August 3, 2020

    On 23 September 1855, Elder George A. Smith of the Council of the Twelve stood up in the Bowery in Great Salt Lake City—the Taber­nacle had not yet been built—and delivered what was, for the time and place, a very well informed and astonishingly positive sermon on Islam. “I am aware,” he said, “that it is a difficult matter to get an honest history of Mahometanism translated into any of the Chris­tian languages.” He was reminded, when he… Read more

August 3, 2020

    On the website of the Interpreter Foundation, a new item (including an audio download) from the staff at Book of Mormon Central, Jeffrey Bradshaw, and Matthew Bowen:   Book of Moses Insights #14: The Teachings of Enoch: Enoch as a Teacher (Moses 6:51–68)   ***   And don’t forget about the latest book from the Interpreter Foundation, Sacred Time, Sacred Space, & Sacred Meaning.  There are, after all, only 143 shopping days left until Christmas as I write and,… Read more

August 2, 2020

    The testimony of the eight witnesses differs from that of the three witnesses in that the view of the plates by the latter was attended by a remarkable display of the glory and power of God, and the ministration of an angel; but no such remarkable display of God’s splendor and power was attendant upon the exhibition of the plates to the eight witnesses.  On the contrary, it was just a plain, matter-of-fact exhibition of the plates by… Read more

August 2, 2020

    There were other connections between Arabian paganism and the religion of the biblical peoples. The pre-Islamic Arabs thought of themselves as the descendants of Ishmael. Beyond that, they seem to have been familiar with a story according to which both Ishmael and his father Abraham had come to central Arabia and had constructed a shrine in the town of Mecca, known as the “Ka‘ba.” The Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, refers to this story as something already… Read more

August 1, 2020

    This evening (Saturday evening) we participated in the showing of our Witnesses dramatic film on a full screen in a commercial theater at Thanksgiving Point.  There were twenty of us scattered about the largish auditorium, and masks were plentiful.  The movie still needs to have its sound and its color regularized, and one scene remains to be filmed, and there will certainly be some additional tweaks — we had some very good comments tonight — but it’s essentially… Read more

August 1, 2020

    Humans always want to know “why.”  Especially children.  It seems that it’s an inherent part of the human mind.   At very young ages, kids ask why something is the way it is.  But when an adult answers the question with “because x,” the child will ask “But why x?”  And if that adult says “x because y,” the child will ask “But how come y?”  And when the adult explains that “y because z,” the child will… Read more

August 1, 2020

    This is a vitally important point to understand:   The vast majority of the Arabs on the eve of the rise of Islam were pagans. But this statement, true though it is, requires some careful explanation. Not all Arabs were pagans. There were Christians and Jews in some parts of the peninsula who had considerable influence. Furthermore, the paganism of the majority was clearly an apostate remnant of earlier revelations. For example, the pre-Islamic Arabs knew of a… Read more

July 31, 2020

    The latest installment of my bi-weekly Deseret News column went up yesterday.  I’m just really slow in posting a link to it.  But here’s the link:   “How ‘trivia,’ ‘alma mater,’ ‘liberal arts’ and religion are tied to the medieval roots of modern higher education”   ***   Here’s a bit of interesting science news, linking my deeply uninformed interest in astronomy with my remarkably ignorant enthusiasm for geology and palaeontology:   “Did a supernova trigger the late… Read more

July 31, 2020

    A new article by Brian Hales has appeared in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:   “Visions, Mushrooms, Fungi, Cacti, and Toads: Joseph Smith’s Reported Use of Entheogens” Abstract: An article recently published in an online journal entitled “The Entheogenic Origins of Mormonism: A Working Hypothesis” posits that Joseph Smith used naturally occurring chemicals, called “entheogens,” to facilitate visionary experiences among his early followers. The entheogenic substances were reportedly derived from two mushrooms, a fungus, three… Read more

July 31, 2020

    I pick up here with a brief allusion to the story that I told yesterday (Thursday):   Several observations can be made about this story. First of all, like the story before it, it illustrates the power of the pre-Islamic Arabian poet. But it also says a great deal about primitive Arab notions of where poetry comes from. The image of Jarir writhing upon his bed, and the old woman’s judgment that he was mad, are extremely significant…. Read more




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