Blog Archives

Restoring the Paths to Dwell In – Part II

July 25, 2013 | 15 comments
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Restoring the Paths to Dwell In – Part II

The first time I remember, it happened – of course – because I was searching for things on the internet. If I remember correctly, it even happened because I was researching for a Sunday School lesson. I read about Gallatin Missouri Read more »

Restoring the Paths to Dwell In – Part I

July 24, 2013 | 13 comments
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Restoring the Paths to Dwell In – Part I

I’d never seen anything like it. It wasn’t just Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? (which was opened on the living room coffee table with a pen resting on top). There was a pile of anti-Mormon literature in various stages of being read sitting around the room. Read more »

Advice on Teaching – Preparation

June 15, 2013 | 5 comments
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Advice on Teaching – Preparation

(This is the second post in a series. The first post is here.) Read more »

Advice on Teaching – Preliminaries

June 6, 2013 | 15 comments
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Advice on Teaching – Preliminaries

I’ve recently been involved in teacher training in my ward and have prepared some materials that I’m going to share across a few posts. Read more »

Damnable Terminology

June 1, 2013 | 7 comments
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I now genuinely regret my use of the term ‘violence’ in my recent post. My intention was to be completely candid and point out a phenomenon of our collective experience. As I often tell my students, however, the thoughts, intentions and arguments that might genuinely be running through our heads when we compose something does not change the meaning of the end product. Read more »

Damnable Defaults

May 26, 2013 | 71 comments
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A great deal of the discussion on women in the priesthood that I see happening right now concerns our efforts to control and propagate various narratives. Personally, I find our current default narratives even more upsetting than our current practices. Read more »

Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World – Online!

May 2, 2013 | no comments
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Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World – Online!

The 2013 Church History Symposium now has most of the videos from the conference online (you can see the lineup for the conference here). I think the conference, it’s organization and execution, was a significant step forward for church-sponsored scholarship (or more precisely, was a continuation of the significant steps the church has been taking recently) – that is, the event itself is worth celebrating. But there were also some really interesting addresses. And now, it’s all online, gratuitement! Click here. Read more »

Elegy

February 8, 2013 | 11 comments
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Elegy

My dear friend, Read more »

Church History Conference

January 27, 2013 | 13 comments
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Church History Conference

There is a Church History Conference at BYU March 7-8 entitled “Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith and the Ancient World” (see details below). I find two things interesting about this conference: 1. The structure of the conference itself. The Church History Department and the BYU Department of Religion are co-sponsoring the conference, and while most of the lineup consists of BYU Religion professors there is also a significant lineup of non-BYU scholars, including Richard Bushman, Matt Bowman, and Kevin Barney. This strikes me as something different than I might have expected. 2. The content of the conference. To date much of... Read more »

Dia de los Muertos: We Live in their Presence

November 3, 2012 | one comment
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Dia de los Muertos: We Live in their Presence

I won’t lie, I was frightened going to the Democratic Republic of the Congo Read more »

The Temple and The Tempest

July 21, 2012 | no comments
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The Temple and The Tempest

Shakespeare’s been critical for me at critical junctures in my life. In Mormonism where The Bard is revered, I think this is common. In Junior High Hamlet was the gift of language that bootstrapped the monkey into a meaningful world. Celebrating the Ides of March together with the woman I desperately wanted to marry reversed the obvious set-up for a tragedy. It’s a memorial my family continues to celebrate each year with a brief family Shakespearapalooza. This last week has been filled with Shakespeare, culminating last night with a dream date my wife took me on to the Royal... Read more »

Happy Mother’s Day

May 13, 2012 | 12 comments
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Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a bit like Christmas time in terms of the mass solicitations sent out from various NGOs. To be honest, these are perhaps the only mass emails that I don’t mind. And I frankly agree with their general point: what better way to wish your own mother a Happy Mother’s Day than by contributing to another mother in her name? Read more »

Mormon Intellectuals Part III: My Postscript

February 27, 2012 | 12 comments
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(See here for Jim’s original post, here for part I, and here for part II)  In my original response to Jim, I wrote the following: While I’ve tried to be fair and accurate, it may be that I’m misreading , that I’m mistaken in my analysis of their position. Even if that turns out to be the case, I believe that explicitly laying out this Toscano-Faulconer spectrum is a very useful tool, one that helps us all to orient ourselves to the various possibilities that exist for intellectuals, and allows me to argue in favor of a... Read more »

Mormon Intellectuals Part II: Jim’s Comments

February 26, 2012 | one comment
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I had previously intended to post some of Jim’s comments from an email. Instead, I’m re-posting his response to Part I here in order to further highlight what he has to say. I’ll follow this up with one more post tomorrow. Jim’s comments are as follows: I cannot tell you how touched and flattered I am by your piece, both by the kind things you say in the beginning and by the very fact that you’ve thought something I wrote worthy of such a careful, thoughtful response. My response to your essay is that I disagree with almost nothing. I think... Read more »

Mormon Intellectuals: A Response to Jim Faulconer

February 25, 2012 | 39 comments
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I disagree with some important parts of Jim’s recent piece on intellectuals in the Church (please read what he said first). By the end, I hope it’s clear that it is (in part) for “Faulconerian” reasons that I disagree with him. To begin, I’m going to indulge in a bit of biographical narcissism in order to make a point about the nature of my disagreement. The semester recently began, and as I do at the beginning of nearly every course, I told the students a story about Jim Faulconer, or rather about my undergraduate self in one of Jim’s... Read more »

