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...]

On the “Baptismal” Covenant

We frequently hear of our "baptismal covenants" in church and conference. I cannot quite pinpoint the exact spot in space-time, but I can say that a few years ago I began to view the "baptismal" covenant with suspicion. Why? It seemed that a lot of people were discussing the baptismal covenant, but I could not recall for myself what exactly that covenant entailed. With all the other covenants of the gospel, most of them housed in the temple, I could easily recall their stipulations, scope, … [Read more...]

Mormon Symbols

Last month I posted on symbols here. Since then there have been a number of excellent posts on this topic (feel free to add links to your old posts in the comments). One of the questions that I was dealing with is how symbols become symbols and how they acquire meaning. There were some really great comments that you should check out. In this post, I want to deal with the translation of Mormon symbols through time and across space. This image is of the 19th century Endowment House in Spring … [Read more...]

Proper Practice Makes a Good Mormon

I’m going to have to admit here that I keep up with little of the debates concerning Mormon “theology”, so please forgive me if some of these ideas are half-baked and/or already worked over in other blogs. It seems to be the case that proper practice (orthopraxy) rather than proper belief (orthodoxy) defines a good Mormon. By ‘good Mormon’ I mean someone who is “temple worthy”—i.e. they can pass a temple recommend interview by answering each question honestly. This is not to say that b … [Read more...]

The Adulterous Woman, Part 2: Suspense, Surprise, Primacy and Recency

About a year ago I was teaching Genesis 4 in a GD class that included the stake RS president. As we worked through the opening verses, she raised her hand and with some consternation reported that it looked like someone didn’t much care for Cain. Mentally, I gave her high marks for reading but when it came to verbalizing a response, I had to disabuse her of the idea that the Bible is “neutral.” The Bible is a great piece of ideological reading. Good readers are aware of its trick and techn … [Read more...]

Middle Ground or No-man’s Land?

I know that I've promised to do a post on predestination and the vessels of wrath in Romans 9, a post that will be at least two entries since we need to discuss how Mormons misunderstand Paul's predestination first before we talk about important pots, but I was reading in D&C 76 today in church when I was struck again with strangeness of the description of the Terrestrial glory. … [Read more...]


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