By: J. Stapley - January 23, 2007

Beneath the highest sea cliffs in the world lay the remnants of Kalaupapa. A handful remain of the thousands that once had no choice to leave. Shortly after the 1866 establishment of the settlement on the shores of Moloka’i, the first Mormons came. Lepers. (more…)

Pre-school and Stressed out Kids

By: Steve H - January 22, 2007

I’ve been worried for a while about my daughter. Many of her friends are in pre-school, and I often wonder, is she missing out on some of the great things pre-school has to teach her? I’ve recently realized that this attitude is merely falling into a trap that is currently afflicting society. We are beginning to think that pre-school represents indispensable preparation for our children. Poppycock!


Britney as Cultural Harbinger

By: Steve H - January 12, 2007

Britney Spears was recently voted the most annoying person of 2006 by Star Magazine. Most of this was a combination of her bad parenting and wild partying. I’m not the one you would normally find defending such a person, but perhaps there is something to be said for her, and it should give a broader warning. (more…)

Some history of Mormon underwear

By: J. Stapley - January 05, 2007

With the political prominence of several Mormons, some media outlets have focused critically on Mormon beliefs and practices. Included among these reports have been some write-ups on the underwear worn by many faithful Latter-day saints, which we call “garments,” “temple garments,” or more formally the “garment of the holy priesthood.” Perhaps out of ignorance or malice, these sacred vestments have been treated by the media in a manner that is offensive to most Mormons. Notably, images of individuals posing in the clothing have been distributed. Though such incidents have occurred since the 19th century, such explicit treatment of the sacred is, not surprisingly, disturbing to faithful Latter-day Saints. (more…)

Stuffing Santa in the Clauset

By: Steve H - December 20, 2006

A year ago, I commented in a post on the symbols of Christmas that I didn’t tell my kids to believe in Santa, but I wasn’t going to discourage that belief. My views have since changed. I find myself quite hostile towards the entire complex of social deception. Accordingly, I hereby declare my anti-santa-belief position. (more…)

Bergera vs. Collier: quorum conflict smackdown

By: J. Stapley - November 21, 2006

Collier’s recently published Office Journal of Brigham Young includes, in appendices, several meeting transcripts that relate to the tension over Orson Pratt in the governing quorums of the Church. In the introduction to these appendices, Collier claims that a certain researcher (Gary Bergera) misused and poorly transcribed one of these manuscripts and “went so far as to deliberately alter documents in order to cast aspersion upon President Young.” Count this as reason #132 that the Church Archives should not restrict material like this. (more…)

The Office Journal of President Brigham Young, 1858-1863 Book D

By: J. Stapley - November 20, 2006

The Office Journal of President Brigham Young, 1858-1863 Book D. Ed. Fred C. Collier. Hannah, UT: Collier’s Publishing Co., 2006.

An expert on the Brigham Young collection once told me that Book D was one of the best journals in the collection. It is also restricted at the LDS Archives. I haven’t read any of the other volumes, but there is no question that Book D is a wonderful and special record. The journal is the work of scribes who made regular entries and described the doings of President Young, sometimes with great detail. (more…)

Of intellectuals and scholars

By: J. Stapley - November 06, 2006

While reading one of Nate’s posts last week, I began to think about something that has been on my mind off and on for several years. It hit me in the first paragraph: (more…)

Media Bias

By: Steve H - October 29, 2006

I‘ve never been someone that had a real sympathy with theories of media bias. I thought that they sort of ripped apart whomever. Two recent experiences have changed my mind. (more…)

72 hours

By: Steve H - October 23, 2006

Recently, if you missed it, there was a pretty major earthquake in Hawaii. It didn’t hit Oahu hard, and could have been worse even on the big island. It did, however, knock out power for almost 24 hours, and for about half an hour, we all wondered about the threat of a tsunami. It left me (and about everyone else I know here) with some serious reflections on 72 hour kits. Here they are: (more…)

Ruth May Fox diary excerpts 1897-1900

By: J. Stapley - October 02, 2006

In July, I posted several excerpts from Ruth May Foxe’s Diary (1). This post continues where that one left off. As mentioned there, Ruth was an ardent suffragist and leader in several civic, political and religious circles. She is perhaps most frequently recognized as being on the board of the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association and as its president from 1929 to 1937. Clarifications to her text are added in between [ ] and comments between { }. (more…)

In the archives

By: J. Stapley - September 26, 2006

Somehow, you don’t think it should be as casual as it is. You walk through the doors of the Church Office Building and next to the giant mural of Christ teaching his disciples is an unassuming door. Only a small sign noting that no packages are allowed beyond hints at the tension of decades. (more…)

The Pope and Cultural Violence

By: Steve H - September 18, 2006

I‘ll start this post by saying that I would be the first to admit that anyone who accuses Islam of being inherently violent is obviously looking to stir up contention. I would also say you should have a good reason before bringing up historical debates that are sensitive to a culture that you don’t understand. That said, I’m really not seeing the uproar against the Pope right now. (more…)

