus test of one's attitude toward coercion and human rights. Their critics called them the "Mormon mafia" (a reference to their shared religion) and the "poster boys" (referring to the F.B.I.'s "most wanted" posters, which are where some thought their activities would land them).

Here is some Mormon reaction and discussion:
BYU creates 2nd film on Mayans, Olmecs
By Carrie A. Moore
Deseret Morning News
Published: Aug. 24, 2007 12:35 a.m. MDT

Scholars at Brigham Young University have produced a second film
detailing how the Mayan and Olmec civilizations parallel details in
the book.

"Journey of Faith: The Book of Mormon in the New World," incorporates
footage of archaeological sites and inscriptions in Mesoamerica —
southern Mexico and Guatemala — with the opinions of LDS scholars
about how details in the Book of Mormon coincide with known religious,
cultural and military practices in that region from 600 B.C. to about
400 A.D.

Produced by the Foundation for Ancient Research in Mormon Studies at
BYU, the 90-minute film explores what FARMS director S. Kent Brown
said is a "growing consensus" among LDS scholars of archaeology,
history and religion that "this is the area where the Book of Mormon
took place."

He said the film "makes predictions about the culture and society in
the place that we see the closest connections." For instance, Brown
said, societies chronicled in the book were "literate — they produced
books and documents. That (region) is the main place (in the New
World) that we find this kind of thing" during the time period

Read the rest of the article here:,5143,695203834,00.html

Friday, August 24, 2007

Theology with Blake Ostler

Mormon Miscellaneous
World-Wide Talk Show

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Theology with Blake Ostler. Blake has authored a number of papers and
articles and currently has completed two volumes of his multi-volume
set, Exploring Mormon Thought. In our discussion we will venture into
various theological paths opened by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and
consider where they have led, and where they might lead, as LDS
thought and theology develop.

5:00 - 7:00 pm MST

Van Hale

Radio Station:
KTKK 630 AM, Salt Lake City

Live Internet Streaming Audio
can be accessed at:
or mms://

Salt Lake Call-in Number:

Outside of Salt Lake Number:

Internet Participation:
Questions and response via email during the program are welcomed at

Thursday, August 23, 2007

September Dawn

September Dawn (1 star out of 5)
'September Dawn' is a misguided 9/11 allegory
Roger Moore, Sentinel Movie Critic
August 24, 2007

They sat in their remote homeland and seethed with hatred over their
mistreatment real and imagined at the hands of the United States.

They plotted. They schemed. They worked each other into a frenzy of
religious hatred. And on Sept. 11, they struck back, slaughtering
innocent men, women and children.

It happened 150 years ago in Utah, when Mormons, supposedly on orders
from high up in the church leadership, murdered 120 American settlers in
a wagon train on their way to California.

It's an important piece of history, not least because of the Church of
Latter Day Saints' efforts to spin and deny the admittedly murky facts
of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

But Christopher Cain's movie about that September Dawn has no such
doubt. It has the chilling certitude of the self-righteous. This
misguided 9/11 allegory and fictionalization of that history utterly
demonizes the perpetrators of that massacre and those who may have given
the orders.

Though classed-up by a couple of respected actors Oscar winner Jon
Voight is the Bishop who carried out the attack, Terrence Stamp is the
messianic Brigham Young it is barely a counterpoint to the Mormon-backed
hagiography movie trilogy, The Work and the Glory, which whitewashes
some of the same history Cain is so eager to cake in blood.

Feebly framed with the deposition Young gave 20 years after the fact,
screenwriter Carole Whang Shutter's version of this story hangs on a
tale as old as Romeo & Juliet. As a matter of fact, it is Romeo &
Juliet, as a strapping, open-minded Mormon horse-lover (Trent Ford)
takes a shine to fetching Miss Emily (Tamara Hope) as her group, The
Arkansas Company, stops to rest in Mormon territory on its way west.

His father, the Bishop (Voight), mistrusts "the Gentiles," as the
Mormons call non-believers. Her father, a Protestant preacher, is
tolerant to the point of sainthood.

