The Greatest Religion Joke Ever Told?

"When I mention religion," says Parson Thwackum in Henry Fielding's 1749 novel The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, "I mean the Christian religion; and not only the Christian religion, but the Protestant religion; and not only the Protestant religion, but the Church of England."This is, I think, pretty much akin to the narrow attitude of some American voters and/or religious polemicists who demand that their presidential candidates either share their theology or be effectively barred from … [Read more...]

Terryl Givens on Proxy Baptisms

My friend Terryl Givens has contributed a typically eloquent and insightful article to First Things, this time on the currently controversial topic of vicarious Mormon baptisms for the dead: … [Read more...]

John Carter of Mars

Like virtually everybody else, I haven't seen the mega-budget Disney film John Carter. Unlike most, though, I plan to see it -- largely because my youngest son, a serious student of film and of science fiction, fantasy, and horror literature, keeps urging me to do so.Here's a piece that he wrote for the Deseret News about the "John Carter of Mars" stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs. … [Read more...]

How Does Rick Santorum Do It?

Yesterday, I passed on the observation from my friend and colleague Ed Snow that Senator Santorum had visited three Baptist churches in Louisiana on Sunday, sharing his personal faith with the congregation at the First Baptist Church of Bossier, Louisiana, and at two other such venues.Ed also noted that, thus far, Santorum had campaigned only downstate in Illinois, in rural and predominantly Evangelical areas.Ed now corrects himself:  There was at least one northern Illinois event, as … [Read more...]

Saudi Grand Mufti: “Destroy All the Churches of the Region”

Though certainly not up to relevant Western standards in the early twenty-first century, the treatment of religious minorities under classical Islam -- specifically of Christians and Jews -- was relatively good.To choose one particularly clear example: Jews and Christians were subject to the jizya tax in Islamic Spain but, not uncommonly, held positions of leadership and prestige; following the Reconquista, however, triumphant Christian authorities offered Muslims and Jews the choice of … [Read more...]

“A Willful ‘Not Understanding’ of the Beliefs and Sensibilities of Others”

Maureen Dowd, a columnist for the New York Times who's never been accused of excessive depth or substance, published a piece yesterday in which she faulted Mitt Romney for not "step[ping] up as the cases have mounted of Jews posthumously and coercively baptized by Mormons."She also cites "Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor," as calling “the whole process very strange.”  "There is nothing positive in what they are doing," she reports Wiesel as saying.  … [Read more...]

Not Christians? Seriously?

The annual general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is approaching, and, in honor of that, I share one of my favorite moments from among the many conferences I've heard: was April 1985, he knew that he was dying, and, in fact, he had less than two weeks to live.Can any reasonable person seriously deny that he was a Christian?And, while I'm on that theme, let me mention the sacrament service that I attended this morning.We … [Read more...]

Fireside: “Taking the Church to the World”

On the off chance that anybody out there will be in the area and will care . . .On behalf of some friends in Spanish Fork, Utah, I'll be giving a fireside tomorrow (Sunday) night, 18 March, on the topic of "Taking the Church to the World."The address isCanyon Ward Chapel3477 East River Bottom RoadSpanish ForkAs far as I can tell, it's somewhere over on the northeast side of the Spanish Oaks Golf Course.The fireside will begin at 7 PM. … [Read more...]