What about the Book of Mormon?

    Another passage from a manuscript in progress:   What kind of a book did Joseph Smith produce? Bernard DeVoto, a literary critic from the mid-twentieth century, denounced it as “a yeasty fermentation, formless, aimless, and inconceivably absurd.”[1] But this is precisely what the Book of Mormon is not.[2] Hugh Nibley, almost certainly to be considered the leading modern student of the Book of Mormon, is much more accurate when he remarks that, “If any modern man, however great… Read more

Joseph Smith: A diamond, perhaps, but very much “in the rough”

    Some notes from one of my manuscripts:   One hostile Palmyra contemporary of the young Joseph Smith branded him “lounging, idle; (not to say vicious,) and possessed of less than ordinary intellect.”[1]  In light of Joseph’s subsequent history, this verdict is impossible to sustain.  Orson Hyde, closely associated with Joseph Smith from his conversion in 1831—he became a member of the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1835—was certainly closer to the mark when he observed of… Read more

For Liberty — even when it involves Christians, or even MORMON Christians

    First, a few thoughts from the English economist and philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873):   “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”   “We have a right . . . in various ways, to act upon our unfavorable opinion of anyone, not to the oppression of his individuality, but in the exercise of ours.”… Read more

Books about two men regarded as prophets

    This week’s iteration of my regular “Defending the Faith” column has appeared in the Deseret News:   “New edition of ‘Accounts of Divine Manifestations’ is a significant work of Mormon scholarship”   ***   But now for a few more lines from my forthcoming but not yet completed book on Islam for an LDS audience:   The Qur’an warned the Muslims that believers are not exempt from testing and from affliction, and indeed they were not. “Did you… Read more

What I’m doing with this blog (Part Two)

    As I got into the habit of blogging on a regular — nay, frequent — basis, I began to notice a major problem:  It was gobbling up a lot of my time.  It was interfering with my writing for publication, which is something that I care passionately about.  (At this stage in my life, if somebody were to set up a fund to allow me to survive without teaching, I would seriously consider becoming a full-time writer.  Anybody… Read more

Some foreign stuff

    Just back from attending a concert, with my wife and one of our sons, of Gaelic music at BYU — sung almost entirely in Scots Gaelic.  Julie Fowlis was the principal vocalist (and pipe and bagpipe and some-other-accordion-like-Gaelic-thing player), and she was accompanied (sometimes vocally, as well) by her Irish husband Éamon Doorley on the guitar-bouzouki, and Duncan Chisholm on the fiddle, and Tony Byrne on the guitar.   Of course, Julie Fowlis is most widely known for this.   Earlier,… Read more

Things very good and, well, very bad.

    On Monday night, my wife and I enjoyed a Thai dinner with friends — Thai is one of my very favorite cuisines — and, last night, we attended a touring Broadway performance at the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City of the Gershwin-inspired musical An American in Paris.  Life can be very good.   ***   You may have noticed that I like to help the hobbyists, out there, who are zealously adding… Read more

Masada and Its Sequel

    From one of the manuscripts I’m currently trying to prepare for publication:   The last Jewish stronghold was the spectacular mountain for­tress-palace of Masada, 1300 feet above the barren wilderness of the Dead Sea. It’s still possible today to stand upon Masada and see the outlines of the siege walls left behind by Flavius Silva and his Tenth Legion in the arid, hot soil. The Romans must have wondered just who was besieging whom. (Occasionally, the Jewish garrison… Read more

What I’m doing with this blog (Part One)

    I started this blog rather abruptly back on 8 February 2012.  Here’s my very first entry:   For years now, people have asked me whether I had a blog.  I’ve always answered No, but have felt that, really, I ought to. So, finally, I’m taking the plunge.  I probably won’t be posting long entries here — I have plenty of outlets as it is, and am already behind on more writing commitments and goals than I can count… Read more

Cosmology and Me

    An autobiographical reflection:   I came to Brigham Young University as a freshman mathematics major.  I had a virtually life-size poster of Albert Einstein on the wall in my dorm room.  My real fascination, however, was with cosmology — the very biggest of big subjects.  I was interested in the origins and the nature of the cosmos as a totality.  And in its structure.   I soon realized, though, that mathematics wasn’t really my passion, as it was… Read more

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