How to Start a Culture War

Hold strong opinions about a few issues. The more people that care about the issues, the better. These opinions need not be informed opinions; conviction is the key. (Note, one issue is usually insufficient to start a culture war, but don’t choose too many because then you’ll dilute the message and make it difficult to recruit soldiers.) Use the frame of war to interpret all disagreements over these issues. This includes using some, but preferably all, of the following language: enemy, fight, b … [Read more...]

Hamblin’s Misreading

I should begin by noting that if anyone wants to intelligently comment on the latest issue of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, please read it first. It’s available here (I hope the MI will make the article under discussion available free some time soon).Bill Hamblin has posted a critique of an article by B. Park, which has generated quite a bit of discussion on Dan Peterson’s blog. I’m going to respond to Hamblin here on FPR because Hamblin has refused to post my comments on his blog in … [Read more...]

Our Dirty Hands

In 1973 Michael Walzer wrote an article entitled “Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands.” In the article, Walzer argued that involvement in politics entails confronting difficult situations where values conflict. Adjudicating between values requires making compromises; and while most compromises can be understood in terms of mutual concessions interested parties make in order to further some common good, other situations are more extreme. These situations call for compromise in the sense o … [Read more...]

Principles for Dialogue and Mutual Edification

I recently concluded my 8th year as a blogger with FPR (or its earlier affiliate). In reflecting on the various debates and discussions I’ve seen or been involved in during this time, I started thinking about how these discussions modeled good and bad principles of dialogue. In a new year’s resolution of sorts, I’ve tried to identify a few principles of good dialogue. Here’s what I’ve come up with: … [Read more...]

On Feeling Betrayed by the Church

This is for all those who say things like “I can’t understand how [polygamy] is such a stunning revelation for any long-time members” or “the only way not to be introduced to polygamy as a member is to not pay any attention” or “People are going to need to be responsible for their own study and stop asking ‘why didn’t the Church teach me these things’.” Let me help you understand not how members of the Church might be "stunned," but why.  … [Read more...]

Religious Education for the Modern World

The situation regarding the new CES/Religious Education curriculum at BYU has got me thinking about the purpose of religious education at BYU (and throughout CES generally). The instructors and professors have the difficult task of ensuring that students acquire an understanding of Mormonism in a context of faith. One place where I think the current approach falls short is in preparing LDS students to think about (and live) our faith in a broader context. Students ought to understand what it … [Read more...]

Religious Education’s New Curriculum: A Tale of Two Authorities

The Church has decided to revamp the curriculum for the Church Educational System, which includes Institute programs and (more relevant for this post) BYU’s schools of Religious Education. Whereas the previous curriculum required four courses—two courses on the Book of Mormon, one course on the Doctrine and Covenants, and one course on the New Testament; the new curriculum will require four courses with the following titles: Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel, Teachings and Doctrines of the … [Read more...]

An Apologetics of Care

When people leave the church over intellectual issues, I believe that part of what this means is that people leave the church because of the feelings associated with confronting these issues. In other words, when a LDS learns that Joseph Smith engaged in polyandry, for instance, it usually occurs in a context that induces fear and loneliness, which eventually leads to frustration and anger. Such a person may not be literally alone when he or she discovers Joseph’s polyandry (although he may be; f … [Read more...]


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