Liberal Arts

Economics – Law – Philosophy – etc.

Dow 6,000

March 30, 2009 | 14 comments
By

One of the things people find odd about Mormons is our claim to be led by a prophet. Read more »

Confronting Modernity

March 18, 2009 | 25 comments
By

I recently finished up Hans Kung’s Great Christian Thinkers, which reviews the work of seven theologians (Paul, Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Schleiermacher, and Barth). From an LDS perspective, the most interesting of the bunch is Friedrich Schleiermacher, who Kung terms “the paradigmatic theologian of modernity.” The question he presents to LDS readers is how our approach to religion and doctrine deals with modernity. Is our approach premodern, modern, or postmodern (which in theology generally means some version of neo-orthodoxy)? Read more »

Garment Rights?

March 5, 2009 | 125 comments
By

Do we have a right to wear garments? If we do, how far does that right go? What , kind of right is it? Is it a human right? Or a legal one that might disappear and reappear as we pass national boundaries? Read more »

Theology and Conversation

February 24, 2009 | 11 comments
By

It’s hard for Mormons to find an accessible doorway into theology. David F. Ford’s short book Theology: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 1999) is the first I’ve found to really give me some traction with this elusive subject. Read more »

A New Book for the Mormon Canon

February 22, 2009 | 7 comments
By

There are a number of Mormon pamphlets and books that have achieved a kind of semi-canonical status within Mormon studies. Everyone agrees, for example, that Parley P. Pratt’s Key to the Science of Theology or John Taylor’s Mediation and Atonement are key texts for understanding nineteenth Mormon thought. If any evidence is needed, both texts, I believe, are still in print. At the very least both have produced modern reprints. I have a proposed addition to the canon, George Q. Cannon’s A Review of the Decision of the Supreme Court in the Case of Geo. Reynolds v. the United... Read more »

A Short Lesson on Multipliers

February 13, 2009 | 50 comments
By

This is just a post about Keynesian mulitpliers with no particular religious content.  You have been warned and forewarned.   Read more »

Commentary on 1 Ne. 17, concluded

February 3, 2009 | 2 comments
By

Continuing part 1 , part 2, and part 3. Nephi’s response to his brothers directly attacks their understanding of Moses’s significance. Read more »

Intellectual Conversion

February 3, 2009 | 49 comments
By

Seven Storey Mountain is Thomas Merton’s autobiographical account of his increasing restlessness with a worldly life. He converts to Catholicism and eventually enters one of the most strict (the strictest?) Catholic orders: a Trappist monastery. What has fascinated me Read more »

Expected Value of A Fetus

February 2, 2009 | 39 comments
By

A thoughtful reader asked me if there were any economic tools that could be brought to bear in valuing a fetus.  Of course there are!  And in fewer than a 1000 words, no less! Read more »

The Political Uses of Debt and Mormon History

January 30, 2009 | 9 comments
By

Yesterday’s discussion got me thinking about debt, in particular the political uses of debt.  Here, I think that the experience of the American Revolution and the failure of the Confederacy may have something to tell us about Mormon history. Read more »

The Totality of Mortality

January 8, 2009 | 60 comments
By

When I picked up my manual to prepare to teach Gospel Doctrine this Sunday, I figured it would be a lesson about the spirit of Elijah (second week = section 2 = turning hearts, etc). I was surprised and delighted to find that Lesson 2 is instead about the atonement, highlighting powerhouse passages in Doctrine & Covenants sections 19, 76, 88, and 93. While reading the material I was reminded of a favorite quote from Chieko Okazaki on the topic and had a hankering to share it. Read more »

Call for Papers: SMPT at Claremont, 2009

January 7, 2009 | 3 comments
By

The Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology’s 2009 conference will be held at Claremont Graduate University, May 21-23, in cooperation with the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies and the Claremont Mormon Studies Student Association. Read more »

The Gospel and Immigration

November 17, 2008 | 108 comments
By
The Gospel and Immigration

A High Priest I know is in crisis. He is an immigrant who, like many other Church members, came to the US without a visa, according to what I understand of the situation. After arriving here he joined the Church, and eventually fell in love and married a U.S. Citizen, a wonderful, faithful Church member. This situation would normally put him on track for a green card and U.S. citizenship. But this brother is facing deportation, and his ward and stake are praying for a miracle that will keep him here in the United States. Read more »

Rhetoric, Ideology and Prop 8

November 14, 2008 | 132 comments
By

In the run up to and in the wake of Prop 8, Latter-day Saint proponents of the measure have often tried to parse their words carefully when discussing their support for it in order to avoid charges of bigotry and hate for opposing the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. Echoing a refrain from the late Gordon B. Hinckley, Mormon Prop 8 supporters have often tried to explain that they are “not anti-gay, but pro-marriage.” This effort, however, has clearly failed to shield members from allegations of discrimination. Read more »

What Should Mormons Do?

