Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Snopes, Saints, and Santa

Recently I received a phone call from Sam's Club in which I was informed that through a store promotional I had won six months worth of free gas for my car.  I was thrilled at the news and listened eagerly as the representative explained the details of my winnings.  Ten minutes into the call, as part of the information needed to complete the transaction, I was asked for my credit card number. "Dang!" I exclaimed.  "And I TOTALLY thought you were for real! How disappointing."  Laughing, the man hung up.

A skeptical generation, we have been taught to disbelieve.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scylla and Charybdis, Mingled with Scripture

According to ancient Greek myth, Scylla was a creature who was rooted to one spot in the ocean, and regularly ate sailors who passed by too closely. Her appearance has varied in classical literature; she was described by Homer in The Odyssey as having six heads perched on long necks along with twelve feet, while in Ovid's Metamorphoses, she was depicted as having the upper body of a nymph, with her mid section composed of dog's heads. Across a narrow strait from this fearsome nymph dwelt Charybdis, the daughter of Poseidon and Gaia. She was depicted with a single gaping mouth that sucked in huge quantities of water, and belched them out three times a day, creating whirlpools.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


When I put these glasses on,
There are blades of grass
That before I could not see,
And petals when I pass.
I see each point of starry light
Away up in the sky--
Shapes and shadows not discerned
with my imperfect eye.

O might I put some glasses on,
The face of God to see?
Or little indications that
He lives and loveth me?
For now, my vision's darkened, and
The world is cold and gray:
The blurry gloom that comes at night
When He is far away.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Should I Tell My Story, or Let it Go?

I haven't posted here in quite a while, so I don't know if any one is still checking this site out.  But if you are, I'd like your input.  Last week, as you may be aware, there was quite a debacle over at Mormon Matters, a blog which I've been co-administrating for the past 2 years.  John Dehlin, the owner and founder of the blog has told his story of what happened here.  If you want links to where it's been discussed around the Bloggernacle, go here.  But I haven't told my side of the story publicly.  I'm thinking it might be best to just let it go.  By now, it's water under the bridge, because, GUESS WHAT!  The bloggers that got "released" at Mormon Matters have started a new blog.  I hope you'll visit us over at

And if you're reading, leave me a comment here.  Do you think I should spill my version of events on my personal blog?  Or should I just move on?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Truth of Personal Narrative

Originally posted at FPR

Bart Ehrman has pointed out that the popular view of Paul and his conversion makes it difficult for historians to evaluate what actually happened to make him "turn around."  In the scriptural record Paul does not present himself as a guilt-ridden legalist whose realization that the law was impossible to keep led him to find forgiveness in Christ and motivated him to bring the good news of release to those burdened with guilt complexes like his own.  Ehrman calls this view "fiction" and "widespread misperception" and instead directs us to Paul's own accounts found in Acts chapters 9, 22, and 26.  The problem is that these accounts are difficult to harmonize; as they differ in several details.  Paul's recounting of the event is suspect because he is remembering the event long afterward and reflecting upon it in light of his later experiences.  Such a conundrum finds a parallel in our own Mormon foundation narrative of Joseph Smith's first vision.  In Joseph's case, he leaves at least seven narratives, each a bit different, each a bit contradictory of the others.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Yom Kippur and the Symbolism of Jonah's Spiritual Journey

OT SS Lesson #33 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
If your ward happens to be just a little bit behind on the Sunday School lessons, you might experience the synchronicity of having the Book of Jonah read on Yom Kippur.  This year, the Jewish holiday falls on September 18 (close enough to Sunday the 19th!) and Jonah is traditionally read as part of the celebration.
Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is the holiest and most widely observed day on the Jewish calendar.  It is a day of fasting, lengthy confession of sins, prayer, and repentance.  Jonah’s prophecy is included in the liturgy for that day as a symbolic spiritual journey that each person undertakes.  I think the symbolism in Jonah’s story is very meaningful and I’d like to explore it in depth here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Adversity and Job

