Ralph Hancock’s excellent article on the future of BYU

We urge all readers to take a look at Prof. Ralph Hancock’s excellent articles on BYU. As many readers know, there is widespread dissatisfaction among Latter-day Saints regarding the type of education students are receiving at BYU, specifically BYU-Provo, but also other BYU institutions.

To summarize the dissatisfaction from the conservative and traditional perspective, the concern is that BYU is becoming too worldly and embracing too many “woke” causes. But progressives are also unhappy that BYU is not like other universities in the U.S.

Prof. Hancock addresses these are other issues here.

Clearly something is stirring at Brigham Young University. The university is re-examining its fundamental mission, taking stock of how it has drifted away from this mission, and undertaking a realignment with that mission. All Latter-day Saints, and indeed all friends of religious higher education in the United States, have a stake in this challenging ongoing process. The university’s leading officers, under the direction of the Commissioner of Church Education, Clark Gilbert, and of the Board of Trustees in Salt Lake City, have addressed the university audience repeatedly, clearly, and emphatically — especially over the last two years — concerning the need to realign BYU with its distinctive religious as well as intellectual mission as a university sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It is much less clear, though, how these efforts to redirect BYU will unfold or what will be the eventual outcome of the present ferment. This article is mainly a reflection on the university’s annual conference, August 22, 2022, as well as on meetings and conversations at the college and department level that same day, and on subsequent reverberations throughout the institution that I have witnessed directly or that have been reported to me by BYU colleagues who share my concerns. I aim both to clarify the nature of the changes being called for by BYU leadership and to explain the very significant obstacles that stand in the way of these changes. Let me say at the outset that I wholly embrace the present call for mission realignment, and that I also understand that the obstacles to it are in many cases structural and not a result of deliberate opposition or disloyalty on the part of recalcitrant faculty.

As I will show below, President Kevin Worthen and Vice President Shane Reese made it very clear in their respective addresses on August 22, 2022 to the whole BYU community — and to the whole faculty — that improved alignment with the Church and the Restored Gospel is a high priority in the school’s updated strategic planning. VP Reese, in particular, offered some very bold and suggestive reflections on BYU’s need to articulate a “gospel methodology.” What remains unclear is just how the re-commitment to a gospel-centered education approach is to be articulated and just how this mission realignment is to be conceived and implemented, given the university’s deep involvement with and dependence on the mainstream establishment of higher education in the United States. I will argue, further, on the basis of observations at the “operational” level of the university (academic colleges and departments), that in the absence of a clear and substantive articulation and organizational incentivizing of the administration’s mandate to integrate religious faith and intellectual learning, the faculty as a whole will likely continue in their familiar professional grooves, and that many professors will continue to interpret gospel imperatives in ways that align conveniently with the humanistic religion, now largely driven by victimhood identity politics, that is prominent in the mainstream academy.

Finally, returning to the most important message from the annual university conference, I intend to show that a careful reading of Elder Christofferson’s speech of August 22 provides the key to a fuller and more practicable articulation of BYU’s mission and shows the way forward to a difficult and gradual but necessary implementation.

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Guest post: reflecting on “Under the Banner of Heaven”

This is a guest post by Lattertarian.

Under the Banner of Heaven is the title of a 2003 true-crime book by Jon Krakauer, who is not a stranger to bestselling non-fiction writing. He’s a big name. In this book, he tackles two topics that are tangentially related to one another: a 1984 Utah double murder perpetrated by fundamentalist maniacs, and the broad early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints culminating in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which over 100 migrants in a wagon train were murdered by … fundamentalist maniacs. 

The book came and went, but it also got picked up by Very Serious dramatists who were Very Serious about bringing this story to a video audience, so here we are. This reflection is about the “FX on Hulu” miniseries based on the book. It’s easy to see what you want to see in UBH (which is what I’ll call the show hereafter for convenience), and the showrunners make several very important and very misguided decisions that make the thing a mess, but the central questions are compelling and merit some thought. Bottom line: it’s all more complicated than it needs to be, and not in a good way.  

First, a few paragraphs about me. I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Branches of my family, including my entire mother’s side and the family line of my fraternal grandmother, are old-line multigenerational Mormon in the classic sense, what people inside the church call “pioneer stock”. I’ve been surrounded by “Mormon culture” my whole life, including semi-annual trips to Salt Lake City to visit all that extended family on summers and Christmases. I was baptized at age eight in the famous Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. I’m an Eagle Scout, and I served a two-year mission (in Idaho, no less). I have a “testimony,” and remain an active member of the church serving in positions of responsibility in my local congregation. I have been “married in the temple,” and am getting ready to watch my son and his bride do the same. I am fully fluent in the jargon and behavior signals of ethnic Mormonism (more on this in a bit), and have been for almost 50 years now.   

Lest that lead you, dear reader, to believe that I’m going to slavishly bash UBH because I’m a partisan stooge for my faith, this is a good place for me to state that I am also a Gen-X Libertarian who grew up in Southern California, not Utah. While I am fully fluent in Mormon, I grew up exposed to much more than a single cultural throughline. I graduated high school with the class of 1989. I remember the before-times when people didn’t have cable TV, personal computers, or internet access, let alone smartphones. I am the chairman of a county Libertarian party affiliate, and have no recollection of voting for either an R or a D (I’m not saying it never happened, but if it did I either don’t remember or just don’t care). I believe that every individual has absolute rights over his or her self, stuff, and speech, and believe the world would be a better place if every individual accepted and respected that in every other individual. I have a deep-seated skepticism of authority, particularly government authority (and if there’s any ethnic group within the United States that has every reason to distrust government authority, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are in the top five), and my loyalty is not easily won. I seek to see things as they are, not how I wish them to be.

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Zions Bank sponsors children’s grooming event in Idaho

Zion’s Bank, founded by Brigham Young in 1873, is now sponsoring events aimed at grooming children in Idaho.

The Boise Pride Festival this weekend includes at least two events involving the grooming of young children, a “Drag Kids on Stage” show and “Drag Story Time with Gendertainers.”

Here is the link to the “Boise Pride Guide” showing that Zion’s Bank is a major sponsor, along with many other corporate sponsors, including Citi, Albertson’s and Wells Fargo.

Zion’s Bank was founded by Brigham Young in 1873 but has not been associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the 1960s.

UPDATE: Zion’s Bank announced they will no longer participate in this event specifically because of the shows aimed at children. Kudos to Zion’s Bank.

Guest post: review of ‘Jezebel’s War with America’

This is a guest post by Bookslinger.

I’d like to recommend a book I found at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. Jezebel’s War with America, by Michael L. Brown, $4. It’s cheaper than buying used on Amazon, where it’s about $7 including shipping.

I bought extra copies to loan to friends.

I’m writing this review/recommendation for a general Christian audience, not solely Millennial Star’s intended audience.

You’re most likely already knowledgeable about the subject – the spiritual and culture wars going on. 

The value I see in the book is in the extensive endnotes, and the connecting of the historical dots. It shows who the players and leaders of personal, family, and nation destruction were and are.

In case you’re not familiar with Michael L.  Brown, he has a ministry, website, podcast, videos, etc.  

From his videos/podcasts, I think his speaking style is a bit too over-the-top, too zealous/intense, a bit too Pentecostal, almost holy-roller-ish, for me.   But his writing style is palatable.

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Papa Ostler’s false gospel

Richard Ostler, who calls himself “Papa Ostler” on-line, preaches a false and damaging version of the Gospel. His book is filled with claims that are the exact opposite of what is taught by the Church. In fact, President Nelson has warned that Satan wants us to believe many of the the things that Ostler teaches.

To learn more, please watch this video.