News and Politics

Politics – Current Events – Media

Announcing the BYU & Maxwell Institute 2015 Summer Seminar

November 20, 2014 | no comments
By
Maxwell Institute Logo

In the summer of 2015, the Neal A Maxwell Institute at Brigham Young University, with support from the Mormon Scholars Foundation, will sponsor a summer seminar for graduate students, CES educators,  and other qualified individuals, on “ORGANIZING THE KINGDOM: PRIESTHOOD, CHURCH GOVERNMENT, AND THE FORMS OF LDS WORSHIP.” The seminar continues the series of seminars on Mormon culture begun in the summer of 1997. This iteration will be conducted by Terryl Givens, Professor of Literature and Religion and James A. Bostwick Chair of English at the University of Richmond. Givens writes: This particular seminar will continue a series begun... Read more »

“A New Affirmation on Marriage”: A sneer at the Mormon Church?

November 20, 2014 | 70 comments
By
“A New Affirmation on Marriage”:  A sneer at the Mormon Church?

Intended or unintended, the document “A New Affirmation on Marriage” of the interreligious conference at the Vatican can be read as a sneer at the Mormon Church (or as a hint for change). Indeed, this concluding document of the “International Interreligious Colloquium on The Complementarity of Man and Woman” starts with a lengthy eulogy of the wedding ceremony, with full emphasis on the presence and feelings of family and friends. More than half of the text is devoted to that exquisite moment. Read more »

My morning with McBaine and Wiman

November 20, 2014 | 3 comments
By

As happens every now and then, I had a furious, fortuitous conjoining that so filled the boughs with fruit that they now creak and threaten to break. And language—especially quick language—isn’t likely to succeed in conveying the experience. What follows is a quick, momentary set of notes. But I don’t want to let it pass or hold back; I want to attempt to capture and share a moment of clear resonation. Riding in to work I was reading two books: Christian Wiman’s utterly unparalleled My Bright Abyss (review forthcoming) and Neylan McBaine’s desperately needed Women at Church. The one... Read more »

The Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon, Take Five

November 19, 2014 | 3 comments
By

And now we hear from Joe Spencer: Read more »

The Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon, Take Four

November 19, 2014 | 15 comments
By

Today’s entry was written by Grant Hardy: Read more »

Two Thoughts on President Eyring’s Talk at the Vatican Colloquium

November 18, 2014 | 16 comments
By
Two Thoughts on President Eyring’s Talk at the Vatican Colloquium

You can read the transcript here; two quick thoughts: Read more »

Family Home Evening: Repentance

November 18, 2014 | 4 comments
By
Family Home Evening: Repentance

I think I’ve kvetched before about how hard it is to plan meaningful FHEs with older kids.  Read more »

The Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon, Take Three

November 18, 2014 | 3 comments
By

This entry is a bit different because it is a sample assignment for one day, not a complete syllabus. Read more »

The Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon, Take Two

November 17, 2014 | 10 comments
By

Our next entry comes from Matt W. (see the first post and explanation here). Read more »

The Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon, Take One

November 13, 2014 | 20 comments
By

One big change resulting from the new CES and BYU Religious Ed curriculum will be that, instead of two classes on the Book of Mormon, now only one will be required; here is its description: Read more »

Mormons and Politics

November 12, 2014 | 2 comments
By

Readers may be interested in a recent episode of the “Research on Religion Podcast,” featuring Quin Monson (BYU) and Dave Campbell (Notre Dame) discussing their new book Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics (also co-authored with John C. Green). The book is the first full length study by professional political scientists of the place of Mormons in contemporary American politics. Scholarly discussions of Mormonism tend to be dominated by those trained either as historians or else (more recently) in religious studies. The work of Monson, Campbell, and Green is important because it brings in a bit more... Read more »

Reading and Writing (Genesis): Books, books, and more books

November 12, 2014 | 14 comments
By

I have a few things in my way before being able to work full-time on Genesis 1- a recalcitrant article draft, some travel, volunteer work, etc. In the meantime, I’m making slow but good progress. I’m beginning to suspect the most important parts of the book will be the first two sections dealing with groundwork/assumptions and LDS entanglements with Genesis, not the last two sections on the ancient Near Eastern context or the text/translation itself. I’m interested in a lot of things that are secondary or tertiary to the main thrust of the book, such as the history of biblical... Read more »

