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Mormon Inquiry

Mormon Inquiry

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The meanings of Zion

posted by Dave Banack

This is the third post on Richard L. Bushman’s Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2008). [See Part 1 and Part 2.] In Chapter Three, Bushman reviews the several meanings of the term “Zion” in LDS doctrine and thinking.

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A statistical portrait of Mormons

posted by Dave Banack

The Pew Forum recently issued a detailed summary of survey information about Mormons gathered as part of a much larger survey of religious life in the United States. It is a very readable summary, noting that Mormons comprise 1.7% of […]

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July 24th: Pioneer Day in Utah

posted by Dave Banack

July 24th is a state holiday in Utah, designated Pioneer Day. It commemorates the entry of the first wagon train of Mormons into the Salt Lake Valley in the summer of 1847. They came down Emigration Canyon, somewhat north of […]

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Finding heretics in strange places

posted by Dave Banack

A very interesting post at Mormon Matters, reviewing a 1989 book titled “Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up?” The book was written by an attorney who grew up a Jehovah’s Witness, then became an Evangelical Christian. That lasted until […]

Reason and revelation in Mormonism

posted by Dave Banack

This is a second piece on Bushman’s Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2008). [See Part 1.] Every faith and denomination has an approach for balancing faith and reason. In Chapter Two of the book, Bushman briefly outlines the LDS approach.

Boy Wizard rattles Christian cages

posted by Dave Banack

Some, not all. Harry Potter is back in theaters this week, to the consternation of some conservative Christians. See the lengthy Wikipedia discussion under “Religious debates over the Harry Potter series” for a gentle summary. The Catholic position has changed […]

Different views of inerrancy

posted by Dave Banack

It is sometimes difficult for Protestants and Evangelicals to understand that the LDS Church is not simply another Protestant denomination with a well-defined catechism or creed. It is expected to be well defined since, in the Protestant world, those with […]

More than just a kiss

posted by Dave Banack

From the Salt Lake Tribune: “Gay couple cuffed, cited after kiss near LDS temple.” A gay couple says they were detained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints security guards after one man kissed another on the cheek […]

One more reason I like the Pope

posted by Dave Banack

Pope presses Obama on abortion, stem cells. Pope Benedict XVI stressed the church’s opposition to abortion and stem cell research in his first meeting with President Barack Obama on Friday, pressing the Vatican’s case with the U.S. leader who is […]

Tribalism and religions

posted by Dave Banack

Between being out of town and the Fourth, it’s been a slow couple of weeks here. Let’s get July started with an Orson Scott Card column at the Mormon Times, “Mormon ‘Tribe’ Feels Like Home.” OSC reflects on the fact […]

About Mormon missions

posted by Dave Banack

At Mormon Matters, a post reflecting on the positive and negative aspects of serving a two-year LDS proselyting mission. Young men who follow the standards of the LDS Church are very strongly encouraged to serve. Young women are, at present, […]

Gay marriage petition

posted by Dave Banack

At the Salt Lake Tribune, “Petition urges LDS Church to soften stance on gays,” reporting efforts of a collection of LDS and ex-LDS to lobby the LDS Church by delivering a petition reproving its stand on Prop 8. According to […]

Is Mormonism a world religion?

posted by Dave Banack

That question has been getting more consideration recently, with the general consensus being, “No, at least not yet.” By Common Consent is posting an academic piece by scholar Walter E. A. van Beek that helps understand the question. He uses […]

Bart Ehrman’s latest book on the Bible

posted by Dave Banack

I’ve enjoyed every book I’ve read by Bart Ehrman, including his latest, Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them). I only had time to read the first couple of chapters carefully […]

Heresy at BYU

posted by Dave Banack

In 1911, when “heresy” wasn’t such a dated term, as related at Mormon Organon. The whole episode (in which several BYU profs of that era came under suspicion for teaching the sort of things that are supposed to be taught […]

Are Mormons misunderstood?

posted by Dave Banack

That’s the headline in a longish Time story on Mormons, “The Church and Gay Marriage: Are Mormons Misunderstood?” It’s a fairly balanced story, although the author still manages to impute “seamless unity” to the Mormon community while, at the same […]

Inoculation: That word does not mean what you think it means

posted by Dave Banack

In the small world of Mormon Studies and online blogging, the term “inoculation” refers to teaching mainstream Latter-day Saints enough accurate LDS history that they won’t contract a terminal case of apostasy when they encounter publications or talks that use […]

CESNUR in Salt Lake City this week

posted by Dave Banack

A reminder from Morehead’s Musings that the CESNUR Conference is being held in Salt Lake City June 11-13 (Thursday through Saturday). CESNUR stands for the Center for Studies on New Religions. It is an academic organization that promotes the objective […]

LDS Public Affairs interview

posted by Dave Banack

At By Common Consent, an interview with Michael Otterson, the head of media relations for the LDS Church. Not an easy job. Here are a few quotes from the online interview.

What’s going on in the world: GM, Tiller, North Korea.

posted by Dave Banack

Nothing on the LDS news wire that’s hot, but there’s plenty going on in the world. It’s messy and getting messier. Here are a few thought-provoking links.

Contrasting views of Mormonism

posted by Dave Banack

I finally secured a copy of Richard L. Bushman’s Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction. Bushman, a historian, is the author of Rough Stone Rolling, the definitive biography of Joseph Smith, as well as the Howard W. Hunter Professor of Mormon […]

Apocalypse … now?

posted by Dave Banack

North Korean missile tests, Iranian nuclear ambitions, GM going bankrupt … can The End be far off? Morehead’s Musings reviews Apocalyptic Transformation: Apocalypse and the Postmodern Imagination (Lexington Books: 2008), suggesting apocalyptic anxiety is less a religious doctrine than an […]

Mormonism as a symbol whose meaning is changing

posted by Dave Banack

At Get Religion, “The Mormons are coming!“, taking issue with aspects of a Washington Post article of the same name. I would summarize the general problem in simpler terms: some journalists in the mainstream press believe their own propaganda, which […]