OT SS Lesson #32 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
After the Satan figure is given permission to afflict Job as a test of his faithfulness, three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, come to visit him, sitting with him in silence for seven days. On the seventh day, Job speaks, beginning a conversation in which each of the four men shares thoughts on Job’s afflictions and adversity in general in profound poetic statements.  This is a lengthy dialogue between characters who alter their moods, question their motives, change their minds, and undercut each other with sarcasm and innuendo. Although Job comes closest to doing so, no single character articulates one true or authoritative opinion. Each speaker has his own flaws as well as his own lofty moments of observation or astute theological insight.  I believe the Book of Job is a jumping-off point for the reader to deeply explore questions of theodicy and the difficulty of understanding why an all-powerful God allows good people to suffer.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sophia of the Proverbs and the Feminine Divine

OT SS Lesson #31 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
Feminist readers of the scriptures are well aware of the passages in Proverbs 8 which personify Wisdom (GK Sophia, HEB Hokhmah).
These passages affirm that Sophia was there when God made the earth and acted as a partner with God in the creation. This idea fits in well with my conceptualization of the male/female duality of the Divine. The passages can be interpreted as instructions to the earnest seeker to discover and follow the promptings of a Heavenly Mother:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Discussing the Temple Initiatory from a Faithful Female Perspective (#2)

Posted on Mormon Matters 5 Aug 2010
I recently had my temple recommend renewed and I’ve been thinking about the temple initiatory for women and wishing I could discuss it from a faithful, feminist perspective. Unfortunately, there are some obstacles which stand in my way of doing this. Number one, of course, is the proscription from discussing certain sacred aspects of the temple. I’m a bit more liberal than many in talking of my temple experiences. I think there are certain parts in the temple which we are clearly told not to discuss, and I’m willing to draw the line there. But can we talk about the initiatory?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Passing the Mantle

OT SS Lesson #29 -- originally posted on Mormon Matters
The prophet Elisha is introduced for the first time in 1 Kings 19.  Elijah has recently had his encounter with the 400 prophets of Baal and the still small voice of God on Mt. Horeb.  On his way from the mountain to the wilderness of Damascus Elijah finds Elisha plowing in a field.  He passes by him and throws his mantle over Elisha.  And scripture says that Elisha arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.  Elisha doesn’t receive another mention until the end of Elijah’s ministry — when Elijah’s mantle falls from him as he is translated and is taken up by Elisha — and one can’t help but wonder about the relationship between the two in the interim.  How was Elisha prepared to succeed Elijah, and what relevance does this story have to succession in the Church today?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Should Mormons in the Diaspora Celebrate Pioneer Day?

Posted at Mormon Matters on July 24, 2010
It has only been in recent years that I have slowly become aware that not every convert to the Church shares my deep identification with the Mormon pioneers. I have loved the epic story of the trek to the Salt Lake Valley. I appreciate its archetypal connotations. My heart thrills with the stories of the pioneer heroes and heroines, and I consider each of their stories part of my legacy as a Mormon, though my LDS heritage begins with myself.
In the last few years there has been some grumbling by members who don’t have Mormon pioneers in their genealogy that it annoys them to celebrate the July 24th holiday, a commemoration of the day the first company of pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley. I think partly to appease these voices, there has been an emphasis on “modern-day pioneers”–those who lead the way for others to follow and who blaze trails in other ways than traditionally recognized. There’s a relatively new Primary song, “I Can Be a Modern-Day Pioneer,” there are more talks given by General Authorities on the subject, and there are articles such as the latest Mormon Times article “Pioneer Journeys of a Different Era.”  There is a sudden dearth of Pioneer Day activities in wards outside of Utah, and in our ward last Sunday the only talk which mentioned pioneers emphasized modern-day contributions rather than those who crossed the plains.
I just want to register a caution to those who wish to move away from the traditional veneration of these honorable forebears.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Divided Kingdom Today

OT SS Lesson #27 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
“Take an old piece of clothing,” our SS lesson advises, “or a piece of paper that is cut in the shape of a piece of clothing and tear it into 12 pieces. Explain that toward the end of Solomon’s life, the prophet Ahijah prophesied that Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s 12 superintendents over taxes and labor, would take over much of the Israelite nation. To illustrate this, Ahijah seized the garment from the back of Jeroboam, tore it into 12 pieces, and gave 10 of the pieces to Jeroboam.”  The lesson teaches that the influence of wicked leaders was instrumental in dividing the kingdom of Israel after Solomon’s death.
The Savior taught that “every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation” (Matthew 12:25).
I read this with some consternation, because lately I have been perusing a very interesting website.  It is a wiki collection of groups belonging to the Latter-day Saint movement put together by Alan Unsworth.  Does it surprise you to learn that there are at least 116 active groups and denominations which trace their history back to Joseph Smith, as well as 204 “Restoration Branches” and 154 defunct denominational groups?  And because many of these are secretive and insular, I don’t believe that this list includes them all.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Question Solomon Couldn't Answer

