A Letter for My Someday-Teenage Children

* This is a letter examining faith, written for my children--though they currently lack the attention span and the adolescent angst to get through such a long discussion. I hope someday they will find it useful. In the meantime, perhaps others will find it useful now. I’ve changed the personal names of people who aren’t already public figures speaking about Mormonism, or Chinese revolutionaries.2 July 2017, Auckland, New ZealandDear buddies,Since I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, I’ve … [Read more...]

First-Order Myopia: What Donald Trump Can Learn from Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith's life was cut short because he failed to look beyond first-order consequences. Trump should learn from his mistake. In the summer of 1844, the bustling new city of Nauvoo, Illinois, was a powder keg. Doctrinal disputes and personal feuds had birthed a state of heightened tension between Joseph Smith, the mayor of Nauvoo and founder of Mormonism, and certain Mormon dissidents. These tensions came to a head on June 7, when some of Smith’s detractors published the first (and only) e … [Read more...]

Mormon Illustration and the Burden of History – 1 of 2

In his book Miracles, C.S. Lewis dwells for a peculiarly long time on the Ascension of Christ. Namely, he muses on the how onlookers perceived and today’s Christians imagine the event.Why the sustained attention to this aspect of this moment? For one, Lewis is bound to the Neo-Platonic Christian theology that divorces the spiritual from the material, and sets the former above the latter on the scale of truth and value; however, he faces an account wherein Christ’s Ascension is not a strictly … [Read more...]

Review: The Mormon Jesus

Perhaps my devotional life’s greatest flaw is that I forget about Jesus. Intellectually, of course, I know that I cannot ignore the Savior when speaking about theology, but much of the time my musings tend to amble away toward questions of divine-human ontology, creation, exaltation, and eternal family relationships instead.Therefore, I was curious what John Turner would have to say in his The Mormon Jesus, published by Harvard University Press last month. Through his Brigham Young: Pioneer P … [Read more...]

Wait, What Is The White Horse Prophecy?

Americans rarely unilaterally agree on anything, but there has risen one important break from that trend; we’re all convinced that the 2016 election is next level bonkers. All of us. Including, apparently, Mitt Romney.As of this post, Romney is posed to make a big speech at the University of Utah tomorrow morning, which has some eager politicos wondering if he’s making some sort of play as a late addition to the race, a wishful thought for anyone feeling hopeless after Donald Drumpf’s dismal … [Read more...]

Mistakes in Mormonism; or Why the Church Handbook isn’t Doctrine

By Gary AshcroftLet me preface my comments with a few statements. I am Mormon. I’ve been one for my entire life. I believe that the Gospel is true and that it can bring us happiness. I also believe that the Church is led by a prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and that he speaks for God. I am proud of my membership in the Church and wish in no way to disparage it, abandon it, or equivocate as to my beliefs.That being said, I also recognize that the Church and the Gospel are not the same. The G … [Read more...]

The 5 Best References to Mormonism in the History of Television

So that Quantico show debuted a little while back. It's a show about FBI agents and stuff that critics seem to generally like, but Mormons are generally nervous about. Apparently there's a steamy hot Mormon hunk in the first episode who doesn't really make it to the second episode and there was a lot of anxiety over this because I guess his temple garments were visible in one scene (but less visible than originally intended, or something?).  Also, from what I gather the Mormon dude turns out to b … [Read more...]

Death, Sealing Power, and “Trusting into Transformation”

[Preliminary note: This is the first of two posts relaying insights from a few years of reflecting on Mormon ideas about salvation and family in light of Sam Brown’s masterful study of early Mormonism, In Heaven as It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death.] My favorite invocation/description of what Mormons call “the sealing power” comes from the eulogy that inspired the King Follett Discourse, Joseph Smith’s boldest challenge to the brand of Calvinism popular among ma … [Read more...]