An Apology

June 14, 2004 | 26 comments
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My thoughts this morning echo the words of a poem by Lula Greene Richards (1849-1944). Lula was the editor of the Woman’s Exponent, a staunch defender of women’s right to vote, to obtain an equal education, and to choose their own occupations. This poem comes from Branches That Run Over the Wall. Read more »

Benevolent Theodicy: the Logical Necessity of Eternal Progression

June 14, 2004 | 15 comments
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Few Mormon doctrines cause traditional Christians more consternation than the belief in mankind’s potential to become like God. This is of course the reason the authors of the most famous anti-Mormon work chose for their title The God Makers. But hacks who deliberately produce fraudulent anti-Mormon screeds aren’t the only ones to be offended by our unique doctrine. Without exception, every thoughtful Christian with whom I’ve discussed the issue similarly believes our doctrine to be blasphemous (though they are circumspect in telling me so). But the Benevolent Theodicy, as I have called it, shows that they are wrong. Read more »

A small milestone

June 11, 2004 | 8 comments
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We passed a small milestone (so small I didn’t notice exactly when it happened) in the past few days. We now have our first mega-commenter; Clark Goble has passed the 1000 comment mark. Next in line (barring a surge of comments from Brent, Steve, or Bob) is likely to be Lyle Stamps (proud operator of a newish blog, I should note), who about 300 comments shy of a thousand. Read more »

Why Mormons Aren’t Christians

June 11, 2004 | 36 comments
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What a fascinating series of comment on my “Are Mormons Christians?” provocation. I have several things to say in response. First I want to explain my admittedly (and deliberately) extreme formulation from yesterday, i.e., “not even close.” Though I think my boss could have done a much better job in making the case, I think he was right: Mormons simply believe too many things that are too radically discontinuous with the orthodox Christian tradition to be considered Christian. Compared to these differences, those separating Catholics and Baptists and Lutherans and Eastern Orthodoxy are quite tiny. As someone noted in... Read more »

Painting the Town Red

June 11, 2004 | 6 comments
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Are police really bringing felony charges against Utah players who (gasp!) painted the BYU “Y” red prior to a game? Apparently they are. This sounds like a terrible overreaction to me. If the news story is correct, someone (a BYU alum?) believes it proper to bring charges against these college kids, that could subject the nefarious Y-painters to up to 15 years in prison. Of course, some punishment for the painters may be appropriate. Perhaps they should have to repaint (under supervision) a few Y buildings that are in need of a new paint job — these kids certainly... Read more »

Once Again: Are Mormons Christians?

June 10, 2004 | 40 comments
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It’s been a bear of a day at work (editing 70 text pages of correspondence for the magazine), so I’m going to have to be somewhat short today. I’m pleased to have been able to inspire so many interesting comments in response to my provocation about the “fairy-tale” character of Mormonism, especially those that go beyond the too-easy “inside it makes perfect sense but outside it looks silly” response, which I’d think is hardly the right outlook for a missionary faith: the point is to bring those on the outside IN, is it not? I would only add on... Read more »

Hives and Honeybees

June 9, 2004 | 12 comments
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I remember being confused as a little girl by the words of the song “In Our Lovely Deseret.” I supposed that the word must be “desert” because I had no concept of deseret. Much like the many children who sing “little purple panties” instead of “little purple pansies” because they have no concept of what a pansy is, I belted out “in our lovely deseerrrt” trying to make the word I understood fit the music I’d been taught. The word deseret doesn’t stay foreign for long if you grow up in Utah, however, since one quickly encounters the Deseret... Read more »

Envy and Regret

June 9, 2004 | 34 comments
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Lots of people believe lots of different things. There are many different religions. How do we cope with this issue? Read more »

A Bloggernacking Mix-and-Match Game

June 9, 2004 | 4 comments
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Let’s try a slightly different spin on the “Around the Bloggernacle” post. Below are four five questions and four five links to discussion and/or answers in the bloggernacle. Can you match them up? Have fun! Question 1: How many is too many in a baby blessing circle? Question 2: What should church members think of civil weddings? Question 3: How should we distinguish between rights and blessings? Question 4: How can we reconcile God’s perfection with his freedom? Question 5: Is it possible that eternal progression takes place through memetics? Answers (in mixed-up order): a: Link here b: Link... Read more »

PoMo Mormon Enchantment

June 9, 2004 | 39 comments
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I am delighted that Gary Cooper came to my defense with such honesty, passion, and insight on the question of “enchantment.” Yes, this is exactly what I had in mind. But before I say more on that, I’d like to settle things up with Jim F. . . . Read more »

Another Bloggernacking Opportunity of Sorts

June 9, 2004 | 6 comments
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Steve wants some fresh ideas for BCC, and he’s willing to let the best idea(s) be posted there. What does this mean? Simply that the time has never been better to polish up that ten-page masterpiece on the hidden connection between the King Follett Discourse, the Adam-God Theory, and Zelph, and then notify Steve. Perhaps your name will be on the next BCC post! (Details over at BCC). Read more »

Heidegger, Pomo, enchantment, . . .

