Poignant Bumper Sticker Memes

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[This post was originally written by Allen Wyatt on his blog Ruminatio. It is reposted here with his permission.]

I enjoyed general conference earlier this month, and in fact wrote a good deal about it and the goings-on by other groups at conference time. One of those groups is Ordain Women, which sponsored an event designed to heighten awareness of those who would like to see women be ordained to the priesthood.

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Fair Issues 50: Book of Mormon DNA issue one of science, not theology

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Ash (newer) PictureLDS critics with training in genetics acknowledge that if a small group of Israelites came to the New World and intermixed with a larger Native American population, their DNA could have disappeared as well…the DNA issue is one of science.  The question as to who lived in the Americas in addition to Book of Mormon peoples is not one of doctrine or revelation, but is one of personal opinion based on research and evidence, including textual evidence from the Book of Mormon

The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.

Brother Ash is author of the book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, as well as the book, of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both books are available for purchase online through the FairMormon Bookstore.

Tell your friends about the Mormon Fair-Cast. Share a link on your Facebook page and help increase the popularity of the Mormon Fair-Cast by subscribing to this podcast in iTunes, and by rating it and writing a review.

The view and opinions expressed in the podcast may not reflect those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or that of FairMormon.

 

4th Watch 14: True Doctrine

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4thWatch SmallBrother Ned Scarisbrick and Nick Galieti discuss some of the core doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and how we understand them from a general member perspective.

Future podcasts in this series will be geared toward the practical application of gospel principles based on truth and transparency of past and present Church teachings and leaders. Critics of the Church and those who have concerns about their faith may find this approach appealing from previous generations who may have had difficulty dealing with what some consider conflicting viewpoints of official Church doctrine.

The view and opinions expressed in this podcast may not represent those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or that of FairMormon.

Book Review: Mormon’s Codex: An Ancient American Book

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Title: Mormon’s Codex: An Ancient American BookMormon's Codex
Author: John L. Sorenson
Publisher: Deseret Book
Genre: Nonfiction
Year Published: 2013
Number of Pages: 826 pages
Binding: Hardcover
ISBN13: 978-1609073992
List Price: $59.99 (currently available from FairMormon bookstore for $50.99)

Reviewed by Trevor Holyoak

John L. Sorenson has been studying the relationship of the Book of Mormon to Mesoamerica for over 60 years. He received an MA in archaeology from BYU and a PhD in anthropology from UCLA. His best known book prior to this was “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon,” published in 1985.

“Mormon’s Codex” is the culmination of his studies. It begins with a Foreword by Terryl Givens and then has three main sections followed by an appendix. At the center of the book are colorful maps and photographs of places and artifacts. There are also black and white photos interspersed throughout the text.

Part 1 is called “Orientation.” It introduces the Book of Mormon and its orgins and tells us about problems with archaeology. One way archaeologists have been able to base the Bible in reality is through finding convergences where the text agrees with archaeological findings. This book investigates the same type of convergences between the Book of Mormon and Mesoamerica. This is not easy, because “only a fraction of the material that was left behind by ancient peoples has been preserved and is waiting to be found” (page 11). There is also the problem that only a fraction of what has been discovered has been excavated, and only a fraction of the items found have been studied and published. In spite of this, there is a tendency among archaeologists to “speak as if their data were complete and their inferences were facts” (page 12).

Sorenson lists key places from the Book of Mormon text and then places them on the map. He has found that a limited Mesoamerican geography is the best fit, specifically around Guatemala. He has gone as far as to identify plausible locations for many places, such as the narrow neck of land, the east and west seas, the river Sidon, the city of Nephi, and the final Nephite and Jaredite battleground (this is the only Jaredite place that he is very certain about). He concludes that the text of the Book of Mormon fits this area so well that it only could have been produced by people living in that place and time.

The histories of the Jaredites and Nephites are laid out, followed by a parallel history of Mesoamerica. It is also pointed out that there is a limited amount of history to go on from the Book of Mormon (three centuries are covered in a mere four pages, for instance).

Part 2 covers “Correspondences by Topic.” It first lays out geographical correspondences, such as distances and characteristics of the land. This is where a possible site for Jerusalem is first mentioned, a submerged city called Samabaj that was discovered recently in Lake Atitlan.

Evidence for transoceanic voyages is laid out, with a list of some of the plants that have been found in both hemispheres. This is followed by a similar list of diseases, as well as a discussion of languages, records, and writing systems. Also covered are human biology, political economy, society, population and distribution, material culture, government and political processes, warfare, knowledge systems, and ideology and religion.

