Christmas and Mary

1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood … [Read more...]

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The Divine Council

There has been serious discussion among Mormon scholars over the past several years regarding the divine council in the Hebrew Bible and its implications for Mormon thought. For instance, very recently Blake Ostler published his third volume of Exploring Mormon Thought, in which, among other issues, he discusses at length various aspects of the heavenly council in the Hebrew Bible and what their implications might be for Mormon theology. David Bokovoy, a Mormon PhD student studying at Brandeis … [Read more...]

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The Trinity, Two Formulations

Yesterday, I heard St. Augustine's formulation of the Trinity. He gives it as a series of logical propositions as follows: … [Read more...]

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The Promise of Genealogy

Genealogy is central to Mormon practice and identity. Coincidentally, genealogy is central to postmodern philosophy in the strain from Nietzsche to Foucault . This coincidence leads us to examine the relationship between these two understandings of genealogy. They are not as unrelated as they might initially appear. … [Read more...]

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The Bridal Chamber

The Gospel of Philip from the Nag Hammadi corpus contains some important passages about a kind of celestial marriage in the "bridal chamber." It is not uncommon for Latter-day Saints to appeal to this text as evidence for a kind of parallel to Mormon notions of eternal marriage found in ancient Christianity. I hope to show that such a reading of this text is mistaken, and that appeals to the Gospel of Philip to butress Mormon apologetic aims are an example of the problem that much apologetic … [Read more...]

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Spiritual Twinkies and Acceptable Criticism

In the 1990's, I recall a strong movement against a pernicious offense in church education. The spiritual twinkie was soundly criticized as a useless item of spiritual nourishment, bringing only temporary satisfaction, but failing to build a solid diet. (It is likely that such discourse persists today, but I am not in those circles, so I speak here in the past tense). Like the the milk before meat metaphor, the twinkie came to occupy a particular kind of spiritual nourishment that was seen as … [Read more...]

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Agnostupid?

This weekend Bill Maher's movie Religulous will be released. I plan to see it. The title is a neologism combining "religious" and "ridiculous," and gives you some sense of the tone the film will take. The trailer's soundtrack is "Crazy" by Knarles Barkley. Of course, I haven't seen it yet since no one has, but I've seen him appear on the talk show circuit promoting the movie. I have also seen the trailer, as well as years of Bill Maher on HBO and his appearances on other talk shows. (His … [Read more...]

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Is Mormonism Euhemerism?

The ancient Greek thinker Euhemerus was a mythographer whose reputation has lived on until today as an influential theory for explaining religion. He argued that mythological accounts were records of actual events that developed and were embellished in their retelling. The practice of divinizing ancient leaders in Hellenic cultures (a practice shared by the Egyptians and later Hellenistic rulers, including the emperor cult of the Roman era) served for Euhemerus as an interpretive tool to … [Read more...]

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