The Bishop, knowing the mood in the territory after the Mormon community
had been run out of every state where they had set up shop (with their
leaders lynched) is thinking revenge. It doesn't take much prodding to
get the church leadership interested in making an example out of these
innocents. Facing the imminent arrival of U.S. troops, the leaders
resolve, "We will not be run out. This time we will stand and fight!"

To a man because the movie never lets us forget that the Mormons were
polygamists and patriarchal sexists these church founders are murderous
fanatics poisoned by the absolutism of their faith, their blind
obedience to their dictatorial leaders, their mania for secrecy and
their years of conflict with the rest of America. The phrase, "Joseph
Smith wants to be an American Mohammed" doesn't show up here by accident.

On the other side, Cain all but plops halos on the settlers. You'll
recognize Lolita Davidovich as a single mother who wears pants and a gun
and rides a horse like a man, "an abomination," fumes the Bishop. She
gets the inevitable "I have a bad feeling about this" line.

Adding the trite love story may give the film structure and a way to
bring the audience in, but that totally undermines the real history Cain
and Shutter want us to remember. In so stacking the deck, they lose
whatever credibility they wanted. This really happened, and the people
the film points the finger at may very well have gotten away with mass

Every religion, when scrutinized by a skeptic, is open to mockery. Tune
in to South Park if you want satire that ridicules, sect by sect, all
comers in the world of religious zealots especially Mormons.

But September Dawn isn't mockery. It's practically a call to jihad.

We can probably count the days until this shows up for sale on fringe
Christian TV channels, its virtues trumpeted by some minister or other
marketing his or her version of "The Truth."

There are facts here. It's thought-provoking in the ways it makes you
consider how this event resembles that later 9/11.

But there's the unmistakable air of evil about this enterprise, and not
just an atrocity the Mormon church caused to happen 150 years ago.

Movie: A Mormon President

Watch the trailer here:

Press Release (

(July 9, 2007 - Los Angeles) - Production has begun on a new documentary film, A Mormon President , which explores the historical roots of current presidential candidate Mitt Romney's biggest challenge to being elected President: his Mormon faith.

The film is being helmed by producer/director Adam Christing, a member of the Mormon History Association. "Very few people realize that Romney is not the first Mormon to run for the White House," says Christing, who studied theology at Biola University in Los Angeles. "The first Mormon to run for the Presidency was actually the first Mormon, the prophet, Joseph Smith. Those who want to understand Romney's challenge today, must first understand Joseph Smith."

Christing's crew recently retraced steps from the forced 1838 Mormon evacuation from Missouri to Nauvoo Illinois, where the Mormon prophet announced his campaign for the White House and was soon murdered.

"Joseph Smith is one of the most captivating religious figures in U.S. history," says Christing. "He was loved by nearly half the state of Illinois and hated by the other half. There is evidence that a political conspiracy was hatched to murder him shortly after he announced his run for President."

A Mormon President will be released in the fall of 2007 and will shed light on the deep undercurrent of anti-Mormon feeling in some parts of the country. Christing notes that after recently filming at Haun's Mill in Missouri where 17 Mormons were brutally massacred in 1838, his crew was stunned to discover that for some of the townsfolk the 170-year-old tensions still remain. "That massacre never happened…the Mormons are a bunch of thieves, and we'll never vote for a Mormon president," proclaimed one local resident.

A Mormon President has received unprecedented access to key sites in the early Mormon story including the jail cell in Carthage, Illinois where Smith was murdered. Christing's film team was also invited to film a memorial service at the gravesite of Joseph Smith on the anniversary of his death on June 27th where faithful Latter Day Saints gather each year to honor Smith and hear a memorial message.

Romney is soon expected to make a public speech about his faith, reminiscent of John F. Kennedy's famous address about his Catholicism and his politics. Christing believes that America is experiencing a "focus moment" about Mormonism. Current public opinion polls have shown that up to 35% of Americans say they would not vote for a Mormon for president. Through expert historians and dramatic reenactments, A Mormon President examines the historical roots behind this attitude.

