Sunday, June 29, 2008
Church members had received dual messages from the church leadership for decades. The public voice had been against polygamy, but many knew those outward voices were for public consumption and many knew of others who had privately been sanctioned by the church leadership to continue practicing polygamy. Many held to the revelation received by John Taylor stating that the law of polygamy would never be revoked and that it was a requirement for exaltation.
The culture of conflicting messages resulted in subset of Mormons resolute in keeping the practice of polygamy alive, and the subsequent formation of the FLDS and other Mormon polygamist groups.
Today there are about ten thousand members of the FLDS church. Tens of thousands of other Mormon polygamists are members of other groups. Their beliefs & practices more closely resemble the those of the 19th century LDS church under the leadership of Brigham Young and John Taylor. The LDS church continues it's abandonment of many earlier Mormon practices and beliefs, motivated in part by it's quest for respectability and desire for recognition as a mainstream Christian church. It has vigorously reiterated the distinction between itself and the FLDS reflection of it's former self.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
announcement encouraging LDS support of anti-Gay legislation
Brothers and Sisters,
We have been informed that Sunday morning, June 29, after members have
heard the letter from the First Presidency read from the pulpit, some
news crews may attempt to interview members of the Church as they are
While we cannot, nor should we, do anything to stop the media from
interviewing rank and file members -- who are not speaking on behalf
of the Church, it would be against the guidance from headquarters for
any such interview or for news cameras to be in our Church buildings.
Please note that SLC, and the California office of Public Affairs are
both referring any media inquiries on the subject to the coalition
handling the campaign. It is imperative that DPA's and their
Assistants do the same. Any institutional media inquiries on this
issue should be referred to Frank Schubert or Jeff Flint at 916 448
4234 at coalition headquarters.
For further questions regarding the role of Public Affairs, please
call Keith Atkinson @ 800 533 2444.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Jeffrey S. Nielsen
I am a member of the Mormon Church, a married heterosexual, and a
supporter of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. I am
asking you to pause and give sincere thought to the letter from our
religious leaders you have heard read, or will soon hear read, over
our church pulpits asking you to get involved and oppose marriage
equality in California. Please think deeply about this, not only as
a member of a particular church, but also as a citizen of a democracy.
To press for an amendment to a civil constitution that would
legalize discrimination against an entire class of people is no
small matter, but of the greatest significance. When the argument,
no matter how well intentioned, is based solely upon a religious
proclamation; then, I believe, it is a serious contradiction of the
wisdom of our founding fathers. It also does tremendous damage to
the great progress in civil rights we've made in our country
respecting the equal dignity of each person and towards a more
certain legal equality for all citizens.
You should also know, not all faithful Mormons agree with our
religious leaders' encroachment into political matters. In fact, a
growing number of active Mormons, who have gay friends and family
members, are coming to the conclusion that our current leaders are
as mistaken in promoting discrimination against gays and lesbians
as was the Mormon hierarchy in the 60's when they opposed equal
rights for people of color, and our Mormon leaders in the 70's when
they opposed full legal equality for women.
Of course, religious authorities of any denomination possess the
right, and may claim the legitimacy, to set the theology and policy
for their religious community. When they; however, attempt to
interject religious doctrine into the public spaces of a diverse
democracy without reasonable justification, then members,
especially faithful members, of that religious organization have
the civic responsibility to express public disapproval of such
dangerous and undemocratic behavior.
No one is asking that you condone a behavior that might violate
your religious faith, but we need to allow everyone the freedom to
live their life as they see fit, so long as it does not physically
harm another person. After all, religious values must be something
an individual freely chooses, not something forced upon him or her
by the state. We should never allow our constitutions, whether
state or federal, to become weapons in a crusade to impose a
particular religious value system upon a pluralistic democracy.
Today it might be a particular religious value that we affirm, but
tomorrow it might be a religious system, which would seek to
legislate against our own sincere beliefs. So now is the time to
take a stand and keep separate civil and religious authority.
I do not believe that people choose their sexual orientation any
more than they choose their skin color or gender. So to
discriminate and deny them equal protection and equal opportunity
under civil law because of these natural traits; especially in this
case, sexual orientation, is grossly unfair and should be rejected
outright in a compassionate and just democracy. If anyone could
give me a single reasonable argument against marriage equality in
our civil society, which doesn't make fallacious appeals to
tradition, misplaced appeals to religious authority, or make some
ridiculous claim about nonhuman animals, then I would like to hear
it. So far, no one has been able to present me with even a single
You should know that like you, family and marriage are very
important to me. As I have become acquainted with gay and lesbian
couples, I have been touched by their goodness, sincerity, and
commitment. I am persuaded that allowing marriage equality would,
in fact, strengthen the institutions of family and marriage in our
country. Perhaps it might even make all of us a little more
considerate and responsible as both marriage partners and parents.