OT SS Lesson #26 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
Our Sunday School lesson this week attempts to deal with the conundrum with which we are faced when considering that Israel’s King Solomon, who was a paragon of wisdom having received this gift from the Lord, could make the decidedly unwise decision of marrying foreign wives and following them into idolatry.  
The lesson asks the following questions (answers provided):

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Latter-day Morality

from a post on Mormon Matters

You may not be aware of this if you grew up Mormon, but the LDS definition of morality is rather different than that which is generally accepted. Morality is very easily defined to Mormons — it means not having sex. That’s all. End of discussion. Immorality means having sex. That’s what we teach our teenagers, and that is the definition we carry with us from our church meetings into our daily lives.
Today I’d like to talk about some of the nuances to the word “morality.” The meanings that we don’t get in Mutual or Seminary or Sunday School. For purposes of this discussion, I would prefer to define “morality” as a system of ideas of right and wrong conduct.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

When the Fourth of July Falls on the Sabbath

Originally posted at Mormon Matters
Yesterday’s activities began with a Pancake Breakfast over at the Church, followed by a softball game.  We loaded up several of the kids from the Ward, my children’s friends, and hauled them all to the beach in both of our vans.  Arriving home at 5:00, we joined some neighbors for a potluck and barbecue.  There were even some small fireworks lit out in the field behind our house.  I enjoyed the day very much.  It was a lot like what we’ve done on the Fourth of July in years past — but this was on the third.  As I read some of the facebook pages of friends from around the country, I saw that a lot of Mormons were doing what we had done.  I suppose that celebrating Independence Day in the U.S. a day early this year was an effort to keep the Sabbath Day holy.
But why is a celebration of our country’s freedom considered a non-Sabbath avocation?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Approaches to Psalms

OT SS Lesson #25 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
The Book of Psalms is one of the most beautiful and meaningful books of the Bible, and it is agonizing to realize that our Sunday School schedule only allows one lesson to cover the entire oeuvre.  In this post, I’d like to outline several possible ways to approach a one-hour lesson on the Psalms, and to request your input as to which appeals to you personally.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

King David and the Doctrine of Blood Atonement

OT SS Lesson #24 -- Originally posted at Mormon Matters
The following statement was made by the LDS Church last Wednesday in conjunction with the execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner by firing squad in Utah.  I see this as a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation of what was taught in the past regarding the doctrine.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homosociality and the Friendship Between David and Jonathan

OT SS Lesson #23 -- Originally posted at Mormon Matters
The story of David and Jonathan is one of the most inspiring examples of true friendship anywhere.  Our LDS SS manual firmly places this lesson within the mainstream view of Biblical exegesis, presenting the two as strong personal and platonic friends.  As I studied the covenant made between these young men in 1 Samuel 18, I was touched by the loyalty shown by the young Jonathan, because he “loved [David] as his own soul.”  Because of this love, Jonathan relinquishes his hopes for his father’s throne in deference to God’s choice.  In a symbolic and ceremonial gesture, Jonathan strips off his robe, which represents the authorityhe holds to succeed his father, King Saul, and gives it to David.  He also gives David his sword and his bow, representing his military prerogative; and his girdle, which symbolizes spiritual truths and the kingdom of God.
But other writers, beginning with Homer and continuing to the present day, have noted the strong elements of intimacy and eroticism within the relationship.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You Can't Ride Two Donkeys With One Ass: Saul and Spiritual Rebirth

