An update and book preview

I wrote four draft posts on Saturday, two for Gospel Doctrine lessons, and two on other topics (reading the Bible with children, and one on Chaim Potok, Isaac Asimov, and reading scripture). I meant to get up early and post the next Gospel Doctrine lesson before anyone on the east coast got to Church, but things happen. Now that it's too late for anyone English speaking today, I'll finish it later. I still am uncertain what I'll be doing next year for D&C, but I'm committed to doing so … [Read More...]

The Backstory to Elder Eyring’s Age of the Earth Comment and Creationism

Elder Eyring told a story in this recent General Conference. My father... was a seasoned and wise holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Once he was asked by an Apostle to write a short note about the scientific evidence for the age of the earth. He wrote it carefully, knowing that some who might read it had strong feelings that the earth was much younger than the scientific evidence suggested. I still remember my father handing me what he had written and saying to me, “Hal, you have the s … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 38: 3Nephi 12-15

Today we enter into a very interesting section of the Book of Mormon. Like the Isaiah chapters, it closely parallels a section of the Bible. Like the Isaiah chapters, there are some subtle differences. 3Ne 12-15 parallels the Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5-7. It's been lined up so that if you want to compare verses (and you should!), subtract 7 from the Book of Mormon chapter number to get the right verse in Matthew, e.g. 3 Nephi 12:48  ≈ Matthew 5:48. Let's compare these.KJV Mat 5:4 … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 37: 3Ne 8-10

I wanted to get this up quickly, and will try to return and add to it. Lots going on here.I've talked about the power of art before, but this bears repeating. while art and artists are often credited with making historical, and particularly religious, ideas come alive and plainer to understand, an inherent problem enters when the language of religious art becomes translated into the language of history by its viewer. What we see becomes what we believe, and often, therefore, what we think w … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 36: 3 Nephi1-7

First, it's that time of year wherein I start thinking about January, which means D&C/Church History... but mostly D&C. I always get excited when we hit D&C, because it means we're almost to the Old Testament again. In the meantime, I have to figure out how to handle D&C here. This is the book I have read and taught the least, and I have virtually no notes to build from. It doesn't help that the manual is organized not by section or chronologically, but thematically. I also … [Read More...]

Why Science is (Mostly) Powerless Against Young Earth Creationism: A Personal Narrative

Young Earth Creationism (YEC) is, ironically, relatively young. I've written about its origins at Religion&Politics (start in paragraph 4), with a follow-up at Times&Seasons. A recent article in Scientific American highlights the arrival of Young Earth Creationism in Europe.I take issue with one paragraph. We have learned that confronting creationism is not a scientific matter but rather a political one. To engage creationism it does not suffice to line up all the evidence and arg … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 35: Helaman 13-16

Today we get to meet Samuel, who prophecies of, well, 3 Nephi, basically. What does it mean that the Lamanite prophet Samuel has a name from the Hebrew scriptures? (I may have time to update this more later today.)Hel 13:1-2 Who else is an outsider sent to a city, is rejected, leaves, and then is divinely instructed to return? Alma returns and finds Amulek who enables his message (Alma 8:1-21); Samuel finds the wall, which enables his.Hel 13:6 shall be slain for his people. Cf. … [Read More...]

Brigham Young, Studying Evil, and Living in a Bubble

I originally wrote this about 10 years ago, reposted it five years ago, and since I mentioned it in Church today, thought it merited a repost.I enjoy Orson Scott Card’s books. I know some people who think that he portrays too much evil in them. OSC has his own robust defenses of this (cf. A Storyteller in Zion), but I thought of it when I came across these comments by Brigham Young. Shall I sit down and read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Covenants all the time?” says one. Ye … [Read More...]

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 34: Helaman 6-12

Classes have begun, and it's heavy. I spent today reading Schleiermacher's On Religion and a book about the religiously motived Christian-on-Muslim violence of the Bosnian war. Below, then, my notes on these chapters of Helaman.Hel 6:1-2 Ironically, now the Lamanites are the converted and obediant, while the Nephites are the rebellious. cf. v. 34. In v.4, although the term isn't used, it sounds like the Lamanites send missionaries to the Nephites to bear testimony.6:21 Most of the pop … [Read More...]

Books, Homes, and Al-Jahiz

Living in New York for six years, I developed the habit of looking for new housing. New Yorkers are constantly on the hunt for a deal on a bigger place, a cheaper place, a better place. For comparison, we lived in a 700-ft2 apartment in Brooklyn for $1500/month and considered ourselves lucky. Now when visiting Utah, my wife and I and her family sometimes do the Parade of Homes in Salt Lake City, or St. George. Now, "Utah" is not always a good proxy for "Mormons," and the Parade of Homes even le … [Read More...]