Blog Archives

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 »

Persecution and the Art of Mormon Writing

July 24, 2006 | 16 comments

This is a post about Mormonism and Leo Strauss. Read more »

The Language of Scripture Alone

July 23, 2006 | 11 comments

I can think of at least three different ways in which one can read the scriptures. Read more »

The Smell of Tobacco in Church

July 19, 2006 | 89 comments

On the whole, I am in favor of the smell of tobacco in church, but it is a tricky question. Read more »

Taking the Book of Mormon Seriously

July 14, 2006 | 59 comments

Over at BCC Taryn has an interesting post on the Book of Mormon and socialism. Her basic claim is that the Book of Mormon endorses socialism. At one level, I think that she is absolutely correct, on another level I think that the claim is vacuous. Read more »

“But for that, Walt. But for that…”

July 13, 2006 | 27 comments
“But for that, Walt.  But for that…”

I always find it interesting to hear what people think of as being central and peripheral to Mormon experience. Take sex for example. Read more »

Domesticating Peepstones

July 12, 2006 | 34 comments
Domesticating Peepstones

I like Michael’s post about seer stones. Read more »


July 4, 2006 | 14 comments

It was a long, hot day filled with furniture assembly and nagging ideological frustrations. Read more »

Priesthood and the Socialization of Males

June 29, 2006 | 104 comments

Statistically speaking, males seem to be responsible for the great majority of human-made suffering. Read more »

How Seriously Should We Take Satan?

June 28, 2006 | 34 comments

How seriously ought we to take Satan? Read more »

Mormon Familial Amoralism?

June 26, 2006 | 34 comments

In 1958 a political scientist published a book on the culture of Southern Italy that may have something to say about one of the potential pit falls of Mormonism. Read more »

The Apparent Inevitability of Literary Criticism

June 24, 2006 | 54 comments

As readers of this blog may know, I have my problems with narrative. Read more »

Nibley and the Scriptorians

June 23, 2006 | 56 comments

Perhaps it is just me, but “scriptorian” seems to be an honorific that has fallen out of favor. Read more »

A Letter to a Friend Going to the Temple for the First Time

June 22, 2006 | 142 comments

By and large, I don’t think that we do a particularlly good job preparing members to go to the temple for the first time. As a result, I think that many members — especially converts without close family members who have been to the temple — get worried about what is going to happen, especially if they have heard any of the discussion in the bloggernacle or elsewhere about “issues” with the temple. Here is what I would write to such a person: Read more »