The Song of Songs and Divine Eros

It might surprise many Christians to know that for nearly a millennium, the Song of Songs (aka Canticles, aka Song of Solomon) in the Old Testament was perhaps the single most important book of scripture. There are more medieval commentaries on this book than any other book in the Bible. Modern readers find this especially strange since there is no explicit message of God, divine law, moral imperatives, or any other "obvious" sign of its religious nature. In fact, modern biblical critics … [Read more...]

Limited Tolerance

Over at T&S a discussion about the legalization of polygamy was closed after some of the participants got too heated. I'm not asking to continue that discussion here, but I do think it raises a central issue--how much diversity can and should the church tolerate?What issues/practices/doctrines can we hold differing "righteous" positions on; and which require complete uniformity? How do describe the interplay between culture and gospel norms? Why does it seem that we are more comfortable wit … [Read more...]

Financial Problems? Try this!

My home Stake President sent this clip around to all his Bishops, probably the only Steve Martin/SNL skit to ever receive such treatment.Where would I get this "saved money"? Find out today! … [Read more...]

The Joy of Suffering

The Gospel is a strange thing sometimes. Often, it challenges our most fundamental conceptions of truth. It forces us to question our basic assumptions about humanity. This is no more clear instance than in the value and valorization of suffering in the scriptures. For example, the Lukan Beatitutes offer a vision of salvation for those who suffer the most in this world. This overall theme is difficult to miss in Jesus's ministry. The model of discipleship is suffering. Jesus's … [Read more...]

Can Someone Help Me Understand…

What I have in my hands here is a nice, large can filled with worms. Please observe what follows as I open said can...There has been two good long discussions lately that have caused me to strongly experience a feeling that I used to have frequently. I describe this experience this way: I come upon a conversation about some aspect of the Gospel or scriptures that is being discussed by others. I'm very interested and I follow along and occasionally make points. But eventually I discern that I'm … [Read more...]

Ancient Justification for Modern Practice

Kevin Barney's post over at BCC has me thinking about the ramifications of female Apostleship (capital A): What it would mean if we came to agree that the New Testament bore strong witness to there having been women in roles now held only by men?* The question, when placed within the larger framework of our penchant for finding ourselves in the past, presents an interesting dilemma: Could a future opening of the Priesthood to "all worthy persons (not just males)" find scriptural justification … [Read more...]

Doctrine as an Expedient Means

I served a mission back when the commitment pattern was king. Prepare--Identify--Invite--Follow Up; those were the rules of the game. If we could get investigators to make and keep commitments, they would feel the spirit and ultimately receive a testimony of the gospel.I'm wondering though, what this tells us about the role of doctrine (loosely defined) in the conversion experience. Does doctrine serve a functional role, where it is a means to an end? Is the value of doctrine, perhaps, more in … [Read more...]

A Return to the Roots

A few Sundays ago the topic of the sacrament meeting talks was the "restoration". It had all the necessary ingredients: restoration versus reformation, authority being lost as the ancient apostles were killed, our church being the "same" as the ancient church, and America as the prepared homeland for the restoration.A brief discussion I had with someone between sacrament and sunday school centered on bringing up the differences rather than similarities bewteen the Latter-day church and the … [Read more...]