Blog Archives

East Coast Bias

January 17, 2004 | 7 comments
By
East Coast Bias

College sports fans debate endlessly about a supposed East Coast bias among sports writers and polls. Most recently, this issue was raised in connection with the omission of the University of Southern California from the so-called “national championship” football game. As a Midwesterner, I feel obliged to expose the East Coast bias of Times & Seasons. Read more »

Does God Need Us?

January 17, 2004 | 8 comments
By

In some circles, just asking this question requires some serious chutzpah. The “man is nothing” crowd would find the mere suggestion that God needs us offensive. Nevertheless, we have several indications in Mormon doctrine that God needs His children. Perhaps most important is Moses 1:39: “this is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” The notion of mutual interdependence is pervasive in the Gospel. For example, we believe that individuals (families) are bound together in the eternities, and that “he dead are not perfect without us, neither are we... Read more »

Confused About Grace and Works

January 16, 2004 | 22 comments
By

I recently had a conversation with a self-described Christian, who was eager to teach me about the doctrine of grace. When I quoted 2 Nephi 25:23 (“We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”), my companion scoffed. He said this was similar to saying, “We fly from India to the United States on an airplane, after all we can do.” In other words, Jesus does so much and we do so little that our part is not worth mentioning. Read more »

Situating Zion

January 11, 2004 | 7 comments
By

We had some wonderful discussion about Zion in the lengthy comments on Material Prosperity, and I would like to revisit the topic here. My visit to India will end this week, and I have been confronted again and again with thoughts about helping the poor. Today, we visited a government heritage park; as we walked along a path, we came upon a family — two parents and a small child — sitting atop a pile of used bricks. Our guide explained that they were employed by the park to turn the bricks into dust for use in the restoration... Read more »

Encounter on the Plane to India

January 2, 2004 | 6 comments
By

I am happy to report that my trip to India went smoothly. Two long plane rides, but my luggage and my hosts were both waiting on the other end, much to my relief. Moreover, I was pleased to find that my room (a dorm room at the Management Development Institute just outside of Delhi) has a computer with internet access. Thus, this post. Read more »

Consecration: A Practical Suggestion

December 30, 2003 | 2 comments
By

One of my pet peeves is the comment, often heard in Sunday School, that “the Lord has not asked us to live the law of consecration.” Those who have been to the temple should know better. The more pressing question for me is how to implement this relatively simple law. This seems to be the current topic of conversation under the Material Prosperity thread below, which, like the Eveready Bunny, just keeps on going. In this post, I want to propose a practical way of thinking about consecration. Read more »

Just Curious …

December 30, 2003 | 20 comments
By

If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you must have noticed the ever-changing header in the sidebar. The one that says, “Quite possibly the most ______, yet _______, onymous Mormon group blog in history.” When I first started blogging here — on the second day of the life of Times & Seasons — this thing (what do we call it?) was already in place. I find it oddly entertaining, and sometimes I just reload my browser again and again to see what comes up. I tend to like the simple ones. Here is my favorite from today:... Read more »

Natural Disasters

December 30, 2003 | 12 comments
By

John P. Pratt’s recent column at Meridian sent me reeling. (Thanks to Brent for the pointer.) While Pratt tries not to overstate his thesis, the gist of the column is that God (sometimes?) punishes local populations for their wickedness by inflicting natural disasters. The Old Testament is replete with such occurrences, but as regular patrons of this blog know, my understanding is that many (perhaps most) of these stories are metaphorical. Even if you disagree with me about that, I hope that we can agree that Pratt’s analysis is sadly deficient. Read more »

Mormon Doctrine: The Legacy

December 29, 2003 | 21 comments
By

A few years ago, another law professor asked me what I thought of Richard Posner’s legacy with respect to law and economics. For those of you who do not inhabit this world, Posner is generally credited with popularizing the economic analysis of law, partly through his articles, but largely through the influence of his book, Economic Analysis of Law, now in its sixth edition. At first blush, discussion of his legacy might seem silly. Surely, the great Richard Posner had a salutary influence on the so-called Law & Economics Movement. But we wondered whether Posner’s proclivity for overreaching and... Read more »

“Goodly Parents”

December 29, 2003 | 15 comments
By

Jim reminds us that next week begins a change in the Gospel Doctrine curriculum. This year’s course of study is, without a doubt, my favorite book in the world, The Book of Mormon. I hope to see a vigorous discussion of Jim’s provocative study questions, but I am going to anticipate him by a week or two with a post about the first verse of the Book of Mormon: “I, NEPHI, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father.” In my humble opinion, this verse does not mean what... Read more »

God and Football

December 29, 2003 | 6 comments
By

Living in Wisconsin, I have observed that the line between religion and football is thin. During my formative years, I was the lone Minnesota Vikings fan in a small Wisconsin town. Fortunately for me, the Vikings were quite good during the 1970s … although never quite good enough to win the Super Bowl. More importantly, the Green Bay Packers stunk during those years. After I joined the Church in the early 1980s, I stopped paying attention to professional football because I wanted to keep the Sabbath Day holy, and professional football does not have much to recommend it in... Read more »

