I had a great post in mind for today, but it’s a long one and I just don’t have time to write it up properly. So I’m going to put it off for a week or two. Instead, for today, I’m going to let you, the reader, make the call. That is, I’m soliciting suggestions from readers for post topics you would like to see addressed by me or by some other W&T contributor in a future post.
Here are some general categories you might consider:
- And now for something completely different. Maybe there is a topic or issue you are interested in but have never seen addressed here at W&T. That’s hard to believe, given there have been about a thousand W&T posts by dozens of contributors over the years, but it is still possible we missed something interesting.
- The rest of the story. Maybe there is a topic or historical episode that has been discussed a time or two, but there is more to the story or an angle to the topic that you would like to see discussed. Or maybe some other LDS blog addressed a topic and just botched it. Maybe we can fix it.
- Change my mind. Perhaps you aren’t simply interested in a topic but you have your own strong opinion on that topic that you want to see defended or critiqued. Stand and deliver. Your English teacher would have called this a thesis sentence (as opposed to the meek and mild topic sentence). In legal writing, I’ve seen this called a Bold Assertion. Don’t hide it on page six, put it right up front in the first sentence. Don’t write, “Let’s talk about why my client is innocent.” Instead, start your brief with: “It is simply impossible that my client, who was 17 miles away at the time of the crime and has never fired a gun in his life, could have plunked three rounds into the victim’s torso at a distance of thirty yards, in the dark.” So: Make a bold assertion. Go ahead, make my day.
- Asking for a friend. Perhaps it’s not your claim you want defended or critiqued, but you overheard some off-the-wall claim or statement about LDS doctrine, history, or culture from the crazy uncle at your last family reunion, or from a friend who grew up in Utah (ground zero for most of the crazy stuff), or from a seminary or institute teacher. It sounds farfetched or unlikely, but with LDS doctrine you just never know. Please share. We’ll run it through the W&T ringer and see what comes out.
In particular I appreciate your historical reviews of the Church and theological conundrums as found in the past and present. How about a look at the rise of the Church in relationship to the Millerites and subsequent denominations that split off from William Miller. They almost seem like distant cousins.
I would be interested in hearing more about the temple. Why? Because RMN seems to be doubling down on the “if we build it they will come” mentality. I’d like to see us discuss:
1. How has the criteria changed for deciding where and when to build a temple?
2. What is the cost to build and maintain an average temple?
3. What is the Church’s (or Brethren’s) position on the ancient origins of the current temple ordinances? With obvious links to Masonry, are we still stating that today’s rituals resemble Solomon’s? If not, why do we maintain these outdated procedures?
4. What can we do to make the temple a more satisfying experience (no offense to those of you who enjoy it currently)?
5. What do we really believe about the next life related to the temple? Are we willing to endorse RMN’s “sad heaven” philosophy? Do we really believe the Celestials can visit family members located in other kingdoms? Will there be eternal progression?
6. Back to #1: are we in danger of worshiping the temple instead of worshiping Christ in the temple?
I second Josh h’s terrific and timely suggestion. I would add this question: To what extent is the temple used as a tool to generate tithing revenue by making it the pinnacle of the member experience and an indispensable requirement for an eternity with God and family that can only be accessed as a full tithe payer?
My biggest disconnect between my church experience and the everyday experience is the church’s emphasis on Jesus, the Atonement, Covenants, Temples and such, with almost NO mention of what is happening in the world. If “the world” is mentioned, it is only to scare us about the End Times, not to advise nor encourage us in addressing or alleviating the present situation. No mention of black oppression (past and present) in the USA; no mention of a president who tried to overthrow a legitimate election; no mention of the numerous pecadillos committed every time the Utah legislature meets; no mention of the blatant gerrymandering that just occurred in the Utah state redistricting process; no mention of how the church teaching on abstinence vs. birth control methods is leading to an obvious overpopulation in the world; no mention of what will happen to the Taiwanese saints (and the entire population) when the Chinese leaders decide to retake that island nation; no apology (or even a real acknowledgement) of past erroneous church teachings; no real discussion of medical/psychological findings in the field of homosexuality and bisexuality and conversion; no addressing of the burgeoning homelessness question in the USA; no discussion of wise food production/consumption; no in-depth discussion of the real problems involved both with allowing abortions and with banning abortions; no discussion of police abuses in minority populations; no discussion of the morality of financing government operations with fines from traffic stops and petty arrests; etc.
The dubious Three Nephites stories
I second Di. Does anyone even believe Three Nephite stories anymore?
