Awaited by me, at least, even if not by anyone else. Although the last post on this blog was made nearly a year ago (and even the last several months were purely automated), I've decided that I can no longer resist the lure to return to blogging here.
So, what have I been doing over the time I've been absent? Well, I've continued my seminary education and should be receiving my MDiv this coming spring, after which - God willing - I will begin pastoring a church, most probably in my home state. The educational experience has been an interesting one, and I'm greatly pleased by the opportunities that I have had. I've gotten to mingle with theologians, philosophers, Old Testament scholars, New Testament scholars... I've gotten to meet, however briefly, C. S. Lewis' stepson... I've gotten to do missionary work in Kenya, to meet with Christian leaders there, to see life on the savannah and life in the villages and life in the slums. It was, I earnestly pray, truly life-changing. I hope that I have opportunities to draw on those experiences here on this blog at some point.
I have also kept up my interest in the LDS faith, in spite of my lack of blogging on the subject. I've been meeting with several pairs of missionaries at their initiation. I've been using the opportunity to confirm or deny the prior spiritual witness that I received urging me that the LDS faith is not true. (So far, that witness is mildly re-confirmed, but I gave my word to the current pair of sister-missionaries that I would not make hasty prejudgments before December, the deadline I opted to set. I keep my word and am intent on following through in genuine sincerity, even if the missionaries tend to focus more on the 'script' than on taking into account my actual view of my actual concerns.) I'm still a frequent presence to the local ward, as I'm a consistent attendee of the Elders Quorum meetings. I've continued following news items of LDS interest online, and I've continued reading, of course. Here are a few of the most directly relevant books that I've read since the start of 2012:
- the remaining volumes of Wilford Woodruff's journals
- Early Mormonism and the Magical World View by D. Michael Quinn
- The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy by Terryl L. Givens
- Achieving a Celestial Marriage: Student Manual (1976 Church manual)
- William Law: Biographical Essay, Nauvoo Diary, Correspondence, Interview, edited by Lyndon W. Cook
- On the Way to Immortality and Eternal Life by J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
- Doctrines of Salvation (3 vols.) by Joseph Fielding Smith
- From Historian to Dissident: The Book of John Whitmer, edited by Bruce N. Westergren
- Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage by B. Carmon Hardy
- However Long and Hard the Road by Jeffrey R. Holland
- The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball
- The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement, edited by Francis J. Beckwith, Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen
- Elias: An Epic of the Ages by Orson F. Whitney
- Within These Prison Walls: Lorenzo Snow's Record Book, 1886-1897, edited by Richard N. Holzapfel
- A Mormon Chronicle: The Diaries of John D. Lee, 1848-1876 (2 vols.), edited by Robert Cleland and Juanita Brooks
- Hearing the Voice of the Lord: Principles and Patterns of Personal Revelation by Gerald N. Lund
- A Systematic Program for Teaching the Gospel (1952/1955 LDS missionary manual)
- A Uniform System for Teaching Investigators (1961 LDS missionary manual)
- The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History, edited by Devery S. Anderson
- The Master's Church: Course A (1969 LDS Sunday School manual)
- Mormons and Evangelicals: Reasons for Faith by David E. Smith
- Early Patriarchal Blessings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, compiled by H. Michael Marquardt
- The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis by Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen E. Parrish
- In the President's Office: The Diaries of L. John Nuttall, 1879-1892, edited by Jedediah S. Rogers
I've also seen two of my LDS friends leave the LDS movement for mainstream Christianity, though I cannot be sure what role I might have played in at least the first case. (As for the other, she was baptized yesterday at a Foursquare congregation. Sadly, she has been on the receiving end of a considerable degree of accusatory hate mail from many of her LDS former 'friends', and so prayers for her would of course be appreciated.) I have also continued writing a paper giving my testimony and engaging with LDS thought, which I've titled A Testimony and an Exhortation; it stands now at 83 pages, and I expect to eventually post some extracts here, and hope to get some feedback. In the meantime, I am eager to see this blog get back up and running - perhaps not with quite so aggressive a frequency as I had before, but we'll play it by ear. I hope that you all are well. God bless you all!