From John Dehlin’s stake president

It is worth reminding ourselves that when somebody is brought up for Church discipline, we are only hearing one side of the story. The Church does not discuss reasons for discipline because of the charitable policy of personal privacy. Only people looking for publicity with an aim to embarrass the Church will make disciplinary councils public. So, if you have heard about the impending Church discipline against John Dehlin it is because he publicized it (with a press release, no less!).

Very often, we do not see the Church’s side of the discussion. So in the interest of fair disclosure, I would like to draw your attention to this post, which actually cites the reasons for John Dehlin’s possible excommunication. (Reminder: John Dehlin has not been disciplined yet. His council will reportedly be held on Jan. 25).

They are (in summarized form):

1. Promoting atheism/agnosticism.
2. Denying or doubting the divinity of Jesus and the reality of the Atonement.
3. Denying the Restoration of the Gospel.
4. Denying the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
5. Denying the inspired calling of Church leaders.
6. Being ordained a minister in another faith.

That last one really is a doozy. Does anybody reasonably expect that you can remain a member of the LDS faith when you have been ordained a minister of another faith?
Continue reading

Why I am not Persuaded Joseph Smith had Sex with Plural Wives

NoSexSorry I haven’t yet followed through with my promised series on the ladies some have indicated were Joseph Smith’s wives. For those who haven’t noticed, a series of articles about Joseph Smith and polygamy have been featured over at Meridian Magazine in Ralph Hancock’s Expand Section.

About a week ago, a two-part interview between myself and Ralph Hancock was posted.

One fun result of the Meridian articles is that all members of my family found out I can spell polygamy. My youngest brother (the kind of smart guy who gets a perfect score on the SAT) replied:

I stayed up all night reading your faithful Joseph posts (didn’t get all the way through though). Is really great stuff.

I don’t know how to say this. It’s like watching Ancient Aliens on the history channel or a 9/11 conspiracy documentary, but not silly. I understand why people would fight against it as it seems like it’s revising history to suit a particular world view, but it casts reasonable doubt on the improper nature of Joseph Smith’s practices related to polygamy.

A lot of people recently have been staying up all night reading my Faithful Joseph posts. So far, they’ve been universally pleased to have lost some sleep while gaining a plausible explanation for why Joseph might have done what we know he did. Continue reading

My BCC Thoughts: On Faith and Choice

There is an interesting post at BCC today called “On Faith and Choice.” The thing I find most interesting about it is that I feel like I wrote it in another life or something. It just sounds too much like me.

Though the post doesn’t really make any specific point (the author notes this), let me see if I can make a related point.

I do believe that faith and choice are universal. We all do both — and we all do both in large measures, though not necessarily in the same way or even in the same amounts over the same things.

I seem to be a very natural skeptic. I joke that even legitimate prescription drugs won’t work on me because of the nocebo effect. Luckily I am not a cynic, however (though after this post you’ll wonder if that’s true or not!)

Not all of us have the same capacity for spirituality nor the same capacity for belief in a spiritual world. Sam (the posts author) points to the very same D&C passage I use to talk about this. We don’t come to earth with the same spiritual strengths and gifts.

We do, however, all have a capacity to improve our spirituality — that is to say, we are all spiritual to some degree. Continue reading

book review: Feardom by Connor Boyack

“Fear always springs from ignorance.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rahm Emanuel (Obama’s former chief of staff) said, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”  He meant that when there’s a crisis, try to stack on it as much other policy, regulation, tax increases, and programs that you can.  His statement fits nicely in with Connor Boyack’s book, Feardom.

In this book, Boyack considers how governments use fear to get the public to approve and back new rules, regulations, actions and wars that the leaders of a nation seek to implement. Continue reading

Mormon Blogging and Cross Talk

McConkie follow the prophet.

I haven’t been blogging much for quite a while. First I had depression and couldn’t. Then that ended and I got a shoulder injury (repetitive strain injury, I think) that made it near impossible for me to blog without significant pain. That’s been going on for a year. It sucks getting older and — at least on the inside — I seem to be aging particularly fast. I haven’t had consistent good health for a couple of years now. If its not one thing its another. Did I mention the eye surgery I have to have in a couple of weeks?

J Max, ever my counselor on blogging, actually encouraged me to stop blogging until I fully recovered. And when I do get over this shoulder problem, I’ve decided I’m going to “go back to school” and do an online master degree from Georgia Tech in computer science. For the most part I hate computers, I’m an technology laggard, and I was never a good programmer. But I love artificial intelligence, computational theory, computer graphics, and quantum computing. So I guess that means I like computer science more than I like computers. So my life is a bit strange. (Didn’t Geoff call me the blogger that reads books no one else will? Guess he’s right.) So I don’t see a return to my mammoth blog posts with lots of references any time soon.

So I’ve wondered about how I might contribute to Mormon blogging given my limitations. I had an idea a while back that I’ve never done and I think now might be the time. Continue reading