For more about A Mormon President or to interview Adam Christing,
contact: Lisa Franco, Creek Park Pictures 310-478-8700
or email

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Survivor casts another gay Mormon

CBS's flagship reality show Survivor has cast a gay Mormon to compete in its upcoming season. Todd Herzog is a 22-year-old flight attendant who is willing to "gather wood and shit," according to, and he is the second gay Mormon to participate on the Survivor series.

Herzog said in his profile for the show that he will do well on Survivor: China because he is positive, strategic, and has great social skills.

Rafe Judkins was Survivor's first gay Mormon, competing on Survivor: Guatemala.

Survivor: China premieres September 20. (The Advocate)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

First Annual Mormon Book Event

Below is an Eborn Books flier:


Location: The E Center in Salt Lake City, Utah [See address details
[Centennial Room – 4th Floor]

Date: Saturday, August 18th, 2007

Time: 8:15 AM

Cost: $30.00 [Includes access to all 9 lectures]

Lunch: $10.00 [Optional; if your want your lunch provided.
There is a 70-minute lunch break and several restaurants within a
half a block.]

Dinner: $30.00 [Optional; by RSVP and prepayment]

Tickets: Tickets are now available at Eborn Books, on
ebay, Deseret Auctions, and Tickets are
limited and will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tickets
are non-refundable but are transferable.

Event Details: Authors will speak for about 40 minutes with
a question and answer period of 10 minutes at the end. There will be
a 10 minute break between authors with an author speaking every hour.
If for any reason a presenter is unable to attend every effort will
be made to provide a replacement. Tickets get you into the event all
day and authors will be on hand to discuss their projects. Attire is
casual to dress. Come and enjoy the day!


8:15AM Introduction and Welcome — Jason Hansen

Author's time is limited. We would like to proceed exactly on
schedule so we ask that you be in your seats at 8:15. Jason will make
several interesting announcements and briefly review the schedule for
the event.

8:30 – 9:20 AM Dennis B. Horne — "Bruce R. McConkie"

Dennis Horne attended both BYU and Weber State University. He has a
B.S. in Communications and currently works for the Church. His best-
selling biography, Bruce R. McConkie; Highlights From His Life &
Teachings, has been in print now for seven years. His second book is
entitled Called of God by Prophecy: Spiritual Experience, Doctrine,
and Testimony from Church Leaders Reveal How God Chooses His
Servants. He then edited An Apostle's Record: The Journals of Abraham
H. Cannon. His fourth book, a compilation of exceptional statements
from Church leaders and scholars, is titled Determining Doctrine, A
Reference Guide for Evaluating Doctrinal Truth. Chapter One,
about "Church Books" is by itself quite interesting for LDS book

9:30 – 10:20 AM Gerald Jones — "Animals and the Church"

Jones received his B.S., M.A., and Ph.D from BYU. He attended
graduate school at the University of Iowa and the University of
Minnesota. He has published in the Instructor, the Ensign, the
Improvement Era, and in other professional journals and books. He was
an Institute director at Stanford, Yale, UC-Berkeley and the
University of Wyoming. He is the author of Animals and the Gospel and
the expanded Animals and the Church. His book shows that Mormonism is
one of the few religions that teach animals have souls. The book also
documents statements by leaders of the Church regarding our attitude
toward animals, the manner in which they should be treated, and their
status in the kingdom of God.

