October 29, 2020

    When the French middle school teacher Samuel Paty  was murdered on 16 October 2020 in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, beheaded in an act of Islamist terrorism by an eighteeen-year-old Russian-born Chechen refugee named Abdoullakh Abouyedovich Anzorov, several people asked me for my response.  After all, I’m an Islamicist.  And Abdoullakh Abouyedovich Anzorov’s brutal attack had been motivated, superficially at least, by a desire to avenge the honor of Islam: In a class on the freedom of religion, Samuel Paty had shown his students… Read more

October 28, 2020

    My wife and I have belonged for many years now to a regular monthly reading group that includes some of our favorite people.  One of them is Lanny Britsch, an emeritus professor in the Department of History at Brigham Young University whose research and teaching have long focused on Asia and the Pacific.  This month, we’re reading  R. Lanier Britsch, Moramona: The Mormons in Hawai’i, 2d ed., updated, revised, and enlarged (Laie, HI: The Jonathan Napela Center for… Read more

October 27, 2020

    At noon today, we had an hour-long closed Zoom call for BYU Middle East Studies faculty and students with Matthew H. Tueller, the ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Iraq, and previously, among other assignments, deputy chief of mission in Egypt and ambassador to Kuwait and Yemen.  Matt is an old friend, a fellow Latter-day Saint and a fellow graduate of Brigham Young University.  We first met as students at the Center for… Read more

October 26, 2020

    John C. Whitmer was the son of Jacob Whitmer, one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon.  He was also the nephew of David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses, and likewise the nephew of Oliver Cowdery, another of the Three Witnesses.  (Oliver had married Elizabeth Ann Whitmer, David and Jacob’s sister.)  He was, furthermore, the nephew of four others among the Eight Witnesses: Christian Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., and John Whitmer, and Hiram Page (who… Read more

October 25, 2020

    Note:  For at least a while, based upon discussion with folks at Patheos, I’ll be experimenting with a new approach to my blogging:  Fewer posts, but longer.  We’ll see how it works.   What follows here is inspired by and indebted to Chapter 5, “Spacetime is Quantum,” in Carlo Rovelli, Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity, translated by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre (Penguin, 2017), 125-137:   Physics made enormous progress, almost literally unthinkable… Read more

October 24, 2020

    Note:  For at least a while, based upon discussion with folks at Patheos, I’ll be experimenting with a new approach to my blogging:  Fewer posts, but longer.  We’ll see how it works.   When leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fell to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, they faced one crisis after another. The Prophet was dead. Many of the Saints wondered what this meant and what… Read more

October 23, 2020

    Fake news!   “New Covid-19 cases reported Friday in the US are the second highest since the pandemic began”   “Another smashed record of positive COVID-19 tests pushes Utah over 101,000 cases: University of Utah Health officials plead for residents to help stem the spread as ICU at 99% capacity”   “Daily coronavirus case numbers in the US are at levels not seen since the summer, and 14 states recently have set hospitalization records”   “Coronavirus pandemic is… Read more

October 23, 2020

    There were serious clashes between Arabs and Jewish settlers throughout the 1920s and 1930s, until the point in 1939 when, hop­ing to gain Arab support against the Axis powers in World War II, the British began to restrict Jewish immigration to the Holy Land. This, in turn, brought an angry and often violent response from the Jews of Palestine. Fed up with the situation, Great Britain submitted the problem to the United Nations after the close of the… Read more

October 23, 2020

    A new item — this one by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Matthew L. Bowen, and Ryan Dahle — appeared today in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:   “Where Did the Names Mahaway and Mahujah Come From? A Response to Colby Townsend’s “Returning to the Sources,” Part 2 of 2 Review of Colby Townsend, “Returning to the Sources: Integrating Textual Criticism in the Study of Early Mormon Texts and History,” Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies 10, no. 1 (2019): 55–85, https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/imwjournal/vol10/iss1/6/. Abstract: In… Read more

October 22, 2020

    An important new academic discussion has now appeared on the website of the Interpreter Foundation:   “Pre-print of ‘Revisions in the Analysis of Archaic Language in the Book of Mormon,'” by Stanford Carmack and Royal Skousen   This is the introductory note that I wrote for it:   In The Nature of the Original Language [of the Book of Mormon] (hereafter, NOL), Royal Skousen and Stanford Carmack indicated that additional research into the language of the Book of Mormon might… Read more




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