Author: Ben Huff

I'm a dedicated NPR jazz listener and a philosophy teacher at a small liberal arts college in Virginia. I live in a log cabin outside of town and blog from my classic '99 G3 Mac. I did my PhD at Notre Dame with a dissertation on friendship and its role in the relationship of virtue and happiness, within a eudaimonistic virtue ethics. I was born here in Virginia, and it is becoming home again, though I spent a lot of my growing-up years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Carpinteria, CA. I was an undergraduate at BYU, and my immediate family have all ended up near there, so I visit Utah often.

SMPT at Claremont This Week

With the theme, “Upon All Nations—Religious Pluralism,” the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology’s Sixth Annual Meeting begins this Thursday at 9am. SMPT’s largest conference program yet includes discussions of theological pluralism and interreligious dialogue; comparisons of Mormonism with Buddhism, Catholicism, and other strands of Christianity; and

Breathing the Breath of God

Genesis (2:7) says that God breathed life into Adam’s nostrils. Is our life a portion of God’s? Jesus quoted a Psalm (82:6) that said, “Ye are gods,” when confronted about his claims to divinity. Mormons are usually not so bold, but there is certainly an element in our tradition that states that humans are children of God, like godlings, capable of developing into gods. Is this idea arrogant or humbling? It depends.

England Lecture: “The Prehistory of the Soul”

Terryl L. Givens, James A. Bostwick Professor of English at the University of Richmond will give the Eighth Annual Eugene England Lecture at 7pm next Thursday, April 2nd in the Lakeview Room of the UVU Library

Mormonism in the Public Mind at UVU

Richard and Claudia Bushman, Jana Riess, Terryl Givens, and Michael Paulson are among the speakers at Utah Valley University’s conference next Thursday and Friday (April 2-3) on “Mormonism in the Public Mind,” addressing public perceptions of Mormonism and LDS efforts to shape those public perceptions.

Mountain Meadows Panel Discussion at UVU

Richard Turley, Will Bagley, and Forrest Cuch will present a panel discussion this coming Thursday (March 5) at Utah Valley University. These panelists have very, very different perspectives on the events at Mountain Meadows, so bringing them together should make for an exciting conversation.

Welcome Guest Blogger Matt Grow

I am very glad to introduce to you our next guest blogger, Matt Grow. We thought this would be a good time to have Matt blog with us because he just had a book come out last week from Yale University Press, Liberty to the Downtrodden: Thomas L. Kane, Romantic Reformer, on an important and colorful figure in early Mormon history. Adam and I knew Matt when we were all graduate students

Reminders: SMPT & Summer Seminar

Deadlines are approaching for paper submissions to the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology 2009 Annual Meeting (due February 13th), and for applications to the Summer Seminar on Orson and Parley Pratt with Terryl Givens and Matt Grow (due February 15th).

Extended Deadline: Mormon Scholars in the Humanities conference

It’s not too late to send in a proposal for this year’s Mormon Scholars in the Humanities conference, May 8-9 at Aspen Grove and BYU, Provo, UT. Speaker John Caputo and individualized scholarly mentoring opportunities are special highlights this year.

Dancing the Doctrines: Theology in Motion

A call for papers, panels, movement sessions and choreography Sponsored by the Department of Dance with support from the BYU Museum of Art July 17 and 18, 2009 at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art and in the BYU Richards Building dance studios.

National Student Dialogue Conference II

Standing Together and the Religious Studies Program at Utah Valley University are hosting a conference of Latter-day Saint and evangelical Christian students and scholars this coming Friday and Saturday, October 24-5, 2008, on topics including, “Was a Restoration Necessary?,” “Authority and Scripture,” and “The Nature of God: Finite or Infinite?” Directly addressing some of the primary points of disagreement between Mormons and evangelicals, the discussion is sure to be electric.

“Mormonism”: A Perfect Storm

Library Journal this month ran an interesting article offering a big-picture perspective on the world of LDS and LDS-related publishing, highlighting close to 40 books on doctrine, history, sociology, comparative theology and devotional topics, as well as periodicals, video, and internet resources. The article’s aim is to help librarians choose recent, reliable books about Mormonism, whether they work in a public or small academic library.

Missions and the Art of Togetherness

One unique aspect of the missionary experience is the opportunity to focus everything you do, day and night, directly on the goal of serving God. It can be kind of scary to set that as your project, because it is a tall order. Serving God for one day is hard enough; you run out of ideas. Serving God for two years takes a lot of creativity and thought.

What is Our Marvelous Work Today?

The development of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always been marvelous, but our sense of just what it is doing has changed quite dramatically from one decade to another. When Joseph Smith first went to (what in hindsight we call) the Sacred Grove,

Joy and Anguish

Should a psychologically healthy person be happy, cheerful, carefree? If you are not cheerful is there something wrong with you? Let’s see what Mormon scripture has to say.

Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology 2008 Program

SMPT is meeting at the University of Utah on March 27-29, and the conference program is now posted on the web. Featured speakers include Stephen T. Davis of Claremont McKenna College and Jad Hatem of Saint Joseph University, Beirut. The conference is free and open to the public. Davis will also deliver a Tanner-McMurrin Lecture at Westminster College that weekend.

People of Paradox Symposium

Terryl Givens’ new book, People of Paradox, provocatively explores how distinctive features of Mormon faith are expressed in Mormon culture. Times and Seasons has decided to hold a symposium to review it, and to take up the conversation it begins. The symposium will include

Taking On the Big Questions

Today’s colleges and universities have abandoned their most important task, en masse, says Anthony Kronman in his recent Boston Globe article. What are the prospects for getting back in the saddle?

Mormonism and Pluralism

Mormonism and Pluralism In the U.S. today, many people are wary of religion because they feel it often supports a kind of intolerance. Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy provides an interesting case study on the relationship between faith and pluralism. On the one hand, we see clear examples of religious intolerance from people like Bill Keller. On the other hand, ironically, the Mormon faith to which Romney adheres is committed in its very scripture to a deep and wide pluralism.

Summer Seminar Deadline March 2nd

Again this summer, Richard Bushman and Terryl Givens will be leading a summer seminar for graduate students on early Mormon thought. The application deadline has been extended to March 2nd, so there is still time to apply (just!).