Stephen L. Richards on science, religion, questions, and General Authorities

On May 31, 1925, Elder Stephen L. Richards gave the baccalaureate sermon to the graduating class of BYU, which was quite small at the time. This was in the lead-up to the Scopes trial (which is why I'm reading it), and Richards, a lawyer, had been an Apostle for 15 years at this point. His address was printed in the Improvement Era in September, after the Scopes trial had concluded. (On which, see this great book.)That issue also eulogizes William Jennings Bryan (who had died suddenly right … [Read more...]

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BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 17: Mosiah 7-11

I have an awful lot on my plate in the next week, so this is straight out of my previous notes. If I have time next week, I'll return and revise.First, a summary.Mosiah 7:1 Mosiah sends a much later follow-up team to the group that had gone in Omni  27-30 (Amaleki’s brother went with them), and then we start the account of the original group in Mos 9:1.Group 1 leaves (Omni 1:27-30/Mosiah 9:1). Zeniff isn’t the leader, but present. They see Lamanites, dispute among themselves, and kil … [Read more...]

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May 4th is Not Just Star Wars Day…

Few Mormons, I think, know that May 4 is a significant day in LDS liturgical history.  … [Read more...]

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BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 16: Mosiah 4-6

Once again, I'd remind you of the book on King Benjamin's speech (paper here), and the verse-by-verse commentary in it.I'll be adding my own bits which don't overlap, and happen to be, well, on quasi-controversial topics.First, on a general note, "wisdom" appears several times (2:17, 36; 4:6, 9, 27; 5:15). In the Old Testament, wisdom is a very specific technical term, referring to understanding how one should live a happy, successful life. We tend to think ALL scripture was written for t … [Read more...]

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BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 15: Mosiah 1-3

To open, we need some big picture structural discussion.Mosiah 1 is not Mosiah 1. In fact, it is Mosiah 3, ppeand the first two chapters are missing. How do we know this?First, Book of Mormon books tend to be named after the first and major character, but Mosiah opens with... Benjamin, not his father Mosiah1.Second, books usually get some kind of intro, but Mosiah starts in media res- "AND now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who be … [Read more...]

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BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 14: Enos, Jarom, Omni, Words of Mormon

It's been a few weeks since my last post. First came General Conference; the next weekend, I was in Utah presenting at a conference, followed by a family reunion. My parents were in Salt Lake City for mission training before heading to Ghana, and all the maternal siblings came. Last weekend, well, the end of the semester is nigh and it's always a little apocalyptic and high-pressure.We often assert that the Book of Mormon is historical, and rightly so, in my view. But even so, it was c … [Read more...]

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Joseph F. Smith on Evolution and Teaching in Church Schools

The general thrust of my research over the next few years will be science, religion, and history, centered around evolution and scriptural interpretation. I'll post various things from time to time. The following comes from The Juvenile Instructor, Vol XLVI No. 4 (April 1911): 208-9. BYU had just undergone a controversy of sorts about evolution, the nature of the Bible, and some other intertwined issues. See my post here. Writing in the Church's magazine, President Joseph F. Smith, in the 10th ye … [Read more...]

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An Easter Post: Refugees, Mormons, and the Law of Moses

I only saw bits and pieces of the Women's Session of General Conference tonight, but got a teaser of the theme last night from Elder Oaks' visit to Claremont.The LDS Church has generally been very favorable to refugees and immigrants. There is good historical reason for this. As dramatized by video in the session today, LDS have institutional memory and family stories about the multiple times we too had to flee because of violence and death, leaving behind everything of value. We too were … [Read more...]

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