I can only hope that the citizens of California, and my fellow
Mormons, will possess the wisdom and moral decency to reject the
unreasonable and unjust call to discriminate against our gay and
lesbian coworkers, friends, neighbors, church members, and family.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Below is his Index:
- "Why People Leave the LDS Church and What We Can Do About It"
- "How to stay in the LDS Church after a major trial to your faith"
- Blacks and the LDS Priesthood
- The screencast (requires a PC and Microsoft Internet Explorer to view)
- The "Other" Mormon Heroes
- 001: Kiddie Baps…My Mission Experience in Guatemala
- 002: Gregory Prince and "David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism"
- 004: Gregory Prince, David O. McKay and the Blacks/Priesthood Issue"
- 005: Masonry and Mormonism — An interview with Greg Kearney, a lifelong, multi-generational Mormon and Master Mason"
- 006: A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Mormon Cybergalaxy
- 007: Inside the Mind of a Mormon Apologist Pt. 1
- 008: Inside the Mind of a Mormon Apologist Pt. 2
- 009: Inside the Mind of a Mormon Apologist Pt. 3
- 010: Finding our Way Back Home Pt. 1
- 011: Finding our Way Back Home Pt. 2
- 012: An Introduction to Mormon Polygamy with Todd Compton Pt. 1
- 013: An Introduction to Mormon Polygamy with Todd Compton Pt. 2
- 014: An Introduction to Mormon Polygamy with Todd Compton Pt. 3
- 015: Mormon Stages of Faith Pt. 1: An Introduction to Fowler's "Stages of Faith"
- 016: Mormon Stages of Faith Pt. 2: An LDS Perspective on Fowler's Stages of Faith
- 017: Mormon Stages of Faith Pt. 3: Tom and Dan's Journey into Stage 4
- 018: New Order Mormons Pt. 1: Ann's Story
- 019: Mormon, Married, Gay and Facing Discipline–An Interview with Buckley Jeppson Pt. 1
- 020: Mormon, Married, Gay and Facing Discipline–An Interview with Buckley Jeppson Pt. 2
- 021: Mormon, Married, Gay and Facing Discipline–An Interview with Buckley Jeppson Pt. 3
- 022: Black and Mormon — The Darron Smith Story Pt. 1
- 023: Black and Mormon — The Darron Smith Story Pt. 2
- 024: Black and Mormon — The Darron Smith Story Pt. 3
- 025: New Order Mormons Pt. 2: Ann's Story
- 026: Blacks and the LDS Priesthood: An Interview with Darius Gray and Margaret Young
- 027: My Story Part 1–Mormon to the Bone
- 028: My Story Part 2–Losing My Religion, and Finding it Again
- 029: My Story Part 3–What I Do and Don't Believe, and Why I Remain a Mormon
- 030: An Insider's View of Mormon Origins Part 1–Grant Palmer's Early Years
- 031: An Insider's View of Mormon Origins Part 2–The Mark Hofman Bombings, and Grant Palmer's Deep Dive into LDS History
- 032: An Insider's View of Mormon Origins Part 3–An Overview of Mormon Origins by Grant Palmer
- 033: An Insider's View of Mormon Origins Part 4–Grant's Trial and Disfellowship, Thoughts on the Church's Future, and Closing Testimony
- 034: Soldier Slaves Pt. 1–James Parkinson: Mormon and High-Profile Personal Injury Lawyer
- 035: Soldier Slaves Pt. 2–Harold Poole: Mormon and Bataan Death March Survivor
- 036: Soldier Slaves Pt. 3–Taking the Case to the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S Congress
- 037: Deseret Book's Acquisition of Seagull and Covenant Pt. 1 — A Conversation with Kent Larsen (1st half)
- 038: Deseret Book's Acquisition of Seagull and Covenant Pt. 2– A Conversation with Kent Larsen (2nd half)
- 039: Lowell Bennion–Mormon educator and humanitarian–through the eyes of Mary Lythgoe Bradford (An interview by Stirling Adams).
- 040: Deseret Book's Acquisition of Seagull and Covenant Pt. 3 — Adventures of a Mormon book author — Christopher Bigelow.
- 041: Deseret Book's Acquisition of Seagull and Covenant Pt. 4 — Christopher Bigelow, The Early Years.
- 042 (Aud): Understanding Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy Part 1 - The LDS Church's Practice of Polygamy.
- 042 (Vid): Understanding Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy Part 1 - The LDS Church's Practice of Polygamy.
- 043 (Aud): Understanding Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy Part 2 - The Rise of Mormon Fundamentalism.
- 043 (Vid): Understanding Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy Part 2 - The Rise of Mormon Fundamentalism.
- 044 (Aud): Understanding Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy Part 3 - Anne's Story.
- 044 (Vid): Understanding Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy Part 3 - Anne's Story.
- 045 (Aud): Understanding Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy Part 4 - Polygamy Gone Wrong and Right.
- 045 (Vid): Understanding Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy Part 4 - Polygamy Gone Wrong and Right
- 046 (Aud): Understanding Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy Part 5 - Anne's Beliefs and Testimony.
