Nearing Kolob


BYU Religious Education Chair on Women and Baby Blessings (UPDATED)

Camille Fronk Olson, BYU Religious Eduation Department Chair, on Women and Baby Blessings

Camille Fronk Olson, BYU Religious Education Department Chair, on Women and Baby Blessings

Longer version video here (same content as original video begins around 5:55):

Originally posted video below:

Does Who You Marry Depend on Your Mission?

I hate the phrase “The harder you work on your mission, the prettier your wife will be.”

I hadn’t heard it in a while, but was disappointed to see it on the front of an Elder Alexander Steven Larsen serving in the Hmong Speaking Milwaukee, Wisconsin Mission

The harder you work on your mission, the prettier your wife will be

The harder you work on your mission, the prettier your wife will be

I found a few other places online with this phrase:

Mormon Missionaries Can’t Teach Muslims?

Missionaries Can't Teach Muslims?

Earlier this month Sister Rogers of the New Jersey, Morristown Mission posted something I was not aware of (emphasis mine, see picture at bottom):

“The Spirit was in an inspiring mood that day and gave me enough courage to go up to the door.  His mom answered, but he was quickly followed her and invited us in.  He served us freshly squeezed orange juice which was amazing and that lead us into a conversation about his relationship with God.  Before long tears ran down his face as he realized that he is angry at God.  We were not allowed to teach him until he has an interview with our mission president because of his religious background being Muslim, but hopefully soon.”

Are LDS missionaries not allowed to teach Muslims? Even in the United States? Is this a church-wide policy or just a mission policy?

This article says that Church policy prohibits baptizing Muslims in Egypt, but does the policy also exclude even teaching Muslims (anywhere)?

“But leaving Islam and becoming a Mormon would make me a marked man. I had no choice, though, I told myself. I had compiled quite a collection of sins. More than anything, I wanted a clean conscience. I told the Mormon leaders in Cairo that I wanted to be baptized.

“To my surprise, they told me no. The Church simply did not have the legal authority to baptize Muslims in Egypt, and Mormon policy prohibited it. I could attend church and act like a Mormon. I just couldn’t be one.”

Actually, the policy Sister Rogers is referencing goes against the many comments (and instincts) of members as exhibited in this online forum thread titled “Why not proselitize [sic] Muslims?”:

  • As far as I know, we happily proselytize American Muslims, Canadian Muslims, English Muslims, French Muslims, etc.”
  • We preach where we are legally allowed to preach. Muslim countries are some of the places that our missionaries are not allowed to go. It’s the whole death-to-the-infidels thing. As far as preaching to Muslims that are found in other countries, I don’t think that there is any prohibition against it.”
  • We do where we can…. namely thats in the US and UK.”

One last thing. The Wikipedia page on Mormonism and Islam has a section on proselytizing which says:

In certain situations, an interview with the area mission president may be necessary before the church agrees to baptize an individual.”

It references pages 32-34 of the Book 1 of the Church Handbook of Instructions. This reference only talks of people being baptized and does not mention the prohibition of teaching individuals at all.


Missionaries Can't Teach Muslims?

From Jim to Elder: The Evolution of a Name

From Jim to Elder: The Evolution of a Name

Meet Jim and Carol (Elder and Sister) Lindsey. They started their mission together by entering the MTC in Provo, Utah on March 24th,2014. They are currently serving in the LDS Church Visitors Center in the Rapid City South Dakota Mission assigned to the “Mormon Handcart Historic Sites”.

In their first blog post, just before entering the MTC, the sign off with:

Mom and Dad
Grandpa and Grandma
Jim and Carol”

I like that sign off.

