The Refiner’s Fire

Whew! It’s felt kind of crazy the last few days in the LDS social media world. This Mormon Messages video came at the right time for me. Some days, and especially, lately, I have felt the brunt of the world pushing up on me, as I try to do what is right. I feel like I get it right some of the time, and some of the time I am the Hindenburg going down in a fireball of catastrophe.

This video is called “The Refiners Fire” and is based off a 2011 talk, called “The Songs They Could Not Sing” given by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles.

I hope it will lighten your burden a bit today.

Growing Evidence Links Utah Suicides to Altitude

Provo Temple nightI just read this very interesting article about the “Utah Paradox” which is that we are both the happiest state and also the one with the highest use of antidepressants. On top of that, we’ve long had a high suicide rate that many church critics have attempted to link to Mormonism. It’s also been known for a long time that Utah is part of the “suicide belt” — a group of states that all have a high suicide rate (with Utah often being the best of that belt. Since both Provo and Las Vegas are both in the belt, and have little in common culturally, the suspicion that altitude’s effects on the brain is a leading cause of suicides has floated around for decades.

Now there is growing evidence that this might just be the right hypothesis.

Unfortunately this might also mean that Mormonism might not get to take full credit for being the happiest state either. Read the article to find out why.

This is a good little fact to know, however, to deflect church critics with when they try to link all manner of church beliefs to suicide.

What You Should Know About That Mormon Gender Issues Survey

[Note: this post was co-authored by J. Max Wilson and LDS Philosopher]


“If the answer to any of these questions is not 100% yes, then come with me right now for a free introductory seminar on power through positive real-estate.”

Regarding the “Mormon Gender Issues Survey” that you may have seen being passed around social media:

The survey was created by a group calling itself the “Mormon Gender Survey Group”, which includes in its membership well-known LDS dissenter and agitator, John Dehlin, as well as other progressive Mormon activists who have pushed for the church to ordain women and to change its doctrine regarding homosexuality.

The survey questions are worded in ways that subtly push their typical agenda. Continue reading

Racial Strife – reflections on the Norfolk 17 and Virginia’s campaign of Massive Resistance

imageLast night our family attended a high school production of a new play, A Line in the Sand by Chris Hanna. The play tells the story of the Norfolk 17, black children who had petitioned to attend their neighborhood high schools in accordance with the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

The State of Virginia decided to close the schools rather than admit black students. For months the children’s lives became polarized as the legal battles raged and individuals had to face the consequences of the resulting brinksmanship.

As with all high school productions, there was much to congratulate and much that could have been improved. The students had been encouraged to research the history of the situation, and the play had begun with comments from the perspective of the immediate aftermath of the black students being admitted to the white schools. In these brief statements, we were told that one of the students had been stabbed on her way to class, that she lay bleeding, while no one went to her aid. Unaware that this was not part of Chris Hanna’s original script, the members of my family waited in dread for the final scene which we presumed would show this confrontation. Continue reading

What the Church Taught About “Polyandry” in 1943 (and also 1960)

imageI wanted to set the record straight about what the Church taught about what we sometimes now call “polyandry” throughout the 20th century. I will probably need to do more research to build a full timeline about how the Church understood such marriages differently over time — as happens when histories get passed down through the generations. But here is a stark example of how it got taught.

Many of you — if you didn’t even know until recently that Joseph Smith was sometimes sealed to women that were already civilly married — might be surprised that the church did have a teaching on the subject. In fact, I have been aware of these “polyandrous” marriages since I was a fairly young adult. Why? Because I went down to my local Deseret Books store and picked up a copy of John A. Widtsoe’s Evidences and Reconciliations and read it.

Widtsoe was a famous scientist that also happened to be a Mormon apostle. He had a column in the Improvement Era called “Evidences and Reconciliations: Aids to Faith in a Modern Day” where he answered people difficult gospel questions, not unlike the answers to questions column in the modern Ensign magazine or even these new essays that the Church is putting together. These columns were then collected into a rather famous book called simply Evidences and Reconciliations. I had been eyeing the book for years since my mission hoping to eventually buy it and read it.

One of the questions posed to Widtsoe was “Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage?” And as part of his response, he says the following:

Another kind of celestial marriage seems to have been practiced in the early days of plural marriage. It has not been practiced since Nauvoo days, for it is under Church prohibition. Zealous women, married or unmarried, loving the cause of the restored gospel, considered their condition in the hereafter. Some of them asked that they might be sealed to the Prophet for eternity. They were not to be his wives on earth, in mortality, but only after death in the eternities. This came often to be spoken of as celestial marriage. Such marriages led to misunderstandings by those not of the Church, and unfamiliar with its doctrines. To them marriage meant only association on earth. Therefore any ceremony uniting a married woman, for example, to Joseph Smith for eternity seemed adulterous to such people. Yet in any day, in our day, there may be women who prefer to spend eternity with another than their husband on earth.

Such cases, if any, and they must have been few in number, gave enemies of the Church occasion to fan the flaming hatred against the Latter-day Saints. The full truth was not told. Enemies made the most of the truth. They found it difficult to believe that the Church rests on truth and virtue.

The literature and existing documents dealing with plural marriage in Nauvoo in the day of Joseph Smith are very numerous. Hundreds of affidavits on the subject are in the Church Historian’s office in Salt Lake City. Most of the books and newspaper and magazine articles on the subject are found there also. (For a fairly condensed but complete discussion consult Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, Vol. VI, pp. 219-236; Joseph Fielding Smith, Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage, pp. 67-94; Woman’s Exponent, Vol. III and IV; The Deseret News, especially in 1886) Continue reading