Lincoln, Douglas, and ‘the Mormon Problem’

posted by Dave Banack

The Mormon Times reports on the remarks of historian William P. MacKinnon at the recent MHA meetings. MacKinnon summarized his paper, “Stephen A. Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Mormon Problem: The 1857 Debate.” Relying on what he admitted to be […]

A prof without honour in his own country

posted by Dave Banack

And that prof is … Bart Ehrman, professor of religious studes at UNC-Chapel Hill. He’s in the news in connection with the publication of his most recent book, Jesus, Interrupted. As reported at CNN, Prof. Ehrman’s family won’t talk to […]

Why girls are so mean to each other

posted by Dave Banack

It’s what comes naturally, according to the author of “The ‘Bitch’ Evolved: Why Girls Are So Cruel to Each Other,” posted at ScientificAmerican.com. He notes a pattern that is probably not news to most readers: While teenage boys and young […]

This just in: God has returned.

posted by Dave Banack

To public life. Don’t let American headlines fool you — the global tide of faith is still coming in, according to the recently published God is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith is Changing the World. The Religious Studies […]

California Supreme Court upholds Prop 8; existing marriages still valid

posted by Dave Banack

As expected, the California Supreme Court upheld the propriety of Proposition 8’s amendment to the state constitution in an opinion released today, but left same-sex marriages performed since May 2008 in force. Here’s from the LA Times story: The California […]

Emma Smith and her biographers

posted by Dave Banack

The Mormon Times reports on one of the more interesting MHA sessions in “Reflections of an Emma Hale Smith biographer.” Both stories make interesting reading: the story of Emma Smith, Joseph’s first wife; and the story of Linda King Newell, […]

Memories and visions of the departed

posted by Dave Banack

This seems like a good post to highlight on Memorial Day: “I See Dead People,” at Faithful Dissident. It is a straight-up piece by an author who holds some doubts about the LDS religion but no doubts about the afterlife, […]

Ending polygamy one man at a time

posted by Dave Banack

The annual Mormon History Association meetings are underway in Springfield, Illinois. The Deseret News reports on the address of the outgoing MHA President, historian Kathryn Daynes of BYU. She spoke on the varied experience of 19th-century Mormons who struggled, under […]

The “Bible Bill” and The Year of Living Dangerously

posted by Dave Banack

So a U.S. Senator has proposed that 2010 be designated the Year of the Bible (see Politico story here and Steven Waldman’s Beliefnet comments here). Sorry, I just can’t talk about the proposed Year of the Bible with a straight […]

Double standard?

posted by Dave Banack

At the Things of My Soul blog, a Mormon shares his frustration with the Evangelical view of the Bible as applied negatively to Mormons but not to others in “Religious Double Standards When Dismissing Mormonism“: Someone called me un-Christian for […]

Historic LDS chapel burns

posted by Dave Banack

It happened on Sunday. The historic and picturesque LDS chapel near Harvard University caught fire about 10:30 a.m. and burned for two hours. Here’s from the initial story at the Boston Globe: Mormons around the country today are grieving the […]

Jon Huntsman, Mormon Republican in exile

posted by Dave Banack

That’s the take in “Huntsman, Interrupted,” a long essay at The New Republic. The essay speculates that Utah Governor Jon Huntsman knows 2012 is too early for the GOP to reinvent itself and be receptive to a presidential candidate positioned […]

The Mormon Channel

posted by Dave Banack

The LDS Church has always promoted the use of new technology to spread its message. It is now rolling out online radio, broadcasting LDS content (produced on Temple Square and at the various BYU campuses) 24/7, at The Mormon Chanel: […]

Fallible certainty

posted by Dave Banack

“Yes, I’m certain of that” is often taken to be an assurance that the speaker really knows that the attested fact or opinion is correct. But it’s not clear that a feeling of really knowing something is a good predictor […]

Obama taps Utah Gov. Huntsman for key China post

posted by Dave Banack

The big news over the weekend was the announcement that President Obama has nominated Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, a Republican and a practicing Mormon, as Ambassador to China. Here’s from the Salt Lake Tribune, “Crucial role for Huntsman in China“: […]

Obama hoping for less fighting, more Irish at Notre Dame

posted by Dave Banack

I’m not sure what all the Catholic commotion is about concerning this weekend’s visit of President Obama to the campus of Notre Dame to deliver the commencement address to this year’s graduating class. See “Notre Dame president catches heat for […]

The puzzling Mormon gender gap

posted by Dave Banack

From a Washington Times article “Marriage as a Mormon value” According to [the] Pew [Forum], Mormons have one of the most lopsided gender ratios of any religion: 44 percent men and 56 percent women. You can’t argue with the gender […]

Mormon convert … kidnapped?

posted by Dave Banack

You read the story and decide for yourself. From the Deseret News, “Missing Mormon convert found in Texas.” A 19-year-old girl allegedly abducted from her Holladay [near Salt Lake City] home by her Texas parents because she recently converted to […]

Buddha and Mormon theology

posted by Dave Banack

At the Mormon Times, “A Mormon theology manifesto,” summarizing remarks by an LDS philosopher at a recent conference suggesting that theology “must follow the path that addresses and heals suffering.”

Affirmation, fellowship, and transcendence

posted by Dave Banack

Last week I posted on the latest Pew Forum survey, arguing that the prevalent media summary of the survey — that many people are drifting from faith to unbelief — was misreading the data. Today there’s an op-ed piece in […]

Why Mormons don’t use the cross

posted by Dave Banack

Good question. For some answers, read Peggy Fletcher Stack’s Salt Lake Tribune article “Mormons and the cross.” The article suggests the LDS practice of avoiding use of the cross is a cultural practice that developed in the 20th century rather […]

Teaching evolution

posted by Dave Banack

At Mormon Insights, a post on the do’s and don’ts of teaching evolution to college students. The author: I am a happy and content Latter-day Saint who teaches evolution at a non-LDS university. In fact, I have taught evolution in […]

Who designed the Designer?

posted by Dave Banack

That and other interesting questions debated in the hundered-plus comments to “What do you think about Evolution?” at Mormon Matters. FYI, I would not rely on the way the quote that constitutes the bulk of the post tries to distinguish […]

Losing your religion

posted by Dave Banack

Lots of stories on the latest Pew Forum survey, “Faith in Flux: Changes in Religious Affiliation in the U.S.” Here is the first paragraph from the summary prepared by Pew: Americans change religious affiliation early and often. In total, about […]

Harvard LDS student panel

posted by Dave Banack

At Harvard, as reported in the campus paper, the Harvard Crimson: “Mormons Clarify Beliefs.” Don’t laugh — the way the newspaper business is going, campus papers might be all we have left in a couple of years.

