I recently read Terry Eagleton’s After Theory (Basic Books, 2003), in which Eagleton manages (in a very entertaining way) to be critical of just about everything, including fundamentalism and “Utah” (a term he seems to be using as a proxy for Mormonism). He makes an interesting argument about fundamentalism, suggesting that it is rooted in how certain people (“fundamentalists”) read texts. His references to Utah suggest he sees Mormonism as practicing a fundamentalist approach to truth. I think I disagree with both points. Some fundamentalist movements might be based on how certain texts are read, but not all, and Mormons don’t really employ the fundamentalist approach that Eagleton seems to attribute to us.
A website with answers. That’s what Time Magazine calls the new religion website Patheos.com in “What Do Religions Believe? A Website with Answers.” The Time article describes the new site as one “that sets out to explain the differences among religions as well as illuminate the areas of common ground.” Just today the site unveiled its Mormon Gateway section, a menu of resources designed to complement the more detailed information presented in the Library section of the site.
It’s not easy being a theologian in the 21st century. One of the main reasons is that science provides credible, non-theistic explanations for many of those “where did we come from?” questions that religion once had all to itself. Evolution seems to pose a particular challenge. John Haught, a professor of theology at Georgetown, tries to tackle the problem head-on in his book God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution (Westview, 2000).
I recently read a short essay by Eric Hobsbawm, “Identity History Is Not Enough.” I came across it in his book On History, a collection of essays, but fortunately for you it is available online at the above link (except for the last page, for some reason). Mormonism is not mentioned, but the discussion seems to bear directly on the writing and reading of Mormon history.
When I first heard about Twitter, I thought it was one of those truly dumb ideas that couldn’t possibly catch on. Now it is an infotsunami, sweeping over the world in a growing horde of 140-character snippets [see “People Are Flocking to Twitter” at LDS Media Talk for a quick update]. So do you join the wave or run for high ground?
Even as our current guest blogger continues to post, Times & Seasons is happy to welcome Bruce Webster as our next guest blogger.
Does it have a future? Some people view religious liberty as a civil and constitutional right; increasingly, others see it as a problem to be dealt with. The Mirror of Justice post “Securing Religious Liberty in an Age of Growing Intolerance” is a short reflection on what this means for the future of religious liberty.
We know there are good times and bad times, but are there good people and bad people? Common sense says yes, as does virtue ethics, a branch of philosophical ethics that attempts to identify virtues worth having and tell good people how to get them. Alas, the story is not quite so simple.
After seeing a reference or two, I noticed a copy of The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart at the library and gave it a quick read. The thesis is simple: increased income and mobility over the last five decades has enabled Americans to self-sort geographically into communities surrounded by people they are most comfortable with, namely people like themselves.
So your mission call finally arrived (see here, here, or here) and you suddenly realize that it starts in 44 days but you don’t know that much about Mormonism or what it is you are supposed to teach for two long years. You are suddenly serious about “missionary prep.” What book should you read?
I recently finished up Hans Kung’s Great Christian Thinkers, which reviews the work of seven theologians (Paul, Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Schleiermacher, and Barth). From an LDS perspective, the most interesting of the bunch is Friedrich Schleiermacher, who Kung terms “the paradigmatic theologian of modernity.” The question he presents to LDS readers is how our approach to religion and doctrine deals with modernity. Is our approach premodern, modern, or postmodern (which in theology generally means some version of neo-orthodoxy)?
From Ernest Renan, a French 19th-century philosopher: Forgetting, and I would say even historical error, is an essential element in the creation of a nation, and that is why the progress of historical studies is often a danger for the nation itself.
A couple of years ago, Noah Feldman published “Orthodox Paradox,” an essay in which he recounted some of the tensions of being an Orthodox Jew in the modern world (I ran across it reading The Best American Spiritual Writing 2008). Increasingly, being an orthodox anything in the modern world raises some of the same tensions.
It’s hard for Mormons to find an accessible doorway into theology. David F. Ford’s short book Theology: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 1999) is the first I’ve found to really give me some traction with this elusive subject.
I recently finished The Theocons: Secular America Under Seige and put up a short post on it elsewhere. But as I continue to mull it over I have a different idea to float than I discussed in the other post, namely that the rejection of Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate by religious conservatives in the Republican Party marks a triumph of sectarianism over politics that will undermine (or already has) the political influence of the theocons, to whatever extent you grant they have had influence.
Blogger and journalist Rod Dreher posted an op-ed piece at USA Today, “How much ‘truth’ is too much?” It reviews in passing the author’s personal journey from faithful Catholic journalist reporting on the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church to Orthodox Christian who prefers to avoid repeating that experience a second time in his new church.
At the blog Text Messages, an interview with Julia Duin, who is the religion editor at the Washington Times and author of the book Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What To Do About It. Here are a couple of highlights from the interview.
A comprehensive bibliography? A portfolio of LDS-owned companies? No, it’s a measure of food-storage activity by preparedness-minded Mormons, as revealed in a feature at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “The Mormon Index is a rising sign of troubled economy.”
This is Part Two of responses provided by representatives of the LDS Newsroom to a set of questions submitted by T&S permabloggers. See Part One for the first six questions and responses.
Representatives from LDS Public Affairs who manage and direct the Newsroom site at LDS.org agreed to respond to a dozen questions submitted by the T&S permabloggers. We are pleased to post the first six questions and answers below, with the second set of six to follow shortly. We appreciate the time and effort that went into preparing these detailed responses. They should help make the Newsroom an even more useful resource for LDS readers.
Times and Seasons is thrilled to have Kent Larsen as our latest guest. Kent has been very busy in book publishing in New York City for twenty years and has followed LDS publishing closely for ten years. He has also been posting on arts and media for over three years at A Motley Vision, so Kent is no newcomer to LDS weblogs. See this AMV post for more information about Kent’s many interests. Welcome, Kent.
Just last week I heard a familiar comment at church: Brigham Young’s policy was to feed the Indians rather than fight them. The actual record of relations between Pioneers and Indians was a bit more complicated, especially in Utah Valley, the watery jewel of early Utah.
Georgia isn’t the only place with skirmishing this weekend: “LDS leader’s address still causing controversy,” a long article at the Deseret News, recounts the comments of five Sunstone panelists (and one unfortunate commenter) to LDS Relief Society President Julie B. Beck’s October 2007 Conference talk “Mothers Who Know.”
If you’ve been on a cross-country trek visiting in-laws or golf courses (or both) instead of reading new blogs posts, here are a few good posts you might have missed.
I recently read Martin Marty’s The Christian World: A Global History (2007). The subtitle is slightly misleading, as Marty recounts Christian history on a continent-by-continent basis. The last two chapters, covering the modern return of Christianity to Africa and Asia, raise issues of particular interest to the LDS experience: correlation and assimilation.
I recently read Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion Year History of the Human Body (Pantheon Books, 2008) by Neil Shubin, a paleotologist and professor of anatomy at the University of Chicago. By coincidence, Jared at LDS Science Review had posted the same book in his “Currently Reading” list. Here is our conversation about this interesting book.
Let’s have a big round of applause for Craig Harline’s busy two weeks as a guest blogger, then roll out the red carpet for our next guest, Kylie Turley. Kylie teaches honors writing at BYU (so watch those errant commas and inscrutable relative pronouns in your comments!) and is also on the staff of the LDS literary journal Segullah. According to a short bio posted at the Segullah site, Kylie is a native of the great state of Wyoming and researches Mormon women’s history. Thank you, Craig, and welcome Kylie!
The Deseret News just ran a lengthy article giving some details on the long-awaited but soon-to-be-released book Massacre at Mountain Meadows, by three LDS historians.
by Stephenie Meyers (Little, Brown, 2008). 617 pp. WARNING: major spoilers Stephenie Meyerâ€™s foray into science fiction is a well-deserved best seller, and a great piece of Mormon literature. The romantic interaction between Bella and Edward and Jacobâ€”wait, I mean between Jared and Melanie/Wanderer and Ianâ€”uh, hold on a second…
In a previous post I summarized biblical explanations for the problem of evil or the existence of suffering in the world as presented in Bart Ehrman’s latest book, God’s Problem. In this post I’ll continue with additional explanations from modern and LDS sources.