About Ivan Wolfe

Ivan Wolfe teaches rhetoric at Arizona State University. He has a PhD in English from the University of Texas - Austin, and a BA and MA in English (with minors in Classical Greek, Music, and Philosophy) from BYU. He has several credits on various Christmas albums aimed at the LDS market, several essays in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series, and various book reviews in academic and popular venues. He also competes in Scottish Highland Games and mud run/obstacle course races, and he can deadlit over double his bodyweight (his last PR was over 500 pounds). He is currently married to Lisa Renee Wolfe. He has six kids and four stepkids.

Father Brown’s thought of the day

“There is,” said Father Brown dryly; “and that is the real difference between human charity and Christian charity. You must forgive me if I was not altogether crushed by your contempt for my uncharitableness today; or by the lectures you read me about pardon for every sinner. For it seems to me that you only pardon the sins that you don’t really think sinful. You only forgive criminals when they commit what you don’t regard as crimes, but rather as conventions. So you tolerate a conventional duel, just as you tolerate a conventional divorce. You forgive because there isn’t anything to be forgiven . . . Go on your own primrose path pardoning all your favorite vices and being generous to your fashionable crimes; and leave us in the darkness, vampires of the night, to console those who really need consolation”
–THE CHIEF MOURNER OF MARNE, G.K. Chesterton

Pity for the Promiscuous

Jeff G. has posted a response of sorts to a certain strain of argument that seems to carry the day among a certain class of Mormons.

I’m not going to repeat his arguments.  Instead, I have a different take, because I think people can be fooled by these arguments, since they seem so warm, fuzzy, and compassionate.  However, these arguments are actually quite pernicious, and their ultimate end point is to undermine the gospel.

To illustrate, I’m going to just reword part of one argument:

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Relevance?

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu offers some very relevant advice on retreating.

Paraphrased, he states that when attacking an enemy, you should leave them a way to retreat.  This has two advantages – if planned right, you can set up an ambush on the retreat path.  However, if you can’t do that, it’s best to allow them some means of escape, lest the enemy, knowing they must either fight or die, rise to heroic actions and do serious damage.

Similarly, if your army is hemmed in with no mean of retreat, let your soldiers know this, so that they might rise to heroic actions and perhaps even pull off a win.

It seems to me these principles have relevance to several current battles in the “culture wars.”

Rudyard Kipling, updated.

(the following doesn’t quite scan, compared to the original.  This is on purpose).

Take up the Liberal Mormon’s burden, Send forth the best with degrees
Go risk your fates to excommunication, to serve your lessers’ needs;
To wait in heavy harness, On un-nuanced folk and mild–
Your orthodox, hide-bound Mormons, Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the Liberal Mormon’s burden, In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of Peterson And check his show of pride;
By open speech and academic, An hundred times made nuanced
To seek progressive profit, And work against the prophet
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Religion Courses at BYU: embrace the change!

The Mormon blog sphere (I’ve decided there’s no real “Bloggernacle” anymore, it’s too divided and Balkanized to have such a unifying name anymore) has been abuzz about the recent changes at BYU for the religious class requirements. Generally, the consensus has been that this is a bad thing – even those not totally shocked have only offered a very qualified “wait and see” approach.

I, however, think the changes are (probably, likely) a good thing.

For those who came in late: Continue reading