Tag: LDS

Did revelation cease?

It seems to me that Mormon discourse has two mutually contradictory ways of talking about revelation during the Middle Ages, and that neither view takes much notice of actual medieval views on the matter.

Bruce Young on Christians, Romney, and Voting

A pro-Huckabee blog recently(ish) set out the (now somewhat dated) argument that (non-Mormon) Christians have a Biblical duty not to vote for Mitt Romney. In response, Bruce (husband of blog-butterfly Margaret) Young wrote a short rebuttal piece. (He’s also a BYU professor of some renown.) I thought the discussion might be of interest (to the T&S community), and so with the permission of Bruce and Margaret Young (have you asked her about her movie lately?), I’m posting it here. My response (to Pastor Haisty’s argument that, according to John the apostle, Christians should not wish someone who believes in a “false Christ” well and should not welcome such a person into their home or any “house” that in some sense belongs to them):

President Hinckley and Mormon Memory

In Religious Literacy, Stephen Prothero considers the decline of religious knowledge in America, much of which relates to the failure of institutions (family, school, church, university) to maintain a “chain of memory” that transmits religious knowledge from one generation to the next. President Hinckley helped Mormonism avoid this failure. Mormon memory is alive and well.

Under-Appreciated Hymns

When in the sultry glebe I faint, or on the thirsty mountain pant, To fertile vales and dewy meads, my weary, wandring steps he leads. Where peaceful rivers, soft and slow, amid the cooling verdant landscape flow.

Mormonism’s Poisoned Theodicy

Consider two theological claims. First, a severely mentally retarded child has her retardation because in the premortal world she was an exceptionally valiant spirit and her current disability means that all that was necessary was for her to receive a body and then go straight on to eternal exaltation, worlds without number. Second, in this life blacks were denied the priesthood prior to 1978 because they were not valiant in the premortal conflict with Satan.

Utah Historical Quarterly: Utah War Issue

“One hundred and fifty years ago a federal army of nearly two thousand soldiers under the command of Col. Albert Sidney Johnston huddled in their makeshift quarters at Camp Scott near the ruins of Fort Bridger in southwestern Wyoming to wait out the bitter winter and prepare to march into the Salt Lake Valley later in the spring of 1858.”

The Silent Core of Mormonism

Mormon theology and practice centers ultimately on the temple, and yet the temple is a subject on which Mormons are especially secretive and reticent. Therein lies one of the central ironies and challenges facing any Mormon trying to really explain how Mormonism works to an outsider.

“This Thing Was Not Done in a Corner”

I was delighted when Noah Feldman accepted my invitation to give the keynote address at Princeton’s Mormonism and American Politics conference because I knew he’d offer a thoughtful and sophisticated outsider’s perspective on these issues. His latest NYT piece, a polished and updated version of his conference remarks, is even more that that, however. In challenging what Feldman calls the “soft bigotry” against Mormonism, still surprisingly so widespread, while at the same time effectively raising legitimate issues for Latter-day Saints to wrestle with themselves, Feldman’s piece does what few other articles on Mormonism have been able to do and is rightly getting a lot of attention.

Essential Differences

I recently read The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male and Female Brain (Basic Books, 2003) by Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of psychiatry at Cambridge University. Anyone interested in the source and nature of gender differences (i.e., everyone) will find this an interesting book, and people with an interest in understanding autism are particularly encouraged to find a copy and read it.

A Pleasant Surprise

It seems 2008 has delivered its first miracle — the new Joseph Smith manual. Who would have thought that a correlated manual could actually be interesting? That’s doubly rewarding as the new Joseph Smith manual will be with us for two years. A short write-up with several striking illustrations is posted online at the Church News. I’ll add a few things I noted while browsing through the manual on Sunday afternoon.

José Smith

The Spanish-language scriptures use the name José Smith. This raises interesting questions: Which names do we choose to translate and which do we choose not to translate, and why?

Seeing Him

Because Adam asked, here’s my Santa Claus/Meaning-of-Christmas manifesto, originally written on my own blog three years ago. A brief update: our oldest daughter, mentioned below in this post, is now eleven, and while she is a joyful and spirited participant in the Christmas season, particularly for the sake of her three younger sisters, she isn’t herself much of believer any longer, and all my philosophical/theological reflections mostly flat with her. But that doesn’t worry me. Give her time; she’ll come around. I probably thought pretty much the same at her age, but as the wise man once said, I’m younger than that now.

Religious Pragmatism

Oliver Wendell Holmes famously wrote, “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.” [1] In various writings, he expanded that claim, contrasting a natural law approach to justifying legal and ethical rules of conduct with his own more modest approach rooted in history and experience and falling under the broad perspective labeled pragmatism. Since religion in general and Mormonism in particular have many rules of conduct for which a variety of justifications grounded in natural law, experience, and history are held out, Holmes’ approach may shed some light on how we do this.

Prayer and parascripture

‘Parascripture’ was the term Hugh Nibley used to refer to popular statements of religious sentiment that weren’t actually found in scripture, and that can sometimes be the vehicle for foreign ideas to find a home in a Mormon setting. An example in recent circulation is, “If you want to talk to God, pray; if you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures.”

Narrating the Priesthood Ban and Constructing Selves

The way we see and define who we are is usually closely related to how we understand the past. Most of us have overlapping identities that require us to negotiate compromises between them and these compromises shape our narratives of history. African American members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have two dominant identities, black and Mormon, and as such, they have the burden of negotiating a compromise between these identities in relation to their understandings of the priesthood ban.

Mormonism Q&A I: Race issues; Jesus/Satan issues; some sources

There have been some interesting discussions of Mormonism in the media lately. Commenters like Lawrence O’Donnell, Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, and others have made statements about the church in highly public places. What are we (or others) to make of these? In this post, I’ll try to address some of the questions that I’ve seen in various media contexts lately.

Gadianton Robbers Among the Ancestors

In fall 2001 (vol. 27, pp. 125-149) the Journal of Mormon History published an article I wrote entitled “‘As Ugly as Evil’ and ‘As Wicked as Hell’: Gadianton Robbers and the Legend Process among the Mormons.” Let me share a few excerpts from it and then pose a question.

My People Shall Wear Wooden Shoes

In 1874 a short lived satirical newspaper appeared in Utah, under the title Enoch’s Advocate: A Temporary Journal Devoted to the Interests of the United Order of Wooden Shoes. The paper’s sole intent was to take jabs both in picture and in print at Brigham Young and the United Order effort he had launched territory wide that year.