Star Wars: No Spoiler Review

StarWarsUnless you live in a galaxy far far away, you are probably aware that the new Star Wars film debuted this week.

Since not everyone will have seen the film, I’ll avoid giving away any plot points. But this film returns us to the 1977 roots of Star Wars, when the film sat in the top box office spot for 40 weeks in a row.

Revisiting 1977

What made the original movie great?

In Luke Skywalker we had the petulant teen who was stuck in a small town/world. He was an orphan whose aunt and uncle are killed minutes into the film. Having a young male protagonist without parental figures is always a good move in storytelling, since parent figures might actually protect you. And where’s the fun/danger in that? Continue reading

Did Jesus have long hair and a beard?

This post entitled “The Error of the Long-haired Jesus” makes the very interesting case that Jesus did not have long hair and a beard. Read it yourselves, but I will summarize it in this post.

(In case anybody is interested, it doesn’t affect my faith one whit whether Jesus has long hair or not. I have a vision of His face in my mind that has nothing to do with his hair length or whether he has a beard. It is mostly His eyes that I see in my mind. But I find such historical speculation interesting. And, yes, this also applies to temple depictions of the Savior, which like everything in the temple are done to help our worldly eyes understand the mysteries of the eternities. Please note that each of the temple films has a Jesus who looks different, so we should not let ourselves get bogged down about details (such as Jesus with long hair and a beard) that miss the point.)

So, the post I link above makes the point that it was the custom in Palestine in the 1st century AD for most Jews to have short hair. Jesus was not a Nazarite (they notably had long hair). And Paul’s writings seem to imply that people who are followers of Christ should have shorter hair. In addition, early Christian writers make the point that most people in the 1st Century AD thought Jesus had short hair.

The idea that Jesus had long hair and a beard came from the attempt to make Christianity more palatable to Greeks and Romans, who all imagined gods in that way. Here is a statue of Sarapis (Zeus):


But, the post claims, there is no reason to believe Jesus actually looked at all like this.

Continue reading

Contemplating the Reason for the Season

nativity-scene-mary-joseph-baby-jesus-1326846-wallpaperEvery year around Christmas we are told by many different voices to “remember the reason for the season.” This call for perspective is understandable. Much time and thought is spent dressing up homes with lights, trees with ornamentation, and buying gifts as a matter of consumerism rather than true charity. No wonder religious people worry why a time that should bring spiritual renewal and contemplation ends up seeming like a secular celebration.

worse still is how soon a religious holiday is advertised for sale in stores a month or more before December where Christmas lands. Some of this is a personal dislike of bypassing some holidays, like Thanksgiving, with overexposure to others. Familiarity can breed contempt the saying goes. The celebration can go on for so long that the main focus becomes blurred. It isn’t even a constant enlightening celebration, but a burst of materialism centered on fun and spectacle. Too many Christians have turned over their religion to marketing campaigns and department stores.

Those who call for remembering the reason for the season are preaching to an inattentive choir. Most people understand perfectly well that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior. Even the non-religious recognize this fact, and simply ignore it or fight against it by seeking to suppress recognition. The war on Christmas is real. Often times those who participate in the celebration are their own enemies giving in to secular practices. Continue reading


PonderizelogoWhen Elder Durrant gave his talk about ponderizing, my family was not impressed. My daughter spent much of the talk groaning, screeching, and generally indicating her rejection of the bespoke word Elder Durrant created to make his point.

A month later we happened to have the missionaries over. As we talked about the gospel, they asked us if we were ponderizing. I tried to explain that I have done something like what Elder Durrant suggested for years. For example, when a missionary I would write important scriptures in calligraphy and post them on the walls of my apartment in Italy. My study of scripture has never been simple reading of the word followed by forgetfulness.

But my family members challenged me. I was not, they maintained, doing what the missionaries meant. They got a bit vicious, in fact. By the end of the week they understood how much their criticism had hurt me.

Coming from my own micro experience being an authority figure who had been reviled, I thought on Elder Durrant. Perhaps I could give his variant of pondering the scriptures a try.

Turns out there is an app for that. Continue reading

Cafeteria Mormonism – The Opium of the Heterodox

This is a guest post from Jeff G.


With the publication by the church of two essays that touch on feminist topics, the response within some parts of the bloggernacle has been the rather predictable mongering of contradictions. One post sought to show how different words from different leaders “compete” with one another on the subject. Another argued that church policy and church doctrine are in contradiction with one another. The conclusion for which all such posts obviously push is that, no matter what living prophets tell you on these subjects, you are completely justified in rejecting such teachings. It is this attitude of picking and choosing which doctrines and policies of the living church leaders to accept (as if the church were a cafeteria of sorts) that I want to expose and subvert. Continue reading