Evolution

December 24, 2003 | 23 comments
By

As is evident from my participation on this blog, I am not a scientist, but I enjoy reading good, non-technical, science writers. One I really like is Carl Zimmer, who blogs at The Loom. He writes a lot about evolution and genetics. Ady Hahn (our guest blogger who is currently on Christmas break) promised to talk about evolution later, but after reading the latest entry at The Loom, I feel the desire to press the issue. Read more »

The Foreknowledge of God

December 24, 2003 | 3 comments
By

I just fulfilled a longstanding promise to myself: I finally read the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. I have had many false starts on this project over the years. Asimov was not a great stylist, though he had many interesting ideas. The Foundation books are animated by one such idea: psychohistory. For those who haven’t read the books, I would describe psychohistory as the use of history, psychology, sociology, and mathematics to examine the behavior of large groups of people. While individual behavior cannot be predicted, psychohistory can (more or less) accurately predict the fate of millions. Is this... Read more »

Lord of the Rings

December 20, 2003 | 10 comments
By

I saw the third installment tonight. The triology is an awesome accomplishment, but I still liked the books better than the movie. As you may know already, the movie has generated a plethora of Christian reviews (see here for links), mostly positive. Does this strike anyone else as odd? Read more »

Baptisms for the Dead

December 20, 2003 | 9 comments
By

This morning I had the privilege of participating in a youth temple trip to Chicago. My job was to act as a witness in baptisms for the dead. While many Mormons revere this ordinance, people outside the Church often take offense. In fact, a story in tomorrow’s New York Times describes how the Church is under fire again for baptizing Jews. Read more »

STQ: Material Prosperity

December 17, 2003 | 91 comments
By

My Seminary class is just finishing the book of Deuteronomy and moving into Joshua. This is an important moment in the history of Israel, as the Children of Israel are finally allowed to enter the Promised Land. Of course, Moses is deprived of the right to accompany them, and before he leaves he offers a blessing. Read more »

Families: Isn’t It About Time?

December 17, 2003 | 6 comments
By

Many of you will recognize the title of this post as the tag line for the Church’s latest ad campaign. A previous campaign proclaimed, “Time? I’ve got as much as anybody!” We in the Church are obsessed with time. In a post below, Ady discusses the challenges of being an LDS woman and a scientist. Like all of us, Ady feels the pull of various responsibilities, and the constraints imposed by the scarce resource, time. In my view, time management is one of the most important tasks we face in this life. Read more »

Gay Marriage Humor

December 16, 2003 | 2 comments
By

This was sent to me by my friend Dan Burk, who is currently a visiting professor at Berkeley: The consecration of Gene Robison as bishop of the New Hampshire Diocese of the Episcopal Church is an affront to Christians everywhere. I am just thankful that the church’s founder, Henry VIII, and his wife Catherine of Aragon, and his wife Anne Boleyn, and his wife Jane Seymour, and his wife Anne of Cleves, and his wife Katherine Howard, and his wife Catherine Parr are no longer here to suffer through this assault on traditional Christian marriage. — Paul Emmons, Westchester... Read more »

Christian Taxation

December 16, 2003 | 35 comments
By

We have been interviewing candidates for a position as tax professor, but here is a question that I haven’t dared to ask any of them: So, how do you feel about reforming the tax code to accord with moral principles of Judeo-Christian ethics? If you haven’t heard, this is the premise of Professor Susan Pace Hamill’s still-controversial proposal, published last year in the Alabama Law Review. Read more »

Ben Olson

December 14, 2003 | 2 comments
By

If you do not know the name Ben Olson, you are not a BYU football fan. A few years back, he was the No. 1 high school football prospect in the land, and he chose to attend BYU. After one year as a “redshirt” player (meaning that he did not use one of his years of college eligibility), Ben decided to go on a mission, and he was called to Canada. ESPN recently published a story about his mission. This is from the author of the story: “Ben said something during our interview that stuck with me,” Wojciechowski said... Read more »

Saddam

December 14, 2003 | 20 comments
By

Like almost everyone, I am thrilled that Saddam is finally in custody. He is a bad man, and the world is a better place when he is not in power. As I see the reactions of the Iraqui people, I feel a cautious joy for them. Cautious because they have a long road yet to travel. Another part of me wonder whether this is a prelude to the opening of Iraq and perhaps other countries in the region to missionary work. After watching the Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain fall less than a decade after completing my mission in... Read more »

“Chances for learning”

December 13, 2003 | 20 comments
By

Here is a scripture that concerns me: And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning, yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches. Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God. And thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that... Read more »

Welcome Guest Blogger Ady Hahn!

December 12, 2003 | no comments
By

----- Read more »

STQ: Translation

December 11, 2003 | 12 comments
By

Ever since Nate and Greg started features, I have had my eye out for something that I could contribute. Tonight, as I was preparing my Seminary lesson for tomorrow, I got some inspiration : how about a Seminary Thought Question? OK, let’s try this out. If you like it, we’ll do more. If you don’t like it, we’ll just pretend this never happened. The idea is for me to pose a gnarly question from my Seminary preparation, a question with no obvious right answer, and then allow for discussion. Here goes STQ #1 … Read more »