Happy New Year!

2017 rang in quietly at my home. We watched a DVD someone got for Christmas. Five minutes before midnight, we shifted to TV.

We opened a couple of bottles of Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice and poured it into cobalt blue goblets in preparation for the countdown. Then it was 3, 2, 1… And we all hugged and kissed as appropriate.

This was the baby’s first New Year celebration, but she’s always up for consuming food and drink. So she eagerly downed a tablespoon of white grape juice, her emerging teeth clinking on the glass.

A minute or so later, the juice came back up, with a bit more from other adventures in eating. Her father, duly decorated, went down to shower and clean both of them up. Then they fell asleep. And baby’s mother snapped a photo of her sleeping loved ones.

In a prior age this moment would have been remembered only briefly, possibly forgotten the next morning. But now we have a photograph. And now there is IMGUR.

“At our New Year’s Party, A girl drank too much, puked on my husband, and then fell asleep with him… Best night of my year!”

To the baby mother’s initial delight, the post started getting traction. Then IMGUR told her it was officially viral (at 300 likes). Then she started getting Facebook comments from friends who asked, “Is that your husband and baby on the front page of IMGUR?!?!?!?”

Less than a day after going live, the post has over 10,000 likes. And the author is both delighted and a bit anxious, because her IMGUR persona is a bit more outré than even the persona her friends knew in college.

May your New Year be delightful. May you have those around you to love and cherish. May you find deep truths that fill your soul with joy and peace. And may you live a life that in reflection brings a smile to your face.

Dubious Anniversary

Joseph Smith Red Brick Store in Nauvoo175 years ago Brigham Young reportedly attempted to convince Martha Brotherton to be his “wife.” The conversation between Martha and Brigham Young reportedly occurred in the Red Brick Store (pictured above). The exact date is not know, but the conversation almost certainly occurred in the latter half of December 1841.

Many have presumed that the conversation was a “legitimate” proposal that Martha become Brigham’s plural wife within the context of Joseph Smith’s teachings regarding Celestial Marriage and the New and Everlasting Covenant. After all, Martha claimed that Joseph Smith was one of the three men who spoke with her that day, urging her to accept Brigham’s proposal.

However it should be remembered that Martha placed Joseph Smith at the scene in an affidavit written at the express invitation of Dr. John C. Bennett, who was attempting to tarnish Joseph Smith’s reputation. From the contemporary journal of a faithful Mormon, it appears Joseph Smith felt Brigham’s attempt to coerce Martha Brotherton was a transgression so serious that Joseph feared Brigham would be struck down and die. 1 As discussed in my post Saul, Alma the Younger, and the tale of Martha Brotherton, it is plausible that Martha’s account was largely based on actual events. However the third man participating in the conversations Martha described was likely an unwitting Hyrum Smith, rather than Joseph Smith.

Continue reading


  1. Clayton, William, journal entry of June 23, 1843. See An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, George D. Smith editor, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, UT, 1995, p. 108.

Women’s Voices of the Restoration

While working on her dissertation, Janiece Johnson came up with the idea to create a resource for members to use while preparing lessons. She felt there would be value in infusing women’s voices into our gospel teaching.

Women’s stories have traditionally been shared in biographical format, but Janiece’s idea was to piece these testimonies together in a more easily accessible format. Five years later, she and her coauthor, Jenny Reeder, have put together a collection of thoughts arranged topically that is now available through Deseret Book.

Author Jenny Reeder points out that this format allows us to identify common themes. No two pioneer women lived the same experience. They approached the gospel in different ways. Like now, there was not one “right way.” These differences should not only be noticed but also appreciated, validated, and understood.

Knowing a bit about the lives of these women adds punch to their testimonies. Life wasn’t perfect for these women. They had stuff going on in their lives similar to us now, but they were resourceful and did the best they could in their circumstances.

Join Laura Harris Hales of LDS Perspectives Podcast for a journey back in time as we get to know a little bit more about some of the incredible women of the early Church.

Be sure to check out LDS Perspectives to access an excerpt from the book.

Four favorite Christmas videos

Merry Christmas from all of us at The Millennial Star. Thank you for taking the time to read and support our blog this year. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Here are four of my favorite Christmas videos.

