Response to Nate on the Plurality of Divinity

I don’t see it. You view Paulsen’s position as a “rejection of the idea that God the Father had a father who then had a father and so on ad infinitum,” but nothing in the excerpts you have quoted seems inconsistent with that notion. Perhaps you are resting on this statement: “There is only one … fount of divinity.” Obviously, Paulsen is attempting to respond to the idea that Mormons are polytheistic — a most grievous sin in the eyes of some so-called Christians. But whether God the Father is Himself part of a larger plan does not seem to be addressed at all by this statement. For our purposes, He is the sole “fount of divinity.” If there are other founts of divinity for other people not within our realm is irrelevant to me, which is why, I suppose, we do not have more information about that possibility.

Eliza R. Snow in the New York Post

A couple of weeks ago I was perusing that paragon of journalistic integrity, the New York Post (today’s cover: “JACKO: Now Get Out of This One!), and saw a phrase that I’d previously only heard sung (much too slowly) in church. The lead of George Will’s column was “Of capital punishment, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says: ‘It makes reason stare.’ Indeed it does.” First of all, what does this phrase from the early Mormon hymn “O My Father” mean? I guess I understand what its meant to convey, but it certainly is a curious turn of phrase. Has any thought *made* you stare before? If some thought is unreasonable, would personified reason just stare at it? Or perhaps reason is just blankly staring into space, totally flummoxed. Second, why have we as Mormons been so slow to introduce the unique lexicon of our hymns into a wider sphere? I would love to see the headline “Bush Hies to London;” or “UN Security Council Puts Shoulder to Wheel.” Lastly, I found it mildly refreshing that a prominent Mormon would so quotably criticize the death penalty. (The context, of course, was that Romney was appointing a commission to look into bringing the death penalty back to Massachusetts.) I don’t think I’ve ever heard such criticism from any other prominent Mormon, nor from much of the rank and file. Perhaps it’s an indication that recent publicity on the topic (Governor Ryan, Scott Turow,…


Andrew Sullivan has a take down here of recent crooning at the New York Times about HBOs forthcoming production of Tony Kurshner’s Angels in America. Angles is a play that chronicles the AIDS epedemic in the 1980s, and won a Pulitzer Prize in the 1990s. What is interesting to me is that the play has a Mormon character (to be played on HBO by Patrick Wilson) — a closet homosexual — who in one scene appears on stage in a homosexual encounter wearing temple garments. Kurchner clearly doesn’t really know anything about Mormons or at least about temple garments. (Although he may have known how offensive Mormons would find such a staging.) His Mormon character utters some strange gibberish about the meaning of the garment that is suppose to sound very, uh, Mormon. For example he refers to the garment as “a second skin,” an image that to my knowledge no Mormon has ever used in discussing the garment. Thus, Angels‘ Mormon is not a real Mormon, but a sort of stand-in stereotype for repressed religiously conservative sexuality. Mormons are kind of straight straight guy, if you will, and Angels plays off of this image by making its Mormon homosexual. I don’t know if HBO is planning on having the garment scene in their production. (I hope not.) However, it is interesting to see that Mormon stereotypes have come full circle. We started out in the 19th century as the…

Sacred and Profane

In the spirit of getting some content on this site, I offer the following from the archives of A Good Oman: A thought on First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake v. Salt Lake City Corporation, 308 F.3d 1114 (2002), the Salt Lake City Main Street case: In his wonderful book The Sacred and the Profane, Eliade discusses the idea of sacred space. According to Eliade one of the things that religion does is orient the believer in the cosmos. It does this by interrupting the normal flow of space with sacred places — shrines, temples, etc. — that mark points of reference for man’s relationship to the divine and his place in the world. Mormon thinkers such as Hugh Nibley have used this concept to understand the place of the temple in Mormon theology and religious experience. It is the place where human beings ritually ascend into the presence of God, and thus marks the place where the sacred interrupts the plane of profane space. The temple then acts as an axis mundi, providing an orienting point within that profane space. (Think of the way that all of the streets in the towns of Mormondom are measured from either the temple or the tabernacle.) When the LDS Church purchased Main Street in Salt Lake City, it turned it into a plaza and broke down the wall that separated the Salt Lake Temple (arguably the most sacred structure in Mormonism) from…

Matt Evans

I grew up in Salt Lake City, the oldest of seven kids in a single-parent home. I served a mission in southern Spain and north Africa.  Shortly after returning home I married Lori Middleton, and we put ourselves through school, working and earning odd scholarships.  I graduated from the University of Utah with degrees in Political Science and Sociology, and from Harvard Law School.  After law school we spent five years in the the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC and loved it.  After 8 years on the east coast we returned to Utah in 2006 so our kids could be near their extended family. (Edit this page)

