Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Standardized International Church Newsroom Website Launched

First Standardized International Church Newsroom Website Launched,

This week, Newsroom took another step forward in its Web outreach with the launch of its Mexico Newsroom website,

While many Latter-day Saint country websites have a newsroom section associated with them, the Mexico Newsroom is the first of several Newsroom websites to roll out in the coming months in a format similar to the worldwide Newsroom.

Mexico Newsroom content is published in Spanish and will serve news media, opinion leaders and the public in Mexico. The Church has more than 14 million members worldwide, and approximately 1,230,000 of those live in Mexico.

Need for caffeine in your DNA

Is obeying the Word of Wisdom more difficult for some due to genetics?  Excerpts of Need for caffeine in your DNA, by Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times (h.t. Eduard Meyer)
...  A team of researchers from Harvard, the National Cancer Institute and other esteemed institutions of biological science reports that our need for caffeine is in our DNA.
There are two of these so-called caffeine genes, according to a report published this spring in PLoS Genetics.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Utah ranks last for percentage of women finishing college

KUER: The College Gender Gap in Utah

KUER: The College Gender Gap in Utah by Tasha Cook, KUER-FM

Since 1940, studies showed a pattern of Utah women outperforming their national counterparts in getting college degrees. But in the past fifteen years, that has dramatically changed, leaving Utah in last place for its percentage of women who finish college. KUER's Tasha Cook examines the perceptions and cultural expectations leading to the high drop-out rate.
To listen online, click here.

The Book of Morma, a feminine reading of the Book of Mormon

Excerpts of The Book of Morma, A Feminine Reading of the Book of Mormon, by Flora Walker


...The narratives and teachings of the Book of Mormon are, arguably more so than the Bi ble, male-dominated and patriarchal.  Female characters that do make appearances in the text usually do so in supporting roles (e.g. wives and mothers,) as traditional female icons (e.g. Mary and Eve,) or in instances of deus ex machina (e.g. Abish and Morianton's maid-servant.) ...
This book, The Book of Morma, is the feminine counterpart of the Book of Mormon—a protracted "role reversal" composition derived from the Book of Mormon text.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New P.R. focus: "Missionary Media Initiative"

This anonymous report is circulating around the Internet

I wanted to report in about my experience in church today. The bishop called a rather impromptu 2nd hour meeting, and asked that all over age 14 attend, rather than go to their regular sunday school classes.

Here are my notes:

The focus of the meeting was about profiles. Our stake (and who knows how many others) had a training yesterday with Elder Wright about the "new intiative."

Utah No. 8 in plastic surgeons

Excerpts of Utah No. 8 in the U.S. in numbers of plastic surgeons per capital, (see also Salt Lake leads nation in breast implant inquires)

...The numbers used to calculate the ratios were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau and the American Board of Medical Specialties. The Census Bureau's website provides the most recent population counts for each state (2010), and the ABMS publishes a booklet each year that breaks down the numbers of doctors board certified in each medical specialty in each state.
In any state, other doctors in a variety of specialties may be performing some types of plastic surgery, namely cosmetic procedures, but it is difficult to assess exactly how many because it is not necessary for them to be board certified in plastic surgery to perform these aesthetic procedures.
... Breast augmentation was the most frequently performed cosmetic surgery in

'The Book of Mormon' is going to London

Excerpts of Is The Book of Mormon Aiming to Convert London Audiences? by Adam Hetrick , Playbill

Producer Sonia Friedman is hoping to bring the Tony Award-nominated Broadway hit The Book of Mormon to London next year, according to the Times of London.

The musical centers on a mismatched pair of Mormon missionaries who venture from Salt Lake City to AIDS-ravaged Uganda in the hopes of converting villagers with the story of Joseph Smith and the founding of the Mormon Church. The problem is: Only one of them has actually read the book.

Glenn Beck: Hurricane Irene is a 'blessing' teaching the principle of food storage

Excerpts of Glenn Beck: Hurricane Irene is a 'blessing', by Dan Gilgoff, Religion Editor
Conservative radio host Glenn Beck told listeners Friday that Hurricane Irene, the Category 1 storm that's working its deadly way up the Eastern Seaboard, is "a blessing from God."

