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Mormons' leader Monson, 90, dies

SALT LAKE CITY -- Thomas Monson, the 16th president of the Mormon church, has died after nine years in office. He was 90.

Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said Monson died Tuesday night at his home in Salt Lake City.

Monson spent more than five decades serving in top church leadership councils -- making him a well-known face and personality to multiple generations of Mormons.

Monson's presidency was marked by his noticeably low profile during a time of intense publicity for the church, including the 2008 and 2012 campaigns of Mormon Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination, and the faith's involvement in the passage of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in California.

"Latter-day Saints from across the state of Arkansas are saddened at the passing of our beloved prophet, and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Thomas S. Monson," said Area Seventy Michael Beheshti, a Little Rock physician and Arkansas' highest-ranking official in the Mormon church.

"For his entire ministry, he taught us to love and serve others. He inspired us to remember and care for the poor and the needy, and for those suffering the whole spectrum of life's challenges. ... President Monson's life and teachings have been an open book on how we might become Christ-like, both in word and in deed.

"We are better people because of his example," Beheshti said. "We will miss him deeply, but remember him gratefully."

Monson's funeral has been scheduled for Friday in Salt Lake City.

The next church president was not immediately named, but is expected to be Russell Nelson. He is the next longest-tenured member of the church's governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

-- The Associated Press,

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Man who found biblical calf dies

Lawrence Stager, a pre-eminent U.S. archaeologist who unearthed evidence that ancient Israelites worshipped a "golden calf," as was described in the Bible, and who helped redeem the reputation of Goliath and his fellow Philistines, died Dec. 29 at his home in Concord, Mass. He was 74.

The cause was injuries from a fall, said his daughter, Jennifer Stager.

Captivated while excavating an Israeli site on a postgraduate fellowship, Stager decided against a legal career and pursued biblical archaeology instead.

In 1990, Stager, a Midwest farmer's son, immediately recognized a bronze figurine found in dusty Canaanite ruins dating to the second millennium B.C. as a bull calf.

The four-and-a-half inch long icon, found by Stager's team as it cleared rubble at a ruined temple in Ashkelon on the Mediterranean Sea south of Tel Aviv, was similar to the golden idols that God inveighed against in Old Testament accounts of the 40 days that Moses spent on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments.

The discovery squared with the earliest legends of Judaism and biblical accounts of Jerusalem's rivalry with the calf-worshipping Hebrew king Jeroboam.

"Stager has been a formidable influence upon the history and archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Levant for more than 30 years," Jeff Hudon, a biblical historian, wrote in the journal Seminary Studies in 2010, "both through his own research and indirectly through his students."

In addition to his wife and his daughter, Stager is survived by a son, David, and four grandchildren.

-- The New York Times

Religion on 01/06/2018

Print Headline: Religion News Briefs

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