Dickens on the Mormons

posted by Dave Banack

In the Saturday afternoon session of the recent LDS General Conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook, one of the newer members of the Quorum of the Twelve, related a fascinating vignette concerning Charles Dickens as part of his address (“Our Father’s […]

What’s wrong with Deseret Book

posted by Dave Banack

At the Salt Lake Tribune: “Deseret Book demotes Twilight.” “Demote” means that neither Twilight nor the other volumes in the megaselling series by LDS author Stephanie Meyer are now available at Deseret Book stores or even at their online site. […]

The future of religious liberty in Connecticut

posted by Dave Banack

A Mirror of Justice post provides some links related to the proposed Connecticut legislation implementing gay marriage in that state in response to a 2008 state supreme court decision, Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Publilc Health.

Mormonism and politics

posted by Dave Banack

At the Boston Globe, journalist Michael Paulson reports on a recent conference held at Utah Valley University on “Mormonism in the Public Mind.” The talks Paulson summarized were largely about Mormonism and politics.

Nope, not a cult

posted by Dave Banack

John Mark Reynolds posted “On America, land of cults,” leading off with this provocative statement: “An American cult is what happens when radical individualism meets religion and philosophy.” I was expecting the usual treatment when he got around to the […]

Does blogging make you a better person?

posted by Dave Banack

Does it further the philosophical (or ethical or religious) goal of promoting human flourishing? Have you learned anything? Or is it just a waste of time? These questions come up for discussion from time to time, most recently in light […]

Good cop, bad cop

posted by Dave Banack

I’ll review the recent LDS General Conference session by session this week, starting with the Saturday morning session. The Mormon Times provides an index with links to summaries; LDS.org has now posted full transcripts. As expected, the impact of the […]

LDS General Conference

posted by Dave Banack

It happens twice a year, in April and October, as the senior leaders of the LDS Church speak to the general membership of the LDS Chruch in person (to those attending at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City) and […]

The Texas FLDS raid, one year later

posted by Dave Banack

The Salt Lake Tribune carried a couple of retrospectives on the Texas FLDS community (hat tip: M&A, which posts additional links and comments). The first story suggests the FLDS community in Texas has largely returned to pre-raid rhythms. It also […]

A reporter’s experience with Mormonism

posted by Dave Banack

The Deseret News carried an article summarizing Boston Globe reporter Michael Paulson’s comments at the “Mormonism in the Public Mind” conference being held at UVU this week. According to the article, Paulson thinks “no other faith group is as quick […]

A minister speaks to Mormonism, faith, and logic

posted by Dave Banack

A Disciples of Christ minister with an LDS girlfriend posting at an LDS group blog: “Faith and Logic: Finding and Navigating an Individual Balance.” The short summary: personal religious experience is good, but so is clear thinking; temper your sense […]

Big Love, small splash

posted by Dave Banack

The heated discussion about the Big Love temple scene died down pretty quickly after it aired, but here’s an interview at the LA Times with one of the show’s creators that gives one view of things.

Posts on polygamy

posted by Dave Banack

Between the FLDS events in Texas and the continued popularity of Big Love, polygamy (or plural marriage, as it is often termed) has been in the news lately. It has always been a topic of regular discussion on LDS blogs, […]

Coming soon: Spanish LDS Bible

posted by Dave Banack

LDS Public Affairs released a press statement announcing a soon-to-be-released Spanish edition of the “LDS Bible.” The 1979 English language “LDS Bible” used the King James Version for the text, but added new chapter headings, cross-references, and an LDS bible […]

Church without God

posted by Dave Banack

No, it’s not the Unitarians. In the Salt Lake Tribune, “Godless ‘congregations’ planned for humanists.” Just another sign the religious landscape is changing. The monthly schedule is church-like, with its parenting classes, guest speakers and small group meetings to hash […]

Conference protests or service day?

posted by Dave Banack

A reliable-looking blog cites an email from the “outreach coordinator at the GLBT Drop-in center at the Unitarian Church in Ogden” announcing gay service projects over the upcoming Conference weekend (April 4-5). The email is trying to counter claims circulating […]

Evangelicals in retreat

posted by Dave Banack

That’s a softer title than the author used in a Christian Science Monitor opinion piece: “The Coming Evangelical Collapse.” I’m not sure how seriously to take the argument: the author is a popular blogger but not a scholar. There’s no […]

Slowly becoming less Christian

posted by Dave Banack

But “Mormons have increased in numbers enough to hold their own proportionally, at 1.4 percent of the population.” That’s the verdict of the latest American Religious Identification Survey, which found that “86% of American adults identified as Christians in 1990 […]

The public vents

posted by Dave Banack

When the going gets tough … find a convenient scapegoat. Not that AIG execs likely deserve their bonuses, but it sure seems like the collective venting going on is just the release of bottled up frustration and anger about the […]

Evolution belief statistics

posted by Dave Banack

A survey came out a few weeks ago measuring belief in evolution across denominations. Mormons were close to the low end of the spectrum, at 22%; Evangelicals came in at 24%. See “Mormons Worse at Believing Evolution?” at Mormon Metaphysics […]

JournoList: a modern example of secrecy

posted by Dave Banack

In the public discussion of LDS temples, critics often take it for granted that limiting admission to Latter-day Saints in good standing (i.e., doing things “in secret”) supports a presumption that there must be something to hide. Conveniently, that presumption, once entertained, […]

