General Doctrine

Summer Seminar update

August 8, 2007 | no comments

For those interested in the BYU summer seminar, I’ve revised the post, adding the titles of and abstracts for the papers. Read more »

Why a Second Coming?

February 22, 2007 | 25 comments

It might seem that there are few Hegelians in the world today. Read more »


February 3, 2007 | 13 comments

In Comparative World Religions (REL 151) my freshman year I was taught that the word “Holy” is derived, or related to the word “Whole.” The basic idea being that part of being a perfect Divine being is the state of being complete, whole, or finished. I’ve wondered in the past just what perfect really means for individual people. Especially as it relates to our ideas of resurrection, as outlined in Alma, “The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame.” Reading this account of... Read more »

Who took the LD out of LDS?

June 28, 2006 | 97 comments

-or- What ever happened to the good ol’ last days? -or- Where have all the millennialists gone? Read more »

History and Scripture

June 24, 2006 | 65 comments

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Joseph Smith chopped down the Sacred Grove

June 14, 2006 | 57 comments

Twelve years ago my family piled in a rented RV and drove cross-country to attend a wedding reception for my older brother and his wife in Minnesota. On the way we stopped at the church history sites in Missouri, including Independence, Liberty Jail, and Far West. Read more »

Structural apostasy

June 12, 2006 | 119 comments

Off the top of my head, I think that in the Church we generally mean one of three things when we use the word “apostasy”: Read more »

Prophecy vs. History

March 24, 2006 | 32 comments

Not too long ago, I stumbled across the PBS presentation of Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel (2d ed. 1999). It reminded me of dealing with the book at college and enjoying the ideas presented and the sweeping take of world history that it offered. But while watching the presentation and contemplating the message of the book itself, I was reminded about how much Diamond’s whole analysis depends solely on inference from extremely scant historical evidence. Read more »

Market Dominant Minorities in the Book of Mormon

March 16, 2006 | 42 comments

Market Dominant Minorities Read more »

Chance in Creation

February 15, 2006 | 54 comments

The most recent lesson in the Wilford Woodruff manual contains a quote from a general conference sermon given by Woodruff on April 6, 1872: The Lord never created this world at random; he has never done any of his work at random. The earth was created for certain purposes; and one of these purposes was its final redemption, and the establishment of his government and kingdom upon it in the latter days, to prepare it for the reign of the lord Jesus Christ, whose right it is to reign. That set time has come, that dispensation is before us,... Read more »

On the Brilliance of Hollow Slogans

February 7, 2006 | 33 comments

Last week, a bizarre demand was thrust on me by a flier advertising a leadership training program: “BECOME YOURSELF!” the photocopied handout vigorously proclaimed. Who, I wondered, does this flier suppose that I am being right now? Obviously not J. Nelson-Seawright; otherwise, there would be no reason to request that I become J. N-S, would there? Perhaps I have, without quite realizing it, been impersonating Woody Allen? Or Gabriel Garcia Marquez? Read more »

Dear Jane

January 26, 2006 | 60 comments

Dear Jane, I don’t know you—at least I don’t think I do—but I have been struck by your willingness to speak openly and honestly about your situation. My Sikh friends speak of “seekers.” You are genuinely a seeker and, so, a person deserving of respect, including the respect of response. However, I haven’t had anything to say in response until now when you ask, “Does the gospel make sense (comment 23)?” Read more »

Deny Not the Gifts of God

January 22, 2006 | 34 comments

I think Terryl Givens was right. I think a primary purpose of the Book of Mormon is to drive each of us toward real dialogue with the living God. And I think Moroni is right – that if we as Mormons are not experiencing some kind of regular dialogue with God we are denying the gifts of God. Read more »

Theology and Idolatry

November 8, 2005 | 25 comments

Let me present a sketch–though only a sketch and a very broad one at that–of how one might think about theology, both about a problem with it and one of the possible responses to that problem. Read more »

Thinking about the Trinity

October 20, 2005 | 74 comments

It is hardly news to this crowd that Mormons don’t accept the traditional understanding of the Godhead, the Trinity. Read more »

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

April 16, 2005 | 12 comments

Lately I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the gift of the Holy Ghost. In one sense, nothing profound has come from that thinking. I’ve felt that my thinking has been worth the effort it took. I have enjoyed the spirit I felt while thinking about it and feel better prepared to received the Holy Ghost, but my thinking hasn’t something that can be reproduced in an essay. Read more »


March 26, 2005 | 10 comments

Yesterday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, here at Notre Dame, I attended a service of prayer and lamentation called “Tenebrae”, remembering the darkness of the night when Christ suffered in Gethsemane and was arrested, and anticipating his death. It closed with a final candle carried out, leaving us in complete darkness, and the congregation producing a loud noise, like the rolling of the stone to close the grave. Today I had a conversation with some friends, in which we reflected on the meaning of these events, and the difference in the darkness from a Mormon point of... Read more »

Patience with Joseph

March 7, 2005 | 2 comments

At the time the Church was organized, Joseph was called as its prophet and the Saints were told : “Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.” Read more »

Keys and Authority

February 20, 2005 | 14 comments

In Gospel Doctrine class today, we read several verses from Doctrine and Covenants in which the keys of the priesthood are referred to. (We are on lesson eight.) An example is D&C 84:19: “This greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.” Read more »

From the Pulpit: Notes on Repentance

January 23, 2005 | 17 comments

In the noble tradition of literary hacks who never miss an opportunity to recycle old material, here are the interesting bits of a sacrament meeting talk I delivered in church today. Repentance is, at its simplest, a turning away from sin and a returning to God. Read more »

Petitionary Prayer

December 26, 2004 | 32 comments

If we remember that the Father already knows our needs and desires, then the idea of prayer is strange. Read more »

Two Questions from Jim F. (2)

October 19, 2004 | 39 comments

Second question (go here for the first): This question is more philosophical. Read more »

(When) are bloggers permitted to criticize church leaders?

October 6, 2004 | 320 comments

This topic has come up in recent posts around the bloggernacle. For example, Rusty at Nine Moons discusses an instance where a bishop committed all of the men in the ward to “1) To never watch an R-rated movie ever again. Also, to never watch a PG-13 rated movie without his wife’s permission. 2) To use the internet (at home presumably) only with his wife’s permission (by assigning a password on the computer that only the wife knows).” The comments to Rusty’s post include a number of attacks on him for posting criticism of the Bishop. (e.g., “did you... Read more »

Getting Philosophical about Food Storage

September 16, 2004 | 61 comments

The thing is: we don’t eat the kinds of foods that one can store. A large chunk of our grocery purchases consist of fresh fruit, frozen vegetables (not the square carrots!), and cheese. Whenever I feel all penitent and motivated to store more food, I always hit a wall due to the discrepency between what we eat and what can be stored. Read more »