Priesthood and Family Executive Councils

3PresidentsAs Deseret News’ Tad Walch reported yesterday, “Church leaders changed the name of the faith’s Priesthood Executive Council to the Priesthood and Family Executive Council.” Click here to read the full article.

It was during the presidency of Spencer W. Kimball when the leadership of the Church formally aligned themselves with the three-fold mission of the Church:

Proclaim the Gospel
Strengthen the Members
Redeem the Dead

The three presidents of the Church’s organizations headed by women have been invited to be permanent members of the the Executive Councils aligned with this three-fold mission.

The Relief Society General President, Sister Linda K. Burton (right), becomes a permanent member of the renamed Priesthood and Family Executive Council.

The General Young Women’s President, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson (center), joins the Missionary Executive Council.

The General Primary President, Sister Rosemary Wixom (left), joins the Temple and Family History Executive Council.

The women who have served in these positions have often been ad hoc participants in these councils in the past, but the formalization of their membership in these councils and broadening the focus beyond “priesthood” is highly significant. This move does not merely add three women to the highest Church councils, but serves as an initial step towards integrating tens of thousands of women into Church leadership throughout congregations in all the world. Continue reading

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