From the mailbag

    (Please don’t read further if you strongly dislike being exposed to foul language.  I’ve obscured the words used, but I haven’t tried to make them even slightly unguessable.)   Yesterday, in a blog entry titled “An amplifier for gossip,” I commented on an anecdote, pseudonymously posted on a mostly atheistic ex- and anti-Mormon message board, that reports someone’s alleged exchange with me and puts me in quite a bad light.  I questioned the accuracy of the anonymous anecdote, observing that it… Read more

Charles Dickens on the Mormons

    But, first, some additional items for your rapidly-growing “Religion Poisons Everything” file:   USA Today:  “Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA”   “Church Offering Relief to Tens of Thousands of Flood-Weary Peruvians”  (from way back on 3 April 2017)   “Church Offering Relief, Support in Aftermath of Deadly Quake in Southern Mexico”   “Church work parties pour into flooded Texas neighborhoods”   “President Eyring lifts spirits in Irma-weary Puerto Rico”   From the… Read more

Thoughts from the silence

    As some of my critics like to point out, the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints silenced me back in the summer of 2012.   I’m a cunning fellow, though, and I’ve managed to get around their Verbot by writing under the pseudonym of Daniel C. Peterson.  Doing so has even enabled me to publish an average of seventy-eight (78) columns annually in the Church’s own daily newspaper.  (Mwahahahaha!)   Curiously, even though each… Read more

The Trump presidency, freedom of speech, and religious tests for public office

    The cover of the October 2017 issue of The Atlantic features the headline “The Trump Presidency: A Damage Report.”  The headline announces three articles:  “Will Donald Trump Destroy the Presidency?” by Jack Goldsmith; “How Trump Is Ending the American Era,” by Eliot A. Cohen; and “The First White President,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.   I may or may not read the third article; I’m not a fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates.   But I’ve now gone through the first two, and… Read more

The Meccan chapters of the Qur’an

    Sorry, but I’m just going to keep on doing this:   Muslims and Western scholars agree upon a division of the suras or chapters of the Qur’an between those received at Mecca and those later received at the oasis town of Medina. There are dif­ferences between the two groups that go considerably beyond the mere time of the reception, however, extending to questions of theme, style, and content. I shall examine the two groups in order. The revelations… Read more

From the science of big and small things

    Some additional passages from Geraint F. Lewis and Luke A. Barnes, A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016):   “‘Almost everything is already discovered’, a young Max Planck was told in 1874.  Planck, who would become one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century, had travelled to Munich to embark on a career in physics, only to be told by Professor Philipp von Jolly to study something else, as ‘theoretical physics was… Read more

An amplifier for gossip

    One of the unpleasant things about the web is the megaphone that it provides for the spreading of stories and gossip.  Periodically, for example, I read accounts (usually anonymous or pseudonymous) about someone’s interaction with me, in which I (a) floundered stupidly, (b) treated that someone abominably, (c) flatly lied, or (d) frankly but confidentially confessed to my own villainy, insincerity, and/or dishonesty.   It’s difficult if not impossible to respond to such accounts, not least because, for… Read more

Early Mormon mistrust and resentment toward the United States, and some other issues

    It’s Friday, so (of course) a new article has been published by Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture:   “Their Imperfect Best: Isaianic Authorship from an LDS Perspective”   We hope you enjoy your weekend.   ***   In the meantime, I enjoyed this beautiful drone video of the Meridian Idaho Temple, which is soon to be dedicated:   http://ldschurchtemples.org/meridian/video/   ***   And, speaking of temples, here’s a nice list:   “7 Books That Will Help You… Read more

A bit about the Arabian Peninsula

    Today, 14 September 2017, is the 104th anniversary of the birth of my father.  I can’t let that fact pass unmentioned.  He died in mid-2003, and I still think of him every day.  I miss him very much.   I was able to dedicate a book to him before he died.  Sadly, as the result of a stroke, he had lost his eyesight.  So he couldn’t see it.  But I was deeply happy that he could hear the dedication… Read more

On “economic libertarianism,” goodness, and kindness

    A reader of this blog who is deeply alienated from Mormonism and, I think, from theism generally, has posed an important question in a comment.  I think it’s worth replying to his challenge in an actual blog entry, rather than merely in the “comments section.”  He is responding to my recent description of myself — one of many such self-descriptions — as leaning strongly libertarian on economic issues:   When I saw the “economic libertarian” declaration, I began to formulate the… Read more

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