John Rhys-Davies’ narration of the Nativity from Luke 2:

And my favorite author and historian, David McCullough tells the story of Christmas Eve 1941, and of the Christmas hymn, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”:

Longfellow’s Christmas, narrated by Edward Herrmann:

Christmas from Heaven: the Story of the Candy Bomber, Gail Halvorsen:

Trump Derangement Syndrome infecting Mormon brains

Ivanka Trump and her children were harassed this morning by a man for political reasons while she was flying on coach on JetBlue from NY to Florida.  Here is what happened:

According to the report, a man – holding a child of his own – began yelling at her and “jeering” at the young kids.

“Your father is ruining the country,” he reportedly told her, while questioning why she was on the flight instead of flying privately.

Daily Mail identified the man as Dan Goldstein, a lawyer from Brooklyn. Before boarding the flight, Goldstein’s husband, Matthew Lasner, tweeted: “Ivanka and Jared at JFK T5, flying commercial. My husband chasing them down to harass them. #banalityofevil”

I mention this report because it is the latest in a long line of crazy incidents involving unhinged responses to the president-elect.  I am saddened to report that there are even members of the Church of Jesus Christ who are opposed to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir  performing at Trump’s inauguration.  Shame on them.

This issue should not be controversial.  It is only the hyper-politicized culture — akin to college campuses with safe spaces and trigger warnings — that allows it to be controversial.  Trump is the legally elected president of the United States.  The Inauguration Committee invited them to perform and they accepted.  The MoTab choir has performed multiple times in front of Democrat and Republican presidents:

The choir has previously sung at the inaugurals of five other U.S. presidents, including the official swearing-in ceremonies for George H. W. Bush (1989), Richard M. Nixon (1969) and Lyndon B. Johnson (1965). They performed in inaugural parades for George W. Bush (2001), George H. W. Bush (1989) and Ronald W. Reagan (1981).

When the choir sang its signature song “Battle Hymn of the Republic” during the inaugural parade for President Reagan in 1981, he dubbed the choir “America’s Choir.” President George H. W. Bush called the choir “a national treasure” during his swearing-in ceremony in front of the Capitol in 1989.

Over the years, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed on other occasions for five additional U.S. presidents. The choir sang in the Salt Lake Tabernacle for Jimmy Carter in 1978 and John F. Kennedy in 1963. Gerald Ford heard the choir sing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in 1974. White House performances included a 1958 appearance for Dwight D. Eisenhower and an occasion for William Howard Taft in 1911.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed in multiple Communist countries that have values significantly worse that the Trump administration.  The choir brings the Spirit of the Lord, which is a necessary thing now and at all times.

The MoTab choir performing at Trump’s inauguration is not an endorsement of the man.  It is simply an agreement to perform at a high profile event and is completely in line with past decisions by the choir.

How would a decision not to perform ever be justified?  The MoTab choir is willing to perform in Communist dictatorships that have killed and imprisoned hundreds of thousands, but not in front of the legally elected president of the United States?  Such a decision would be impossible to defend.  But even worse, it would create a precedent where all future MoTab performances are judged by politics.  Let’s say Hillary Clinton is elected in 2020 — would the MoTab be justified in refusing to perform for her because of political reasons?  (For the record, I would never vote for Hillary, but I would have no problem with the MoTab performing for her, and I would look on such an event with pride).

It does no good for Mormons who oppose many things about Trump (as I do) to become unhinged on minor issues like this.  If Trump tries to implement a registry of U.S. citizens based on religion (which I doubt is going to happen), then let’s scream bloody murder.  If Trump tries to restrict the First Amendment, then let’s complain loudly.  But it makes Mormons look petty and contentious to spend their time complaining when the MoTab choir does something that should not be controversial — and is in line with precedent.

The deranged behavior by Trump opponents — including Mormons opposed to the MoTab’s decision to perform at the inauguration — is alarming and embarrassing.  There are appropriate times to be political and there are times that are completely inappropriate.  This is one of those times where such behavior is inappropriate.  It makes Mormons look like the crazy guy harassing Ivanka Trump on a plane, and believe me this is not an image I want for the Church or its members.