Choose the Right Tattoo

September 26, 2014    By: Jacob J @ 4:47 pm   Category: Life,Mormon Culture/Practices

My wife recently made waves by adding “temporary tattoos” to the plans for an upcoming youth activity. There was already a face painting booth planned and she added temporary tattoos to that booth to increase the variety. Predictably, someone objected to having temporary tattoos as part of a church sponsored event. Not the sort of thing I would get my panties in a bunch about, but nonetheless something that I understand. (more…)

When Harry and Sally met Mormonism

June 2, 2013    By: Jacob J @ 12:39 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

I rarely use this forum to complain about Mormon culture, but today I make an exception. I will keep it short and sweet. It drives me crazy that we have created a culture which assumes that men and women cannot interact on anything more than a superficial level without great risk of fornication or adultery. This attitude is manifest in a hundred ways large and small. If I were to suggest introducing the possibility of mixed gender Primary or Sunday School presidencies, the “it is improper for men and women to work together” objection would come up almost immediately. From people I work with who are not members, I see examples of mixed-gender friendships which seem entirely appropriate. While there are easily discernible limits within US culture to what degree of friendship is acceptable among married adults of different genders, my perception is that the limits within Mormon culture are noticeably more restrictive. (more…)

Eggs and Theology

September 30, 2012    By: Jacob J @ 9:01 pm   Category: Life

This morning I asked my four-year-old how many eggs she wanted for breakfast. After thinking about it for a few seconds she said, “umm, 6.” No, she does not have the appetite of a lumberjack. Instead, this reminded me that humans seem predisposed to making things up when they don’t know anything. Having never made eggs, my daughter has no idea how many eggs go into the small pile of scrambled eggs she can eat. One would think that after careful consideration she would say something like “I don’t have any idea” or “Dad, why do you expect me to know that?” or “my regular amount” etc. There are many reasonable responses she could make without knowing anything. Instead, she asked for 6 eggs. (more…)

You didn’t build that…

July 25, 2012    By: Jacob J @ 9:05 pm   Category: Theology

One of Neal A. Maxwell’s most memorable themes was that we have nothing but our wills to give God that was not already his. As he put it, “The many other things we ‘give’ are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us” (Neal A. Maxwell, If Thou Endure It Well, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996, pg. 55.). He expounded on this theme frequently and his reasoning seemed to hinge on the idea that whatever thing we think is ours is really God’s because he enabled us to obtain it in one way or other. We could not have it without air to breath, or earth to live on, etc. etc. (more…)

Celebrating the Commercialism of Christmas

December 25, 2011    By: Jacob J @ 1:41 pm   Category: Uncategorized

There is nothing more predictable and cliche than the yearly denouncement of consumerism at Christmas. The Pope condemned the commercialization of Christmas at the Christmas Eve Mass last night and President Monson bemoaned the commercialization at Christmas at the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional this year.

I think this yearly antagonism toward commercialism is wrong-headed and misguided. It ignores the nature of holidays, and ultimately, human nature as well. The criticism is generally based on the idea that in all the consumerism and commercialism we lose sight of the “true meaning of Christmas” and forget what Christmas is really “all about.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. (more…)

What does Jesus think about giving alms to the poor?

October 16, 2011    By: Jacob J @ 7:56 pm   Category: Book Reviews,Scriptures

I recently finished The Bible Now by Richard Elliott Friedman and Shawna Dolansky. Freidman follows his regular pattern of faking out potential buyers of his book by putting only “The Bible” in the title of his book even though he will only be discussing the Old Testament. As in previous efforts, his work here is sufficiently excellent that this trickery can be forgiven. (more…)

Happiness in Life

August 7, 2011    By: Jacob J @ 12:55 pm   Category: Happiness

Which of these scriptures resonates more with you (and why)?

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual (Mosiah 2:14)

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Preliminary Thoughts on Divine Hiddenness

June 12, 2011    By: Jacob J @ 2:58 pm   Category: Theology

If there is a God, why is there no objective evidence of his existence?

Asked from a skeptical perspective, this question becomes one of the strongest arguments against God’s existence, on par with arguments from the problem of evil. Trying to convince an atheist that there really is a God but he simply chooses to remain hidden can feel like trying to convince the child that the emperor really is wearing new clothes. Sometimes I tell my kids that I have super powers and then when they ask me to show them my powers I tell them “I could, but I don’t feel like it.” (more…)

Chewed out at the temple

September 19, 2010    By: Jacob J @ 1:33 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

Temple whitesI remembered to bring my temple clothes to work, but I forgot to bring dress clothes. I was planning to drive straight from work to the temple for youth temple night (because I work 20 minutes from home in the direction of the temple) and now I was in a pickle. I decided to simply change into my white clothes in the car and make the short walk from the parking lot to the temple in my white dockers, white belt, white shirt, and white tie. I made it to the lobby without incident. (more…)

Mormonism and the Documentary Hypothesis

July 20, 2010    By: Jacob J @ 11:06 pm   Category: Scriptures

On the one hand, it seems like Mormons are uniquely primed to accept the Documentary Hypothesis (DH) given that:

  1. The Book of Mormon was compiled by a late redactor (Mormon) in a way that is at least superficially similar to what R is proported to have done in the DH.
  2. There is a long tradition in Mormonism of suspecting that there were problems in the transmission of the Bible. Not just the problem of translation noted in the eighth article of faith, but the outright tampering alleged in 1 Ne 13.

