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Guest Book Review: The Early Prophets by Everett Fox

December 10, 2014 | 5 comments
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Guest Book Review: The Early Prophets by Everett Fox

This guest book review was written by frequent commenter Terry H.     Read more »

Nominate the 2014 Mormon of the Year

December 8, 2014 | 111 comments
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It is time, once again, to select the Mormon of the Year! Read more »

Hypersensitivity and Trolls: A Codependent Dysfunction

December 8, 2014 | 23 comments
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2014-12-08 Troll-No-Powers

Introduction My first posts at Times and Seasons were about epistemic humility, which is the awareness of the limits of knowledge. One of the common responses I got at the time was to ask how conviction was compatible with such an emphasis on uncertainty. The quote I led with (“The wise man doubts often, and changes his mind.”) seemed like a perfect setup for the ominous lines from Yeats’ The Second Coming: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” The answer is that even if one accepts the adage that “all models... Read more »

My Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith

December 4, 2014 | 42 comments
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My Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith

I was asked to share a brief testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith in sacrament meeting last week. To the best of my recollection, this is what I said: Read more »

Book Review: Jesus the Christ Study Guide

December 2, 2014 | 33 comments
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Book Review: Jesus the Christ Study Guide

 Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Thomas A. Wayment, Jesus the Christ Study Guide   Read more »

All things testify of Joseph Smith: on the ethics and theology of faith-promoting legends

December 1, 2014 | 7 comments
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All things testify of Joseph Smith: on the ethics and theology of faith-promoting legends

While faith should be founded on truth rather than fiction, we shouldn’t overlook how devotional legends reflect creative and democratic processes of theology-formation. Here, for example, is a faith-promoting legend that might have been Read more »

Recommended NT Resources, part 3: History and Commentary

November 27, 2014 | 16 comments
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(Cross-posted at Benjamin the Scribe.) First, Amazon is offering 30% off any physical book you buy for the next two days, by entering HOLIDAY30 at the checkout. Great time to pick up that hardcover Jewish Study Bible,  Jewish Annotated New Testament, NRSV, or similar “expensive” hardcover you can’t get otherwise. Amazon link to the details. Short list. This was really hard to put together, much more than my OT list.  Read more »

Day 2 of Gratitude

November 26, 2014 | 2 comments
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Day 2 of Gratitude

Prayers of Gratitude—Sunday, November 9 . . . was the annual Primary Program, one of my favorite Sundays of the year. Though many find this day difficult, I simply have to smile at the unpredictable entertainment, as well as the sincere belief and sincere silliness of little children. Moreover, there is the pleasure of watching someone else discipline my rowdy children while I sit and enjoy whatever message I can glean from the too-close-to-the-microphone yelling of three-year-olds. This year I did get a message. Read more »

When to Disobey

November 24, 2014 | 110 comments
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2014-11-24 Naughty Dog

I’ve been having some interesting conversations about the high cost of membership in the Church. We believe, in general, that the cost of being a Mormon is high and that this is a good thing. Sacrifice leads to faith. We pour a lot of time and a lot of energy into the Church, and this helps us value our membership more than if the Church asked less of us. But it can be taken to extremes. There are reasons to say “no” to something our leaders ask of us, and foremost among those is the sake of our families.... Read more »

Short Musings on the Wu-Tang Clan, Ezekiel, and Church Curriculum

November 23, 2014 | 7 comments
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Short Musings on the Wu-Tang Clan, Ezekiel, and Church Curriculum

Yesterday at a restaurant with my parents, I heard a nice bluesy instrumental over the audio system. I’m a blues fan, and liked it so much I flagged down the waitress to ask what it was. She went to check, and reported to our mutual surprise, that that particular song was “Slow Blues” by the Wu-Tang Clan! I don’t know much about Wu-Tang or the ODB, but I’m familiar enough to know that this is not their usual genre. Most of their music, from what I can tell, is fairly explicit rap. I imagine their CDs (if they still exist)... Read more »

Announcing the BYU & Maxwell Institute 2015 Summer Seminar

November 20, 2014 | no comments
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Maxwell Institute Logo

UPDATED: The original version of this post didn’t include the link to the application form. That link was added on Dec 10, 2014. 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... Read more »

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

November 20, 2014 | 70 comments
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“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
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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
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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
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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
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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 | 5 comments
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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
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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
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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
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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 | 3 comments
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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
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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
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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 | 32 comments
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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 »