Against literalism and inerrancy

posted by Dave Banack

While some outsiders lump Mormons in with Evangelicals as thoroughgoing biblical literalists and inerrantists, there is actually a range of opinion on this subject within the LDS community. For the not so literal view, check out a recent two-part guest […]

Who you gonna call?

posted by Dave Banack

Since TV has been working so well here lately, let’s keep it going. Believe it or not, the United Nations is calling on Battlestar Galactica’s Commander William Adama and President Laura Roslin to meet with a selection of UN representatives. […]

Big Love: The morning after

posted by Dave Banack

Moving on to Part 2 of the real-life soap opera … what’s the reaction to the “Outer Darkness” Big Love episode that aired Sunday night? Time’s TV guy says this: Part of the controversy over depicting the ceremony, whose details […]

Media grapples with the Big Love story

posted by Dave Banack

It’s always something of a spectacle to watch how the mainstream media tackles a religion story — the Get Religion site (run by a group of journalists) has been posting on that theme for years now, with the general conclusion […]

Columnists weigh in on Big Love

posted by Dave Banack

First, Joel Campbell at the Mormon Times (the online site sponsored by the Deseret News), with “HBO Big Love response shows ethical lapses, arrogance.” Campbell takes HBO and Big Love producers to task for “cross[ing] a very bright ethical line” […]

Big Love hits below the belt

posted by Dave Banack

The HBO series you’ve heard about but never seen is using the standard Hollywood tactic of creating controversy to attract viewers. See the Salt Lake Tribune article “HBO apologizes for offense, but will still air Big Love temple scene.” Yeah, […]

Science group ditches Louisiana for Utah

posted by Dave Banack

As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune last month, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) moved its January 2011 meetings from New Orleans to Salt Lake City. The reason? The recently enacted Louisiana Science Education Act, which, according […]

Why I like Harry Reid

posted by Dave Banack

See “The paradox of Harry Reid’s position” at the LA Times. It’s not his tax and spend (and spend and spend) politics that I like. It’s the fact that, as a Mormon and highly visible Democratic leader of the U.S. […]

On Cheating

posted by Dave Banack

Like a canary in a coal mine, certain developments in the postmodern world are early telltale signs that the concept “morality” is changing beneath our feet. I think one of them is cheating, which has become an almost accepted practice […]

Looks like Prop 8 is here to stay

posted by Dave Banack

From the Los Angeles Times, “California Supreme Court looks unlikely to kill Proposition 8.” The California Supreme Court strongly indicated Thursday it would rule that Proposition 8 validly abolished the right for gays to marry but would allow same-sex couples […]

No LDS position on Illinois marriage bill

posted by Dave Banack

LDS Public Affairs released the following statement today correcting media reports about LDS involvement in reactions to a bill being considered by the Illinois legislature. As is widely known, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the […]

She’s no mommyblogger

posted by Dave Banack

Amy Welborn is a mother and a blogger, but she’s no mommyblogger. And now she’s at Beliefnet: Via Media is her new weblog. I might have said a few things about how I never really connected with her posts at […]

A nice little chat about porn

posted by Dave Banack

By Common Consent rushes in where angels fear to tread, with a lengthy roundtable conversation about porn (in three posts) between anonymized permabloggers. The conversation is in response to a recent paper that’s been in the news lately, asserting an undefined […]

Does preexistence really absolve God?

posted by Dave Banack

The Mormon Times has a short write-up on a presentation given by Terryl Givens at UVU (that’s Utah Valley University) on the preexistence in Western thought, the topic of his soon-to-be-released book. While the doctrine certainly has its appeal, it […]

New book: Losing My Religion

posted by Dave Banack

William Lobdell was the LA Times religion reporter for many years. In his new book, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America — and Found Unexpected Peace, Lobdell tells the story of how he […]

Christian book suggestions?

posted by Dave Banack

I updated my Now Reading list (three clicks down the sidebar), adding a slot for Christian books. My first will be John Polkinghorne’s The God of Hope and the End of the World (Yale Univ. Press, 2002), which should provide […]

No aphorisms for Utah city park

posted by Dave Banack

The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously against a New-Age sect that sued to force the town of Pleasant Grove, Utah to place a monument inscribed with the 7 Aphorisms of Summum in a city park, complementing a monument already in […]

Missionaries might give Utah an extra seat

posted by Dave Banack

Politics makes strange befellows, as the saying goes. See Salon.com’s post, “Will trade: One black Democrat for one Mormon Republican,” reviewing the pending legislation that will give Washington D.C. “actual voting representation in the House” and, at the same time, […]

A truth-seeker’s guide

posted by Dave Banack

At Mormon Matters a couple of weeks ago, “A Truth-Seekers Guide to the Bloggernacle and Beyond,” relating a few rules for sifting reliable posts and comments from the not-so-reliable stuff one reads. I know college profs stuggle to teach undergrads […]

Trendy Wiccans

posted by Dave Banack

No one gets too worked up about witches anymore. They’ve gone mainstream, even in the fairly conservative world of Mormonism. Check out this FMH post and its comments, for example, or this weblog. US Army chaplains now apparently get training […]

Radical Evangelicals?

posted by Dave Banack

While cleaning out the highlighted posts in my overstuffed Google Reader, I came across “Two Streams of Evangelicalism in the 21st Century” at The Scriptorium. It reviews the emergence of a post-conservative brand of Evangelicalism that tries to find a […]

What if the Mormons are right? An alternative view of baptisms for the dead

posted by Dave Banack

A pleasantly entertaining op-ed piece from the Belfast Telegraph: “What if Mormons are right and Catholics and Protestants are wrong?” Not only does the writer cover in short order the ancient Christian tradition of baptism for the dead and why […]

Free speech or threat to public safety?

posted by Dave Banack

Driving around town late last week, I heard a spirited BBC discussion (carried by my local NPR station) about Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parlaiment who produced a film suggesting the Koran incites violence. Get Religion posted on […]