Beck has long urged his fans to stockpile food in their homes in anticipation of a global food disruption. He said Irene should be construed as a divine warning for those who have ignored that advice.

... The Washington Post reports that in encouraging home stockpiling, Beck, a convert to Mormonism, is echoing Mormon church teaching. The church encourages members to build home storehouses of food that could last for at least three months.

Laura F. Willes Book of Mormon Lecture

Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon LifeLaura F. Willes Book of Mormon Lecture, 8 September

The second biennial Book of Mormon Lecture, sponsored by Brigham Young University's Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies, will be given by John L. Sorenson on Thursday, September 8, 2011, in the Assembly Hall of the Gordon B. Hinckley Center on the BYU campus. The lecture is free and begins at 7:00 pm.

John L. Sorenson is one of the most prolific contributors to Book of Mormon publications. The title of his lecture is "Mormon's Sources." Sorenson is an emeritus professor of Anthropology at Brigham Young University and was closely involved with the Foundation of Ancient Research and Mormon Studies for 28 years, including five years as editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. He has published more than 200 books and articles including Mormon's Map and Images of Ancient America, both published by FARMS at BYU. But perhaps his most widely known book, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, set forth for the first time the criteria that cannot be ignored when searching for the geographic setting of the Book of Mormon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The polygamy of Joseph Smith and Warren Jeffs


In a bold, lengthy article, Peggy Fletcher Stack discusses aspects of the polygamous practices of Mormon founder Joseph Smith Jr.,  comparing them to those of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs (who considers himself carrying on the prophetic tradition/authority of Joseph Smith). Stack includes the opinions of prominent Mormon historians who have authored works on  Joseph Smith's polygamy. 

Below are selections of Comparing Mormon founder, FLDS leader on polygamy  by Peggy Fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune.  Also listen to audio of Warren Jeffs instructing his wives.

Film: "The Religions Test" exploring the socio-politics of Mormon presidential aspirations

I'm writing to spark conversation and garner support for our  upcoming and timely LDS documentary.

With a hit Broadway musical, reality shows and two presidential candidates [John Huntsman, Mitt Romney], it isn't surprising that Newsweek dubbed this the "Mormon Moment". But despite the  rise in attention, 1 in 5 Americans would still not support a Mormon President of the  United States.

The Religious Test  is a documentary film project that will examine why this  hesitation still exists, where does it come from and what does it say about American democracy?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2012 Relief Society/Priesthood Manual: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith

Side Note: LDS-Church-History is presenting an in-depth look at the life of the 8th president of the church - George Albert Smith.

Several events from his life are being presented each day, gradually traversing through his entire life  -- growing up as the son of an apostle, serving as apostle with his father, and his administration as the prophet of the church.

Sources include:
  • George Albert Smith journals
  • John Henry Smith journals (his father, an apostle and member of first presidency)
  • Heber J. Grant journals
  • Journals of other apostles, chronologies, meeting minutes and notes by various historians.
Enjoy an unprecedented look at life of George Albert Smith, much from never-before published sources.  Subscribe via: :Email, Twitter , Facebook or  Feed.

----end of sidenote --------

Excerpts of 2012 Priesthood/Relief Society Course: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith by Ardis Parshall,

...Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith is printed and publicly available at the Church History Library, presumably prepared for use in next year's Priesthood and Relief Society curriculum.

