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.

So – help me follow the prophet here.

This is not to complain, just asking for help from the M* audience.  How do I avoid “Mormon” without being super clunky?

For example, in the past, I have published two article on the TV Show Battlestar Galactica.  One was titled “Why Your Mormon Neighbor Knows More About This Show Than You Do” and the other was “Epistemology and Ontology in BSG and Mormonism.”

Now, “Why Your Neighbor who belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Knows More about this show than you do” is waaaaaaaaaaaaay to clunky of a a name.  Even saying “Latter-day Saint Neighbor” is a bit too much, and it doesn’t include the name of the savior.

“Latter-day Saint theology” would also avoid the name of the savior, but “Epistemology and Ontology in BSG and the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is also far too long and clunky.  It makes for a terrible title, especially on an academic conference program (one reason I’m not sure about Pres. Nelson’s optimism that the media will come along – “Mormon” is just too short and concise when it comes to headlines – sort of like how “Catholic” would probably stay the default even if the Pope started insisting on  “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” as the default).

Anyway, I’m at a loss, but if anyone has suggestions, I would like to hear them.

BYUtv’s Extinct.

[This started out as a comment on facebook that I then expanded into a post there.  I decided I could expand it a bit more and post it here as well].

BYUtv’s new sci-fi series (free on BYUtv’s app, no registration required) is, so far, pretty strong. It is not great (though it is fairly good). There is plenty to complain about if you want to go that route (the acting talent is uneven, the pacing is too slow at times, some shots linger a little too long, green screen backgrounds are a little too obvious, dialogue is occasionally on the nose), but given that this is a small, independent production with a limited budget from what is essentially a regional TV station, it exceeds expectations. Continue reading

A quote worth pondering

From N.T. Wright, an Anglican theologian and our modern day C.S. Lewis:

A footnote on sexual behaviour in Paul’s world. If one looks at the ancient world there is of course evidence of same-sex behaviour in many contexts and settings. But it is noticeable that the best-known evidence comes from the high imperial days of Athens on the one hand and the high imperial days of Rome on the other (think of Nero, and indeed Paul may have been thinking of Nero). I have argued elsewhere against the view that Paul was quiescent politically, that he held a strong implicit and sometimes explicit critique of pagan empire in general and of Rome in particular; and clearly denunciation of pagan sexual behaviour was part of that (e.g. Philippians 3.19– 21).

I just wonder if there is any mileage in cultural analysis of homosexual behaviour as a feature of cultures which themselves multiply and degenerate in the way that great empires are multiply degenerate, with money flowing in, arrogance and power flowing out, systemic violence on the borders and systematic luxury at the centre. Part of that imperial arrogance in our own day, I believe, is the insistence that we, the empire, the West, America, or wherever, are in a position to tell the societies that we are already exploiting in a thousand different ways that they should alter their deep-rooted moralities to accommodate our newly invented ones. There is something worryingly imperial about the practice itself and about the insistence on everybody else endorsing it. It is often said that the poor want justice while the rich want peace. We now have a situation where two-thirds of the world wants debt relief and one-third wants sex. That is, I think, a tell-tale sign that something is wrong at a deep structural level.

Wright, N. T.. Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978-2013 (p. 267). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

Book Review: “Dime Novel Mormons”

[Yes, this is the 3rd review M* has done of this book. You should read the review anyway.]

When I was a kid, I read a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories that was mostly unabridged, and I have been hooked on Holmes ever since.  However, there was one small bit of abridgment that I overlooked at the time (looking back at the book – my mom still has it – there was a footnote mentioning this) where the “Mormon” parts of A Study in Scarlet were taken out, with the reasoning that those chapters didn’t deal with Holmes.

Fast forward a decade and a half (give or take a few years), and I’m on a mission for the LDS (Mormon) church.  When out looking for people to teach, suddenly everyone is asking us about The Avenging Angel and Danites, saying things like “you guys have one whacked out history, dudes!”  The one time I broke mission rules (I was a pretty strait-laced, rule keeping guy, which often caused massive amounts of conflicts with my companions, especially since the president would deliberately give me slacker, disobedient companions so I could “whip them into shape” – ugh, not fun; anyway back to the review . . .) was watching that movie, just so I could see what everyone was talking about. Continue reading