Reminder: Plan to Attend Restoration Studies

The John Whitmer Historical Association would like to cordially invite you to attend the 2011 Restoration Studies Symposium / Sunstone Midwest, this Friday and Saturday, April 15-16, at Graceland University Independence Campus, 1401 W. Truman Rd., Independence, Missouri.

The registration table will open at 5:00 pm Friday, and the Wallace B. Smith Lecture will begin at 7:00 pm. Saturday sessions begin at 8:00 am.

The 2011 Wallace B. Smith Lecture will be “A Woman’s Place”, presented by Gail E. Mengel, retired Community of Christ apostle and former president of Church Women United. Continue reading

D&C 164: My Response to John-Charles Duffy

Concerning my interpretation of the compromise underlying D&C 164, I’ve found my understanding to be in keeping with the understandings of the delegates and leaders I’ve interviewed here at World Conference in Independence. However, I have found that many folks on the internet don’t share this interpretation for various reasons, as we’ve illustrated in discussions here at SaintsHerald. I want to address a very thoughtful response that John-Charles Duffy posted on his excellent blog, Liberal Mormon Spirituality. You can read his post here. Continue reading

Apostle Paul Thought Everybody Was Straight

This is the second part of a posting on what the Apostle Paul might have to say to Community of Christ as it gathers for World Conference. Part 1 concerned baptism.

Theologian Walter Wink put it this way in his much-lauded essay, “Homosexuality and the Bible.”

“He [Paul] seemed to assume that those whom he condemned were heterosexuals who were acting contrary to nature, ‘leaving,’ ‘giving up,’ or ‘exchanging’ their regular sexual orientation for that which was foreign to them. Paul knew nothing of the modern psychosexual understanding of homosexuals as persons whose orientation is fixed early in life, or perhaps even genetically in some cases. For such persons, having heterosexual relations would be acting contrary to nature, ‘leaving,’ ‘giving up,’ or ‘exchanging’ their natural sexual orientation for one that was unnatural to them. In other words, Paul really thought that those whose behavior he condemned were ‘straight,’ and that they were behaving in ways that were unnatural to them. Paul believed that everyone was straight. He had no concept of homosexual orientation. The idea was not available in his world.”

Wink goes on to say that the relationships Paul describes are “heavy with lust; they are not relationships between consenting adults who are committed to each other as faithfully and with as much integrity as any heterosexual couple. That was something Paul simply could not envision.” The crux of the matter, Wink explains, is simply this:

“…the Bible has no sexual ethic. There is no biblical sex ethic. Instead, it exhibits a variety of sexual mores, some of which changed over the thousand year span of biblical history. Mores are unreflective customs accepted by a given community. Many of the practices that the Bible prohibits, we allow, and many that it allows, we prohibit. The Bible knows only a love ethic, which is constantly being brought to bear on whatever sexual mores are dominant in any given country, or culture, or period.”

The ancient worldview of all Bible writers and editors precluded any distinction between sexual orientation and sexual behavior, which many of us in the 21st century take for granted. Unfortunately, that worldview is still around and undergirds much of the often-heated opposition to full rights for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community.

The perceived threat to church unity and even its survival (whether denominational or congregational) related to this issue in some cases is as great today as the issue of slavery was in the nineteenth-century church. Interestingly, slavery proponents had far more biblical passages supporting their viewpoint than opponents of LGBT rights do today.
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Prophet, Seer, and Revelator

The church website has recently put up a video interview of Steve Veazey conducted by Linda Booth.  The link to the video is on the bottom of the main page,

Among other things, Steve discusses his experiences in bringing the Words of Counsel to the church.  He relates some of the revelatory process as he experienced it and personal insights into the decisions surrounding the document.

I was fortunate enough to be in the Independence area during the last weekend in January, two weeks after the document was presented to the church.  At a last minute decision, I went with my wife and brother-in-law to attend the January 31st Temple Event.  I had no clue what to expect as we went, but it was a very enjoyable and beneficial afternoon.  At the close of the event, the First Presidency held a short worship service to wrap the activities up and send us on our way.  My brother-in-law is quite a bit younger than both my wife and I and had never really been in the Temple before, though a life-long Independence resident.  As we sat in the closing worship service, he was very inquisitive about exactly what was going on and who different people were.  We tried to explain to him about the First Presidency and what they do, and who Steve Veazey was.  He really struggled with these concepts, but ultimately came away with a conclusion along the lines that Steve talks to God on behalf of the Church.  The question asked: “What is a prophet?” really got me thinking and scrambling to try and find a way to answer satisfactorily–but also quietly while the service continued.

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Do you get it?

Awesome is the only word I can think of in describing a Christmas celebration I attended yesterday.  It was indeed a worship service (although some there might not have realized it) involving loud rock, long hair, and shooting jets of fire.  The enlightened readers will immediately perceive that I speak of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or “TSO.”

In the midst of the lasers and fireballs and dueling electric violins, I was struck by a verse from Ecclesiastes.  While The Preacher might not have intended it to be used this way, it was nonetheless compelling:

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been,
in the ages before us.
Eccl. 1:9-11 (NRSV, emphasis mine)

While there is nothing new under the sun, many try to disguise the ways in which their creations are indebted to another. Continue reading

What if the Christmas Story Happened Today?

Thought a Christmas themed post might be appropriate this time of year.  Many people, it seems, wonder how the story of Christ’s birth would be different if it happened today.  Some write their thoughts.  I’ve heard a few different versions of how things might go, posted below is one person’s take.  (I didn’t write this, merely reprinting it)

Nazareth Carpenter Being Held On Charges Involving Underage Mother

Bethlehem, Judea – Authorities were today alerted by a concerned citizen who noticed a family living in a barn. Upon arrival, Family Protective Service personnel, accompanied by police, took into protective care an infant child named Jesus, who had been wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a feeding trough by his 14-year old mother, Mary of Nazareth. Continue reading