What Otterson Got Right: “We don’t know all the reasons”

There is a lot to like about Michael Otterson’s recent letter.  It is a cause for hope that the issue of women in the church is being taken seriously.  It is honest, heartfelt, transparent, and reaches out directly to a community who often wonders if anyone cares at all.  I am grateful for this gesture and am pleased to see that he is an active part of the conversation.There are lots of things to critique about the letter too, many of which have happened in other blog posts and comments.  The … [Read more...]

Women, Blacks, and the Priesthood in Recent LDS Church Rhetoric

The open letter recently delivered by LDS church spokesman Michael Otterson to a variety of blogs has, unsurprisingly, generated a flurry of discussion covering the whole gamut of responses.* Two things stuck out to me (besides the ironic labeling of OW as apostates while simultaneously requesting higher-level discourse), specifically about his appeal to the scriptures. First, he completely glosses over the clear scriptural problems with priesthood and church organization. There is no New … [Read more...]

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...]

Wheat and Tares Apologetics: A Case Study

In a previous post I provided a general description of one kind of apologetics that, in my opinion, is not fit for an academic institution or even for discussions aiming to debate ideas or intellectual positions. In this post I would like to revisit the notion of Wheat and Tares Apologetics by looking at a specific case: Bill Hamblins’ (BH) exchange with David Bokovoy (DB).My thesis is quite simple: Wheat and tares apologetics is not an appropriate form of discourse for intellectual debate b … [Read more...]

What is Scripture, for reals?

Is scripture only scripture if it is a inerrant record of what really happened?There are some people who believe that the only difference between the Greek myths (as an example) and the Bible is that Samson really killed a lion with his hands, but Hercules did not; that God really sired Jesus, and Zeus did not really sire his mortal children; that ravens really fed Elijah, but Telephus was not suckled by a deer; that Jesus really turned water into wine, but Dionysus did not; and that … [Read more...]

The Book of Mormon as Myth and More on the Name Alma

So to begin with I wanted to clarify my attitude about the BoM and why I write so much on the topic of its historicity. Because I don’t want to be seen simply as a critic or be pigeonholed along with tendentious anti-BoM ideologues. I actually see a great amount of value in the BoM and respect it as a work of early 19th century mythopoesis of unrivaled scope and complexity. The BoM recounts a rich and compelling narrative, articulates many useful moral principles (though these should be examined … [Read more...]

Biblical literalism, literally

Oatmeal Literally

The increasingly common use of “literally” to mean something emphatic (but not literal) has provided much fodder for comedic monologues (language warning!), drinking games, BYUtv skits, running jokes, Oatmeals, etc. Last August Dana Coleman (at Salon) brought to our attention Webster’s Dictonary entry on ‘literally’, which now admits that, in addition to the ‘according to the letter’ sense, the word can mean “in effect; virtually”. In other words, it can signify both “according to the letter/actu … [Read more...]

Guest Post: Mormons Talking About Jews

This post comes from guest contributor Orson.LDS scholars can sometimes be quite disparaging when discussing Judaism. It’s not intentional. Mormons by and large love the Jewish people (even if we often fail to properly understand them). Yet not withstanding this generally positive sentiment, Mormon scholars have a long history of making derogatory anti-Semitic remarks. I feel a need to point this out, not with a desire to embarrass specific individuals, for certainly, when it comes to re … [Read more...]


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