Monday, August 3, 2015

Guessing the Next Two Apostles (Part 1)

This is the first in a three-part post to run this week.

by John English:

I did a previous post on guessing who the next Apostle might be, but we've hit a rare section in time in the LDS church when two Apostles will be called at the same time. This has happened before. Dieter F. Uchtdorf and David A. Bednar were called together in 2004. Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks were called together in 1984 (though Oaks had to wait a month to be set apart). Before that you have to go back to Spencer W. Kimball and Ezra Taft Benson in 1943. When two Apostles are called the same day, the older one has seniority.

Never in the history of the LDS Church has an Apostle been called that the prophet wasn't already acquainted with on some level.

I wanted to expand the field in this post, look at a broader section of who it could be, and also take into account two being called at the same time. But first, let's look at the current 13, and where they came from. (By seniority)

THOMAS S. MONSON - Called to be an Apostle at age 36 in 1963. No one has been called that young since. He'd served as a bishop but more importantly as a mission president in Canada and then Editor of the Deseret News. He would have had regular contact with church leaders, allowing them to know him and consider him as a candidate when a vacancy arose. Monson in particularly worked with Gordon B. Hinckley, who ran the Church's public affairs before being called as an Apostle two years before Monson. Monson also at one point had Harold B. Lee for a stake president. Career expertise: Publishing

RUSSELL M. NELSON - Called to be an Apostle at age 59 in 1984. He came about his service in a rare way. He performed open-heart surgery on Spencer W. Kimball in 1972, around the same time he was called to be Sunday School General President. He served in that calling for eight years and then a regional representative for four years when he was called to be an Apostle. Career expertise: Medicine

DALLIN H. OAKS - Called to be an Apostle at age 51 in 1984. Oaks was well-known by the Brethren when they called him to be president of BYU, where he served for nine years. He then instantly joined the Utah Supreme Court but resigned from that once he was called to be an Apostle. Oaks was not currently serving in church leadership when he was called. Career expertise: Law, Church Education

M. RUSSELL BALLARD - Called to be an Apostle two days before his 57th birthday in 1985. He was the grandson of apostle Hyrum M. Smith and great-grandson of Joseph F. Smith. On his other side, he was the grandson Melvin J. Ballard, who served for years in the Q12 with Gordon B. Hinckley's uncle Alonzo. He was a mission president when he was called to join the First Quorum of the Seventy, and he was in the Presidency of the Seventy when called to be an Apostle. At the time, Pres. Kimball and 1st Counselor Marion G. Romney were incapacitated, so this calling likely came from 2nd Counselor Hinckley as anyone else. Ballard's daughter married David B. Haight's grandson. Career expertise: Business

RICHARD G. SCOTT - Called to be an Apostle at age 59 in 1988. His father worked closely with Ezra Taft Benson in Washington DC. He was a misson president, then a regional representative, then joined the First Quorum of Seventy, then in the Presidency of the Seventy when called. Career expertise: Nuclear Science

ROBERT D. HALES - Called to be an Apostle at age 61 in 1994. He was called to the First Quorum of Seventy in 1976, then he served as Presiding Bishop the nine years leading up to his calling as Apostle and was considered key in balancing church finances in the 1980's and 1990's. He'd run several successful businesses before his calling. Career expertise: Business

JEFFREY R. HOLLAND - Called to be an Apostle at age 53 in 1994. He succeeded Oaks as President of BYU. Nine years later he went straight from there to the First Quorum of Seventy. he also served as Commissioner of the Church Educations System (CES). Career expertise: Church Education

HENRY B. EYRING - Called to be an Apostle at age 61 in 1995. He was the third Apostle in as many General Conferences to be called, and after him, the Church went nine years before another one was needed. He is married to Pres. Kimball's niece. He was president of Rick's College. He was a Commissioner of CES. He was a Counselor to Hales in the Presiding Bishopric, and he was in the First Quorum of Seventy when he was called to be an Apostle. Career expertise: Business, Physics, Church Education

DIETER F. UCHTDORF - Called to be an Apostle at age 63 in 2004. He'd been a stake president, in the 2nd Quorum of Seventy, 1st Quorum of Seventy, then in Presidency of Seventy when called to be an Apostle. Career expertise: Aviation, Business

DAVID A. BEDNAR - Called to be an Apostle ate age 51 in 2004. He succeeded Eyring as president of Ricks' College and helped transition it into BYU-Idaho. He was an area authority while he worked at BYUI. Career expertise: Church Education

QUENTIN L. COOK - Called to be an Apostle at age 67 in 2007. His mother was a Kimball, so he's second-cousins with Spencer W. He was a missionary companion of Holland. He went from bishop to stake president to area authority to 2nd Quorum of Seventy to 1st Quorum of Seventy to Presidency of the Seventy to Apostle. Career expertise: Business, Law

D. TODD CHRISTOFFERSON - Called to be an Apostle at age 63 in 2008. Richard G. Scott was his mission president when he served his mission. He was called to the 1st Quorum of Seventy in 1993 and in the Presidency of the Seventy in 1998. He was executive director for the Family & Church History Department. Career expertise: Law

