Blog Archives

Mormonism and the Commercial Virtues

November 11, 2004 | 16 comments
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I have to admit that I have a soft spot for what I think of as the virtues of commercialism. Read more »

Where are the Mormon Pre-Schools?

November 9, 2004 | 24 comments
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Although he goes to nursery in the Wakefield Ward each Sunday, my son attends pre-school twice a week at the Braddock Baptist Church in Annandale, Virginia. Read more »

Morphy, Steinitz & Mormonism

November 5, 2004 | 30 comments
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Paul Morphy was a New Orleans born chess genius who wowed the world (or at least that small and geeky portion of it that cares about chess) with his aggressive and imaginative play in the decade before the Civil War. Read more »

Chess Anyone?

November 4, 2004 | 19 comments
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Times and Seasons is my main way of wasting time these days, but I do have other vices, one of them being chess. Read more »

Michael Moore and the Gadianton Robbers

November 3, 2004 | 78 comments
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George W. Bush, in my mind, is very much like Bill Clinton. Both men seem to have the ability to make otherwise sane people on the other side of the political fence become nutcases. Read more »

Sin and Ethics

November 2, 2004 | 24 comments
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One of the points of contention between believers and skeptics has to do with the question of morality. Roughly speaking, the exchange goes something like this: Believer: God is the source of morality. Without a belief in God one cannot have a belief in morality. Therefore skeptics are immoral. QED. Skeptic: Nonsense! There are lots of skeptics who behave in thoroughly ethical ways. Furthermore, they mold their behavior to conform with particular ethical standards, even though those standards lack any particular theological foundation. One can clearly be a skeptic and be a moral person. Framed in these terms (and... Read more »

Thoughts From A Professional Sabbath Breaker

October 31, 2004 | 45 comments
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Thanks to the macinations of the plaintiff’s attorneys, I am spending most of my sabbath today ensconsed in my office with the Bankruptcy Code. For better or for worse, I have a job where Sundays at work are hardly unexpected and although I do my best to avoid them, it isn’t really possible to work at a K Street law firm and completely miss out on this particular fringe benefit. What is the precise scope of my sabbath violations and do I have any defenses? Read more »

On Mormon Complacency

October 26, 2004 | 132 comments
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As readers of this blog already know, I have a tendency to whine a great deal about the quality Mormon discussions. I have even been accused of being boring on the subject, which is no doubt a fair enough criticism. Read more »

Please Let it Be Over

October 26, 2004 | 18 comments
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I was surfing around some of my favorite blogs for something to post about, and there were a couple of interesting posts, none of which I am going to link to. Rather, I am going to muse for a few minutes about the pernicious effect of democracy on blogging. Read more »

Joseph and Sartre on Hell

October 19, 2004 | 29 comments
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Sartre once remarked that “hell is other people.â€? The remark, I think, is revealing. In a sense the brand of existentialism pushed by Sartre represents the apotheosis of individualism. In the end, he offers nothing beyond the authenticity of personal choice, which becomes the ultimate source of meaning and value. His view of hell suggest that within this vision of heroic intellectual and moral self-sufficiency lies a rather nasty strand of misanthropy and solipsism. Joseph Smith’s vision of hell, I think, is equally revealing. Read more »

Galen, Holmes & Hot Drinks

October 18, 2004 | 29 comments
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One of the odder bits of Mormon interpretation is the strange life of “hot drinks.â€? These are the actual beverages forbidden by the Word of Wisdom. As we all know they have come to mean coffee and tea with hot chocolate and Diet Coke forming border cases for some, and no one really objecting to herb tea or hot cider. What is going on here? Read more »

On Becoming Jim Faulconer (Sort of)

October 13, 2004 | 13 comments
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Our lesson in elders’ quorum last Sunday was on the importance of scripture study. I shared a story that I frequently share when called upon to say something about studying the scriptures. As I was retelling it this Sunday, however, I had an epiphany: I was being a Jim Faulconer poseur. Read more »

Relics

October 12, 2004 | 17 comments
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One of my more prized possessions is a small chunk of limestone. It is about 8 inches long, roughly the size of two fists. Its value lies in the fact that is is a piece of one of the shattered sunstones of the original Nauvoo temple. Read more »

A Book I Would Like to See

October 8, 2004 | 6 comments
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With luck we should soon be hearing from Professor Royal Skousen, who is the mastermind of the critical text of the Book of Mormon. There is another critical text edition that I would like to see: A critical text of the Doctrine and Covenants. Read more »

What?!?

