Broader Dialogue

McMurrin-email-imageDialogue readers, take note!
The Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah is proud to present a unique symposium on April 11-12, 2014, titled “Faith and Reason, Conscience and Conflict: The Paths of Lowell Bennion, Sterling McMurrin, and Obert Tanner.” All events are free and open to the public. Complete information and symposium schedule available at www.thc.utah.edu. This symposium marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Obert C. and Grace A. Tanner Humanities Center.

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printAs I’ve thought about this, I have come up with an idea that might be helpful for people troubled by their internet-based discoveries about the Church. I am going to call this the “Dialogue diet.” What I propose is a program of reading (with some skimming and skipping allowed, of course) the entire print run of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. (You can start at the beginning and work your way forward, or start with the most recent issue and work your way backward, I don’t think it really matters very much which direction you go.) My thinking behind this is as follows:

Just telling someone to “become extremely well read in Mormonism” is less than helpful. Your average member simply would have no idea where to start on such a quest, and the task would seem so overwhelming as to be self-defeating from the start. Reading Dialogue from stem to stern is at least a very well defined task.

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shawnThe most common reading of Jacob 5 involves the history of the House of Israel. What follows is another approach to that allegory. This is not meant at all to replace the standard readings; it is just another approach.

Jacob 5 includes a contrast between tame and wild olive trees. The tame trees seem sure and steady, but they also prone to becoming listless, almost lethargic. The wild trees seem to brim with life and energy, but display a propensity to lack focus for that vitality. When the tame trees begin to decay, the Lord of the vineyard wants them to produce new life in the form of young, tender branches (Jacob 5:4). When this is only somewhat successful, the Lord of the vineyard determines to graft the tame branches with the wild branches (versus 7-8). What seems obvious from this is how the Lord of the vineyard seeks to keep the best of the tame branches, perhaps their good fruit and stability, and combine that with the vibrant energy of the wild branches.

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printAs I’ve thought about this, I have come up with an idea that might be helpful for people troubled by their internet-based discoveries about the Church. I am going to call this the “Dialogue diet.” What I propose is a program of reading (with some skimming and skipping allowed, of course) the entire print run of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. (You can start at the beginning and work your way forward, or start with the most recent issue and work your way backward, I don’t think it really matters very much which direction you go.) My thinking behind this is as follows:

Just telling someone to “become extremely well read in Mormonism” is less than helpful. Your average member simply would have no idea where to start on such a quest, and the task would seem so overwhelming as to be self-defeating from the start. Reading Dialogue from stem to stern is at least a very well defined task.

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Dr. Philip Barlow exclaims “The Joseph Smith in our heads is too small!” in this newest podcast recorded at the Miller-Eccles Group in February. As explained at the website: that is an astounding claim, given the international derision and devotion he has inspired among millions. Yet the scope, nature, and radicalism of his prophetic project is more vast and more radical than his followers or critics generally grasp. He was correct in more ways than he may have intended when he said, “No man knows my history.”

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David Bokovoy discusses various aspects of biblical scholarship in this new Miller-Eccles presentation. As Morris Thurston explains “This timely presentation will be a great way to kick off the year of Old Testament study in your Gospel Doctrine class.”

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Cross-posted at By Common Consent by Blair Hodges

cover-mouwLast week, popular Christian evangelist Ravi Zacharias returned to Salt Lake City to address Mormons and other Christians from the Tabernacle pulpit. Back in 2004, Zacharias’s historic Tabernacle address was overshadowed in the news by Richard Mouw’s controversial introductory remarks. Mouw, president of the Fuller Theological Seminary, issued an apology to Mormons on behalf of evangelicals who he said had sinned against Mormonism by misrepresenting their beliefs and practices. Over the past decade, the evangelical (Calvinist) Christian has continued to dialog with various Mormons in order to promote better interfaith relationships. During the last two presidential elections he became one of the many go-to sources for news outlets seeking soundbites on evangelical views of Mormonism. He’s taken a lot of heat for this within his religious community–early on being told that he didn’t know Mormons well enough and so would easily be deceived by them, later being told he had become too close to Mormons to have a clear view of their dangerous heresies.

His new book Talking with Mormons: An Invitation to Evangelicals is an effort to educate the evangelical community about his ongoing work with Mormonism.

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With the developments in Utah this past week and the intense discussions on same-sex marriage swirling around, we decided to release Wilfried Decoo’s “As Our Two Faiths Have Worked Together”—Catholicism and Mormonism on Human Life Ethics and Same-Sex Marriage” from the new Fall 2013 issue for everyone to enjoy.

Decoo finds that “although the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church stand at first glance on common ground in human life ethics, even there the differences are substantial. Giving each other occasional support in publicly debated matters of ‘morality,’ such as with Proposition 8, turns out to be a perilous endeavor. As soon as the differences come into play, the one church cannot support the other anymore, such as with ESCR or with birth control insurance coverage. To what extent the positions on same-sex marriage may diverge in the future remains to be seen, but the various factors mentioned in this article indicate that the Mormon Church is prone to respond more flexibly to social change and human needs.”

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If I could only have one recording of Christmas music, this performance of Vaughan Williams’ Hodie would be it. Christmas for me is Milton in the voice of Janet Baker, and Hardy and Herbert in John Shirley-Quirk’s lugubrious baritone.

Text: John Milton–from Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity

It was the winter wild
While the heaven-born Child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature in awe to Him
Had doff’d her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize:

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By Blair Hodges
Cross-posted at By Common Consent

webbcover-198x300What if Joseph Smith’s vision of God really does have something important to say to all Christians today?“
— Stephen H. Webb

The recent “Mormon moment” exasperated theologian Stephen Webb. It wasn’t that Mitt Romney’s presidential run lent undue legitimacy to the LDS Church, or that Webb thought the media went too soft on the religious background of the Republican nominee. Although he is not a Mormon himself, Webb was unnerved by shallow discussions about Mormon underwear and other apparent trivialities. According to Webb, such conversations fail to pay due attention to Mormon metaphysics—the way Mormons understand the nature of matter, humans, God, and existence. His new book, Mormon Christianity, explores the development and coherence of this core belief taught by Joseph Smith: “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes…” (D&C 131:7). Mormons make no ultimate distinction between spirit and matter, the natural and supernatural, which largely sets them apart from the broader Christian tradition. ”The Mormon imagination is solidly grounded in material reality,” writes Webb, “but it takes the physical world to new and unheard-of heights” (10). Webb believes Christian lungs can benefit from the rarefied air of these heights.

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In what is sure to be a popular podcast, Robert Kirby spends an evening at the recent Miller Eccles gathering regaling the audience with amusing story after story–with a delightful dash of unconventional testimony.

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Current Issue

Volume 46, No. 4 Winter 2013
Dialogue, a Journal of Mormon Thought


 

 

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