Mormon Inquiry

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 is time for theology and public policy issues to move to the center of the Mormon Studies conversation.

Here’s a paragraph that illustrates Sherlock’s call for a more rigorous discussion on these topics:

We need the lineup and the bench strength to think through Mormon theology with commitment and rigor, to propose answers to this important question, and to defend such answers against alternatives advanced by Mormon and non-Mormon thinkers alike. A thorough reflection on these fundamentals is needed to prepare us to tackle the pressing issues of today’s world. Only a few are now prepared to undertake these tasks. There are not nearly enough Mormons with both the religious commitment and the philosophical rigor to make a serious commitment to this endeavor. Those who serve in the Church education system rightly understand their work as preaching the Restored Gospel, not philosophizing. Many historians confuse history with serious theology, a very different intellectual discipline. Many lay writers confuse personal essays, pop psychology and doctrinal once-overs with theology. Many other writers expound “doctrine” without ever raising the foundational question of whether what they so confidently expound makes sense scripturally, philosophically or morally. [My emphasis.]

I’m guessing the bolded sentence is an aside directed at independent Mormon publications and journals that feature their fair share of personal essays, pop psychology, and doctrinal once-overs rather than at blogs. But a good chunk of those who contribute to independent Mormon journals are academics, not lay writers. And in a church without theologians or a professional clergy, aren’t we all lay writers?

This looks like an amibitious attempt to create some badly needed public discussion by Latter-day Saints with something to contribute to the debate. Making it a free online publication is a nice decision. I plan to comment on some of the other articles from the first issue in coming weeks.