Category Archives: Guests

Uzzah Killed For Blind Obedience

Let me start out by saying I’m a big, big fan of obedience. And I also see many instances where the scriptures teach we should not criticize our leaders. I’ve got no problem with that – IMHO our leaders deserve all the support we can give them.

However, I think that we have been badly misinterpreting a story that is commonly used to support these concepts. The traditional Mormon interpretation of the story of Uzzah and the ark in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chr 13 is familiar to most of us: Uzzah reaches out to steady the ark during its transport and is killed for touching it. The modern-day interpretation for us has been that we should not correct Church leaders or Church policy, for despite our good intentions, the leaders of the Church are in charge and it is not our place to correct them. To quote from the D&C Student Manual for Religion 324/325, p188:

“’Uzzah was therefore a type of all who with good intentions, humanly speaking, yet with unsanctified minds, interfere in the affairs of the kingdom of God, from the notion that they are in danger, and with the hope of saving them.’…In modern revelation the Lord referred to this incident to teach the principle that the Lord does not need the help of men to defend his kingdom (see D&C 85:8). Yet even today there are those who fear the ark is tottering and presume to steady its course. There are those who are sure that women are not being treated fairly in the Church, those who would extend some unauthorized blessing, or those who would change the established doctrines of the Church. These are ark-steadiers. The best intentions do not justify such interference with the Lord’s plan.”

Or, in the shorter Seminary version (p97 of the Seminary D&C study guide),

“The phrase ‘steady the ark’ has come to refer to those who lack faith in the Lord and His servants and instead do things based on their own wisdom.”

However, a close reading of the text supports just the opposite: Uzzah was likely killed for NOT correcting his priesthood leaders, who themselves were not following the scriptures. This conclusion is based on three items in the text:

Continue reading

23 Comments

Filed under Bible, Guests, Leadership

Introducing Secco

We’d like to welcome our newest guest blogger! Secco enjoys European breads, pastries, and all things chocolate (which fits in well over here). Secco is, as you may have already seen from the regular comments, full of interesting takes on scripture and Mormonism, and we look forward to the discussion that will no doubt be generated by this blogger’s presence. Welcome!

Comments Off on Introducing Secco

Filed under Guests

Book of Mormon Ethics Revisited

Hi, everybody it’s my first post. Newbie that I am, I’m still becoming acquainted with everyone’s positions on various and sundry topics. Sometimes you’re really bright, and sometimes you’re godless heathens; I’m confident my final conclusion will come to rest somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. In short, though, I appreciate that questions and concerns are being discussed in the open free from fear of stoning, burning, and/or excommunication.

I mention this feeler-extending process to explain my initial reaction to TT’s post about Book of Mormon ethics which contains a harsh criticism of the Book of Mormon concept that the righteous prosper. I assume its a given here that one’s opinions of a text or its theological articulations are not to be slighted, so I’m not calling TT a heretic. Frankly, I don’t know who he is or the status of his testimony—he says he keeps his faith, and I’m cool with that. So I hope I’m not misunderstood when I say that his criticism of this aspect of Book of Mormon theodicy is at least somewhat unfair. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Book of Mormon, Guests

Wanted: A Running-Mate for Mittt Romney

So who should it be?

Since it’s just a matter of time before Romney passes Giuliani and becomes the uncontested Republican front-runner, we should start thinking about who would be a good match for Mitt. 

Nominations?

20 Comments

Filed under Guests, Politics

Does FARMS Still Matter?

The latest issue of the FARMS Review offers useful insight into the past, present, and possible futures of FARMS. The issue (19/1) is a hodgepodge of topics, themes, and approaches. It addresses ancient scripture, Mormon history, debates with evangelicals, tributes to a recently deceased Mormon historian, reflections on a Joseph Smith biography, an essay on Mormon studies, book reviews, a lecture by Terryl Givens, and a BYU lecture on theology by Jim Faulconer. The FARMS Review is, indeed, a many-sided thing.
Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under BYU, Guests, Mormon Studies

(Anti-)Intellectualism in the Church

A very good friend of mine, MantiHigh, wrote me recently to suggest that I include in some future post a discussion of some issues of (anti-)intellectualism arising in recent General Conference talks. I thought s/he spelled out things nicely, and in a different way than is usually done (I’m sure the commenters will let me know if I’m wrong.) In any case, with MantiHigh’s permission, I copy the following for your discussion:

Anti-intellectualism in the Church is a favorite concern of mine given my experience and observations. Maybe I’m hypersensitive to this, but I think the data are pretty clearly supportive of an ongoing, long-term undercurrent of suspicion towards intellectuals. (Just try bringing up your favorite intellectual topic in Sunday School or PEC sometime.)

