April 24, 2019

    Add this to your “weird science” file:   http://universe.byu.edu/2015/04/28/skin-texture-glow-distinguishes-mormons-from-others/   When my wife and I lived in Jerusalem, we would occasionally spot tourists on the street there and guess that they would be in church that coming weekend.  Even in the absence of obvious tell-tale signals such as BYU tee shirts, we were seldom wrong.   Truman Madsen liked to tell an anecdote about an Israeli government official who commented, during the controversy that surrounded the building of the… Read more

April 23, 2019

    John 8:37-47   This is very forceful teaching.   Jesus is again saying that biological parentage means virtually nothing if one has the wrong spiritual “parentage.”   For people who took their special status as the “chosen people” so seriously, to be told that their real father — in this sense, the only father who actually counts — was Satan would be extraordinarily jarring and offensive.   It was meant to get their attention, and it did.  … Read more

April 23, 2019

    I confess to being mystified as to just what the goal or intent of the bombers in Sri Lanka may have been.   According to the figures that I’ve seen, slightly less than ten percent of the population of the island is Muslim, so it seems unlikely that they could imagine themselves being able to establish a Muslim theocracy in the nation.   Did they think that their bombing campaign would increase their numbers?  That other residents of… Read more

April 23, 2019

    For a small presentation this evening on behalf of the Interpreter Foundation, the host has asked me to briefly address five topics that have disturbed some Church members:   1)      Joseph Smith and plural marriage. 2)      Joseph’s multiple versions of the First Vision. 3)      The Book of Mormon translation process. 4)      Was the Church intentionally trying to “cover up” certain aspects of Church history? 5)      The Church’s stance regarding LGBTQ.   I thought that it might be useful to prepare a small list… Read more

April 22, 2019

      John 7:53-8:11    This is one of the most famous stories from the life of Christ.   It’s also absent from the most ancient manuscripts of the New Testament.  (In some other early manuscripts, it appears after John 7:36, or after John 21:25, or even after Luke 21:38, with some textual variations.)   Does that mean that it’s not authentic?   Not necessarily.  But the situation is . . . well, a bit curious.   The story… Read more

April 22, 2019

    First, some practically-useful science stuff:   “Skipping breakfast tied to higher risk of heart-related death, study finds”   “You’re not getting enough sleep—and it’s killing you: A neuroscientist captivates the audience at TED 2019.”   ***   This is entertaining:   “Why English Is One of the Weirdest Languages”   And, speaking of communication, here’s an item out of BYU:   “Study reveals birds’ surprising sound source: The best place for a bird’s voice box is low in the… Read more

April 22, 2019

    For the first part of our second upcoming tour of Israel, starting in the latter part of May, the group will be staying for several nights in the city of Herzliya, on the country’s central Mediterranean coast.  I’ve passed by and through Herzliya many times before, but have never actually stayed in it.  So, in preparation for that stay, I thought that I would write up a few notes for my own use (and for possible oral sharing… Read more

April 22, 2019

    A few days ago, I blogged a brief progress report regarding a major effort in which I’m significantly involved under the auspices of the Interpreter Foundation:   “Where things stand regarding the ‘Witnesses’ film project”   The principal reason for posting that report was that I thought enough time had passed since its initial announcement that it would be appropriate to comment on what was currently happening.  A lesser reason was to respond to a false claim circulated… Read more

April 22, 2019

    Recently, in the comments section of this blog, an atheist critic took to accusing Latter-day Saint believers of being “in it” for the expectation of reward.   Here’s a passage from The Weight of Glory, by C. S. Lewis, that has been deeply meaningful to me since I was a teenager:   If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a… Read more

April 21, 2019

    Luke 18:9-14 Compare Matthew 23:12; 18:4; Luke 14:11   There is a fine but very important line between the peace that the Gospel can bring, on the one hand, and, on the other, smug, complacent self-satisfaction.   Few spiritual offenses are worse than self-righteous and judgmental pride.   We should be continually on guard against it.  For one thing, it’s very easy to fall into.     John 7:1-13   “It cannot be,” said Jesus in Luke 13:33,… Read more

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