Blog Archives

A Mormon holiday: Purgation Sunday

January 6, 2013 | 5 comments
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A Mormon holiday: Purgation Sunday

As others have noted, Mormonism does not have much of a liturgical year, and the role of holidays in Mormon theology is quite attenuated. I propose we designate the first Fast Sunday in January as Purgation Sunday. Read more »

The Council in the Preexistence (medieval Antichrist edition)

December 26, 2012 | 7 comments
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In the twelfth century, Walter of Chatillon wrote a rather pessimistic appraisal of the world’s condition. Read more »

Missions and language learning

December 13, 2012 | 20 comments
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How well does the average missionary who goes to a foreign country learn his or her mission language? Read more »

Missions and language training

November 22, 2012 | 48 comments
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Missions and language training

Will lowering the age of missionaries to 18/19 from 19/21 hurt the language preparation of missionaries serving foreign-language missions? Perhaps, although there are some possible steps one could take to counteract that. Which steps to take, or whether to take any steps at all, depends on how much language skills are affected, and on how much you think foreign language preparation matters for missionaries. Read more »

Your Candidate is going to lose

November 5, 2012 | 26 comments
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I regret to inform you that Your Candidate is going to lose. Some tough days are ahead. I’m sorry. It will be tempting to blame Your Candidate for his loss, but the truth is that he actually did a pretty good job. The economy, world affairs, the weather – they just didn’t go his way. Still, he made the most of the hand he was dealt, gave some good speeches, got in some good lines in what were the best presidential debates in a long time. Your Candidate was the best candidate Your Party had, and he gave The... Read more »

Romantik

July 7, 2012 | 9 comments
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Romantik

Heinrich von Ofterdingen by Novalis is one of the founding documents of Romanticism. The novel is perhaps most famous for the title figure’s vision of a blue flower in the first chapter. What is not as well known is how Heinrich’s family drama is also the ecclesiology of Mormonism. Read more »

“For whose coming I am seeking”: Quote-unquote Roger Williams

June 15, 2012 | 20 comments
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“For whose coming I am seeking”: Quote-unquote Roger Williams

In Ensign articles and in General Conference addresses, it is not unusual to find appeals to people before 1830 who thought that Christianity had slipped into general apostasy. One of the most prominent of these is Roger Williams (1603-1683), to whom the following statement is attributed. Read more »

Notes from the ApostaCon

March 3, 2012 | 19 comments
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Following “Exploring Mormon Conceptions of the Apostasy,” a conference organized by Miranda Wilcox and held this last Thursday and Friday at BYU, I heard several people say that it was the best conference of any kind they had ever participated in. I don’t think that was merely a polite exaggeration. Read more »

The Lost Books of the Bible (1609 Catholic edition)

February 19, 2012 | 12 comments
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The Lost Books of the Bible (1609 Catholic edition)

In 1609, Johannes Uber published the first part of his Very Useful and Necessary Disputation Concerning the Holy Bible (Von der heiligen Bibel sehr nützliche und nötige Disputation, VD17 1:050537Y) in which he argued for two points. First, that the Bible was no longer whole “because of the many lost holy books that the holy prophets and apostles wrote and referred to in their writings”; and second, that therefore those who leave the Catholic Church and rely only on the Bible cannot find salvation. Read more »

Ars moriendi

December 20, 2011 | 19 comments
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Ars moriendi

Yesterday I dedicated the grave of my grandfather, Verl Bagley, who by one measure spent his life at the end of the earth. Read more »

History of a book

December 11, 2011 | 16 comments
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History of a book

So I wrote a book. Not a Mormon book, but one in my academic field. I’ve been working on the book since just before my youngest daughter was born. She started first grade in September, and the book was published last week. The idea for the book came to me in 2005, Read more »

In Praise of Thanktimonies

November 23, 2011 | 18 comments
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Not all targets of our reflexive contempt are well chosen. Expressions of mere gratitude in our monthly testimony meetings are dismissed as ‘thanktimonies’ because they don’t quite cover any of the things a public expression of religious conviction is supposed to be about. But I think this disdain is misplaced, like scoffing at children for riding bicycles when they could instead careen around the neighborhood in outsized cars in which they cannot work the pedals and see over the dashboard at the same time. Read more »

Where do BYU students come from?

November 1, 2011 | 35 comments
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Where do BYU students come from?

The Chronicle of Higher Education has given us a new statistical toy to play with. Read more »

A Mother There? Notes on Paulsen and Pulido

September 14, 2011 | 35 comments
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David Paulsen and Martin Pulido’s survey of statements concerning Heavenly Mother in Mormon thought, recently published in BYU Studies, has earned a good amount of attention. It’s a thorough survey, and I only have two relatively minor criticisms. In addition, the article restricts itself to surveying statements rather than analyzing them, and I see a few possibilities for future analysis. Mostly I want to make a couple observations about the article, primarily that it doesn’t say quite as much as one might think. Read more »

Scent of a Mormon

August 8, 2011 | 25 comments
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Scent of a Mormon

The program for the annual convention of the Modern Language Association regularly includes the following request: The Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession reminds attendees that refraining from using perfume, cologne, and other scented products will help ensure the comfort of everyone at the convention. Read more »

Where are the Mormon Middle Ages?

May 22, 2011 | 17 comments
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Where are the Mormon Middle Ages?

Even though most Americans are thousands of miles from the nearest palace, fortress, or castle ruin, the European Middle Ages continue to play an outsized role in our imaginations (see: Disneyland, Hogwarts, Helm’s Deep). Read more »

Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht

May 14, 2011 | 20 comments
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Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht

Now that I’ve moved to BYU-Idaho, I occasionally (read: yesterday) get asked interesting questions when I’m at professional conferences, like: “How are you adjusting to life without caffeine?” Read more »

Are Mormons Cessationists?

February 8, 2011 | 84 comments
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Over at FPR, BiV asks, Are Mormons cessationists? The short answer is no. Read more »

What if they held an election, and no one blogged about it?

December 28, 2010 | 41 comments
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What if they held an election, and no one blogged about it?

Actually, that’s exactly what just happened. Sixty-three House seats changed hands in November, governors got voted in and out of office, statewide propositions got passed and defeated—without a single post, let alone an old-fashioned righteous flamewar, on the Mormon blogs I read regularly. Read more »

Gateway drugs for middle schoolers: Mormon Studies edition

December 9, 2010 | 27 comments
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I have a Christmas list, for a not-quite-teenager, with a gap that needs to be filled. Read more »

Castles made for sandboxes

November 27, 2010 | 4 comments
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Castles made for sandboxes

A few years ago, I walked half the circuit of a massive town wall. After hauling three kids and pushing a fourth in a stroller for a few hours through the forest, we recognized the wall by the close-packed rubble that stuck out from the crest of the long dirt mound. Read more »

Performance and Worship

November 10, 2010 | 25 comments
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Performance and Worship

I once almost joined the ward choir. What’s surprising about this is that I don’t actually sing. Read more »

Brother, can you spare a symposium?

July 30, 2010 | 26 comments
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Brother, can you spare a symposium?

Mormon Studies could be headed for a rough patch, because the career paths that make professional study of Mormon topics at least occasionally possible are disappearing. Read more »

Just because they can’t see you doesn’t mean you’re not there

July 27, 2010 | 43 comments
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The call for papers for the Third Biannual Faith and Knowledge Conference for LDS Graduate Students in Religion contains a sentence that is, I think, wrong in three different ways. Read more »