June 8, 2004 | 16 comments
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Russell and Damon have asked some challenging questions, and answering them will take me more space than is appropriate for a comment, so, since three and one-half single-spaced pages goes too far for any response, I’m going to respond to their questions (and say something about enchantment) as my own post. I’m not sure what that does to the other discussions going on under Damon’s posts. I hope I’m not making it completely impossible for someone to follow the various discussions. Rather than try to integrate my responses into one coherent essay, I’ll just respond to points more or... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 22

June 8, 2004 | 2 comments
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Lesson 22: Alma 5-7 In these chapters we have two magnificent sermons by Alma the Younger, more than enough material for several Sunday School lessons. These materials will focus on chapter 5, with a few things also from chapter 7. To whom is the address of chapter 5 given? How is it particularly relevant to their situation? To whom is the sermon in chapter 7 given? How is it particularly relevant to their situation? Read more »

Unstable Y

June 8, 2004 | 10 comments
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And now, from the “science imitates Andrea Dworkin” department, an interview today in the New York Times science section discusses, inter alia, the genetic problems caused by the relatively unstable Y chromosome: Unlike all other chromosomes, the Y doesn’t get a chance to mix with any other chromosomes. . . . It gets passed on from one male to another, and it cannot repair mutations through genetic recombination. Moreover, the Y chromosome is subject to a higher mutation rate than other chromosomes because it is perennially confined to the male germ line. Male germ line cells and their DNA... Read more »

Part Two: The Enchanted Mormon World

June 8, 2004 | 28 comments
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I’ve pretty much exhausted my energy and time on my first, philosophical response, so I’m going to keep this short. Hopefully the balance will be a bit more even tomorrow. For now, let me leave you with a provocative suggestion . . . Read more »

A Partial Response: Philosophy

June 8, 2004 | 26 comments
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I want to thank the many people who took the time to comment on my initial post. You’ve showed me that this guest-blogging stint will be both more stimulating and more time-consuming than I anticipated. I hope it is understood that I cannot possibly respond to all, or most, or even more than a very few of these comments. I’ll try to write two posts today, the first (this one) addressing the philosophical questions raised by Jim F and others; the second post will bring things back to Mormonism. I think the latter is important because this could easily... Read more »

Sex and Kids: A Practical Question

June 8, 2004 | 19 comments
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Last night, Melissa and I watched the new version of Peter Pan. We wanted to see if it was appropriate viewing for the family; though a marvelous film, we decided it wasn’t. This version very clearly turns the tale into a coming-of-age/growing-up/sexual-awakening story, and while we both thought it was told with terrific humor, great sensitivity and tact, and wonderful visuals, we agreed that it was probably too much for our oldest–Megan, who will be 8 in August. Maybe when she’s 10 or so. Anyway, in coming to this conclusion, we found ourselves wondering about how, and when, we... Read more »

Where is the Mormon Jurisprudence?

June 8, 2004 | 14 comments
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People regularly make the observation that Mormons are more concerned with orthopraxis than orthodoxy. In other words, Mormons are more concerned with right behavior than with right belief. The evidence in support of this claim seems fairly overwhelming in my mind. The fact of the matter is that we allow a huge diversity of beliefs on fairly fundamental questions (the nature of God and the nature of man for example), even though we frequently paper over the pluralism with equivicol and vague language. One the other hand, we worry a great deal about proper behavior: The Law of Chastity,... Read more »

New Bloggernackers, Redux

June 8, 2004 | 2 comments
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The appearance of new, interesting LDS-themed blogs is becoming a weekly occurence. This week (today, actually, via technorati) I noticed two new bloggernackers that I thought I should point out: Dallas Robbins promises a “Latter-Day Slant on Art, Religion, and Culture.” That sounds like a fun new voice in the bloggernacle. (As long as he’s not trying to horn in on the gay-marriage-commentary market — we’ve got that one cornered here!). And the Mormon Wasp is a blog by Justin Butterfield (any relation to frequent commenter Randy?) that aims to provide “a barbed take on all things Mormon offered... Read more »

Why Won’t They Call it ‘Partial-Birth Abortion’?

June 8, 2004 | 39 comments
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Though the act of aborting a partially-born baby is logically called ‘partial-birth abortion,’ the media refuse to use the term when describing the act. Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby explains why. Yes, he thinks the fact that 97% of editors and journalists at major newsrooms identify themselves as being pro-choice is a factor. Jacoby doesn’t address this point, but most press reports of the clash over abortion refer to one side as “abortion rights” activists or groups, and to the other as “opposed to abortion rights” or “anti-abortion.” Because the media has decided to avoid the terms ‘pro-choice’ and... Read more »

An Addendum

June 7, 2004 | 7 comments
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After I wrote my earlier post, I realized I should have been more precise about something. I know that all orthodox faiths place limits on philosophical reflection. For example, an orthodox Catholic is not free to speculate about whether God is Trinity or whether abortion is actually a virtue. But I was trying to point to a substantive difference between all other Christian sects and Mormons in this regard: the Mormon limitation seem to be more primary (or radical) in that it demands that believers resist fundamental tendencies of Western thought that go all the way back to the... Read more »

Taking the Slums Out of the People?