OT SS Lesson #22 -- Originally posted at Mormon Matters
Ever since I was introduced to the word “liminal,” I have claimed it as my own. This word describes a threshold or a transitional position — a balancing point between two states of being. For many years I have felt poised on the threshold between two totally different ways of viewing the world. One is scientific and rational. The other is a place where angels materialize and shake your hand, where dreams have meaning, where God’s words come out of men’s mouths when they lay their hands on your head. Many members of the Church seem easily able to slip between both of these worlds. But I see a fundamental difference between the two world views. In the naturalistic view of the universe, events do not violate natural laws and are subject to the principles of empirical investigation. In the mystical view, divine intervention is possible outside of natural law.
Striving to make sense of my world has been like trying to ride two donkeys with one ass.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Patriarchal Hierarchy and the Kingship Model

OT SS Lesson #21 -- Originally posted at Mormon Matters
When we lived in Saudi Arabia a few years ago, I obtained a faculty position in the fairly newly-formed department of Health and P.E. at a university which was strictly segregated by gender.  The women’s side of the university operated independently, with our own female custodians, technical staff, professors and administration,  and very little oversight from the male president.  Our department consisted of five women, and we made all decisions collectively, with no titular head.  After the first semester I was there, one of our staff meetings was dedicated to the question of whether we should have a department head.  Being the newest addition to the faculty, I had little say in this decision, but I did bring up the point that we had successfully administrated the department jointly, and I questioned the necessity of one department head.  It would completely change the group dynamics that we had experienced as a body of women removed from a patriarchal hierarchy and which I very much enjoyed.  The reply from all of the rest of the women, though there had been no problems thus far, was that “you HAVE to have a leader,” that one person MUST be in charge of any organization.
At the time I was struck by how much this assertion resembled the one I have heard from many Mormons justifying the hierarchical, patriarchal system in place in the Church, both within the institution and within our individual families.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Closer Look at that Virtuous Woman

OT SS Lesson #20 -- Originally posted at Mormon Matters
Sometimes I wonder how women in the Judeo-Christian tradition got stuck with the gender role identifications they have. The Old Testament doesn’t include many detailed descriptions of women, but when they do appear, they are not what you’d think. To prove my point, I’m going to investigate two women featured in this week’s Sunday School lesson, plus Deborah the judge/prophetess, and the ubiquitous “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 37.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Brothers: Tarot Randomizer #4

It was rather a synchronicity that the Tarot card picked for today's group creativity experiment was "The Devil." Last night my daughters and I attended a play at the Covey Center for the Arts, "Brothers," about the human side of two famous siblings, Lucifer and Jesus.  I'm planning on reviewing the play for the Mormon Matters readers, but for now I did a quick sketch to put up for our group.  I'm always lamenting my lack of artistic ability, but in this one I was trying to capture the moment in LDS doctrinal tradition where God the Father presents the plan of salvation to his children in the premortal existence.  Satan's face is supposed to represent his disdain for the plan, his inner thoughts that he can come up with a better one, and a bit of sadness foreshadowing his eventual downfall.  Jesus' face came out more beatific than I really intended, but I had difficulty capturing the feeling I wanted to express, of complete acceptance and excitement to put the plan in action.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

L'Ermita Aki: Tarot Randomizer #2

Today's Tarot creativity project  -- The Hermit: which has the key words of introspection, searching, guidance, and solitude.  The card that was drawn for today also had the Kanji character "aki" meaning "autumn."  I used a picture from a photo shoot my daughters and I did yesterday, and we had some fun with photoshop.  Even though this was a spring St. Patrick's Day shoot of my daughter, I like how we came up with an autumn-like feel here.

PS Gigi: the name of the card is no reflection on your social standing!


inspired by the Hermit card from the Manga Tarot deck: 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Knight of Swords Tarot Randomizer #1

There's something about a Utah sky--
Overarching canyons and clouds,
Framing mountains and mornings--
That clears the confusion in sinus-blocked nostrils
A breath of freshness
To the unbalanced wanderer.

There's something about a Utah day--
Manifesting seedlings and springtime,
Teasing flowers with flurries--
That promises newness, fresh starts, and cleansing
Purging the old and ungainly
In the jaded heart.

There's something about a Utah ward--
Bustling with baby blessings and boundaries,
Tangling holiness and hypocrisy--
That slices the errant knight to the heart
Focusing sword-bright censure
Upon the unanchored soul.

