Friday, April 10, 2015

The Best Information on Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: A Review Round-up

Today, Interpreter published three reviews of the soon-to-be released book on Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding.  The first review, written by Gregory L. Smith, the author or co-author of a smattering of articles on Joseph Smith’s polygamy, concludes, “[Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding] is warmly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about Joseph’s plural marriages but particularly to those just venturing into its sometimes choppy waters. Were I not vulnerable to the sin of envy, I’d wish I had written it.”

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Great Opportunity

Tikal: One of many awesome places you can visit and learn about with Dr. Mark Wright
I have frequently commented on Book of Mormon geography, archaeology, etc. here on this blog. While reading and thinking and writing on these things is nice, and maps and photographs can do a lot to help a person visualize something, nothing is even half as good and going there yourself. I hope to have the opportunity to go too many places relevant to the Book of Mormon someday—Israel, maybe some places on the Arabian Peninsula, Guatemala, and central Mexico. At present, I need to save up for school and whatever else life has in-store for me in the near future. But I really, really, REALLY wish I could go to Mesoamerica this winter.

Why? Because Mark Wright, one of the best and brightest LDS Mesoamericanists, is leading a tour this winter, from December 26–January 4. I don’t have the words to express how incredible this opportunity is. While I mean no disrespect to others who lead such tours, I can promise you that no other tour guide else will be able to deliver the same level of expertise on both Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon. If this is something of interest to you, I strongly recommend you take this incredible opportunity to learn and experience the Book of Mormon like you never have before.

You can get more information on the tour here.

You can get more information on Dr. Wright and some of his publications here and here.   

Friday, April 3, 2015

Patient Faith and Expanding Knowledge: Some Reflections on My Journey with the Book of Mormon (and an Invitation)

Some good advice for anyone in a faith crisis
As I was working on a review of Geology of the Book of Mormon, by Jerry Grover (a book I highly recommend for reasons that will be clear when the review is released), I took a moment to reflect how much my views on the Book of Mormon have changed over the last 6 or 7 years. In certain ways, my views are no different than they were before. I still believe that the Book of Mormon is true, in the traditional Mormon sense of the word—it is the word of God, it is real history, and it is an important source for inspiration. But I very often read it differently than how I used to. When I read it now, I can’t help but be struck by how real, how authentic it seems on every page. Even when I am reading it with my family, I very often can’t help but pause to say, “this sounds a lot like a Mesoamerican…” or, “this makes a lot sense in light of how in the ancient Near East…” fill-in-the blank with whatever I observed at that moment. I find myself able to visualize the events of the book in ways I never could have imagined before.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1 and 2 Nephi as a Temple Text

Nephi says his people built a temple "like unto" the temple of Solomon,
though he confessed that his was not as spectacular (see 2 Nephi 5:16)  
A common criticism I used to hear on my mission was that, as one counter-cult ministry put it in 2009, “there is NO evidence to suggest that the peoples in the Book of Mormon practiced ANY of the temple ceremonies that modern day Mormons practice.”[1] Personally, I always thought this criticism was pretty silly. The Book of Mormon mentions the presence of temples in virtually every major city, and of course they don’t describe the ceremonies—like us, they would have held them too scared to share in a text they knew would be public!

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Brief History Lesson

I recently stumbled onto a new website called Millennial Ex-Mormon, which at present contains nothing more than a single post explaining “Who we Are & Why we Left…” (dated to March 15, 2015, so this thing appears to be brand spanking new). As a history major, I found this particular paragraph interesting:
Can you imagine if the Holocaust, the slave trade, or the attacks on 9/11 were sugar-coated or weren’t taught in schools because they give us bad feelings? Just because those events in history make us uncomfortable doesn’t mean they are any less true. Do you think that, if given the opportunity, the LDS church would hide the truth or unsavory facts of its history or organization?
The implication, of course, is that the Church has not been up front about things that “make us uncomfortable” in the Mormon past. While I am sure that whoever wrote this was sincere, that does not preclude them from being mistaken or shield them from scrutiny or criticism. And I, for one, find the implications here rather misguided.