10:30 – 11:20 AM LeGrand Baker — "The Murder of Joseph Smith"

Baker is the author of Murder of the Mormon Prophet, Political
Prelude to the Death of Joseph Smith and Joseph and Moroni, the Seven
Principles Moroni Taught Joseph Smith. His book on the death of
Joseph Smith shows that Joseph's bid for President of the United
States was more significant than many have supposed; that the charges
of treason against the Prophet were erroneous; the violation of
freedom of the press was not an issue at the time; and that the
murder of Joseph Smith had been planned for a long time. The Deseret
News said the book is "a detailed survey of the months and weeks
leading up to the murders of Joseph and Hyrum" and that the book
is "a scholarly, comprehensive and compelling addition to
understanding the Nauvoo story." Richard L. Anderson said, "Over
sixty full news stories on the death of Joseph Smith in the final
chapter are well worth the price of this volume." Baker graduated
from BYU and then received his Masters and Ph.D from the University
of Wisconsin. He taught American History and retired from BYU after
serving as Curator of the Wells Freedom Archives. He is currently
working on his third book.

11:30 –12:20 PM S. Reed Murdock —

Murdock is a descendant of John Murdock who gave up his son, Joseph,
and daughter, Julia, to Joseph and Emma Smith after their own twins
died. Young Joseph passed away but Julia was raised by Joseph and
Emma. His biography Joseph and Emma's Julia–The Other Twin, sold out
quickly. Murdock also authored John Murdock: His Life and His Legacy
and The Murdock Brothers' Pioneer Trilogy, which is a biography on
each of the three sons of John Murdock. S. Reed Murdock retired from
the Ogden Air Logistics Center where he was a senior civilian
attorney. He is currently researching a biography on W. W. Phelps.

12:20-1:30 PM Lunch — [For those who wish to stay on site and
discuss books lunch will be
provided for $10.00. Tickets must be pre-purchased.]

1:30 – 2:20 PM Michael K. Winder — "Mormons and the White House"

Michael K. Winder holds both Master and Honors Bachelor Degrees from
the University of Utah, where he graduated magna cum laud and was
given the Hans Morrow Award for the most outstanding history student.
He is currently on the Utah Board of State History, the Vice-
President of Winder Farms and the West Valley City Council. He is
author of five books: John R. Winder by Horizon Publishers and Utah
in 2050, Counselors to the Prophets, Presiding Bishops, and Christmas
Animals, by Eborn Books. His upcoming book by Covenant is entitled
Presidents and Prophets: The Story of America's Presidents and the
LDS Church. Brother Winder will share the making of his upcoming
title, where his research led to attending church with Presidents
George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

2:30 – 3:20 PM Boyd J. Petersen — "The Life of Hugh Nibley"

Petersen has a PhD in Comparative Literature
from the University of Utah. He teaches in the Honors Program at BYU
and in the English Department at UVSC. He currently serves on the
Religious Studies committee at UVSC and is the coordinator for Mormon
Studies. His book Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life received the best
biography award from the Mormon History Association in 2003.

3:30 – 4:20 PM Stephen G. Schwendiman — "The Mendon, New York

One of the truly significant events in early Church history was the
missionary work done in the small town of Mendon , New York. Many
prominent LDS families came from that episode; i.e., the Kimballs and
the Youngs. Schwendiman has compiled a four volume set detailing the
history of the event and family biographies on each person who
converted there. Virtually the entire membership of the Mendon Branch
of the church moved to Kirtland and Missouri after being converted.
Heber C. Kimball had established an early link to Brigham even before
becoming his Counselor in the Utah Territory. Schwendiman is
Assistant Attorney General in the State of Utah and an avid book
collector and researcher. The four-volume work will begin releasing
this year—one volume every six months. They will be about 500 pages
each and will be limited to 500 copies each.
Schwendiman was born and raised in northern Illinois. He obtained a
BA from Brigham Young University in Political Science in 1972. He
graduated from the University of Utah Law School with a JD in 1975.
He served a mission for the Church in the South German Mission during
the years 1968-1970. He is currently president of a private
foundation called the South German Mission Foundation which is
presently translating the Encyclopedia of Mormonism into German for
availability of the German speaking Saints. He has been an Assistant
Attorney General for the State of Utah since graduation from law
school, currently working in Natural Resource law. He has spent many
years researching the Mendon Saints.