Carol seems to do most of the blogging. In their second blogpost titled “Our Farewell and First Day in the MTC”, Carol reminisces about their Farewell by saying “Jim and I each felt good about our talks and everyone was very complimentary.” This time Carol signs off with:

“We love you all,
Elder and Sister Lindsey”

No more “Mom and Dad” or “Grandpa and Grandma” :(

In their third blogpost titled “MTC Experience”, Carol talks about their time in the MTC and says “For Jim and I we felt like we were being led to know exactly  what to say and what scriptures to use.” She signs off this time again with:

Dad and Mom
Grandpa and Grandma
Jim and Carol”

Their fourth blogpost is their new address in Martin’s Cove.

From then on her husband’s given name is never mentioned again. Never. She always refers to him as “Elder Lindsey” both in the text of the posts and when signing off. I found this quite strange. I can understand referring to him as “Elder Lindsey” while at the Visitors Center or when meeting with the public, but when signing off with family and friends? I checked and not all couples do this (Sister Murdock doesn’t as can be seen in my post popular post until now).

Does anyone else find this strange?


Modesty Rhetoric is on the Rise

Modesty Rhetoric is on the Rise

One of the things I dislike about the current culture in the Church is the emphasis on modesty. We previously wrote about modesty rhetoric in a recent Ensign (Ziff at Zelophedad’s Daughters wrote two interesting pieces on modesty found here and here). Now we take a a quick look at modest rhetoric in General Conference from 1850 – 2010.

Specifically, we looked at the three terms: modestly (red), modest (blue), and modesty (blue) [Note that we also looked at the sum total of the three terms which is in black]. We collected data by decade (i.e. 1950 corresponds to the number of references from 1950-1959).

After obtaining the data, we fit the data to a high degree polynomial and plot the regression equation through 2040. It is clear that all three terms are increasingly spoken in General Conference and that modesty rhetoric is on the rise.

Modesty Rhetoric is on the Rise

The above picture shows the raw data for modestly (red), modest (blue), modesty (blue), and sum of the three previous terms (black) by decade from the 1850s through the 2000s


The above picture shows the expected number of references to modestly, modest, and modesty through the year 2040.

Modesty Rhetoric is on the Rise

The above picture shows a good agreement between data and the regression equations

Catch the Wave, Literally

Catch the Wave, Literally

In April 2013, Elder Nelson gave a talk titled “Catch the Wave”. In fact, during that talk he used that phrase seven times:

  • You parents, teachers, and others, catch the wave as you prepare our rising generation to be worthy of missionary service.”
  • You adults, catch the wave with help for the spiritual, physical, and financial preparation of future missionaries.”
  • Increasing numbers of selected men and their dear companions catch the wave as they are called to preside over missions of the Church.”
  • Stake presidents and bishops catch the wave as they spend more and more hours interviewing prospective missionaries.”
  • Brothers and sisters on each ward council are beginning to catch the wave.”
  •  If you catch the wave with faith and enthusiasm, others will also.”
  • Our inquiring friends and neighbors not of our faith can also catch the wave. We encourage them to keep all that is good and true in their lives.”

Well, it seems in the Tahiti Papeete mission missionaries are literally catching the wave at the 2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti surf competition. 



How the LDS Church Finds Lost Members

How the LDS Church Finds Lost Members

This is an interesting guide to how the LDS Church encourages local leadership to find “lost” members:


Mormon Missionaries with Guns

There seems to be a couple pictures going around recently of Mormon missionaries with guns. Have you seen other pictures of missionaries with guns?


Mormon Missionaries with Guns

Mormon Missionaries with Guns


Mormon Missionaries with Guns

Mormon Missionaries with Guns

Job is no longer a prophet?

Job is no longer a prophet?

I was a bit amused when I read this month’s Ensign. Since the Sunday School curriculum is focused on the Old Testament this year, the Ensign has run a series of articles called “Old Testament Prophets”. So far the featured prophets have been:

  1. Adam (January)
  2. Noah (February)
  3. Abraham (March)
  4. Moses (April)
  5. Samuel (June)
  6. Elijah (July)
  7. Job (August)

Job seems like a great choice. I like Job. I like the Book of Job. In fact, I am very much looking forward to Michael Austin’s book “Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World’s Greatest Poem” which aims at introducing a more academic approach to the book to an LDS audience .