Kristine Haglund

My name is Kristine Haglund, and yes, I’m related to all the Haglunds you’ve ever met–I’m the oldest daughter of Richard (the oldest son of Richard and Grettle of SLC) and Carol Ann, sister to Rich, Evan, J.B., and Erika, cousin to another 47 Haglunds. I’ve lived in Huntsville, Alabama; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Los Alamos, New Mexico; Marburg, Germany; Nashville, Tennessee; Boston/Cambridge, Massachusetts; Irvine, California; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Pleasanton, California, in roughly that order. I am also, to my continuing amazement, the mother of three adorable and highly entertaining children, Peter, Louisa, & Samuel. We now live in Swampscott, Massachusetts, a nice little seaside town (despite its unfortunate-sounding name) on Boston’s North Shore. We love it here, though we despair of our children ever learning to speak proper English on the Nawth Shawa. At church, I do lots of music callings and I’m in the Relief Society Presidency. The calling I aspire to–Primary pianist. My academic credentials include an A.B. from Harvard in German Studies and an M.A. from the University of Michigan in German Literature. Having thus squandered my youth, I’m hoping to finish a Ph.D. in something practical, like musicology or religion. [Of course, first I have to finish my advanced coursework in Potty Training the Extremely Stubborn Child, Nutrition for People Who Only Eat Plain Noodles and Goldfish Crackers, Essentials of Stripping 1970s-Era Wallpaper, and Extended Survival Without Sleep]. If I were braver,…

Wilfried Decoo

I am a native of Belgium – the Flemish side. Born in 1946, I grew up in Antwerp. I obtained my B.A. from the Antwerp Jesuit University, my M.A. from Ghent University – both degrees in Romance languages. As a teacher of French and history I worked a few years in Central Africa for the Belgian Cooperation. Next I went to BYU where I finished a PhD in comparative literature. From 1974 on I spent most of my academic career at the University of Antwerp, as professor of applied linguistics and language education. In 1999 the department of French and Italian at BYU asked me to join their ranks, but I also retain an affiliation with Antwerp. (Edit this page)

Rosalynde Welch

I grew up in Southern California, the daughter of Russ and Christie Frandsen and eldest of their eleven children (including Gabrielle, Naomi, Brigham, Rachel, Jacob, Benjamin, Abraham, Christian, Eva, and Isaac, in case you’re wondering if I’m related to that Frandsen you used to know). In 1992 I graduated from La Canada High School and started at BYU, where it didn’t take me long to switch from a pre-med to an English major. In 1993 and again in 1994, I spent several months in England studying literature and theater with, among other able teachers, Eugene England. I developed interests in Renaissance English literature, contemporary critical theory, and creative writing, and wrote my Honors thesis on composition pedagogy. I served in the Porto, Portugal Mission from 1996-1997. I graduated from BYU in 1998 with a degree in English, and married John Welch later that week. John and I attended graduate school at the University of California at San Diego, and I was awarded a PhD in Early Modern Literature from that institution in 2004. I studied under Louis Montrose and dissertated under the title “Placing Private Conscience in Early Modern England,â€? combining my interests in Renaissance literature, religion, and poststructuralist theory. During our years in San Diego, our daughter Elena Rachel was born in 2001, and our son John Levin Frandsen in 2003. We moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 2004, where John is an oncology fellow and I stay at…

Jim Faulconer

Jim Faulconer is a professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University, the husband of Janice Allen, the father of four and grandfather of eight, and the Gospel Doctrine teacher in his ward. His academic specialty is 20th-century European philosophy, particulary the philosophy of Martin Heidegger and some of his French acolytes. His hobbies are playing with grandchildren, cooking (and, therefore, also eating), travel, and New Testament studies, and for none of them is there sufficient time. Among his other trials as a professor, he taught philosophy to Greg, Nate and Russell, who are co-bloggers at T&S. Web page: (Edit this page)

Gordon Smith

When I was growing up in Osseo, Wisconsin in the 1970s, I couldn’t wait to leave for college. (The world looks awfully big and exciting from Osseo.) Although I had designs on some California schools, my best friend, Mike O’Neill, somehow convinced me to attend Brigham Young University, even though I was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During my first year, I watched Jim McMahon have one of the best individual college football seasons ever, and saw Danny Ainge win the John R. Wooden Award. I also read the Book of Mormon for the first time, and nothing was ever the same for me after that. During my second year at BYU, I was baptized into the Church, and one year later I was called to serve in the Austria Vienna Mission, which no longer exists (sniff, sniff). After returning from my mission, I met my wife, Sue Mumford, who served a mission in Sweden. We became friends by discussing our missions, and we hope to serve together someday. We have six children. The first was born on Mike’s birthday, so we named him Neill. Unfortunately, Neill was born with a rare neurological disorder called Werdnig-Hoffman disease, and he died after only three months. Shortly thereafter, Sue and I left Utah with heavy hearts so that I could attend the University of Chicago Law School. Although our doctors had advised against having more…

Greg Call

I grew up with seven brothers and sisters in Salt Lake City. I started at Brigham Young University in 1992, then served in the California Ventura Mission from 1993 to 1995. Returning to BYU, I married Cirila Kamm in 1997 and graduated with a philosophy degree in 1998. We then moved to New York City, where I attended Columbia Law School and Cirila finished her degree at CUNY-Hunter College. I completed my JD in 2001, briefly worked for a New York law firm, then took a two-year clerkship with Chief Judge Judith Kaye of the New York Court of Appeals. Our son Soren was born in the fall of 2001. In 2003 we moved to Oakland, California, where our daughter Mia was born. I now work for a law firm in San Francisco and we attend the Oakland Ninth Branch. (Edit this page)