Blog Archives

The Judicial Use of Mormon Cursing

December 16, 2006 | 12 comments

I have posted before on the now largely forgotten Mormon tradition of cursing. As you would expect, I have found that Mormon cursing also has a legal angle. Read more »

Space and Time in Mormon Thought

December 13, 2006 | 22 comments

One of Einstein’s great discovery was that time and space were intimately related concepts. It is an insight that one ought to keep in mind when thinking about Mormonism. Read more »

Secret Laws, Theocracy, and Cows

December 12, 2006 | 26 comments
Secret Laws, Theocracy, and Cows

In 1847, the Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and set up a frankly theocratic government. The highest legal authority was the High Council, which had the right to promulgate laws, as well as to try and punish criminal offenses (usually with fines or public whippings). Just as one would expect from a fanatical theocratic despotism, the High Council spent most of its time legislating about cows. Initially this was done by passing a law whereby all stray livestock was impounded and the owner of the strays was required to pay a fixed fine. The rule was... Read more »

A Summer with Terryl Givens and Richard Bushman

December 11, 2006 | 16 comments

FYI Read more »

The Church’s Tax-Exempt Status, 1860s style

December 7, 2006 | 33 comments

The Church today jealously guards its tax exempt status, and I suspect that there is a group of lawyers whose sole job it is to sit around worrying about the ways in which the IRS might assess taxes against the Church. It turns out that the feds have tried to tax Church properties and income in the past. Read more »

The Ninth Amendment Argument for Monogamy

December 5, 2006 | 12 comments

The ninth amendment to the constitution is one of those wonderfully vague constitutional provisions that delights arm-chair theorists and annoys judges who might actually have to figure out what it means. It reads: The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. It turns out that this provision was an unlikely character in some of the earliest legal battles over polygamy. Read more »

Maggie’s Argument Against Atheism

November 15, 2006 | 50 comments
Maggie’s Argument Against Atheism

Oddly enough, I have never really struggled with belief in God. Read more »

As Goes Russell, So Goes…

November 8, 2006 | 31 comments

It looks as though the nation may be starting to look more like Russell, frightening as that is for some of us. Read more »

The Theology of the Horse

November 4, 2006 | 23 comments

How big of a deal is technology theologically speaking? Read more »

Mormons, Gentiles, Suffrage, and the Courts

November 2, 2006 | 6 comments

In 1870, the Utah Territorial Legislature passed an act giving women the right to vote, making Utah the second jurisdiction in the United States to given women the vote. (Wyoming was the first in 1869.) In 1887, Congress revoked the territorial law in the Edmunds-Tucker Act, and women were denied the vote until Utah was admitted as a state in 1896. Less well known is that there was an 1880 judicial attack on women’s suffrage in Utah. Read more »

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 »