Author: Jonathan Green


What is it like to move to Rexburg? If you’ve ever driven across the country, you’ve probably stopped for gas or lunch in some town you’ve never heard of and observed in astonishment that people not only live there, but appear to lead lives as happy and meaningful as any other American. Those lives may include more baseball or rodeo than you would choose for yourself, but the people there seem content enough. You see parks and schools and streets with decent-looking houses and a reasonable number of stores, and you wonder what it would be like if you lived there. Moving to Rexburg is like stopping for gas in a place like that and failing to get back on the highway to wherever it was you thought you were going.

Joseph Smith and the failure of the Reformation

One of the paradoxes of Mormonism is the heroic status it grants Martin Luther while simultaneously rejecting all of his central teachings. Mormon teachings and the basic narrative of the Restoration in some cases even suggest that the Reformation, however necessary it may have been, was not only incorrect, but also that it was a failure.

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.