The Existential Crisis of Resurrection in Mormonism

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Photo by Beto Galetto on Unsplash

“Prepare to die is not the exhortation in this Church and Kingdom; but prepare to live is the word with us, and improve all we can in the life hereafter, wherein we may enjoy a more exalted condition of intelligence, wisdom, light, knowledge, power, glory, and exaltation. Then let us seek to extend the present life to the uttermost, by observing every law of health, and by properly balancing labor, study, rest, and recreation, and thus prepare for a better life. …

Or, On How the Tail Wags the Dog

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“After many lives, a craving monk from Edo was reborn as a tiger who couldn’t stop roaring at the moon. One summer night he heard a moonless silent roar and he was finally able to walk free between Heaven and Earth.”

Michel Lara, “The Silent Roar

When I was a teenager, enamored with the work of scholars like Hugh Nibley and Richard Bushman, I was of the view that Mormonism needed new historians to take up their mantle. Then, taken with the work of thinkers like Terryl and Fiona Givens, I believed that Mormonism needed new theologians to help…

A Short Sermon on Wholeness and Hate

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“They are whole from the foundation of the world …

and they hate their own blood.”

- Book of Moses 6:54, 7:33

I’m reminded of the old Persian fable of the scorpion and the turtle:

The turtle, walking along the riverbank, encounters its old friend the scorpion. The scorpion says it needs to cross the river but cannot swim, then asks if the turtle will carry it across the water. The turtle agrees and the scorpion climbs onto the turtle’s back. The turtle swims halfway out into the river when, suddenly, the scorpion stings the turtle — but the scorpion’s…

Exploring and analyzing one of Mormon culture’s deepest problems

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Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash

There are three things Mormon culture appears to love:

1) Rules.

2) Finding ever more meticulous and minute ways to follow rules.

3) Finding ever more ways to get others to follow rules.

I believe these three loves easily spiral into deeply toxic patterns of thought and behavior. Moreover, I believe they may help to triangulate one of Mormon culture’s deepest issues.

Note that I say “Mormon culture,” rather than Mormonism, not to exonerate either the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Mormon community (“Mormon culture” does tend to become a basket into which we toss all…

On Cognitive Dissonance and the Inevitability of Uncertainty

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Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

I think, like a lot of people, my spiritual development has been largely spurred by moments in which my personal theology stopped “clicking” with my everyday life. This includes logical fallacies or outright contradictions as well as instances of direct pain from “bad religion” (or, more precisely, problematic religious worldviews). In a way, the two seem related in the most natural of ways: the mind and body aren’t two neatly separable things, like a tiny person controlling a big human-shaped robot, but more like two colors of paint mixing with one another. …

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The Ancient of Days setting a Compass to the Earth” (1794), William Blake

William Blake’s The Ancient of Days is often used as an image of God, but it’s actually Blake’s character Urizen, who is divine in a sense, but also a limiter. Urizen personifies life’s tendency to suffocate its own existence into precise measurements and dimensions, snuffing out its creative genius by imposing artificial “law” and “structure.” I’m far from the first to point out this case of mistaken identity between the God of the Hebrew Bible and Urizen: for instance, Dan Brown points this out in Origin. You can find this depiction of Urizen elsewhere, too, such as on the cover…

A Brief Analysis of William Blake

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“God Judging Adam” (1795), William Blake

I really love William Blake, not the least because he seems to me to be the most radical of Christian thinkers (there was a reason he believed that what most people, even Christians, label with “the names divine of Jesus and Jehovah” is actually Satan). Much of his worldview, I believe, can be found in his illustrations — for example, this color printing he composed in 1795, God Judging Adam.

This is subjective, of course, but a lot sticks out to me in this particular piece. The first point is that God and Adam look virtually the same; God is…

A Psychoanalytic Reading of the Book of Mormon

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

“I hardly think we as yet have absorbed the discomfort that only what is demonic in us can accurately perceive the identity of Christ Jesus.”

Harold Bloom, Jesus and Yahweh, the Names Divine (Riverhead, 2005), 60

Nearly 30 years ago, Frank Meshberger made waves in both the neuroscientific and art communities when he suggested that Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam held a secret hidden in plain sight. Ostensibly, the piece depicts an aged God reaching for the extended hand of a lounging Adam; Meshberger, however, pointed out that the silhouette enwrapping God bore an uncanny resemblance to the general structure…

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The Death of Socrates” (1787), by Jacques-Louis David; borrowed from Wikimedia Commons.

“ We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.”

Doctrine and Covenants 134:4


Toward a Mormon Angelology

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Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash

“Terms like ‘ground’ and ‘source’ stand in contrast to the terms used for the transcendent biblical God of history who is known as a supreme king, a father, a creator, a judge, a maker. When he creates the world, he does so as do males, producing something external to himself. He remains essentially outside of and judges the creative processes he has initiated. As ground and source, God creates as does a mother, in and through her own very substance. As ground of being, God participates in all the joys and sorrows of the drama of creation which is, at…

Nathan Smith

Independent writer from Austin, TX; doing a BS in psychology; writing on psychology, philosophy, literature, religion. @NateSmithSNF

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