- 046 (Vid): Understanding Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy Part 5 - Anne's Beliefs and Testimony
- 047: Richard Bushman Part 1 — Experiences as a Faithful Mormon Historian
- 048: Richard Bushman Part 2 - The Art of History, Joseph Smith's First Vision Stories, and Joseph's Participation in Folk Magic and Treasure Digging
- 049: Richard Bushman Part 3 - Joseph Smith and the Translation of the Book of Mormon Pt. 1
- 050: Richard Bushman Part 4 - Book of Mormon Historicity and the 3 and 8 Witnesses to the Book of Mormon
- 051: Richard Bushman Part 5 - Final Thoughts (For now)
- 052: J. Bonner Ritche–On Organizations, Individuals, and Pillars of Thoughtful Faith
- 053: The Trolley Square Murders — An Interview with Witness Matt Lund
- 054: Nate Oman — On Messiness, Harvard, the Bloggernacle and Thoughtful Faith
- 055: Women in the LDS Church Part 1: An Introduction
- 056: Women in the LDS Church Part 2: The Three Waves of Feminism in the USA
- 057: Women in the LDS Church Part 3: An Interivew with Dr. Claudia L. Bushman
- 058: Women in the LDS Church Part 4: 19th and Early 20th Century Mormon Women (with Dr. Claudia Bushman)
- 059: Women in the LDS Church Part 5: 19th and Early 20th Century Mormon Women Part 2 (with Dr. Claudia Bushman)
- 060: A Review of the First 5 Episodes on Mormon Women by 2 Brilliant Mormon Women (Part 1)
- 061: A Review of the First 5 Episodes on Mormon Women by 2 Brilliant Mormon Women (Part 2)
- 062 (Aud): Women in the LDS Church Part 6 - Margaret Merrill Toscano: The Early Years
- 062 (Vid): Women in the LDS Church Part 6 - Margaret Merrill Toscano: The Early Years
- 063 (Aud): Women in the LDS Church Part 7 - Margaret Merrill Toscano: Becoming a Mormon Feminist
- 063 (Vid): Women in the LDS Church Part 7 - Margaret Merrill Toscano: Becoming a Mormon Feminist
- 064 (Aud): Women in the LDS Church Part 8 - Margaret Merrill Toscano: Reactions to Dissent
- 064 (Vid): Women in the LDS Church Part 8 - Margaret Merrill Toscano: Reactions to Dissent
- 065 (Aud): Women in the LDS Church Part 9 - Margaret Merrill Toscano: On the church, priesthood and Mother God
- 065 (Vid): Women in the LDS Church Part 9 - Margaret Merrill Toscano: On the church, priesthood and Mother God
- 066: Women in the LDS Church Part 10 - The LDS Church's Opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment
- 067: Women in the LDS Church Part 11 - A Gift Given, A Gift Taken: Washing, Anointing, and Blessing the Sick Among Mormon Women
- 068 (Aud): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 1 — Flexibility: An interview with John Kovalenko
- 068 (Vid): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 1 — Flexibility: An interview with John Kovalenko
- 069 (Aud): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 2a — Transformation: An interview with Ashley Sanders
- 069 (Vid): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 2a — Transformation: An interview with Ashley Sanders
- 070 (Aud): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 2b — Transformation: An interview with Ashley Sanders
- 070 (Vid): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 2b — Transformation: An interview with Ashley Sanders
- 071 (Aud): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 3 — Estrangement and Reconciliation: An interview with Loyd Ericson
- 071 (Vid): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 3 — Estrangement and Reconciliation: An interview with Loyd Ericson
- 072 (Aud): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 4 — Honesty: An interview with BYU Professor Chris Foster
- 072 (Vid): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 4 — Honesty: An interview with BYU Professor Chris Foster
- 073 (Aud): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 5 — Re-evaluation: An interview with BYU student David Lassetter
- 073 (Vid): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 5 — Re-evaluation: An interview with BYU student David Lassetter
- 074 (Aud): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 6 — Grace: An interview with BYU student Kimball Sanders
- 074 (Vid): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 6 — Grace: An interview with BYU student Kimball Sanders
- 075 (Aud): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 7 — Conversion: An interview with University of Utah student Caleb Proulx
- 075 (Vid): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 7 — Conversion: An interview with University of Utah student Caleb Proulx
- 076 (Aud): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 8 — Kingdom of God: An interview with University of Utah student Ann Whittaker
- 076 (Vid): Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt. 8 — Kingdom of God: An interview with University of Utah student Ann Whittaker
- 077 (Aud): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 1
- 077 (Vid): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 1
- 078 (Aud): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 2
- 078 (Vid): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 2
- 079 (Aud): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 3
- 079 (Vid): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 3
- 080 (Aud): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 4
- 080 (Vid): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 4
- 081 (Aud): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 5
- 081 (Vid): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 5
- 082 (Aud): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 6
- 082 (Vid): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 6
- 083 (Aud): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 7
- 083 (Vid): Understanding the Mormon "September 6" — Paul Toscano Pt. 7
- 084 (Aud): Introducing "Project Deseret Podcast" featuring Ashley Sanders
- 085 (Aud): God Loveth His Children — The New LDS Pamphlet on Homosexuality Part 1
- 085 (Vid): God Loveth His Children — The New LDS Pamphlet on Homosexuality Part 1
- 086 (Aud): God Loveth His Children — The New LDS Pamphlet on Homosexuality Part 2
- 086 (Vid): God Loveth His Children — The New LDS Pamphlet on Homosexuality Part 2
- 087 (Aud): God Loveth His Children — The New LDS Pamphlet on Homosexuality Part 3
- 087 (Vid): God Loveth His Children — The New LDS Pamphlet on Homosexuality Part 3
- 088 (Aud): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 1 — The Early Years
- 088 (Vid): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 1 — The Early Years
- 089 (Aud): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 2 — Mom, Mission and School
