Blog Archives

Reflections on the Mormon Trail

July 3, 2009 | 2 comments
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On a recent corner-to-corner drive across the state of Wyoming, I parallelled the Mormon Trail for about 200 miles: from where the trail intersects I-25 (about 80 miles north of Cheyenne), through Casper (site of the first Mormon Ferry), along Wyoming 220 past Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate, and Martin’s Cove, then up US 287 past Split Rock to the Sixth Crossing of the Sweetwater River. I’ve never been much for pioneer tales, but I enjoyed taking in the landscape that was the common experience of the first twenty thousand Mormons who made the overland trek to Utah. Read more »

Upbeat Reflections on BYU

June 17, 2009 | 119 comments
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I recently spent a day on the BYU campus as part of an informal reunion with several old dorm-floor roommates and family members. It was a nice visit, and made me recognize something that often gets forgotten in online discussions about BYU: It is a great place for LDS kids to go to college. Read more »

Mormonism, Fundamentalism, and Absolute Truth

June 7, 2009 | 28 comments
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I recently read Terry Eagleton’s After Theory (Basic Books, 2003), in which Eagleton manages (in a very entertaining way) to be critical of just about everything, including fundamentalism and “Utah” (a term he seems to be using as a proxy for Mormonism). He makes an interesting argument about fundamentalism, suggesting that it is rooted in how certain people (“fundamentalists”) read texts. His references to Utah suggest he sees Mormonism as practicing a fundamentalist approach to truth. I think I disagree with both points. Some fundamentalist movements might be based on how certain texts are read, but not all, and... Read more »

A New Mormon Gateway

May 29, 2009 | 8 comments
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A website with answers. That’s what Time Magazine calls the new religion website Patheos.com in “What Do Religions Believe? A Website with Answers.” The Time article describes the new site as one “that sets out to explain the differences among religions as well as illuminate the areas of common ground.” Just today the site unveiled its Mormon Gateway section, a menu of resources designed to complement the more detailed information presented in the Library section of the site. Read more »

Theology in the Wake of Evolution

May 22, 2009 | 54 comments
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It’s not easy being a theologian in the 21st century. One of the main reasons is that science provides credible, non-theistic explanations for many of those “where did we come from?” questions that religion once had all to itself. Evolution seems to pose a particular challenge. John Haught, a professor of theology at Georgetown, tries to tackle the problem head-on in his book God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution (Westview, 2000). Read more »

History and Identity

May 9, 2009 | 3 comments
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I recently read a short essay by Eric Hobsbawm, “Identity History Is Not Enough.” I came across it in his book On History, a collection of essays, but fortunately for you it is available online at the above link (except for the last page, for some reason). Mormonism is not mentioned, but the discussion seems to bear directly on the writing and reading of Mormon history. Read more »

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

April 29, 2009 | 34 comments
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When I first heard about Twitter, I thought it was one of those truly dumb ideas that couldn’t possibly catch on. Now it is an infotsunami, sweeping over the world in a growing horde of 140-character snippets . So do you join the wave or run for high ground? Read more »

Times & Seasons Welcomes Bruce Webster

April 27, 2009 | 10 comments
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Even as our current guest blogger continues to post, Times & Seasons is happy to welcome Bruce Webster as our next guest blogger. Read more »

The Future of Religious Liberty

April 24, 2009 | 84 comments
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Does it have a future? Some people view religious liberty as a civil and constitutional right; increasingly, others see it as a problem to be dealt with. The Mirror of Justice post “Securing Religious Liberty in an Age of Growing Intolerance” is a short reflection on what this means for the future of religious liberty. Read more »

I’ve Seen All Good People

April 20, 2009 | 13 comments
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We know there are good times and bad times, but are there good people and bad people? Common sense says yes, as does virtue ethics, a branch of philosophical ethics that attempts to identify virtues worth having and tell good people how to get them. Alas, the story is not quite so simple. Read more »

The Mormon Sort

April 1, 2009 | 23 comments
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After seeing a reference or two, I noticed a copy of The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart at the library and gave it a quick read. The thesis is simple: increased income and mobility over the last five decades has enabled Americans to self-sort geographically into communities surrounded by people they are most comfortable with, namely people like themselves. Read more »

