Author: Jonathan Green

Dispensations

crown

While the occurrence of a general apostasy is a matter of belief and not observable by historical inquiry, dispensations are born with a burst of documentary evidence.

The Songs of Lehi

If we accept, at least for the moment, that 1 Nephi has a textual history, that it drew on older sources or underwent expansion at various times, then we might wonder what could be considered the oldest layer of the text

Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson: a preview

With Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker, we have another Mormon writer of speculative fiction with something to say about marriage. Warbreaker manages to capture some ironies that won’t be lost on readers who have noted the discrepancy between the ideal of eternal marriage, and the reality of the dating scene at BYU.

Relics

The Book of Mormon is a reliquary in prose. In some extensive sections and at some critical moments, what drives the narrative is the question: how did a set of golden plates, a steel sword, a ball of curious workmanship, a breastplate, and two translucent stones end up inside a stone box buried in a hill in the state of New York? For a religion that attaches little to no significance to relics, it’s striking that large sections of our distinctive book of scripture are concerned with the provenance—the origin and the later cultural significance—of a particular set of holy artifacts.

Now a glorious dawn is breaking

What will it be like for a marriage to continue past death into the eternities? What does it mean to have a perfected body, or to love an eternal being? Stephenie Meyer has an answer. Breaking Dawn, the last novel in her Twilight series, presents a sustained and vividly imagined view of one of the core elements of Mormon personal salvation. [This post is going to discuss all the details of Breaking Dawn, including how it ends, so please stop reading now if you don’t want to know.]

Bones

One of the subterranean threads running throughout the Book of Mormon is the mystery of whose bones are heaped upon the land northward.

All opposed, by the same sign

On the issues I care about (and therefore not including the topic addressed from various perspectives so eloquently by my esteemed colleagues), I prefer the positions of the Democratic Party platform and candidate. I directly benefited from Barack Obama’s work as a state senator while I lived in Illinois, he seems to know what he’s talking about on important issues, and it looks like he ran a pretty competent campaign. For my taste, McCain and Palin didn’t offer much more than the politics of fear and resentment, and they seemed more likely to stay trapped in the conflicts of the twentieth century than their opponents. I know it’s fashionable to affect hand-wringing uncertainty about choosing between two candidates, but I cast my vote for Obama with unmitigated enthusiasm. Who did you vote for?

A Nobel calling

I’m very happy to see this year’s Nobel Prize in economics going to Paul Krugman, whose columns in the New York Times helped me see the importance of the discipline of economics as nothing else ever had. I think Mormon scholarship could use more scholars like Paul Krugman (quite apart from the Nobel and the weekly NYT column)

Shame

Every medium has an inherent vice. While any form of media can be misused, there is a flaw lurking in the fundamental nature of each medium. Television exaggerates fear, as it transmits the worst events or most scandalous entertainment from the outside world into our homes. Movies indulge our self-deluding fantasies of escape or celebrity. Radio encourages the presumption, in the secrecy of our private chambers, that we sing and dance every bit as good as Milli Vanilli. The inherent vice of the Internet is shame

Missions, art, and surveillance

One unique aspect of the missionary experience, quite distinct from life before and after, is the feeling that someone is always watching you. It’s probably the one aspect of my mission that I could have done without, although I wouldn’t say that it was entirely unproductive.

Foundation and Apostasy

What if the historical evidence for the foundation of the early Christian church is indistinguishable from evidence for its apostasy? What if the early church and its scriptures only arose through processes of decay?