On the other hand, the JST and the Pearl of Great Price make the DH threatening in ways that are uniquely Mormon, for example:

  1. Moses 3:5 seems to support the theory that the two creation accounts of Genesis 1/2 are spiritual/physical respectively. This theory, of course, is contradicted by the DH and raises questions about the nature of the JST.
  2. Abraham 4-5 crosses a P-J seem which is an odd thing for it to do if it was written by Abraham.

(more…)

A Response to Blake’s Critique of My Atonement Paper

June 16, 2010    By: Jacob J @ 1:21 am   Category: Atonement & Soteriology

Blake has a relatively new paper up on his site called “Atonement in Mormon Thought (a Response to Deidre Green Regarding the Compassion Theory of Atonement)”. As the title indicates, it is largely a response to a paper critiquing his compassion theory of atonement.†

Before making his response to Deidre Green, Blake does a quick survey of uniquely Mormon theories of atonement and offers some critiques of his own. He did me the honor of offering a short critique of my Dialogue paper The Divine-Infusion Theory: Rethinking the Atonement (which is now available online, thanks Kristine and Dialogue!). When I read what Blake had to say it got me thinking about how it came about and I wanted to make a short response here. (more…)

What should you say in a baby blessing?

May 30, 2010    By: Jacob J @ 12:14 am   Category: Uncategorized

The first time I thought about this question was on my flight from the MTC to the mission home in Florida. My older brother had just asked me something about this in a letter and as I sat pondering the question I was reminded once again that I had nothing insightful to say due to my total lack of life experience. Since then I have had a few occassions to bless babies yet I still wonder about this. What is a baby blessing for? In preparing for a baby blessing should I approach it like I do a healing blessing or is it different? (more…)

Jeff G is back in the saddle

March 13, 2010    By: Jacob J @ 8:59 am   Category: Uncategorized

Jeff G is an old friend of this blog so I thought it fitting to point out that he is back in the saddle and blogging about Philosophy and Mormonism at a new blog.

So far, the posts have taken the form of an ongoing dialogue between two interlocutors, much in the same format as a recent discussion between someone and himself here at this blog (ahem). The two participants are “David” (who seems to represent the actual Jeff G’s and his views) and “Jeff” (who seems to represent Jeff G’s best, tho usually losing, defense of Mormonism).

I have always found Jeff G to be one of the smartest and most interesting people in the bloggernacle. You’re not likely to find much in the way of Mormon apologetics at his blog, but if you’re interested in a skeptic’s ruminations about the intersection of philosophy and Mormonism, take a peek over there.

Dennett – Freedom Evolves (lecture)

February 15, 2010    By: Jacob J @ 11:20 am   Category: Determinism vs. free will

I am worried this answer will crater the discussion that continues on the previous thread, so I’m opening a new thread to discuss Dennett’s lecture on his book Freedom Evolves. I know it is sort of stupid to post about this when I haven’t read the book yet, but oh well. Consider this a post about the lecture.

Daniel Dennett – Freedom Evolves – a Dangerous Idea Part 1 (9:55)
Daniel Dennett – Freedom Evolves – a Dangerous Idea Part 2 (9:58)
Daniel Dennett – Freedom Evolves – a Dangerous Idea Part 3 (10:01)
Daniel Dennett – Freedom Evolves – a Dangerous Idea Part 4 (9:59)
Daniel Dennett – Freedom Evolves – a Dangerous Idea Part 5 (9:48)
Daniel Dennett – Freedom Evolves – a Dangerous Idea Part 6 (3:01) (more…)

To you we’re not deep

February 13, 2010    By: Jacob J @ 2:48 pm   Category: Theology

Over at Mormon Insights the erudite S. Faux has been blogging an very interesting series on consciousness and the brain. One of the recurring themes in that series is that consciousness is a physical phenomenon which will eventually be entirely explained by physics. As I explored in my previous post, I believe that the concept of moral responsibility is eviscerated in the context of physicalism. I poked at S. Faux along those lines on a couple of occasions (once starting in this comment, and then again starting in this comment).

S. Faux responded to my prodding with his typical graciousness and even took a stab at answering a few clarifying questions about his philosophical assumptions. My first impressions about his physicalist assumptions appear to me to be supported by his responses there. (more…)

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