Author Archives: jupiterschild

Process-ease and other Linguistic Pet Peeves

I’m not a prescriptivist when it comes to language. That is, when a foreign-speaking missionary comes home from a mission correcting everyone’s grammar, people are correct (imo) to be turned off by it (this usually assumes, as prescriptivists have throughout time, that English should work like Latin, Greek, or some other language). This “correct” English itself would have been considered a bastardization not too terribly long ago. Split infinitives don’t bother me (though I try to really not use them), and I’m even okay with everyone bringing their books. You’ll hear me gleeflully postpositioning prepositions, at least when appropriate to the audience I’m speaking to, and I’ve certainly transitioned to verbing nouns.

But there are some things that I’d like to correct, for reasons other than to preserve grammar.*

Public enemy #1: “Processeez”: Continue reading

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Provo-based Media and the Priesthood Ban

SCANDAL! Read on for details…

Given the many posts in the ‘nacle devoted to Sunday’s 30-year anniversary of the priesthood ban, I was surprised at the lack of attention given the anniversary in the Provo-based Daily Herald. Saturday, June 7th’s paper had a small (one-column) below-the-fold article noting the anniversary, while just under the Daily Herald’s logo at the top of the paper was a giant headline announcing the “Life and Style” section’s full-page article on Mack Wilberg’s taking the helm of the Tabernacle Choir. I do believe more was done in the online version,[1] but given the way this particular newspaper pitches to the LDS crowd, I find the lack of attention curious. Do they assume their readers would be upset by too much attention? Uninterested?

And I wonder if this seeming stance is at all related to perceptions promulgated recently by BYU’s top Religious Education professors in a discussion to air on KBYU this Sunday morning. They appear to defend (create?) a doctrinal basis for the priesthood ban. This was called to the ‘Nacle’s attention by David G at Juvenile Instructor. In the discussion that ensued, a call was made to petition KBYU not to broadcast the episode.

I don’t want to poach discussion from JI. [Go there and participate!] What I want to ask is what perspective is this answering? Does this represent tangible residues lingering from the Priesthood Ban, residues that the church has tried to denounce? Is it an attempt to counter the arguments that Brigham Young and Joseph Smith were simply racist?

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[1] I found this “vignette” of Darius Gray online, with the note that it ran on Saturday June 7th on A2, but in my (Provo-Orem) copy of the Herald there was no such article printed.

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Filed under Doctrine, Marginalia

Introducing Secco

We’d like to welcome our newest guest blogger! Secco enjoys European breads, pastries, and all things chocolate (which fits in well over here). Secco is, as you may have already seen from the regular comments, full of interesting takes on scripture and Mormonism, and we look forward to the discussion that will no doubt be generated by this blogger’s presence. Welcome!

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What you have to explain without the Documentary Hypothesis

Last year I tried to give sure-fire evidence from a single chapter in Exodus supporting the claim that the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible were arranged from multiple sources. One negative response to my three-part post came from Julie M. Smith over at Times and Seasons.* She said, essentially, that if this was the extent of the evidence for the Documentary Hypothesis, she’d lost her faith in what she’d been taught during her Master’s Degree in New Testament studies. In the discussion of her post that ensued, the disagreement centered on the existence of possible alternative explanations for the material I was discussing. I argued that we have clear evidence that Deuteronomy knew only one version of Moses’ re-ascent of Sinai (Horeb) preserved, in integrated fashion, in Exodus 34. The only logical explanation for this is that the author of Deuteronomy (not Moses) had before him two distinct sources (or one of the two), which he incorporated into his own source. On the other side, people including Julie argued that this is not the only (nor, I assume they meant to say, the best) explanation of the phenomenon. After all, because our literary sensitivities differ from those of the ancient world, we don’t have license to go carving up the text, especially not one that, tradition tells us, was penned by Moses himself. This is a common (if vernacular) type of critique of the DH, the misconceptions of which need to be dispelled.

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Filed under Bible, Scripture

Elder Holland’s Subversive Message?

At the risk of stirring controversy against my absolute favorite Apostle, I want to ask a few questions stemming from his engaging discussion of Scripture and modern prophecy and his dialogue with biblical studies.

Elder Holland’s talk in General Conference was part II of his discourse on Mormonism’s place with respect to “Christianity”. He begins by giving justifications for an open canon, namely, why the various statements about not adding to or taking away from a given book (Revelation) don’t apply to the whole Bible. These arguments are, for the most part, old, but what is new is his recourse to mainstream biblical scholarship in making the arguments. Most biblical-studies types were ecstatic, I’d venture, to hear eminent New Testament scholar N.T. Wright quoted by Elder Holland. Continue reading

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Filed under Doctrine, Leadership, Scripture

Salt Lake City

In a nod to our friends at A Motley Vision, and in advance of this weekend’s Conference, I offer the following, as is, with no commentary, except to say it’s often refreshing to see the familiar through strange eyes.

Salt Lake City

Pompous Mormon symmetry. Everywhere marble: flawless, funereal (the Capitol, the organ in the Visitor Centre). Yet a Los-Angelic modernity, too — all the requisite gadgetry for a minimalist, extraterrestrial comfort. The Christ-topped dome (all the Christs here are copied from Thorwaldsen’s and look like Bjorn Borg) straight out of Close Encounters: religion as special effects. In fact the whole city has the transparency and supernatural, otherworldly cleanness of a thing from outer space. A symmetrical, luminous, overpowering abstraction. At every intersection in the Tabernacle area — all marble and roses, and evangelical marketing — an electronic cuckoo-clock sings out: such Puritan obsessiveness is astonishing in this heat, in the heart of the desert, alongside this leaden lake, its waters also hyperreal from sheer density of salt. And, beyond the lake, the Great Salt Lake Desert, where they had to invent the speed of prototype cars to cope with the absolute horizontality. . . . But the city itself is like a jewel, with its purity of air and its plunging urban vistas more breathtaking than even those of Los Angeles. What stunning brilliance, what modern veracity these Mormons show, these rich bankers, musicians, international genealogists, polygamists (the Empire State in New York has something of this same funereal Puritanism raised to the nth power). It is the capitalist, transsexual pride of a people of mutants that gives the city its magic, equal and opposite to that of Las Vegas, that great whore on the other side of the desert. [French sociologist Jean Baudrillard, from America (trans. Chris Turner; New York: Verso, 1988), orig. pub. Amérique (Paris: B. Grasset, 1986)]

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BYU Religion Dean on Premortal Life, Part II: Scripture “Mastery”

This is part II of a post begun a week and a half ago in response to a devotional lecture given by Terry Ball, dean of the BYU college of religious education. That discussion centered on what I argued to be the problematic connection Ball makes between the pre-existence, Isaiah 28, and mortality. This post focuses on the scriptural aspects of his argument. Continue reading

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Filed under Bible, BYU, Scripture