Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family
Boyd Petersen, the incoming editor of Dialogue, opines on Mormon faith and culture.
The Lost History of 1914: Reconsidering the Year the Great War Began
How the Great War quickly came to overshadow other major events that preceded it. In my post The Lost History of 1844 I suggest the assassination of Joseph Smith in 1844 did much the same thing, albeit on a much smaller scale.
All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age
Two noted philosophers use Homer, Dante, Descartes, Kant, and Melville to find meaning in our disenchanted modern world. • My Post
A Brief History of History: Great Historians and the Epic Quest to Explain the Past
Reviews the great historians of the past, including those writing problematic religious and church history. • My Post
Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy
How the problem of evil framed the project of modern philosophy. • My Review
The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart
Is residential self-sorting driving polarized politics and associated changes in society and religion? • My post
Damon Linker: The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege
All about the vast right-wing religious conspiracy, by a former conspirator. • My post
Simon Baron-Cohen: The Essential Difference: Male And Female Brains And The Truth About Autism
Presents research that, even at birth, female brains are predisposed toward empathy and figuring out "other minds," whereas male brains are inclined to systematize and classify.
The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America
Companion volume to the PBS series.
American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation
200 years of public religion.
Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times
Marathon, Thermopylae, and all that.
Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists and the Ecology of New England
Property law conquers New England.
A Nation Among Nations: America's Place in World History
Mind-expanding. • My Review
Storm from the East: The Struggle Between the Arab World and the Christian West
A guide for the perplexed.
Pub Note • Part 1 • Part 2
1491 : New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
Up-to-date survey. My Review
Blackburn: Think: A Compelling Intro to Philosophy
It will make you think. Part 1
A Short History of Modern Philosophy
Scruton's fine intro to philosophy.
How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Help for the metaphorically impaired.
Literary Theory: A Very Short Intro
Crisp introduction to literary theory.
Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn From the Latter-day Saints
Stephen H. Webb, a Protestant-turned-Catholic theologian, takes a serious look at Mormon doctrine and theology.
Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism
Givens and Grow's warts-and-all biography of this energetic missionary, author, and apostle whose LDS career spanned Joseph Smith's life, the emigration to Utah, and Brigham Young's early leadership of the Church in Utah. My Review
Armand L. Mauss: Shifting Borders and a Tattered Passport
The intellectual and spiritual journeys of a Mormon academic. Post 1
In Heaven as It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death
Sam Brown delves into Joseph Smith's doctrines of sealing and salvation as means to overcome the downside of death. My Review
Reeve and Parshall: Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia
A very helpful overview of LDS historical topics. A reference work that can be profitably read from cover to cover. My Review
A Different Jesus?: The Christ of the Latter-day Saints
Another Bob Millet interfaith special, this time on LDS Christology, with a foreward and afterword by Richard J. Mouw. My Post
Neil Shubin: The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People
A follow-up to Shubin's Your Inner Fish, this time emphasizing the cosmic rather than the terrestrial story of the development of human anatomy. We are star dust.
Alone in the Universe: Why Our Planet Is Unique
The prolific astrophysicist and science writer John Gribbin reviews where Earth came from, why it is here, and how it will end (in a rain of cometary chunks from the Oort Cloud in about a million years). Read all about it in my post The Fate of the Earth.
The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet
Robert M. Hazen gives a geologist's fascinating review of earth history. Magma is a lot more interesting than you thought. In my post Volcanism, Mormonism, and Historical Contingency I note the connection between the stupendous eruption of Tambora in 1815 and the relocation of Joseph Smith's family from Vermont to Palmyra, New York.
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
Working in the EP paradigm, Jonathan Haidt shows there is more to morality than harm and fairness (add liberty, loyalty, authority, and sanctity). My Review
The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions
Karl Giberson and Francis Collins on evolution, the age of the earth, and other faith-science issues.
Post 1 • Post 2
Karl Giberson: Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution
He went to college a fundamentalist Christian and graduated as a Christian (but no longer fundamentalist) physicist.