November 12, 2008 | 44 comments
By

The Associated Press reported yesterday that Mormon employees at the University of Phoenix benefited from discrimination based on religion, according to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The University settled the suit, paying $1.9 million to 52 employees (an average of more than $36,000 each!) and agreeing to a “zero-tolerance” policy to religious discrimination, but did not admit wrongdoing. What’s up with that? Read more »

Teaching the Reformation

October 19, 2008 | 34 comments
By

Just as I went to publish this post, I saw Ben’s post about the conference on Mormons and Evangelicals. It’s a nice coincidence. As are the recent posts by Kent and Marc on labeling and categorizing. I was already scheduled to attend another conference this week, an annual conference for historians of the Reformation (surely you knew about it), where I’ll be part of an ongoing panel devoted to issues in teaching. This year’s issue is “Defining Protestantism,” as everyone is rightly concerned about labels we impose on people. Five or six scholars make up the panel, and we... Read more »

Court Finds Mormonism is Not “Protestantism”

October 16, 2008 | 19 comments
By

An appellate court in Arkansas last week refused to overturn a lower court ruling which found a woman’s ex-husband in contempt of court for failing to raise their minor children “in the Protestant faith” after the ex-husband started promoting his Mormonism to their children. While many Mormons, and the Church itself even, would agree with the idea that Mormonism is not a Protestant faith, it seems to me that having courts making theological determinations about what denominations constitute “Protestant” is wading into some pretty murky territory. What if the custody agreement had stipulated... Read more »

A Nobel calling

October 13, 2008 | 24 comments
By

I’m very happy to see this year’s Nobel Prize in economics going to Paul Krugman, whose columns in the New York Times helped me see the importance of the discipline of economics as nothing else ever had. I think Mormon scholarship could use more scholars like Paul Krugman (quite apart from the Nobel and the weekly NYT column) Read more »

The Difficulty of Theological Interpretations of Mormon History

October 9, 2008 | 26 comments
By

Providing a theological interpretation of Mormon history is tricky. I’ve argued elsewhere that one of the reasons that Mormons care so much about history is that in some sense they regard it has having a normative force. Part of how we understand God’s will is by offering an interpretation of our past that sees in it the working out of God’s purposes. On this view, God is involved in the story of the Restoration and a careful parsing of that story will reveal something about God. This, of course, is the sort of thing that sets the teeth of... Read more »

Questions about Personal Responsibility and the Economic Bailout

September 24, 2008 | 39 comments
By

How should we think about personal responsibility in light of the financial bailout currently being debated in Washington, D.C.? Read more »

Morality, Legality and Alcohol

September 24, 2008 | 20 comments
By

The church issued a statement about alcohol laws in Utah. The last paragraph reads: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that Utahns, including those who work in the hospitality industry, can come together as citizens, regardless of religion or politics, to support laws and regulations that allow individual freedom of choice while preserving Utah’s proven positive health and safety record on limiting the tragic consequences of overconsumption of alcohol.” Read more »

Changing Conceptions of Zion

September 8, 2008 | 26 comments
By

The Mormon conception of Zion has changed dramatically over the past century. Today’s members of the church are likely to define “Zion” as wherever the members of the church are: LDS homes, congregations, and stakes. While the conception of Zion in the 19th century may have included these elements, these Saints were determined to literally be Zion communities Read more »

Returning to Zion

September 8, 2008 | 11 comments
By

Given all that might be said of Mormonism, it should not come as a surprise that a lot of interesting topics sit pretty much neglected. One of these, I would argue, is the Mormon contribution to building settlements in the United States. Read more »

Global Warming, Redefining Marriage, and Risk Aversion

August 15, 2008 | 47 comments
By

I think we can all agree that, from a risk analysis perspective, global warming and gay marriage share a lot of characteristics. Read more »