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FHE Lesson 3: Joseph Smith & Seer Stones

Primary source material for this lesson:

"Seer Stones," The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
"Urim and Thummim," The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
"Joseph Smith/Seer Stones," The FAIRMormon Wiki
"Joseph Smith/Occultism and magic," The FAIRMormon Wiki

1. Why did Joseph Smith use seer stones? Aren't they part of folk magic rather than religion?

In the 1800s, many people had ideas about how to access supernatural power that seem strange to us because of modern scientific advances. But they didn't see any difference between what we label "magic" and religious practices recorded in the Bible, such as Joseph of Egypt using a silver cup to divine (Genesis 44:2, 5) or Aaron using a rod to perform miracles (Exodus 7:9-12). Things like divining rods and seer stones were not considered magical or associated with the occult.

It is not clear how to distinguish a "magical" from a "religious" belief in the supernatural. In the case of …

FHE Lesson 2: Plural Marriage

Primary source material for this lesson:
Plural Marriage,” The Encyclopedia of Mormonism“Mormonism and polygamy,” The FairMormon Wiki“Joseph Smith and polygamy,” The FairMormon Wiki
1. What is plural marriage as defined by the Church?
Plural marriage was the nineteenth-century LDS practice of one man having more than one living wife at a time. Popularly known as polygamy, it was actually polygyny.Note the differences between marriage for time and sealing for eternity. Technically, it’s possible to be legally married to one person for this life, but sealed to another for eternity (e.g., a woman remarries after her first husband to whom she is sealed dies, or a woman divorces her first husband to whom she is sealed and then remarries outside of the temple). These are not examples of plural marriage.Also note, Joseph Smith is reported to have engaged in a form polyandry: “At the time that celestial marriage was introduced, it was possible to be married for time to one person and sealed fo…

FHE Lesson 1: Revelation on the Priesthood

Primary source material for this lesson: “Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood,” Edward L. Kimball, BYU Studies Quarterly, 47:2

1. Before June of 1978, the Church prohibited blacks from the priesthood. What did this prohibition consist of?

Black men could not receive the priesthood or hold priesthood leadership positions. Black men and women could not serve missions or receive temple endowments, though they could be baptized for the dead and black children could be sealed to adoptive parents of other races. They could receive patriarchal blessings, serve as secretaries (but not ward clerks), teach classes, and participate in the music program. Women could be visiting teachers, but men couldn’t be home teachers.The prohibition wasn’t related to personal worthiness. Also, skin color wasn’t the determining factor, but perceived lineage from black Africans (e.g., Australian aborigines weren’t prohibited). If lineage was unknown, the Church erred on the side of leniency.…

Appendix to Lesson 1

I added this appendix as a response to a specific question from my oldest son, who’s already had run-ins with atheists at his high school.

Question: In light of the fact that prophets can make mistakes, explain this passage following Official Declaration 1 in the Doctrine & Covenants:

“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (Wilford Woodruff, Oct. 6, 1890)

Family Home Evening Lesson Plans: A New Approach

“Individual members are encouraged to independently strive to receive their own spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of Church doctrine. Moreover, the Church exhorts all people to approach the gospel not only intellectually but with the intellect and the spirit, a process in which reason and faith work together.” (“Approaching Mormon Doctrine,” Mormon Newsroom, May 4, 2007)
My sons are growing up. They no longer need diapers, car seats, or help cutting their meat. All of them can read independently. My oldest can even drive. If all goes according to plan, he should be serving a mission in about two years. Which leads me to the subject of the day.
I've done a pretty good job teaching my children how to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. But after reflection, I believe I haven't done enough to prepare them for people who will try to tear down their faith through argument. I don't want to teach them how to debate—I just want to introduce them to a few of the controversia…

Bits & Pieces

I've been trying to collect enough random stuff for some sort of blog post. Summer has been very slow for writing. Below are a few things I've been thinking about, plus some pictures.


Failure

For most shortcomings, failure is too strong a word. If you're learning to play the piano but you can't play a piece correctly right away, you haven't failed. You're still learning it. Similarly, if you aren't a perfect parent, child, sibling, spouse, friend, etc., you aren't a failure—you're still learning.

Unless you quit. Then you fail. Until you start trying again.


Pet Peeves

Don't let minor irritations solidify into things you love to hate. And definitely don't compile a list and share it online. Nobody cares about your particular set of peeves but you.

Remember this story? Pockets Full of Rocks. It's more about collecting grudges than collecting pet peeves, but there are similarities. Hoarding either one only serves to cause you unnecessary pain…

Shut Up He Explained

Time to get this party started. This new blog will be more like a journal, but I won't necessarily be writing things as they occur. For instance, today I'm recording a story about Parker that took place a few years ago—I just hadn't taken the time to write it down yet. In fact, I didn't even know this had happened until the tale was shared by one of his Scout leaders during his Eagle Court of Honor.

Parker has always enjoyed Scouting activities, but it was a bit of a struggle to get him through some of the Eagle rank requirements toward the end. The Camping merit badge, in particular, presented problems because we hadn't kept proper track of the number of days and nights he'd been camping. He being our oldest boy, we were not yet used to all the ... well, hoop-jumping required to progress in the Scouting program.

The problem is, generally speaking, that the older boys get the less they like to go camping. Maybe it's because all the trouble and fuss of livin…

Growing Beanstalks

Growing Beanstalks
(A traditional cinquain chain, comprised of three stanzas)

Dire fear,
like drilling worms,
writhes through my bosom, eats
my peace like blight, but can't consume
all hope.

Brave hope
suspends my heart,
buoys on warm air currents,
billows from beneath, replenishes
new love.

Bright love
sprouts fresh, verdant
vines to the castled sky.
Let me now contend with giants,
not fear.



© Merrijane Rice