Familiar with All and Free with Our Substance

This past year I read (or returned to) a handful of both fiction and nonfiction portraits of poverty. Part of the motivation for this reading was the significance of economic inequality as a contemporary political issue (see #feelthebern), but the primary motivation was religious. I have found it very hard to read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Doctrine and Covenants and ignore the claims these texts make about God’s desire that the poor receive attention. This desire is clearly present i … [Read more...]

These Three Things Are True

Sharp divisions make it hard to pinpoint "how Mormons feel" about the policy barring children of same-sex married parents from blessing or baptism in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but these three things are true:Mormonism is charismatic. Mormonism is organized. Mormonism is Mormons.By “Mormonism is charismatic” (from the term “charismata”, or gifts of the Holy Spirit including visions, healings, prophecy, etc.) I mean that its existence as a religious tradition is … [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...]

How I choose to see the revisions

I write this as a heterosexual person, one who is not directly affected by the new strictures in the Church Handbook of Instructions (CHI). For that reason, this is all very easy for me to say. I do not blame those who are 'closer to' this situation if their reaction is different from mine. I do not blame those who will leave. However, let's get one thing straight from the beginning: those who made this decision did not relish it. The Brethren do not look for ways to kick people out of the … [Read more...]

125 Years of the Manifesto – and an overlooked change in Mormon scripture

 “It seemed to me to be the awfulest moment in my life," - wrote B. H. Roberts - "my arm was like lead when the motion was put; I could not vote for it, and did not.”¹ But his abstention in the 6 October 1890 General Conference wasn't taken into account. Both the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Herald coverage stated that the vote to approve the Manifesto had been unanimous, even though many members didn't raise their arms to support the document: … [Read more...]

Matt Bowman and Ben Park Talk Seer Stones On RadioWest

 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...]

A Review and a Farewell: Of Manuscripts and Seer Stones

I've been, as Mormons say, "less active" here at the blog for the past few months. A number of changes have forced me to contribute less---among them graduation ("Doctor Spencer," now!) and a move to Utah. And I'll now actually be signing off from the blog entirely. I'd like to make one last contribution before doing so, and that in form of a review. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to attend the press conference held in connection with the release of the newest volumes of the Joseph Smith … [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...]


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