Religious and Secular Authority: Frying Pans and Fires

November 25, 2013 | 3 comments
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Who cares if you're probably gonna sink? Get out of the boat anyway.

Dave Banack wrote just two weeks ago–here at Times And Seasons–about the atheological atonement. His two conclusions were first, that the Church doesn’t have a specific theory of the atonement and second, that this is  probably a good thing: The Church’s prior forays into theology have produced questionable results. Silence on the subject gives LDS thinkers leeway to publish their own helpful speculative discussions. In any case, it’s the atonement that will save you, not a theory of the atonement or even the one true theory of the atonement. I definitely agree with the general wariness of formal theology... Read more »

Personal (Bloggernacle) History

November 24, 2013 | 6 comments
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PHB1_high1

Sometime in late 2003 or early 2004, Steve Evans told me I needed to check out his website: rameumptom.blogspot.com. At the time, the nascent bloggernacle was so young that By Common Consent didn't yet have a name (I think the name was voted on sometime during that first year). He may have also pointed me to Times & Seasons, or I may have found it linked on his blog. But I found T&S at approximately the same time. Read more »

Literary DCGD #45: Marriage

November 24, 2013 | no comments
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Literary DCGD #45: Marriage

The Mormon conception of marriage is central to our theology and understanding of the next life. We see marriage as the beginning of eternal families, and a key element of eternal progression. Doctrine and Covenants Gospel Doctrine lesson #45 explores this belief, but, I think, doesn’t quite get at how or why marriage might be so central to eternal life. The following poem may explain somewhat. Read more »

Times and Seasons: The First Year

November 21, 2013 | 5 comments
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Ten years is a long time, even in the real world. When Adam put up the first Times and Seasons post on Nov. 19, 2003, there was no WordPress. There was no Bloggernacle. There were just six T&S permabloggers (Nate, Matt, Adam, Kaimi, Greg, and Gordon) and a handful of commenters. Those were the days. Below are links to fifteen or twenty representative posts from the first year, with a few commenter names thrown in to give credit to the early followers of the blog. Read more »

Happy 10th Birthday, Times and Seasons

November 19, 2013 | 8 comments
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Happy 10th Birthday, Times and Seasons

I’m not sure what it is about this time of year that leads to the anniversaries that we have this week. In the U.S. many are obsessed with the coming 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Today is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, leading to an effort this year to get many in the U.S. to memorize the address. And on November 19, 2003, Adam G. posted the first item on Times and Seasons, a post entitled “Whatever I say three times is true.” Since I wasn’t involved at the time, I’ll defer to someone... Read more »

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: Business and Theology

November 18, 2013 | 20 comments
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2013-11-18 The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The study of management—of human beings going about their ordinary business of making a living—is one of the richest and most profound venues for the study of theology. Once you’ve considered the idea, it seems obvious. But of course, most of us don’t consider that idea. I never did, until very recently. What could be more antithetical to spiritual reality than the world of business? Even if I thought Hugh Nibley’s critiques on business were a disappointingly infantile digression from an otherwise heroic figure, the idea that the world of mammon could actually be a source of spiritual insight... Read more »

Literary DCGD #44: The Nauvoo Legion

November 17, 2013 | no comments
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Literary DCGD #44: The Nauvoo Legion

Mormons believe in being good citizens, and Doctrine and Covenants Gospel Doctrine lesson #44 discusses a little how that is supposed to work. We are supposed to participate, obey the law and to serve others in our communities. But are there limits on this responsibility? How much should we give to our communities? Are there limits on the sacrifice we should make? Things we should not do? In the following poem, Eliza R. Snow lauds those who serve the Nauvoo community, in response to a very real need at the time: defense against mob violence. And some of the... Read more »

The Atheological Atonement

November 13, 2013 | 24 comments
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The Atheological Atonement

I presented a paper on vicarious atonement at the recent SMPT Conference. To prepare the paper, I reviewed the various theories of the atonement offered by Christian theology as well as the LDS view(s) of the atonement. I came to two mildly surprising conclusions. Read more »

The Missing Mormon Literary Renaissance

November 11, 2013 | 96 comments
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2013-11-11 Kurt Vonnegut

Mark Oppenheimer wants to know why there are no great Mormon writers. More specifically: In the United States, Jews, blacks and South Asians, while they have produced no Milton or Shakespeare — who has, lately? — have all had literary renaissances. Mormons are more likely to produce work that gets shelved in niche sections of the bookstore. And as it turns out, Mormon authors themselves wonder if their culture militates against more highbrow writing. They have a range of possible explanations. Now, before we get to the question of why there are no great Mormon writers, I have to... Read more »

