We’ve Been Busy…

December 5, 2003 | 10 comments
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Just to explain my absence…Melissa gave birth to Alison Edra Fox at 2:36pm this afternoon, CST. She weighs 7 lbs. 9 ounces, has a lot of hair, and all her fingers and toes. Melissa is doing fine, and we’re all very, very happy. More reports as they become available…. Read more »

Thanks!

December 5, 2003 | 6 comments
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A lot of people are reading this blog now. Over the past few days, we have been averaging over 140 visitors per day, and we are headed in that direction again today. I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank all of the visitors, especially those who make great comments. This is a fun place to be, and we hope you continue to enjoy it. Read more »

Serpents & The Fall

December 5, 2003 | 4 comments
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In a comment to my entry below about biblical inerrancy (“Balaam’s Ass“), Brent writes in connection with his experience substitute teaching in Seminary: I came across several commentaries about the serpent speaking and Balaam’s ass. Some of these also mentioned other scriptural references (I think some in Revelations) which I mention “beasts” talking. Some of these individuals have theorized that in fact, because of the fall, animals, being lesser intelligences cannot communicate verbally, but that God can loose their tongues and allow them to speak. For purposes of this post, I am not interested in whether this theory of... Read more »

A Mormon Image: The 19th Ward Chapel

December 5, 2003 | 4 comments
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A Mormon Image: The 19th Ward Chapel

When Brigham Young laid out Great Salt Lake City in the 1840s, he modeled it on the Mormon experience in Nuavoo. Thus, the city was divided into wards, which were combined to form the original Salt Lake Stake of Zion. In all there were nineteen of these wards, and they continued to be the core units of the Church in Salt Lake for many, many years. This chapel, built in 1890, housed one of those original wards. Read more »

Balaam’s Ass

December 5, 2003 | 11 comments
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This post picks up on a theme that was touched on in some earlier discussion on the topic of Bible inerrancy. In that earlier discussion, Adam took the position that a presumption of Bible inerrancy was useful, and I am finally writing a response: Balaam’s ass! Read more »

Sex and Censorship at NYU

December 5, 2003 | 4 comments
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I just have a millisecond to blog today, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to link this story about the (gasp!) despicable censorship at NYU, that well-known bastion of conservative thought. Apparently they are refusing to let a film student film actual sex for her film project. Read more »

How Joseph Smith Restored Greek Religion

December 4, 2003 | 17 comments
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I’ve been thinking of late about immortality and Mormonism. My question is whether or not you can be a Good Mormon and a Good Homeric Hero. I am unclear on the answer, but Moroni and John Taylor seem to suggest that for at least one Good Mormon being a Homeric Hero was just fine. Read more »

…And Now The Movie

December 4, 2003 | 2 comments
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Of course we always knew it would happen, but we didn’t think that it would happen so quickly: Times & Seasons has been made into a movie, with Helen Hunt and George Clooney, no less. At anyrate, the script has been written. Check it out here Read more »

Hope

December 4, 2003 | 7 comments
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Next summer I have to give a paper on the loss of hope, despair. Since I have to deliver it and discuss it in another language, I’m starting early. Right now I’m working on trying to give an accurate account of hope on which I can then base a discussion of despair. So, hoping that writing this will help me get my thinking going and that what I say may be of interest to you in some way, I’m going to try to say something about hope in a series of fragments ending with some questions. Read more »

A Mormon Image: A Photograph of Joseph?

December 3, 2003 | 19 comments
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A Mormon Image: A Photograph of Joseph?

Some believe that this image is a photograph of the Prophet Joseph Smith. If they are right, it is the only known photographic image of Joseph . . . Read more »

What if Davis v Locke arose in Utah?

December 3, 2003 | 3 comments
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As I read Dahlia Lithwick’s coverage of the Davis v Locke oral argument, I wondered what approach the court and press would have taken had the case originated in Utah. Dahlia writes: bothered by the fact that Davey had his scholarship revoked simply because he’d declared a double major in pastoral ministries and business administration. According to Kennedy, Davey could have just declared the business major, taken theology courses, and kept his funding. Kennedy asks, over and over, “What is the state interest in denying him funding simply because he declared a double major?” Finally Ruth... Read more »

Philosophy & Scripture

December 3, 2003 | 14 comments
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I am interested in the question of how to think about scripture and I am an academic philosopher. One consequence is that I?m also interested in how the two things are related to each other. Here are some not-fully articulated thoughts on that question. They won’t come as a surprise to someone who has read some of my other things?another take on a familiar theme. As I understand scriptural texts, they are not philosophical and cannot be turned into philosophical texts without changing them drastically. [FN: Ricoeur has discussions of the issue in several places, for example, in Time... Read more »

The Contradictory Commandments of Adam and Eve

December 2, 2003 | 8 comments
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In Institute we wondered why God would give contradictory commandments: Adam and Eve were told to multiply and replenish the earth, and they were told not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. These commandments, the scriptures plainly state, contradict each other. See 2 Nephi 2:22-23. Read more »

Bushman beats Brodie

December 2, 2003 | 45 comments
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Perhaps second only to regular features as a reliable blog standby are lists. I know, I know, such posts usually generate endless quibbling about meaningless personal preferences. But I want to propose what I think will be a worthwhile exercise. I want to know, what are the five essential texts in Mormon studies? Read more »

A Mormon Image: C.C.A. Christiansen

December 2, 2003 | 4 comments
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A Mormon Image: C.C.A. Christiansen

Since blogs seem to thrive on regular features, I have decided to start one here at T&S. Because my father is an art historian and a curator at the Museum of Church History and Art, I have always been interested in the images and art that Mormonism has produced. Thus, I will begin regularlly posting samples of it to this blog, along with a little bit of commentary. I begin with C.C.A. Christiansen Read more »

The Utah Domination Clause

December 2, 2003 | 2 comments
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Under the Utah Constitution, “here shall be no union of Church and State, nor shall any church dominate the State or interfere with its functions.” The interesting part of this is the Domination and Interference Clauses. What might they mean? Read more »

What Power?

December 2, 2003 | 4 comments
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Yesterday, Nate wrote that “Wasatch Front Mormons often times fall into the trap of thinking of the Church as a powerful institution.” There is probably a lot of truth to this–and I found Nate’s reflections on the financial situation of the church very interesting–but I found it strange that he connected this observation with the idea that most (or at least many) Wasatch Front Mormons think “separationist arguments are primarily about limiting Church power.” I found it strange for two reasons. First, because I think Nate’s rather cavalier endorsement of strict separationism as beneficial to the church is far... Read more »

A New Guest Blogger

December 2, 2003 | 14 comments
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We have a new guest blogger: Jim Faulconer! Jim is a professor of philosophy at BYU. You can get a sense of some of his interests from this recent article by him in the Journal of Philosophy and Scripture. Russell ought to appreciate the presence of another non-lawyer on the blog, although we seem to be skewing toward philosophers, who I think of as kind of wanna-be lawyers… Read more »

Passion Redux

December 1, 2003 | 12 comments
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My entry below about Mel Gibson’s forthcoming film Passion generated some very thoughtful comments that I had overlooked until now. Rather than responding way down there, I thought it best to bring this topic to the top, as it is bound to generate more interest. The focus of the comments — a mini-debate really, between Brent and Taylor — is the historical record of Jesus’ crucifixion. Read more »

The Problem with Wasatch Front Mormons

December 1, 2003 | 24 comments
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Bear with me. This post is not about what you think it is about. My beef is not with Republican Mormons, social Mormons, Utah Mormons, Jello salad, or any of the other sins that Wasatch Front Mormonism is generally accused of. Rather, I am interested in power. Read more »

(The Law of) Agency

December 1, 2003 | 6 comments
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In my course on Business Organizations, I teach the law of principals and agents. Under this body of law, the notion of “free agency” is nonsensical, since a person becomes an “agent” only by attaching himself to a principal, at which point the person is no longer free. By contrast, in religious studies, the term “free agency” (or just “agency”) connotes free will, which is a complex and deeply interesting topic, though not the topic of this post. In this post, I want to use the law of agency to propose a different way of thinking about ourselves as... Read more »

A Mormon Studies Family

December 1, 2003 | 59 comments
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Both of my parents (now divorced) have been deeply involved in Mormon studies for my entire life. Thus, I grew up in a Mormon studies family. My father is a senior curator at the Museum of Church History and Art and was hired by the Church Historical Department a few months before I was born. My mother was one of the early editors of Sunstone Magazine and worked as an editor and then board member of Signature Books while I was growing up. The result is that I think of most of the big names in Mormon studies –... Read more »

Russell joins as a permanent blogger

November 30, 2003 | one comment
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We are happy to welcome Russell aboard as a permanent member of the blog. Now we are only 89 away from a quorum-sized group. Read more »

This and that – Administrative

November 30, 2003 | one comment
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This and that – Administrative

A few quick administrative notes: 1. I will be out of town most of this week, and will be blogging lightly or not at all. Please don’t take my silence as a sign that I agree with anything Nate, Matt or Gordon say. 2. The site seems to be striking a chord with people, as we are now averaging 65 visitors per day. To our visitors: Please feel free to e-mail us, to comment on posts (and for those wondering about comments from week 1, yes, we will get them copied over at some point — technology has not... Read more »

An Image for Kaimi

November 30, 2003 | 5 comments
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An Image for Kaimi

Here is what I have always thought was the best visual depication of Kaimi’s theory of Book of Mormon geography. The painting is by the wonderful Minerva Teichert. Read more »

Nephites and Lamanites Redux

November 30, 2003 | one comment
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Other things have been keeping me busy, but Nate reminds me that I have yet to follow up on my comments about Native Americans and Lehite descent. Nate suggests that: Yes it is true that lots and lots of Mormons think that the Book of Mormon provides the only account for Native American ancestry. Yes it is true that there are probably a whole lot of general authorities that subscribe to this view. So what? I find this assertion absolutely baffling. “A bunch of general authorities — the people we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators; the people who... Read more »

Mormon Images

November 30, 2003 | 3 comments
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There is a strange schizophrenia about popular images of Mormons. On one hand, we get stereotyped as shinny, well-scrubbed, conservative, paragons of middle American virtues circa 1955. On the other hand, we get stereotyped as dangerous, homicidal, polygamist fanatics. As Gordon points out in his post the latter stereotype popped up recently in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, but that is hardly the only place one sees it. Remember that the religious bomber in the movie Contact was from Prowan, Utah. At the same time, Mormons pop up in Tom Clancy novels as shining examples of American decency. As... Read more »

Passion

November 30, 2003 | 8 comments
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Have you seen the trailor for Mel Gibson’s film about the last 12 hours of Christ’s life? This has been the subject of much debate, as Jewish leaders raise concerns about anti-Semitism and others respond. Here are some responses from people who have actually seen a rough cut at the behest of the New York Post, which apparently bootlegged a copy (the uniform reaction — except from the “Post reader” — was that the film unfairly portrayed Jews). Amitai Etzioni, who has been blogging regularly on this topic, had an interesting take on this flap way back in September:... Read more »

Law & Order: Criminal Intent

November 30, 2003 | one comment
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I just saw what was perhaps the most offensive portrayal of the Church that I have ever seen on network television. In an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent that originally ran on November 16, a young man (almost 18) is cast as a Manson-like figure. He assembles of group of three young women disaffected by the depraved behavior of their high school peers. The young man preaches a different gospel, one informed by Siddhartha (Hesse’s novel). When the young girls kill three male classmates and then some parents at his command, Detective Goren is on the case.... Read more »

Is there an LDS Thanksgiving identity?

November 29, 2003 | 12 comments
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As Gordon points out, we all seem to be enjoying our post-Thanksgiving naps just a little too much. Before moving too far on from the Thanksgiving theme, I think it is appropriate to reflect on what Thanksgiving means in particular, to Latter-Day Saints. However, the discussion of what Thanksgiving means to Latter Day Saints raises a threshold question: Is there a distinct LDS attitude, approach, or spirit towards Thanksgiving — an LDS Thanksgiving identity — or are we as church members merely hangers-on to the broad Protestant Thanksgiving tradition? Read more »