Reassessing the theological side of the Compromise

February 18, 2012 | 21 comments
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Reassessing the theological side of the Compromise

Terryl Givens’ recently wrote about the American compromise with Mormonism, whereby Mormons agreed not to be so radical as to entirely alienate themselves from American society (i.e., ditch polygamy and our lovely Deseret) in exchange for the U.S. ceasing its explicit campaign to eradicate us. He describes the unwritten contours of that compromise as consisting in a willingness to accept and even promote the various cultural achievements of Mormonism (e.g., our choir, football, family focus), while agreeing to shelve any serious engagement with our theology. One can hear the variation on a popular General Conference theme when he writes: “In opting... Read more »

Sunday School Questions

February 4, 2012 | 16 comments
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Sunday School Questions

We recently had a teacher training workshop in our ward. There was a good turn out with lots of very positive contributions and an overall great discussion. For my own part I talked about the use of questions as a teacher. I’m sharing what I prepared since it may be useful for some of you, but even moreso because I’m interested in your feedback. Do you take issue with any of my points about the use of questions? Are there other reasons or ways we ought to use questions in a Sunday (or in our case, Friday) School setting?... Read more »

Book Review: Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism

January 7, 2012 | 2 comments
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Book Review: Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism

“If Pratt wanted to leave for posterity a record of his apostolic role in providential history, he also wanted to leave for futurity the story of the flesh and blood Parley P. Pratt (393).” Regardless of whether we agree with Givens & Grow on this point, it is the lens through which we ought to view their recent biography. Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism is a substantial addition to Pratt’s timeworn autobiography, an attempt to fill out our understanding of the man – both who Pratt was and also the critical (though often overlooked) contribution he... Read more »

My testimony

December 27, 2011 | 9 comments
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I’m no stranger to doubt and scepticism – I’m as much a child of conflicted modernity as anyone and it has been years since the majority of those close to me have professed an unwavering belief – and context is as relevant to testimony as anything else. But tonight I want to state candidly and unreservedly: I believe. There’s something genuinely magical (and I feel that quickening magic now) in the bearing of a testimony – I count my experience with testimony as one of the grand mysteries I’ve encountered in life.  I can’t help but continually try to... Read more »

Why Bloom, et al are wrong

November 22, 2011 | 12 comments
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Why Bloom, et al are wrong

Harold Bloom’s recent NY Times article on Mormonism & politics was tremendously disappointing. The sheer volume of poorly (or dishonestly) researched writing on Mormonism this season is exhausting; and to get this sort of long worn-out, conspiracy minded expression of clichés from someone as well educated as Bloom is downright disheartening (though to be fair, we’ve gotten a good deal of serious journalism as well). But I’m actually not much interested in that side of Bloom’s article. Let me quickly bring up two other points from the article. First, Bloom states this: The founding prophet Joseph Smith…highly original revelation... Read more »

Times & Seasons Welcome Sarah Bringhurst Familia

October 7, 2011 | 13 comments
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Times & Seasons is pleased to introduce Sarah Bringhurst Familia as our newest guest blogger. Sarah grew up in California, where she and her four siblings were homeschooled (back in the good old days when homeschooling was weird and subversive, not hip and progressive). She received her BA in Near Eastern Studies at BYU, and served a mission in Santiago, Chile. After their marriage and the birth of their first child, Sarah and her husband Tony took their two-month-old baby on a summer field study to the Philippines, where they slept in nipa huts, backpacked into mountain villages, and... Read more »

My Wife’s Exercise of the Priesthood in Our Home

September 29, 2011 | 81 comments
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My Wife’s Exercise of the Priesthood in Our Home

My Wife’s Exercise of the Priesthood in Our Home (or Response to Alison part III) Here a people of godly race are born for heaven; the Spirit gives them life in the fertile waters. The Church-Mother, in these waves, bears her children like virginal fruit she has conceived by the Holy Spirit. I love this inscription. For me, it makes of baptism the center of a multi-axes union of male and female, convert and community, earth and heaven – reminiscent of our earlier discussions, and a perfect preamble to this one. (Actually, the preamble’s going to on for a... Read more »

Which Mormon are You Voting For?

September 26, 2011 | 14 comments
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Which Mormon are You Voting For?

One of the gloriously enriching experiences in marriage – at least in my marriage – is all of the truly wonderful people that my wife has brought into my life. One of these persons is Sarah Bringhurst Familia – a brilliant, homeschooling mother, who also happens to be a pillar of global citizenship. Since marrying, she and her husband have lived in a number of exotic locations, including Utah, California, The Philippines, Ireland, Italy, and most recently Tunisia. With both a degree and lots of life experience centering around the Middle East, she’s a trenchant observer of current affairs... Read more »

Statements on Heavenly Mother

September 15, 2011 | 27 comments
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Statements on Heavenly Mother

I thought a good companion to Jonathan’s recent post would be a list of quotations by church authorities on Heavenly Mother found in Paulsen’s & Pulido’s recent BYU studies article, “A Mother There.” I do not list them in the same order as they’re found in the article, nor do I list all of the quotations found in their article (not to mention the hundreds more that they’ve accumulated) – but let me be clear about the fact that I’ve culled them directly from the article. The quotes themselves are clearly in the public domain, but it still feels... Read more »