NEIL L. ANDERSEN - Called to be an Apostle at age 57 in 2009. He'd been called the the 1st Quorum of Seventy in 1993 and into the Presidency of the Seventy in 2005. Career expertise: Business

So these are their experiences and how they may have been known before they will called. One should expect there will be prior relationships for the new Apostles. So first let's look at the likely pool of talent.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Temple Square Stereoscopics and GIFs

by Scott Heffernan:

On a recent trip to Salt Lake City we stopped by Temple Square. The temple grounds have always fascinated me. I often feel a strange aura there. There's the cheerful families and tourists that give it a sense of levity. At the same time there's sort of a ghostly air filled with esoteric symbolism, deep longing, and moodiness. I took some photographs on our visit not intending to put them together like this. However, I noticed later on that pairing some of them up created that quirky combination of mysticism and frivolity I experience at the Salt Lake Temple.

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Scott Heffernan is a graphic designer and photographer in Seattle. He works on the creative team at Archie McPhee doing all manner of strange things. He grew up a child of the ‘80s in Salt Lake City, served a mission to England/Wales, and got a degree in American Sign Language from the University of Utah. After marrying his sweetheart, they moved to Seattle and had three beautiful baby boys together. He loves toys, skateboarding, and thrift store shopping and has impeccable Modar. Twitter: @ScottHeffernan. Tumblr:
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImages: Scott Heffernan (used with permission).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why I Dislike the Confederate Flag

by Shawn Tucker:

I don’t know if I can call myself a “Southerner.” I have lived in North Carolina for 15 years, and I lived in Tallahassee, Florida for four more. I also lived in Oklahoma for three, but that’s on the border. I grew up in Virginia, but it was “Northern Virginia,” and it is frankly stretching things to call it “the South.” I can say “y’all” as natural as can be, and I love a good biscuit, but I was born in Utah.

Simply put, I dislike the Confederate Flag (which is really the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, to be precise) for these reasons: It has historically and is currently too strongly associated with white supremacism and it is a poor symbol for the greatness of the South.

For me, the Confederate flag is too closely tied with white supremacism. It featured prominently in Dylann Storm Roof’s chosen imagery and as part of the race war he sought to inspire. It was also reborn in the South during the late 50’s and 60’s as a racist response to federal integration efforts.

I know many wonderful Southerners who embrace the flag as a symbol of their heritage. Few would describe themselves as racist or white supremacists, and most would not personally associate the flag with those attitudes. But the main reason I dislike the confederate flag is that it is too small, too narrow, too limited, and does not really work as a symbol of the South. To give an example: it does not symbolize for me some great Southerners like the Bedford Boys.

If you have never heard of them or ever been to Bedford Virginia, the Bedford Boys were men who signed up to defend their country and all it stands for during World War II. These soldiers were part of the units that landed in France on D-Day. They made the ultimate sacrifice for their country in a faraway land on that dark morning. These were great Southern men, soldiers defending their country, but for me the Confederate flag does not bring them to mind. These men did not rally under the Confederate flag; they rallied under the flag of the great United States of America.

There are many other great Southern Americans who I do not believe would wave the Confederate flag. They are Southern, but that is not a symbol of a great Southern heritage for them. Those Americans include Harriet Tubman, B.B. King, Jimmy Carter, Jasper Johns, William Faulkner, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, and Aziz Ansari. Instead of a far too narrow symbol, the South needs a better symbol of its rich, wonderful legacy. I think that a better symbol for that legacy is the very flag the Bedford Boys fought under. Exclusively and proudly waving that flag does not lessen one’s love or respect for the South and the South’s contributions to our great nation.

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Shawn Tucker grew up with amazing parents and five younger, wonderful siblings. He served as a missionary in Chile during the Plebiscite and the first post-dictatorship election. After his mission, he attended BYU, where he married ... you guessed it ... his wife. They both graduated, with Shawn earning a BA in Humanities. Fearing that his BA in Humanities, which is essentially a degree in Jeopardy, would not be sufficient, Shawn completed graduate work in the same ... stuff ... at Florida State University. He currently teaches at Elon University in North Carolina. He and ... you guessed it ... his wife have four great children. Twitter: @MoTabEnquirer. Website:

 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: Emily Barney, modified by Scott Heffernan (used with permission).

Friday, July 10, 2015

My Kids Are Strangers

by Eliana:

“They’re such good travelers,” my husband and I tell people about our children.

“Owen just talks to his fingers in the car and looks out the window,” I say when asked about the 10 hour drive for a weekend trip.

“They read and color and then the last hour we let them use a device of some kind.”

All of these sentences are true. Most of the time in fact.

But on this trip, right now, they are lies. Bald-faced lies about children I have never met. The two kids living with me in this rental house in Chapala, Mexico, are terrible. They clearly have never left their homes before.