- 089 (Vid): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 2 — Mom, Mission and School
- 090 (Aud): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 3 — The Fruits of Anxiety
- 090 (Vid): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 3 — The Fruits of Anxiety
- 091 (Aud): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 4 — The Backslider
- 091 (Vid): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 4 — The Backslider
- 092 (Aud): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 5 — Cowboy Jesus and Mormon Literature / Art
- 092 (Vid): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 5 — Cowboy Jesus and Mormon Literature / Art
- 093 (Aud): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 6 — Juanita Brooks, Sunstone, and Mormon Liberalism
- 093 (Vid): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 6 — Juanita Brooks, Sunstone, and Mormon Liberalism
- 094 (Aud): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 7 — The Chicken Story, Eugene England and Final Thoughts
- 094 (Vid): Levi Peterson (Mormon Author) Part 7 — The Chicken Story, Eugene England and Final Thoughts
- 095: The Mormon Worker Part 1 — William VanWagenen
- 096: The Mormon Worker Part 2 — William VanWagenen
- 097: The Joseph Smith Papers Project — Morris Thurston
- 098: Joseph Smith's Legal Battles During the Nauvoo Time Period Part 1
- 099: Joseph Smith's Legal Battles During the Nauvoo Time Period Part 2
- 100: Breathe Life Into Your Liife Story w/ Dawn and Morris Thurston
- 101 (Aud): Dr. Ted Lyon Part 1 — Change in the LDS Church
- 101 (Vid): Dr. Ted Lyon Part 1 — Change in the LDS Church
- 102 (Aud): Dr. Ted Lyon Part 2 — Tough Lessons from LDS Missions in Latin America
- 102 (Vid): Dr. Ted Lyon Part 2 — Tough Lessons from LDS Missions in Latin America
- 103 (Aud): Dr. Ted Lyon Part 3 — Questions, Answers and a Final Testimony
- 103 (Vid): Dr. Ted Lyon Part 3 — Questions, Answers and a Final Testimony
- 104 (Aud): Elbert Peck and Sunstone Magazine Pt. 1 - The Early Years
- 104 (Vid): Elbert Peck and Sunstone Magazine Pt. 1 - The Early Years
- 105 (Aud): Elbert Peck and Sunstone Magazine Pt. 2 - The People of Sunstone
- 105 (Vid): Elbert Peck and Sunstone Magazine Pt. 2 - The People of Sunstone
- 106 (Aud): Elbert Peck and Sunstone Magazine Pt. 3 - Alternative Voices
- 106 (Vid): Elbert Peck and Sunstone Magazine Pt. 3 - Alternative Voices
- 107 (Aud): Elbert Peck and Sunstone Magazine Pt. 4 - The September Six and the Decline of Sunstone
- 107 (Vid): Elbert Peck and Sunstone Magazine Pt. 4 - The September Six and the Decline of Sunstone
- 108: The Best Articulation of My Own Mormon Testimony That I've Ever Found — Elbert Peck and "Remnants of His Faith"
- 109: How to Stay in the LDS Church after Losing Your Faith
- 110: Lessons on the Costs and Benefits of Big Church Changes: From the RLDS Church to the LDS Church, With Love
- 111: Why people leave the LDS Church, and how we can help
The best way to access all of these podcasts is to:
- Install iTunes (if it is not installed already)
- Click on this link to bring up the podcast page
- Click the subscribe button for the Mormon Stories podcast to make it easier to download these episodes into iTunes
- Click on the Podcast link in the upper left column of iTunes, look for the Mormon Stories podcast, and then click the right-pointing triangle next to the Mormon Stories podcast name to expand the list of episodes available
- Click "Get" on the episodes you wish to listen to. Wait for them to download. Or you can click "Get All" to get them all at once (will take a LOOOONG time).
- If you are blessed to have an iPod, plug it in to your computer, and all these episodes will automatically be downloaded to your iPod, and you can listen at your liesure — in the car, exercising, mowing the lawn, etc..
My Interviews for Sunstone Magazine
- SunstonePodcast 001: Sunstone Past, Present and Future
- SunstonePodcast 002: Armand Mauss on th Mormon Struggle for Assimilation
- SunstonePodcast 003: An Analysis of "Preach My Gospel"
- SunstonePodcast 004: Richard Dutcher and States of Grace
Mormon Matters Panel Discussions
- Episode 1: An Introduction, PBS's "The Mormons", and an Ensign Article
- Episode 2: Mitt Romney, Mormonism and Recent Coverage in the New York Times and on Good Morning America
- Episode 3: The Mountain Meadows Massacre
- Episode 4: Mormon Feminism, Women, and Claudia Bushman Part 1
- Episode 5: Mormon Feminism, Women, and Claudia Bushman Part 2
- Episode 6: LDS Church Finances and the "Approaching Mormon History" Press Release
- Episode 7 Part 1: The Other "One True Church" and the Obama/Mitt Romney Scuttle over Sex Education
- Episode 7 Part 2: Equal Partnering and "Presiding" in LDS Marriages and Raising Gay LDS Children
- Episode 8: A Review of "States of Grace" and "Orthodox Paradox"
- Episode 9: Big Love and Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy Part 1
- Episode 10: Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamy Part 2
- Episode 11: Our Favorite Books on Mormonism
- Episode 12: Inoculating the Saints (with Kevin Barney, Blake Ostler and Mike Ash)
- Episode 13: Our Discussion on Inoculating the Saints Pt. 1
- Episode 14: Our Discussion on Inoculating the Saints Pt. 2
- Episode 15: Inoculating the Saints — Listener Feedback
- Episode 16: The International Church
- Episode 17: Book of Mormon Introduction, Lamanites and Native Americans
- Episode 18: Same-Sex Marriage and Mormonism
- Episode 19: An Analysis of Mitt Romney's "Faith in America" Speech Pt 1
- Episode 20: An Analysis of Mitt Romney's "Faith in America" Speech Pt 2
Foundational Presentations For Me
- Bonus: Richard D. Poll — Mormon Historian and Liahona Mormon
- Bonus: William D. Russell — RLDS Maverick
- Bonus: The Story of D. Michael Quinn, in His Own Words
- How to stay in the LDS church after a trial of your faith
- My letter to Elder Dallin H. Oaks about corrupt baptism practices in my Guatemala mission.
- Top Tough Issues That Cause People to Leave the LDS Church (Using only pro-LDS sources)
The Salt Lake Tribune
Is it something in the proverbial water?
Or are Utahns taking classes in "How to Be a Reality Show Star"?
Currently, four summer reality televisions shows have local
contestants. I haven't seen an explosion like this since first
covering the phenomenon in 2002 when Davis County's Neleh Dennis
blurted out, "Oh my heck" on "Survivor: Marquesas."
* Of the 20 finalists, there are four Utah contestants -count 'em,
four - on this season's hit Fox show, "So You Think You Can Dance."
