Blog Archives

Nothing to Apologize For (Part II)

July 25, 2012 | 63 comments

I argued in Part I that the move from “apologetics” to “Mormon Studies” requires a bracketing of truth claims that may serve legitimate scholarly purposes, but that carries with it certain significant risks.  The New Mormon Studies presents orthodoxy as stifling and itself as intellectually liberating, but it risks purveying a more subtle and powerful conformism, the conformism of secular academic prestige and careerism.  This is intended, not as a condemnation, but as an alert.  We ought to embrace... Read more »

Nothing to Apologize For (Part I)

July 20, 2012 | 75 comments

The recent unpleasantness at BYU’s Maxwell Institute has, the reader will have noticed, triggered much comment on the internet, including celebrations in some quarters over the supposed demise or at least eclipse of certain defenders of the faith at the Institute —characterized by some as apologists — who have been willing over the years to call out arguments they see as weakly reasoned and hold critics of the Church to account for their claims.   Although I do not... Read more »

Interreligious — not Irreligious — Diplomacy

June 17, 2010 | 49 comments

Before I sign off – or am run out of town – I might serve you well by offering a perspective on an extremely interesting conference held last weekend on the USC campus in LA. The conference was titled “Mormon Engagement with World Religions,” and was organized by Randall Paul, founder of the Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy, and by Brian Birch, head of the LDS chapter of same Foundation. Randall’s vision of the inter-religious conversation is quite rich and distinctive. He is not interested in diluting or understating doctrines in order to commune lamely on some lowest common denominator... Read more »

Taking it to the Third Order

June 15, 2010 | 29 comments

Since my “second-order” questioning elicited little discussion (albeit 200+ responses), let me try to “take it up a notch,” as George Constanza might say (forgive the erudite cultural references).  Herewith, the “third order,” the Meta-Meta Meditation on the problem of politics/morality/religion.  (I gather my guest privileges will expire before we have a chance to go to the Fourth Order, which would start to make me a little nervous anyway, since I don’t know what the Fifth Order might be.)  Anyway, here, from my forthcoming blockbuster, The Responsibility of Reason*, is a fragment of that third-order reflection.  (Is it relevant... Read more »

LDS & Public Square

June 8, 2010 | 250 comments

 OK, now that we’ve basically cleared up any confusion surrounding the ontological status of agency and atonement, let me see what you think about something a little more… political. For many years friends and I had considered the possibility of some kind of political-philosophy oriented educational foundation that would try to help religious people, and LDS in particular, to navigate the world of ideas as these concern politics, broadly understood.   What finally got some of us off the dime with this concern was the controversy surrounding the Church’s efforts in favor of Prop 8 in California. Let me first... Read more »

A Fortunate Fall and Ontological Agency, cont.

June 4, 2010 | 16 comments

Thanks for some good suggestions, objections, discussion re. my first post.  Let me try to kick the can down the road just a bit further with a few more reflections: First, the Fortunate Fall  — that the Fall is good news, is extremely well attested in quite authoritative (or at least, to me, impressive) statements by LDS authorities.  To put it simply: to be fallen and then redeemed is better than never to have fallen.  I don’t have my sources here to document this – feel free to help me here if you wish – but I have little... Read more »

Agency and Atonement

June 2, 2010 | 22 comments

Thanks, Marc for the introduction, and for the opportunity to converse with friends old and new at T & S. Before I annoy (at least some of) you with some political reflections, let me run past you some thoughts on agency and atonement that occurred to me in trying to teach Religion 121 (Book of Mormon Part 1) to BYU students.  I’m not sure I connected with many of themwith these ontological meditations on Second Nephi 2, but I’m hoping somewhere out there in this cyberspace I might find some interested interlocutors.  As I review the question of agency with... Read more »