Mormon News, November 23–27

In the News

Boston-area Mormons had a short time to ponder what an abbreviated Sunday meeting block might be like before the plans to reduce time spent in church were quickly scrapped. The Boston Stake Ornamentation from the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.leadership had planned to reduce meeting times beginning in 2016 in order to emphasize “taking of the sacrament and having time for families.” Mormons currently have a three-hour worship block; the Boston Stake wanted to shorten it to two hours and fifteen minutes. After word leaked of the plans, church headquarters in Salt Lake quickly put a stop to it because it was “not within Church guidelines.”

The LDS Church continued its commitment to refugees this week when Apostle M. Russell Ballard traveled to Germany and Greece to view humanitarian efforts. The First Presidency had previously issued a letter encouraging members to help migrants by donating to church charities. The church has partnered with a number of international organizations, including UNICEF and Catholic Relief Services, to aide the refugees. Ballard reported that it was “overwhelming” to see how many people were fleeing their homes and that “the scale of this human tide has to be seen to be believed.”

On the Blogs

Lisa Butterworth, a founder of Feminist Mormon Housewives, wrote about disagreement this week and parsed the difference between strong, unequivocal disagreement with policies but not with people. She expressed comfort with the messiness of life and the “paradox and ambiguity” of existence that are inevitable. Butterworth wrote that we are all too different and our experiences too diverse to neatly categorize others. “I do think that labeling people as evil or bad or disgusting or even just wrong, does almost nothing to tell me the reasons behind those actions, actions I may strongly disagree with, it just others them and makes them not-like-me.”

David Banack wrote about disruptive technologies at the Worlds Without End blog this week. He used the recent policy updates in the church handbook as an example of how much the world has changed and how the LDS Church has struggled to process and keep pace with those changes. He explained that “the transparency of social media and the Internet is highly disruptive” to a church that historically relied on some level of secrecy or restriction. What’s more, the Internet allows “unhappiness [to] network, communicate, and organize, and do it quickly. … The Church no longer has years or even months to assess the damage and craft a response or execute a retreat from a bad decision or policy. Waiting even a week to respond is now too long.”

In Books

The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, Volume 3 was released this week by the Church Historian’s Press. The book includes transcripts of Joseph Smith’s journals, kept exclusively by Willard Richards, from May 1843 to June 1844. The release was anticipated after earlier efforts by Dean C. Jessee to publish this portion of Smith’s journals were canceled by the church. In addition to Smith’s journals, the book includes short excerpts from records previously unavailable (and still restricted in their complete form), such as the Nauvoo-era William Clayton diaries and the Nauvoo Council of Fifty minutes.

News update by John Hatch