To the Editors of the Deseret News

Dear Sir / Ma'am:I was interested to read in your edition of Thursday, January 21st an article by Dr. Daniel C. Peterson about a book by James R. Hutchinson engaging various aspects of so-called Historical Jesus research.I was also interested to see that Peterson does not go much beyond the description of the book as found on Amazon; following it so closely that a link to Amazon would have saved column-inches and allowed Peterson to engage more robustly with the work itself.  For i … [Read more...]

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To the General Presidents of the Women’s Auxiliaries

Dear Sisters,As a Relief Society president in a small unit outside of Utah I have watched with interest the roll-out of the Church’s policy on gay marriage, cohabitation, and the children of gay parents who live or have lived in stable relationships. I would like to ask one question and make one request. My question is this:Were the three of you consulted about these policies? … [Read more...]

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Polygamy and Same-Sex Marriage: The Contagion Theory

The recent policy changes in the LDS church treat polygamy and same-sex marriage as analogous in two ways. First, they are explicitly defined as "apostasy," resulting in automatic church discipline. Second, the children of such relationships receive the highest level of scrutiny before they are allowed to join the church. Why are these two kinds of relationships, and the children of such relationships, subject to such treatment? We might note that other sexual and relationship sins will result … [Read more...]

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The Future of Mormonism

As has frequently been noted by a variety of commentators, modern Mormonism seems to be entering what will be a very difficult cultural transition during the 21 century, where one of the defining issues will be whether the church will allow for greater cultural, social, and intellectual diversity among its ranks and still be able to maintain a sense of traditional communal identity or whether conservative forces will enact further retrenchment, thus leading to greater social fragmentation and … [Read more...]

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Our Dirty Hands

In 1973 Michael Walzer wrote an article entitled “Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands.” In the article, Walzer argued that involvement in politics entails confronting difficult situations where values conflict. Adjudicating between values requires making compromises; and while most compromises can be understood in terms of mutual concessions interested parties make in order to further some common good, other situations are more extreme. These situations call for compromise in the sense o … [Read more...]

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Some non-arguments against ordaining women to the LDS priesthood

I’m sure all these things have been said before and better, but in order to satisfy my need to respond to some of the assertions presented as self-evident arguments against opening the LDS priesthood to women, I collect my responses here. Here are my top five non-arguments [with a sixth I couldn’t resist]:1. Men and women are not the same.2. Women have moral authority.3. There is no scriptural precedent for ordaining women.4. There is scriptural precedent for the denial of equal t … [Read more...]

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The Problem of Gendered Voice in the Church Memo to leaders of Ordain Women

The non-accidental choice of the Church to issue the recent press release through a female spokesperson struck me as particularly problematic, but it may also be indicative of positive change on the horizon. For me the main issue relates to the deployment of the gendered voice of the author as a strategy in crafting the message, a strategy that might reveal itself under present circumstances as a logical quandary. … [Read more...]

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Doubt and the Dangers of Reading Alone

A lot has already been said about the Hans Mattsson article in the NYT. One issue, however, that I feel needs further exploration is how crises of faith might be approached from a more therapeutic or pastoral angle. Below are some excerpts from a sacrament talk I delivered at the beginning of this year. I hope it might contribute to the recent discussions of doubt and faith crises in Mormonism.This invitation to speak coincided with a presentation I attended on Islam. The presenter studied … [Read more...]

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