October 5, 2004 | 113 comments
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Further proof that some at BYU need serious help in figuring out what is offensive and what isn’t. Read more »

The Telos of Charity

October 5, 2004 | 47 comments
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Having a Greek word in the title is designed to give this post an auro of intelligence that it doesn’t deserve, but it also points toward an interesting question: Why do we care for the poor? Over at Aurochs and Angels (by the way, what is an auroch?), AA suggests that the alms giving is not simply about helping the poor, but also about helping the rich. Hence, he quotes with approval a statement suggesting that the poor in America have a duty to help those that are less economically fortunate than themselves, a group that includes the vast... Read more »

What is With the Bloggernacle?

October 4, 2004 | 45 comments
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I am not proud of this, but I have to confess that a very substantial part of my entire self-worth is tied up with how many comments my posts get on Times and Seasons. Unfortunately, I just don’t get it. By what criteria do the commenting bloggernaclites choose one post over another. A silly, throw-away post that I dashed off in a about 15 seconds because I figured I ought to post something, just hit the top of the most comments list. On the otherhand, what I thought was a much better and more interesting post seems to have... Read more »

On Authority

September 30, 2004 | 44 comments
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Authority is a central concept in Mormon theology and practice. It is an issue that anyone thinking about Mormonism must come to grips with. The well-worn criticism that Mormonism is overly authoritarian or that Mormons place “too muchâ€? faith in their leaders misses the point. Mormonism is inherently authoritarian. Concepts of authority are part of what define Mormonism. Anyone who believes that they can offer some account or interpretation of Mormon theology while at the same time ducking this issue or reducing it to a few cautionary bromides about individual responsibility and critical thinking is kidding themselves. Read more »

What is a KGB Sympathizer to Say?

September 27, 2004 | 25 comments
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Several years ago I found myself at a restuarant in Berkeley, California with some of my elders. They were bright, friendly, and very kind to me. I enjoyed the evening, and I am glad that I was invited. During the course of the conversation one of the interlocutors, a disillusioned returned-missionary from someplace in the former Soviet Union, began talking about the Church. She had decided that she wanted to write a story about a Russian convert to Mormonism. The convert would be a former KGB agent, who upon joining the Church would feel immediately at home in the... Read more »

The New Godbeites

September 24, 2004 | 8 comments
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During the course of its history the Church has spawned more than its share of schismatic organizations. During the Nauvoo period William Law and others disaffected with Joseph over polygamy, temple ordinances, the political Kingdom of God, and radical teachings about the nature of God formed the New Church, which was meant to institutionalize Mormonism in its pure form before it was infected by the Nauvoo era innovations. After the abandonment of polygamy Musser and others broke off to found the various fundamentalist sects. Indeed, since the Manifesto, virtually all of the Mormon schismatic groups have been on what... Read more »

Sunstone Boilerplate

September 24, 2004 | 316 comments
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For any who doubt that Sunstone at time struggles for new ideas, check out Nadine Hansen’s “The Garden of My Faith” . The essay was originally delivered as a “Pillars of My Faith” lecture at a Sunstone Symposium. As near as I can tell, the “Pillars of My Faith” lecture is sort of like the Storrs Lectures of the Sunstone subculture: an honor bestowed on those who have paid their dues and presumably have something to say. Hansen’s essay doesn’t miss a cliché as she tells of her efforts to weed out white washing, over-correlation, sexism, and homophobia from... Read more »

Admiral Hyman Rickover and the Apostle

September 24, 2004 | 44 comments
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I don’t know about you, but of all of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve, Richard G. Scott has always struck me as the sweetest and most patient. I have no personal experiences or special information to back this up. It is just my impression. I wonder if this is in part the lingering influence of Admiral Hyman Rickover. Read more »

Shameless Self-Promotion, or Thoughts on Writing an Apologetic Article

September 21, 2004 | 23 comments
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The most recent issue of the FARMS Review has arrived, and it finally contains my article, “‘Secret Combinations’: A Legal Analysis”. I actually wrote this article two years ago, so it has been a while in coming. It is fun to finally see it in print. The article is essentially apologetic. I am trying to respond to the claim that the phrase “secret combinationâ€? was exclusively associated with Masonry in Joseph Smith’s time and that as author of the Book of Mormon Joseph was producing, among other things, an anti-Masonic pamphlet. The real question, of course, is why I... Read more »

Mormon Images: Office Decor and the Place of Mormonism in American History

September 20, 2004 | 34 comments
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Mormon Images: Office Decor and the Place of Mormonism in American History

A few weels ago I finished my stint at the public trough and left the service of the federal courts. I know work for the law firm of Sidley, Austin, Brown & Wood in Washington, DC. The identity of the firm is significant only because this is the firm (and office) where Rex E. Lee practiced law for many years. There is actually a three-foot tall bronze statute of Lee outside the office’s moot court room (named in Lee’s honor). As you might expect, the firm’s DC office hosts a sizable continent of LDS attorneys and their office decor... Read more »