This post a response to John R's Tarot Randomizer group creativity experiment, and a reaction to my visit to the Salt Lake/Provo area, where I am visiting for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Jacob's Ladder: More on Faith vs. Works

OT SS Lesson #10 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
Though it’s only an “additional teaching idea” in Lesson 12, Jacob’s ladder has captured my imagination due to some conversations I’ve recently had with Christian evangelicals.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Putting an Edge on Abraham

OT SS Lesson #9 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
This story is so very, very familiar to us that I think it’s important to look at it with a fresh perspective.  So in this post I am including some pieces from media and the arts that force us to think about Genesis 22.  I promise you in advance that some of these might be disturbing to you.  Probably you will disagree with the portrayal of Abraham’s sacrifice in at least one, if not all, of these pieces.  I hope you will share your reactions in the comments.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Where the Lord Annihilates all the Gays

OT SS Lesson #8 -- originally posted on Mormon Matters
“The Genesis passage is very clear, that the sin of Sodom that brought on the destruction of the city was indeed linked to homosexuality.” (R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Seminary)
“Saying that the last recorded acts of the Sodomites — the demands for same-gender sex — are proof that they were destroyed for homosexuality is like saying that a condemned man cursing his guards on the way to his execution is being executed for cursing the guards. Sodom was judged worthy of destruction before the incident with Lot and the angels.” (Inge Anderson, “Sins of Sodom“)
One of the prominent themes in this week’s Sunday School lesson is the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But in Christian thought there has been some controversy over how closely the story should be linked to homosexuality, as the quotes above indicate. There are several points that are up for grabs, and I’m not sure either side has a complete understanding yet. Read on, and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sod, Seed, Salvation: Abrahamic Covenant and the Claim to Palestine

OT SS Lesson #7 -- Originally posted at Mormon Matters
Sod, seed, and salvation — it’s how I like to describe the Abrahamic Covenant. There were three promises in the covenant. The first was a land promise, where the Lord gave Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. The second was the promise of a great and numerous posterity. And the third was the blessing of the everlasting Gospel: the priesthood and the promise of exaltation, to come to the world through Abraham’s lineage. (see Genesis 17)  But just look at how often the covenant was renewed!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Joseph Smith Didn't Believe in Watchers

OT SS Lesson #6 -- Originally posted at Mormon Matters
Hidden in our scripture reading for this week is a strange little passage which many modern Biblical scholars say was originally intended to explain the rise of the giant race of antiquity by the union of angelic beings with human wives.  These verses in Genesis stirred a lively debate among early Christian theologians as they struggled to explain why God felt it necessary to cleanse the Earth with a worldwide Flood.  It all starts with this odd passage inserted in the account before Noah built his vessel, the great ark.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

From Patriarchy to Eternity

Originally posted at Mormon Matters
I am going to put this as simply as possible, and let’s start with a definition.  Patriarchy is a social system in which the father or eldest male is head of the household, having authority over women and children. Patriarchy also refers to a system of government by males, and to the dominance of men in social or cultural systems.  I know that this is a true definition, having found it on Wikipedia. However, if you disagree, scroll down and I will include definitions from as many dictionaries as I can google.  Patriarchy by its very definition is not compatible with equality.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Female Priesthood and The Black Widow Spider

Over at BCC today implications of the Fall were vigorously debated on Mark Brown's post Women, Men, and the Fall.  Mark invited readers to consider a quote by Elder Packer extolling the superior divine attributes of woman and whether her natural virtue mitigates the effects of fall and her proclivity to sin.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Virgins and White Raisins

Those of us who have studied ancient Middle Eastern languages know how difficult it is to arrive at an exact translation of ancient texts.  There are several words in the Hebrew Bible which are used only once and which have no modern counterpart.  Even after making such efforts as comparing them to Akkadian, or examining numerical clues, they remain a puzzle.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Short Stay in Hell

Can you imagine a worse hell for a Mormon than to wake up on the Other Side and to realize we were wrong about EVERYTHING? No three degrees of glory, no families are forever, no anthropomorphic God--not even an outer darkness as we picture it. That's what happens in Steven L. Peck's provocative, self-published novella, A Short Stay in Hell.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why I Want to Live the United Order

OT SS Lesson #5 -- Originally posted at Mormon Matters
I have often thought that had I not joined the Church at age 19 I would have liked to have joined a kibbutz in Israel, or to have lived on “the Farm” in Tennessee (back when it was more hippie-like), or at least to have been a part of an intentional community. As I began investigating the LDS Church, and in particular reading the passages in Moses under consideration in our Sunday School Lesson #5, I was drawn to the strong emphasis on cooperative community which began under the direction of Joseph Smith and continued in Utah under Brigham Young and survived even to the present day.  I expected to be instructed in the principles of consecration and called upon to live them more and more as the “latter day” rolled on.
Thirty years later, I’ve been disappointed.

