March 30, 2023

    I frequently read online comments, especially from former believers, claiming that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a corporation that cares only for its own interests and doesn’t care about the needs of its members. I must admit that I find such remarks baffling.  Weird, even. It’s true, of course, that believing Latter-day Saints (presumably including their leaders) regard the Church as the Kingdom of God on the earth, and that they feel a powerful... Read more

March 29, 2023

    I’ve begun to read Chris Ferrie and Geraint F. Lewis, Where Did the Universe Come From?  And Other Cosmic Questions: Our Universe, from the Quantum to the Cosmos (Naperville IL: Sourcebooks, 2021) — a relatively brief book with a very long title.  Chris Ferrie is a physicist and an associate professor of quantum software and information at the University of Technology Sydney; Geraint F. Lewis is a professor of astrophysics at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy. Here is... Read more

March 28, 2023

    For many, many decades until relatively recently, it was assumed by virtually everybody who rejected the Book of Mormon as an authentic work of ancient scripture — which is to say, by virtually everybody who ever gave the subject a passing thought — that, while it must have been written in the nineteenth century, it surely could not have been written by Joseph Smith.  It seemed pretty clearly (and believing Latter-day Saints will overwhelmingly tend to agree) beyond... Read more

March 27, 2023

    In cooperation with Verdant Press and Eborn Books, the Interpreter Foundation has just published an unusual new book by Jeffrey Thayne and Nathan Richardson under the title of Temples of the Imagination: AI-Generated Temples, Human-Generated Insights.  It holds special interest for me because, at one very youthful point, I briefly dreamed of being an architect.  I had fallen in love with the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and had been influenced by Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead (not a... Read more

March 26, 2023

    While, in terms of their form, Matthew 5:10 and 5:11-12 may seem at first glance to constitute two distinct “beatitudes,” it’s pretty obvious from their parallel, even synonymous, content that they’re really a single unit.  The second portion doesn’t contain a specific statement of reward because it’s simply a restatement of the first portion , which does name the reward: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are... Read more

March 25, 2023

    I’m back to reading Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994).  Here’s a passage that caught my attention, discussing the revelation on the three degrees of glory that is now included in the Doctrine and Covenants as Section 76.  It highlights one of the great contributions of the Restoration: The three-tiered gradation of glory could only have been viewed by Rigdon’s and Smith’s contemporaries in 1832 as three... Read more

March 24, 2023

    A new article went up today in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:  “Moving Beyond the Historicity Question, or a Manifesto for Future Book of Mormon Research,” written by Newell D. Wright: Review of Daniel Becerra, Amy Easton-Flake, Nicholas J. Frederick, and Joseph M. Spencer, Book of Mormon Studies: An Introduction and Guide (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2022). 184 pages. $19.99 (hardback), $15.99 (paperback). Abstract: Book of Mormon Studies: An Introduction and Guide by four... Read more

March 23, 2023

    As I post this from Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, it’s still just barely 23 March 2023 back in the United States.  So I’m still within the parameters of carrying on my tradition — no doubt tiresome to many and laughably absurd to a few — of posting my annual tribute to my brother, who died suddenly on 23 March 2012.  Strictly speaking, he was my half-brother.  But we were very close, and we never thought... Read more

March 23, 2023

    I just sent the note below to a niece and two nephews, the three children of my late brother and his now also-departed wife, and, indirectly perhaps, to their children and grandchildren.  I thought that somebody else might also find a little value in it, or take some comfort from it.   I want to say how sorry we are about the passing of your mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.  Words are inadequate.  In a way, though, we... Read more

March 22, 2023

    An article of mine appeared in Meridian Magazine a few hours ago:  “Understanding the Synagogues of Jesus’ Day.”   ***   We left Jerusalem this morning and drove down to Caesarea Maritima, to the Herodian aqueduct that fed it from the north, and then to Joppa (or Jaffa, or Yafo).  Joppa is one of the oldest cities in the Near East, while Tel Aviv , which is far larger, was only established in the twentieth century (by Zionist... Read more

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