Additional Prop 8 disclosure info

posted by Dave Banack

Here is a follow-up to my earlier post on this topic. The LDS Newsroom put up a second post regarding financial disclosures in connection with in-kind contributions to the Yes on 8 campaign by the LDS Church (as opposed to […]

Mormon scripture

posted by Dave Banack

This is the long overdue second post on Craig Blomberg and Stephen Robinson’s How Wide the Divide: A Mormon & an Evangelical in Conversation. [See the first post.] This post talks about the Mormon view of scripture, with reference to the […]

“Jesus and I Broke Up”

posted by Dave Banack

If you’re the type who’s not really that into Jesus anymore, go read the clever little essay by Owen Egerton, “Jesus and I Broke Up,” reposted here. [Hat tip: comment #3 at this Mormon Matters post.] In fact, go read […]

A reporter’s account of an LDS Sunday service

posted by Dave Banack

It is always helpful to try and see yourself through someone else’s eyes. So it’s worthwhile to read a British journalist’s account of attending an LDS Sunday meeting (a monthly testimony meeting, not the usual weekly sacrament meeting) at the […]

Is there a future for theocons?

posted by Dave Banack

I recently read Damon Linker’s The Theocons: Secular America Under Seige, a book that chronicles the author’s view of the rising influence of the religious right in politics. I suppose I’m late to the party, but it’s still an informative […]

A Christian look at Intelligent Design

posted by Dave Banack

I was clearing out highlighted posts from my too-full Google reader (does anyone else have this problem?) and came across a series of posts on ID at Tough Questions Answered: A Christian Apologetics Blog. The two fellows who run the […]

More on Obama’s faith-based initiatives

posted by Dave Banack

Following up on my earlier post, see this fine post at First Things: “Obama and the Faith-Based Initiative.” The post is a short but informative review of what Pres. Obama is likely to do with his new Council on Faith-Based […]

Faith-based initiatives 2.0

posted by Dave Banack

At the LA Times, “Obama broadens Bush’s faith-based programs.” The same mainstream media that saw President Bush’s faith-based initiative as a threatening breach of the metaphorical wall between church and state seems to think Obama’s faith-based initiative proposals are just […]

Getting the Prop 8 contribution story straight

posted by Dave Banack

The LDS Newsroom released a statement correcting media misstatements regarding the recent filing of its final report of financial assistance to the Yes on 8 campaign. On Friday, 30 January, the Church filed the final report of its contributions (all […]

Slow food, slow blogging

posted by Dave Banack

Great ideas … but who’s got the time? This morning I touched the bases on “slow blogging” by reading Emily Jensen’s column, then the LDS Media Talk post “Slow Blogging,” then the New York Times piece “Haste, Scorned: Blogging at […]

Darwin Week at BYU

posted by Dave Banack

As reported at the Mormon Organon, Brigham Young University is hosting Charles Darwin Bicentennial Week, running February 9 through 13. A schedule of the presentations, including one by the Dean or Religious Education, is posted at the site. This highlights one […]

President Monson: One year at the helm

posted by Dave Banack

The Salt Lake Tribune did a short one-year review of the tenure of Thomas S. Monson as President of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The article notes that “impetuous acts of kindness are the hallmark of Monson” and […]

LDS Church defends legislative meetings

posted by Dave Banack

The Salt Lake Tribune allowed managing director of LDS Public Affairs Michael Otterson to publish a reply defending the LDS Church’s practice of meeting with Utah state legislators once each year. There are actually two meetings, one with Republican leaders […]

Tough choices for Mormon athletes

posted by Dave Banack

At SI.com, “When choosing where to play, Mormon recruits face unique issues,” discussing the challenges faced by a couple of high-profile LDS athletes as they consider which four-year sports program to enroll in. [Yes, I realize there is a four-year […]

Religion as a learning community

posted by Dave Banack

From David Ford’s Theology: A Very Short Introduction: Religions are learning communities which benefit from interactions with other learning communities, and they also need to cultivate their own educational institutions. There have been devastating consequences when religious communities have had […]

Borrowing doctrine

posted by Dave Banack

From Things of My Soul, “Creeping Mormonism,” relating the author’s surprise at seeing distinctively Mormon doctrines and beliefs, such as the idea of eternal marriage, sometimes appear in Protestant preaching or practice. It’s a two-way street, of course: many of […]

Found: the lost McLellin notebook

posted by Dave Banack

At the Mormon Times, “Inside the lost McLellin notebook,” with information about and excerpts from a newly discovered notebook written by William E. McLellin, an early Mormon apostle who was later excommunicated from the Church (in 1838). It appears the […]

About Mr. Darwin

posted by Dave Banack

At Christianity Today (which bills itself as “a magazine of Evangelical conviction”), “The Evolution of Darwin,” by none other than Dinesh D’Souza. The main point of the short article is that Darwin, the patron saint of the New Atheists, was […]

Tom Hanks, take two

posted by Dave Banack

Tom Hanks has modified his recent statement that Mormons are un-American for supporting Proposition 8 (see “Big Love producer sounds off on Prop 8“). Through a publicist, Hanks released a statement to People Magazine (is this the magazine of record […]

Christian Apologetics

posted by Dave Banack

Since I’m on the subject of apologetics (see my prior post), here’s a link to a post summarizing a recent book of Christian apologetics, J. P. Moreland’s The God Question: An Invitation to a Life of Meaning. The book is […]

Translation and Apologetics

posted by Dave Banack

There is a lot of Mormon apologetics out there, perhaps because there is a lot of Mormon criticism. It has gotten better over the years, but one still sees both good apologetics and bad apologetics. A post from a few […]

Mormons and Restorationists

posted by Dave Banack

This is the second post drawing on E. Brooks Holifield’s Theology in America: Christian thought from the age of the Puritans to the Civil War (see first post here). The broad themes Holifield draws from American religion in the 19th […]

The White House Blog

posted by Dave Banack

Maybe there was a Bush edition and I just missed it, but the Obama White House has a blog — and it is going to use it. One of the first entries, time-stamped at 12:01 p.m., just seconds after Pres. […]

History is Your story

posted by Dave Banack

Rick Warren offered a suitably moving if rather informal invocation at today’s Inauguration, using appropriately nondenominational language. Or at least he touched all the bases: God was referenced as “the Father” and as one “compassionate and merciful”; Jesus was referenced […]

Quakers, Shakers, and Mormons

posted by Dave Banack

One approach to understanding early Mormonism and its doctrines is to compare it with other denominations of the same period. In E. Brooks Holifield’s book Theology in America, Mormonism is covered in Chapter 16, “The Immediacy of Revelation,” which also […]

Early Mormon history, in pictures

posted by Dave Banack

A marvelous set of maps is posted at By Common Consent. This is a fine resource for those reading through the Doctrine and Covenants this year.

