The title page of the Book of Mormon is a really fascinating passage of scripture. I think that it provides a very useful model for thinking about scripture in particular and revelation in general.
It is going on ten years now since I have lived in Utah, but I still follow Utah politics from afar partly as a matter of tribal attachment but mainly because they are just so strange and fun.
A while back, Dave asked about possible narratives to structure 20th or 21st century Mormons. Another way of thinking about this question is how we bridge between modern experience and our historical narratives. We need not only new stories but also ways of maintaing continuity with our old stories. Consider the two images below.
This summer I had the chance to participate in a workshop at BYU put together by Richard Bushman. Bushman wanted to gather together Mormon academics working outside of Utah to discuss the question of how we explain Mormonism. My own sense is that when we explain our beliefs — even to one another — we often fall into the trap of repeating verbal formulations rather than actually thinking through and describing what it is about the Restoration that really drives our commitment.
I know that this is controversial for some readers, but for purposes of this discussion stipulate that same-sex marriage in wrong. As an institutional shift it will damage the institution of marriage in ways that will harm society in the long run. Obviously, this is a hugely controversial claim, but for the time being just accept it. Notwithstanding this, however, a number of jurisdictions have adopted same-sex marriage statutes. Let’s also stipulate the homosexual conduct is sinful, a belief held by most Mormons and one that certainly seems to be church doctrine. Should Mormons who hold all of these beliefs, nevertheless believe that homosexuals engaged in sexual conduct have an obligation to get (same-sex) marriages?
Claremont Graduate University has announced: Professor Richard Bushman has been appointed as the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies.
Let’s think about lines, circles, and time.
The tension between “official” Mormon history and other sorts of Mormon history is a central narrative for a lot of Mormon intellectual discussion. D. Michael Quinn, for example, who is a fabulously tenacious researcher at times seems to have little in the way of a historiographic agenda other than to do “honest” history rather than “official” history. This is very laudable, of course, but it is an intellectual agenda that depends decisively on being able to identify “official” history and its scholarly lapses. Which brings me to my question: Where do I find the “official” history of the church?
Times & Seasons is happy to welcome our newest guest blogger, Kathryn Lynard Soper. Kathryn is a mother of seven with a passion for writing and editing creative nonfiction. Raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, she’s lived in Utah since her BYU days (BA English, 1993). Founder and president of Segullah Group, Inc., Kathryn is editor-in-chief of Segullah: Writings by Latter-day Saint Women and editor of Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives (Woodbine Press, 2007). She recently published personal essays inLiterary Mama, Meridian Magazine, and Mamazine, and is currently writing a memoir about her first year mothering her son Thomas, who has Down syndrome. In her leftover time she practices survival housekeeping and indulges her delusions of grandeur. Welcome Kathryn!
Much of church government is carried out in councils and recently they have been received new emphasis, particularly from Elder Ballard. Councils are, however, a problem.
Oliver Cowdrey has the distinction of being one of the few Mormon dissidents to make his stand against church authorities on the basis of obscure doctrines of real estate law.
Ordinances are a central part of the gospel, yet of late I find myself wondering what exactly they are. Here are some of my preliminary thoughts:
When Moroni first appeared to Joseph Smith, he quoted a number of scriptures, including Malachi’s prophesy that “And he [ie the Lord] shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.” We generally read these words as a reference to temple work, but there is much more going on in them, I believe. This morning, after playing baseball with my son, I sat watching him play on the lawn with his stuffed seal (who had been transformed into a super hero) and I read the following poem, which unknown to the author, I am sure, is about Malachi’s prophesy:
Apparently folks in the Church Office Building drop by T&S from time to time. Today, this press release was posted to LDS.org, responding in part to Julie’s post on the recently posted Ensign article on MMM.
Brigham Young and Joseph Smith had some very harsh things to say about lawyers, but from the beginning, Mormon attorneys sought to create an ecclesiastical identity for themselves other than that of lying tricksters bent on stirring up litigation.
That is the question asked by Zeke Johnson and James Wright in a recent Suffolk University Law Review article.*
I’ve always been happy to be a Mormon without insisting on being a Christian.
If you are looking for a morally, philosophically, and theologically fascinating place, I can think of few locations in contemporary life that can compare to the supermarket.
Richard Bushman’s recent appearance at a Pew Forum conference on Mormonism and Democratic Politics has got me thinking about the role of scholars of Mormonism in shaping the religious news coverage swirling around Mitt Romney’s candidacy. I decided to do a little bit of informal content analysis of recent news stories, seeing which scholars are getting quoted.
Earlier today, Elizabeth Rose Oman was born in Richmond, Virginia. Both Heather and the baby are doing well. Elizabeth is 8 lbs 2 oz and 21 inches long. Labor lasted for 18 hours, and we are very glad that she is here. God has been very good to us.
For the last six months of so, I have been doing a lot of research on nineteenth-century Mormon courts. Earlier today I presented some of my preliminary research to the law school faculty at William & Mary. For those who are interested, you can take a look at my paper online. In doing my research I’ve had a number of discoveries that I’ve found interesting.
I’ve been thinking of late about apologetics.
Markets are a big deal in my intellectual life. For a living, I teach and think about the law that makes markets possible. By and large, I think that markets are really cool. I think that they are probably the single greatest engine for the material betterment of the human race. Poverty causes a great deal of misery. Economic development strikes me as the single greatest way of alleviating poverty. Markets are what make economic growth possible. I also think that markets serve important political purposes by facilitating peaceful cooperation between those with violently opposed political and religious beliefs. Markets, however, pose something of a problem for Mormon thought.
In doing research on 19th century church courts, I recently came across a legal issue that I haven’t seen before: What exactly is the evidentiary value of speaking in tongues?
I consider my brother-in-law to be a twisted genius (in a good, vaguely Wierd-Al-Yankovich sort of way). I am happy to say that the fruits of his desire to be a rock star, his labors as a scriptorian (his favorite Book of Mormon character is Teancum), and his calling as a road show director are now available on YouTube. Without further ado, here is the song that has rocked family reniuns for years…”Javelin Man”
I recently had a theological epiphany while reading a case about conditions precedent in crop insurance contracts.
I recently came across a talk delivered in church by a missionary in 1994 who was about to depart for Pusan, Korea via the MTC. It was interesting (and a little mortifying) to read the words of my past self. Here is what I said:
I recently ran across the “Education for Eternity” website put together by the BYU Faculty Center, which collects materials on Mormonism and higher education. It is not a bad collection, and given that William & Mary has no comperable collection, I appreciate that it is online. I couldn’t help but laughing, however, when I clicked to the section on law only to find a picture of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. staring at me. Holmes is a rightly iconic figure in the law, and I assume that he was added to provide a bit of jurisprudential ambiance. On the other hand, as an avowed and articulate atheist with a streak of moral skepticism amounting at times to nihilism, there is something a bit ironic about having his bewiskered mug presiding over a list of articles by J. Reuben Clark, Dallin H. Oaks, and Bruce Hafen.
Kristine is trying to get everyone reved up for Holy Week over at BCC. I wish her well, but I suspect that she isn’t going to succeed on this one.
The trailer is now online for PBS’s up-coming documentary extravaganza on “The Mormons.” You’ll be happy to know that the Bloggernacle had a bit part in the series’ production.