They include Chelsie Hightower, 18, Pleasant Grove; Matt Dorame,
22, who studied at Salt Lake City's Odyssey Dance Theatre; Gev
Manoukian, 21, Centerville, a background dancer in "High School
Musical"; and Thayne Jasperson, 27, Springville, another featured
dancer from the "HSM" movies.
* Marcus, of West Jordan (no last name, how chic) is in the
running on this season's NBC series, "Last Comic Standing."
* On the Food Network's "Next Food Network Star," there's Utahn
Kelsey Nixon vying to be a cooking-show star on the highly rated
fourth season premiere.
* NBC's "Nashville Star," which was ported over from the USA cable
network, has Murray's Charley Jenkins, 30, competing to be a country
All this coming after a couple of amazingly successful seasons of
Utahns on reality shows.
Local reality show stars include Utah ballroom dancers starring on
every season of ABC's megahit "Dancing With the Stars" (Park City's
Julianne Hough won two of the seasons in a row), Todd Herzog's win on
"Survivor: China," and Roy's Sabra Johnson winning the last season of
"So You Think You Can Dance." Then there was the most-watched journey
of all, David Archuleta's run to second place on the last season of
It once was a novelty to hire a Utah Mormon for your reality show
in an effort to boost the conflict between the righteous and the
beer-drinking (think Brigham Young University's Julie Stoffer in the
2000 edition of "Real World").
But locals now are proving they aren't on these shows just to
heighten the drama, but because they can effectively "outwit, outplay
and outlast" as well if not better than other contestants around the
The Wasatch Front, for example, has become an epicenter for
talented and nationally renowned professional dancers, which has
sparked the success seen on "DWTS" and "Think You Can Dance." That, in
turn, has caused Hollywood to view Utah as a pool for dancing talent.
"Think You Can Dance" producer Nigel Lythgoe said he had such a
successful set of auditions in Salt Lake City earlier this year for
his show, he decided to hold the first "American Idol" auditions here
in the fall for next season.
Like I said, must be something in the water.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
1st Presidency letter to be read in California Sacrament Meetings on June 29th 2008:
Dear Brethren and Sisters:
In March 2000 California voters overwhelmingly approved a state law providing that "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." The California Supreme Court recently reversed this vote of the people. On November 4, 2008 Californians will vote on a proposed amendment to the California state constitution that will now restore the March 2000 definition of marriage approved by the voters.
The Church's teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between and man and a woman is ordained of God, and the formation of families is central to the Creator's plan for His children. Children are entitled to be born within this bond of marriage.
A broad-based coalition of churches and other organizations placed the proposed amendment on the ballot. The Church will participate with this coalition in seeking its passage. Local church leaders will provide information about how you may become involved in this important cause.
We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.
The First Presidency
Gay brains are hard-wired at birth
* 18 June 2008
* From New Scientist Print Edition. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.
* Andy Coghlan
BRAIN scans have provided the most compelling evidence yet that being gay or straight is down to biology rather than choice. Tantalisingly, the scans reveal that in gay people, key structures of the brain governing emotion, mood, anxiety and aggression resemble those in straight people of the opposite sex.
"This is the most robust measure so far of cerebral differences between homosexual and heterosexual subjects," says Ivanka Savic, who conducted the study at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
Previous studies have also shown differences in brain architecture and activity between gay and straight people, but most were based on people's responses to sexually driven cues that could have been learned, such as rating the attractiveness of male or female faces.
To get round this, Savic and her colleague, Per Lindström, chose to measure brain features that are probably fixed at birth. "That was the whole point of the study, to show parameters that differ, but which couldn't be altered by learning or cognitive processes," says Savic, whose results appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0801566105).
Firstly, they used MRI scans to measure the overall volume and shapes of brains in a group of 90 volunteers consisting of 25 heterosexuals and 20 homosexuals of each gender. Most notably, they found that lesbian women and straight men had asymmetric brains, with the right hemisphere slightly larger than the left. Gay men, meanwhile, had symmetrical brains like those of straight women.
Secondly, they used scans based on positron emission tomography (PET) to measure blood flow to the amygdala, an almond-shaped region found in both lobes of the brain that plays a key role in emotional reactions. The images revealed how the amygdalas are connected to other parts of the brain, giving clues to how this might influence behaviour.
They found that the patterns of connectivity in gay men matched those of straight women, and vice versa (see Diagram). In straight women and gay men, the signals from the amygdala ran mainly into the regions of the brain that mediate mood and anxiety.
This finding is significant, says Savic, as it might explain why women are three times as likely as men to suffer from mood disorders or depression. Gay men have higher rates of depression too, she says, but it's difficult to know whether this is down to biology, or having to deal with homophobia.
In straight men and lesbians, the amygdala fed their signals mainly into the sensorimotor cortex and the striatum, regions of the brain that trigger "fright or flight" in response to fear. "It's a more action-related response than in straight women," says Savic.
"This study demonstrates that homosexuals of both sexes show strong cross-sex shifts in brain symmetry," says Qazi Rahman, a leading researcher on sexual orientation at Queen Mary University of London. "The connectivity differences reported in the amygdala are striking."
"Paradoxically, it's more informative to look at things that have no direct connection with sexual orientation, and that's where this study scores," says Simon LeVay, a prominent US author who in 1991 reported finding differences between straight and gay men in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus.