Joseph Woodruff’s eighth day blessing

By: J. Stapley - September 12, 2006

During the late 19th century and early 20th century, the venue for naming and blessing children was debated by the highest councils of the Church. One practice that was consistently recognized was the blessing of children when eight days old. Wilford Woodruff recorded an interesting example of this practice in his journal while he and his wife Phebe were on a mission together in England. The blessing incorporates several practices and theological principles that are foreign to modern conceptions: (more…)

Gambling with Your Child’s Life

By: Chris - September 09, 2006

At 2:00 Tuesday morning I was up and running out of options. The baby whose bedside I was standing at was barely 24 hours old and despite pumping obscene amounts of supportive medications and fluids into him, he was still deteriorating. I could walk away for a few minutes to attend to the other 45 neonates in the NICU, but it wouldn’t last long before my phone would ring and his nurse would be back on the line reading off another disturbing lab value that needed correcting. This played on until the next afternoon when he was taken to MRI to assess the inevitable. The image that played on the tech’s screen in the dark workroom was sickening: his entire brain had been devastated. (more…)

Mormon Catechism

By: J. Stapley - September 01, 2006

In 1891, George Q. Cannon & Sons Co. published the Sunday School Catechism No. 1 on behalf of the Deseret Sunday School Union. The title page gives the subtitle: Questions and Answers on the Life and Mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Preface, bearing the date of June 1, 1882 indicates that the volume was prepared by the publishing committee. (more…)

Relief Society Lessons, January 1914

By: J. Stapley - August 24, 2006

With the Seventies offering a unified course for quorum meetings in 1901 and the rest of the priesthood following suit latter that decade, the Relief Society held off until 1914 to unify and centralize their curriculum. The Relief Society Magazine, at that time called the Relief Society Bulletin, was instated for the very purpose of distributing materials to the disperse societies. (more…)

In Defense of Israel

By: Craig - August 18, 2006

I recently returned from a research opportunity in Israel. It happens that the focus of most of my research relates to terrorism and the opportunity to travel to Israel and work with the Israelis was a chance I could not miss. There were many things this research helped me to realize. Beyond the considerable data I accumulated towards my own personal research, I left with an appreciation for the state and people of Israel. (more…)

A Pathway to Prophethood

By: J. Stapley - August 06, 2006

Mark Ashurst-McGee (2000) A Pathway to Prophethood: Joseph Smith Junior as Rodsman, Village Seer, and Judeo-Christian Prophet. Masters Thesis, Utah States University.

If Mark wrote this in 1980 and had been the first to dig up and cite all the primary sources that have now been collected into volumes by others, he would assuredly be exalted into the pantheon of New Mormon Historians rivaling only Andrew Ehat for most impactful thesis. (more…)

Ruth May Fox diary excerpts 1895-1897 (1900)

By: J. Stapley - July 05, 2006

While recently passing through the state of Utah, I was able to stop at the Church Archives for about two hours. I took the opportunity to examine the diary of Ruth May Fox (1). Ruth was an ardent suffragist and leader in several civic, political and religious circles. She is perhaps most frequently recognized as being on the board of the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association and as its president from 1929 to 1937. I was able to cover approximately two and a half years of entries and have included a few interesting items as well as an entry from 1900. (more…)

The plunder of precious things

By: J. Stapley - June 20, 2006

A long time couple in our ward is going through a major transition. The husband was recently put in fulltime care as, after a lifetime of love and service, his mind is broken. The wife is now alone with the mental burden that her beloved is in the hands of others. The house, well used for two and a half decades, will soon be on the market. One of the things that must go is the books. (more…)

To be called on a mission

By: J. Stapley - June 05, 2006

The call and preparation of a missionary is a litany in contemporary Mormonism. The young man approaching 19, or young woman at 21, fills the requisite application and medical papers. Interviews with the Bishop and Stake President. Waits for the mail and the manila envelope. The MTC. As inculcated as this process is, it is only a generation old. The experiences of our 19th century counterparts prove an informative and inspiring counterpoint. (more…)

Defending Pres. Kimball on inter-racial marriage

By: Steve H - May 29, 2006

To President Spencer W. Kimball came the burden of teaching a practice that was bound to be seen in retrospect by many as racist. He, and the brethren of the day following him, taught that inter-racial marriage was not a good idea–not that it was sinful, but that it should be discouraged. I just got done reading Franz Fanon’s Black Skin: White Masks, and several of his points have convinced me that only a mix of our Jane Austin inspired notion of romance’s primacy and current political expediency have brought so many to see this as an issue of racism. (more…)

PEC, BYD, Is the Church becoming an alphabetocracy?

By: Craig - May 15, 2006

After a hiatus of not being well connected, I was recently called to serve in a bishopric. I was amazed. After all, it had been less than 5 years since my last stint, but boy had things changed. I was familiar with PEC (priesthood executive committee), but there were new phenomena designated by letters with which I was not so familiar. (more…)

Elder’s Quorum Movers and Funeral Potatoes

By: Craig - May 01, 2006
I must admit to being a little bit bitter. For three years I was an Elder’s Quorum President under a bishop who felt it was the primary responsibility of the Elder’s quorum to act as the moving company for every Tom, Dick and Harry who moves across the city or the world. (more…)
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