Job his considered a prophet in the Abrahamic religions of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. While conservative religious believers maintain he was a real person, others argue he was not. Some say it doesn’t matter. I agree with the latter two: it’s unlikely he existed and it doesn’t really matter.

Growing up in the Church, I not only took it for granted that he was real, but I was repeatedly told he was a real person and an Old Testament prophet. Here are some examples (bold is mine):

  • The prophet Job learned the meaning of friend when, in his many afflictions, his three friends ‘made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.’” –First Presidency Message, January 1971 (LINK)
  • The classic example of faithful endurance was the Old Testament prophet Job. He lost all his possessions, he suffered great personal affliction and physical pain, some of his children met tragic death, and even his friends deserted him. Yet he proclaimed his faith” –Elder Howard W. Hunter, 1980 General Conference (LINK)
  • “If we witness by our acts, and from our hearts our determination to carry out the mind and will of the Lord we shall have this double assurance of a glorious resurrection, and be able to say as the Prophet Job said—his was a glorious declaration” –Elder Joseph F. Smith, 1883 (LINK)
  • “The prophet Job counseled us not to “dig a pit for your friend.” (Job 6:27.)” –Elder James M. Paramore, 1992 General Conference (LINK)
  • Job had a premortal existence. On one occasion the Lord asked the prophet Job, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.” — “Q&A”, February 1972 New Era (LINK)
  • It does not make any difference to me, brethren, what people think about the Mormon Church, or its doctrines, I cannot help thinking of the words of the Lord to Job the prophet: “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2)” –Elder Samuel O. Bennion, 1944 General Conference (LINK)
  • These words of the prophet Job are not particularly flattering to man, but they are truthful.” –Elder Hartman Rector Jr., 1970 General Conference (LINK)

So, I was not surprised to see the Ensign feature him in the “Old Testament Prophets” series this month. I was surprised to see them remove that title from Job in an addendum to the article saying:

“Although Job was not a prophet, his life, testimony, and endurance during trials can be an inspiration to us”

Job is no longer a prophet?

Job is no longer a prophet?

I was intrigue by what seemed to me to be a change. Is Job no longer considered a prophet by the LDS Church? Was he even considered a prophet? I decided to look through some Church resources. This is what I found:

In fact, I couldn’t find any LDS manual saying Job was a prophet. They usually avoid the topic or call him a “righteous man”. The current issue of the Ensign is, in fact, the first time I’ve seen any Church publication declare “Job was not a prophet”. Maybe the Church never considered him a prophet while I was growing up.

This is, however, counter to the message of many General Conference talks and likely the belief of many Church members. Now that you know, though, be sure to set the record straight when we get to Lesson 32 in a couple weeks: “Job was not a prophet”

Seventy Asks Priesthood Quorums to Teach Oaks’ “Remarkable” Talk

Seventy Asks Priesthood Quorums to Teach Oaks' Remarkable Talk

In May of this year, Area Seventy Fred A. Parker wrote a letter to the Elders Quorum Presidents and High Priest Group Leaders in the North America Southeast Area asking them to “let this remarkable talk be the topic of discussion in your quorum/group over the next 30 days.” The talk he is referring to his Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ talk “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood”.

This talk was by far the discussed talk of last conference–for both its content and timing (there was also hidden meaning). The talk was viewed as a response to the Ordain Women movement protesting for entrance to the Priesthood Session (and the priesthood). Ironically, this talk was given during that session, with no women in the building to see it live.

The content was also highly debated during the following week. In an effort to aid Elder Parker’s desire “to help make the brothers and sisters in our stakes more aware of the keys and authority of the Priesthood and to strengthen our families through the Priesthood” I am posting some links to help our study: