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.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Kadesh, the Exodus, and the Drowning Enemy

Ramesses II drives the Hittites into the Orontes River during the battle of Kadesh
Joshua Barman, a biblical professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, has a very lengthy article on the historicity of the Exodus. It is an interesting read. The bulk of it summarizes arguments that are well known. For what it is worth, though I am not the most widely read person on this topic, most of the well respected archaeologists I've read (W.G. Dever, B. Halpern, J.K. Hoffmeier, A.J. Frendo, C.A. Redmount, A. Mazar, etc.)  accept that there is a real historical event that lies behind the Exodus accounts, although there is some varying opinions on just how historically accurate the details of the account are. I therefore find it amusing that so many confidently assert that there is no archaeological evidence for the Exodus as if that made it case closed. Clearly, these archaeologists (who cannot all be written off as religious apologists) clearly know or understand something that those making such arguments do not. I'm getting somewhat off topic, though.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

On Unrighteous Dominion, or the Unethical Wielding of Personal Power

As of yesterday, John Dehlin has officially been excommunicated. While I had intended to just let this fiasco pass with no further comment from me, something has come to my attention which I feel compelled to comment on, namely because I just don’t think a person should get away with such sheer abuse of power without at least undergoing some kind of public scrutiny.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

On the Weaponization of Suicide and Moral Culpability

Let’s start with a confession: I’m really reluctant to write this blog post. This is an extremely serious subject, and one that should always, always, ALWAYS be treated with the utmost caution. And, I am utterly unqualified to comment on it. I am not a mental health expert. I am not a health professional of any kind. But there are some conversations going around about this topic, with some things being said that I think are unfair, and even dangerous. I feel like some things need to be said, and so I am going to say them.