Part 3 has “Correspondences from Archaeology and History.” I found this part to be the most interesting. It is split up into four time periods: before 600 BC, between 600 and 1 BC, between AD 1 and 200, and between AD 200 and 400. One of the things discussed is the apparent absence of fortifications, since they are a common part of the war chapters. There have actually been more found than is commonly recognized. Sorenson has tabulated 75 named sites that date before AD 400. (It hasn’t been published because the project kept expanding.) He tells how it took generations of work at Tikal before they realized an embankment was actually a wall. It took over 30 years to trace the miles of wall found, and it may not yet be fully revealed.

A possible location for Bountiful has been identified, based on geography, but it has not yet been studied, so Sorenson still considers such correspondence to be premature. However, Santa Rosa is a good candidate for Zarahemla, all the way down to evidence of destruction from the right time period preceding Christ’s visit in 3rd Nephi. In fact, corresponding evidence such as volcanic ash has been found in the same time period in many places in the area. This also includes the city of Jerusalem being covered with water as mentioned previously. In addition, there is evidence of significant cultural and religious
upheaval at that time which corresponds with the Book of Mormon text.

Sorenson explains how the codex (the plates) may have been transported to New York from Mesoamerica by relating the story of English sailors who trekked 3,000 miles from Mexico to Nova Scotia in 1589 over a period of nine months. And near the end of the 20th century, an adventurer named David Ingram walked 4,000 miles from Maine to Tampico in 11 months.

In the appendix, Sorenson explains how he has modified his views of the Jaredites since the publication of “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon.” He now sets them in Veracruz, with the three main lands in Jalapa, Cordoba, and Tuxtepec. And he has changed his mind to an Atlantic Ocean crossing instead of the North Pacific. However, he notes that all this still remains tentative.

I would have preferred if the book were laid out a bit differently – he tends to explain Book of Mormon history and Mesoamerican history separately and then gives a summary conclusion. He explains that “to recapitulate detailed parallels would be tedious; an alert reader can identify further general and specific correspondences” (page 665). While this may be the case, I believe it would better suit the purpose of the book to combine the parallel information, pointing out correspondences in more detail as it goes. On the other hand, I appreciate that in places where the evidence is weak or still lacking, he is quick to point it out.

This book is a treasure trove of information about New World archaeology and how it may relate to the Book of Mormon. It probably won’t convince critics (although it will be harder for them to say there is no evidence), but as a believer in the Book of Mormon as scripture and as real history, it helped me better visualize the events and people it contains. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in physical evidence for the Book of Mormon and placing it on the map.

Mormon Fair-Cast 215: The First Vision

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RussellStevensonIt is the foundational event of Mormonism–or at least that is what it became. Beginning in 1832, Joseph Smith began to publicly talk about a visionary experience he had in a grove of trees nearby his home in upstate New York. However, what he told audiences differed from year-to-year in what feels to be substantial detail. Is this evidence of rank fraud? Or, as his supporters say, does it indicate the natural human tendency to emphasize/omit details of a story based on one’s audience or perhaps his own changing understanding of the importance of certain theological principles. Brittany Nielson and I speak with LDS Church Historian Dr. Stephen Harper about his book, Joseph Smith’s First Vision: A Guide to the Historical Accounts Harper currently works on the Joseph Smith Papers Project production team for the LDS Church.

This podcast interview was provided courtesy of Russell Stevenson.

Russell Stevenson is the “Mormon History Guy” and the views expressed are his own may not reflect those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or that of FairMormon.

Fair Issues 49: More Limitations in Book of Mormon DNA study

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Ash (newer) PictureIn this podcast brother Ash explains how DNA studies are inconclusive to establish a direct link between Book of Mormon peoples and there ancestry because of the “molecular clock” of mtDNA and the Y chromosome Cohen marker.

The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.

Brother Ash is author of the book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, as well as the book, of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both books are available for purchase online through the FairMormon Bookstore.

Tell your friends about the Mormon Fair-Cast. Share a link on your Facebook page and help increase the popularity of the Mormon Fair-Cast by subscribing to this podcast in iTunes, and by rating it and writing a review.

The view and opinions expressed in the podcast may not reflect those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or that of FairMormon.

These Are Our Sisters

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Just stop it

By Cal Robinson and Juliann Reynolds

The internet is buzzing in response to the March 17th news release written by Jessica Moody of Public Affairs to the leaders of Ordain Women (OW) on “behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”:
Women in the Church, by a very large majority, do not share your advocacy for priesthood ordination for women and consider that position to be extreme. Declaring such an objective to be non-negotiable, as you have done, actually detracts from the helpful discussions that Church leaders have held as they seek to listen to the thoughts, concerns, and hopes of women inside and outside of Church leadership. Ordination of women to the priesthood is a matter of doctrine that is contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for His Church.
The point here is not to reiterate the Church’s position. It is made very clear in the statement above. Rather, the purpose is to address how best to help members have a more respectful dialogue. A recent Trib Talk provides an excellent discussion by three dynamic women with differing viewpoints. Jennifer Napier-Pearce questioned Kate Kelly (the spokesperson for Ordain Women [1]), Neylan McBaine (editor of the Mormon Women Project [2]), and Julie Smith (blogger on Times and Season [3]).