With credit for inspiration to JCS: Why does the church have such a weird and unhealthy relationship with sex? Why would representatives of a religion that says it values the family over all other societal institutions actually advocate death for a child before loss of virtue? Why would a church that says redemption and forgiveness are truly available to God’s children make retained virtue such a black and white issue? Why would the same organization regularly use shaming tactics that teach nothing about the actual biological nature of sexual desire? Where does one put polygamy in any conversation about appropriate sexual behavior and virtue?
Also, unrelated, but since JCS brought it up, what is the deal with coffee and tea? How is this not just stupid, unthinking boundary maintenance?
I did not foresee that conservative Latter-day Saints would emerge over the last few years as being clearly greater “Cafeteria Mormons” than liberal Latter-day Saints. Issues like racism, vaccinations, immigration, masking, etc. have seriously challenged perceptions of who is loyal to the teachings of the Church. The irony is that for decades conservatives vocalized extreme hierarchical and institutional loyalty (to a degree that Jesuits would envy) while tossing out copies of Ezra Taft Benson’s “14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” to cheering members. Liberals have been so shocked by this “Cafeteria moment” that they have been unable to fully take in this ideological reversal.
Is this really an ideological reversal? Or have conservatives been the snowflakes all along?
What does it bode for the future? Will loyal LDS youth trend more liberal than their parents?
Will we see more critics of political conservatism and proponents of science and rationalism emerge among LDS leadership?
Why does did I g out which tribe we’re supposedly descended from really matter? When I went with my daughter together to get her patriarchal blessing a year ago, the patriarch emphasized that it really important to know our tribe so we can know which blessings we have a right to. Prosperity Gospel, much? Because God actually is constrained by some universal law in blessing us? I mean, God’s omnipotent, except not really? It seems to matter because someone somewhere said it does…..but honestly, really?
Should read “Why does it matter…”
With the Old Testament on deck for next year, how about a series that looks at the OT beyond the superficial treatment we’ll get from Come Follow Me.
(And yes. it is going to be superficial and proof texted up the wazoo. I’ve looked at the books for next year and they skip a lot of the inconvenient chapters and misrepresent many that they do cover (ahem. . Job….)
Mormon church buildings are used less than 10 percent of the time. And church services are now 2 hrs a week. Pres Nelson wants more home study. Our ward and stake buildings are rapidly becoming obsolete dinosaurs.
I would like a discussion of how to better use our buildings. Daycare. Humanitarian work. Education (ESL, etc.), Assisting the homeless.
And on possible new (different) designs for ward and stake buildings. Designs to meet future needs. And be more functional.
Garee Braun: Here’s a post I did on the Millerties in 2011: https://wheatandtares.org/2011/01/11/millerites-mistakes/ It is definitely an interesting topic, and always worth another look. In our weird politically charged environment, the Millerites are also a lesson in what people do when confronted with mistaken beliefs. Protip: a lot of them double down.
What would the law of chastity look like if it had been developed by women? Would a Gen Conf speaker spend an entire talk discussing the evils of sexual assault rather than the evils of abortion? Would there be concrete instructions on how to create a healing environment for survivors of sexual trauma the way we now have concrete instructions on how to maintain sexual purity while dating (like the list from the FSoY pamphlet- don’t lie down on each other; don’t stay up too late; don’t touch; etc). Does the Church’s insistence on virtue have a positive or negative impact, and does that differ depending on whether you’re a man or a woman?
The Brethren are using the euphemism ‘the sacred procreative process’ without acknowledging the fact that a woman can get pregnant during the most traumatic horrible experience of her life (rape/incest). Sex is not sacred, pure and beautiful for many people. The law of chastity applies best to a specific group of people – those who have never been sexually victimized – and is a source of pain and guilt to the rest of us. If women got to throw out the current law of chastity and create a new one, what would they keep and what would they change or get rid of and what would they add?
That is an interesting post from 2011 on the Millerites. As a side note, JS stated he agreed with William Miller’s calculations on Christ return; but the problem was Miller used the Bible which was mistranslated etc thus rendering his date setting inaccurate. The Millerites and early Saints also were not very kind to one another. Both claimed the other was a tool of the devil used to confuse people. Just get enough truth in place in order to deceive. All kinds of history there!
I would appreciate a non-polemic, informative posting on the activities of Kirton and MConkie, especially on behalf of the church.
I am sure that the comments in response to such a post will be polemical; I have strong opinions, myself. But would appreciate a good overview, because the law firm is so anonymous.
