Blog Archives

From the Archives: How Joseph Smith Restored Greek Religion

January 22, 2008 | 12 comments

I’ve been thinking of late about immortality and Mormonism. My question is whether or not you can be a Good Mormon and a Good Homeric Hero. I am unclear on the answer, but Moroni and John Taylor seem to suggest that for at least one Good Mormon being a Homeric Hero was just fine. Read more »

The Silent Core of Mormonism

January 10, 2008 | 94 comments

Mormon theology and practice centers ultimately on the temple, and yet the temple is a subject on which Mormons are especially secretive and reticent. Therein lies one of the central ironies and challenges facing any Mormon trying to really explain how Mormonism works to an outsider. Read more »

An Al Smith Moment?

January 2, 2008 | 50 comments

Here is my argument: Let us suppose that Mitt Romney does not become the next president. What will this mean for the Mormons? There about 5.7 million Latter-day Saints in America, which in a nation of more than 300 million makes us demographic chicken feed, but the question is important for what it reveals about the presidency and its relationship to American citizenship. You can read the rest of the argument here. What do you think? Too grim? UPDATE: The Salt Lake Tribune ran a shorter version of the article in today’s (1/6/2008) edition. FYI. Read more »

Blacks and the Priesthood, a Request to the Media

January 1, 2008 | 173 comments

Generally speaking, when anyone wants an easy quote on the past racist theologies of Mormonism, they quote Bruce R. McConkie. I am one of those people who would like a clearer statement repudiating past theological justifications for the priesthood ban. On the other hand, I think that at times folks understate the extent to which they have already been repudiated explicitly. In August of 1978, two months after the publication of the revelation to President Kimball, Elder McConkie told an audience at BYU: Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or George Q. Cannon or... Read more »

The Best Mormon Poem Ever Written

December 12, 2007 | 75 comments

According to Eugene England, this is the best Mormon poem ever written: Read more »

Thoughts from the Anvil

December 4, 2007 | 43 comments
Thoughts from the Anvil

I suspect that on Thursday Mitt Romney’s Mormonism will perform the function that Mormonism has been fulfilling in American politics for a century and a half: It will be an anvil on which this mainly Protestant nation hammers out the place of religion in public life. Read more »

Terryl Givens: The Scholar as Celebrant

November 30, 2007 | 14 comments

Terryl Givens is doing a great deal in People of Paradox. Read more »

Blogging, Church Doctrine, and the Limits of Authority

November 19, 2007 | 40 comments

People frequently claim that Mormonism is an essentially atheological religion. It is not always exactly clear what is meant by this statement, but it generally seems to me something like we place right practice and sacred stories at the center of our faith rather than an abstract set of propositions. Whatever the merits of this claim, I think that it is hard to deny that the concept of “church doctrine” is enormously important within the church discussions. Read more »

Out of the Intellectual (and Electronic) Ghetto!

November 12, 2007 | 20 comments

I have long thought that there ought to be an online clearing house for research papers related to Mormonism. My proposed model is SSRN, the Social Science Research Network, where scholars in law, economics, and other disciplines upload copies of working papers and published articles. Each article is accompanied by an abstract, and all of them become text searchable and available for downloading. (Scholars who either cannot or will not upload copies of their articles can still upload abstracts.) At present there are about 132,000 scholarly papers up on SSRN. Mormon studies, I have long thought, ought to have... Read more »

Family Size and Religious Optimism

October 31, 2007 | 37 comments

A while back the chattering class got its knickers in a knot about demography. Read more »

Mormon Courts at the American Society for Legal History

October 30, 2007 | 2 comments

I have been doing research lately on the resolution of civil disputs in Mormon courts in the nineteenth century. Last week, I presented some of my research at the American Society for Legal History conference at ASU. I recorded my presentation and made it into an episode for the Law Talk podcast that I do through the Concurring Opinions law blog. Here is a link to my talk, which is about 25 minutes long. Enjoy! Read more »

A Brief Commentary on the Title Page of the Book of Mormon

October 9, 2007 | 40 comments
A Brief Commentary on the Title Page of the Book of Mormon

The title page of the Book of Mormon is a really fascinating passage of scripture. I think that it provides a very useful model for thinking about scripture in particular and revelation in general. Read more »

