From the time Pluto was discovered in 1930, we had only the fuzziest images of the fascinating celestial body. The highest resolution images came from the Hubble telescope (image on far left). As the New Horizons space probe sent back images, space enthusiasts were excited to see hints of details that explained the asymmetries seen with the Hubble telescope. When New Horizons passed within 8,000 miles of Pluto in July 2015, the clarity with which we could now see Pluto was absolutely thrilling.
I’ve felt that same kind of Eureka! moment as I come to better understand Joseph Smith and the details of his actions and teachings regarding Celestial marriage. In the past I was blogging about things every week, and so you would hear what I was learning. Then I stepped back to write it up as a book, and have since been preparing for the June edition I’ll push out right before the Mormon History Association Conference.
As I’ve sifted through and polished, I can now see some clear patterns that were obscured even as recently as last year. Continue reading
The origin of individuals, as perceived by Mormons, is radically different from any other religion. I realized this anew this past week, when searching for the term that would correspond to eschatology (from the Greek for “last study”). Eschatology is the study of the end of life, whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, or the end of the world and our entrance into the Kingdom of God.
I wanted to use a recognizable religious term for the study of man’s beginnings.
I could not find such a term.
The term should be protatology (from the Greek for “first study”). The word protatology doesn’t exist. [Turns out the term is protology – Thanks gundek! You have to be careful though, because auto spell functions will always turn protology into proctology. So it’s obviously still an obscure word.] The closest common term for the study of origins is cosmology, which discusses the origin of the universe for different belief systems.
Joseph Smith’s teachings regarding our existence before birth are truly radical. And I mean this in the best possible way. Continue reading
Are we property or precious children?
[This post is a collaboration between Meg Stout and Lucinda Hancock. The illustration is courtesy of Pat Chiu.]
Bottom Line Up Front: This is not about what has happened in the past for those who are now parents. It is about what individuals who wish to become parents do in their future, and how current parents who used non-traditional methods of becoming a parent treat their child.
Last year Lucinda Hancock wrote Paradoxical Patriarchy. Lucinda explored the way marriage channels human desire for the good of children.
Recently Lucinda shared an article with Meg about a reckless fertility clinic where a sperm donor (father of 36 children born to 26 women) was discovered to be not the PhD candidate in neuroscience engineering as advertised, but a schizophrenic college drop-out and jailbird who is usually unemployed.
Responding to that article, Lucinda complained that much that afflicts society boils down to how we regard children, with many anti-traditionalists seeing parents as having a right to children, rather than children having a right to their parents. Continue reading
Greg Prince’s landmark biography of Leonard Arrington will be available at the end of May. Leonard Arrington and The Writing of Mormon History is the first biography to draw on Arrington’s 20,000 pages of journals. Of particular interest is Arrington’s time as Church Historian, from 1972 to 1980. Tonight I had the privilege of attending a presentation where Greg talked about his new book.
1972 ushered in a time of significant restructuring in LDS Church leadership. The Prophet and First Presidency had previously led the Church as a nearly flat organization, with little intentional coordination between individual fiefdoms. The apostles, for example, were merely charged to bear witness to the world, which largely consisted of presiding at Stake Conferences.
President Harold B. Lee wished to see more coordination (or correlation) between the different instructional aspects of Church hierarchy. At the same time, the Church had requested a study of the organization, asking how its management structure could be updated to reflect best practices. One of the notable recommendations was a true historians department, one that was not merely an adjunct responsibility of an ecclesiastical leader with no formal history training.
President Lee decided to heed the recommendation, and selected noted historian Leonard Arrington as the first “real” historian for the Church. The grand experiment would fail in less than 10 years. Continue reading
Robb Smith puts forward an interesting premise regarding the authorship of Alma 29.
Most of us are most familiar with the opening passages of Alma 29 from hearing it sung:
“O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!”
The chapter summary tells us this chapter is written by “Alma, who desires to cry repentance with angelic zeal—The Lord grants teachers for all nations—Alma glories in the Lord’s work and in the success of Ammon and his brethren. About 76 B.C.”
Yet Robb invites us to consider that this desire to proclaim universal repentance and salvation comes not from Alma, but from Mormon. We know that there was not originally any chapter demarkation between Alma 28 and Alma 29. Thus the words we so often presume are coming from Alma flow immediately after an extended segment that seems to come from Mormon.
I love this reading of Alma 29. And then I run into the verses where the author talks about the success of his brethren, who have been up to the land of Nephi (Alma 29:14-15). This is where my ability to see what Robb sees fails me for a moment.
Even so, there is power in imagining these words coming from Mormon. To read Robb’s entire paper, click on O That I Were an Angel. Let me leave you with a short segment from the paper, where Robb argues how we can see Mormon as the author of even Alma 29:14-15. Continue reading