Old Manuals, Unintended Consequences, and the Optimistic Turn of “Come Follow Me”

At an amazing S&I address a few years ago, Elder Ballard described past curriculum as well-meaning, but inadequate.

It was only a generation ago that our young people’s access to information about our history, doctrine, and practices was basically limited to materials printed by the Church. Few students came in contact with alternative interpretations. Mostly, our young people lived a sheltered life. Our curriculum at that time, though well-meaning, did not prepare students for today

Continue reading “Old Manuals, Unintended Consequences, and the Optimistic Turn of “Come Follow Me””

A Paradoxical Preservation of Faith: LDS Creation Accounts and the Composite Nature of Revelation

My 2019 FAIRMormon Conference presentation is up now, here. There’s a lot in the footnotes as well.

The takeaway is this: Many LDS have unsustainably fundamentalist assumptions about the nature of revelation, prophets, and scripture. The conflict these cause sometimes leads to a loss of faith, instead of recognizing and reexamining the assumptions. Continue reading “A Paradoxical Preservation of Faith: LDS Creation Accounts and the Composite Nature of Revelation”

A Sacrament Meeting Sermon on Forgiveness

Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge; Screencap from the Muppet Christmas Carol

We’re in a new ward, and with the new meeting changes, talks sermons are assigned 6-8 minutes length. I was in the anchor spot, and so prepared to stretch or compress my remarks. I tend to prepare an outline (so there’s plenty of ad-libbing), with my stories, scriptures, or anything I want to read printed in full, so there’s no fumbling between papers or flipping through scriptures looking for the right page. One other speaker and I were on the stand early, the other came in about 10 minutes after Sacrament began. I spent those ten minutes reorganizing an expansion out to about 20 minutes, then had to contract when said speaker appeared. Here’s my written adaptation of remarks I made after I introduced us to the ward. Continue reading “A Sacrament Meeting Sermon on Forgiveness”

Some thoughts on scripture study for adults and youth

George Cattermole, “The Scribe” public domain.

 

A friend asked me about teaching youth about scripture study recently. I happened to have some notes I’d collected, so I wrote it up here. These are things I think LDS adults should know and model to the youth. I’ve grouped them under three logical, progressive headings. Now, I think the Church does a great job getting us to read scripture, and to apply scripture in spiritual and practical ways, but not always how to understand or interpret scripture very well. Continue reading “Some thoughts on scripture study for adults and youth”

The Future Faith of Our Seminary Students

Ben contemplating in Petra.

This is a long post, with four sections, but I ask you to read it because I think it’s important.

I first explain the nature of my concern, the two emblematic issues involved, and conclude by inviting you to do something.

Intro/Why I’m concerned

The 2019 Seminary manual for Old Testament is now available. I skimmed through some early bits, and I’m concerned for the future faith of our LDS youth. Continue reading “The Future Faith of Our Seminary Students”

Genesis and Evolution: A BYU Guest Lecture

Creation of the Sun, Sistine Chapel

BYU’s Late Summer Honors offered a course recently called, “What Does it Mean to be Human? A Scientific and Spiritual Journey into Human Origins.” I was invited to take a 3-hr class period to talk about what Genesis has to say about evolution and the place of humanity in creation. I’ve presented much of what I said before, in other venues, but virtually everything was new to these freshman honors students. By necessity, I tried to keep it simple and use some humor. Continue reading “Genesis and Evolution: A BYU Guest Lecture”

Raymond Brown on Understanding and Teaching Complicated Historical Issues

Raymond E. Brown SS, was a Catholic priest and Bible scholar, known for his Introduction to the New Testament, his volumes in the Anchor Bible Commentary series, and other academic and semi-popular works. He also wrote a popular book called 101 Questions on the Bible which has some really great stuff. As you might expect from the title, he presents this in Q&A format.

Several questions address the nature of scripture and genre, but also how to teach and preach passages where there is a large difference between scholarly understanding and popular traditions. (Virtually all the italics are mine.) Continue reading “Raymond Brown on Understanding and Teaching Complicated Historical Issues”

The Longer Abraham Drama, co-written by M. Night Shyamalan (Lessons 7-9)

Domenichino, Public Domain

I taught this Gospel Doctrine lesson after the scheduled teacher was informed that his son was speaking in Primary. During that spontaneous teaching experience, I realized some things about the interconnectedness of the ten chapters leading up to Genesis 22.

In particular, I want to clarify why Genesis 22 unrolls the way it does. Isaac isn’t the sacrifice there  just because “it’s the most horrific thing we can think of.” Abraham’s test goes far beyond that, but in order to grasp it, we have to start back in Genesis 12, and see how the events unfold, culminating with Isaac. Genesis 22 is thus intimately connected to the events of the preceding chapters, and if we ignore them, we misunderstand. This is one of those times we look so much at one tree that we miss the forest around it. Continue reading “The Longer Abraham Drama, co-written by M. Night Shyamalan (Lessons 7-9)”