Doux Commerce in the City of God

November 10, 2014 | 6 comments
By

I just put up an essay at the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) that readers of this blog might find interesting. It’s a response to some of Hugh Nibley’s writings on Zion and commerce. Nibley was famously critical of the mercantile ethic, arguing that trade and capitalism were fundamentally hostile to the ideal of Zion. This essay takes a more optimistic view of commerce, drawing on the ideas eighteenth-century thinkers like Montesquieu, who saw in the rise of markets a fundamentally pro-social force with the potential to limit violence and conflict. I’ll let readers judge the ultimate merits of... Read more »

I Need My Kids

November 10, 2014 | 31 comments
By
Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter in "Raising Arizona".

Last month, my friend Betsy VanDenBerghe wrote a piece for Real Clear Religion inspired alternately by Pope Francis and the Coen brothers’ 1987 comedy Raising Arizona about Why Children Are Better Than Pets. Her central question was: What would a society of adults skewed toward childlessness, like the perpetually barren Time magazine beach couple, look and act like without having acquired the altruism, personal growth, and wisdom that bringing up children generally bequeaths on those who undergo parenthood? Her piece really resonated with me. My life has not gone at all as planned over the last several years. Without going into... Read more »

2015 Summer Seminar on Mormon Theology

November 6, 2014 | 4 comments
By
2015 Summer Seminar on Mormon Theology

The Second Annual Summer Seminar on Mormon Theology “Christ and Antichrist: Reading Jacob 7” Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York June 8—June 20, 2015 Read more »

Q&A with Myself

November 4, 2014 | 42 comments
By

Q. Are you an apologist or neo-apologist? A. No, I’m just a philosopher. Others have said I’m an apologist, but I’ve never been interested in apologetics. Mormonism can stand on its own two feet and it doesn’t need me to defend it. Read more »

The Next Generation’s Faith Crisis

October 31, 2014 | 95 comments
By
The Next Generation’s Faith Crisis

Let me share a friend’s story; it won’t be new to you. He was raised in the church, did all the things, went on a mission, blah blah blah, and in his 30s, heard for the first time that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by looking at a stone in a hat. Read more »

Mormon Weakness

October 30, 2014 | 20 comments
By

My position is a weak one. But the question is: why? Read more »

Constructive Thoughts on the Curriculum Shift

October 29, 2014 | 15 comments
By

As I’ve stopped hyperventilating over the leak of this forthcoming change, I’ve had some thoughts. I have a general rule when I’m in Gospel Doctrine that I try not to say anything unless it’s constructive (or the teacher says something really flagrantly crazy/wrong, which is rare in my experience.) Let me open with this positiveness, then. BYU’s RelEd has some fantastic people, some new hires, and good things happening. I’ll single out the Advanced Book of Mormon class. The two Fall 2014 sections are not the first time this class has been taught. The two “regular” Book of Mormon classes are prerequisites, the syllabi... Read more »

Letter to a CES Student

October 28, 2014 | 99 comments
By

It’s important to keep our tough questions about Mormonism in perspective. And, especially, we need to keep the genuinely urgent questions front and center. The big problems are straightforward. We’re dying here. You and I. We’re getting sick, we’re getting old, and we’re dying. Our lives are small and our time is short. Our days are filled with suffering of all kinds: distress, worry, boredom, frustration, and loss. Read more »

New BYU Religious Ed and CES Curriculum

October 27, 2014 | 83 comments
By

According to this letter posted on William Hamblin’s blog, big changes are afoot.   Read more »

Alma and Apocalypse

October 27, 2014 | 9 comments
By
Alma and Apocalypse

In Understanding the Book of Mormon, Grant Hardy argues that an important part of the Book of Mormon’s meaning emerges from how it alludes to, comments on, or patterns itself after other stories, such as Joseph in Egypt, the Exodus, and the Fall. Another such story not discussed by Hardy but central to understanding the Book of Mormon is, I think, the end of the world. Read more »

New Polygamy Essays

October 22, 2014 | 125 comments
By

Read them here, here, and here. I’ll leave the squabbling over whether they fairly represented the historical situation to those who get paid the big bucks to consider those questions and instead look at a tangential issue: how they depict the way that prophets receive revelation. Read more »

Mormonism Isn’t About Mormonism

October 22, 2014 | 6 comments
By

It’s a mistake to think that Mormonism is about Mormonism. Read more »