Mouths of Babes — Does Can Mean Should?

March 1, 2013

O be wise, what can I say more?

- Jacob 6:12

A Mormon boy from an affluent neighborhood in Utah, barely 18 years old, will leave a few days after graduating from high school for the crushing poverty, suffering, and misery of Sierra Leone. This isn’t the plot of an off-color Broadway musical. It’s going to happen in a couple of months to a real person.[1] He’s not going to experience mere culture shock; it will be an entirely different world, a different universe. Nothing in the boy’s lived experience up until this point is going to have prepared him for even the smallest percentage of what he is going to observe landing there. I hope and pray he survives!

There isn’t much difference between an 18 year old boy and a 19 year old boy — both are teenagers still, both usually as green as can be. On paper it’s a wash. Read the rest of this entry »


Latent Racism, Orientalism and “Magic Underwear” in American Society and Mitt Romney’s Presidential Campaign

January 16, 2012

African Muslim Men in Religious Attire, source http://www.thingsoftheday.com/?p=3285

As I made my way through the crowded local Costco recently, I stepped back a moment and appreciated the diversity surrounding me. Although approximately 92% of the population in the UK is white, about 45% of the remaining 8% of the UK population that are ethnic minorities live in London. And we’ve enjoyed having a high concentration of this 45% in and around the area of London where I currently reside. We have become accustomed to seeing people in their religiously significant daily dress in all circumstances, from the morning school run, to regular visits to the supermarket, to going to movies in the cinema and just about everywhere else. (In fact, it is not unusual for us to see such dress in our LDS ward on Sunday as investigators from all of these ethnic and religious backgrounds politely keep their commitment to the missionaries working in the area to visit us and see what the Church is all about.)
Read the rest of this entry »


Becoming a Mormon: Thinking about a Brand with Elder Ballard

October 14, 2011

I am a recent convert to “Mormonism” myself. Not too many years ago you could find me vigorously arguing on Mormon-themed blogs about the importance of avoiding the word “Mormon” as a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[1] At the time, it felt like a concession to detractors of our faith to self-identify by the nickname they derisively gave to us in the nineteenth century. Ironically, however, it was precisely our nineteenth-century ancestors in the faith who had made peace with the descriptor and good-naturedly co-opted it to describe themselves, leaving us with the lasting nickname. Read the rest of this entry »


Pluralism and Persecution in the UK

June 22, 2011

Despite the Telegraph’s deliberately provocative title (“Christians are more militant than Muslims, says Government’s equalities boss”), which doesn’t accurately reflect the content of the article, the Chairman of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission recently raised some interesting points and makes some insightful observations about integration, pluralism and claims of religious persecution in modern society (ht:M*). Read the rest of this entry »


Where Does It End? The Real Danger in Warren Smith’s Perspective

June 3, 2011

Dave noted yesterday at Times and Seasons the inherent incivility of journalist Warren Cole Smith’s recent dismissal in Patheos of Mormons’ eligibility for the office of President of the United States precisely because of their religion. I found Dave’s analysis cogent and important. My concern with WCS’s viewpoint runs deeper than whether he and those who share his views have simply departed from the bounds of civil discourse. Read the rest of this entry »


Christmas Testimony

December 13, 2010

Now that President Uchtdorf has rehabilitated pride in one’s children and family, I feel confident in relating my immense gratitude for my children and how proud I am of how they are developing in the Gospel. My nine year old daughter shared the following testimony in Fast and Testimony Meeting last week:

I would like to share my testimony with you. In primary today we read a poem called The Christmas Guest. In this poem a man dreamed that the Savior was going to visit him on Christmas Day. He was so excited that he prepared everything to be perfect for his guest. But as he waited he saw an old beggar at his door with torn shoes and clothes. He gave him a pair of shoes and a better coat and sent him on his way, wondering what was taking his guest so long. Next an old woman came to his door bent over under a heavy pile of sticks. She asked him for a place to rest and he allowed her to rest in his house and gave her something to eat. But he kept wondering where his guest was. Next a lost child came to his door and he knew he had to help her find her family. So he took her home to her house. When he came home Christmas was over and the man sadly went to his room and prayed to ask God why the Lord had not come. But when he was praying the Spirit told him that the Lord had kept his promise and that when he had helped those three people in need, he had been helping the Lord.

What really struck me about this poem was that the Lord was everyone so when we help everyone we are helping the Lord. And I bear that testimony to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

We have neither encouraged nor discouraged the kids to go up to bear their testimony during Fast and Testimony Meeting but like we did when we were kids, they often choose to do so on their own, unprompted. When they do, however, they have never born the standard children’s testimony one frequently hears in Church*. This is different from when as kids we would go up and bear testimonies because I am pretty sure we always recited the standard testimony and sat back down.

I am grateful for my daughters’ thoughtful testimonies. (I’ve also seen this in Ronan’s then nine-year old son who bore his testimony at a Testimony Meeting that we held in my home at the instructions of our Stake Presidency one Sunday in January when the whole region was completely shut down with heavy snow. — These aren’t the rote testimonies that we used to bear as children.)

Earlier this year, my second daughter, six years old at the time, bore her testimony in Fast and Testimony Meeting and simply said “I am grateful to be a Christian and for the sacrifice of the Lord for me.” and sat down. These kids are miles ahead of where I was at their age. What better way to learn about the pure truths of the Gospel than from the mouths of our own children?

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* i know the church is true i love my family i know the book of mormon is true i know president [x] [when we were bearing this standard kids' testimony it was President Kimball and then President Benson] is a prophet in the name of jesus christ amen


Our Remembrance Sunday

November 15, 2010

The tradition in our ward and in some other wards in the UK is to have a Remembrance Sunday service on the second Sunday in November — the Sunday closest to November 11, or Armistice Day. In doing so, we essentially join with the rest of society in this act of remembering veterans as the rest of the Christian churches in the country uniformly dedicate a service on this day to the memory of those who died serving in past wars and to those currently serving. Part of this tradition in our ward is to move away from the assigned congregational talks that we usually have on a Sunday and stick to a readings-based program planned out in advance to capture the Spirit of the day and convey the purpose of the meeting. Read the rest of this entry »


A Mormon Sermon for Reformation Sunday

November 3, 2010

Delivered in church on October 31, 2010*

By 1528 at the latest Martin Luther had written the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, number 68 in our hymn book, as a homily on Psalm 46. The words to this hymn always turn my thoughts to Luther’s experience in taking refuge in the mighty Wartburg fortress at Eisenach in the German principality of Thuringia in 1521. We can imagine Luther reflecting on his isolation while sequestered in that fortress, in disguise as a knight for his own protection, as he later penned the words. Read the rest of this entry »


Revisiting the “Temple Worthiness” Requirement for LDS Employees

March 4, 2010

It is common knowledge that the LDS Church requires its employees, whether they work at the Church Office Building as a professional accountant, as an engineer in the former LDS-owned “Deseret Gym,” or as a custodian* in a temple or LDS chapel, to be temple recommend holding members of the Church. But how attenuated is that requirement in terms of people supplying things to the LDS Church?

Consider as a case in point the email (below the fold) I just got soliciting extras for an LDS Church film about prisoners of war during WWII (and, if you are interested and meet the requirements, by all means apply! :) ):

Read the rest of this entry »


We Should Be Mormons

January 13, 2010

It is discouraging to see many Mormons in our day and age following some fundamentalist creedal Christians in taking an anti-science stance relating to organic evolution or other matters in which fundamentalist creedal Christians, based on their own unnecessary inferences from the Bible, have chosen to see faith at war with science. Read the rest of this entry »


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