The Infinite, part 5. Mormonism and the Infinite.

The complexities of the infinite are magnified in ordinary discourse, and doubly so in western religions because infinity and its verbal relatives like “eternal” and “forever” are used in a wide range of ways, from the metaphorical and metaphysical to the literal. “Infinite” is sometimes used as a synonym for God. In an attempt to describe the “otherness” of God, phrases like, “sits on the top of a topless throne” were commonly used. Such seemingly self-contradictory claims were eschewed in Mormonism, which eventually engaged a very material aspect in the extra-mortal.
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The Infinite, part 4. Difficulties, order.

There are many orders of infinity. With no humor intended, there are infinitely many such orders. But when dealing with large collections of things, usually these are very abstract things, you can get into trouble.
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The Infinite, part 3. Parsing infinity – ever larger

Last time we observed that in some sense, one can count infinite collections. However, so far, they were all the same size.[1] Our goal this time is to show that counting infinite collections is actually interesting: not everything infinite is the size of N.[2]
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The Infinite, part I. What is finite?

I sort of threatened to discuss infinity some time ago. Why? Well, Joseph Smith delves deeply into the infinite, and in particular in funeral sermons, even though he does not engage it with rigor.
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The B. H. Roberts Cabal…….

The 19th century produced some prominent thinkers in Mormonism. But the 20th century also had its share. One particular group (I use the term in a loose sense) was what I choose to call the “B. H. Roberts Cabal.” Roberts himself was not entirely self taught, but he trolled the waters of intellectualism in his day and in some respects sought to show Mormonism consistent with or even ahead of the science and philosophy of the times.

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Review: Terryl Givens, “When Souls Had Wings”

I mentioned Professor Terryl L. Givens’ new book last year and wrote that I would have more to say about it. So here it is. Not terribly polished, but school starts on Monday. So out the door it goes.
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Lorenzo Snow and Oberlin College, part II

The second part of Lorenzo Snow’s letter (March 1836) to his sister Eliza Roxcy Snow shows a thoughtful disposition and some interesting assumptions about human behavior. It also suggests his respect for Eliza’s thinking. Read more of this post

W. W. Phelps and Mother in Heaven

This is not really about the idea of a Mother in Heaven, indeed it is only tangential to a very small part of that issue. Also it tangentially skims the issue of Joseph Smith’s funeral sermons. Nevertheless, I think it is a valuable bit of evidence about one of the early popularizers of Mormon doctrine or doctrinal interpretations, namely William Wines Phelps.
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When Souls Had Wings – Givens and Preexistence

I’ve been having a look at Terryl Givens’ latest effort: on preexistence in western thought. So far it seems to be quite good. Read more of this post

Albert Brisbane – Joseph Smith and Eschatology

This post has been sitting around for a while, has something to do with Joseph Smith’s sermons, and in particular funeral sermons, because it poses some questions on the idea of community and eschatology, and I don’t have time to work on it more right now, so here it is.

Mormon communal adventures of the 19th century played out against a range of American civil experimentation. A major difference was the underlying eschatology of Mormonism.

Joseph Smith pushed (via revelations like Doctrine and Covenants 42) the idea of community into the lives of early Mormons, but he also pushed it into the afterlife (an early version of this is D&C 78:6 – later versions were based on sealing). Echoing Swedenborg (by coincidence rather than intent it seems) he infused doctrine with community and family. Read more of this post

Martin Luther, Matthew – and the Devil

Last night I was working away on the sermon book and I wanted to use Luther’s remark that even Matthew in writing the gospel named for him was influenced by Satan. But, then I could not for the life of me recall where I read that. I tried checking around in my books, did a google search, but I cannot seem to find it. So, I need some help. Anyone know a source for this? Or am I completely wrong and it was someone else who said this. But it does sound like something Luther might have said. I can almost picture the Latin version of the phrase but I can’t remember where it came from. Help!

Robert J. Matthews. RIP

Robert Matthews, long time religion professor at BYU and JST scholar passed away today. Sympathies to his family and friends. Perhaps now he knows the answers to many of those deep questions.

Former dean of religious education at Brigham Young University, Robert Matthews played a significant role in many LDS Church projects. He worked to thaw relations between the (then) Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with his study of the manuscripts of Joseph Smith’s biblical revisions, held at the time in RLDS archives.

Among many Church assignments, Matthews served as president of the Mount Timpanogos Temple in American Fork, Utah.

Nathan Baldwin and Unknown Joseph Smith Sermons

Nathan Bennett Baldwin was born in Grenville, “Upper Canada” in 1812. He joined the Church of Christ (later The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) April 28, 1833. He journeyed with “Zions Camp.” Baldwin was selected as a member of the first quorum of Seventy (Feb. 25, 1835). He received the Nauvoo endowment Jan. 3, 1846. Nathan Baldwin came west as a pioneer and eventually settled in southern Utah.
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More yet – Boap.org and Early Saints’ Journals, etc.

One of my favorite things on boap.org is the ever growing collection we call in house, “Early Saints.” It has a much longer, more descriptive title on boap.org. If you scroll down the home page, you’ll see a link about diaries and journals, that’s it. This is a set of autobiographies, biographies, diaries, letters and reminiscences of people who had some contact with Joseph Smith.
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A Note on Some Additions at boap.org – Church President’s Sermons

Since I’m not doing anything on the book at present, I wanted to tell you all that there is now a collection of sermons from other LDS church presidents besides Joseph Smith at boap.org. We have some from all but Thomas Monson up now. It’s certainly not a complete corpus, but there is a lot there. I think these are sermons of church presidents, while they held the office, not previous to that time. As I said, the collection is not complete by any stretch. You can find them by going to boap.org, the link is on the home page. You can Google search it or you can use your browser to text search individual presidents. The Hinckley collection is very small. Besides, we may end up removing the post-1971 stuff in any case.

If you have a request for something that is missing, I’ll try and get it added.

-WVS

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