Blog Archives

Do Mormon Intellectuals Have Intellectual Agendas?

November 1, 2006 | 35 comments

Ironically, the main problem with Mormon intellectual discussions is that all too frequently we have no intellectual agenda. Or at least so it seems to me. Read more »

Nephite Legal Reasoning

October 31, 2006 | 9 comments

There are lots of legal stories in the Book of Mormon, but there is not much in the way of legal reasoning. One of the few exceptions is found in Alma 30, which tells the story of Korihor the Anti-Christ. Read more »

Levi Savage and Obedience to Church Authorities

October 28, 2006 | 55 comments
Levi Savage and Obedience to Church Authorities

The problems of following the prophet is a perennial favorite source of Mormon intellectual angst. What if the prophet is wrong? After all, prophets are human and are prone to mistakes? Indeed they are. Which brings me to the topic of Levi Savage. Read more »

From the Archives: Models of Women and the Priesthood

October 27, 2006 | 17 comments

A favorite topic of speculation (and angst) among many Mormons and Mormon-watchers is whether or not women will get the priesthood. It is an interesting topic, but I think that most of the discussions of it are pretty uninteresting. The reason for this, I think, is that they are in the thrall of a single, rather simple model of what it means to “getâ€? the priesthood. Read more »

From Charisma to Bureaucracy in Two Pages

October 11, 2006 | 33 comments

About two weeks ago I went to the University of Richmond to do some research on Mormon history. Thanks to Terryl Givens, Richmond has acquired a set of the Selected Collections DVDs that were released a while ago by the Church Archives. Hence, I found myself in a library carrel in Virginia reading Orson Hyde’s handwritten 1834 minutes for the Kirtland High Council. Read more »

Karl Llewellyn and Joseph Smith on the Couch

October 4, 2006 | 8 comments

Do you ever have one of those odd moments when you are seeing something unfamiliar and suddenly it becomes extremely familiar? Or perhaps you see something very familiar but it suddenly reminds you of something equally familiar but totally different? I had one of those experiences today. Read more »

The Place of Ranting in Mormon Thought: A (Longish) Response to Russell

October 1, 2006 | 50 comments

I have been thinking all weekend about Russell’s post attacking the Mormon legislators who voted in favor of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The post was a rant. Russell is disgusted and outraged, but there was more to the post than that. Russell didn’t simply think that the Mormon legislators were wrong. He thought that they had betrayed their Mormoness at some deep level. I’m trying to figure out whether or not there is any value in what Russell has done. Read more »

Cyrus and an Evangelical Theology of Mitt Romney

September 27, 2006 | 26 comments

For those engaged in the perennially fun pastime of Mitt Romney watching, one of the more interesting places to go is the Evangelicals for Mitt blog. Read more »

Keats on the Promise of Parochialism

September 19, 2006 | 31 comments

Golden Ages tend to be rather parochial. Read more »

Confessions of a Pharisee

September 14, 2006 | 18 comments

I am not a particularly spiritual person, but I am quite religious. I like to think that I am a Pharisee in the good sense of the word. Read more »

The Law and Economics of Zion

September 13, 2006 | 17 comments

It turns out that law-and-economics is not only the dominant theory of private law, but it also helps you think about the idea of Zion. Read more »

Mormonism and Napster for Nerds

September 11, 2006 | 7 comments

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) has been described as “Napster for nerds,” and it has some things to say about Mormonism. Read more »

The Essentially Judicial Structure of Mormon Institutions

September 4, 2006 | 22 comments

Generally speaking, we tend to think that the institutional structure of the church is either administrative or pastoral. Read more »

God in the Whirlwind

September 1, 2006 | 3 comments

Ernesto has hit the East Coast and is currently plowing its way through the Southern Chesapeake. As it happens I live in the Southern Chesapeake. Read more »

Thoughts on the Sacrament

August 31, 2006 | 28 comments

Kiskilili poses the following very interesting question: Often appearing to be caught between pronounced sacramentalist tendencies (ordinances effect real change that goes beyond their symbolic import) and an underdeveloped theology regarding the significance of our so-called “non-essentialâ€? ordinances (no transubstantiation for us!), we seem at a loss to explain clearly the difference between a non-priesthood holder reciting the blessing over the bread and water of which people then contemplatively partake, and the same situation when a priesthood holder pronounces it. Implicit in Kiskilili’s question, it seems to me, that the presence or the absence of the priesthood must make... Read more »

Autobiography, Learning Disability, and the Turn to the Law

August 30, 2006 | 37 comments

I spent most of grade school attending the remedial classes for the learning disabled because I was, well, learning disabled. Read more »

Random Thoughts on the Nature of 19th-century Mormon Theocracy

August 29, 2006 | 12 comments

What follows is a summary of some of my research notes. I have been reading Puritan legal history of late, looking for ideas and ways of thinking about Mormon legal history. Read more »

Dangerous Stories

August 24, 2006 | 35 comments

Driving to work today, I had an odd epiphany. It occurred to me that there is an odd symmetry between the danger that “liberal” and “conservative” Mormons see in story telling. Read more »

From the Archives: Condorcet, Brigham, and Succession to the Presidency

August 19, 2006 | 8 comments

Condorcet was a French social theorist in the opening decades of the 19th century and is credited with first discovering a paradox of majority voting that bears his name. Here is the paradox: Imagine that you have a group of three people (A,B, and C) who are voting on three different alternatives (X, Y, and Z). A prefers X to Y and Y to Z. B prefers Y to Z and Z to X. C prefers Z to X and X to Y. If X is paired in a vote with Y, then X wins (A and C against... Read more »

Getting it wrong, kinda sorta…

August 18, 2006 | 48 comments

OK, let’s ask a relatively simple question: Why do non-Mormon accounts of Mormon theology so often seem grotesque? To avoid derailing the discussion immediately, let me concede that there are non-Mormon folks who “get” Mormon theology, etc. etc. etc. On the other hand, if you are a Mormon and have not seen, heard, or read some non-Mormon describing Mormon theology as a pastiche of ridiculous beliefs about magic underwear, visitors from outer space, and eternal sex in the hereafter you haven’t been paying much attention to what your neighbors think about you. Read more »

Artists and Mormonism

August 14, 2006 | 101 comments
Artists and Mormonism

Motley Vision has been playing host to an interesting discussion on Mormon aesthetics. The question du jour from the Sunstone Symposium seems to be whether or not one can be a Great Artist (or any kind of Artist) and still be a member of the Church. Two out of three panelists were apparently skeptical. For myself, I suspect that we are operating with a rather parochial definition of Artist, furthermore one that is ill suited to both the theology and demographics of Mormonism. Read more »

On the Value of Doubt

July 26, 2006 | 46 comments

“A faith that has never been doubted is not as valuable or authentic as a faith that has been doubted.” Read more »

Constitutive v. Regulative Rules in the Church

July 25, 2006 | 43 comments

Are the rules of Mormonism constitutive or regulative? Read more »

A Publication I Would Like to See (but won’t…)

July 24, 2006 | 37 comments

There are two “religious” magazines that I like to read fairly regularly. Neither is Mormon. Read more »


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