I’m helping organize the Global Mormon Studies 2023 online conference, so I’ve been trying to figure out what (if anything) I would submit for myself. I’ve been wanting to do something about the online (and, thereby, intentionally international) Toronto Community of Christ congregation, but I’ve had trouble figuring out what exactly that would be. Today, an idea clicked. I was going through their YouTube and Facebook videos for some early data collection when I realized just how different the two platform experiences are.
Steve Shields does good work and has an interesting perspective on things. It’s fun to hear from him.
link to ‘531 | Cuppa Joe | Historic Sites Foundation | Divergent Paths of the Community of Christ: The Past One Hundred Years – Project Zion Podcast’
I’ve mentioned before that I support the Salt Lake Tribune’s Mormon Land podcast on Patreon, one of the perks of which is that I get access to the Tribune’s Mormon coverage without having to subscribe to the whole paper (which would be a lot of money for someone who doesn’t care about Jazz coverage or Utah politics).
Thanks to this Patreon perk, I read a lot of news about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and between that and over three decades that I spent as an active member of that church, you’d think that nothing would surprise me anymore.
I’m pleased to share the publication of a new chapter of an edited volume. The chapter in question is “I"m a French teacher, not a data scientist”: Culture and languages across my professions, and it’s part of a volume called Cultures and languages across the curriculum in higher education. According to the CLAC Consortium, Culture and Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC) is a:
a curricular framework that provides opportunities to develop and apply language and intercultural competence within all academic disciplines through the use of multilingual resources and the inclusion of multiple cultural perspectives.
A mentor in Community of Christ is encouraging me to attend the April 2023 World Conference—and even to register as a voting delegate. The idea of a church conference that asks for bottom-up consensus is very different than my previous, top-down ecclesiastical experience.
Pretty sure the sermon I heard this morning had undercurrents of British Israelism in it and 😬😬😬
Yesterday, I listened to a new episode of the Project: Zion podcast, the semi-official podcast of Community of Christ. This episode was an interview with Shandra Newcom, one of two apostles-designate who will begin their service after the April 2023 World Conference of the church. It was a delightful episode, and I posted something to the Community of Christ subreddit that I wanted to repeat here:
What a great episode!
During the last few years I spent as a practicing Latter-day Saint, one recurring pet peeve that I had was the overbroad use of the term “gospel” to refer to all Latter-day Saint doctrines, teachings, and beliefs. In hindsight, learning to separate the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ from everything that I believed was a major part of my faith transition—and my ability to continue in Christianity even when the version that I was used to started to no longer work for me.
I am a big fan of the Book of Mormon. It’s one of the reasons that I stuck with Community of Christ when transitioning out of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know the book is problematic, and I doubt its historicity, but I’m still an advocate for making some religious meaning out of it.
There are diverse opinions about the Book of Mormon in Community of Christ, and while there’s plenty of room to believe lots of different things, the default institutional view tends to be either indifferent or suspicious of the text.
I haven’t attended the Latter-day Saint congregation I officially belong to since March of 2020, and I’m coming up on one year of being an official member of Community of Christ. It’s pretty clear to me—and, likely, to others—where my religious future is headed.
Yet, I’ve always expected that I would remain a de jure—if not de facto—member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even if it’s not the right spiritual home for me or my family any more, and even if I have major disagreements with it, this church has been an important part of my life, and I’ve always wanted to preserve that by retaining my official membership.
This week and last, I’ve been reading up on Mormons’ commitment to both the language of the King James Version (Philip Barlow’s Mormons and the Bible is a fantastic read) and what is seen as the authoritative text of the Book of Mormon. In Paul Gutjahr’s The Book of Mormon: A Biography, he quotes the official Latter-day Saint Scripture Translation Manual as including the following guidelines for translators of the Book of Mormon:
Nearly a year ago, a friend gave me a copy of Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation as a gift for my confirmation into Community of Christ. It (obviously) took me a while to start it, and it’s taking me some time to read through it, but there’s a lot in there that I like. This afternoon, this passage stood out to me:
Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God, for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice, your mediocrity and materialism, your sensuality and selfishness that have killed his faith.