McBaine and Smith take issue with the need for priesthood ordination and the methods being used by Ordain Women to achieve it. However, all three women look forward to more inclusion and recognition of women, echoing a sentiment of President Linda K. Burton of the General Relief Society that the church would benefit as “men’s vision of the capacity of women becomes more complete.” [4] But most striking was that all three were in complete agreement that the insults and ridicule directed at OW and its members from some of those defending the Church is “horrific.” [5]

Rather than engaging in a respectful and compassionate discussion of what is obviously an extremely divisive topic, many participants have responded with derogatory and dismissive remarks.  Often we are unaware of how our comments are viewed by others. By always responding with kindness in our disagreement, we will be better able to create a safe space for all, without pushing those who feel marginalized to the more extreme positions.  President Uchtdorf explains, “[W]hen it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and exclusively appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt.” [6]
Of equal concern are those well-intentioned counter arguments to women’s ordination that not only diminish women in general, but the priesthood itself.  Any defense that involves a refusal of the priesthood as if it was just one more thing to add to an already full schedule is no defense. Likewise, declaring that its primary purpose is to force men to be responsible is not consistent with statements by church leaders that describe the role of the Priesthood with utmost reverence. For example, Elder John H. Groberg said in the April 2001 Priesthood Session, “I hope we appreciate the priceless privilege of holding the priesthood of God. Its value is unfathomable. ” [7] Comparing the authority and power of God to everyday tasks in an effort to convince women they shouldn’t want the priesthood certainly does not elevate or show respect for such a priceless privilege.

Actual comments found on blogs and message boards, such as those shown below, provide examples of what not to say when discussing the priesthood:

1.  Questioning or dismissing women’s worthiness or faithfulness.

“[H]ow tainted by the “philosophies of men” have some women become.”
“These are not faithful women in our church! If so, you would not be questioning The Lord.”

2.  Questioning women’s motives.

“If I trusted that these agitating sisters were approaching things out of sincere and pure motives, I’d be the first to  sympathize…I see no indication that they are seeking it, wanting it, or even expecting it. They really are living beneath their privileges.”
“Why would women want the priesthood other than mortal pride or self satisfaction?”

3.  Questioning women’s knowledge or understanding.

“What I believe is happening is a group of uninformed women are fighting for something that they don’t even understand completely…They do not even understand what they are asking for!”
“I think that women who are seeking for the Priesthood, do not fully understand the nature of men, and how the Priesthood helps them.”

4.  Discounting men and/or the priesthood.

“[W]hy do you want the priesthood?…I feel like I have enough responsibilities in the church already. And I have never felt oppressed in those responsibilities.”
“Honestly, what earthly need would we have for men if the women should be ordained? Why would a father need to bless his children with the priesthood? Why have men run the organization of the church?”

5. Misrepresenting and mischaracterizing.

“Giving women the priesthood outside of their connection to the priesthood through their husbands would be the same as removing men altogether from the plan of salvation. At least it would be equivalent to removing women’s role as child bearers and nurturers.”
“If women received the priesthood, relief society would need to be disbanded and all would be in the elder’s quorum.”

6. Inviting them to leave the church.

“If these women are so unhappy there are plenty of other churches out there that [might] be more in line with [their] views about ordaining women into the priesthood…why would a person want to worship in a church they don’t agree with? Other than to advance some modern feminist agenda.”
“May I suggest that it would be a simple thing to find a church who ordains women to the priesthood?”

 7. Calling out Satan to finish the job.

“I have seen many parallels to anti-Christs in the Book of Mormon. That does not mean that I am judging all of these individuals as anti-Christ; but, they indeed appear to be pawns in Lucifer’s hands.”

These are only a few examples of common sentiments and may leave some wondering what would be a better response. Church leadership has provided a number of examples of Christlike approaches, particularly that of Ruth M. Todd (Church Public Affairs) in her interaction with OW last October as they attempted to gain admission to the Priesthood session of General Conference. [8]

First, Sister Todd was clear in stating the Church’s position. She said, “This meeting is all about strengthening the men of our church, so this is no surprise to you, that we won’t be able to offer you a ticket or a place to see it…Millions of women in this church do not share the views of this small group that has come and organized this
protest today…And some of the members feel this is very divisive as well.”

