Mormon Halacha and Common Law

In kosher law, wine is only kosher when it has been produced and handled by Jews. In this way this kosher law is distinctive from the LDS "Word of Wisdom" in that it is not about the substance of the drink, but how it is handled. There is one exception to this rule, however. If the wine produced by Gentiles is boiled, it becomes kosher. On its face, there is no logical principle why boiling the wine would render it ritually clean, but that is not the point. Rather, the point is that the law is … [Read more...]

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Women as the True Disciples and Apostles of Christ in the Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark, written c. 65-70 C.E., is the earliest of the four gospels (even being edited and reused as a source text for the Gospels of Luke and Matthew), and offers a unique perspective among the gospels on the meaning of discipleship and following Jesus. [1]  Mark places heavy emphasis on the suffering(s) and death of Jesus, and understands true Christian discipleship in terms of literally following Jesus' example through experiencing and enduring suffering and persecution for the … [Read more...]

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Misrecognition

Misrecognition is one of those important terms in anthropology that is so useful that you almost can't help thinking about it all the time. Two of its most important proponents are Pierre Bourdieu and Catherine Bell who use it to explain ritual, or more precisely, ritualized practices. … [Read more...]

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An American Prophet

Mormons are not the only prophetic tradition in America. The African American spiritual community also has its own prophetic roots, and Martin Luther King, Jr. is the paradigmatic figure from that tradition. It is true that these two traditions define prophetic leadership differently. For Mormons, today even more so than in our past, the prophetic mantle is held by right of institutional authority. The prophetic responsibility is to testify to the world of Christ, and to teach the faithful. … [Read more...]

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Righteous Dissent?

Paul's bitter dispute with Peter and James poses a problem for thinking about LDS notions of authority because it puts into tension church authority and moral and doctrinal issues. When true doctrine and church leadership are in conflict, how are we to make a choice between them? When our sense of what is moral conflicts with our leaders' sense of what is moral, what are we supposed to do? Paul found himself in exactly this situation, and had to make a choice between his own sense of what was … [Read more...]

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Spiritual Twinkies and Acceptable Criticism

In the 1990's, I recall a strong movement against a pernicious offense in church education. The spiritual twinkie was soundly criticized as a useless item of spiritual nourishment, bringing only temporary satisfaction, but failing to build a solid diet. (It is likely that such discourse persists today, but I am not in those circles, so I speak here in the past tense). Like the the milk before meat metaphor, the twinkie came to occupy a particular kind of spiritual nourishment that was seen as … [Read more...]

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Uzzah Killed For Blind Obedience

Let me start out by saying I’m a big, big fan of obedience. And I also see many instances where the scriptures teach we should not criticize our leaders. I’ve got no problem with that – IMHO our leaders deserve all the support we can give them. However, I think that we have been badly misinterpreting a story that is commonly used to support these concepts. The traditional Mormon interpretation of the story of Uzzah and the ark in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chr 13 is familiar to most of us: Uzzah reaches ou … [Read more...]

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The Holy Person in Mormonism?

Eve's recent post at ZD on the magical GA got me thinking about how such a phenomenon fits in the larger history of Christianity. The LDS conception of religious potency is so closely intertwined with hierarchical leadership that it is not surprising that these businessmen and lawyers are able to receive such devotion by those seeking ecstatic or thaumaturgic experiences. What is interesting to me is whether or not the religiously potent can exist outside of the structures of LDS authority, as … [Read more...]

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