Literary Lorenzo Snow #22: Remember the Poor

November 10, 2013 | 2 comments
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Literary Lorenzo Snow #22: Remember the Poor

Its been a decade or more since practicing “random acts of kindness” became a kind of fad here in the U.S. I’ve always liked the concept, and I’ve practiced it on occasion. But I don’t think its a substitute for the kind of doing good to others that Lorenzo Snow manual lesson #22 is talking about. While “random acts of kindness” might be a starting point, its no substitute for “mourning with those that mourn” or “comforting those that stand in need of comfort.” Perhaps the difference between the random, transitory nature of the “random acts of kindness” fad... Read more »

Stewardship

November 10, 2013 | 3 comments
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Stewardship

When I was in college, I took a Shakespeare class. The text was one of those huge editions of the complete works, with lots of notes further expanding its length. Read more »

Literary DCGD #43: Entreaty

November 10, 2013 | no comments
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What exactly is the “whole armor of God?” Lesson 43 of the Doctrine and Covenants Gospel Doctrine manual explores this concept, drawing from D&C 27:15-18, and its inspiration, Ephesians 6:13-18. But while both these scriptural texts point to principles that represent various pieces of body armor, its sometimes hard to see how these principles actually protect us. If we look at an actual struggle, what pieces of armor will we see in use? The following poem may provide some insight. Read more »

“Cannot Change”

November 7, 2013 | 93 comments
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This announcement from the newsroom (related to ENDA and a statement from Harry Reid that “the church is changing” ) contains this sentence: “As such, traditional marriage is a foundational doctrine and cannot change.” Read more »

On Missions, Books, and Seriously Going Off the Deep End, Plus a Paean to my Second MP (U: Now with pics)

November 7, 2013 | 28 comments
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On Missions, Books, and Seriously Going Off the Deep End, Plus a Paean to my Second MP (U: Now with pics)

I was always somewhat bookish, even before my mission. Read more »

BYU-Idaho: the next ten years (I)

November 6, 2013 | 20 comments
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BYU-Idaho: the next ten years (I)

BYU-Idaho is much different today than it was in 2001, when it changed its name from Ricks College and started to offer bachelor’s degrees. It shouldn’t detract from the accomplishments of the last decade to say that the university is still a work in progress; institutional change takes a generation.  There are more changes in store, challenges that soon need to be faced, and pitfalls that have to be avoided. Read more »

8 & Up

November 5, 2013 | 42 comments
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The Church has announced that starting in 2014, there will be a General Women’s Meeting twice per year, with women, young women, and girls ages 8 and up invited to attend. Read more »

Conference Announcement

November 5, 2013 | no comments
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The 2013 Conference of the European Mormon Studies Association, in cooperation with the Brigham Young University London Centre, will take place on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th of December in London.  Read more »

The Death of Ishmael[fn1]

November 5, 2013 | 7 comments
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The Death of Ishmael[fn1]

Early in the Small Plates of Nephi, Ishmael and his family join Lehi and his family in the wilderness. In spite of their likely close proximity, though, we don't know much about Ishmael. Nephi and his brothers found favor in Ishmael's sight. Although at various times Ishmael's sons and daughters act for or against Nephi, we don't have any sense about where Ishmael falls in the Laman & Lemuel/Lehi & Nephi continuum. Read more »

Beware Instrumental Beliefs

November 4, 2013 | 66 comments
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2013-11-03 Evolution

Back in 2009, Pew Research released a research package on public opinions about evolution in honor of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. Just last month, a friend on Facebook posted the headlining chart from that package, and a lively debate ensued. The tone of the folks posting this chart (I saw it on several walls) was one of exaggerated dismay, e.g. “A depressing — but unsurprising — revelation about Mormons.” The fact that the result fit so neatly alongside myriad preexisting cultural skirmishes should have been a major indicator that the results were unreliable, however. Lots of... Read more »

Literary Lorenzo Snow #21: Real and Ideal

November 3, 2013 | 9 comments
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Literary Lorenzo Snow #21: Real and Ideal

I’m usually a little uncomfortable when we discuss the evils of the world, as happens in Teachings of Lorenzo Snow lesson #21. Its not that I don’t see evil in the world, but its that I also see good there. And the optimist in me even sees some progress—the world getting better than it was. The following poem makes me wonder if the whole dichotomy of the world v. the kingdom of God should be seen in another way. Is the problem not, in part, that the world doesn’t see life from an eternal perspective? Is the world focusing... Read more »

