Seeing Joseph More Clearly – What I Perceive

Pluto 3 Resolutions

From the time Pluto was discovered in 1930, we had only the fuzziest images of the fascinating celestial body. The highest resolution images came from the Hubble telescope (image on far left). As the New Horizons space probe sent back images, space enthusiasts were excited to see hints of details that explained the asymmetries seen with the Hubble telescope. When New Horizons passed within 8,000 miles of Pluto in July 2015, the clarity with which we could now see Pluto was absolutely thrilling.

I’ve felt that same kind of Eureka! moment as I come to better understand Joseph Smith and the details of his actions and teachings regarding Celestial marriage. In the past I was blogging about things every week, and so you would hear what I was learning. Then I stepped back to write it up as a book, and have since been preparing for the June edition I’ll push out right before the Mormon History Association Conference.

As I’ve sifted through and polished, I can now see some clear patterns that were obscured even as recently as last year. Continue reading

Guest post: lazy reporting on the BYU rape scandal

This is a guest post by Michael Davidson.

Madi Barney, who up until recently was a BYU student, was completely unknown to me until last month. It was then that she publicly announced that she had been raped and proclaimed that BYU was punishing her for this. News headlines from around the world proclaimed: “Student: BYU used Honor Code to punish me for getting raped” (CBS News); “Brigham Young Students Say University’s Honor Code Made Them Afraid to Report Sexual Assaults” (ABC News); “BYU erupts in protest as student is suspended for violating the school’s honor code by ‘reporting rape to local police’” Daily Mail (UK); and “BYU Punished a Rape Victim for Breaking Their ‘Honor Code,’ Student Claims.” (Vice.com) However, none of this rung true to me and I just knew that there was more to this story than was being reported.

Below, I am going to endeavor to cut through the spin and fog of political correctness to set forth the facts as they have been reported in the local and national media. I am doing this because the media generally has either decided to ignore the facts, or has been too lazy to get to the bottom of the story. Instead, they are content to spend their collective time advocating for amendment of the Honor Code at BYU. The result of this is that no one is looking critically at Madi Barney or questioning the veracity of her claims. This allows the media to tell a simple story, that Madi Barney is being punished for being a rape victim. But, a fair reading of the facts does not support this conclusion. This is why the facts have been so hard to come by … because the facts simply go against the narrative and lead reasonable minds to conclude that Ms. Barney was violating the Honor Code well before her alleged rape.

Continue reading

Before the Beginning

Creación de Adán (Miguel Ángel)

The origin of individuals, as perceived by Mormons, is radically different from any other religion. I realized this anew this past week, when searching for the term that would correspond to eschatology (from the Greek for “last study”). Eschatology is the study of the end of life, whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, or the end of the world and our entrance into the Kingdom of God.

I wanted to use a recognizable religious term for the study of man’s beginnings.

I could not find such a term.

The term should be protatology (from the Greek for “first study”). The word protatology doesn’t exist. [Turns out the term is protology – Thanks gundek! You have to be careful though, because auto spell functions will always turn protology into proctology. So it’s obviously still an obscure word.] The closest common term for the study of origins is cosmology, which discusses the origin of the universe for different belief systems.

Joseph Smith’s teachings regarding our existence before birth are truly radical. And I mean this in the best possible way. Continue reading

Book Review: Adam S. Miller’s Future Mormon

Book Review: Future Mormon, Essays in Mormon Theology, by Adam S. Miller

When I first saw the title for this book, Future Mormon, I immediately thought of the title of another book I first read as a teenager in the 1970s, Future Shock by Alvin Toffler.  In Toffler’s book, he describes a future of rapid change, much of it caused by advancing technology, which he sees as causing psychological stress and instability in a society that struggles to keep up with all of the change.

Welcome to the present.  Welcome to 21st century Mormonism. Continue reading

Economic Protectionism and a Certain Experience with Apostle Smoot

(This is a guest post by Michael Davidson. He is an attorney by profession but has a degree in economics and loves the subject. He also has many friends in Canada, including many who spend considerable time at Fort Mac, and for whom he is really concerned.)

Those of you who did their undergraduate studies at BYU will likely remember a general education course called American Heritage. This course was a survey course that was one-third US History, one-third US government/politics and one-third US economics. It was a required course for every undergraduate, and so it tended to be taught in a large lecture hall with hundreds of students. This was not appealing to me, so I was delighted to find one section that was taught in a smaller classroom. The hitch was that it was intended for Canadian students. I signed up anyway, thinking that the worst thing that could happen would be that I would have to drop the class and enroll in one of the monster sections.

I am so glad I took this class. It was taught by a fellow named Delbert Palmer who I became good friends with by the end of the semester. He was an older gentleman, and had been a businessman in Lethbridge, Alberta for many years but had never gotten a university degree. (He had also been the first mission president in Chile in the early 1960’s, but that is another story entirely.) When he retired from his businesses, he decided to enroll at BYU and finally earn his degree, which he did. While he was there he further took it upon himself to teach this section of American Heritage for mostly Canadian students, and a few select Canada-philes (like myself) without pay as a hobby. It was American Heritage, but with a comparative twist. While learning about the US Constitution, we compared it with the Canadian Constitution for instance. It was an amazing course.

One day, we were discussing the Great Depression and the various causes of it. One of the many things touched on was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. Continue reading