Big Love producer sounds off on Prop 8

posted by Dave Banack

And that producer is none other than Tom Hanks. Here’s Hanks, as quoted by Fox News: The truth is this [show] takes place in Utah, the truth is these people are some bizarre offshoot of the Mormon Church, and the […]

Not one soul lost

posted by Dave Banack

Jeff at Mormanity happens to be visiting New Jersey, only miles from where a heroic pilot brought a crippled airliner safely down into the Hudson River. He posted comments about the event: Avoiding bridges, buildings, cables, and boats, [the pilot] […]

Anti-Mormon sentiment?

posted by Dave Banack

At the Lynn v. Sekulow blog, “Anti-Mormon Sentiment At Focus on the Family?” The Rev. Barry Lynn takes the Focus on the Family site to task for marginalizing a posted interview with Glenn Beck once its readers realized that Beck […]

Big lectures are dying

posted by Dave Banack

From the NY Times, “At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard.” Increasingly, profs found the large-lecture approach was failing — even in classes with bright and engaged students. The article details the transition at MIT to an […]

Sullivan on blogging

posted by Dave Banack

I don’t always appreciate Andrew Sullivan’s approach, but I did enjoy his recent article in the Atlantic, “Why I Blog.” The intro blurb (and please, if you know the technical term for the italicized paragraph that appears between the headline […]

Peek inside a Mormon temple

posted by Dave Banack

The new LDS temple in Draper, Utah is running a public open house from January 15 through March 14. For an entertaining account by a journalist who recently took the tour, read Robert Kirby’s “What’s so secret about temples?“

Case will test Canadian polygamy

posted by Dave Banack

At the Salt Lake Tribune: “Arrested: Leaders of FLDS-linked Canadian polygamous sect.” According to the story, one of the men arrested is the leader of the FLDS community in Creston, British Columbia; the other leads a polygamous group in Creston […]

Huckabee still trying

posted by Dave Banack

Mike Huckabee is still trying to make amends for his unfortunate remark about Mormons during the presidential campaign (“Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”). His most recent attempt was in a national radio interview late last […]

Romney wins something

posted by Dave Banack

He didn’t get the GOP nomination and he didn’t get the VP slot, but Mitt Romney was named Mormon of the Year over at Times & Seasons. The Salt Lake Tribune ran a story on it, too. An argument could […]

Stop the presses

posted by Dave Banack

That’s what Signature Books is doing, according to its website. We have decided to take a brief hiatus (we’re calling it our recession hiatus) to add the complete texts of many of our titles to our Signature Books Library site–something […]

LDS blog portal upgrades

posted by Dave Banack

Nothing Wavering is still kicking and has recently added some new features, as announced by the fellow pulling the strings on the project. NW now offers its own blog, an NW Twitter channel that lists posts from selected LDS blogs, […]

A lot of Darwin

posted by Dave Banack

LDS Science Review reminds us that 2009 is the sesquicentennial of the first publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. The site provides links to several videos and articles of interest. I wonder if the BYU biology department will sponsor […]

Doctrine and politics

posted by Dave Banack

Here’s a short quote from Richard Rorty’s essay “Truth without Correspondence to Reality” for those who feel there is a tight link between politics and doctrine. Rorty uses the term “philosophy,” but I think the same argument holds true for […]

Mormon community

posted by Dave Banack

I’m off visiting family for a few days, which brings with it the pleasure of browsing someone else’s bookshelf. I came across Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels (1978), one of the early volumes in the excellent monograph series from BYU’s […]

Give a little bit

posted by Dave Banack

From Mild-Mannered Musings, “Mormons Give More,” summarizing a Christianity Today article that reports on the findings of three sociologists regarding charitable giving by denomination. The top three groups were Mormons, Pentecostals, and “other Protestants,” a category which appears to include […]

Does not play well with others

posted by Dave Banack

At the Salt Lake Tribune, “Focus pulls interview over Beck’s Mormon faith.” What a fine exhibition of the Christmas spirit of togetherness, tolerance, and good will. What was pulled was an interview with Beck about his recent book, The Christmas […]

Nauvoo Polygamy

posted by Dave Banack

I dropped a new book into slot one of my Now Reading list (on the sidebar), Nauvoo Polygamy: “… but we called it celestial marriage”, by George D. Smith. The title is certainly an orthographic challenge. I’ll save my own substantive […]

Under the microscope

posted by Dave Banack

Earlier I posted a link to the “year in review” post at the LDS Newsroom. Here’s a similar post at the Salt Lake Tribune, “A year of scrutiny for the LDS Church.” The article features extensive commentary by Philip Barlow, […]

The Mormon Trinity

posted by Dave Banack

This is the first of several posts on Blomberg and Robinson’s How Wide the Divide: A Mormon & an Evangelical in Conversation. The format of the book is its biggest strength — each chapter contains a joint conclusion in which […]

2008: LDS year in review

posted by Dave Banack

At the LDS Newroom, “2008: A Historic Year for the Church,” highlighting and discussing major LDS stories from 2008. The biggies: The passing of President Gordon B. Hinckley, with Thomas S. Monson becoming the 16th President of the Church shortly […]

New LDS journal

posted by Dave Banack

SquareTwo, an online journal hoping to foster informed discussion and development of LDS issues. The introductory essay by Richard Sherlock notes in particular that history and sociology have had their day in the sun as avenues of discussion; now it […]