But as Savic herself acknowledges, the study can't say whether the brain differences are genetic, or result from unusually high or low exposure in the womb to sex hormones such as testosterone.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Title: Massacre At Mountain Meadows (Uncorrected Advance Reading Copy)
Author: Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley, and Glen M. Leonard
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year Published: 2008
Number of pages: 408
Photos, Images, Maps included (not listed)
Index (listed but not included)
Reviewed by Melvin C. Johnson, Angelina College, Lufkin, Texas
Professionals and laypersons have long waited for this book, and finally an uncorrected advance reading copy of Massacre At Mountain Meadow by the Oxford University Press has been released for review. Authored by Ronald Walker, Richard Turley and Glen Leonard, all important LDS scholars, it gives a detailed investigation of one of Western Americas greatest tragedies of the 19th-Century. This book will not end debate, however, concerning the context and responsibility for the massacre. It does try, in some fashion, to explain why fundamentally upright Utah Latter Day Saints wiped out an emigrant train at Mountain Meadows on September 11, 1857, the majority of victims women and children, to narrate the story and fix the blame.
In the spirit of open and full disclosure, the LDS Church has given Walker and his colleagues access to all pertinent church resources and documents, including restricted material in the First Presidencys records. Such access, coupled with the unparalleled cooperation and support of hundreds of other individuals and scores of institutions and libraries, should make this a definitive work. Secondly, here is the opportunity to demonstrate that the LDS church is ready to meet its history with open and full disclosure. Will the LDS church permit open access to all scholars, not just vetted historians that the church leaders approve?
The incident is worthy of renewed inspection. The massacre of 120 immigrants by Mormon militia and American natives on September 11, 1857, in southwestern Utah, has been the genesis for articles, histories, novels, and motion pictures. "Massacre At Mountain Meadows," however, is unique in that it is the first work created under the imprimatur of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Walker, et al, attempt to answer the question that has provoked all since the emigrants innocent blood soaked the killing fields. Who was responsible? Who decided to massacre men, women, and children? Right from the beginning many blamed President Brigham Young and Apostle George A. Smith. For more than a hundred years the LDS argued that their own were barely involved, blaming it on Federal Indian agent John D. Lee and local Indians, and Lee would be the only participant executed for his role in the crime. Nonetheless, the question of culpability and responsibility has intrigued scholars, professionals, and lay individuals alike. The writers have decided for themselves if the local LDS priesthood and militia leadership perpetuated the massacre on their own, or if they were working at the direction of President Brigham Young in Salt Lake City. These LDS historians condemn the local leaders in Parowan and Cedar, and, unsurprisingly, exculpate Brigham Young and Apostle George A. Smith of
The book is well structured with a Preface, Prologue, fourteen chapters, and an Epilogue. Four appendices give partial listings of the Emigrants and their Property, the Mormon militia members present at the Meadows, and the Indians who may have been present. Almost 140 pages of notes follow the narration. A Bibliography is not included. An Index is listed in the Table of Contents as beginning on page 409 but has been omitted from my copy of the book. No list is given for the nearly four dozen maps, sketches, prints, photos, and portraits in the work. This should be corrected for the official edition. Two of the maps, one of southwestern Utah and a more particular one of the killing ground, are particularly helpful in orienting the reader geographically to the events, thus increasing ones understanding of the storys timeline and locations.
Good history writing is good literature. Three writers styles and singular interests naturally provoke contradictions and conflicts of what is and is not important to a work, and that is certainly the case with "Massacre At Mountain Meadows." However, these authors always present a methodical and professional yeomanly work ethic; the narration is acceptable and at times grows better. The first three chapters are satisfactory in tone and mood, but the prose is uninspired, unlike the first chapter of Will Bagleys "Blood of the Prophets" unveiling powerfully the magnificence of the Meadows oasis before the California road drops down to the desert. The literary style improves and grows more intense as it tries to untangle and understand the motivations and confusions of the Southern Utah leadership as time contracted for coming to a decision whether to attack and kill the emigrants or to let them go. The story well conveys, after the massacre, the fearful uncertainty of immigrants and Mor-
mons alike during the next few days of Indian intentions along the wagon roads back trail to Beaver. The final chapter of the book unfortunately returns to the pedestrian prose of the books initial chapters.
Some researchers and historians may criticize the writers understatement of polygamy as an important cause for conflict between church and state in 1857 and the resulting tragedy at Mountain Meadows. Although unique marriage Mormon practices did concern many in Washington, D.C., the authors are correct in asserting that an anxious administration was far more troubled that Brigham Youngs leadership over, and control of, the Mormons in the West seemed to be busily creating an independent theocracy at the Crossroads of the Mountains. Another concern for some may be that the writers undervalued the role of Blood Atonement in the killings. While the murder of Apostle Parley Pratt in Arkansas that spring generated anger, I think the authors do well here to discount it as a major motive for the massacre. Mormons seemed more concerned with blood atoning defectors than mean gentiles.
Another area of particular interest includes those issues involving the roles and causes for Indian action against the emigrants. The authors present a good case for the real likelihood of infectious anthrax as the cause for poisoned animals and Indian deaths. This is far more likely than the Mormon rumor that the some of the emigrants poisoned cattle from which they suspected Indians would eat. One of the appendices at the end of the book reveals that the Indians were present in greater numbers at Mountain Meadows than has been recently suggested in some works, but still in numbers far fewer as Mormon apologists earlier suggested.
The authors rightly and righteously excuse the victims of any responsibility for the tragedy, and place it squarely on the Mormons in Southern Utah. The book uses an explanatory model of three linked causes to explain why generally good people commit horrific crimes. First, church and militia leaders in Parowan and Cedar City permitted the actions and sermons of the senior leadership in Salt Lake City to mitigate their own moral responsibility. Second would be the individual killers desire to conform with and be accepted by his associates and colleagues in murder group, as particularly demonstrated in the case of John D. Lee, both as actor and acted upon. Finally, the killers were able to categorize the victims as them, a breed distinct from us, a group to which the remedy of violence becomes not only acceptable but preferable.
