Blog Archives

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 » responds to Julie and T&S discussions

June 29, 2007 | 58 comments

Apparently folks in the Church Office Building drop by T&S from time to time. Today, this press release was posted to, responding in part to Julie’s post on the recently posted Ensign article on MMM. Read more »

The Creation of Mormon Lawyers

June 29, 2007 | 72 comments

Brigham Young and Joseph Smith had some very harsh things to say about lawyers, but from the beginning, Mormon attorneys sought to create an ecclesiastical identity for themselves other than that of lying tricksters bent on stirring up litigation. Read more »

“Are Mormons Bankrupting Utah?”

June 20, 2007 | 57 comments

That is the question asked by Zeke Johnson and James Wright in a recent Suffolk University Law Review article.* Read more »

Why I am a Christian

June 19, 2007 | 39 comments

I’ve always been happy to be a Mormon without insisting on being a Christian. Read more »

FTA: Toward a Theology of Supermarkets

June 18, 2007 | 33 comments

If you are looking for a morally, philosophically, and theologically fascinating place, I can think of few locations in contemporary life that can compare to the supermarket. Read more »

The Bushman Moment

June 14, 2007 | 23 comments

Richard Bushman’s recent appearance at a Pew Forum conference on Mormonism and Democratic Politics has got me thinking about the role of scholars of Mormonism in shaping the religious news coverage swirling around Mitt Romney’s candidacy. I decided to do a little bit of informal content analysis of recent news stories, seeing which scholars are getting quoted. Read more »

It’s a Girl!

June 7, 2007 | 43 comments
It’s a Girl!

Earlier today, Elizabeth Rose Oman was born in Richmond, Virginia. Both Heather and the baby are doing well. Elizabeth is 8 lbs 2 oz and 21 inches long. Labor lasted for 18 hours, and we are very glad that she is here. God has been very good to us. Read more »

Mormon Courts

June 5, 2007 | 8 comments

For the last six months of so, I have been doing a lot of research on nineteenth-century Mormon courts. Earlier today I presented some of my preliminary research to the law school faculty at William & Mary. For those who are interested, you can take a look at my paper online. In doing my research I’ve had a number of discoveries that I’ve found interesting. Read more »

My Kind of Apologetics

May 23, 2007 | 28 comments

I’ve been thinking of late about apologetics. Read more »

Mormon Law, Mormon Markets, and Mormon Thought

May 11, 2007 | 21 comments

Markets are a big deal in my intellectual life. For a living, I teach and think about the law that makes markets possible. By and large, I think that markets are really cool. I think that they are probably the single greatest engine for the material betterment of the human race. Poverty causes a great deal of misery. Economic development strikes me as the single greatest way of alleviating poverty. Markets are what make economic growth possible. I also think that markets serve important political purposes by facilitating peaceful cooperation between those with violently opposed political and religious beliefs.... Read more »

Tongues in Court

May 4, 2007 | 7 comments

In doing research on 19th century church courts, I recently came across a legal issue that I haven’t seen before: What exactly is the evidentiary value of speaking in tongues? Read more »

Javelin Man

May 3, 2007 | 12 comments

I consider my brother-in-law to be a twisted genius (in a good, vaguely Wierd-Al-Yankovich sort of way). I am happy to say that the fruits of his desire to be a rock star, his labors as a scriptorian (his favorite Book of Mormon character is Teancum), and his calling as a road show director are now available on YouTube. Without further ado, here is the song that has rocked family reniuns for years…”Javelin Man” Read more »

God in the Elements and God in the Market

April 20, 2007 | 31 comments

I recently had a theological epiphany while reading a case about conditions precedent in crop insurance contracts. Read more »

A Sermon from My Past

April 19, 2007 | 9 comments

I recently came across a talk delivered in church by a missionary in 1994 who was about to depart for Pusan, Korea via the MTC. It was interesting (and a little mortifying) to read the words of my past self. Here is what I said: Read more »

Legal and Religious Irony on the BYU Website

April 18, 2007 | 12 comments

I recently ran across the “Education for Eternity” website put together by the BYU Faculty Center, which collects materials on Mormonism and higher education. It is not a bad collection, and given that William & Mary has no comperable collection, I appreciate that it is online. I couldn’t help but laughing, however, when I clicked to the section on law only to find a picture of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. staring at me. Holmes is a rightly iconic figure in the law, and I assume that he was added to provide a bit of jurisprudential ambiance. On the other... Read more »

Holy Week v. Passover

April 4, 2007 | 45 comments

Kristine is trying to get everyone reved up for Holy Week over at BCC. I wish her well, but I suspect that she isn’t going to succeed on this one. Read more »

PBS and the Bloggernacle

April 4, 2007 | 26 comments

The trailer is now online for PBS’s up-coming documentary extravaganza on “The Mormons.” You’ll be happy to know that the Bloggernacle had a bit part in the series’ production. Read more »

Spring Planting

April 3, 2007 | 45 comments
Spring Planting

Spring is here with a vengeance, and I don’t think there can be any real argument but that the land south of the Mason-Dixon Line does spring better than any other region of the country. Read more »

RSR and the William & Mary Book Store

March 30, 2007 | 23 comments

Much to the consternation of my wife (who handles our money), I am a rather frequent visitor to William & Mary’s book store. It has been a while since I glanced through their religion section (of late I have been buying poetry or history), but the other day I did glance through the “Mormon” section to see what they have. Read more »

Temples and God’s Discount Function

March 26, 2007 | 15 comments

I think that one of the reasons that God commanded Brigham Young to build the Salt Lake Temple was to signal his discount function. Read more »