The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God
Carl Sagan, of Cosmos fame, talks about astronomy and his own views on God and religion. • Post 1 • Post 2
John Polkinghorne: Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion
A scientist-theologian looks at physics, human nature, ethics, and evil. • My Post
John Polkinghorne: Belief in God in an Age of Science
How does God act in a world governed by natural laws? • My Post
Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: The Evolutionary Origins of Belief
Biologist Lewis Wolpert investigates how we form our beliefs about the natural world and religion. • My Post
Francis S. Collins: The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
A geneticist on theism. • My Post
Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth
Bart Ehrman makes it clear that there is no question Jesus of Nazareth existed and that the small but vocal group claiming otherwise has little evidence to support their claim. • My Post
The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture
Conservative scholar N. T. Wright on the Bible and authority. • My Post
E. P. Sanders: The Historical Figure of Jesus
Jesus the Christ for the 21st century.
Steven L McKenzie: How to Read the Bible: History, Prophecy, Literature
Stressing genre, this Bible scholar shows how modern readers often force biblical writings into modern categories and thereby misconstrue what the biblical writer was trying to say. • My Post
Ancient Israelite Religion
Susan Niditch explores myth, ritual, experience, and ethics in the Hebrew Bible and using surviving archeological artifacts, revealing a surprisingly diverse ancient Israelite religion. • My Post
James M. Robinson: The Gospel of Jesus: In Search of the Original Good News
Trust in God and show compassion for others — that's what Jesus advocated in the Sayings Gospel Q. • My Post
The Real Jesus : The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels
Defending the faith side of the "faith versus history" debate. • My Review
Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
Textual criticism and the Bible "as far as it is translated correctly."
Pub Note • Backstory • Review
Posts on higher criticism:
Part 1 • Part 2 • Essays
The Literary Guide to the Bible
For a very close reading of the Bible as a received text.
Robert L. Millet: LDS Beliefs: A Doctrinal Reference
It's the new improved Mormon Doctrine: not quite as zingy but no bitter aftertaste. My Review
Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide
Grant Hardy's close literary reading of the Book of Mormon.
My Review • 12Qa • 12Qb
Revisiting Thomas F. O'Dea's The Mormons: Contemporary Perspectives
Fifteen essays revisiting O'Dea's 1957 classic with the benefit of 50 years of Mormon Studies scholarship.
Contemporary Mormonism: Social Science Perspectives
Not just LDS history — these social scientists construct models and test them with real data.
Post 1 • Post 2
Joseph Smith, Jr.: Reappraisals After Two Centuries
A fine collection of essays including contributions by Bushman, Givens, and others.
Part 1 • Part 2
Glen M. Leonard: Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, a People of Promise
The rise and fall of Nauvoo, 1839-1846.
Post 1 • Post 2 • Post 3
Blomberg & Robinson: How Wide the Divide?: A Mormon & an Evangelical in Conversation
The classic book on LDS-Evangelical interfaith dialogue. | Post 1 • Post 2
Contemporary Mormonism: Latter-day Saints in Modern America
Claudia Bushman's fact-filled survey of the culture and practices of the modern LDS Church and its membership.
Steven C. Harper: Making Sense of the Doctrine & Covenants: A Guided Tour Through Modern Revelations
An excellent one-volume section-by-section survey and commentary on the D&C.
Pub Note • BCC post • My post
Terryl L. Givens: People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture
The history of LDS architecture, music, dance, theater, literature, cinema, and scholarship in light of four "paradoxes" in Mormon culture: authority vs. autonomy, certainty vs. searching, sacred vs. banal, and election vs. exile.
Post 1 • Pub Note • T&S intvw
Jared Farmer: On Zion's Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape
A revealing history of the settlement of Utah Valley and Mormon-Indian relations.
Pub Note • JI-1 • JI-2 • My Rvw
Walker, Turley, & Leonard: Massacre at Mountain Meadows
This long-awaited book gives the definitive account of the events leading up to the occurrence at Mountain Meadows.
Pub Note • BCC Review • Post 1
Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith
Nibley's daughter takes swipes at BYU, Utah, Mormons, and her family, while creating pages of dialogue out of thin air and a caricature of LDS history. No footnotes, no index, no credibility.
