The Passing of Elder Richard G. Scott

ScottThe Church has just announced the passing of Elder Richard G. Scott today. Our hearts, prayers, and condolences are with the Scott family, as well as the members of the Quorum of the 12 and First Presidency.

His passing marks the third member of the 12 to pass away since April General Conference. This upcoming Conference will give us all the chance to see how the mantle of responsibility is passed to the next, new apostles and to witness the Gospel in action. It’s a testimony to the order the Lord has established in His Church.

Till we meet again, Elder Scott. Thank you for your years of wise council and wisdom. You will be missed.

UPDATE: Elder Scott’s funeral will be held on Monday, September 28, 2015, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle at 11am MDT. The funeral will also be streamed online at,, and on KSL, and KBYU tv in Utah.

Towards a Book of Mormon Study Edition

This is a guest post from Jamie Huston, who blogs at Gently Hew Stone. Jamie describes himself as “yet another world music / Criterion Collection / Hudson River School / camping / genre fiction-loving libertarian Mormon English teacher. And father of 7.”


I love a good study Bible. Earlier this year I found a nearly new NIV Archaeological Study Bible on sale at a library for a dollar—a 98% savings off the cover price!—and I’m getting a lot of mileage out of it.

I’ve been thinking about study Bibles a lot after reading Bill Hamblin’s much-needed rant about the demise of Book of Mormon studies at BYU, such as it ever was. At one point, he summarizes what’s missing in the curriculum:
Most simply, BYU could offer in depth courses on each of the major books of the Book of Mormon, combining some of the smaller books into one. Note that Religious Education offers a class on Isaiah, but no class on the book of Alma or Helaman or Nephi?


Beyond in depth classes on major books of the Book of Mormon, BYU should offer classes on Book of Mormon geography, history, archaeology, linguistics, literature, theology, culture, language (ancient Near East and Maya), textual criticism, religion, law, warfare, apocalyptic, reception history, the Bible in the Book of Mormon, etc.

He’s clearly right, of course, but I want to suggest another avenue besides BYU classes for improving Book of Mormon studies among Latter-day Saints.
It’s time we have a decent study edition of the Book of Mormon. Continue reading

10 Great Mormon Blogs Not Getting Noticed

When a Latter-day Saint who has a testimony goes on the Internet it is hard to navigate the good, the not as good, the bad, and the plain evil. Another is the abundance of choices for reading. Aggregators, that gather a collection of blogs, are helpful. Yet, they can’t contain all the blogs that exist. Sometimes a few fly under the radar. Even those contained in lists can be overlooked.

Almost all of the following blogs cannot as of this writing be found on any of the big aggregators such as Mormon Archipelago or Nothing Wavering, unless noted. The meaning of “not getting noticed” is the larger Mormon blogosphere seems to not be talking about or commenting on the blogs, although they can have their own following. My listing of them is because of my opinion they have some great content that M* readers would enjoy. All of them are active as of this month, although they could go inactivate at any time. For the moment they seem stable and deserve to have support.

This Week at Church
One of the more unique blogs out there because he chronicles what he learns during worship service. It doesn’t go very deep into gospel topics, but the notes are still of good quality for pondering.

Little LDS Ideas
A very creative blog for helping out Church lessons. The about page states, “My blog is a place where I go to share all of my little ideas. They’re nothing special, but I love sharing them and I hope you enjoy them.”

A Study of the Book of Mormon
This blog has been around since 1999, and yet very few comments. The insights are worthy of giving it a good read. He says, “I bring to my study this time the experience of a father of five children, a degree in film studies, several years of freelance new media work, and the experience of being a faithfully committed marriage partner.”

The Journal of a Black Mormon Girl
Deeply personal, yet a wonderful read for its poignancy and Faith. She says, ” I want the world to know that I am not ashamed of that which guides me to be a better person and that which leads me to Christ.”

LDS Doctrine
The name may not be different from others that can be found online, but it has great discussions. How this one has been missed from others has to be a matter of wanting to be low key.

We Talk of christ, We Rejoice in Christ
Her profile says, “My purpose in writing is that every time you visit my blog you will read something that strengthens your family, builds your faith, and brings you closer to Christ!” It appears to have more than one contributor, but the writing from them is worthwhile.

Women in the Scriptures
Apparently this is a blog for a published author who writes about women found in the Scriptures. She does have a following of her own, but I never heard of her or the blog until recently. Well worth the visit.

Benjamin the Scribe
*listed on Mormon Archipelago.
Learning the gospel doctrine lessons has never been so in-depth and enlightning. A few commentators are familiar to the bloggernacle, but still not high traffic.

