Blog Archives

Sin: You’re Doing it Wrong

April 2, 2015 | 12 comments
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Sin: You’re Doing it Wrong

Religion isn’t about sin. Thinking that religion is about sinning (or not sinning) is like thinking basketball is about fouls. You should stop fouling but you can’t make the game be about fouls. That’s an impossible way to play basketball. And, more, it’s an impossible way to be religious. Read more »

For Zion – Part 10

March 24, 2015 | 2 comments
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For Zion – Part 10

From the pen of George Handley: There are those who are infected by nostalgia and yearn for a nineteenth-century Mormonism because, I suppose, they imagine that the prophets then seemed more willing to condemn capitalism or to preach environmental stewardship and that Mormons were more communitarian, less materialistic, and more obligated under the law of consecration to work to eliminate poverty. Read more »

For Zion – Part 9

March 18, 2015 | no comments
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For Zion – Part 9

From the pen of Jim Faulconer: Joseph M. Spencer’s most recent book (unless he has done another in the few weeks since this one was published) is For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope (Kofford Books, 2015; 157 pages, with index). I go back a long way with Joe, back to when he was still a recently-returned Mormon missionary and still an undergraduate at Brigham Young University. Read more »

Grace Is Not God’s Backup Plan

March 6, 2015 | 31 comments
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Grace Is Not God’s Backup Plan

I’ve published a new little book, Grace Is Not God’s Backup Plan: An Urgent Paraphrase of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. It’s an experiment both in reading Paul and in self-publishing. My family and I were reading N. T. Wright’s “Kingdom Translation” of Romans and the kids were having a blast. Paul’s a great read in contemporary English. They loved, especially, Paul’s rhetorical questions (“Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Certainly not!”) and I loved, especially, the force of the letter when read out loud. Read more »

A Mormon Maximalism

March 5, 2015 | 14 comments
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A Mormon Maximalism

I’ve been practicing a kind of Mormon maximalism for a long time now. This impulse toward maximalism is itself religious in spirit. More, the impulse is aesthetic. It’s driven by a kind of wild hunger for the feel (literally, the aesthesis) of words, facts, theories, things, and people. I’m roaming the earth, eating everything in sight. Read more »

A Mormon Minimalism

March 4, 2015 | 23 comments
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A Mormon Minimalism

I’ve been practicing a kind of theological minimalism for a long time now. This impulse toward minimalism is itself religious. And it’s aesthetic. It doesn’t have to do with whether particular things are true or false (though, rest assured, such judgments must also be made), it has to do with the feel (literally, the aesthesis) of Mormonism as it’s lived. Read more »

For Zion – Part 6

March 3, 2015 | 10 comments
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For Zion – Part 6

One more time, from the pen of Ben Peters: One of the most tempting yet misplaced complaints lodged against Joseph Spencer’s For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope might be that, for all its talk about Zion, For Zion does nothing to suggest actionable proposals or bullet points for how to build Zion. Read more »

Seafloor Spreading, or Why I’m Mormon

March 1, 2015 | 45 comments
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Seafloor Spreading, or Why I’m Mormon

Let’s acknowledge that beginnings are important. This is one reason why we care so much about history. So let’s go back to beginning. Let’s go back to the origin, to the source, to what the Greeks called the arche. But how? Where is the origin? Read more »

For Zion – Part 5

February 27, 2015 | 2 comments
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For Zion – Part 5

From the pen of Ben Peters (see previous post): Chapter five in Joseph Spencer’s For Zion turns to what he calls “the space of hope.” Here his discussion focuses on the space of “what remains to be seen” and to a similar effect as chapter four on the time of hope. Read more »

For Zion – Part 4

February 25, 2015 | 2 comments
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For Zion – Part 4

From the pen of Ben Peters: I’m thrilled and humbled to take part in this roundtable. By way of introduction, I’m Ben Peters, a husband, a father of four, a media historian and information technology theorist (more on my work here), a lifelong member, a long-time T&S reader, and first-time poster. My family has lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma since 2011, following an education trek stretching from Provo and Stanford to New York and Jerusalem. A disciplinary mutt, I have no real business commenting on the work of professional philosophers, especially chapters likely to trip up readers more careful than I... Read more »