4:30 – 6:00 PM Patrick A. Bishop & Shannon Tracy. "Millions Shall
Know Brother Joseph Again,
The Visual Images of Joseph Smith"

Since the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith millions have wondered
which portrait represents him the best. Today there are literally
hundreds of portraits of the Prophet that range to all ends of the
human spectrum. Amidst all of these portraits, they ask? "Which of
all of these portraits are right? or are they all wrong together?"
They believe that they all have a form of Joseph and draw near to him
but they deny his true image.
Shannon and Patrick will deliver a unique examination of the image of
the Prophet Joseph Smith and examine a daguerreotype that may indeed
contain the Prophet's image. They will then present a new painting of
Joseph Smith based on this research. This is a fascinating visual
presentation you won't want to miss, and will be published soon under
the title "Millions Shall Know Brother Joseph Again."

Patrick A. Bishop received his Bachelors of Science degree from
Montana State University in Health and Human Development with an
emphasis in Family and Consumer Science Extension and Education. He
then completed his Masters of Science in Human Development from Utah
State University . He is currently the CES Coordinator for the Casper
Stake in Wyoming, and the Institute Director for the Casper College
Institute of Religion. His most recent contribution to Church Studies
is his recent identification of an original photograph of Oliver
Cowdery (recently featured in BYU Studies).
Shannon M. Tracy served a mission to the Kentucky
Louisville/Tennessee Nashville Mission. He joined the Air Force and
worked in the ICBM Missile Systems. He received a degree from the
College of the Air Force in Electronics. Tracy has authored or co-
authored a few books. His first was In Search Of Joseph, from which
this lecture is based. He is currently working on three new titles---
one about Church artifacts where his contribution will be on the
Nauvoo Temple Bell. Tracy's passion is using technology to improve
research into Church History. He has his own computer consulting
company in Mesa, Arizona.

6:30 PM First Annual Mormon Hall of Fame Dinner [RSVP/ Pre-

This will be the first annual "Mormon Hall of Fame" Dinner.
The "Mormon Hall of Fame" Board will explain the creation and
operation of the "Mormon Hall of Fame" and the "Who's Who of
Mormonism." At this dinner the first 25 members of the Hall of Fame
will be unveiled. Details will be shared about how to become involved
in the voting and nominating process.
The dinner is completely optional but will be a great time to mingle
with other book lovers and the authors themselves. There may be a few
unique books auctioned off during the dinner.

Those who purchase tickets will get a program, tickets, and other
information in the mail.
If you have any questions please call Eborn Books at 801-965-9410 or
email us at .


The E Center is located in the heart of the Salt Lake Valley. Only 10
minutes from Downtown Salt Lake City. The E Center hosts concerts,
cultural events, sporting events and a host of other entertainment

3200 South Decker Lake DriveWest Valley City, UT 84119


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

2008/09 Priesthood/Relief Society Manual

Apparently the manual for next year's Relief Society/Priesthood will be on Joseph Smith.  The word is that is the most scholarly manual to date, possibly relying on some of the work being done at the Joseph Smith Papers project.  And, apparently two years will be spent studying Joseph Smith rather than one.

More info can be read here:

President James E. Faust dies at age 87

President James E. Faust dies at age 87

President James E. Faust, 87, Second Counselor in the First
Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a
general authority for nearly 35 years, died last Friday.

President Faust was set apart as Second Counselor to President Gordon
B. Hinckley on March 12, 1995, and served there for nearly 12 1/2
years. He was ordained an apostle on Oct. 1, 1978, at the age of 58,
and served in the Quorum of the Twelve for 16 years.,5143,695199591,00.html

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

New direction for Sunstone?

