Review: The Mormon Jesus

Perhaps my devotional life’s greatest flaw is that I forget about Jesus. Intellectually, of course, I know that I cannot ignore the Savior when speaking about theology, but much of the time my musings tend to amble away toward questions of divine-human ontology, creation, exaltation, and eternal family relationships instead.Therefore, I was curious what John Turner would have to say in his The Mormon Jesus, published by Harvard University Press last month. Through his Brigham Young: Pioneer P … [Read more...]

Ritual and Renewal in Zootopia

If you haven’t seen Zootopia, go. Despite the fact that it is a Disney animated feature, it deals with some pertinent and broadly applicable social issues with nearly unmatched thoughtfulness. And the thoughtfulness isn’t accidental--the team that made the movie put a lot of effort into crafting it. It’s well worth your time and, as the post below is mostly about the ending of the film, I don’t want to spoil it for you.Furthermore, the use of animals here isn't juvenile, a sort of cutesy Noah … [Read more...]

The saving habit: 123 weeks and counting

See the crazy world going by in front of the LA Temple there? See the peace and safety the temple projects from atop its little hill out along Santa Monica Boulevard? Don't you want that peace and safety in your own mind and heart and life? This is me encouraging you to do whatcha gotta do to get yourself there as often as possible starting now.123 weeks ago last night, I attended the temple for the first time in more than two years. Coming off more than a year and a half of inactivity, I … [Read more...]

Death, Sealing Power, and “Trusting into Transformation”

[Preliminary note: This is the first of two posts relaying insights from a few years of reflecting on Mormon ideas about salvation and family in light of Sam Brown’s masterful study of early Mormonism, In Heaven as It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death.] My favorite invocation/description of what Mormons call “the sealing power” comes from the eulogy that inspired the King Follett Discourse, Joseph Smith’s boldest challenge to the brand of Calvinism popular among ma … [Read more...]

Second Life and the Second Estate

From a hillside in Missouri, one can look out upon a relatively nondescript valley verdant with seasonal crops. It is to here, it is said, that Adam and Eve fled upon expulsion from the Garden of Eden and offered prayer to God and it is to here, it is said, that Adam will gather his posterity at the last day. Adam-ondi-Ahman, as Joseph Smith called the valley, is a locus of human-divine communication and visitation in Mormon theo-history.There is, however, another Adam-ondi-Ahman in the … [Read more...]

Kirtland Temple: An Excerpt from the Book

On June 2, the University of Illinois Press released my first book, Kirtland Temple: The Biography of Shared Mormon Sacred Space. For my post this month, I thought that I would give the readers a small sampling of my new work. While most of my book covers the Kirtland Temple in the twentieth century, the following excerpt is drawn from my first chapter that narrates the emergence and uses of the temple in the 1830s and 40s. This excerpt pays particular attention to how Joseph Smith created a … [Read more...]


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