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

Book Review: Nothing New Under the Sun, by Adam S. Miller

Just over a year ago, I reviewed Adam S. Mller’s recently released great little book, “Grace is not God’s Backup Plan”, a new paraphrase of the book of Romans, which helped to explain grace in useful terms.

Now, Adam does a similar paraphrase, but on what is perhaps the most dismal and depressing book in the Bible: Ecclesiastes. In fact, the full title of the book is, “Nothing New Under the Sun: a Blunt Paraphrase of Ecclesiastes“.  The word, “blunt” is very apt, as the Preacher does not mince words. Thankfully, Adam takes the teachings of the Preacher and paraphrases them, updating them to our day and expounding from within the paraphrase the key points of each chapter.

In my study and blogging on Ecclesiastes, I’ve noted how bleak the Preacher is. Adam, however, may have found the silver lining. He explains that while the Preacher does teach that there is “nothing new under the Sun” and that “all is vanity”, it is this very hopelessness that makes the book so important.

Discussing the human desire to avoid hardships, pessimism, and crassness (all found in Ecclesiastes), he notes: “But the cost of avoidance is high. As Paul insists, in order to become Christian, we must first learn to be hopeless. Hopelessness is the door to Zion.”

This immediately made me think of the prophecies of the last days, in which Zion will be established.

And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.

And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. (D&C 45:67-68)

In this instance, the hope of Zion only comes after there is no other hope. And so it is with Adam’s paraphrase. Ecclesiastes means hopelessness, until combined with Paul’s teachings on hope and grace.

As with his paraphrase of Romans, his short discussion on Ecclesiastes is followed by a powerful paraphrase of each chapter. In fact, he shares it twice, once as prose and the second separated by verse.

For anyone wanting to better understand this ancient work, and how it aptly applies to our materialistic world today, I highly recommend this book, as well as Adam’s previous book, “Grace is Not God’s Backup Plan.

You may also want to read Adam’s excellent book, “Letters to a Young Mormon

Book Review: A Reason for Faith

Book Review: A Reason for Faith – Navigating LDS Doctrine and Church History,
    editor: Laura Harris Hales

May 9, 2016 (4)

On February 26, 2016, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles spoke to all Institute and Seminary teachers across the world. Noting the wonderful developments in CES over the past century, he then said that he is more keenly interested in the next century of training the young minds of the Church in religious doctrine and testimony. Elder Ballard then gave an important warning and guidance on the needs of the new century:

“Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and a teacher responded, “Don’t worry about it!” Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue. Gone are the days when students were protected from people who attacked the Church. Fortunately, the Lord provided this timely and timeless counsel to you teachers: “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”

“This is especially applicable today because not all of your students have the faith necessary to face the challenges ahead and because many of them are already exposed through the Internet to corrosive forces of an increasingly secular world that is hostile to faith, family, and gospel standards. The Internet is expanding its reach across the world into almost every home and into the very hands and minds of your students.” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, An Evening with a General Authority)

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Sodom and Gomorrah

I do not have a problem with people choosing LGBTQ lifestyles. I personally believe government should be out of the marriage business, and do not care if gays marry, or even if polygamy is legalized. I do consider traditional marriage as approved and blessed of God, but that is outside the confines liberty, IMHO.

That said, I think about what the scholar Harold Bloom wrote about Sodom and Gomorrah. The cities were not destroyed because of homosexuality. Instead, they were destroyed because they sought to impose their wickedness upon others by force, what Bloom called incivility. Continue reading

Book Review: The Reluctant Polygamist, by Meg Stout

Note: This is a book review of The Reluctant Polygamist, by Meg Stout. This book will be released within the next few weeks.  Meg has posted an offer for a limited autographed edition at a discount.

RP Cover

As a historian, I frequently find intriguing stories told by others with interesting interpretations of the data.  When there is much quality data available, most scholars will tend to agree on the interpretation of that data.

Sadly for us, the issue of polygamy in the early Church (Kirtland and Nauvoo) was often shrouded in secrecy and mystery. Most discussions regarding it were not written down until decades later, often in second, third or even fourth hand accounts. Even then, many of the accounts were filled with suppositions or only half-told hints, leaving modern historians to attempt to fill in the blank spaces. Continue reading