Enigmatic Mirror
Not as prolific or noticed as Dan Peterson’s Sic et Non, but William Hamblin is just as much a legend in Mormon apologetics.

*listed on Mormon Archipelago.
One of my favorite blogs out there that has few participants. The only one I have ever seen respectful non-Mormons reply and adding to my appreciation of the blog. He has opinions without sounding opinionated, and clearly his faith is strong.

Non-Mormon Mormon Movie: ‘Waking’

This is another installment of the occasional series where I review non-Mormon Mormon movies. These are movies that have some Mormon themes and are worth seeing.

This review is about the movie “Waking,” a romantic drama and fantasy that I found to be charming and inspiring.


And best of all: no nudity or swearing, just an exploration of relationships and true love.

The primary character is Ben (Skyler Caleb). He has been going out with his girlfriend Amy (Tara Erickson) for six years. She moved away from LA, where Ben lives, but has just decided to come back to keep their relationship going. She is a great girlfriend, but Ben is just not in love with her. But he works for her father, so he feels obligations to Amy and to her father.

One day he meets a gorgeous woman named Nadia (Meg Cionni) in a park. And from that moment on, he and Nadia begin to communicate through Ben’s dreams when they are both asleep. Nadia, for example, gives Ben her phone number in a dream, and on a crazy whim he calls that number when he is awake, and it turns out to be Nadia! But most interesting of all, as they talk in real life, it seems that she has been participating in the same dream with Ben. So, even though Nadia has by that time moved hundreds of miles away they have a connection through dreams, and they fall in love during their mutual dreams.

I would spoil the plot to tell you what happens next, but suffice to say that it is romantic and, at least for me, very real.

So here is the Mormon part: Ben feels a connection with Nadia that goes beyond the material bounds of this world. From a Mormon perspective, it is as if he knew her in the pre-existence and was meant to meet her on the Earth. And she feels the same way. When he is with her he feels as if he is “home.”

I know this theme is not particular only to Mormons, but I have met many Mormon couples who feel the same way. They feel like they knew their eternal companion before, and they feel very at home with him or her. It is easy to see Ben and Nadia’s relationship as celestial in nature, and the movie does a good job of portraying what true love should be like.

It was also a surprise to watch a modern movie that explores love without resorting to the common cheap tricks of nudity and scatological jokes. This movie is refreshingly old-fashioned, kind of like Mormons are refreshingly old-fashioned.

“Waking” uses a lot of the romantic comedy conventions. Ben’s friend is the lovable funny guy. There are predictable tense moments as the plot is being resolved. But the acting is pretty good, and the characters are believable. This movie would make a great flick to watch with your eternal companion.

“Waking” is not on Netlix, but is free on Amazon Prime. Check it out.

From “Jesus The Christ” and Beyond

2 - Jesus_the_ChristMany years ago before my mission, as a teenager contemplating going, I read “The Missionary Reference Library” collection of books. Although they increased my understanding and spiritual maturity, only one among them had a concrete lasting impact as a text. That would be Jesus the Christ, a magnum opus of James E. Talmage that was published a century ago this year. I latched on to what he was doing along with what he was saying. His work forever changed the way I studied Jesus Christ and his life and teachings.

The book was more than a theological treatise, with the inclusion of historical research to help understand time and place. Most of the book uses LDS Scripture and prophetic teachings to help interpret the New Testament record. Along with them is added information about 1st Century history and culture. This helps bring Jesus into context instead of allowing for a completely decontextualized amorphous figure. A few non-Mormon sources were used, including Life and Words of Christ by John Cunningham Geikie, Life of Christ by Frederic Farrar, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim, and William Smith’s A Dictionary of the Bible with other lesser Bible commentaries. Ancient works of Josephus and the Talmud were quoted or consulted in lengthy notes at the end of chapters.

Major problems complicated Talmage’s theological and historical study. Much of the modern sources used were already outdated even during his life time. Currently none of them are consulted outside of religious devotional material. Those that he did use were of a particular viewpoint that didn’t engage in other studies (even ones that wouldn’t be harmful to his own thesis). By the time Jesus The Christ was written, what is known as the first quest for the historical Jesus had already ended as did the “quest” idea. It wouldn’t be until the 1950s that historical studies of Jesus would once again be of academic interest. Still, no other major LDS work on Jesus before or after Talmage followed his example until very recently. Even the multi-volume Bruce R. McConkie tome was a wordy re-hash more than imitation. Continue reading