New direction for Sunstone?
By Carrie A. Moore
Deseret Morning News

Whatever software-coding challenges John Dehlin has tackled in
the past may look a little less daunting once he tackles his newest
John Dehlin, new executive director of Sunstone, says he hopes to make
the organization more "faith-affirming." (Tom Smart, Deseret Morning
Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
John Dehlin, new executive director of Sunstone, says he hopes to make
the organization more "faith-affirming."
As the new executive director of Sunstone — a magazine and
scholarly forum devoted to examining the more controversial aspects of
the LDS Church and its history — Dehlin will be breaking new
philosophical ground in his stated goal to make the organization more
It remains to be seen how some of the forum's longtime devotees
will embrace that new direction. The annual Sunstone Symposium begins
Wednesday at the Salt Lake Sheraton City Centre.
Dehlin, who telecommutes from Logan to Boston as OpenCourse Ware
Consortium director for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
doesn't shy away from acknowledging Sunstone's longtime reputation as
a melting pot not only for scholarly LDS discussion, but often for
He and the forum's leadership team are reframing the way they
will approach Sunstone's motto, "faith seeking understanding," though
"that's what it has always meant to people who have been a part of
"I understand some people are scared because of fireworks of the
past," he said. So the new vision statement says the group will be "an
independent forum for open, thoughtful and constructive discussion of
all things Mormon."
"Independent means we're not apologetic and we're not anti
(LDS)," he said. "We lean toward faith and being pro-Mormon, but we
want to create a neutral ground where people can ask questions.
"People need to find their own way in their faith journey. If
someone is struggling with the First Vision story, we don't just say,
'Well, you need to simply believe it.' There are a certain number of
people who need a neutral voice to allow them the freedom to make
their decisions."
The history of the LDS Church — and the peculiarities of its
claims regarding the nature of God and the origin of new and unique
scriptural texts — has been fodder for critics since church founder
Joseph Smith organized the faith in 1830. Members of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints profess knowledge of spiritual
truths based on faith in the claims Smith made about the church's
divine origin as a "restoration" of true Christianity.
But some who were born into the faith or consider themselves
believers are troubled by either historical episodes or doctrines that
continue to generate media attention, particularly with Mitt Romney's
presidential bid.
Dehlin said the word "open" in Sunstone's new vision statement
"means we can discuss things openly people can't discuss elsewhere."
Whatever the questions, "I need a safe place where I can talk to
people like me and know they won't judge me," Dehlin said of Sunstone
"Faithful means we're trying to deal with history and facts,
finding the best of academia so opinions are informed rather than
He believes Sunstone has a larger role to play among Latter-day
Saints who are not necessarily disaffected but who encounter
information about the faith that they didn't learn from the church's
formal education programs.
The belief comes from his own experience. Called to be a
seminary teacher five years ago while working at Microsoft, Dehlin had
gone through all the church's programs for youths and had served an
LDS mission. But when he began studying the faith in order to teach
his students, he came across aspects as an active member in his early
30s that he'd never known before.
"I had no idea Joseph Smith had multiple wives, that he
translated the Book of Mormon by putting a peep stone in a hat, or
that the practice of polygamy was continued unofficially in the church
for several years after the Manifesto.
"The immediate reaction was to say 'I've been deceived, they've
been hiding this stuff because it's embarrassing.' The whole framework
of what I believed was challenged by a radical different reality."
When he approached people in his ward to discuss the issues that
troubled him, he learned quickly that "you can't bring those topics
up." His bishop "wasn't comfortable and didn't know about it."
Then he went to the Internet but found the information there was
overwhelmingly anti-Mormon. He realized immersing himself in those
sites was "a fast path out of the church. They're all about anger and
bitterness and misrepresentation."
Another alternative was apologetic forums, like FAIR or FARMS at
Brigham Young University. While he respects those entities and
understands their role, "there is a group of people who find the way
apologetics are done not only is not helpful but in many ways it
accelerates their disaffection from the church," he said.
It was finally at Sunstone that he found a physical community he
could interact with and ask questions of. That community was, he
acknowledged, a less strident one that many Latter-day Saints became
jaded about in the early 1990s when six of Sunstone's most outspoken
authors and writers were excommunicated from the LDS Church.
Shortly afterward, top church leaders warned their members to
avoid alternative forums for discussion of history and doctrine, and
the faculty at Brigham Young University was particularly cautioned to
avoid participation.
At that point, membership in Sunstone dropped between 50 and 75
percent, Dehlin said. For several years afterward, discussions within
the forum "became a self-fulfilling prophecy. When the conservatives
no longer feel comfortable engaging, the liberal voices become more
While he understands why the forum gained an unsavory reputation
among many church members and leaders, Dehlin credits former executive
director Dan Wotherspoon for working hard in in recent years to
"moderate the voices, to be responsible and to become a
faith-promoting institution again."
In that regard, he thinks the forum continues to get a bad rap.
"People perceive it much different than how it's being done."
So he's determined to get the word out.
"We're pro-LDS. We're not trying to compete with or tear down
the church or discredit it or tell them it's a bad place to be. There
are things the church can do well, but they will never offer a class
on early folk magic and Mormonism and why that shouldn't want to make
you leave the church."
Going forward, the forum will look to not only retain longtime
participants — most of whom are 40 and older — but seek out ways to
attract a younger, broader membership base. Dehlin hopes to offer
magazine articles, podcast interviews, video interviews and even
multimedia projects on Sunstone's Web site that draw people who are
struggling in with contemporary issues like addiction, their status in
the church and lifestyle questions.
"I wouldn't be getting involved if I felt Sunstone's mission was
to take away from the church in any way or to erode or take away from
people's faith. We want people to feel good about their faith and
convictions, to strengthen the level of their happiness and
productivity in the church."
As for troubling historical or doctrinal questions, he sees
Sunstone as a forum for some — "certainly not everyone" — to delve
into a background examination in a way they can't do at church on
As for the "faith-affirming" direction, a discussion of the
forum's reputation has been ongoing between Dehlin and board members.
"We're not talking about it like it's all messed up and we need
to make big changes to fix it. Rather, there's a new generation of
people who have needs and wants. We've served current customer base
well, but there are new things we can do to reach out to a new and
broader audience."

