Blog Archives

FTA: Dating, Jane Austen, and the Virtues of Chastity

July 8, 2008 | 49 comments
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Like most rugged and red-blooded American men I have long enjoyed the work of Jane Austen. Read more »

Korihor and the United States Reports

July 1, 2008 | 40 comments
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Let’s read the Book of Mormon as a commentary on American constitutional law and vice versa. Alma 30:7-10 reads: Read more »

From my Missionary Journals

June 27, 2008 | 14 comments
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I was recently rereading my missionary journals. Read more »

Searching for a Sense of Place in Viriginia (a bleg)

June 17, 2008 | 39 comments
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I am at a stage in life when I think a lot about place. After a decade or so of moving every 1 to 3 years, our family has arrived on the banks of the James and there is a very good chance that this is where my children will grow up. My interest in place is heightened of course that I live a mile from the site of Jamestown — first English settlement in America — and work in Williamsburg — colonial capital of Virginia and, as one acquaintance put it to me “Disney Land for history major.”... Read more »

The Oddity of God’s Promises

June 12, 2008 | 29 comments
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I basically pay my mortgage by thinking about contracts and promises. It is a tough job, but someone has to do. Of late, I’ve gotten to thinking about God’s promising. Consider these two quotes: Read more »

Walking by Faith with Popper and Quine

June 3, 2008 | 56 comments
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A while ago I was having one of those oft repeated conversations about faith, doubt, and intellectual reconciliation. My thoughtful interlocutor asked, “Is there anything that you could learn that would cause you to abandon your beliefs?” The clear assumption of his question was that there was something distinctly fishy about a set of beliefs that cannot be falsified. It is an assumption worth thinking about. Read more »

Changing Mormon Musical Aesthetics?

April 22, 2008 | 117 comments
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I didn’t blog about it at the time, although I thought about it. But now it’s up on You Tube, so here goes. Read more »

The Two Problems with Mormon Finitist Theodicies

April 21, 2008 | 74 comments
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I have been listening to the papers that were presented at the recent conference of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology. At the conference there was a presentation on that perennial favorite, finisitist Mormon theodicies, in this case a nicely nuanced comparison of Mormon thinking with the process theology of David Griffin. I was disappointed, however, that the authors didn’t more squarely face the two strongest objections to Mormon finitist theodicies. Indeed, I have yet to see what I think of as adequate responses to either of these issues. Read more »

Nature and Doing Good

March 8, 2008 | 14 comments
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Among my many other vices, I like to read poetry. Read more »

Theology and the Public Square in Utah

March 5, 2008 | 35 comments
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The Salt Lake Tribune recently ran a column written by Grant Palmer arguing that Christian salvation turns not on the performance of ordinances but rather on an ethical life. Theologically speaking, the article (as Dave has pointed out nicely) is a pretty pedestrian, anti-sacramental, and essentially Protestant reading of the New Testament. The really interesting question raised by the article is not its theology, but rather what it is doing on the editorial page of an mainstream, secular newspaper. I think that we can safely dismiss the notion that the column was published because the Trib has taken it... Read more »

The Church Historian’s Press and the Argument in Favor of Mordred

February 25, 2008 | 21 comments
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The Church issued a press release today annoucing the creation of a “Church Historian’s Press” to handle the publication of the Joseph Smith Papers. (The press release also mentioned “works related to the church’s history and growth.”) I am not quite sure what the rationale for this is. Previous volume of the papers were published by Deseret Book, which did a nice enough job, although of late the physical publication standards at Deseret Book have been falling. Perhaps the new imprint is to insure library quality production values. Maybe it just reduces administrative hassle to have the production done... Read more »

From Theophany to Ritual

February 24, 2008 | 11 comments
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I thought that one of Richard Bushman’s most provocative arguments in Rough Stone Rolling was his interpretation of the temple endowment, and I’ve been surprised that it hasn’t generated more interest. Read more »

Mormon Law and Islamic Law

February 19, 2008 | 9 comments
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Mormonism, so goes a well-worn trope, is more into orthopraxis than orthodoxy. That is, we tend to care more about right conduct — e.g. loyalty to the kingdom, keeping covenants, following commandments, etc. — than right belief — e.g. the precise nature of divine progression or the correct location of Kolob. This raises the question, however, of why Mormonism hasn’t really developed any sort of a formal jurisprudence. Looking at church courts in the nineteenth century and comparing Mormon “law” to Islamic law sharpens the issues Read more »

Interpretation: Latter-day Saint Perspectives

February 19, 2008 | 2 comments
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A Presidents’ Day Poem

February 18, 2008 | 15 comments
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A poem for Presidents’ Day: Read more »

Preaching to the Court House and Judging in the Temple

February 16, 2008 | 5 comments
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For the last year or so, I have been doing research on Mormon church courts in the nineteenth century. Until about 1900, it was expected that Mormons would not sue other Mormons in secular courts, but would take their disputes to their local bishop or high council. I’ve been looking at three inter-related questions: How did the Mormon court system develop, why did Latter-day Saints take civil disputes to church courts, and why did they ultimately abandon the church courts? I have now posted a more or less final version of my paper on SSRN, where you can down... Read more »

A Poem and a Sermon

February 9, 2008 | 6 comments
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First, the poem: Read more »

Call for Papers

February 8, 2008 | 3 comments
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How to Bury a Prophet

February 7, 2008 | 24 comments
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The Marty Center at the University of Chicago has posted this interesting article by Kathleen Flake on President Hinckley’s funeral. Here is the money passage from the piece: Read more »

Family History and Mormon Scholarship

February 6, 2008 | 13 comments
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I recently read an article on Joseph Smith’s legal battles in a well-respected Mormon history journal. It was interesting and well-researched. Its main thesis, however, was that certain previous authors about Joseph Smith’s legal troubles had been “lying” (the author’s word not mine) about his trials, and Joseph Smith could have avoided martyrdom by behaving with more integrity. I read a fair amount of legal history, and suffice it to say that these are not the sorts of arguments that one sees in say Law & History Review. Read more »

From the Archives: The Quandry of the Sugar Beets

January 31, 2008 | 14 comments
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I think that I have finally isolated the great symbol of a recent set of intellectual and spiritual quandaries that I have found myself working through of late. I am not talking about polygamy, Adam-God, or blood atonement. I have in mind an even more challenging remnant of our past: sugar beets. Read more »

Mormonism’s Poisoned Theodicy

January 30, 2008 | 125 comments
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Consider two theological claims. First, a severely mentally retarded child has her retardation because in the premortal world she was an exceptionally valiant spirit and her current disability means that all that was necessary was for her to receive a body and then go straight on to eternal exaltation, worlds without number. Second, in this life blacks were denied the priesthood prior to 1978 because they were not valiant in the premortal conflict with Satan. Read more »

Praise to the Man Who Communed with Jehovah

January 27, 2008 | 51 comments
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Praise to the Man Who Communed with Jehovah

President Gordon B. Hinckley died earlier this evening at age 97. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:7-8) Read more »

Call For Papers: Mormons in the Political Arena

January 25, 2008 | no comments
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