Blog Archives

Silas Marner, Empty Casket

October 24, 2012 | 5 comments
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Defamed and exiled, Silas Marner loses his native faith. Now he’s got nothing to prop up his soul. Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Benediction

October 19, 2012 | 7 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Benediction

In linguistics, a word that is only attested once in a text is called a hapax legomenon. In older texts (like Hebrew and Mayan texts), these hapaxes can be especially hard to decipher because that single attestation may be the word’s only occurrence anywhere. Lacking context, it’s hard to tell what a hapax means. Read more »

American Academy of Religion – CFP in Mormon Studies

October 14, 2012 | 2 comments
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AAR Pacific Northwest Region AAR/SBL/ASOR Regional Meeting Seattle University Seattle, Washington May 3-5, 2013 SPECIAL TOPICS: MORMON STUDIES Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Two Paths in a Wood

October 10, 2012 | 23 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Two Paths in a Wood

Blake Ostler does a lot of admirable critical work in Of God and Gods (Kofford, 2008), but the book’s main constructive contribution grows out of his decision to make our heady claims about the superlative attributes of God throb with a Hebrew heart. Read more »

Silas Marner, Interrupted

October 9, 2012 | 13 comments
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Godfrey is trying to repent but no one will cooperate. Read more »

Silas Marner, Far From Home

October 4, 2012 | 4 comments
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George Eliot sends Silas Marner packing. Early in the novel, Silas is framed for a theft he didn’t commit (probably by his best friend who also has designs on pinching Silas’ fiancé). Silas appeals to God in his defense, but when the church elders cast lots to divine the truth, the lots say he’s guilty. Betrayed by God and men, Silas is left broken-hearted and faithless. Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Biblical Criticism

October 4, 2012 | 12 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Biblical Criticism

Life has intervened and time is short. Read more »

Don’t Read That! Your Testimony Will Be History!

September 12, 2012 | 59 comments
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Julie Smith opens her excellent T&S review of Turner’s Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet (which I’ve not yet read) with clear reservations about recommending this book to the “average” church member. Read more »

Curious about Belief

July 24, 2012 | 30 comments
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Is the existence of God, for you, an obvious and uncontroversial feature of any common sense way of seeing the world? Has it always been so profoundly and straightforwardly given that you could not deny it? If so, then in what sense would we be right to say that such a belief is either praiseworthy or blameworthy? Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Original Sin

July 6, 2012 | 18 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Original Sin

Chapter 4 of Exploring Mormon Thought (Vol. 2) surveys and critiques traditional approaches to the doctrine of original sin. Chapter 5 will give us Ostler’s own approach to the problem. I haven’t read chapter 5 yet (Joe will address this chapter soon), but chapter 4 has got me thinking about original sin. Read more »

A Book of Silence

July 3, 2012 | 4 comments
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A Book of Silence

I want to recommend Sara Maitland’s A Book of Silence. I don’t know what God wants with you. But, with time, I feel more confident about what he wants from me. For a long time, I thought his silence was a rebuff. Now, I’m more convinced it’s an invitation to do likewise. The silence seems like something he wants to share. Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Prayer

June 14, 2012 | 34 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Prayer

In his deservedly famous essay “Self Reliance,” Emerson suggests that just as our “creeds are a disease of the intellect” so our “prayers are a disease of the will.” Read more »

Mormon U

June 12, 2012 | 23 comments
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Let’s say you’re attending a hypothetical graduate program in Mormon Studies at a hypothetical Mormon U. What kind of classes do you want to take? History? Theology? Literature? Sociology? Etc? Read more »

Is Creationism Satanic?

June 5, 2012 | 54 comments
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Steven Peck, in his moving and mischievous little poem “My Turn on Earth,” more than idly suggests that Creationism is Satanic. Only evolution, in all its messy contingency, is compatible with the gospel and the truth of agency. I laughed out loud and clapped my hands when I read it. Read more »

Book Signing – June 9, 2012

June 1, 2012 | 3 comments
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From 12:30-2:30pm on Saturday, June 9, Joseph Spencer and I will be signing copies of our books An Other Testament, Reading Nephi Reading Isaiah, An Experiment on the Word, and Rube Goldberg Machines:Essays in Mormon Theology at Pioneer Book in Orem, Utah. Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Darwin

May 9, 2012 | 21 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Darwin

We’ve come to the last chapter of Blake Ostler’s first volume of Exploring Mormon Thought. After five months of reading and writing about this first book, I’m even more convinced than when we began that Blake’s work is and will continue to be the indisputable starting point for our generation’s work in Mormon philosophical theology. Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Sex

April 20, 2012 | no comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Sex

I don’t know much about God (which is probably pretty obvious), but I have thought a lot about sex. Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Immediacy

April 6, 2012 | 33 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Immediacy

The trouble is time. When the Buddha first turned the wheel of the dharma with his inaugural discourse at Varanasi, he articulated the first pressing reality (i.e., the first “noble truth”) of life as the truth that “Life is suffering.” He could just have easily said, “Life is time.” Gotama claimed this “stainless insight” into the order of experience on the basis of an intensive, first-person phenomenological investigation of life as it is lived. 20th century phenomenology is in fundamental agreement: the transcendental horizon of experience is time. Time is troubling. This being troubled is the stuff of life and... Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: The Homogeneous?

March 21, 2012 | 61 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: The Homogeneous?

In chapter 8 of The Attributes of God, Ostler continues grappling with the question of human agency in relation to God’s foreknowledge. The professional literature generated by this kind of theological question is wide and deep and the field is no particular speciality of mine. On these kinds of questions, Ostler is much better read than I am. The basic problem is this: “If there is anything in circumstances which precludes a person from exercising a power, then the power cannot be exercised under those circumstances” (249). Blake argues that God’s strong foreknowledge is just the kind... Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: The Multitude

February 29, 2012 | 6 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: The Multitude

Is there a set of all sets? This is one way of asking that most basic of all metaphysical questions: is the world “one” or “many”? For traditional Christian thinking, the difference between the world being one or many was simply the difference between Christianity and paganism. Joseph Smith’s assertion that we are uncreated and coeternal with God hits the metaphysical reset button and forces us to look at this question again. Read more »

The Bootless

February 24, 2012 | 9 comments
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Most of what is given is never received. Most of what is possible goes unrealized. And many feet never find a shoe. True, life presses on (except when it doesn’t). But when it moves, it moves in fits and false starts and, just like Darwin said, most of its spendthrift variations end up serving no end in particular. Call this surplus the bootless. Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: Second Principles

February 15, 2012 | 39 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: Second Principles

In House of Prayer No. 2, Mark Richard relates the hip surgery he had in the sixties as a boy. He didn’t understand much about what was happening. His parents checked him into the hospital and then he was pretty much on his own. Read more »

On Reading Theology

February 11, 2012 | 19 comments
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On Reading Theology

The children of Israel are stiff-necked and hard-hearted. God sends serpents to bite them. Then he says the only way to be healed is to look at a serpent held up on a pole. This is kind of like reading theology. Read more »

Exploring Mormon Thought: ± God

February 1, 2012 | 12 comments
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Exploring Mormon Thought: ± God

What’s my margin of error? Adam ± .33? Read more »