What am I doing here?

Near Koloa

  Well might you ask. Suffice it to say that I'm working.  I brought a pile of books and papers and my laptop.  I'm going to be putting in my usual quota of full-plus work days.  Reading, editing, writing, planning, and scheming. But why here? Why  not?  I can read and type as well here as anywhere, and I'm on research-and-writing leave through the end of this calendar year.  (I'm hoping to have two book manuscripts done, or very nearl … [Read more...]

2 Nephi 5

The Jewish temple end of Elephantine Island

  Critics of the Book of Mormon have often criticized the idea, contained in today's reading (2 Nephi 5), that Nephi built a temple in the New World.  I saw a video two or three years ago for which a rabbi had been recruited to mock the notion. No good Jew, they say, would ever have built a temple except upon the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  (And what bad, irreligious Jew would want to?) But the archaeological facts say otherwise. There … [Read more...]

Sometimes, he says, skeptics him regard rather suspiciously, as something like a vegetarian butcher.

The "Mathematical Bridge," so called

  I find that I've stumbled onto a theme recently, having to do with the demonstrable compatibility -- empirically beyond dispute in the people to whom I'm calling attention -- between scientific rationality at a very high level and religious belief. One of the foremost exponents (and examples) of their compatibility is the English theoretical physicist, priest, and theologian Sir John Polkinghorne.  (I realize that, strictly speaking, as an ordained Anglican c … [Read more...]

A tale with many applications

Rumi's Mathnawi

  Here's a story with which you're probably familiar.  It originated in India, but one of the most famous retellings is that of the thirteenth-century Muslim poet Jalal al-Din Rumi (جلال‌الدین محمد رومی), in his classic work the Masnavi: Some Hindus had brought an elephant for exhibition and placed it in a dark house. Crowds of people were going into that dark place to see the beast. Finding that visual inspection was impossible, each visitor felt it with his pa … [Read more...]

“Evil did not win.”

Lancaster County, in October of 2006

  A touching four-minute video from the parents of the little LDS girl who was among those killed in the December 2012 mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUR7BFTphmI On a related note, here's a powerful conference address on "The Power of Forgiveness" from the late James E. Faust (d. 2007), who was, at the time, a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of L … [Read more...]

Intellectual fads

Chesterton, in B&W

  "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." G. K. Chesterton, in the Illustrated London News (19 April 1930)   Posted from Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii    … [Read more...]

Where does Utah rank among the happiest or unhappiest American states?

The newest temple in Utah

  Some critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are already suggesting that the Church must have bribed or, somehow, unduly influenced the people who produced this report: http://wallethub.com/edu/most-least-happy-states-in-america/6959/ That's one way of reducing the cognitive dissonance, I suppose. Another explanation that I've seen is that this is just another illustration of Mormon fakery.  We only pretend to be h … [Read more...]

Seeing God? A Note on the Qur’an

Artist's view of traditional Mt. Sinai

 One of the interesting things about this passage from the Qur’an is that, when Moses asks to see God, he’s not told that seeing God is a flat impossibility. Instead, it’s suggested that seeing God would be lethal—as it was in this account, even to a mountain. Which seems to imply that, although not feasible in practice, a vision of God would be possible in principle: “When Moses came for Our appointment, and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show Yourself to me: let … [Read more...]