Blog Archives

Touched With Our Infirmities

September 9, 2005 | 49 comments

Do we humans in part choose what forms of worship God will require of us? Read more »

Plain and Precious Truths

August 2, 2005 | 45 comments

Nephi teaches that many plain and precious truths that were once had among the Jews have not made it into the Bible handed down to us via the Gentiles. We tend to talk as though these are truths revealed by Christ, but not passed on as his church fell into apostasy. But could many of these be truths lost before the time of Christ, or revealed before Christ but lost shortly after he left the Earth? Read more »

Sectarianism and sincerity

July 31, 2005 | 11 comments

I visited a Lutheran worship service today, and had one of those odd experiences where what I expect to be familiar is not, and what I don’t expect to be, is. Read more »

A Beautiful Place

July 4, 2005 | 22 comments

This week I spent a few days in Nauvoo, the last place the Latter-day Saints tried to build a temple before being forced to leave the United States. Read more »

Interreligious Dialogue at the LOC, Part II

May 23, 2005 | 13 comments

Here are some reflections on the second session, “Joseph Smith and the Recovery of Past Worlds.” (web archives on I have tried to give just enough summary to support my reflections on how it went as a dialogue. Main speaker Terryl Givens described Joseph Smith as an explorer and re-discoverer of ancient worlds. Read more »

Interreligious Dialogue at the Library of Congress

May 11, 2005 | 16 comments

I went to this past weekend’s conference not so much to hear any of the particular talks as to see what sort of exchange they formed. Interreligious dialogue is one of the most difficult things there is, to do well. Here are some notes on the conference as an occasion for such dialogue, and a stepping stone toward better dialogue in the future. Read more »

Joseph Smith at LOC Links

May 11, 2005 | no comments

The Library of Congress conference on Joseph Smith deserves more discussion. Here are some key links for your reference. Read more »

Converting the Missionaries?

April 26, 2005 | 7 comments

There has been a very interesting and vigorous discussion on Blake’s thread on “raising the bar” for missionary service. I’d like to pick up a theme from early in that thread that I think needs more attention: what sort of spiritual development should we be hoping missionary service will provoke in the missionary? Read more »

The Other Story of Salvation

April 22, 2005 | 11 comments

Church isn’t boring for me very often lately. It’s not because the speakers and teachers have dramatically improved since a few years ago when I was bored more often. Nor is it because I have suffered brain damage that leaves me very easily amused : ) Partly the kids in my primary class keep me hopping, but partly I’m looking for different things now than I used to look for. Read more »

Sectarianism vs. Assimilation

April 14, 2005 | 26 comments

Which should we be more strenuously avoiding, and how? Clark Goble suggests that the Church in “the last decade and a half has focused on building on common ground. But that has also (IMO) had unfortunate doctrinal consequences on the population as well as I believe leading to the decrease in conversions the last 5 – 8 years.” Read more »


March 26, 2005 | 10 comments

Yesterday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, here at Notre Dame, I attended a service of prayer and lamentation called “Tenebrae”, remembering the darkness of the night when Christ suffered in Gethsemane and was arrested, and anticipating his death. It closed with a final candle carried out, leaving us in complete darkness, and the congregation producing a loud noise, like the rolling of the stone to close the grave. Today I had a conversation with some friends, in which we reflected on the meaning of these events, and the difference in the darkness from a Mormon point of... Read more »

Time Well Spent

March 9, 2005 | 27 comments

Periodically we bloggers ask ourselves exactly how valuable a pursuit blogging is. Blogging is great for lots of reasons, but certainly part of its value is in its contributing to some other activities. For a current example, Rosalynde’s post on conscience played a role in the development of a paper she will be presenting this weekend at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology Read more »

Plainly, the One Shepherd

February 27, 2005 | 5 comments

John goes out of his way to be sure we notice how various prophecies of Christ were fulfilled. For example, at his crucifixion the soldiers did not break his legs, “that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken” (John 19:36). John does not comment so explicitly on Christ’s description of himself as the good shepherd. Is this because the reference was already plain enough? Read more »

