Book Review, Apocalypse: Reading Revelation 21-22. Julie M. Smith, editor.

Review, Apocalypse: Reading Revelation 21-22. Julie M. Smith, editor. 

From the Proceedings of the Mormon Theology Seminar.

Published by The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.

418gtmufail-_sy346_Full disclosure up front: generally, I don’t consider myself a fan of doing “Mormon theology.”  Not that I find the concept inherently incorrect, but that the results (usually) disappoint me.  However, this slim volume, from “The Proceeding of the Mormon Theology Seminar” is a happy exception; even if I didn’t find value in all the essays, I found the collection, overall, quite valuable. Continue reading

The Founders, the Constitution, and the Plan of Salvation

This weekend, the nation celebrated Constitution Day in honor of the ratification of that divinely inspired charter of liberty. For members of the Church in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and parts of Maryland, this was a particularly auspicious weekend to celebrate. After a lengthy open house, the Philadelphia temple was dedicated today.

In light of the hallowed history of this great city, Elder Christofferson and President Eyring during the dedicatory sessions both reflected on the founding and its role in the restoration. Elder Christofferson in particular linked the events that took place in Philadelphia from 1776 to 1789 to the unfolding of the restoration in a profound fashion. He first mentioned that the truths contained in the declaration of independence were “central to the plan of salvation.” Then, he emphasized that had there been no constitution, there also would have been no restoration.

President Eyring then acknowledged the likely presence of many of those founders in the temple today. He reflected on their appearance in the St. George temple petitioning for their ordinances to be performed, and joked that they now likely “qualified for a temple recommend.”  As he said this, I felt a special spirit echoing the truth of his words. I knew that these men had fought for godly ideals and that they were now cheering the construction and dedication of this great temple.  President Eyring prayed that those ideals and liberties would be secured and that the United states could continue to be a bastion for freedom and a stronghold for the Church.

I loved these remarks. The ideals of the declaration truly are part of God’s plan of salvation as Elder Christofferson suggested: In particular, the equality of all men (and women) in the sight of God, the idea that we have unalienable and God given rights, and the ideal that government is based on the consent of the governed. These were radical truths when put to paper hundreds of years ago. They remain radical today. But they are also eternal truths that predate this Republic or even republican governance on the earth.

It is fitting that a portrait of the great men from the constitutional convention stands at the entrance to the temple. Though they were imperfect, these men designed a perfectible system which grabbed hold of eternal and perfect truths. I am grateful for them and for their efforts.

Striker: History of a Definition

Ladies tailors strikers

[Textile Workers in 1909 embodying the 4th definition of “striker”]

This past June/July, I spent a couple of weeks hanging out over at another LDS-themed website. I had been induced to visit this other site because I became aware my name was being used in vain.

I learned a few useful things as a result of that interaction, because some of those participating in that forum had knowledge I did not yet have. They didn’t cause me to question any of my primary theses regarding Nauvoo events, but they did make me wonder about my use of the term “striker” to describe the seducers who were telling women it was acceptable to participate in illicit intercourse. The strident critics on that other site claimed I was entirely wrong in the use of this one word. They pulled up various citations from the mid 1800s that indicated “striker” was a term that seemed to convey the idea of political activism. So I was planning to remove the term “striker” from a future update of my book, Reluctant Polygamist.

Luckily, I hadn’t gotten around to excising “striker” from my book. It turns out the term means what I thought it meant, and the word would have been even more upsetting and pertinent than I realized. Continue reading