Sunstone Preview

The Sunstone Symposium starts tonight (Wednesday evening). To catch a
preview of what is going on, check out the podcast/radio interview
from KCPW.

A look inside this year's Sunstone Symposium with John Dehlin, founder
of the Mormon Stories podcast and the new executive director of the
Sunstone Education Foundation, and Dan Wotherspoon, editor of Sunstone

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

FARMS Review Volume 19 Issue 1

FARMS Review Volume 19 Issue 1

1) Editor's Introduction: Reflections on the Reactions to Rough Stone
Rolling and Related Matters, by Daniel C. Peterson

2) Davis Bitton: His Scholarship and Faith, by James B. Allen

3) Valuing Davis Bitton, by John L. Sorenson

4) A New Chronicler in the Old Style, by Brant Gardner
Review of: Voices from the Dust: New Insights into Ancient America

5) The Book of Mormon as Automatic Writing: Beware the Virtus
Dormitiva, by Richard N. Williams
Review of: "Automaticity and the Dictation of the Book of Mormon." In
American Apocrypha

6) Reformed Egyptian, by William J. Hamblin

7) Sacred Writing on Metal Places in the Ancient Mediterranean, by
William J. Hamblin

8) Two Stories—One Faith, by Louis Midgley
Review of: Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

9) Does God Have a Wife?, by Alyson Skabelund Von Feldt
Review of: Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel

10) The Study of Mormonism: A Growing Interest in Academia, by M.
Gerald Bradford

11) Rethinking Theology: The Shadow of the Apocalyse, by James E. Faulconer

12) New Religious Movements and Orthodoxy: The Challenge to the
Religious Mainstream, by Terryl L. Givens

13) You've Seen One Elohim, You've Seen Them All? A Critique of
Mormonism's Use of Psalm 82, by Michael S. Heiser

14) "Ye Really Are Gods": A Response to Michael Heiser concerning the
LDS Use of Psalm 82 and the Gospel of John, by David Bokovoy
Review of: "You've Seen One Elohim, You've Seen Them All? A Critique
of Mormonism's Apologetic Use of Psalm 82"