Sister Todd then reached out with charity, saying, “Even so, these are our sisters, and we want them in our church. And we hope they find the peace and joy we all seek in the gospel of Jesus Christ.” She spoke directly with everyone she could, going down the line and taking them by the hand. She engaged them as individuals rather than as opponents or outsiders with the assurance, “I am so happy to know you…”

Why does the way we speak to each other matter? The gospel is supposed to be a refuge for all. It welcomes all, and so must we as church members. A quick look at the Mormon Women Project website or the member profiles on mormon.org shows the dazzling array of cultures, opinions and personalities that have found a haven in the church. It’s completely acceptable to voice disagreement with OW’s purpose; what is not acceptable is to deny these women, our sisters in the church, the same attempt at love and reconciliation that we would extend to others whose viewpoints are more in line with our own.
If Neylan McBaine, Julie Smith, and Kate Kelly can have a heartfelt discussion despite their fundamental disagreement over the ordination of women, so can we. For those of us who reject the belief that ordination is a necessary step in spiritual progression for women and for the church, and as we support our leaders, we should remember President Uchtdorf’s counsel against contributing to a soul-breaking rift in our Church family when he said, “If you are tempted to give up: Stay yet a little longer. There is room for you here.” [9]

We can share his message not only those who have left the faith, but also with members who may wonder if they are even still welcome.  We can stop the rejection, insults, and condemnation and make a place on the pew for all who want to follow Christ.

Note: “This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

Stop it!

It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, ‘Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.’”   “The Merciful Obtain Mercy”, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor of the First Presidency, April 2012 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/…-mercy?lang=eng

Footnotes

1: http://ordainwomen.org/ Kate Kelly is also an international human rights attorney.  Kelly has stated that the goal of OrdainWomen is “[t]o improve the situation of women in the church and to achieve fundamental equality. . . we want to not only be consulted about decisions but we want to be part of the decision making  process. We want to bless the lives of others and we want to be transformed by what we know is the power of God.”  She adds, “We believe in the priesthood and we believe it is the power of God. Otherwise, none of this would be worth it.” See http://www.sltrib.co…church.html.csp

2: http://www.mormonwomen.com/ Neylan McBaine works for Bonneville Communications as a brand strategist, including on the “I am a Mormon” project. McBaine states her stance on women’s roles in the Church as ”There are many things that we could be and should be doing in the church to increase the way we see, hear, and use women in our local administration and the general administration.  I think where we diverge is the root cause of the problem…I don’t believe that the doctrine of the priesthood is the root cause of that.” See http://www.sltrib.co…church.html.csp

3: http://www.timesands…JulieIntro.html Julie M. Smith is also the author of the book Search, Ponder, and Pray: A Guide to the Gospels.  Smith sees the core of the contention to be “[t]he methods OW uses [which] are alienating to a lot of people, I think they provoke a backlash and I think they are fundamentally foreign to Mormonism.” See http://www.sltrib.co…church.html.csp

4:   http://www.nytimes.c…tw-nytimes&_r=2

5: Julie M. Smith:  “I have to say I find it largely disheartening, while I don’t support OW, a lot of the response has been horrible.  I have heard comments about being burned at the stake and vitriol along those lines.”

Neylan McBaine:  “The response has been horrific. One of the things I hope that we are modeling here, and what I have tried to do throughout my entire time in this conversation, is model the Christlike respectful conversation that makes our points very clear but also is understanding and respectful of the other point of view.  So I would just add my plea to all of us to bridge the conversations that are happening online with what we know is right and with what we are enacting in our Sunday experiences.”

6: “The Merciful Obtain Mercy”, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor of the First Presidency, April 2012 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/…-mercy?lang=eng

7: “Priesthood Power”, Elder John H. Groberg, April 2001 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2001/04?lang=eng

8:  Ruth Todd’s comments were reported in numerous articles and videos.  In our opinion, the fullest treatment with all the included quotes is available in the video at: http://fox13now.com/…for-that-right/

9:  “Come, Join with Us”, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2013 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/…ith-us?lang=eng

 

 

Fair Issues 48: Founder effect, genetic drift, bottlenecks and the Book of Mormon

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Ash (newer) PictureIn this discussion brother Ash relates the effects on population as it pertains to mtDNA and Y-chromosome inherited from our ancestors.  Other factors include founder effect, genetic drift and bottlenecks.

The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.

Brother Ash is author of the book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, as well as the book, of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both books are available for purchase online through the FairMormon Bookstore.

Tell your friends about the Mormon Fair-Cast. Share a link on your Facebook page and help increase the popularity of the Mormon Fair-Cast by subscribing to this podcast in iTunes, and by rating it and writing a review.

The view and opinions expressed in the podcast may not reflect those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or that of FairMormon.

 

Mormon Fair-Cast 211: What has the Church said about DNA studies and the Book of Mormon?

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MartinTannerIn this episode of Religion Today, Martin Tanner reviews the article published in the Gospel Topics section of LDS.org regarding DNA studies and the Book of Mormon. This episode originally aired on KSL Radio on February 2, 2014 and appears here by permission of KSL Radio. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of FairMormon.

Listeners will note that the first part of this episode is missing. We apologize for this inconvenience.