October 22, 2018

    Fairly raw notes from a manuscript:   Physicist Karl W. Giberson: you can explain the marvelous design of our universe by the finesse of a wise creator or the firepower of some mindless cosmic machine extravagantly belching out alternative realities, some of which have the ingenious design of this one, but most of which do not—collateral damage on a cosmic scale.[1]   Physicist Karl W. Giberson: One might suspect that such unprecedented speculation had emerged from some unusual… Read more

October 21, 2018

    Another quotation — this one from funeral remarks given by President Howard W. Hunter — cited in Brent L. Top, What’s On the Other Side? What the Gospel Teaches Us about the Spirit World (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012):   In the quiet of this chapel today, our souls have been on their knees.  We have contemplated the uncertainties of life and the certainty of death.  Each of us in his turn will follow thee same course — only… Read more

October 21, 2018

    Here are two more passages from Farid al-Din ‘Attar’s famous Sufi mystical poem, written in Persian in the early thirteenth century, titled Mantiq al-Tayr (“The Conference of the Birds”).   The first warns us to avoid a self-righteous overeagerness to judge others without charity:   A sinner died, and, as his coffin passed, A man who practiced every prayer and fast Turned ostentatiously aside — how could He pray for one of whom he knew no good? He… Read more

October 20, 2018

    Even at this late stage of my life, I can still be, and not infrequently am, astonished by the behavior of certain especially bitter and hardcore critics of the Church.  Typically — and unsurprisingly — they’re not never-LDS Evangelicals but, rather, apostates.  (That seems to be historically true, as well, and not merely with regard to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Apostates from a given religious faith or powerful worldview are, very commonly, its fiercest… Read more

October 19, 2018

    Many people love beaches and tropical islands.  I love them, too.  I grew up, after all, in southern California, and I made my first visit to Hawaii at the age of five.  (I have no idea how many times I’ve been back since.)   But I have to admit that the terrestrial landscapes that resonate with me the most powerfully, that stir me most deeply, are alpine.  I hiked the John Muir Trail through California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains… Read more

October 19, 2018

    Here are three passages from Farid al-Din ‘Attar’s famous Sufi mystical poem, written in Persian in the early thirteenth century, titled Mantiq al-Tayr (“The Conference of the Birds”).  The first two passages are about monarchs and monarchy.   In the first of them, the reference is to Mahmud of Ghazni (AD 971-1030), the most prominent ruler of the Ghaznavid Empire that, in modern political terms, controlled eastern Iran, Afghanistan, and the northwestern portion of the Indian subcontinent.  The… Read more

October 19, 2018

    The perhaps somewhat surprising title of the latest article to be published in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture:   “Comparing Book of Mormon Names with Those Found in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Works: An Exploratory Study”   ***   You might also enjoy these items, from Ireland’s Robert Boylan:   “Bees and Beehives among the Ancient Maya”   “Jennifer Marie Creamer and D. Charles Pyle on Jeremiah 10:11”   And this one, from Book of Mormon Central:   “Why… Read more

October 19, 2018

    The story this morning is that Vladimir Putin hasn’t yet seen enough evidence, in the case of the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi, that he would be williing to imperil Saud-Russian relations over the issue.   This is really big news, of course, since we all know Mr. Putin’s deep, even passionate, moral opposition to the idea of assassinating dissident fellow citizens, especially on foreign soil.   ***   But now, on to some science matters:   “What… Read more

October 18, 2018

    Sometimes I learn really valuable things from my students.  Today, the students in my “Classical Arabic Texts” course alerted me to The Mideast Beast, a wonderful news site of which I had never before heard.  Here are two representative recent articles from it:   “Hamas Leader to Move to Israel After Discovering He’s 1/1024 Jewish”   Does everybody notice the allusion there to American politics?   “Iran Just Loving Saudi Situation in Turkey”   And here’s an important… Read more

October 18, 2018

    “We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures. .  .  If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the Universe was created for man to live in.”  (John A. O’Keefe [d. 2000], NASA planetary scientist)   For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a… Read more

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