Notes and Links • Rebuttal
Claudia L. Bushman: Building the Kingdom: A History of Mormons in America
Claudia and Richard Bushman's fine short history of the LDS Church.
Pub Note • Post
Eric Eliason: Mormons and Mormonism: An Introduction to an American World Religion
A collection of scholarly essays by a variety of LDS and non-LDS scholars, edited by Eric Eliason.
Pub Note • Post
Armand L. Mauss: The Angel and the Beehive
Armand Mauss uses sociology and history to look at the 20th-century LDS stuggle to be accepted as mainstream while retaining a unique Mormon identity.
Pub Note • My Review
Mauss interview • 12Qa • 12Qb
The Mormon Way of Doing Business: Leadership and Success Through Faith and Family
LDS CEOs on how to succeed in business without selling your soul.
Pub Note • My Review
Kathleen Flake: The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle
How a generation of Mormons learned the art of politics and became full-fledged Americans again.
My Review • 12Q
Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years among the Mormons
A collection of essays by Jan Shipps giving her reflections on 40 years as a sympathetic scholar of Mormonism.
Pub Note • Intro • Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3
Prince & Wright: David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
Winner of MHA's 2006 Turner-Bergera award for Best Biography. Surprising new perspectives on many of the key events of the McKay era and the decade following. A must read for any Church history buff.
Intro • Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3
Davies: The Mormon Culture of Salvation
Uses a variety of models to look at LDS doctrine and cultural practice related to death and salvation, with a lengthy consideration of the "world religion" question.
My Post • Pub Note
The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship
Pub Note • Excerpt • My Review
Alexander: Mormonism in Transition
The emergence of the modern Church from 1890 to 1930.
Garry Wills: Head and Heart: American Christianities
Puritans, Deists, and Evangelicals battle for American hearts and minds. My Post
C David Grant: Thinking Through Our Faith: Theology for 21st Century Christians
A professor of religion opines on tough questions for 21st-century Mormons: historicity, cosmology, evolution, feminism, postmodernism. • My Post
Marilynne Robinson: Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self
A Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist weighs in on science and religion. She favors religion. • My Post
American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us
A detailed empirical look at what has happened in American religion, including Mormonism, over the last fifty years.
Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church
For most American teens, religion is so 20th century. But Mormon teens seem to be bucking the trend. • My Post
God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World -- and Why Their Differences Matter
Stephen Prothero's religions of the world book. • Post 1 • Post 2
Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate
Terry Eagleton contra Ditchkins and the New Atheists. | My Post
Nathan O. Hatch: The Democratization of American Christianity
How the raging democratic spirit of early 19th-century America influenced the doctrine and practice of young religious movements such as Methodism and Mormonism. | My Post
William Lobdell: Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace
A long-time LA Times religion reporter unburdens his soul.
David F. Ford: Theology: A Very Short Introduction
It's not easy to get started in theology, but this short book should do the trick. | My post
Stephen Prothero: Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know--And Doesn't
Noted scholar of religion laments the religious ignorance of Americans (first half of book) and provides a 90-page "dictionary of religious literacy" to help solve the problem.
Post 1 • Post 2 • Post 3
Martin Marty: The Christian World: A Global History
An insighful continent-by-continent history by a superb scholar of Christianity.
Bart D. Ehrman: God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question--Why We Suffer
Ehrman examines five biblical explanations for suffering and evil: divine punishment, human action, redemptive suffering, inscrutable mystery, and apocalyptic dualism.
Pub Note • My Review
F. E. Peters: The Voice, the Word, the Books: The Sacred Scripture of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims
Great scholarly overview of scripture as a general category. Jacket blurb: "Brings the latest Biblical and Quranic scholarship to a general audience."
From Jesus to Christianity:
How Four Generations of Visionaries and Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith.
Olson: The Story of Christian Theology
Theology for the rest of us.
Butler: Religion in American Life
New Social History perspective.
Stein: Communities of Dissent
Mormonism as an "outsider" sect.
Concise History of the Catholic Church
Update of Bokenkotter's classic text.