July 7, 2020

    On national television:  “BYU Vocal Point pays tribute in CNN performance to COVID-19 victims”   ***   I’m honestly baffled why many don’t appear to be taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously, and why some seem to imagine that it’s really just about politics.  The COVID-19 virus doesn’t care who is elected president this year.  It doesn’t care about making America great again or about dragging the country down.   “Protests May Have Spread Coronavirus, Some Cities Say”  … Read more

July 7, 2020

    Notes drawn from Pim van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (New York: HarperCollins, 2010) [originally published in Dutch as Eindeloos Bewustzijn]:   Consciousness, the subjective experience of an inner self, poses one of the greatest challenges to neuroscience.  Even a detailed knowledge of the brain’s workings and neural correlates of consciousness may fail to explain how or why human beings have self-aware minds.  (cited from the Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist David J. Chalmers, on… Read more

July 7, 2020

    In 175 B.C., aggressive Jewish reformers found an enthusiastic but dangerous ally in a new Seleucid monarch who called himself Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus believed in Hellenism, yes, but he also thought that Hellenism would provide him with higher tax revenues—revenues that he desperately needed in order to keep his many wars going. Casting his eyes around the empire for money, he found a promising source of untapped cash. The vast funds of the temple at Jerusalem were simply… Read more

July 7, 2020

    Some passages about the experience of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, drawn from Ronald E. Romig, Eighth Witness: The Biography of John Whitmer (Independence, MO: John Whitmer Books, 2014):   According to Lucy Mack Smith, one of the ancient Nephites brought the plates to a nearby grove where “the male part of the company, with my husband, Samuel, and Hyrum . . . looked upon them and handled them.”  The eight witnesses were thus five… Read more

July 6, 2020

    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble,” Will Rogers (or Josh Billings or Artemus Ward or Kin Hubbard or Mark Twain) is reported to have said.  “It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”   With that wise insight in mind, we take a look at actual data that are relevant to current perceptions:   My friend and BYU departmental colleague John Gee has just recently published a book — I myself… Read more

July 6, 2020

    This is an interesting article, but it’s also a melancholy reminder of the talent and the insights that we lost when Bill Hamblin passed away, far too young, in December 2019:   “The Sôd of Yhwh and the Endowment”Abstract: Most scholars agree that sôd, when used in relationship to God, refers to the heavenly council, which humans may sometimes visit to learn divine mysteries or obtain a prophetic message to deliver to humankind. Biblical texts on this subject… Read more

July 6, 2020

    I hereby bring my little trilogy (which began with “Getting to Know Elder Boyd K. Packer” and “A Prolegomenon to ‘Getting to Know Elder Boyd K. Packer'”) to a close with an episode from three decades back.  Perhaps slightly more:   The telephone rang at about 5:00 AM or so.  We had been soundly asleep.  Naturally, the phone wasn’t on the nightstand by my wife where it was supposed to be, so she stood up from the bed and… Read more

July 6, 2020

    The records that the Hebrews had so laboriously created would eventually prove to be of great worth to their descendants, helping them understand their own uniqueness and their special covenant rela­tionship with God.[1] New challenges were arising, and these records became invaluable. In the late fourth century B.C., the land­scape of the Near East was dramatically changed by the invasion of Alexander the Great. Alexander, descendant of a royal family in the relatively uncultured area of Macedonia, north… Read more

July 5, 2020

    I first met Elder Boyd K. Packer when he came to Switzerland during a time that I was serving in the office of the Switzerland Zürich Mission.   One of the first things that he did was to take a tour of the mission headquarters.  When he came into my office, he was standing, with my mission president, between me and the large bulletin board that covered most of one of the walls of my personal office.  It… Read more

July 5, 2020

    Not long after I had joined the faculty at Brigham Young University, I was asked to meet with Bruce Hafen, who had previously served as the president of Ricks College and as dean of BYU’s law school and who would later serve as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and as president of the St. George Utah Temple but who was, at the time, serving as the University’s provost — essentially its second in command… Read more

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