An Anecdote on Obedience

February 4, 2005 | 22 comments

Can y’all stomach a mission story right now? Read more »

The Church and the Tribe

December 15, 2004 | 16 comments

The church seems to have replaced the tribe as God’s pattern for organizing his people–or has it? When God covenanted with Abraham, the covenant was with Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17:7-8+). This covenant was to be fulfilled in part through Abraham’s righteous leadership as a father Read more »

Humility and Pride in Peter and Saul (not Paul)

November 23, 2004 | 11 comments

When Samuel anointed Saul, he anointed a man of kingly stature, handsome and tall, but who thought of himself as the least important man of Israel. Saul said, “Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? Read more »

The Painful Truth of “The RM”

May 17, 2004 | 28 comments

Seems like pretty much all my friends love to hate that glorious Halestorm movie, The RM (but Eric Snider liked it!). Reminds me of how a lot of people find their next-younger sibling annoying : ) Okay, I grant it was positively painful to watch! as often as not. But I was baffled enough by it (and prideful enough, since it was my idea to drag my friend to see it that day) that I suspended judgment until the end. And as I walked out, I realized it was absolutely brilliant, and the more I thought about it, the... Read more »

The One True (Un-Micro-)Cosmic Church of Jesus Christ

May 12, 2004 | 80 comments

What is it that unites the Church of Jesus Christ? Wherein lies our unity? In a recent discussion of baptism on lds-phil, amiable Protestant Joel Wilhelm asked some rather specific questions about the LDS understanding of baptism, and a very involved discussion ensued. After about a week, Joel remarked, ‘thus far what I have seen here seems to be a mirror image of debates within Protestantism or Catholicism about the sacraments, salvation without baptism or outside the church, etc. I am a bit more confused about “what Mormons think” and will try to sort it out more as I... Read more »

Come Join the Ranks

May 9, 2004 | 24 comments

When I was a missionary one investigator asked me why I (and presumably the other missionaries) was going around trying to teach people. In hard-learned Japanese I said something to the effect of, “Going to heaven alone would be kind of lonely, wouldn’t it?” She later told me if I’d said anything else she would have lost interest right there. I think we in the Church do have something of the greatest value to share with non-members, but I think they have a lot to offer us, too — indeed, they themselves are most precious. How can we best... Read more »

Theology on the Model of Kuhnian Science

May 3, 2004 | 44 comments

Many LDS thinkers are skeptical of “systematic” theology (e.g. Richard Bushman, whose posts we so enjoyed recently). Here’s a stab at a compromise. Thomas Kuhn presented a powerful way of understanding the development of scientific theories a few decades back in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions; here’s a first pass at appropriating his work to think about how our knowledge of God and his ways might develop, in a way that is friendly to continuing revelation and eternal progression. Read more »

The Value of Liberal Education

April 30, 2004 | 14 comments

Between Julie’s post and this week’s challenge of composing the syllabus for the Introduction to Philosophy course I am teaching this fall, I am haunted by the question: Is knowledge good in itself? I have set myself up to be an educator, but many of the criticisms of public education we delivered in response to Julie’s post seem disturbingly relevant to most college education as well; do you agree? And even if knowledge is good in itself, how far should knowledge for its own sake be the goal of a philosophy course required of every student at a given... Read more »

Our Terrible and Tender God

April 26, 2004 | 9 comments

Prepping a guest lecture for seminary a few weeks ago I was struck with the alignment between Adam’s and Eve’s shrinking from the presence of God after they ate the forbidden fruit, and the shrinking of the wicked from the presence of God at judgment (e.g. 2 Nephi 9). Adam and Eve feel naked, and hide. God calls them forth and rebukes them, confirming that they have something to be ashamed of. They are now to be cast out of his presence entirely. Yet then, after pronouncing curses, he makes clothing for them, as if to say, “Since you’re... Read more »