Early in the 1980s, my father suffered a serious heart attack. My wife and I were living in Egypt then, and we learned the news via a telegram from my brother.
Egyptian phone service was so inadequate in those days that many companies employed messengers to crisscross the city of Cairo rather than depending upon unreliable telephone connections. It took me more than twenty-four hours to get a telephone call through to California. In the meantime, I didn’t know whether my father was alive or dead. My anxiety was intense, but there was little alternative. (As it happened, he recovered fully and lived on for more than two additional decades.)
We take modern means of communication for granted. But we shouldn’t. I’m convinced, for example, that the church founded anciently by Christ not only didn’t survive intact but couldn’t have, largely because the contemporary means of communication weren’t up to the task. Continue reading
The theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad b. Muḥammad al-Ghazālī (d. AD 1111 in his Persian hometown of Tūs, after spending much of his career in Baghdad) has sometimes been characterized as the single most influential Muslim besides the Prophet Muḥammad himself. The Andalusian philosopher and jurist Abū al-Walīd Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Rushd (d. AD 1198 in Marrakesh, modern-day Morocco, but ultimately buried in his family tomb in Córdoba, Spain) is generally considered to be the greatest medieval commentator—whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim—on the works of Aristotle. Often known as Averroës, a corruption of his Arabic name, Ibn Rushd was respected even by medieval Christians. For example, Dante Alighieri, in his immortal Inferno, placed him only on the rim of Hell—in the relatively benign Limbo of unbaptized infants—and not among the torturous punishments of Hell’s lower levels. Continue reading
The following essay was presented on 3 August 2012 as “Of ‘Mormon Studies’ and Apologetics” at the conclusion of the annual conference of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) in Sandy, Utah. It represents the first public announcement and appearance of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, which had been founded only slightly more than a week earlier, on 26 July. In my view, that rapid launch was the near-miraculous product of selfless collaboration and devotion to a cause on the part of several people—notable among them David E. Bokovoy, Alison V. P. Coutts, William J. Hamblin, Bryce M. Haymond, Louis C. Midgley, George L. Mitton, Stephen D. Ricks, and Mark Alan Wright—and I’m profoundly grateful to them. This essay, which may even have some slight historical value, is something of a personal charter statement regarding that cause. It is published here with no substantial alteration. Continue reading
On Maintaining Fairness and Charity
With one striking exception, leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are, and always have been, flawed people. (No better quality of human is available.) “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” the apostle Paul said, referring to the gospel and its mortal ministers, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Although we obviously shouldn’t be surprised at it, the church’s human side is sometimes jarring and, if permitted, can cause disillusionment. It’s urgently important, therefore, even for our own sake, that we “clothe [our]selves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:125). Failure to do so can be spiritually lethal. Continue reading