June 15, 2019

    As we went through the “Control de Aduanas” just now, I couldn’t help but think about the etymology of the word aduana (“customs”).   Like its French equivalent (douane), it derives from the Arabic diwan (or, perhaps better, diwaan), which means a “registry” or even an “anthology.”  A poet’s collected work is gatherd into a diwan.   So, for example, there is a diwan of the poems of Abu Nuwas, and one of al-Mutanabbi, and etc.  The great… Read more

June 14, 2019

    It being Friday, a new article has appeared in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:   “Prospering in the Land: A Comparison of Covenant Promises in Leviticus and First Nephi 2”   Abstract: A careful examination of the Abrahamic covenant, as contained in Leviticus 26, and the covenant established with the Lehites during their exodus to the New World, found in 1 Nephi 2, shows deliberate similarities. These similarities are important to understand, as the role of covenant is central in… Read more

June 14, 2019

    I now want to say something briefly about the approach to the scriptures — my approach to the scriptures — that disturbed those two or three elderly sisters in the old Mar Vista Ward, decades ago.  Because it’s also my approach to the history and historiography of the Church and is, thus, relevant to certain very recent controversies here on this blog.   I read the scriptures — the historical parts, anyway — pretty much the way I… Read more

June 13, 2019

    In June 1863, the passenger ship Amazon set sail from London for America with nearly 900 Latter-day Saint emigrants aboard.  However, just before she weighed anchor, many Londoners—including both government officials and clergymen—came to take a look at the Mormons, up close and at first hand, as well as at their traveling arrangements.  One of these visitors Charles Dickens, the famous author of such works, by that time, as The Pickwick Papers (1837), Oliver Twist (1839), Nicholas Nickleby (1839), The Old Curiosity Shop (1841),… Read more

June 13, 2019

    I was elected student body president at my high school.  Here’s a note about that:   I had never, I think, held (or run for) an office in student government.  (My memory is actually a bit fuzzy on this point:  It’s possible that I once served on a class council.  I really don’t remember.)   But there was somebody — let’s call him SB (for “somebody,” not his initials) — who had been class president at least once… Read more

June 13, 2019

    Continued from “On Gospel Doctrine Teaching (2)”:   The dynamic (or, perhaps even better, the demographic) in the old Mar Vista Ward was interesting.  For a long time, I found it baffling, but eventually I figured it out (I think).   The building was the second-oldest Latter-day Saint chapel in southern California.  I think it had been constructed by volunteers from the congregation itself in the 1920s.  (My wife’s maternal grandfather and grandmother, who spent almost all of… Read more

June 13, 2019

    The most recent column in my Deseret News series “Defending the Faith” has appeared.  It deals with the language — odd and perhaps rather obscure to modern speakers of English — of a famous prophecy of the ancient apostasy as that prophecy is rendered in the 1611 King James translation of the Bible:   “What does it mean that ‘only he who now letteth will let’?”   ***   Our friends and colleagues at Book of Mormon Central… Read more

June 12, 2019

    Five years ago today, on 13 June 2014, our first grandchild was born in Orlando, Florida.   She was born in a wing of a local Orlando hospital that had been built with generous Disney donations, and the hospital’s public spaces were decorated everywhere with characters from Disney cartoons.  As it rapidly became obvious that Lena would not, and could not, survive, I became acutely aware of how much I had looked forward to one day introducing her to those… Read more

June 12, 2019

    Jonathan Neville, a prominent and extremely vocal advocate of the “Heartland model” of Book of Mormon geography, has taken aim at the Interpreter Foundation, of which I’m the president, and against those involved with it in a new entry on his blog.   “[T]he very name,” he says, “reflects the arrogance of the intellectuals behind the Interpreter.”   And he puts us in our religious-historical context, too:   “In Jesus’ day, the scribes and pharisees [sic] claimed the… Read more

June 12, 2019

    One day, when I was teaching the Gospel Doctrine (adult Sunday School) class in the old Mar Vista Ward of the Santa Monica California Stake, the bishop asked me to come to his office after church.   When I walked in and sat down, he told me that a small delegation of older sisters — two, or possibly three — had come to him to complain that I was teaching “secular humanism.”   At first, I was puzzled… Read more

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