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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

Ten Intro Books for Getting a Handle on the Early Chapters of Genesis

A friend recently asked for a list of books to read as an intro to the issues in Genesis 1-3 as well as the Moses and Abraham parallels.  I focused on the former, because there's not a whole lot dealing with the latter. I have a few chapters on it in my book, so I could write a separate post, if desired. When I taught my Institute class on Genesis a few years ago, I wrote a summary of each week. I treat Moses and Abraham briefly, here.The books below are generally introductary volumes from di … [Read more...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 9: 2Ne 11-25

Last week was insane, and I didn't get a post up. Today I'm trying and failing to  catch up, so my offering this week is meager.First, a PSA. Someone asked me a question about the Amazon support links I post at the bottom. They had clicked on it and gone to Amazon looking for a special tick box or option that said "Benjamin the Scribe," because that's how some of Amazon's other programs work. I'm part of the Amazon Associates program, which means that there's nothing special you need to cl … [Read more...]