For Zion – Part 2

February 13, 2015 | 12 comments
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For Zion – Part 2

The first chapter of For Zion lays the groundwork for Spencer’s reading of Paul’s theology of hope. It focuses especially on Paul’s letter to the Romans. Understanding the details of this “theology of hope” is crucial to understanding Spencer’s full account of what’s at stake in the law of consecration. Read more »

For Zion – Part 1

February 12, 2015 | 15 comments
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For Zion – Part 1

Whatever happened to Zion?  Whatever happened to the law of consecration? Aren’t these things from a long time ago? Or for some time way in the future? No. They are only ever for now. Saying that we’re not ready for Zion is like telling a guy lost in the desert he’s not ready for water. Read more »

Messianicity & Historicity

January 26, 2015 | 101 comments
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The Book of Mormon is a messianic text. As messianic, it means to interrupt and overwrite our normal experience of time. When this overwriting occurs at the level of the individual, it’s called repentance. When this overwriting occurs collectively, it’s called gathering. Both kinds of overwriting implicate the other. Read more »

2014 Mormon Book of the Year

January 7, 2015 | 7 comments
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2014 Mormon Book of the Year

With all the power vested in me (by myself), I hereby declare Joseph Spencer’s book, For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope, the 2014 Mormon Book of the Year. Read more »

Q&A with Myself

November 4, 2014 | 42 comments
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Q. Are you an apologist or neo-apologist? A. No, I’m just a philosopher. Others have said I’m an apologist, but I’ve never been interested in apologetics. Mormonism can stand on its own two feet and it doesn’t need me to defend it. Read more »

Mormon Weakness

October 30, 2014 | 20 comments
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My position is a weak one. But the question is: why? Read more »

Letter to a CES Student

October 28, 2014 | 106 comments
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It’s important to keep our tough questions about Mormonism in perspective. And, especially, we need to keep the genuinely urgent questions front and center. The big problems are straightforward. We’re dying here. You and I. We’re getting sick, we’re getting old, and we’re dying. Our lives are small and our time is short. Our days are filled with suffering of all kinds: distress, worry, boredom, frustration, and loss. Read more »

Mormonism Isn’t About Mormonism

October 22, 2014 | 6 comments
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It’s a mistake to think that Mormonism is about Mormonism. Read more »

The Body of Christ

October 16, 2014 | 39 comments
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“Is the church true?” This question is, I think, poorly posed. It seems ill-suited to the kind of existential burn that might compel me to ask it. It seems like a bad fit for what I’m after in a white-knuckled prayer. Read more »

The Crucible of Doubt – A Review

October 7, 2014 | 6 comments
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Fiona and Terryl Givens’ The Crucible of Doubt is a nearly perfect book. I hope that a million Mormons read it. Crucible manages to do what all great religious writing must: it sacrifices the impulse to prove its religion and, instead, takes up the yoke of living it. Read more »

James Faulconer – Making Things Harder

July 15, 2014 | 11 comments
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James Faulconer – Making Things Harder

It 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 Harder, The Doctrine and Covenants Made Harder, The 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. Read more »

Upcoming Book Events – July 2

June 30, 2014 | 2 comments
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Books

If you’re around and interested, Zion’s Books (274 W. Center Street, Provo) will be hosting a roundtable discussion with myself, David Bokovoy, and Joseph Spencer at 6pm on Wednesday, July 2. Janiece Johnson will moderate the discussion.  Our topic: “Is Scripture Relevant?” Read more »

The Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies

June 26, 2014 | 8 comments
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The Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies

What I tend to lack in quality, I hope to make up for with quantity. And what I lack in training and credentials, I hope to gather and borrow. In many ways, these maxims have guided the time I’ve invested in a project called the Mormon Theology Seminar. Read more »

A Brief Note on History, Angels, and Such

May 23, 2014 | 24 comments
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Let’s say that the historicity of the Book of Mormon could be demonstrated irrefutably. (Say that Nephi returned in a cloud of glory, held a press conference, and pointed us to incontrovertible archeological proof.) Would I tune in to watch? Yes. Would this convince me to join or stay in the church? Read more »