Dennis Potter on Liberation Theology

in my continued reading of the book “Discourses in Mormon Theology” (ed James McLachlan), covering several topics from the initial 2004  conference of the Society of Mormon Theology and Philosophy (SMTP), I cover an article by Dennis Potter (UVSC) on Liberation Theology.

Dennis gives a generous overview of what Liberation Theology is.  He focused on the events of 4 Nephi, where the people had their hearts knit together in unity, sharing all things in common, and having no poor nor rich among them.  Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?  People coming together as a mandate from God to share all things and erasing poverty from the earth.

And it is a mandate. Sort of. As we are asked to consecrate ourselves in the temple to the Lord and his service.

Unfortunately, Dennis only gives a part of the story on Liberation Theology. Continue reading

Provo City Center Temple Open House Dates Announced

provo-city-center-mormon-templeAs a BYU student, I lived right down the street from the Provo Tabernacle, and had many opportunities to attend church services and other events there. It was a beautiful building. I, along with many others, were heart broken in 2010, when it burned down. When the Church decided to rebuild this wonderful building as a temple, I was beyond happy.

Today, the Church announced the open house dates for the new Provo City Center Temple. From the Mormon Newsroom:

The free public open house starts on Friday, January 15, and will go through Saturday, March 5, 2016. It will run every day except for the Sundays of January 17, 24 and 31 and February 7, 14, 21 and 28.

The temple will be dedicated in three sessions on Sunday, March 20, 2016, with the cultural celebration taking place on Saturday, March 19.

The dedicatory sessions will be held at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. and will be broadcast to Utah meetinghouses. The three-hour block of meetings will be cancelled for that Sunday.

Church President Thomas S. Monson announced the second Provo temple in October 2011, and ground was broken to begin construction May 12, 2012.

The temple is located on University Avenue between Center Street and 100 South.

The Church’s 112-year-old Provo Tabernacle burned in December 2010 and only the shell of the building was left. After the burned-out structure was gutted, Mormon leaders decided to use the building’s exterior to house the temple.

Temples are everywhere. We’re excited for the people of Provo.

The Stone in a Hat and the Miracle of Translation

“You find magic wherever you look. sit back and relax. all you need is a book”
– Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

“Oh, Man will fly all right – ho-ho-ho! – just like a rock.”
– Archimedes the Owl from Disney’s Sword in the Stone

seer-stone-joseph-smith-ensign-liahona-october-2015_1512979_inlWhat can I say? I was, apparently, lied to by whoever I can point a finger at as responsible. Artistic renderings, Sunday School lessons, General Conference talks, and of course Joseph Smith himself concealed the real history. The Urim and Thummim was supposed to be the principle means of The Book of Mormon translation, but it turns out a Seer Stone did most of the work. I mean, it was no secret that a stone in a hat was the means of production. What became lost and confusing is how much that became the tool used by Joseph Smith to translate by the Gift and Power of God.

This introduction is partly facetious, but there is some truth to the words. My own early knowledge was based on what critics consider misinformation, although more like simplifications. The article “Joseph the Seer” is not the first time the topic of The Book of Mormon translation tools have been published. During the first decade of correlated magazines, there was a Friend Magazine article and an in depth Ensign publication that might be superior to the most recent. The history is confusing even with the primary documents. All of them have points of convergence. But, taken all together there is no clear picture of the means or process. The only person who would know for sure, Joseph Smith, was vague to the point of near silence. He was far less concerned with how The Book of Mormon was produced and more focused on the fact it was written. The teachings in the book are to be read, pondered, and studied while translation devices are simply tools to be used and discarded.

To increase the problem is the concern expressed in my previous post about the Age of Reason. Despite stories of ghosts, bigfoot, UFOs, and the persistence of astrology still printed in newspapers, miracles of the religious kind are a bridge too far in Western society. Throw in a physical object where its existence, if not the miracle, cannot be refuted and skepticism becomes scorn. Even believers wince at a small, brown, and smooth stone once used to commune with the Divine. Throw in a funny old hat and there seems nowhere else to go but ridicule. What is that you say? Oh, don’t mind my rabbits foot keychain or lucky horseshoe. No one really believes in those kinds of things anyway. Continue reading

Origins of the Earth and Genesis

HubbleThis guest post is written by a friend of mine, Ken Cluff, who expressed some interest in writing for M* to share some of his thoughts on science and religion. Ken recently made another guest post here about his Mormon website app: LDS Advocate.

Lately, I’ve been going to the temple weekly to get the ordinance work done for a large number of names my mother has gathered in her ongoing genealogical research. This frequency of attending has given me many opportunities to ponder the creation story. At the same time, I’m a science geek and writer of hard sci-fi. The evidence scientists have observed about the origins of the universe is something I’m particularly interested in, especially as it relates to the Earth’s origins.

It’s axiomatic to say the aims of science and religion are the same, the pursuit of truth. Though science tends to be driven by doubt and religion by faith, they both move forward by asking questions. My expectation is that as we come to know the truth of things, we’ll see they both say the same thing… just from different paradigms. From where I sit, science answers and fills in the “what” while religion answers the “why.” Continue reading

Maturing Love and Discipleship

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of people who joined the church right around the time that I did, or shortly afterwards leave the church. Some are people that I taught as a missionary, while others are friends that helped and encouraged me along the way. Some have been prominent in the Mormon blogging community, while others have likely never even seen a Mormon blog. Some have left over controversial topics such as female ordination or gay marriage, while others have taken offense or drifted away for a wide variety of reasons—and really each  person who leaves has a deeply personal reason for doing so.

I’ve reflected a lot lately on the question of why I am still here, while so many friends I know have left.  One of my friends posted a video of a break up song on her blog post announcing her decision to leave the Church, and that got me thinking about the relationship between romance and love, and the decision to join and remain active in the Church.

When people first fall in love, it is filled with frenetic  and passionate romance. It is hard to sleep because you are so excited about your relationship. You can hardly think about anything else. You frustrate your friends, because all you want to do is talk about your beloved. This is a period where you believe that your love can do nothing wrong, and you tend to only see the best things about him or her. It is an exciting time where you see the world through rose tinted glasses.

But anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows that these feelings cannot last forever. Eventually, all relationships hit roadblocks. You might learn some facts that make you question the person you thought you loved.  You might feel betrayed or hurt. More frequently,  I think that people just allow those feelings they once had to become routine. Our relationships begin to lose energy and excitement and enter into a rut. We begin going through the motions. We begin to think that we are not appreciated, wanted or needed.

Of course, we can and must continue to have romantic and passionate experiences. You must keep your passion alive. But the kind of head over heels love cannot last. I don’t think our mortal bodies and minds can remain at the same level of raw emotional intensity forever.  If we continue to expect it, we will become discouraged or even despondent without it.

Instead, our love and our relationship must evolve. We must develop a mature devotion to one another. We must learn to see and accept flaws and imperfections. More importantly, we must learn that our relationship is not about us, and that a relationship is more about serving than being served. We must put aside the desire to be constantly happy, entertained, or amused. Put aside childish things and learn to love with a mature love. The scriptural term that I think best defines this love is charity.

So many relationship flounder and eventually die out because individuals fail to make this vital transition from romance to mature love. And I think so many testimonies tend to flounder and die for precisely the same reason.
Continue reading