Pilgrimage Sites: Palmyra, NY

By now, pretty much everyone recognizes that church has begun to build up its sacred historical sites by dedicating temples, new visitor centers, and redesigning the experience visitors have. This has produced and encouraged increased pilgrimage by faithful members of the church who travel to these sites for special religious experiences. An industry has built up around these pilgrimage sites including hotels, bookstores, and replica relics. For an "aniconic" culture, we certainly have gone … [Read more...]

The Fruits of the Spirit: Confusion, Honesty and Depression

Someone I know very well is prone to a religious form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, called “scrupulosity.” He worries obsessively over proper religious practice, especially the internal aspects such as prayer and thinking pure thoughts. He feels an unusual amount of anxiety over his thoughts and therefore engages in certain mental rituals to clear them of “sin.” Ironically, these rituals often compound the problem since they add to his anxiety, making it more difficult to control his thoug … [Read more...]

Believing Blood: Mormonism as a New Race

Mormons adopted the language of race and ethnicity to describe themselves from the very early days of the church. This post examines the rhetoric of race in Mormonism and compares it with that of early Christianity. It is inspired by Denise Buell's amazing book, Why This New Race?, which looks at "ethnic reasoning" in early Christianity. In Mormonism, I see a similar dynamic, though different in some key respects, in the process of describing and creating a new people.Up to this day, many … [Read more...]

New Look!

We were finally upgraded to Blogger Beta! We are still testing out many of the new features. Let us know if you have any suggestions for hacks and where to get them! … [Read more...]

To Him Who Loves Us…

Ah, I love Greek. But it was not always so...We spent the first six weeks memorizing all the paradigms. I hated it. I thought any more than two tenses was superfluous. Moods! For goodness sake, who needs moods? Take a pill or something. And the third declension. Geez, what a mess. Words completely failed me when I saw those paradigms.And then I caught on. And since I was passing by the same area this evening, I thought I'd share my epiphany. Take a look at Rev 1:5b in the AV: … [Read more...]

Women’s Religious Authority

I am currently reading a fascinating book on medieval mysticism that argues that the rise of female mysticism is not the result of some innate feminine spirituality, but the result of cultural constraints on women's authority that required extraordinary spiritual experience as legitimating a female voice. I am curious if a similar dynamic exists within Mormon culture. Is women's authority limited in LDS culture in such a way that particular forms of spirituality are required to authorize their … [Read more...]

BoM Literal Translation: Hebraisms?

For several decades, the alleged presence of "Hebraisms," or, linguistic elements of Hebrew, in the translation of the Book of Mormon have been taken as a significant proof of the Book of Mormon's authenticity. Phrases like "rivers of water" (1 Ne 8:13, 26) demonstrate the Hebraic urtext. Some have suggested to me in private conversations that this element alone of the Book of Mormon is enough to demonstrate its truthfulness. I am interested in this topic as it relates to Handle's post on … [Read more...]

The BoM’s “J” Source: Joseph Smith

I’m intrigued by Blake Ostler’s 1987 paper “the book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source.” Ostler explores a medley of methodological approaches to the Book of Mormon, including source-, motif-, and form-criticism. He argues that the Book of Mormon can neither be explained as a nineteenth-century invention, nor as an exact equivalent to some ancient document from the plates. He suggests instead that Joseph Smith did have an ancient manuscript which he was inspired to transla … [Read more...]


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