Some more coverage of the (possible) photo find. This is the only news I’ve ever read related to facial recognition software that I’ve been happy rather than grumpy about 😂
link to ‘At long last, a photo of Mormon founder Joseph Smith emerges’
Whoa. Big news here. My feelings about Joseph Jr. are complicated, but it’s very cool to see a possible photograph of him.
link to ‘Mormon founder Joseph Smith’s photo discovered by descendant after nearly 180 years’
One of the highlights of the summer has been getting an article accepted in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. This article takes as a starting point Cragun and Nielsen’s argument (also published in Dialogue) that:
what is really at play in the debate over the use of “Mormon” is legitimacy.
Cragun and Nielsen are writing in 2009, at a time when Big Love is on the air and the April 2008 FLDS Temple raid is (or was recently) on the news.
If I were allowed one religion-related time travel shenanigan, I would go to the late 1960s and arrange for very left-wing RLDS apostle Charles Neff and Bircher LDS apostle Ezra Taft Benson to be in the same room, just to see how things would turn out.
I’m glad the article identifies Art as an apostle for Community of Christ, to emphasize that it’s entirely possible to be affirming and Christian. Coming from Mormonism, I’m not used to the idea of apostles standing up for queer causes, so as gross as the book removal is, I’m grateful for Art’s example here.
link to ‘Independence schools ban book for gender content – The Beacon’
Over the past several months, I’ve been slowly working my way through Mark Scherer’s three-volume The Journey of a People, the most recent quasi-official history of Community of Christ. The first volume was interesting, since it covered an era of Mormon history that I’m familiar with from a perspective that I’m not familiar with. I found the second volume a bit harder to get through—some individual sections were fascinating, but it seemed to lack an overall throughline or narrative.
When I made the decision to join Community of Christ, it wasn’t (just) because this was a denomination that aligned with my current religious and social values, but because I knew it would be a denomination that pushed me to improve my current religious and social values. I know that I have room to grow in being a better person and in making the world a better place, and I felt that Community of Christ is a denomination that would not only show me grace for who I was but also walk with me as I tried to grow in these ways.
A couple of weekends ago, I had my first experience with a Community of Christ Reunion camp. Kiddo and I only stayed for a long weekend rather than the whole week, but it was still a great experience. By far the best experience I had at Reunion was a Monday morning class for young adults and “90s kids” (which is not a label I’ve ever actively applied to myself, but it fit just fine.
The title of this post is a bit misleading. My wife and I aren’t really big on “Parent’s Day” celebrations: Years of Latter-day Saint “all women are mothers” (read: motherhood is the most important part of womanhood) Sunday services grated on us during our years of infertility, and even now that we are parents (and aren’t practicing Latter-day Saints—though my current denomination certainly isn’t immune from a cringeworthy celebration of parents either), it’s just not a thing we do.
A few weeks ago, John Hamer (from the Toronto-based Beyond the Walls inclusive online congregation of Community of Christ) reached out to ask if I would be interested in contributing a pre-recorded prayer to a June 12th “millennial prayer service” focused on Community of Christ’s Enduring Principles. The denomination describes its Enduring Principles as follows:
Our Enduring Principles define the essence, heart, and soul of our faith community. They describe the personality of our church as expressed throughout the world.
Tomorrow morning, I’m leaving for 3ish days of camping with kiddo. This is the first time that I’ve gone camping for well over a decade, and I’m a bit nervous, even though I’ve got lots of (rusty) Scouting experience to draw on and even though we’re also going to be staying in a cabin at a semi-structured church camp. Probably not too much to worry about in terms of camping.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been putting a lot of work into adjusting my online presence, a project that I expect to last through most of the summer. In dividing my website into distinct subareas and pivoting from a single Twitter account to a number of Mastodon accounts, I’m trying to do something about the context collapse that’s been keeping me from sharing some of the big things going on in my life lately.
Today I learned from first-hand experience that Latter-day Saint services aren’t the only ones with cringeworthy messages on Mother’s Day. 😤 Not sure whether that’s comforting or disappointing! 😜