Revisiting "A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it!"

President Packer has been the focus of a lot of online discussion in the wake of his recent General Conference address. Rather than enter that fray, I want to bring up an Elder Packer quote from the early 80s which, in my view, continues to be misunderstood by some well-meaning members and critics of the church: "A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it!" I have a few peripheral reasons for bringing this talk up, including my own thoughts about the place of doubt in the LDS Church and the … [Read more...]

The Feeling Thermometer, or "Everyone dislikes Mormons"

The new book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us is based largely on a 2006 "Faith Matters" survey, conceived by some of the brightest political and religious studies minds of our time. Using their snazzy sociological doo-dads, authors Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell used over 3,000 responses to their two-wave panel study to check the American pulse on matters religious.1The authors wished to take the temperature of the country's religious affinity and hostility.  Their " … [Read more...]

Review: Holzapfel and Wayment, "Making Sense of the New Testament"

Title: Making Sense of the New Testament: Timely Insights and Timeless Messages Authors: Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Thomas A. Wayment Publisher: Deseret Book Genre: Bible Criticism/Interpretation Year: 2010 Pages: 582, includes bibliographical references and index ISBN13: 9781606416686 Binding: Hardcover Price: 34.99Deseret Book tends to publish books like this each year when the Sunday School focus switches to a new part of the LDS canon. I was previously impressed by Steven … [Read more...]

Language and Theology

I've been on a bit of a John Durham Peters kick lately. It probably has something to do with the podcast interview I recently put together with him (yes, this post contains a bit of self-promotion, but it's for your own good!). In case the name doesn't ring a bell, he's a communication studies professor at the University of Iowa and the author of my favorite book, Speaking Into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication. I was putting together a Mormon-themed bibliography of his work and … [Read more...]

Mormons blow it in recent Gallup poll on NYC Islamic Center

I'm familiar with the drawbacks of polls generally. But for some reason my familiarity doesn't do much quell my disappointment when I see what I consider to be embarrassing poll results like these: Muslims, Jews, other non-Christians and non-religious Americans are more likely to favor retaining the current location as originally conceived, or transforming the center into an interfaith institution. The majority of Catholics, Mormons, and, to a lesser degree, Protestants, believe the center … [Read more...]

Dawkins versus the 'ultimate ground of all being'

In God and the New Atheism, John F. Haught describes what he sees as the big question facing Richard Dawkins and Intelligent Design (ID) theists, respectively: "how to explain the incredible complexity and diversity in living organisms and cells" (88).ID proponents see the hand of a "master intelligence" making order from chaos, or complexity of simplicity. Dawkins cuts out the theological middle man by sticking to a naturalistic, Darwinian account summed up by Haught: … [Read more...]

LDS Family Services on Same-Sex Attraction in the Church

KUTV 2News in Utah is featuring an interesting story tonight (Thursday) at 10pm. It seems that most of the stories we hear on this issue are built around  people who left the church over same-sex issues. I haven't seen too many stories  featuring somebody who has chosen to remain with the church. (Ty Mansfield comes to mind.) Here's the teaser for the report: "Misty" is a woman in her mid 30's. She married (in the temple) with kids, and is active in her ward. The story is her personal story of wh … [Read more...]

Joseph Smith Papers "Documents" now available online

Without much heralding, the Joseph Smith Papers folks have snuck the contents of Journals, 1832-1839 onto their excellent website. The contents of the first volume of Journals are available here: empty section is set up for the first Revelations and Translations volume as well.Those of you who already own the Journals volume might be interested to check out the "Documents" section. It appears to have the yet-to-be-published contents covering … [Read more...]