Author: Jonathan Green

Why I wear a tie to church

Not long ago, on the way to church one Sunday, my son, recently turned twelve, asked me, “Why do I have to wear a tie to church?” Instead of directly answering that question, which would reveal his parents’ rather curtailed ability to compel behavior in their almost-teenage children much earlier than I’d like and short-circuit the altogether salutary process of his exploring those limits in person, I told him why I wear a tie to church.

Missions and language training

Will lowering the age of missionaries to 18/19 from 19/21 hurt the language preparation of missionaries serving foreign-language missions? Perhaps, although there are some possible steps one could take to counteract that. Which steps to take, or whether to take any steps at all, depends on how much language skills are affected, and on how much you think foreign language preparation matters for missionaries.

Your Candidate is going to lose

I regret to inform you that Your Candidate is going to lose. Some tough days are ahead. I’m sorry. It will be tempting to blame Your Candidate for his loss, but the truth is that he actually did a pretty good job. The economy, world affairs, the weather – they just didn’t go his way. Still, he made the most of the hand he was dealt, gave some good speeches, got in some good lines in what were the best presidential debates in a long time. Your Candidate was the best candidate Your Party had, and he gave The Other Guy a pretty good run for his money. The Other Guy will be in the White House for the next four years, but there’s nothing mysterious about his victory. There was no grand conspiracy, no nefarious manipulation of the voting process that thwarted the will of the people. The Other Guy will be president because that’s how the votes in…


Heinrich von Ofterdingen by Novalis is one of the founding documents of Romanticism. The novel is perhaps most famous for the title figure’s vision of a blue flower in the first chapter. What is not as well known is how Heinrich’s family drama is also the ecclesiology of Mormonism.

Notes from the ApostaCon

Following “Exploring Mormon Conceptions of the Apostasy,” a conference organized by Miranda Wilcox and held this last Thursday and Friday at BYU, I heard several people say that it was the best conference of any kind they had ever participated in. I don’t think that was merely a polite exaggeration.

The Lost Books of the Bible (1609 Catholic edition)

In 1609, Johannes Uber published the first part of his Very Useful and Necessary Disputation Concerning the Holy Bible (Von der heiligen Bibel sehr nützliche und nötige Disputation, VD17 1:050537Y) in which he argued for two points. First, that the Bible was no longer whole “because of the many lost holy books that the holy prophets and apostles wrote and referred to in their writings”; and second, that therefore those who leave the Catholic Church and rely only on the Bible cannot find salvation.

History of a book

So I wrote a book. Not a Mormon book, but one in my academic field. I’ve been working on the book since just before my youngest daughter was born. She started first grade in September, and the book was published last week. The idea for the book came to me in 2005,

In Praise of Thanktimonies

Not all targets of our reflexive contempt are well chosen. Expressions of mere gratitude in our monthly testimony meetings are dismissed as ‘thanktimonies’ because they don’t quite cover any of the things a public expression of religious conviction is supposed to be about. But I think this disdain is misplaced, like scoffing at children for riding bicycles when they could instead careen around the neighborhood in outsized cars in which they cannot work the pedals and see over the dashboard at the same time.

A Mother There? Notes on Paulsen and Pulido

David Paulsen and Martin Pulido’s survey of statements concerning Heavenly Mother in Mormon thought, recently published in BYU Studies, has earned a good amount of attention. It’s a thorough survey, and I only have two relatively minor criticisms. In addition, the article restricts itself to surveying statements rather than analyzing them, and I see a few possibilities for future analysis. Mostly I want to make a couple observations about the article, primarily that it doesn’t say quite as much as one might think.

Scent of a Mormon

The program for the annual convention of the Modern Language Association regularly includes the following request: The Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession reminds attendees that refraining from using perfume, cologne, and other scented products will help ensure the comfort of everyone at the convention.

Castles made for sandboxes

A few years ago, I walked half the circuit of a massive town wall. After hauling three kids and pushing a fourth in a stroller for a few hours through the forest, we recognized the wall by the close-packed rubble that stuck out from the crest of the long dirt mound.

Looking for historicity in all the wrong places

If you think that the textual history of the Book of Mormon includes historical records, then you can’t avoid the possibility that a lot of Book of Mormon scholarship has been looking for the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time, and reading the wrong verses. The problem is that Book of Mormon chronology is anchored in time only by the fall of Jerusalem and Christ’s appearance to the Nephites. But these events belong to sacral history, and their translation into historical chronology is not necessarily transparent. In the same way, the identification of the Nephites as descendants of pre-Exilic Jews depends on 1 Nephi, which is a literary account of an eponymous ancestor that grafts ethnic origins into sacred history. National theophanies and sacralized accounts of ethnogenesis are not the kinds of writing usually given much weight in historical analysis. And yet Semitic origins and a 600 BC – 421 AD timeline define the current debate…