Monday, June 29, 2015

SCOTUS - Reflecting on My LDS Friend and His Two Moms

by Mike Maxwell:

I grew up in Holladay, Utah in the 1980’s as a member of a pretty conventional Mormon congregation. In my 9th grade year, a new family moved into the neighborhood and a 10th grade boy (I’ll call him Doug) from that family began attending our Teachers Quorum. Doug and I shared common interests in sports and music and quickly became friends. I recall many evenings shooting baskets in his driveway with Molly Hatchet blaring from the car stereo in the carport.

I visited Doug’s home a few weeks after meeting him at church and met his mom. She was nice to me but seemed an otherwise unremarkable woman. I asked Doug about his dad and he told me his mom and dad divorced when he was a kid. His dad worked in the Las Vegas gaming industry and he rarely saw him. He didn’t seem to want to talk about it further so I did not press him.

After a few more visits to Doug’s home, I realized there was another adult woman living there. Over time, I learned that the woman and Doug’s mom were a couple. My 14-year-old Mormon boy self had no frame of reference for “lesbians” so I just kind of rolled with it. I got to know them better and found them to be considerate, caring, pleasant people who were as dedicated to raising a good son as were any of my other friend’s parents.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Accident We Avoided

by Pete Codella:

Last month as we were driving home from a wedding reception in Heber City, Utah, our front tires started making a strange noise. We have had tire air pressure issues (thanks to the stainless steel rims Lexus brilliantly selected for our car), so I stopped at a gas station in Kimball Junction to add some air to both front tires.

We got back on the freeway headed to Salt Lake City but the noise persisted and even got worse. I slowed down, sped up, changed lanes, and we kept hearing this thud-thud, thud-thud, in rhythm to the rotation of the tires.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mormonism Unvailed by Signature Books - Questions for Dan Vogel

by Seattle Jon:

Signature Books recently re-published Mormonism Unvailed, generally considered the very first anti-Mormon book, with critical comments by Dan Vogel, an independent researcher, writer, and author on a number of works that include Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet. Signature provides this summary:

Howe’s famous exposé was the first of its kind, with information woven together from previous news articles and some thirty affidavits he and others collected. He lived and worked in Painesville, Ohio, where, in 1829, he had published about Joseph Smith’s discovery of a “golden bible.” Smith’s decision to relocate in nearby Kirtland sparked Howe’s attention. Of even more concern was that Howe’s wife and other family members had joined the Mormon faith. Howe immediately began investigating the new Church and formed a coalition of like-minded reporters and detractors. By 1834, Howe had collected a large body of investigative material, including affidavits from Smith’s former neighbors in New York and from Smith’s father-inlaw in Pennsylvania. Howe learned about Smith’s early interest in pirate gold and use of a seer stone in treasure seeking and heard theories from Smith’s friends, followers, and family members about the Book of Mormon’s origin. Indulging in literary criticism, Howe joked that Smith, “evidently a man of learning,” was a student of “barrenness of style and expression.” Despite its critical tone, Howe’s exposé is valued by historians for its primary source material and account of the growth of Mormonism in northeastern Ohio.

I hope the following interview generates some interest in this new book. Visit Signature Books to purchase this and other important titles they've published.

Seattle Jon: Why reprint Mormonism Unvailed?

Dan Vogel: Published in 1834, Mormonism Unvailed is rare and for many years students of early Mormon history have relied on poor photocopies, and because of its significance as the first book-length response to Joseph Smith and the many valuable documents it contains a scholarly edition is not only justified but long overdue.

SJ: Did E.D. Howe misspell the title of his book?

DV: Contrary to what many people assume, unvailed was the preferred spelling at the time.

SJ: Why was Howe interested in Mormons?

DV: Howe published a newspaper in Painesville, Ohio, located about ten miles east of the Mormon capital in Kirtland, which made the topic of Mormonism unavoidable, and even more so when his wife and sister became converts.

SJ: Howe's tone is one of bitterness - why should we listen?

DV: Howe’s tone is definitely critical, and at times sarcastic and disdainful, but that was generally the style of newspaper editors in that day. There was no pretence of being objective. One should be equally suspicious of believers. Historians use multiple sources to cut through bias, which is what I try to do in the footnotes that accompany this volume.

SJ: I found that the first half of Mormonism Unvailed is about the Book of Mormon and the second half is about affidavits. Which part do you feel is more important?

DV: I would say the affidavits of former neighbors and relatives of Joseph Smith are probably Howe’s most important contribution to Mormon studies.

SJ: The woodcut cartoon at the front of the book depicts a disguised Moroni with a monkey (the gold plates) in a box. Is there any earlier mention of Moroni as the modern caretaker of the gold plates?

DV: This was apparently the earliest published reference to Moroni as the caretaker of the plates. Oliver Cowdery was next in April 1835 in the Messenger and Advocate. See page 134 note 17.

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Seattle Jon is a family man, little league coach, urban farmer and businessman living in Seattle. He currently gets up early with the markets to trade bonds for a living. In his spare time he enjoys movies, thrifting and is an avid reader. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and the Japan Fukuoka mission field. 
He has one wife, four kids, two cats and four chickens.

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