Monday, January 25, 2010

If I Weren't Being Sabotaged Daily

There are days (like today) when the burning question on my mind is what I would do if I didn't have children and a husband who bring home donuts and garlic bread slathered with butter or have birthdays and beg for Oreo-cookie-ice-cream-cakes from Dairy Queen.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adam and Eve in Modern Art

While looking for a piece of art to illustrate my post on Mormon Matters about the figurative nature of Adam and Eve, I discovered several modern paintings which impressed me, and I thought I'd share.

The first piece is the one I included on my post. I chose this because it went along so well with my emphasis on symbolism and my postulation that the allegorical elements of the Adam and Eve story are veiled in Mormonism, perhaps because of our emphasis on a literal, physical Adam and Eve.

Adam and Eve as UFOs (Unidentified Figurative Objects)

OT SS Lesson #4 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters
Although our SS lesson for this week presents Adam and Eve as two literal, physical characters, the temple ceremony hints that we can benefit by viewing their story as figurative. I am often dismayed that symbolism, while given lip service, is so little understood in LDS circles. Since the majority of Mormons believe in a literal Adam who will return to the earth in his physical resurrected body and fulfill a major role at Adam-ondi-ahman, there is little reason to investigate the allegorical aspects of the Adam and Eve story. Thus, they have become “unidentified figurative objects” whose symbolic impact is veiled.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy Birthday from your Biggest Fan!!

The Creation Accounts -- Unharmonized

OT SS Lesson #3 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters

Several years ago I did a study of Joseph Smith’s different accounts of the First Vision. It was fascinating to see how the accounts changed over time and according to his audience. I reflected that I had told my own conversion story many different ways and with different emphases over the years. It was reasonable to me that Joseph would make different points when he recounted his vision to a Jew than to a Christian minister. And it seemed natural that his story would change over time, as he gained life experience and greater depth of knowledge on the nature of God and man. I thus determined that the best use I could make of the accounts was to take each on its own merits and embrace the idiosyncrasies, rather than to try to harmonize them.
I think the same is true of the many scriptural accounts we have of the Creation. It is not always evident from our lesson materials that we have so many scriptural and authorized accounts, because the goal seems to be to present one harmonized depiction. But what can we learn by looking at all of them separately?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Everything You Need is in the Manual

A Church News article published this weekend instructs Church teachers to stick to official sources in preparing their lessons. "Everything you need — and more — is in your manual," it proclaims. This type of emphasis concerns me greatly.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Chosen or Posin' ? Abraham, Buffy, and Other Choice Spirits

OT SS Lesson #2 -- originally posted at Mormon Matters

This was an interesting lesson to read after last year's brou-ha-ha over an alleged "generals in the war in heaven" quote. On the 25th of February 2008, the Church issued an official statement from the Office of the First Presidency to all General Authorities, Area Seventies, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, District Presidents, Temple Presidents, Bishops and Branch Presidents which read:

A statement has been circulated that asserts in part that the youth of the Church today “were generals in the war in heaven . . . and someone will ask you, ‘Which of the prophet’s time did you live in?’ and when you say ‘Gordon B. Hinckley’ a hush will fall, . . . and all in attendance will bow at your presence. [You were held back six thousand years because you were the most talented, most obedient, most courageous, and most righteous.]”*

This is a false statement. It is not Church doctrine. At various times, this statement has been attributed erroneously to President Thomas S. Monson, President Henry B. Eyring, President Boyd K. Packer, and others. None of these Brethren made this statement. Stake presidents and bishops should see that it is not used in Church talks, classes, bulletins, or newsletters. Priesthood leaders should correct anyone who attempts to perpetuate its use by any means, in accordance with “Statements Attributed to Church Leaders,” Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 1 (2006), 173.

Although this is not Church doctrine, I don't see much which distinguishes it from the following quotation in our approved Sunday School Lesson #2: