Reconciling Shame and Guilt

January 5, 2015 | 19 comments
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Last year was my first year teaching the Old Testament in Gospel Doctrine, and I benefited a ton from Ben Spackman’s Patheos blog. So I’m starting off this year by reading some of his recommended books for teaching the New Testament (list continues here and here). First up? Misreading the Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible. The point of Misreading the Scripture is that the Biblical authors left certain cultural assumptions unspoken because they took them for granted. When we read the Bible today, we fill in those gaps with our own cultural... Read more »

What Role Should the JST Play in LDS Biblical Studies?

January 5, 2015 | 38 comments
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What Role Should the JST Play in LDS Biblical Studies?

Two people have asked me this question in the last week; here’s a stab at an answer. Read more »

Vote for Mormon of the Year 2014

January 1, 2015 | 58 comments
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This post opens the voting for Mormon of the Year. Votes will be taken until midnight Eastern Time on Wednesday, January 7th, at which time the voting will close. The voting mechanism will attempt to restrict votes to one per person. The order of the choices is set at random, and is different each time the form is presented. THE WINNER OF THE ONLINE VOTE IS NOT NECESSARILY THE MORMON OF THE YEAR!!! Read more »

Did Jesus Cleanse the Temple?

December 31, 2014 | 40 comments
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Did Jesus Cleanse the Temple?

The standard Mormon reading of Mark 11:15-19 goes something like this: the temple was corrupt and so Jesus cleansed it by kicking out the wicked money changers so that the temple, now purified of evil, could get back to business. But this may not be the best reading. Read more »

New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #1

December 30, 2014 | 21 comments
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New Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson #1

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Who killed Goliath? CSI in Jerusalem

December 27, 2014 | 19 comments
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David with Goliath's head, by Caravaggio

Who really killed Goliath? Of course, this is the most stupid question possible. After all, this is one of the most advertised killings in the history of the world, its record read by millions of admiring people, glorifying in the victory of the brave and smart reddish boy over the Big Ugly Brute. Add the pious invocation of Jahweh throughout the battle, and one has the making of an inspiring heroic story, and that is precisely how it functions in the Old Testament. All the kids in Primary know exactly who killed Goliath, and can explain in detail how... Read more »

Wickedly Awesome Traditions of My Fathers and Mothers

December 22, 2014 | 6 comments
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Wickedly Awesome Traditions of My Fathers and Mothers

Holidays make me think of traditions, especially the food and family traditions of Thanksgiving and Christmas. But that makes me think about other traditions, such as the scriptural “wicked traditions of our fathers,” which then makes me think of the wickedly awesome traditions of my fathers and mothers. (And clearly that is the problem with me thinking.) Read more »

Pray for the Cougars

December 19, 2014 | 18 comments
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Pray for the Cougars

Pray for the Cougars. Or the Tigers. Take your pick. Either one is fine as far as I’m concerned. Or if you’re not into college football, pray for something else. Read more »

Book Review: The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History

December 15, 2014 | 13 comments
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Book Review: The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History

I don’t have time to do a proper review of the 490 pages of The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History (Signature Books, 2014), edited by Jedediah S. Rogers, so I am just going to start writing and see what happens. The book hits the bookshelves today, so it’s a potential Christmas gift for the Mormon history fan in your life. Read more »

From Benjamin Park: A Statement Regarding a Recent Review Essay

December 15, 2014 | one comment
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Today we’re pleased to share a guest post from Benjamin Park. The post refers to his review essay “The Book of Mormon and Early America’s Political and  Intellectual Traditions,” which is available to read at the Maxwell Institute site here, or as a Google document here. We have also published a follow-up comment from David Holland, whose book is one of the subjects of Park’s essay.  We have closed the post to additional comments. We will now turn the time over to Brother Park. [This is a response to the number of posts and comments dealing with a review essay of mine, “The Book... Read more »

Taking Control of Your Gospel Doctrine Class… Because You’re the Teacher

December 13, 2014 | 68 comments
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Taking Control of Your Gospel Doctrine Class… Because You’re the Teacher

I’ve wondered how much blame for  “uninformative” (Pres. Kimball’s description) or “uninspiring” (Elder Holland’s paraphrase) teaching in Gospel Doctrine comes from collective failure. Yes, a good teacher can do wonders, but if many classes don’t really talk about the scriptures in question, it’s because virtually no one but the teacher has read them. Read more »

For I am not ashamed…

December 12, 2014 | 41 comments
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Draw the Line

This past Monday one of the radio talk shows I listen to asked about what happened in Church during the weekend. In the wake of the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island, the host, Brian Lehrer, asked how the religious sermons given in the region had confronted these decisions. Of course, in LDS congregations this past Sunday was Fast Sunday, leaving the subject of the testimonies given up to those who chose to speak. In my own case, I heard no hint of a mention of these subjects, or any controversial current events, in the testimonies given... Read more »

What the Smith Boys Said This Year

December 11, 2014 | 18 comments
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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 »

The Mormon Challenge, Part 1: Creation

December 4, 2014 | 21 comments
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The Mormon Challenge, Part 1: Creation

Continuing with my project to actually read the LDS books I buy, I’m now reading The New Mormon Challenge (Zondervan, 2002), a serious book about Mormonism by a bunch of Evangelical scholars, edited by Francis J. Beckwith, Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen. Apart from our mere existence, two things about us really trouble Evangelicals: our relentless growth (which has apparently leveled off since the book was published) and our huge corps of missionaries (which has ballooned since the book was published). We are a threat. That perhaps explains why Evangelicals feel justified in disparaging Mormons from their pulpits, classrooms,... 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 »

Teaching Like The Prophets

November 28, 2014 | 8 comments
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I think the recently announced changes to the CES and BYU Religious Education requirements could be really great. Far from paying less attention to the scriptures, as some have worried, I suggest the new model pays more attention to the scriptures, in what might be the most important way. In the scriptures, Christ and the prophets focus their teaching on true doctrine above all, and refer to prior accounts to support this goal. The scriptures are designed to teach us spiritual truths, and these should be the primary focus of teaching today. The scriptural texts are one of the... 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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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 »