Although the writers believe that President Young and others unwittingly crafted through militant sermons and directions to not trade with the emigrants an environment for potential violence against outsiders, Walker and his co-writers argue that Young did not directly or indirectly order the killings. They generally ignore Bagleys assertion in "Blood of the Prophets" that the Huntington diary indicts Young for unleashing the Indians in the Territory on the emigrants. They do strongly attack John D. Lees confessions (later edited and expanded by his attorney as "Mormonism Unveiled"), which documents Apostle George A. Smiths trip to Southern Utah to set the stage as he purportedly orders the local leaders to destroy the Fancher wagon train. The LDS scholars argue on Youngs behalf that Lees attorney had a financial stake in the book doing well and that Lee refused consistently to blame Young right up to and including the day of his execution.
Seven years have passed to get the work to this stage, and it still is incomplete. Almost sixty years ago, Juanita Brooks, in "The Mountain Meadows Massacre," set the standard for modern scholarship and investigation of the Massacre. Despite all the writing since then, only Bagley qualitatively furthered it in "Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows." The reader will do well to remember that Brooks and Bagley carried the great labor of their books almost entirely by themselves, while the authors of "Massacre At Mountain Meadows" have received assistance from many hundreds of individuals, as well as that of more than two hundred professional libraries and other collections. Despite all the help, these authors decided the best way to present our information was by narrating it, largely foregoing topical or critical analysis (xii). Great history writing involves interpretation of the narrative, but Walker, Turley, and Leonard have kept their promise and,
I believe, missed the mark.
For instance, Juanita Brooks wrote to Roger B. Mathison, the Gifts & Exchange Librarian at University of Utah in later November, 1968 (Brooks to Mathison, 21 November 1968, Juanita Brooks Papers, MS 486, Folder 14, Manuscripts Division, University of Utah Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2). She told Mathison that she changed her mind about Youngs responsibility for the massacre. She had underplayed, she admitted, the role of the Indians in her book, and now believed "that" Young "was directly responsible" for the massacre because he stirred up the Indians. She mentions the meeting with the Indians to which Huntington referred, and believes that Haslams letter from Young to the Southern leadership is further evidence of Youngs guilt. The Fancher wagon train was away to the south of Utah, and its Indian threat, Young admitted to the Iron County leaders, "might have been more real than I had previously supposed." The missive instructs that the leaders "should . . . preserve good
feelings with them [the Indians]", written at a time when a battle (or massacre) supposedly might occur, actually was occurring, or had occurred. The letters tone clearly reveals that the emigrantsâ€™ welfare to Young, at the very least, was on the low scale when compared to that of the southern Indians or Mormons. A minimal interpretation of Brooks understanding of Youngs counsel is that if the Mormons had to choose a side, it should be Indians over emigrants, and that is the tale that "Massacre At Mountain Meadows" tells.
The authors are still not done with this book. I have been privately advised that they have revised the work twice since the Advanced Reading Copy was released, an event of which they were apparently not advised. Some readers still will question the books objectiveness and thoroughness. Other readers may have a real problem with what they perceive as the authors bias on behalf of the LDS church. I believe they must grip Brooks later opinion of Youngs culpability, and amend their casualness toward Bagleys evidence that the Boss was responsible for the crime.
Massacre At Mountain Meadows could be a seminal history of the early American West. Its advance copy is not.
by Harry Esteve, The Oregonian
Sen. Gordon Smith issued a strong apology today for remarks he made last week that some interpreted as a defense of polygamy and others took as equating polygamy with same-sex marriage.
At a gay rights panel discussion last week, Smith said his Mormon ancestors "were literally driven from the United States in the dead of winter for following their religious beliefs." The comments came in response to a question about Smith's support for a federal amendment to prohibit gay marriage.
In an interview with The Oregonian today, Smith said he remains staunch in his belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman. But he said he regrets bringing up his Mormon past.
"My remarks referenced a point in time when a few of my ancestors were persecuted for not adhering to that belief," Smith said. "It was an unfortunate reference, and I apologize for making it."
Smith, a Republican who is running for re-election, has worked hard to maintain good relations with the gay and lesbian community, including sponsoring a hate-crimes bill that covers attacks against homosexuals. He also supports Oregon's civil union law, and he favors broader rights for domestic partners.
But his earlier comments, which came during a panel discussion at the Center for American Progress, caused a ruckus among gays and lesbians.
"Talking about polygamy and same-sex unions in the same breath -- on the face it's offensive," said Frank Dixon, a Democratic Party and gay rights activist. "Maybe he can explain his way out of it."
Smith sought to do just that. Asked why he brought up his religious past, he offered this explanation:
"If you'd grown up a Mormon, and spent your life trying to get out from the shadow of that legacy -- it's an emotional scar that you carry. I meant no offense by sharing that part of my history."
He said he never meant to relate polygamy -- practiced by early Mormons but now rejected by the church -- to same-sex marriage.
"The fact of the matter is, I've been a leader in the Senate in the fight for equality for gays and lesbians," Smith said.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I heard that the brethren are reconsidering their interpretation of the word of wisdom… anyone heard of this?
I think it would definitely help to keep the high council awake as well as temple goers…. And then Mormons wouldn’t have to load up on all that sugary caffeinated soda pops… which definitely are more harmful… and diet isn’t any better considering the research on aspartame.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The Board of Directors of the Sunstone Education Foundation announces the hiring of Stephen R. Carter as its new Director of Publications and Editor, and Mary Ellen Robertson as its new Director of Outreach and Symposia.
