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.

Are Mormons Trinitarian?

Mormons often make fun of traditional Christians for their struggling efforts to make sense of the Biblical teaching that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God. Yet Mormons are committed to the unity of God at least as much as traditional Christians are, by our scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon.

Where is Mormon Theology done?

UVSC and Utah State have growing Religious Studies programs. The Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology will hold its fourth annual meeting at BYU in March 2007 (they are still accepting paper submissions). The broad title of BYU’s new Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship could be construed to include theology in its scope

Enabling Grace

What is “grace”, really? We know we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8; 2 Nephi 25:23). Of course, lots of people (including some Mormons) think Mormons don’t believe in salvation by grace.

Welcome, Patrick Mason!

I am happy to introduce Patrick Mason as our next guest blogger. Patrick just finished his PhD in History at Notre Dame and will be working here this year as a program coordinator in Peace Studies

Mormon Philosophy & Theology Conference

The 2006 Annual Meeting of the Society for Mormon Philosopy and Theology will be held March 17-18th at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. The conference program now appears on the web, with further details on the location, parking, etc. The conference is free and open to the public.

Reminder: Summer Seminar on Joseph Smith

Richard Bushman and Terryl Givens are leading a seminar this summer on “Mormon Thought, 1850 to 1920: Dealing with the Joseph Smith Legacy,” at BYU. Applications are due February 15th

To Gladden the Tongue

Blackberries grow all along the edge of the woods outside the South Bend Stake Center. I am disappointed at how few Mormons seem interested in them. “Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart” (D&C 59:18)

Plain and Precious Truths

Nephi teaches that many plain and precious truths that were once had among the Jews have not made it into the Bible handed down to us via the Gentiles. We tend to talk as though these are truths revealed by Christ, but not passed on as his church fell into apostasy. But could many of these be truths lost before the time of Christ, or revealed before Christ but lost shortly after he left the Earth?

Interreligious Dialogue at the LOC, Part II

Here are some reflections on the second session, “Joseph Smith and the Recovery of Past Worlds.” (web archives on I have tried to give just enough summary to support my reflections on how it went as a dialogue. Main speaker Terryl Givens described Joseph Smith as an explorer and re-discoverer of ancient worlds.

Interreligious Dialogue at the Library of Congress

I went to this past weekend’s conference not so much to hear any of the particular talks as to see what sort of exchange they formed. Interreligious dialogue is one of the most difficult things there is, to do well. Here are some notes on the conference as an occasion for such dialogue, and a stepping stone toward better dialogue in the future.

Joseph Smith at LOC Links

The Library of Congress conference on Joseph Smith deserves more discussion. Here are some key links for your reference.

Converting the Missionaries?

There has been a very interesting and vigorous discussion on Blake’s thread on “raising the bar” for missionary service. I’d like to pick up a theme from early in that thread that I think needs more attention: what sort of spiritual development should we be hoping missionary service will provoke in the missionary?

The Other Story of Salvation

Church isn’t boring for me very often lately. It’s not because the speakers and teachers have dramatically improved since a few years ago when I was bored more often. Nor is it because I have suffered brain damage that leaves me very easily amused : ) Partly the kids in my primary class keep me hopping, but partly I’m looking for different things now than I used to look for.

Sectarianism vs. Assimilation

Which should we be more strenuously avoiding, and how? Clark Goble suggests that the Church in “the last decade and a half has focused on building on common ground. But that has also (IMO) had unfortunate doctrinal consequences on the population as well as I believe leading to the decrease in conversions the last 5 – 8 years.”


Yesterday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, here at Notre Dame, I attended a service of prayer and lamentation called “Tenebrae”, remembering the darkness of the night when Christ suffered in Gethsemane and was arrested, and anticipating his death. It closed with a final candle carried out, leaving us in complete darkness, and the congregation producing a loud noise, like the rolling of the stone to close the grave. Today I had a conversation with some friends, in which we reflected on the meaning of these events, and the difference in the darkness from a Mormon point of view.

Time Well Spent

Periodically we bloggers ask ourselves exactly how valuable a pursuit blogging is. Blogging is great for lots of reasons, but certainly part of its value is in its contributing to some other activities. For a current example, Rosalynde’s post on conscience played a role in the development of a paper she will be presenting this weekend at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology