Author: Dave Banack

David Banack is an attorney who lives and works in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He has a JD from the Chapman University School of Law, a Master’s in economics from UC Davis, and a BA in political science from BYU. He joined the LDS Church at age 15 as the first Mormon in his family, and subsequently served a mission to France and Switzerland. He is happily married with three talented kids.

Populism and the Early Church

I finally got my hands on a copy of The Democratization of American Christianity, Nathan O. Hatch’s look at how the egalitarian democratic spirit that pervaded post-Revolutionary America influenced five early American religious movements: the Christians (such as the Disciples…

Two Kinds of Faith

I recently read Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate, Terry Eagleton’s critique of the contributions to that debate by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (who he conflates via the memorable moniker “Ditchkins”). It’s less than I’d hoped…

Life on the Fringe

I’ve seen several links but no discussion of the Slate piece on the hypothetical future role of Mormons, “The Catholic Church helped preserve Roman civilization. Can Mormonism do the same for America?” It’s part of an eight-part series on the…

New Primary Lesson Needed

Suggested lesson topic: What to do when you are seven years old and do not want to go to church. Yes, I finally watched the video of the seven-year-old kid who drove away in the family car to avoid going…

Two New Permabloggers

We are pleased to welcome two new permabloggers to our ranks: Alison Moore Smith and Rory Swensen. Both have recently guest blogged here, so I won’t repeat bio information from earlier welcome posts (see here and here for a refresher).…

Anonymity as Virtue or Vice

Online anonymity is a topic that comes up regularly. Does if facilitate public discussion of controversial issues or just allow anonymous commenters to spread rumor and innuendo with no accountability? Does real-name posting or commenting improve quality via reputation effects…

God and Robots

They’re coming. Even if you don’t own a robot vacuum cleaner or lawnmower, you’ve been dealing with robots for many years now without realizing it: ATMs, kiosks that vend DVDs, the scan-it-yourself devices at the grocery store that greet you…

Reflections on the Mormon Trail

On a recent corner-to-corner drive across the state of Wyoming, I parallelled the Mormon Trail for about 200 miles: from where the trail intersects I-25 (about 80 miles north of Cheyenne), through Casper (site of the first Mormon Ferry), along…

Upbeat Reflections on BYU

I recently spent a day on the BYU campus as part of an informal reunion with several old dorm-floor roommates and family members. It was a nice visit, and made me recognize something that often gets forgotten in online discussions…

A New Mormon Gateway

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…

Theology in the Wake of Evolution

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…

History and Identity

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…

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

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…

The Future of Religious Liberty

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…

I’ve Seen All Good People

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…

The Mormon Sort

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…

One Last Book Before I Go

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…

Confronting Modernity

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…

Forgetting, and History

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…

Being Orthodox in the Modern World

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).…

Theology and Conversation

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.

Too Much Truth?

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…

The Mormon Index

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.”