Several thoughts on marriage and politics

posted by Dave Banack

For your weekly Prop 8 fix, here are some unusually thoughtful recent posts from the LDS group blog Zelophedad’s Daughters. “The Prop 8 Debate and the Fiction of the Autonomous Self,” starting with this provocative sentence: “The questionable premise I […]

Going Mobile

posted by Dave Banack

I’ve been offline with some holiday travel the last few days. I spent a couple of hours camping in the “cell phone park and wait” lot waiting for a delayed flight to arrive at the Salt Lake airport. Really, how […]

A red-state army?

posted by Dave Banack

At the Washington Post, an intriguing op-ed piece noting that per capita participation by citizens in our all-volunteer military varies widely by region and is concentrated in the red states. (You might find the SL Trib version easier to read.) […]

What kind of Mormon are you?

posted by Dave Banack

At The Lamanite, “Internet Mormons, Chapel Mormons, and Unity Amongst the Saints.” If you’re not familiar with the labels, the post is worth a read. You might also be interested in the classic 1967 essay by Richard D. Poll “What […]

Managing by the numbers

posted by Dave Banack

A post at Mormanity raises the question of the role of statistics in managing the LDS Church. Statistics are ubiquitous in congregations, stakes, and the Church as a whole. I understand why local and senior LDS leaders rely on statistics, […]

Christianity and equality

posted by Dave Banack

I recently ran across this transcript of remarks by Dinesh D’Souza, author of a variety of books, most recently What’s So Great About Christianity. While the New Atheists have become the darlings of the media, you have to dig around […]

The price of voting one’s conscience

posted by Dave Banack

… and making a political donation: at the LA Times, “A life thrown into turmoil by $100 donation for Prop. 8.” The LA Times continues to write interesting reflections on the continuing saga of Prop 8. The journalist refers to […]

On biblical criticism

posted by Dave Banack

At FPR, “What is biblical criticism?” The post gives the following list of approaches: source criticism, form criticism, tradtion-historical criticism, redaction criticism, social-scientific criticism, canonical criticism, rhetorical criticism, structural criticism, narrative criticism, reader-response criticism, poststructuralist criticism, feminist criticism, and socioeconomic […]

LDS-based high school?

posted by Dave Banack

At the Daily Herald: “Business booming at Utah’s only LDS-based private high school.” I’m not familiar with this school so I won’t add much commentary. The LDS Church pretty much stays out of the school debate. It uses its financial […]

Looking for topics

posted by Dave Banack

I’m open to suggestions or requests from readers who have questions or topics of interest related to Mormonism or current LDS events — just leave a comment. I plan to get to the promised posts on How Wide the Divide […]

Writing tips for the unreflective blogger

posted by Dave Banack

At the Red Brick Store, “So You Want to Get Published? A Few Writing Tips,” a compact list of useful pointers for writers. Yes, if you are a blogger, you are a writer. It’s the bottom of the barrel, self-edited […]

Poetic Animal Magnetism

posted by Dave Banack

At Hieing to Kolob, “Why I Would Totally Have Slept With Joseph Smith.” Just about anything gets Mormon feminists upset, but not much makes them uncomfortable. This post will. I suppose it will make almost any Mormon reader squirm a […]

Mad at the LDS Church

posted by Dave Banack

No time for commentary this morning, but here are more Prop 8 stories from across the full range of the opinion spectrum: “Why we’re mad at the Mormon church,” by an LA Times columnist. I believe the “we” in the […]

Culture and tradition

posted by Dave Banack

From the newish blog The Liberal Mormon That Could, run by an “irreverent twenty-something wannabe writer,” a post titled “Wading Through Cultural Waters,” with reflections on the following question: What is the difference between culture, tradition and doctrine?

Your crunchy quotient

posted by Dave Banack

I stumbled across Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing natrue lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party) at the local […]

Some Prop 8 answers

posted by Dave Banack

In an effort to improve the signal-to-noise ratio in the Prop 8 comment threads, here is a link to comments by a California law prof posted shortly after the election. A couple of key paragraphs: Note that Prop 8 does […]

Books for under the tree

posted by Dave Banack

Here are links to three recent discussions of LDS books that might make it under your Christmas tree this year, either in the traditional manner (you buy it for a loved one) or the modern guaranteed-to-get-it-right style (you buy it, […]

Are Mormons the victims?

posted by Dave Banack

At the LA Times, of all places: “Are Mormons the victims in the Prop 8 fight?” I’m not sure I agree with the framing of the story — it seems to imply that every story, even a political story, must […]

A short tour of LDS blogs

posted by Dave Banack

Latter-day Commentary provides a short tour of about twenty LDS blogs, emphasizing solo blogs and newsy sites. There were several blogs mentioned in the post that were new to me.

A quick look at Making Sense of the D&C

posted by Dave Banack

Making Sense of the Doctrine & Covenants: A Guided Tour Through Modern Revelations by Steven C. Harper has just been published by Deseret Book, just in time for the 2009 course of study in LDS adult Sunday School. I haven’t read […]

First volume of Joseph Smith Papers published

posted by Dave Banack

And on sale at a bookstore near you, if you live in Utah, or at Amazon, if you don’t. Keepapitchinin provides excellent commentary. The LDS Newsroom has posted an article giving additional details. It starts out: The inaugural volume of […]

Fame

posted by Dave Banack

A little bit, anyway: An online interview I did with a Deseret News journalist is featured in this week’s Bloggernacle Back Bench column at the Mormon Times. And a special welcome to any new visitors who followed links from the […]

Updated statement on evolution?

posted by Dave Banack

At LDS Science Review, a call to update the 1909 First Presidency statement “The Origin of Man” during its centennial year of 2009. That seems like a fine idea, although any update would require consensus among senior LDS leaders on […]

Robinson on science and faith

posted by Dave Banack

At Get Religion, a short post on the views of novelist Marilynne Robinson. She is the rare mainstream novelist who continues to incorporate serious religious chraracters into her stories. Her comment on the current rhetorical battle between science and religion: […]

Blomberg looks back

posted by Dave Banack

At Summa Theologica, a real treat: discussion of and links to the video of a presentation by Dr. Craig Blomberg relating how he came to collaborate with Dr. Steven Robinson of BYU in their interfaith dialogue book How Wide the […]

A visit to Temple Square

posted by Dave Banack

While in Salt Lake City this afternoon, I managed to fit in a visit to Temple Square for a couple of hours. It’s always fun to visit the center place of Mormonism (which is a rather different category than “sacred […]

Correcting Misguided Rights Talk

posted by Dave Banack

Funny what post-election behavior reveals about people. Republicans who lost the presidential race are quietly supporting a smooth transition of power to the incoming Obama administration; Prop 8 opponents are busy organizing angry marches and targeting Mormons for retribution, using […]

Recession? What recession?

posted by Dave Banack

We’re here in Utah for Thanksgiving. I was part of the group shopping expedition to Salt Lake today. The parking lots were full and there were people in the stores. I managed to suppress the urge to buy while browsing […]

Thanksgiving cheer

posted by Dave Banack

We missed the deer but got the turkey. I’m now basking in that pleasant two-hour lull between dinner and pie, with nothing particularly clever to add about this uniquely American family holiday. If you’re looking for clever, here are a few links […]

Is there a Mormon image problem?

posted by Dave Banack

Gary Lawrence thinks so, as related in an SL Trib piece. He’s the author of a new book, How Americans View Mormonism: Seven Steps to Improve Our Image. Lawrence, a pollster, sampled a thousand people. Here’s the bad news: Forty-three percent […]

Are Mormons the new Catholics?

posted by Dave Banack

That question pops out of a guest post at A Motley Vision in a quote from an NPR review of Twilight, the movie I know you’re just dying to see this weekend.  I don’t imagine Mormons would be any happier […]

Huckabee redux, or trying to do the right thing

posted by Dave Banack

At Hugh Hewitt, “A Conversation With Mike Huckabee,” including a text transcript of the entire interview. Governor Huckabee is promoting his new book, Do the Right Thing. The most interesting part of the interview, however, concerned his infamous remark suggesting […]

Three rules of religious understanding

posted by Dave Banack

Krister Stendahl died earlier this year (hat tip: Lehi’s Library). He was a Swedish scholar and theologian, and also served for a period as the Lutheran Bishop of Stockholm. In LDS circles, he is fondly remembered as the author of […]

Race and apology: the example of BJU

posted by Dave Banack

According to a recent AP story, Bob Jones University has issued a statement apologizing for its past race policies. Before 1971 it did not admit black students and there was a school policy against interracial dating until 2000. The full […]

A Prop 8 manifesto

posted by Dave Banack

Posted by one of the bloggers at Feminist Mormon Housewives: “My Prop 8 Manifesto.” There are two stories about the Prop 8 campaign and passage that are rumbling through media stories and LDS blogs. One is the post-election targeting of Mormons […]

At On Faith, where’s the beef?

posted by Dave Banack

A post at Get Religion takes the sprawling On Faith site to task for offering all opinion and no news: “Old questions on news and ‘On Faith’.” GR’s beef is that the world is full of religion news and journalists […]

LDS Newsroom responds on Prop 8

posted by Dave Banack

In “Measured Voices Provide Reason, Support Amidst Proposition 8 Reaction,” the LDS Newsroom has posted a half-dozen selections from columns and editorials supporting the LDS Church as it weathers sustained criticism from noisy Prop 8 opponents.  One of the excerpts […]

Calendar Guy appeals for his diploma

posted by Dave Banack

In the Salt Lake Tribune: “Mormon excommunicated over calendar appeals for BYU diploma.” Mr. Hardy’s attorney sent a letter to BYU appealing BYU’s refusal to award the diploma. There was also a second letter sent to the LDS Church, asking […]

God and football in Utah

posted by Dave Banack

A dangerous combination, according to the New York Times: “BYU and Utah Share a Rivalry With a Deeper Meaning.”

Feeling the heat

posted by Dave Banack

In the LA Times: “Mormon church feels the heat over Proposition 8.” It starts out: In June, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a fateful decision. They called on California Mormons to donate their time […]

Prop 8: The aftermath

posted by Dave Banack

The high profile role that members of the LDS Church played in the Yes on 8 campaign in California continues to generate news.  One of the milder online pieces is “Pro-Liberty, Not Anti-Mormon” at On Faith, by a writer and “civil […]

First Beliefnet post

posted by Dave Banack

After almost five years of blogging at the old Typepad site, I am pleased to move Mormon Inquiry here to Beliefnet and publish new posts to a wider audience. I will still be addressing the steady parade of LDS stories […]

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Mormon Inquiry. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Most Recent Mormon Story on Beliefnet Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent ...

posted 2:21:45pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

The meanings of Zion
This is the third post on Richard L. Bushman's Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2008). [See Part 1 and Part 2.] In Chapter Three, Bushman reviews the several meanings of the term "Zion" in LDS doctrine and thinking. The Mormon ...

posted 11:00:37pm Jul. 29, 2009 | read full post »

A statistical portrait of Mormons
The Pew Forum recently issued a detailed summary of survey information about Mormons gathered as part of a much larger survey of religious life in the United States. It is a very readable summary, noting that Mormons comprise 1.7% of adults in ...

posted 12:33:08pm Jul. 29, 2009 | read full post »

July 24th: Pioneer Day in Utah
July 24th is a state holiday in Utah, designated Pioneer Day. It commemorates the entry of the first wagon train of Mormons into the Salt Lake Valley in the summer of 1847. They came down Emigration Canyon, somewhat north of the present I-80 ...

posted 5:38:50pm Jul. 23, 2009 | read full post »

Finding heretics in strange places
A very interesting post at Mormon Matters, reviewing a 1989 book titled "Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up?" The book was written by an attorney who grew up a Jehovah's Witness, then became an Evangelical Christian. That lasted until he ...

posted 6:27:09pm Jul. 22, 2009 | read full post »

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