15) Israel's Divine Council, Mormonism, and Evangelicalism: Clarifying
the Issues and Directions for Future Study, by Michael S. Heiser

16) Turning Away, by Jacob D. Rawlins
Review of: The Inevitable Apostasy and the Promised Restoration and
Turning from Truth: A New Look at the Great Apostasy

17) Disarray Revisited, by Alison V.P. Coutts
Review of: Early Christians in Disarray: Contemporary LDS Perspectives
on the Christian Apostasy and Where Have All the Prophets Gone?

18) Forward or Drawrof?, by Stephen D. Ricks
Review of: The Sealed Book of Daniel Opened and Translated: The Linear
Bible Code—Reading the Book Backward

19) A Method for Studying the Facsimiles, by John Gee
Review of: A Study Guide to the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham

20) A Sinking Ship?, by Ralph C. Hancock
Review of: The Decline of the Secular University

21) Book Notes

22) About the Contributors

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Temple Lot

An Obscure Mormon Prophecy and the Temple Lot of Jackson County, Missouri
By Lara Tacita

Any good Mormon knows that the followers of Joseph Smith inhabited Missouri until the extermination order of Governor Boggs forced them to flee the state. Despite the portray of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints of it being purely religious persecution, the saints were not wholly innocent. In the time the early followers of the movement spent in Jackson County, Missouri, the prophet declared that temple should be built on a certain spot - now known as the Temple Lot.

The full story can be read here:

Author's Note: If I have the details wrong, I will accept corrections
in the comments.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Benchmark Book to host the Bushmans, Aug 3rd.

3269 So. Main Street, Suite 250
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
Phone: 800-486-3112, (801) 486-3111

We invite you to spend an evening with
Richard & Claudia Bushman

Eminent historian, Richard Lyman Bushman, has taught and written about early American and Mormon history and culture for decades. His Mormon history titles include Believing History: Latter-day Saint Essays (edited by Reid L. Neilson and Jed Woodworth), Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, Building the Kingdom: A History of Mormons in America (written with his wife, Claudia), and, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, which has received glowing endorsements. Now a follow-up publication to Rough Stone Rolling has been released in On the Road with Joseph Smith: An Author's Diary first produced by the Mormon Artists Group in New York City in a limited edition of 100 unbound copies and now published in paperback by Greg Kofford Books.

After delivering the final proofs of, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling to Knopf in July 2005, Bushman crisscrossed the country from coast to coast, delivering numerous addresses on Joseph Smith at scholarly conferences, academic symposia, and firesides. This candid memoir concludes eleven months later with an article written for Common-Place in August 2006. The book is "by turns humorous and poignant, this behind-the-scenes look at Richard Bushman's public and private ruminations about Joseph Smith reveals a great deal - not only about the inner life of one our best scholars, but about Mormonism at the dawn of the 21st century." - Jana Riess, co-author of Mormonism for Dummies and book review editor for Publisher's Weekly.

Claudia Bushman's most recent book, Contemporary Mormonism: Latter-day Saints in Modern America allows readers a vivid glimpse into the lives of Mormons--their beliefs, rituals, and practices, as well as their views on race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and sexual orientation. The voices of actual Mormons reveal much about their inspiration, devotion, patriotism, individualism, and conservatism. With its mythical history and unlikely success, many wonder what has made this religion endure through the years. Here, readers will find answers to their questions about what it means to be Mormon in contemporary America. Claudia is also the editor of Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah

Richard and Claudia Bushman will be at our store to speak about and sign books on Friday, August 3, 2007, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. They will speak at 6:00 pm and sign books before and after that time. If you are unable to join us for this promising event, you can order autographed books by calling ahead to reserve them. Our toll-free number is 800-486-3112 (local phone, 486-3111). Postage and handling is $4.00 for 1st book and $1.00 for each additional. Utah residents, add 6.85%.