Matt Bowman and Ben Park Talk Seer Stones On RadioWest

Photograph by Welden C. Andersen and Richard E. Turley Jr., Courtesy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 For the lucky few vacationing in isolated corners of the world without internet access, you may have missed the furious hubbub surrounding Joseph Smith’s seer stone. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in conjunction with the Community of Christ released previously unseen photographs of the stone along with a new volume of manuscripts from the Joseph Smith Papers Project, sparking a conversation among Mormons about its significance and relevance to faith.Former Peculiar P … [Read more...]

The Risks and Revelations of Protest and Lament

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass gave voice to the unspeakable injustice of American slavery in an address unrivaled either before or since. As a former slave, he spoke from profound experience. As an orator, he spoke with deft and sharpened words. “What, to the American slave,” he asked his white audience, “is your 4th of July?” The answer: “a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.” This was not celebr … [Read more...]

“The Prophecy of This Book”

Believers in the Book of Mormon are inevitably acquainted with Revelation 22:18-19:For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.For as long as … [Read more...]

Doubting at Zion’s Gate

Through happenstance, two of my recent reads synergistically centered on doubt and the thresholds of religion.In the first, Elmer Miller’s Nurturing Doubt, the author reflects on his time as a Mennonite missionary in the Argentine Chaco (exactly where I served my LDS mission) and his later return as a professional anthropologist. He relates how his experience in ministering to the Toba, an ethnic group native to the Chaco, caused him to question the utility of the Christian message and A … [Read more...]

What do we mean by “Another Testament”?

Before 1981, the Book of Mormon was simply the Book of Mormon; since then, however, it has borne the subtitle “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” I suspect that this addition had several purposes. First almost certainly was to draw attention to Christ in a church that many consider non-Christian.[1]  Second would be to clarify the relationship of the book to the Bible: not a replacement, but An Other Testament like the Old and New ones.Growing up, I always read “testament” as “testimony”: in … [Read more...]

The Restoration and War

A stray M16 on my pulpit in Shukvani, Afghanistan

Written on Memorial Day, 2014  This is my first Memorial Day home after combat.  In Afghanistan, I prayed over the injured, the dying, and the dead—and I suppose it's fitting to pray for all of them again, today.  I'm not as haunted by the dead as I am by these words, which I often heard when a casualty came in and a Marine or Sailor would respond, "Don't worry, Chaps: it's only an Afghan."  I suppose the moral wounds are greater than the physical. As a mili … [Read more...]

No More Strangers

One of my most familiar childhood religious memories is waking up at the end of the General Conference broadcast, sprawled full-length on the floor with the marks of the carpet in my cheek. “This has been the [ordinal number] conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the familiar voice intoned over the postlude. As the camera panned around the trees at Temple Square, I would pan around the living room to get the lay of the land. My father was asleep. My mother was asleep. My … [Read more...]

Ordaining Women Is Not Going Away for LDS

The issue of women’s ordination in the LDS church is at least in its fourth decade.   In the 1970’s, and especially in the 1980’s after the expansion of the priesthood to all worthy males in 1978, LDS women and men have published and organized in favor in women’s ordination.  Such movements have been common in other American churches, which vigorously debated the issues during the 20th century. Movements for women’s ordination exist in nearly every denomination which has not already made the tran … [Read more...]