One Last Book Before I Go

March 24, 2009 | 52 comments
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So your mission call finally arrived (see here, here, or here) and you suddenly realize that it starts in 44 days but you don’t know that much about Mormonism or what it is you are supposed to teach for two long years. You are suddenly serious about “missionary prep.” What book should you read? Read more »

Confronting Modernity

March 18, 2009 | 25 comments
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I recently finished up Hans Kung’s Great Christian Thinkers, which reviews the work of seven theologians (Paul, Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Schleiermacher, and Barth). From an LDS perspective, the most interesting of the bunch is Friedrich Schleiermacher, who Kung terms “the paradigmatic theologian of modernity.” The question he presents to LDS readers is how our approach to religion and doctrine deals with modernity. Is our approach premodern, modern, or postmodern (which in theology generally means some version of neo-orthodoxy)? Read more »

Forgetting, and History

March 12, 2009 | 11 comments
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From Ernest Renan, a French 19th-century philosopher: Forgetting, and I would say even historical error, is an essential element in the creation of a nation, and that is why the progress of historical studies is often a danger for the nation itself. Read more »

Being Orthodox in the Modern World

March 9, 2009 | 9 comments
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A couple of years ago, Noah Feldman published “Orthodox Paradox,” an essay in which he recounted some of the tensions of being an Orthodox Jew in the modern world (I ran across it reading The Best American Spiritual Writing 2008). Increasingly, being an orthodox anything in the modern world raises some of the same tensions. Read more »

Theology and Conversation

February 24, 2009 | 11 comments
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It’s hard for Mormons to find an accessible doorway into theology. David F. Ford’s short book Theology: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 1999) is the first I’ve found to really give me some traction with this elusive subject. Read more »

Politics versus Sectarianism

February 14, 2009 | 20 comments
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I recently finished The Theocons: Secular America Under Seige and put up a short post on it elsewhere. But as I continue to mull it over I have a different idea to float than I discussed in the other post, namely that the rejection of Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate by religious conservatives in the Republican Party marks a triumph of sectarianism over politics that will undermine (or already has) the political influence of the theocons, to whatever extent you grant they have had influence. Read more »

Too Much Truth?

February 9, 2009 | 22 comments
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Blogger and journalist Rod Dreher posted an op-ed piece at USA Today, “How much ‘truth’ is too much?” It reviews in passing the author’s personal journey from faithful Catholic journalist reporting on the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church to Orthodox Christian who prefers to avoid repeating that experience a second time in his new church. Read more »

Why Are the Faithful Fleeing?

February 6, 2009 | 85 comments
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At the blog Text Messages, an interview with Julia Duin, who is the religion editor at the Washington Times and author of the book Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What To Do About It. Here are a couple of highlights from the interview. Read more »

The Mormon Index

January 30, 2009 | 13 comments
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A comprehensive bibliography? A portfolio of LDS-owned companies? No, it’s a measure of food-storage activity by preparedness-minded Mormons, as revealed in a feature at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “The Mormon Index is a rising sign of troubled economy.” Read more »

12 Questions for the LDS Newsroom, Part Two

November 1, 2008 | 11 comments
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This is Part Two of responses provided by representatives of the LDS Newsroom to a set of questions submitted by T&S permabloggers. See Part One for the first six questions and responses. Read more »

12 Questions for the LDS Newsroom, Part One

October 30, 2008 | 20 comments
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Representatives from LDS Public Affairs who manage and direct the Newsroom site at LDS.org agreed to respond to a dozen questions submitted by the T&S permabloggers. We are pleased to post the first six questions and answers below, with the second set of six to follow shortly. We appreciate the time and effort that went into preparing these detailed responses. They should help make the Newsroom an even more useful resource for LDS readers. Read more »

Welcome to Guest Blogger Kent Larsen

August 17, 2008 | 55 comments
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Times and Seasons is thrilled to have Kent Larsen as our latest guest. Kent has been very busy in book publishing in New York City for twenty years and has followed LDS publishing closely for ten years. He has also been posting on arts and media for over three years at A Motley Vision, so Kent is no newcomer to LDS weblogs. See this AMV post for more information about Kent’s many interests. Welcome, Kent. Read more »

Pioneers and Indians in Utah Valley

August 11, 2008 | 9 comments
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Just last week I heard a familiar comment at church: Brigham Young’s policy was to feed the Indians rather than fight them. The actual record of relations between Pioneers and Indians was a bit more complicated, especially in Utah Valley, the watery jewel of early Utah. Read more »