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… 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 arguments in support of evolutionary theory. Instead, scientists have… 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… 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… 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 population belonged to one secret… 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… Read more

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 33: Helaman 1-5 Notes and Questions

Today’s text includes a good bit of carry-over from the war chapters, while adding political intrigue and plots. First, note my old post at Times&Seasons  Rough outline Helaman 1- Pahoran1 dies. Election and assassination of Pahoran2 by his brother. Lamanite army, led by Coriantumr attacks capital, Zarahemla, takes it. Moronihah black holes the Lamanite army. Helaman 2 – Helaman2 becomes chief judge. We meet Gadianton, leader of Kishkumen’s band. Attempted assassination of Helaman2, Gadiantons flee. Helaman 3- Peace for three years,… Read more

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 32: Alma 53-63 “The War Chapters Part II”

Today we continue the war chapters, and get to read some military correspondence. I don’t have any overarching, connecting commentary here, so I’ll start with a rough outline and then individual verses. My very rough outline – Alma 53- Preparations for war. Helaman takes 2000 stripling warriors from Ammonites. Alma 54- Moroni receives letter from Ammoron, writes back, gets response. Prisoner exchange discussion. Alma 55- Takes prisoners by stratagem. (wine and Lamanite) Alma 56- Epistle from Helaman about 2000, cities… Read more

Critical Scholarship and Faith at BYU, Brief Partial Summary and Thoughts

Several weeks ago, the Maxwell Institute’s Studies in the Bible and Antiquity journal sponsored a small non-public conference  at BYU on the topic of “Critical Scholarship and Faith.” If you’re unsure why this is an issue for LDS, read Julie Smith’s post “the next generation’s faith crisis.” I largely agree with her, and was thus quite excited to see this conference happen. “Critical scholarship,” of course, does not mean scholarship that finds fault or is nit-picky. Its use of “critical” is more… Read more

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 31: Alma 43-48 aka “The War Chapters I

As I’ve pointed out previously, the Book of Mormon moves at different paces in different places. We’ve spent the last two weeks making a slow section even slower, and that means that with today’s chapters, we’re forgetting something important. After six chapters of doctrinal exposition, we hit the famed “war chapters.” Below, I quote from an old working paper of mine. (The entire paper with footnotes, a rough draft I quit working on ten years ago, is available here.) >>In the end of… Read more

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