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Still Here. Still Mormon. Not Going Anywhere.

Sometimes people ask me, “If you’re unhappy, why don’t you just leave?” It’s not that simple; Mormonism is not a club. We don’t get to exile other people from the body of Christ any more than we would amputate our own limbs or pluck out our eyes.
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Ben Park’s Open Letter to the Deseret News about Joanna Brooks and Ralph Hancock

Disappointed in the Deseret News’s recent decision to reprint Ralph Hancock’s condescending review of Joanna Brooks’s memoir Book of Mormon Girl, Ben Park notes the dichotomy between this act and the loving words that LDS leaders spoke in General Conference just days before.
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Meditatio: Unleashing the Free-Range God

“Four minutes is a long time,” one of the retreatants told me in surprise last month when I led lectio divina in a group for the first time. But even over the course of our 24-hour retreat, the silent reflection of the “meditatio” step began to feel like a gift.
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Sam Brown on Death Culture in Early Mormon History

What may be the most important and significant book on Mormon history in 2011 was not, in fact, written by a historian. Sam Brown is an ICU pulmonary care doctor who specializes in how the cardiovascular system responds to the stresses of life-threatening illness. But he is trained to look hard at death, which turns out to be important for understanding early Mormon history. "What was Cumorah? A massive grave mound," he says. "Where were the plates stored? They were interred in a stone sepulcher. What was their message? They contained voices of the dead 'whispering from the dust' about America’s lost ancestors. I realized that there is an important continuity between Smith’s treasure quest and the Book of Mormon, and it was specifically this sense of negotiating with the dead over their legacy, their history, their artifacts in the soil."
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My Snarkiest Review

Patheos blogger Ellen Painter Dollar has organized a "blog hop" for today, with nine bloggers sharing some of their best older work. You can check out all of the bloggers and their posts here, and maybe you'll find some cool new writers you hadn't heard of before. I wasn't sure what to include as "best," but I was certain about what was the most acerbic: my 2005 review of the Biblezine products from Thomas Nelson. 
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The Writing Book That Changed My Life

Most of what I've learned about writing comes from hard experience and the one book I keep turning back to time and time again. I'd quote from it here, but I keep giving my copies away to needy friends. Here's why.
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New Spirituality Book Speaks to Black Women at the Crossroads

Breaking a drought in spirituality books offered for African American women, After the Altar Call, a new collection of real-life stories from Sherri Shepherd, Bishop Linda Lee and others, offers spiritual growth and memorable wisdom.
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Lectio Divina and the Prayer of the Heart

When the poet T.S. Eliot converted to Anglicanism and was trying to explain his love of prayer to Virginia Woolf, he summed up the essence of prayer as “to concentrate, to forget self, to attain union with God.” As an agnostic, she didn’t quite get it. Though I am a Christian, I’m not at all sure I do either.
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“Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” Releases Today! An Interview with Novelist Susan Elia MacNeal

Novelist Susan Elia MacNeal faced down years of rejection slips for her mystery novel Mr. Churchill's Secretary, but it has a happy ending: the novel is being released by Random House today. (In other words, like Churchill said, “nevah, nevah, nevah" give in.) But how does an American writer from the 21st century step back in time 70 years to Churchill's War Rooms?
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The LDS Church, the Prophet Amos, and the City Creek Mall

On March 22, the LDS prophet and his counselors were among the dignitaries cutting the ribbon for the controversial new City Creek Mall in Salt Lake City, leading an enthusiastic crowd in a chant of “Let’s go shopping!” But given the facts of world poverty and hunger, spending $1.5 billion on a den of luxury consumption is a moral failure.
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