June 7, 2004 | 48 comments
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In 1990 Revered John Heinemeier gathered with other local ministers to solve the housing crisis in East Brooklyn. Together they developed an innovative housing program to construct 5,000 single-family housing units designed for lower-income buyers. East Brooklyn Churches (or EBC) had a long-term vision of what they needed done but there was much to overcome. These neighborhoods were crumbling, impoverished and drug-ridden. The majority of middle class families had long since fled the area. The EBC found inspiration for their ambitious endeavor in the story of Nehemiah who had been sent by the King of Babylon in 420 back... Read more »

Mormonism: The Postmodern Faith

June 7, 2004 | 59 comments
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First off, let me thank Russell, both for inviting me to contribute to Times & Seasons and for his flattering comments about me. After that introduction, I fear I may disappoint. As Russell notes, I spent two years teaching at BYU, and have enjoyed dozens of email exchanges about LDS-related matters with the handful of good friends I made during my time on campus. Since I don’t have An Agenda for the following two weeks, I think I’ll start by sharing a few thoughts that have grown out of those exchanges. Read more »

Excommunicating the President of the Church (and some possible complications)

June 7, 2004 | 21 comments
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Suppose that Gordon B. Hinckley really started misbehaving, sinning left and right, and generally leading the church astray. Some might find this unlikely on theological grounds, after all President Woodruff said: The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the... Read more »

Times & Seasons Welcomes…A Gentile*

June 7, 2004 | 4 comments
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In our continuing effort to bring something new to the Bloggernacle, Times & Seasons is delighted to welcome on board our latest guestblogger–Damon Linker, current editor of First Things magazine, one of the premier religious journals of opinion and commentary in the United States. Damon is probably the most intelligent outside observer of Mormonism I have ever had the pleasure to know. He studied and received a Ph.D. in political philosophy at Michigan State University**, after which he taught for two years at Brigham Young University, where he did such a smashing job that at least a few of... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 21

June 5, 2004 | 5 comments
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My apologies for posting this so late. I’ve had family visiting, so blogging has had to take a back seat, along with Sunday School preparation. I think I’ll have the next lesson up by Sunday or Monday evening. Lesson 21: Mosiah 29, Alma 1-4 Mosiah 29 Verses 7-9: Aaron has just been converted in a miraculous manner, and he is obviously serious about his conversion. His mission is evidence of that. Nevertheless, here we see Mosiah worried that being king might destroy him. Does he lack confidence in his son? If so, why? If not, how do you explain... Read more »

Bungling the Basics?

June 4, 2004 | 20 comments
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Several weeks ago during lunch at a professional conference a colleague told me that the LDS missionaries had knocked on his door recently. I took a deep breath and immediately commenced mental preparations for whatever he was going to ask me. This particular colleague is a philosopher of religion so I was fairly sure he was going to ask me about some bit of LDS history or theology. But, I was wrong. Read more »

12 Questions for Sarah Barringer Gordon, part two

June 4, 2004 | 2 comments
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Here’s the second half of our dialogue with the esteemed Professor Gordon. I’m sure everyone joins me in thanking her for such intelligent and provocative responses to our questions. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out her landmark book, The Mormon Question. Again, our questions are in bold and her responses follow in plain text. Enjoy! 7. There has been some discussion here at Times and Seasons about the apparent analogies and disanalogies between the nineteenth-century antipolygamy movement and the current battles over same sex marriage. To what extent do you think... Read more »

A Horror, Ended

June 3, 2004 | 16 comments
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For many years, a story haunted me. It was a story told in graphic detail to a bunch of priests and teachers, one of whom was me, by a doctor in our stake; a story about a baby boy who lost his penis during a botched circumcision, and who was then surgically altered to become female by his ignorant parents and by malicious doctors in order to cover up the “mistake.” The larger point of the story, of course, was to impress upon us the level of wickedness and sexual disregard in the world today by way of an... Read more »

Ambivalence v. Delight

June 3, 2004 | 18 comments
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In her fascinating post on ambivalence, Melissa suggests that ambivalence may be an endangered theological virtue among Mormons. “Endangered” because we tend to valorize those without religious ambivalence and lack examples of healthy and productive ambivalence. “A virtue” because Melissa suggests that it is theologically productive. By this, I take it that she means that ambivalence leads to questioning, analysis, synthesis, and revelation. I am doubtful. Read more »