Contents of the new manual are:

Glenn Beck fuels tension in Israel

The Original Argument: The Federalists' Case for the Constitution, Adapted for the 21st CenturyGlenn Beck fuels tension in Israel By Jamshid Ghazi Askar, Deseret News

Glenn Beck stirred up controversy Wednesday with his pro-Jewish comments during the final event of his "Restoring Courage" tour of Israel.
"Conservative Christian commentator Glenn Beck capped a contentious visit to Israel Wednesday by hosting a rally next to a hotly disputed holy site in Jerusalem's Old City," the Associated Press reported. "But religious figures and left-wing politicians have come together in an unusual alliance appealing to Israelis to shun his embrace. Religious Jews are worried he is here to spread the Christian gospel, while dovish Israelis reject Beck's support for West Bank Jewish settlements and his criticism of peace efforts."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bushman Gold Plates seminar summary

Ben Park at TimesandSeasons has summarized the recent Richard Bushman summer seminar, sponsored by the Neal Maxwell Institute. Excerpts of"The Cultural History of the Gold Plates": Notes from the 2011 Bushman/Givens Seminar, Part I
The Mormon Scholars Foundation Summer Seminar, founded by Richard Bushman and recently co-directed with Terryl Givens, has a tradition of gathering the brightest young Mormon scholars for six weeks to research, engage, and present on specific themes or periods. This year's group was no exception. A dozen participants ranging from an undergraduate majoring in engineering to an Assistant Professor in Religious Studies ... gathered together to explore the theme, "The Cultural History of the Gold Plates." I had the great privilege to attend their presentations today, and what follows is my brief recap, broken into two parts.

First (?) openly gay man to serve in LDS bishopric

Excerpts of An Open Letter from Mitch Mayne (See also this from the Salt Lake Tribune)
I am Mitch Mayne, and I am an openly gay Latter-Day Saint.
On August 14, 2011, I was sustained as a member of the Bishopric in the Bay Ward of the San Francisco Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons).
I accepted this calling because of the opportunity it presents me to serve my Savior and my community. And, I accepted this calling as my authentic self: A gay man who loves his Savior, loves his Mormon family, loves his counterparts within the LGBTQ community, and recognizes himself to be completely whole as I am—just as my Father made me.
Continue reading here

Monday, August 22, 2011

Oldest known life-form discovered

22fossil-articleInline-v2.jpgExcerpts of Team Claims It Has Found Oldest Fossils By NICHOLAS WADE, New York Times

A team of Australian and British geologists have discovered fossilized, single-cell organisms that are 3.4 billion years old and that the scientists say are the oldest known fossils on earth.
Their assertion, if sustained, confirms the view that life evolved on earth surprisingly soon after the Late Heavy Bombardment,

Huntsman on Blacks and the Priesthood

John Huntsman Life Size Cardboard Stand up Sku 1167THIS WEEK Web Extra: Huntsman on a Mormon Controversy

TAPPER: Do you think it's fair for reporters or members of the public to ask candidates about their faith?

HUNTSMAN:  I think it's fair, but it doesn't matter what I think about it, reporters are going to ask regardless.

TAPPER: Well, OK.  Here I go then.

You're Mormon. Until you were 18, your church had racist rules. It would not allow anyone with African ancestry to become a priest and blacks were also banned from participating in certain Mormon ordinances, such as temple marriages. Then the leadership of the church, in 1978, announced something along the lines of that God had changed his mind or the rules had changed because of revelation. You seem to be a thinking man. What was it like to go through this as a -- as a young man, your church having racist rules and then all of a sudden, God says no more?

Friday, August 19, 2011

LDS church and search engine optimization

Excerpts of Mormons using the Web to control their own image, By Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post
Try this. Type "church," "Old Testament" or even "friend" into Google, and the Web site of the LDS church, the Mormons, pops up near the top of the list.

In the age of the Internet, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has found a way to dominate what is arguably today's most important information source: the search engine.

It's all about Mormons controlling their own image, church officials say. They've been doing that for a century or more. And now, with two of their own vying for the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential race, and a Broadway hit and reality television generating huge interest in the denomination, much is at stake.

Death of Joseph Smith

As Mormon-Church-History has traced through the history of the church, it has finally arrived at the the events immediately preceding the death of Joseph Smith.  Over the next few days, an hour-by-hour chronology of the dramatic last few days of Joseph Smith's life will be detailed.

