James Faulconer – Making Things Harder

July 15, 2014 | 11 comments
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BMMHIt seems to me that the scriptures offer two types of revelations: (1) they reveal things you didn’t already know, and (2) they reveal that you didn’t know many of the things you thought you knew. Both kinds of revelation are pivotal. And each tends to depend on the other.

James Faulconer’s new series of books — The Book of Mormon Made HarderThe Doctrine and Covenants Made HarderThe Old Testament Made Harder, and The New Testament Made Harder (forthcoming) — can help on both of these fronts. Though, to be fair, they’re especially good at the latter.

The books are being published (and, in the case of the Doctrine Covenants volume, republished) by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute.

Each of the chapters in each of the books is pegged to the current Sunday School lessons. And each of the chapters consists entirely of study questions.

No answers.

Just questions.

Each book contains hundreds of pages of questions – some textual, some exegetical, some theological – that can slow you to a crawl and make your scriptures harder to read.

Each of the books in the series begins with this immortal epigraph (truer today than ever before) from Johannes Climacus in Kierkegaard’s The Concluding Unscientific Postscript:

Wherever you look about you, in literature and life, you see the celebrated names and figures, the precious and much heralded men who are coming into prominence and are much talked about, the many benefactors of the age who know how to benefit mankind by making life easier and easier, some by railways, others by omnibuses and steamboats, others by telegraph, others by easily apprehended compendiums and short recitals of everything worth knowing, and finally the true benefactors of the age who make spiritual existence in virtue of thought easier and easier. . . . You must do something, but inasmuch as with your limited capacities it will be impossible to make anything easier than it has become, you must, with the same humanitarian enthusiasm as the others, undertake to make something harder.

You’ve suspected for a long time now that so much of what matters most risks being too smooth, too familiar, and too easy, that so much has been paved over flat (progress!) to make it easier to move from point A to point B without a thought for what lies between.

You might be right.

These books are a massive roadblock.

Get ready for some detours.

(Watch for the official announcement with links and sale information from the Maxwell Institute on July 22.)

11 Responses to James Faulconer – Making Things Harder

  1. David Elliott on July 15, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    I taught Doctrine and Covenants in Gospel Doctrine class last year. About two months in, I discovered Jim Faulconer’s study questions at Feast Upon the Word. Overnight my average lesson plan prep time about tripled. So did class participation. Great stuff.

  2. Ben S on July 15, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Fantastic. Thanks for the notice.

  3. Ellie on July 15, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    So. Excited.

  4. SteveP on July 15, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Wonderful news! I feel like I’ve just entered a world of rainbows and unicorns where all my wishes come true. Fantastic!

  5. Terry H on July 16, 2014 at 12:45 am

    This and Michael Austin’s Job book, along with Julie Smith’s similar book on the Gospels (4000 plus questions) and forthcoming add to the rainbows and unicorns.

  6. Abu Casey on July 16, 2014 at 12:49 am

    The one on the D&C follows the current topical approach–neither Amazon nor the Maxwell Institute’s site have any info on the Book of Mormon or Old Testament volume. Do they both follow the structure of the Sunday School manuals or are they chapter-by-chapter or something else? Thanks!

  7. larryco_ on July 16, 2014 at 2:21 am

    I love this “making things harder” concept. Everything else is designed to make things easier and especially for “dummies”. Especially in the Church, where any combination of “hold family prayer, read the scriptures, obey the Prophet, etc.” is supposed to answer every question in Sunday School class.

  8. wonderdog on July 16, 2014 at 5:59 am

    “The Doctrine and Covenants Made Harder” was available at the Salt Press as a free PDF download. Currently the other volumes in the series are only available as dead-tree versions. Are electronic versions planned?

  9. p on July 16, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Here’s a suggestion: The General Authorities should spend less time explaining things to the membership and more time explaining things to the World. Faulconer should take the same advice. The Saints are harrangued half to death. Enough already. Address the people who need it. Put your energy where it does the most good.

  10. SusanS on July 20, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    If these books are pegged to the current Sunday School format, they will be relevant for only 5 more minutes as it appears the whole Sunday School adult curriculum is going to undergo a sea-change to be more like the youth program. At least, this is the rumor circulating.

  11. JMS on July 23, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    To those who are interested, the Church’s new New Testament Institute Manual recently went up online:

    https://www.lds.org/manual/new-testament-student-manual?lang=eng

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