Author: Dave Banack

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 long years. You are suddenly serious about “missionary prep.” What book should you read?

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 “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)?

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 nation itself.

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). Increasingly, being an orthodox anything in the modern world raises some of the same tensions.

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.

Politics versus Sectarianism

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.

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 Orthodox Christian who prefers to avoid repeating that experience a second time in his new church.

Why Are the Faithful Fleeing?

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.

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.”

12 Questions for the LDS Newsroom, Part One

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.

Welcome to Guest Blogger Kent Larsen

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.

Pioneers and Indians in Utah Valley

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.

“Mothers Who Know” Still Spurring Debate

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.”

Christianity by Continent

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.

Meet Your Inner Fish

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.

Welcome to Guest Blogger Kylie Turley

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!

Book Review: The Host

by Stephenie Meyers (Little, Brown, 2008). 617 pp. WARNING: major spoilers Stephenie Meyer’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 Jacob—wait, I mean between Jared and Melanie/Wanderer and Ian—uh, hold on a second…

Modern Responses to the Problem of Evil

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.

Cycling Through Mormon History

For you, summer might be a succession of beaches, barbeques, and baseball games, but for one young man this summer is an extended bicycle tour of American religious sites. He has posted excellent photos of his visits to the Smith family farm and the Hill Cumorah Pageant that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. If he makes it to SLC, someone should throw him a party or something.

Posts You Might Have Missed 3

While the Bloggernacle was ablaze with commentary on the June 29 First Presidency letter to California Mormons (see interesting updates here and here) plenty of posts on other timely topics were zipping through cyberspace.

Why We Suffer

I recently finished Bart D. Ehrman’s latest book, God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question–Why We Suffer (HarperCollins, 2008). Like all Ehrman’s books, it is both informative and troubling.

Mississippi Rising

CNN reported yesterday that 83 out of 99 counties in Iowa have been declared disaster areas — the scale of the flooding is tough to grasp. Those flood waters are now spilling into the Mississippi and moving south. Another service opportunity for the MIY (missionaries in yellow), who are out filling sandbags in Quincy, Illinois. Our sympathy and support to all of those struggling against the waters.