I realize that Mormon apologetics is something of a minority taste among participants in the Bloggernacle. But for the benefit of those who have an interest in this sort of thing, as I do, I would like to alert you to some forthcoming developments.
First, the 2007 FAIR Conference will be held on August 2-3 at the South Towne Exposition Center. Details may be found here.
I have managed to attend every FAIR Conference since the beginning. The first one was held in a Relief Society room in Ben Lomond, California; there were almost more speakers than there were people in the audience. It was a great assortment of people; it was there that I first met Dan Peterson and Bob Rees, for example. The next year the conference was held at Alta, then it moved to the Women’s Conference Center in Provo, then to UVSC, and the last few years it has been at the present location in Sandy. About 200 to 250 attend. I think it’s a lot of fun. The tentative schedule of speakers is as follows:
Thursday Schedule-August 2
Steve Olson-Are the Church Archives Closed?
Terryl Givens-When Souls Had Wings: What the Western Tradition Has to Teach Us About Pre-Existence.
Brian Hauglid-Whence the Book of Abraham? A Case Study for Re-Thinking LDS Apologetics.
Blake Ostler-Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment.
Jeff Walker-Joseph Smith’s Escape from Liberty.
Wendy Ulrich-Seeing our blindness: personal history, religious experience, and the need for story.
John Sorenson-The Trajectory of Book of Mormon Studies.
Speaker’s Banquet (For speakers and guests)
Friday Schedule-August 3
Richard Turley-Reflections on Mountain Meadows.
Larry Morris-The Cowdery Controversies.
David Bokovoy-Isaiah in the Book of Mormon: The Things of Joseph and the Things of the Jews.
FAIR Business–Video Preview.
Craig Foster & Steve Mayfield-Demonstrations, Protests, and Pamphleteering in the Heart of Mormonism.
John Hall-As Far as It is Translated Correctly: The Problem of Tampering with the Word of God in the Transmission and Translation of the New Testament
Bill Hamblin-Solomon’s Temple: Myth and History
Daniel Peterson-God and Mr. Hitchens
Second, the following is a slightly edited announcement of the forthcoming FARMS Review 19/1, which will be out shortly, courtesy of Lou Midgley, which I share here by permission:
I have an urge to announce that the technical editing for FR 19/1 is now complete and this issue should go to the printers soon. I am tempted to let the cat out of the bag on some of its contents. In fact I will do just that.
M. Gerald (Jerry) Bradford has a long essay on Mormon studies programs. We also are including an exchange between Michael Heiser and David Bokovoy on Psalm 82. This begins with a commentary by Heiser on Dan Peterson’s famous essay, and then a response by Bokovoy and a rejoinder by Heiser. I see this as a model for such exchanges. It is both learned and civil. We have also included a nice essay by James (Jim) Faulconer entitled “Rethinking Theology.” Jim offers some cogent advice to those who just cannot resist speculation, wooly or otherwise.
We also have essays by Ralph Hancock, Terryl Givens, Bill Hamblin, Alyson Von Feldt, Brant Gardner, Richard Williams and, alas, I also contributed an essay. For those who are interested, we have a rather sprightly, even a bit naughty “editor’s introduction” by Dan Peterson in which there is considerable mention of Richard Bushman’s work as an historian. We have included nice eulogies by John Sorenson and James (Jim) Allen for our friend Davis Bitton.
Since I am writing this little report, I will venture an explanation of my own essay. I thought that I had reviewed Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling in the “Editor’s Introduction” to FR 18/2. But others thought differently; they insisted that I had to actually mention Bushman’s name and the title of his book, which I had intentionally avoided doing in “Knowing Brother Joseph Again.” So I wrote another essay in which I actually talk about Bushman and his book.
Now, while I have everyone’s attention, I must indicate that I find it a bit odd that anyone would recommend any biography of Joseph Smith other than Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling. It is a grave though understandable mistake to turn to books that are grounded on late reminiscences or that collect such items, if one wants real information about Joseph Smith. We must confront, instead, the earliest and more direct textual materials. I must be blunt at this point. The fact is that the tales collected and used by Truman Madsen or that book by Mark McConkie are not sound sources for biographical information. They are, instead, efforts to lionize Joseph Smith and they divert attention from his rough edges. They may make us feel good. In doing this they tend to make of Joseph Smith more than he was or could have been. They tend to remove the scandal, which I think is exactly the wrong thing to do. If you have read and followed the discussion of RSR, you will have noticed that Bushman has explained why he simply could not draw on late materials. And, if you have followed the efforts of Larry Morris and Mark Ashurst-McGee, published in the Review, to respond to Dan Vogel and others who insist on using secondary, very late materials or hearsay, you will see exactly why Bushman did not go down that road. And also why we should be very cautious about doing this either.