Saturday, March 26, 2011

BLOG UPDATE: MARCH 2011

I would like to announce to all my readers (if there are any out there at all) that I have become an official subscriber of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute periodicals (which includes the FARMS Review, Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture, and Studies in the Bible and Antiquities)! With that, I will likely draw on the content of the recent issues more frequently in my postings.

One thing I plan to do is to start the semi-annual series, “Reviewing the Review,” in which I will be doing just that: reviewing each issue of the FARMS Review after I have received it and read through it. This project may also extend to the other periodicals, but I primarily plan to do it with the Review. These will not be lengthy, extensive, or rigorous reviews; just short, brief summaries of thoughts and impressions regarding that particular issue.

Each review will follow this format:

  1.  Overview: A brief paragraph describing my general thoughts on the content of that issue
  2.  Recommended Reading: The reviews and articles that I found most interesting and that I most highly  recommend. I should note that just because an article is not “recommended” here does not mean it’s not worth reading. Also, it should not be assumed that because an article is recommended I necessarily agree with its position. Articles will be recommended for a variety of reasons, some of which I will completely agree with, while others I may only partially agree, or I even not agree at all.
  3.  Final Thoughts: A closing paragraph summing up my thoughts on the issue
  4.  Rating: Each issue will be rated on a scale of one to five. Five being “very good,” and one being “not so good” (to put it nicely).

It is currently my intent to collect as many issues of the Review as possible. As such, anytime I obtain a back issue of the Review, I may do an additional posting of “Reviewing the Review,” to cover that issue.

My reasons for doing this are: (a) While there may be many who disagree with me, I believe that FARMS provides an important voice in academic Mormon studies. Whether you are a critic or an apologist, it is important to keep up with the most recent studies published by FARMS. This reflects my effort to help my (few) readers do just that. And (b) I am always reading articles from FARMS and other sources, learning interesting things, and then never able to find them again. This will help me better keep track of the things I read that I think are worth remembering.

Along with “Reviewing the Review,” reviews in general, and responses/critiques to specific works (such as books, articles, and other blogs) have already played a role on this blog. I am hoping to expand that role as I try to become more involved and integrated into the ongoing dialogue on Mormonism that exists both on the internet and in the real world. I’m also hoping to read more books, articles, blogs, et cetera, and so by writing reviews for this blog I will be enabled more time to think and reflect on what I read, and to get those thoughts written down; and, perhaps most importantly, I’ll be sharing those thoughts, opening them up to feedback and criticisms, which is an all important part of refining and improving our view of the world.

Since I am expecting to expand the role reviews play on this blog, I’ve added a “Reviews/Responses” page where I can gather all the reviews I write for easy access and reference for myself and others. Reviews, responses, and critiques I have already written have already been catalogued there, and as the number of reviews increase, I’ll try to keep it organized by topics, genre of LDS studies (i.e. Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham, Church History, etc.), or style of literature (i.e. anti-Mormon, ex-Mormon, LDS scholarship, LDS apologetics, etc.).

I still plan to do my own, original content as well, and when I get done with school this semester, I hope to once again publish at a weekly rate.

Monday, March 7, 2011

DOES THE BOOK OF MORMON PROMOTE SOCIALISM?

In his recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune, “The case for Book of Mormon socialism,” Troy Williams states that, “At their most righteous, the Nephites presented in the book were benevolent socialists; at their most depraved, they were greedy free-market capitalists.” According to Williams, this is true “Whether one accepts the historical or theological claims” made by the book or not.

Williams then makes it clear that “socialism” for him (as it is for me) is equivalent to “redistribution,” stating that “Having ‘all things in common’ suggests a society invested in public infrastructure and welfare for the whole.” He then explains that “Redistribution is not an anomaly in Mormon scriptures,” and calls “redistribution” the “highest economic order in Mormon scripture.”

Friday, March 4, 2011

DOCTRINE VS. THEOLOGY


The following are some thoughts I have had bouncing around in my head for quite some time. I finally wrote them out (albeit rather quickly) as a comment on another blog. Since I feel like the point being made here is important to understanding Mormon thought for the member and non-member a like, I thought I would share them here as well. I have made some minor changes and additions:
While I understand where people are coming from when they say that there is no official Mormon “doctrine,” I must disagree. Things like the physical nature of God, our being his literal children, salvation being through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and many other things are clearly official tenets of doctrine in the LDS Church. What frustrates people, and makes them think that no such “official” doctrine exists is the lack of an official, systematic theology that ties all of those doctrines together.