Highlights from General Conference, April 2010

This was kind of a rough General Conference for me — because of the little one — but it was still inspiring as always. Dominant themes included the Resurrection of Christ, teaching children the gospel, and having hope and faith in the midst of turmoil and adversity.

Because this post is late and synthesis requires more effort than chronology, I’m just going to list the Top 10 “moments” that stood out to me (in chronological order), and include some of my own thoughts:

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Another Post about Evolution

This site has been quiet for some time and it makes me wonder if we’ve stopped “thinking in a marrow bone.” I haven’t stopped thinking, but I’m not sure if I’m doing much thinking that’s worth anything. So instead, I’d like to issue a challenge and have you do the thinking for me: someone help me understand why so many Mormons accept evolution whole cloth without settling some of the most crucial divisions between doctrine and Darwinian dogma?

Let me reveal my ignorance by talking about things I don’t understand.

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Literal Confusion (about D&C 137)

I’m not usually a literalist about the scriptures, but I’m a little baffled by a verse I read today and the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 137. This section is the account of a vision Joseph Smith had of the celestial kingdom. He names Adam and Abraham, as well as his parents, as inhabitants, likely those who were saved “by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

And then he mentions his brother, Alvin. Joseph “marvels” that his brother Alvin is there, “seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.” And then the great revelation that “All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God.” Of course, this revelation plays a big part in understanding why we do work for the dead in our temples…right?

Here’s my question: What was Alvin doing there in the celestial kingdom when his work hadn’t been done yet?

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Recognizing the Resurrected Christ

Just a few thoughts from my reading the accounts of the resurrected Christ to his followers.

In three visitations, Christ was not recognized at first: (a) the visitation to Mary at the empty tomb, (b) the extended journey with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, (c) and the appearance on the shore while Peter and the disciples were fishing.

I think it can be profitable to point out what happened before His followers recognized Him. For Mary, it was after he called her by name. For the two disciples, it was when he blessed and broke bread. For the fisherman, it was after they, following His instructions, pulled in their net overflowing with fish.

Perhaps these stories can be analogous to our lives, in terms of recognizing the Savior’s presence and influence. When we feel that Christ knows us personally and calls us by name; when we partake of the sacrament and renew covenants with God in His name; and when, following His instructions, we are successful beyond our wildest dreams in building His Kingdom — in these circumstances, we see Christ for who He really is.

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Unearthing Parley P. Pratt — And Some (Interesting?) Questions

Let me begin by saying that Parley P. Pratt is my great-great-great grandfather. He is a man that my family and I honor very much, arguably one of the most consequential pioneers of the Restored Gospel. His Autobiography is one of my favorite books, and I feel somewhat of a close kinship with the man.

So, I’ve been casually following the story about the possibility of disinterring Pratt’s remains from Arkansas — and moving them to Utah. Continue reading

Do Tattoos and Piercings Remain in the Resurrection? A Case Study in a Pragmatic Approach to an LDS Theology of Possibilities

As I have mentioned before, I am giving a presentation tomorrow afternoon (Thursday, March 27) at the University of Utah, for the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology conference. My presentation is entitled “Toward a Latter-day Saint Theology of Possibilities.”

The basic logic of the underlying problem I tackle in my presentation is that (a) there is a tenuous relationship between authority and freedom in the Church, (b) there is not a clear cut authoritative theology that is sufficient to guide Latter-day Saints in all matters of life, (c) Latter-day Saints cannot help but construct folk beliefs, (d) folk beliefs are not bad in themselves; the problem occurs when these beliefs are seen as closed folk beliefs (CFBs), rather than open folk beliefs (OFBs). Continue reading

Christians Wrong About Heaven, Says Bishop (Or What Mormons Have Been Saying for Almost 200 Years)

The most read Time.com article this past week is “Christians Wrong About Heaven, Says Bishop,” in which the Church of England’s Bishop of Durham, N. T. “Tom” Wright, tries to set the record straight concerning what the Bible teaches about heaven. Continue reading