Faith Promoting “Problems”

A few weeks ago my Bishop asked me to be the speaker at the monthly Bishop's Youth Discussion. I've spoken at several of these events and enjoy teaching the youth so I quickly agreed. When I asked what subject I should speak on he thought for about 5 seconds and asked that I speak on the prophet Joseph Smith. This is an interesting occurrence since 9 times out of 10 church leaders ask me to speak on topics that have to with the scriptures, but in this case:  Joseph Smith. Preparing and … [Read more...]

Scriptural Authority, Normativity, and Hermeneutics: Women and the Priesthood

Introduction [1] The Bible often privileges men as normative for what it means to be human, frequently considers women as inferior to men, and presents God in overwhelmingly male terms. For the contemporary believer who is committed to the full equality of men and women the problem is not simply one of reconciling isolated patriarchal, sexist, or misogynistic biblical passages with an egalitarian or feminist perspective, but the revelatory nature of the biblical text itself.  “How can a text th … [Read more...]

The Truth of Personal Narrative

Bart Ehrman has pointed out that the popular view of Paul and his conversion makes it difficult for historians to evaluate what actually happened to make him "turn around."  In the scriptural record Paul does not present himself as a guilt-ridden legalist whose realization that the law was impossible to keep led him to find forgiveness in Christ and motivated him to bring the good news of release to those burdened with guilt complexes like his own.  Ehrman calls this view "fiction" and " … [Read more...]

An American Prophet

Mormons are not the only prophetic tradition in America. The African American spiritual community also has its own prophetic roots, and Martin Luther King, Jr. is the paradigmatic figure from that tradition. It is true that these two traditions define prophetic leadership differently. For Mormons, today even more so than in our past, the prophetic mantle is held by right of institutional authority. The prophetic responsibility is to testify to the world of Christ, and to teach the faithful. … [Read more...]

Apocaliterature and Historical Fiction

NB: This post compares and contrasts a set of books that I have never read (just like a true academic, or a true fundamentalist, er, a true ideologue of some sort ), so any feedback would be extremely helpful.It is useful to compare the Left Behind series that has been so popular since 1995 in evangelical circles, with the Work and the Glory series since its release in 1990. Both are multi-volume epics that are aimed at the faithful as didactic literature that inculcates its audience into a … [Read more...]

African American Spirituals and the Mormon Pioneers

In honor of the 161st anniversary of the Saints entering the Salt Lake Valley, I would like to explore the relationship between two of the most profound spiritual movements of the 19th century: ante-bellum African American spirituals and the rise of Mormonism. While the vast majority of work with regard to African Americans and early Mormonism has focused on the explicit role that African Americans played in Mormonism, and LDS attitudes to African Americans, I would like to examine some shared … [Read more...]

BYU Religion Dean on Premortal Life, Part I: Race and Nobility

Last week Terry Ball, Dean of the College of Religious Education, gave BYU's weekly devotional address (mp3 file available here, Daily Universe report here). His talk raises many issues relevant to recent discussions here and elsewhere. My reaction to his talk will be divided into two posts: first, a discussion of some of the problematic themes that Ball raises, and second, an analysis of the way this Professor of Ancient Scripture handles scripture. … [Read more...]

Armaund Mauss Interview

No, not here. Over here.  Good stuff, go read it. (T&S had a similar interview in 2004, part one, part two.)"For Mormons, living in a certain way is more important than believing in a certain way. We can infer much more about what or who a person is from what he does than from what he believes (or claims to believe) ""Speaking differently to different audiences does not necessarily imply contradiction. We do it all the time. When we talk among our friends about what goes on in our … [Read more...]


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