I second Raymond Winn’s post. The church should be addressing what’s going on in the country. They should be taking a stand. I remember in the 1980’s when the church was pushing the prophecy about the “Constitution hanging by a thread” They wanted us to sign this thing stating that we would help the constitution when that happened. If it’s not hanging by a thread now, I don’t know when. Or Maybe they saw the threat as a liberal threat and not from the right.
An obituary for the temple cafeteria, please.
I don’t know if my previous comment posted or not. I second Raymond Winn’s post. The church needs to address the real issues going on now 8n the country. The rise of the far right, our threat to democracy, the violence and other issues. I remember in the 1980’s when the church was pushing the prophecy about the Constitution hanging by a thread, and the church would save it. They wanted us to sign this pledge to help save it. What happened to that? The Constitution is hanging by a thread now. Or maybe they saw it as a threat from liberals instead of the right.
Also, a discussion on what is left for parents in the church when all their children leave? So many young people have left because of a lack of trust in the institutional church that the parents no longer have an incentive to stay since their family won’t be together forever.
My oldest kids are now teenagers. I would love a discussion about missionary work. I served 20 years ago, at a time when it seemed there was still some genuine interest in the world for religion. In my corner of the world, we are being asked to let the missionaries come over and practice the discussions on us since they hardly ever teach; the missionaries come to YM activities because they are bored; they attend ward council; and something about finding on facebook several hours a day.
My mission experience was overall a net positive, notwithstanding some pretty bad stuff. But I’m genuinely torn about letting my own kids have a mission experience. It would be helpful to hear from all sorts of returned missionaries (ranging from TBM to disgruntled) about whether the LDS mission model is still a formula for good (vs having them pursue some humanitarian project for example).
There have already been posts about church finances, but a recent experience brought this to the forefront of my mind.
I have a friend from college whose toddler is dying in front of her eyes from a rare disease. The treatment for this disease is still being developed and needs funding to expedite the research. The funding required is a few million dollars. I have donated money to this friend’s cause.
This friend is an active member of the church. I no longer am. Recently, I saw that she posted a story featuring her family on the church’s app. I’m guessing it can be found on the site too. At first I was glad for her because I thought that her cause would reach more charitable people who could donate. Then the realization that a few million was a drop in the bucket to the church made a wave of anger wash over me. Here the church was using this woman’s story of unimaginable suffering to promote its precepts when it wouldn’t give to the poor, so to speak. It wouldn’t relieve her suffering or that of other children with this condition. It wouldn’t be the answer to her prayers. No, it would leave that to widows with their mites. It would place the burden to relieve this friend’s suffering on other families with their own financial burdens.
I know this is the case because even after this story came out, my friend is still soliticing donations. If the church is worried about favoritism for making a public donation, they could have anonymously donated the few million.
And just to pour salt in the wound, the church is partnering with a real estate developer to create a huge planned community outside Orlando, Fl, where they own 200,000 acres for some reason. You know, priorities.
To sum up, it would be great to see a post about how many people the church features on its site whose suffering could be relieved by monetary donations.
How about an evaluation of where LDS members sit on the 9 political groups from the recent Pew research survey. I’d say most members fall under Faith and Flag or Committed Conservative groups. I tested as an Establishment Liberal. I bet most bloggernacle members are either Establishment Liberals or Democratic Mainstays. (Those Faith and Flag and Populist Right groups terrify me. The Progressive Left are similarly problematic.)
I’d be curious to know the cost of a brand new medium sized temple in the United States. Similarly would be curious to know where some of the more exotic materials are sourced. My SWAG guess is that a modern temple on a 20 acre lot in a nice suburb is ~$250 Million. Also that the materials or manner of construction are not particularly environmentally friendly.
I would like anyone to find a conference address that talks about the need to apologize for your hurtful actions. We’ve had several talks on the need to forgive always putting the responsibility on the people who have been hurt, but I have yet to hear any leader talk about the need to apologize.
Religion as evolutionary/social adaptation
Outrageous fast and testimony meetings; Mormon urban legends; when sacrament meeting got “out of control”; goofy members that drive us crazy; more on masonry and early Mormonism; three Nephites.
As an addition to Chadwick’s comment about missionary work, I would be interested in a discussion of what the church, as it currently stands, has to offer the world. It certainly seems presumptuous by today’s standards to go out preaching a “one true church” message. And when outsiders look at our church, what do they see that suggests they should abandon their own religious traditions and cultural heritage in order to adopt mormonism?