Literary DCGD #42: The Prophet Turned the Key

November 3, 2013 | no comments
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Literary DCGD #42: The Prophet Turned the Key

The Mormon belief in continuing revelation (the subject of Doctrine and Covenants Gospel Doctrine Lesson #42) is rare if not unique among Christian religions, and it is one of the features of Mormonism most promoted. What is perhaps less discussed is the range of meanings of this term in Mormonism. We use it to mean everything from impressions each of us receive personally to written documents produced by the Prophet and accepted by the body of the Church as scripture. Revelation is perhaps most effective when it leads to a significant change in our behavior, or the behavior of... Read more »

Book Review: The Mormon Image in the American Mind

November 1, 2013 | 10 comments
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Book Review:  The Mormon Image in the American Mind

 J. B. Haws, The Mormon Image in the American Mind:  Fifty Years of Public Perception, Oxford University Press. Read more »

Intellectual Disaffection and “The Biggest Tax Cut in History”

November 1, 2013 | 26 comments
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There are lots of stories on the Internet about people who have discovered things about Mormon history and left the Church. Indeed, these kinds of exit narratives have reached the point of cultural saliency that the New York Times and other media outlets have picked up on the story. I have repeatedly read or heard people claim that we are in the midst of an unprecedented wave of intellectual apostasy. I am skeptical. Before I explain why, I hasten to add that I have absolutely no doubt that many people learn things about Mormon history that they did not... Read more »

SMPT at UVU: “The Atonement”

October 30, 2013 | 2 comments
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Abstracts are now available for the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology conference this Thursday, October 31st-Saturday November 2nd. Almost two dozen presentations will directly address the theme of “The Atonement,” alongside related principles such as sin, repentance, freedom, and redemption. A number of other presentations by both Mormons and non-Mormons will address other aspects of Mormon belief including orthodoxy/heterodoxy, business ethics, and the theological importance of gender. Notable sessions include: “Works,” by Daniel W. Graham (Brigham Young University) “Mormonism and the Problem of Heterodoxy,” by Dennis Potter (Utah Valley University) “Rethinking Penal Substitution,” by Paul Owen (Montreat College)... Read more »

Earth Stewardship: Doctrine, Principle, or Heritage?

October 30, 2013 | 12 comments
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I was recently told that earth stewardship is not a doctrine nor a principle of the gospel; rather, it is a heritage. Read more »

Why same sex marriage is not an attack on the institution of marriage: experiences from Europe

October 29, 2013 | 136 comments
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Why same sex marriage is not an attack on the institution of marriage:  experiences from Europe

A Dutch Mormon non-same-sex marriage: a proud father with his daughter The involvement of the LDS church in the issue of same sex marriage in the United States runs very deep and is highly emotional. The battle for proposition 8 was intense, highly visible and centrally directed and seemed at the time to result in a repeal of the liberty for same sex partners to formally and legally marry in California. At the time it drew a lot of attention in Europe as well, reflected in major articles in journals, newspapers and magazines. One of these was Time Magazine,... Read more »

Children Like Ender

October 28, 2013 | 12 comments
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Children Like Ender

As a friend of mine living in Germany informed me, Ender’s Game has already started to play in some markets, and the United States release is coming up this week. With that in mind, I thought I’d return to the novel once more. In the days before The Hunger Games and Battle Royale made the idea of children murdering each other part of mainstream entertainment, the combination of very young characters and serious violence was one of the more provocative and controversial elements of Ender’s Game. Young Ender Wiggin is only six years old when he beats another child to death, and... Read more »

Literary DCGD #41: Lines on the Death of Lorenzo D. Barnes

October 27, 2013 | one comment
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The idea that every member is a missionary depends on a certain kind of commitment to the Church. For the Church to make the kind of progress outlined in D&C Gospel Doctrine Lesson 41 missionaries, even member missionaries, must be willing to make the sacrifices necessary. Recently, the level of commitment that some missionaries end up making has been very public — the Church seems to have switched policy and made public information about missionaries who died in the field. At last report the number who have died is up to 12 (probably fewer than the number of currently... Read more »

Happy Young-Earth-Creationist New Year!

October 23, 2013 | 29 comments
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Happy Young-Earth-Creationist New Year!

According to Bishop Ussher and his famous calendrical calculations, on Oct.23 4004BC, God said “let there be light” and created the Earth. That makes today the Earth’s 4004+2013=6017th birthday, and a new year. Read more »

Upcoming Conferences

October 21, 2013 | 4 comments
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There is an embarrassment of riches on the Mormon Studies scene in the next few weeks. Read more »