Taylor Petrey is Tenured: What does This Mean for LDS Scholars of Religion?

We’ve been running our Tips on Applying Series for nearly a decade. We heard from Taylor Petrey back in 2010 when he offered some advice on securing an academic position in religious studies. Taylor has recently received tenure, which is a big deal not only for him, but for all Latter-day Saints involved in the study of religion. He graciously agreed to talk to us about his work and how he earned tenure.  … [Read more...]

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Congrats Stephen Smoot

We here at FPR have learned that Mr. Stephen Smoot has been accepted into the MA program at Trinity Western in Biblical Studies. This is a significant first step for Stephen and we are very pleased to offer both our congratulations regarding his acceptance and our best wishes for his future. He has chosen a tough and complicated path but we are confident that he will also find it to be as rewarding as have we.I might also add, personally, that there still seems to be a bit of confusion … [Read more...]

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Academic Freedom at BYU, Part 2: The Role of the Academic Vice President

(Part 1 here; part 3 is now up).Faculty issues at BYU are funneled through the office of the Academic Vice President. For our purposes it is important to know that the office of the AVP deals with faculty hiring and firing, promotion and “tenure” (“Continuing Faculty Status”*) and discipline. Thus when a department sends one of its own up for tenure, it will pass through the offices of the Chair, Dean, and AVP. Promotion can be vetoed at any of these levels, including the AVP. This is fairly … [Read more...]

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10 Reasons to be Excited about the Study of Religion at BYU

In the spirit of the 10 tidbits series at FPR, I offer (for once!) a positive outlook on Religious Studies at BYU. Good things (too) are happening in Provo! In no particular order, and with no pretensions of comprehensiveness: … [Read more...]

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The Value of an Outsider’s Perspective

Several years ago I was asked to accompany an investigator to church.We showed up a few minutes early and sat in the chapel. On the way to church, this investigator explained that he had never been to a Christian service before. He seemed quite eager to take in the experience.After I briefly introduced what takes place in a sacrament meeting service, we sat quietly in the chapel. Several moments went by as he looked around, and then asked, "What does that mean?" He was pointing to the organ p … [Read more...]

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Faith, Scholarship, and Teaching at BYU Series

For the series announcement and the question to which I am replying, see here.I believe that the dichotomy between the "intellectual" and the "spiritual" in religious education is a false one. Instead, I would prefer to appropriate for my approach to this important issue the German adjective geistlich (or Hebrew ruchi): a word that sees the spiritual and the intellectual as part of a synthetic whole that also includes an appreciation for the aesthetic. I believe that by adopting this … [Read more...]

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Apologetics in the Academy

In line with Daniel Peterson’s recent comments, I see significant points of congruence between apologetics and religious studies. I also see no reason why the same institution cannot pursue both endeavors—particularly a private religious institution such as BYU. I do think, however, that much of the apologetics advocated by Peterson is better off done at another venue (congratulations to those involved with the new Interpreter project). At the same time, a more appropriate kind of apologetics can … [Read more...]

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A Reponse to Hamblin on Mormon Studies

A few days ago William Hamblin posted his views on the issue of Mormon studies here. I believe his views are flawed in several respects. Any disagreement, however, is always cast against a backdrop of larger agreements. As such, I do not want to construe my criticisms such that it seems we do not largely agree on a few important issues. … [Read more...]

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