Will there ever come a time when missionaries are known throughout the world as a great force for humanitarian work? Or when what we have to offer the world is a strong community of service with our own flavor of spiritual worship that may or may not resonate with individuals, and if it does great, but if it does not, then encourage them to find a spiritual home that does?
I feel so bad for missionaries today who are sent out into the world to peddle a shoddy product that they know almost nothing about and who have nothing meaningful to do. This force of 60,000 eager volunteers could do so much good if they were utilized in meaningful humanitarian efforts. That would do much more for the church in terms of good PR. Proseylitizing missions need to go, in my opinion. Let them serve, actually serve, and teach when the opportunity naturally presents itself.
*A comparison of the current church to the Jewish church during the 1st C AD. . Outline Jesus’s actual zealous responses to the corruption/practices of the church and government in his day and make conclusions/hypothesis about his feelings to modern day problems. (following Aslan’s book “Zealot”).
*What’s happened to Ordain Women since they were decapitated?
*Crowd source a study/update on GAs. Do they attend lowly wards these days? Rub shoulders with the rank and file? “Minister” to anyone but themselves, participate in social media (most official accounts AND posts are controlled by the PR Dept.). Aside from President Kimball giving a child a stick of gum in an airport in the 70’s, has anyone seen a GA in the real world? Compare the probability of actual sightings with the number of likely Sasquatch sightings.
*Crowd source known locations/sightings of LDS relics (Aaron’s staff, seer stone, JS’s talisman, early copies of the BOM, etc. Many interesting items were removed from sight when the church history museum was updated to another visitor’s center.
* Whatever happened to Byron Marchant, the lone man who opposed the sustaining of church officers in 1977 re: black children, teens, and the priesthood? Does he feel vindicated by history? Has the General church ever reached out to him and apologized/thanked him? What does he think/feel today? He sacrificed everything (his salvation, his community, his family) to do that. where’d that courage and integrity come from? What does he think of other contemporary issues? Has he been interviewed by anyone recently?
*Whatever happened to Jan Chamberlin, the MoTab member who quit the choir rather than sing at You-know-who’s inauguration? Re-use the questions listed above for Byron Marchant.
*Financial update on City Creek. There was a lot of hubbub on the bloggernacle when it was built…ethics, cost, purpose, etc. Now that it’s up and going, what’s the rest of the story? Is it, like almost all other malls/shopping centers, near chapter 11 under Covid? What’s the rest of the story there?
I am hesitant to comment because I’ve been away for a few years serving a mission, etc. and not sure what has been discussed in the interim.
But one of the things that interest me is that even though first-generation members are a huge percentage (majority in some places) of current members, we are often made to feel like stupid outsiders. I went 20 years as a member without knowing what “funeral poatatoes” were, and was laughed at when I asked. At BYU, I got tired of people saying, “As we all know from seminary….” Just recently, on the comments on a church news announcement about not reserving more than 300 names for temple work, somebody suggested, ,”Share with you family members!!” Not appreciating how painful this might be, because many first-gen members, who are in a great position to do a lot of temple work for ancestors, are the only church member in their family.
And of course a lot of it is inside-outside geographically as well. A few years after my baptism, when we moved to the East US for grad school, I finally felt like I belonged, since most folks there were also converts.
Are we gearing up as a church to “allow” for a non-literal Book of Mormon? How is this likely to go? What would the impact be?
Some topics (some of which have been addressed in comments in other discussions but not sure I’ve seen a post):
*How our teachings that feelings are reliable indicators of factual truths have impacted the Church today, science vs. religion, confirmation bias, conspiracy theories, and related topics.
*What the Church would look like for leaders to just admit they are wrong about stuff and how things would move forward.
*What the Church would (will?) look like if significant numbers choose second-tier status (i.e., not to hold temple recommends or participate in temple worship but still choose to participate in some way). I know there was a series a while back on middle-way Mormonism and would be curious to see updates on that.
*Gender differences/shifts in participation. This is just my anecdotal observation, so curious about other observations: growing up it felt lot a lot of less-active folks were middle-aged men whose wives were more engaged with the Church. What I am observing now is that a lot of women are disengaging with Church – maybe they’re still attending but they aren’t wearing garments, they’re really doing things on their own terms, they’re seeking spiritual fulfillment and community elsewhere, and their husbands are the more engaged ones. Maybe this is just among my friends – and TBH I’m seeing this in a lot of influencers – but I’m seeing it a *lot* and it’s quite interesting to me.