The new directors are part of an ongoing strategic shift to adapt the 34-year-old institution to the changing landscape of Mormon studies, building upon the foundation's rich tradition and focusing efforts on expanding the Sunstone reach through both traditional and non-traditional content delivery mechanisms.
Carter will assume the responsibilities of editor on 11 August 2008, following the 2008 Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium. He has degrees in English and philosophy from Utah Valley State College, a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Alaska–Fairbanks, and a Ph.D. in narrative studies, also from the University of Alaska–Fairbanks.
Carter has experience as a full-time reporter for a daily newspaper, is the co-author of a book of satire, and has published numerous times in Sunstone, Dialogue, Irreantum, and several other magazines and journals.
Robertson will begin her role as Director of Outreach and Symposia on June 16. Robertson will be responsible for the annual Salt Lake Symposium and several smaller regional symposia each year. She will also be responsible for cultivating and growing the Sunstone community through campus outreach, Sunstone newsletters, online content through SunstoneMagazine.com and SunstoneBlog.com, and building relationships with the growing number of institutions sponsoring Mormon studies in academic and independent forums.
Robertson holds degrees in English and journalism from Brigham Young University and a Master of Arts in women's studies in religion from Claremont Graduate University.
The entire announcement can be read here
Enrollment by gender:
Freshmen 46.7% 53.3%
Sophomore 47.8% 52.2%
Junior 50.4% 49.6%
Senior 57.5% 42.5%
Graduates 60.9% 39.1%
Total Students 52.5% 47.5%
Top majors for women at BYU by number enrolled in 2007:
665 - English
552 - Psychology
392 - Home and Family Living
361 - Marriage, Family and Human Development
264 - Exercise Science
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
The Canadian Press reports:
Public concerns about older men marrying young girls and men with multiple wives at the B.C. polygamous community of Bountiful played a strong part in the decision to review whether charges of sexual abuse and polygamy are warranted against members of the religious group, says B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal.
Oppal said Monday that despite two earlier legal opinions weighing in against criminal charges, he directed the criminal justice branch to appoint a special prosecutor to look into allegations of misconduct in Bountiful, located near Creston in southeastern B.C.
"I want to do what's the right thing," said Oppal, a former judge. "I really want to do the right thing."
He said he constantly receives messages from British Columbians who want the government to take action at Bountiful.
"I take the public's view into consideration," said Oppal.
About 800 people live in Bountiful, where members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints live a polygamist lifestyle in a secluded agricultural community minutes away from the logging and ranching community of Creston and the U.S. border at Idaho.
Winston Blackmore, one of the religious leaders in Bountiful, did not respond to a request for an interview Monday.
In past interviews with The Canadian Press, he's said what happened in Texas was wrong and he hoped it wouldn't happen in Canada.
"I imagine that in Creston there's different cases of abuse, but I don't think they'd go arrest everyone in Creston," he said, referring to the nearest B.C. community to Bountiful.
Another member of the sect said abuse should be dealt with - on an individual basis.
Read the entire article here
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
Key West, Florida
Brain scans show subtle differences between the human
brain at rest (top row) and during prayer or meditation
Some of the nation's leading journalists gathered in Key West, Fla., in May 2008 for the Pew Forum's biannual Faith Angle Conference on religion, politics and public life.
Recent advances in neuroscience and brain-imaging technology have offered researchers a look into the physiology of religious experiences. In observing Buddhist monks as they meditate, Franciscan nuns as they pray and Pentecostals as they speak in tongues, Dr. Andrew Newberg, a radiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has found that measurable brain activity matches up with the religious experiences described by worshippers. The social, political and religious implications of these and other findings are just beginning to permeate the broader culture, according to New York Times columnist David Brooks, who has been tracking new developments in the field.
What does brain science add to age-old debates about the existence of God and the value of religion? Can political parties and religious groups use scientific insights to influence the beliefs of others? Are scientists as a group becoming more open to ideas of religion and spirituality? The Pew Forum invited Dr. Newberg and Mr. Brooks to raise these questions and share their insights with the journalists gathered in Key West.
Michael Cromartie, Vice President, Ethics and Public Policy Center; Senior Advisor, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Navigate this transcript:
Q&A discussion topics:
Brain responses to "flip-flopping"
Does science reject the soul?
Is religious Darwinism valid?
Does neuroscience confirm religious belief?
What causes religious or political transformations?
Brain physiology in party politics
Is scientific materialism really in decline?
Should society prevent the spread of harmful beliefs?
Do unconscious drives negate free will?
Members of a polygamous sect have been quietly buying up property in Colorado's Custer and Fremont counties and settling in, according to the Custer County sheriff.
"We have reason to believe that they are the same organization that was in Texas that has been in the news," said Custer County Sheriff Fred Jobe....
The FLDS already has a presence in Colorado. In 2005, sect members purchased land outside Mancos, west of Durango, to build a retreat for Jeffs.
In the past two years, a senior aide to Jeffs has purchased three properties in Custer County, near the town of Westcliffe. Jobe said that one property is northeast of Westcliffe, where there is a good-size community of FLDS members. A house on a piece of property to the west of the town is also being remodeled.
"They seem to be always adding on, building, doing something around the places," said Jobe. "That seems to be an ongoing thing."
So far, the members of the FLDS sect have kept to themselves, though Jobe and some of his deputies have talked to some of the men. "We hardly ever see them in town," said Jobe. "They own their own place. The men do some shopping around town, but it's very rare to see the women and children in town."
So far, there have been no complaints about the FLDS members in Custer County.
"At this point, since they're not breaking any laws, we're just keeping track of what they're doing," said Jobe.Here