August 7, 2019

    The first presentation of the morning — and, thus, the first of the conference as a whole — was that of Don Bradley, entitled “Joseph Smith’s First Vision as Endowment and Epitome of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (or Why I Came Back to the Church).”  As anybody familiar with Don could have predicted, it was fresh and original, insightful, and informed by an intimate knowledge of early Latter-day Saint historical sources.  It also began and ended with autobiographical… Read more

August 6, 2019

    I published the article below in the Deseret News on 5 September 2013.  The link that’s contained in the article is broken, and I haven’t been able to replace it.   One of the most consequential meetings in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints occurred Aug. 8, 1844, on the east bank of the Mississippi River, roughly six weeks after the murder of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Sidney Rigdon, who had served as… Read more

August 6, 2019

    Hales Swift has created another of his brief but thoughtful video presentations to accompany Gospel Doctrine teaching and study in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This one, available like its predecessors at no charge on the website of the Interpreter Foundation, is a video supplement for Come, Follow Me Lesson 31: “The Power of God unto Salvation”:   “Abraham as Father of All the Faithful” ***   Also now available on the website of the… Read more

August 6, 2019

    Yesterday and the day before, I found myself once again quoting recent remarks from Freeman Dyson (b. 1923), the eminent English-born theoretical physicist and mathematician who is now more or less retired from the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey.  Here is a quotation from Professor Dyson and a surprising item about him:   “Science and religion are two windows that people look through, trying to understand the big universe outside, trying to understand why we are here…. Read more

August 5, 2019

    “Ancient Mayan city burned in ‘act of total war,’ scientists say”   And thanks to Jason Holker for calling this article to my attention:   “Ancient Maya warfare flared up surprisingly early: Extreme conflicts broke out well before the civilization’s decline, researchers say”   I’m reminded of Mormon 8:7-8:   And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great… Read more

August 5, 2019

    Once again:  In his “Anti Gravity” column for the August 2019 issue of Scientific American (this one entitled “Do the Math: It sure comes in handy for doing physics”), Steve Mirsky focuses on the debate between scientists who think that mathematics is the language of the cosmos (and even, for some still today, the language of God) and scientists who consider the importance of mathematics for physics vastly overrated.   When Freeman Dyson (the eminent Anglo-American mathematical physicist “who at… Read more

August 5, 2019

    Edward William Lane was a devout Christian who cleaned up the Arabian Nights for his Victorian audience.   Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS (1821-1890)?   Quite a contrast.  (Among other things, he described himself as an atheist.)     A first-rate fencer, diplomat, and spy, he was perhaps most famous as an explorer — with John Hanning Speke, for example, he was the first European to visit the Great Lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile… Read more

August 4, 2019

    In his “Anti Gravity” column for the August 2019 issue of Scientific American (this one entitled “Do the Math: It sure comes in handy for doing physics”), Steve Mirsky focuses on the debate between those who think that mathematics is the language of the cosmos (and even, for some still today, the language of God) and those who think that the importance of mathematics for physics has been vastly overrated.   Mirsky’s column is inspired by a new… Read more

August 4, 2019

    The poetry of Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273) has been widely translated, and he has been called the most popular poet or the bestselling poet in the United States — which may well be true.   He’s certainly popular in large parts, though not all parts, of the Middle East, and especially among Iranians (he wrote almost entirely in Persian), Turks, and South Asians.  He died in Konya (the ancient Iconium), where his tomb — the Yesil Türbe or… Read more

August 4, 2019

    Here is an expression of a traditional believer’s position regarding the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which still remains as Hymn 23 in the Church’s official hymnal:   1. We ever pray for thee, our prophet dear, That God will give to thee comfort and cheer; As the advancing years furrow thy brow, Still may the light within shine bright as now, Still may the light within shine bright as now. 2. We… Read more

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