*Whether everyone reading the D&C at the same time has put a bunch of people in faith crisis. I noticed a huge swell in online discussions of polygamy for example because so many people were actually reading section 132 at the same time. Perhaps an unintended consequence of CFM …
*Love Melinda’s suggestion. I think the same exercise (what would this look like if written by women, or queer folks, or black folks, or Latinx, or people who aren’t American, etc. etc. etc.) could be done for MANY doctrines / teachings.
*I like Ruth’s suggestion too, and ditto for how that can apply to the rest of the Church canon (all scripture and even the origins of the Church as being non-literal). Well, I don’t think we actually are gearing up for that from a leadership perspective, but what would that look like.
*Different personality types (Enneagram or other theories) and how that accounts for how people experiences the Church differently.
I am always interested in reviews of books, television shows, movies, podcasts, that aren’t Mormon specific but raise issues that are interesting to Mormonism. And Mormon ones too.
Lot of good suggestions. I too would like to see a discussion of the law of chastity if women wrote the rules.
But I spent a lot of time thinking about what I have never seen. So here goes. How about a church survival guide for introverts. No, I am not kidding. The church just seems so geared to extroverts, and I know I about died as an introvert as primary President and then really and obviously could not handle being RSP. Then I spent years trying and unable for form relationships at church. Eventually giving up and leaving, with the introversion being one factor among several, but still being a contributing factor. How much did struggling as RSP, and hearing all kinds of criticism from other women really contribute to destroying my testimony? How much did seeing the blatant sexism that is built into the church that I saw as RSP contribute? I still don’t know the answer, but it really was the beginning of the end.
I love Melinda’s suggestion!
I am a car enthusiast.
What do the cars in the carpark tell us about a ward?
4 wards meet in our building. Last year when a different ward was before us a young fellow whose father is now an area authority, drove exotic european cars like a lamborgini, then a maclaren, there was also a tesla s in that ward.
In our ward we have lots of kia carnivals 8 seater vans, quite a few 4WD toyotas, and nissans, and a vw amroc, 2 mercedes, 2 jaguars, and toyotas, kias, hyundais etc.
The missionaries in Aus drive toyota corollas.
Do Apostles drive (age), up market cars? Do 70s? One of the ex presidents had a reputation for speeding, which made him more human.
Like Elisa, I’m also interested in reviews of books, movies, TV shows and podcasts that aren’t Mormon-specific but very applicable to Mormonism.
I’ve been on the sidelines watching a growing number of women within Evangelicalism who are saying, “Enough!” They’re calling out some really horrible teachings around gender essentialism, submission and modesty. I thought we Mormons were weird about sex, but some of this stuff….ick. It’s disturbing to know some of these ideas have influenced us as well.
There’s a podcast coming up that I would really love for one of the bloggers to listen to and get back to us: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/3916371742777/WN_4zAQL63IQKWmABs58aF6_A
It’s with the authors of “Jesus and John Wayne,” “The Making of Biblical Womanhood” and “The Great Sex Rescue.”
Welcome back to Naismith !
What about general conference talks we would like to hear?
*How we might react when a loved one comes out (Hugs? Don’t kick out your adolescent child? Keep loving your kid?I wouldn’t believe we would need to hear this over the pulpit but I’ve heard too many stories and know that we do.).
*How to appropriately apologize when we have wronged someone?
*How to chat with a young adult of mission age whether or not they are going on a mission (and not asking when or assuming that they are).
*How to avoid falling prey to affinity fraud (and explaining what affinity fraud is).
*The importance of not oppressing the hireling (there are scriptures about this–when was the last time we heard any of them addressed in conference?).
*Addressing the exploitative nature of multilevel marketing companies.
So many possible topics. We like to say these are cultural issues, not church issues, but if we aren’t hearing them addressed in our conferences maybe they are more than just cultural.
I think we all could stand to learn more about echo chambers, and maybe how to tear down the walls we’ve built around ourselves.
Echoing Chet.., good to see Naismith back 😁
I would be interested in a discussion of our practice of endogamy which is marrying only within a specific group. We end up with many women within our community who are unable to marry and stigmatized if they marry outside of the church. Many members end up with spouses that are not compatible because of limited dating pools. There are costs of practicing endogamy and largely we accept the practice without question. Why? Are there benefits? What are the costs?
How about a movie review of the new film “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”?
Lots of LDS parallels to unpack including Oaks as a poor man’s Jerry Falwell (Sr.).