Trib Columnist Accidentally Raises Interesting Questions

September 24, 2007 | 30 comments

It is going on ten years now since I have lived in Utah, but I still follow Utah politics from afar partly as a matter of tribal attachment but mainly because they are just so strange and fun. Read more »

Pushing Toward the Temple

September 21, 2007 | 22 comments
Pushing Toward the Temple

A while back, Dave asked about possible narratives to structure 20th or 21st century Mormons. Another way of thinking about this question is how we bridge between modern experience and our historical narratives. We need not only new stories but also ways of maintaing continuity with our old stories. Consider the two images below. Read more »

Homework from Richard Bushman

September 13, 2007 | 36 comments

This summer I had the chance to participate in a workshop at BYU put together by Richard Bushman. Bushman wanted to gather together Mormon academics working outside of Utah to discuss the question of how we explain Mormonism. My own sense is that when we explain our beliefs — even to one another — we often fall into the trap of repeating verbal formulations rather than actually thinking through and describing what it is about the Restoration that really drives our commitment. Read more »

A Homosexual Duty to Marry?

September 12, 2007 | 109 comments

I know that this is controversial for some readers, but for purposes of this discussion stipulate that same-sex marriage in wrong. As an institutional shift it will damage the institution of marriage in ways that will harm society in the long run. Obviously, this is a hugely controversial claim, but for the time being just accept it. Notwithstanding this, however, a number of jurisdictions have adopted same-sex marriage statutes. Let’s also stipulate the homosexual conduct is sinful, a belief held by most Mormons and one that certainly seems to be church doctrine. Should Mormons who hold all of these... Read more »

Bushman to Claremont

September 6, 2007 | 30 comments

Claremont Graduate University has announced: Professor Richard Bushman has been appointed as the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies. Read more »

Lines, Circles, and Time

September 5, 2007 | 18 comments

Let’s think about lines, circles, and time. Read more »

Where do I find “Official” History?

August 28, 2007 | 88 comments

The tension between “official” Mormon history and other sorts of Mormon history is a central narrative for a lot of Mormon intellectual discussion. D. Michael Quinn, for example, who is a fabulously tenacious researcher at times seems to have little in the way of a historiographic agenda other than to do “honest” history rather than “official” history. This is very laudable, of course, but it is an intellectual agenda that depends decisively on being able to identify “official” history and its scholarly lapses. Which brings me to my question: Where do I find the “official” history of the church? Read more »

Times & Seasons Welcomes Kathryn Lynard Soper

July 23, 2007 | 10 comments

Times & Seasons is happy to welcome our newest guest blogger, Kathryn Lynard Soper. Kathryn is a mother of seven with a passion for writing and editing creative nonfiction. Raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, she’s lived in Utah since her BYU days (BA English, 1993). Founder and president of Segullah Group, Inc., Kathryn is editor-in-chief of Segullah: Writings by Latter-day Saint Women and editor of Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives (Woodbine Press, 2007). She recently published personal essays inLiterary Mama, Meridian Magazine, and Mamazine, and is currently writing a memoir about her... Read more »

The Problem of Counselling with Councils

July 13, 2007 | 31 comments

Much of church government is carried out in councils and recently they have been received new emphasis, particularly from Elder Ballard. Councils are, however, a problem. Read more »

Allodial Property and the Restoration

July 10, 2007 | 16 comments

Oliver Cowdrey has the distinction of being one of the few Mormon dissidents to make his stand against church authorities on the basis of obscure doctrines of real estate law. Read more »

Notes on a Theory of Ordinances

July 7, 2007 | 25 comments

Ordinances are a central part of the gospel, yet of late I find myself wondering what exactly they are. Here are some of my preliminary thoughts: Read more »

The Gathering

July 7, 2007 | 12 comments

When Moroni first appeared to Joseph Smith, he quoted a number of scriptures, including Malachi’s prophesy that “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.” We generally read these words as a reference to temple work, but there is much more going on in them, I believe. This morning, after playing baseball with my son, I sat watching him play on the lawn with his stuffed seal (who had been transformed into a super hero) and I... Read more »


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