Book Review: Adam S. Miller’s Future Mormon

Book Review: Future Mormon, Essays in Mormon Theology, by Adam S. Miller

When I first saw the title for this book, Future Mormon, I immediately thought of the title of another book I first read as a teenager in the 1970s, Future Shock by Alvin Toffler.  In Toffler’s book, he describes a future of rapid change, much of it caused by advancing technology, which he sees as causing psychological stress and instability in a society that struggles to keep up with all of the change.

Welcome to the present.  Welcome to 21st century Mormonism. Continue reading

Economic Protectionism and a Certain Experience with Apostle Smoot

(This is a guest post by Michael Davidson. He is an attorney by profession but has a degree in economics and loves the subject. He also has many friends in Canada, including many who spend considerable time at Fort Mac, and for whom he is really concerned.)

Those of you who did their undergraduate studies at BYU will likely remember a general education course called American Heritage. This course was a survey course that was one-third US History, one-third US government/politics and one-third US economics. It was a required course for every undergraduate, and so it tended to be taught in a large lecture hall with hundreds of students. This was not appealing to me, so I was delighted to find one section that was taught in a smaller classroom. The hitch was that it was intended for Canadian students. I signed up anyway, thinking that the worst thing that could happen would be that I would have to drop the class and enroll in one of the monster sections.

I am so glad I took this class. It was taught by a fellow named Delbert Palmer who I became good friends with by the end of the semester. He was an older gentleman, and had been a businessman in Lethbridge, Alberta for many years but had never gotten a university degree. (He had also been the first mission president in Chile in the early 1960’s, but that is another story entirely.) When he retired from his businesses, he decided to enroll at BYU and finally earn his degree, which he did. While he was there he further took it upon himself to teach this section of American Heritage for mostly Canadian students, and a few select Canada-philes (like myself) without pay as a hobby. It was American Heritage, but with a comparative twist. While learning about the US Constitution, we compared it with the Canadian Constitution for instance. It was an amazing course.

One day, we were discussing the Great Depression and the various causes of it. One of the many things touched on was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. Continue reading

Children of God or Chattel of Men?

InfantAre 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

Leonard Arrington: A View of Our Recent Past

ArringtonGreg 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

What I think about when I don’t want to go to Church meetings

I’m sure that every reader of this blog has experienced days — perhaps even months or years — when it is really difficult to get motivated to go to Church or specific church meetings.

Let me make this clear: I got baptized in my 30s and still have some of the fire of a recent convert, but I occasionally feel negative thoughts about a church meeting.

You are not alone if you feel this way. And you probably have some very good reasons for some of those negative thoughts.

Does this sound familiar?

Sacrament meeting: your kids will not sit still, and they fight with each other, and they run down the aisle, and they are noisy, and you, the parent, get absolutely nothing out of the meeting because you spend the whole time chasing them down or trying to keep them under control. Or if you don’t have young kids, how about the Sacrament Talk of Doom that is poorly organized, includes doctrine that is not correct or is horribly boring?

Your calling: you have been called yet again to (fill in blank here) calling that you really don’t like. The people you teach are not inspired and sit silently for an hour while you desperately try to get them to participate.

Priesthood: Once again, Brother Know It All is teaching, and he is spouting his crazy ideas. You look at your watch about 20 times during the lesson.

Relief Society: Once again, Sister Molly Mormon is teaching, and she is making you feel bad about yourself because you don’t do all of the activities she does.

The point here, ladies and gents, is that we all have felt these things at one time or another. There is nothing wrong with you if you have had these thoughts.

I have found that when these negative thoughts come into my mind I can drown them out with positive thoughts. Here are a few suggestions:

Continue reading