Given my fears, I was really surprised to find something interesting in Pres Hinckley’s talk in Priesthood Session of Apr 07 GC.

Continue reading

57 Comments

Filed under Doctrine, Guests

A Review of Terryl Givens, People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture

Terryl Givens’ new book is an important and welcome addition to Mormon studies and will be required reading for understanding the evolution of Mormonism as a distinct culture, especially where Givens moves out of the much-explored territory of the nineteenth century and ventures into the less-explored twentieth century.
However, the book is not without flaws.
Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under Guests, LDS Church History

Learning to Love Apostate Christianity

One sign of our institutional and historiographical maturity is the increasing attention that the “Great Apostasy” has been receiving (see for example Noel Reynolds, ed., Early Christians in Disarray, 2005). Since the oppositional pairing of apostasy and restoration is so fundamental to our view of ourselves and proximate others, understanding its potential and realized meanings and implications will remain, I think, one of the more significant tasks of those who think and write on our tradition. This task is all the more urgent, and complicated, because it is heavily tied to the contingencies
of historical scholarship and the particular politics of location in which they are grounded.
Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under Doctrine, Guests, LDS Church History

Barlow going to USU

It’s official: Philip Barlow will fill the new Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University (see Salt Lake Tribune story here). This will likely disappoint some prospective students of Claremont Graduate University. However, it’s great news for USU students. Barlow is an excellent scholar by all standards. So what are your initial thoughts on the appointment?

1 Comment

Filed under Guests, Handle, Mormon Studies

On Watchin’ the Game


The health risks of American football have been getting a lot of attention in the press lately, no doubt in anticipation of the Super Bowl. Both the New York Times and the Boston Globe ran articles on the frequency of head injuries in professional football. The articles highlighted former Patriots linebacker, Ted Johnson, who received several concussions during his career. Johnson’s head injuries resulted in severe depression and drug addiction.

Like many other professional and amateur football players, Johnson felt trapped by expectations that he should play through the pain. American football inspires a culture of toughness. Encouraged by fans, coaches and other players, many continue playing even after sustaining major injuries. One study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina, found that N.F.L. players faced a 37% higher risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Yet the kind of press that portrays the dangers of football is not commensurate with the overwhelmingly positive depiction of star athletes. The Super Bowl regularly draws audiences of between 75 and 95 million television viewers. Professional athletes are idolized.

Even successful coaches receive vast amounts of attention (and wealth). It is telling that at least 23 college football coaches are paid salaries in excess of $1 million. In several cases these coaches’ salaries far outweigh the university presidents’ annual income, let alone the professors’ and administrators’ pay. Clearly the United States has a fascination with what can at times be a very violent sport.

Are there inherit problems with this country’s massive consumption of professional football? This is an important question for Mormons. We have several members on N.F.L. teams who sometimes function as unofficial spokesmen for the church, including Ty Detmer (and his little brother Koy), Chad Lewis, and, of course, Steve Young. The LDS church has tacitly endorsed football. For example, Elder Wirthlin, who never made it into the professional leagues, was nevertheless awarded for being a “lifelong supporter” of college football.

There may be arguments both for and against the idealization of football stars (be they LDS or not). On the one hand, football is a dangerous sport. By idealizing the athletes of aggressive sports like football, don’t we become party to the inevitable injuries players sustain? On the other hand, audiences of football tend to also play football; and participation in any sport – even dangerous ones – seems preferable to inactivity. Obesity, after all, will kill a lot more people than concussions from flag football.

3 Comments

Filed under Guests, Uncategorized