Tune in -- get your daily dose of Mormon History -- available via Blog, Rss, Email, Facebook or Twitter:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Scholars trace Bible's evolution

Excerpts of In Jerusalem, scholars trace Bible's evolution By Matti Friedman, associated press
JERUSALEM (AP) — A dull-looking chart projected on the wall of a university office in Jerusalem displayed a revelation that would startle many readers of the Old Testament: the sacred text that people revered in the past was not the same one we study today.An ancient version of one book has an extra phrase. Another appears to have been revised to retroactively insert a prophecy after the events happened.
Scholars have been quietly at work for 53 years on one of the most ambitious projects attempted in biblical studies — publishing the authoritative edition of the Old Testament, also known as the Hebrew Bible, and tracking every single evolution of the text over centuries and millennia.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review: Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism

Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of MormonismAs a young LDS missionary I was thrilled reading Parley P.  Pratt's epic biography.  I marveled at his tales of harrowing prison time and daring escapes, the Missouri persecutions, missionary travels, his view of the early Mormon Church and Joseph Smith.  I wondered why such things didn't seem to happen today.  Since then I've come to believe that autobiographies can often obscure as much as they reveal, and Pratt's book is no different (historian Benjamin Park has done excellent work on framing Pratt's autobiography as his way of maintaining relevance and connection to a LDS movement he sometimes felt adrift from; work which the biographers employ, though my index-less advanced copy of the book prevents my providing a page number for it!).  A new biography of the Mormon apostle tempers Pratt's autobiographical enthusiasm, offsetting his memories with many mundane actualities to bring him back down to earth a bit--enough to make him appear simultaneously less amazing and all the more compelling....

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mayan expert Michael Coe on Book of Mormon archeology

Dr. Michael Coe – An Outsider's View of Book of Mormon Archaeology, by
Dr. Michael Coe is the Charles J. MacCurdy professor emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University and curator emeritus of the Division of Anthropology at the school's Peabody Museum of Natural History.

He is an expert on the Maya, who inhabited the same part of Mexico and Central American where Mormon scholars say the events of the Book of Mormon took place.

In this interview, Coe discusses the challenges facing Mormon archaeologists attempting to prove the historical truth of their central scripture and his own views on Joseph Smith.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible: Electronic Library

Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible: Electronic Library brings together a wealth of information and recent scholarship on Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible. The Electronic Library also includes high-resolution images of every page of the original manuscripts, images and transcriptions of the earliest copies made from those manuscripts, and a collection of recently published studies based on the manuscripts. Each manuscript is preceded by a short introductory essay. This collection also includes the entire 851-page book, Joseph Smith's New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts, edited by Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews.

An Evening with Michael Quinn

Excerpts of AN EVENING WITH D. MICHAEL QUINN, Benchmark Books
Friday August 12th
Unitarian Universalist Sanctuary
569 South 1300 East, SLC
7:00 - 9:30 p.m.

This Friday, August 12th, John Dehlin of Mormon Stories will be interviewing D. Michael Quinn in the Unitarian Universalist sanctuary at 569 South 1300 East in Salt Lake City between 7:00 and 9:30 p.m.  Admission will be $15.  Proceeds will go to Michael and the Open Stories foundation. Click here for information and preregistration. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Mormon Defense League

Excerpts of New website to jump to Mormonism's defense by Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake Tribune
On Thursday, the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) announced that it was launching the Mormon Defense League (MDL) to help journalists "get it right" .
If the MDL notices a misstatement or mischaracterization, the group will first contact the journalist. But if a pattern of misrepresentation emerges, the defense league will "go after the writer" by posting the piece or pieces on its website ( and pointing out the errors.

Genetic studies threaten Adam and Eve

An engraving depicting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, by Albrecht Durer, 15th century.

Excerpts of Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve  by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, NPR

Let's go back to the beginning — all the way to Adam and Eve, and to the question: Did they exist, and did all of humanity descend from that single pair?
Polls by Gallup and the Pew Research Center find that four out of 10 Americans believe this account. It's a central tenet for much of conservative Christianity.
But now some conservative scholars are saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account. Asked how likely it is that we all descended from Adam and Eve, Dennis Venema, a biologist at Trinity Western University, replies: "That would be against all the genomic evidence that we've assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all."