Blog Archives

How to make Mormon literature great

February 14, 2010 | 54 comments
How to make Mormon literature great

Glenn Beck, the soapbox orator of cable television, has done more, save Sheri Dew only, for the greatness of Mormon literature, than any other person that ever lived. Read more »


February 8, 2010 | 7 comments

While the occurrence of a general apostasy is a matter of belief and not observable by historical inquiry, dispensations are born with a burst of documentary evidence. Read more »

November 9, 1989

November 9, 2009 | 20 comments

Each anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is a bit embarrassing for me. Read more »

The Songs of Lehi

October 1, 2009 | 4 comments

If we accept, at least for the moment, that 1 Nephi has a textual history, that it drew on older sources or underwent expansion at various times, then we might wonder what could be considered the oldest layer of the text Read more »

The textual tectonics of 1 Nephi

September 25, 2009 | 30 comments

My basic problem with Blake Ostler’s expansion theory is that it approaches via intellectual history what is at heart a problem in textual history Read more »

The formula for Nephi

September 11, 2009 | 7 comments

In How to Kill a Dragon, the Indo-Europeanist Calvert Watkins defines formulas as “set phrases which are the vehicles of themes.” Read more »

Nourish and Strengthen

September 3, 2009 | 22 comments

If you’re interested in an oral-formulaic theory of Mormon prayer, or if you want to observe a formula in its natural habitat, a good place to start would be Sunday dinner Read more »

Pardon my French

August 25, 2009 | 24 comments

A brotherly reader writes: I recently had a chance to watch the new French film Banlieue 13: Ultimatum, which as far as these things go is a pretty good action flick Read more »

Mormon prayer and Mormon art

August 19, 2009 | 18 comments

If you want to find a unique Mormon tradition of verbal art, you should listen to Mormons pray Read more »

Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson: a preview

June 9, 2009 | 11 comments

With Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker, we have another Mormon writer of speculative fiction with something to say about marriage. Warbreaker manages to capture some ironies that won’t be lost on readers who have noted the discrepancy between the ideal of eternal marriage, and the reality of the dating scene at BYU. Read more »

These used to be our playgrounds

May 18, 2009 | 14 comments
These used to be our playgrounds

From the air, the German neighborhood where we lived until last year seems decidedly un-American Read more »

Dow 6,000

March 30, 2009 | 14 comments

One of the things people find odd about Mormons is our claim to be led by a prophet. Read more »

The TRUTH about the Book of Mormon pronouncing guide EXPOSED

January 5, 2009 | 39 comments

The Mormon Church does not want even its own members to know how to pronounce Shimnilom Read more »


December 9, 2008 | 17 comments

The Book of Mormon is a reliquary in prose. In some extensive sections and at some critical moments, what drives the narrative is the question: how did a set of golden plates, a steel sword, a ball of curious workmanship, a breastplate, and two translucent stones end up inside a stone box buried in a hill in the state of New York? For a religion that attaches little to no significance to relics, it’s striking that large sections of our distinctive book of scripture are concerned with the provenance—the origin and the later cultural significance—of a particular set of... Read more »

Now a glorious dawn is breaking

November 19, 2008 | 20 comments

What will it be like for a marriage to continue past death into the eternities? What does it mean to have a perfected body, or to love an eternal being? Stephenie Meyer has an answer. Breaking Dawn, the last novel in her Twilight series, presents a sustained and vividly imagined view of one of the core elements of Mormon personal salvation. Read more »


November 13, 2008 | 21 comments

One of the subterranean threads running throughout the Book of Mormon is the mystery of whose bones are heaped upon the land northward. Read more »

All opposed, by the same sign

November 4, 2008 | 132 comments

On the issues I care about (and therefore not including the topic addressed from various perspectives so eloquently by my esteemed colleagues), I prefer the positions of the Democratic Party platform and candidate. I directly benefited from Barack Obama’s work as a state senator while I lived in Illinois, he seems to know what he’s talking about on important issues, and it looks like he ran a pretty competent campaign. For my taste, McCain and Palin didn’t offer much more than the politics of fear and resentment, and they seemed more likely to stay trapped in the conflicts of... Read more »

Proposition 8, the American mainstream, and the unspeakable

October 30, 2008 | 129 comments

Most online discussions of gay marriage are not worth the effort, because no actual discussion takes place Read more »

A Nobel calling

October 13, 2008 | 24 comments

I’m very happy to see this year’s Nobel Prize in economics going to Paul Krugman, whose columns in the New York Times helped me see the importance of the discipline of economics as nothing else ever had. I think Mormon scholarship could use more scholars like Paul Krugman (quite apart from the Nobel and the weekly NYT column) Read more »


September 25, 2008 | 25 comments

Every medium has an inherent vice. While any form of media can be misused, there is a flaw lurking in the fundamental nature of each medium. Television exaggerates fear, as it transmits the worst events or most scandalous entertainment from the outside world into our homes. Movies indulge our self-deluding fantasies of escape or celebrity. Radio encourages the presumption, in the secrecy of our private chambers, that we sing and dance every bit as good as Milli Vanilli. The inherent vice of the Internet is shame Read more »

Missions, art, and surveillance

September 11, 2008 | 23 comments

One unique aspect of the missionary experience, quite distinct from life before and after, is the feeling that someone is always watching you. It’s probably the one aspect of my mission that I could have done without, although I wouldn’t say that it was entirely unproductive. Read more »

Christ’s nativity: a solution

July 27, 2008 | 23 comments

From Steven Vanden Broecke, The Limits of Influence Read more »

Foundation and Apostasy

July 12, 2008 | 31 comments

What if the historical evidence for the foundation of the early Christian church is indistinguishable from evidence for its apostasy? What if the early church and its scriptures only arose through processes of decay? Read more »

Resurrection B.C.

July 5, 2008 | 19 comments

According to an article in the New York Times today, evidence of Jewish belief in a resurrected Messiah decades before Christ’s birth may have been discovered. Read more »