I came back from my morning movie and, after several days of nothing worthwhile showing up in the mail, was pleasantly surprised to find the latest issues of Dialogue and Sunstone waiting for me on the living room couch. The summer issue of Dialogue is Kristine’s second as editor, and I think she is doing a terrific job. So anyway I’ve started to read it, and I thought I would open a thread here for my own commentary as I go and for anyone else to share their reactions.
The first thing I noticed was that there were a lot of familiar names in this issue, people I’ve come to know through the Bloggernacle. And I think this is a wonderful development, and I was very glad to see it. The blogging community skews to the young, while the readership of the print independent journals like Dialogue skews to the gray-haired. I remember when Elbert was still at Sunstone and we still were having regional symposia in Chicago, there would always be a brainstorming session on how to involve younger people, and we could never really come up with anything constructive. But I’ve noticed at MHA there is a substantial amount of youthful participation and energy (witness the JI posse), and I think we’re seeing that same youthful appropriation of Dialogue as well. I’m of the view that the same people who blog are the ones with the talent and knowledge and writing skills to polish their thoughts a little bit more and actually publish them for posterity in Dialogue, and I think we’re starting to see that happen, and I think it’s terrific. I hope this trend continues and even accelerates.
The letters section includes a fairly long letter from Rocky Anderson (the former mayor of SLC), which describes his own history in the Church with the priesthood ban issue, and how that ought to be instructive for the issue we now are facing with gay marriage. Although I would have written it a little differently, I agree with the basic point. Seeing the Church err historically by failing to distinguish properly ambient culture from eternal doctrine has freed me to recognize similar culturally-grounded decision making in the contemporary church as well. I think the day will come, maybe in a generation or two, when we’ll be embarrassed by our advocacy against gay marriage (I’m already embarrassed.)
John-Charles Duffy wrote to apologize to Tom Alexander for Tom’s perception that John-Charles was going after him and Leonard Arrington in his Deconstruction article from the Spring 2008 issue. His actual intent was to go after antipositivists like Louis Midgley and David Bohn.
In keeping with the name “dialogue,” there is some give and take on my article from the Winter issue (Levi’s last as editor) on worshiping Mother in Heaven. This involves a lengthy critique of the article by Bored in Vernal followed by an equally lengthy response by me. Bloggernacle regulars will have already seen this play out on Hieing to Kolob and here on BCC. I personally love this kind of give and take over articles that have appeared, and as I said in my piece I thank BiV for playing. I thought it was both fun and enlightening.
MHA President-Elect Bill MacKinnon provides some additional information on his Utah War Command Ambiguity article from the Spring issue, based on info he got from Keepa’s Ardis Parshall.
The first actual article I turned to was “The Education of a Bible Scholar,” by Sheldon Greaves. (FPR guys, please feel free to comment here!) I could relate to his article through his BYU education, as my own experience had very similar contours, even though I studied classics and he did Ancient Near Eastern studies (but he almost did classics and his wife went that route). Like him, I was kind of naive and thought that pursuing critical scholarship would actually be perceived at BYU as a good thing; it took time to fully come to the realization that that doesn’t mesh well with BYU Religious Education.
I don’t have the experience of grad school, so I appreciated being able to read his story about his grad studies at Berkeley. I especially enjoyed his detailed account of the seminar he took with Jacob Milgrom. And therein was something that I found a little puzzling. He describes his growing disengagement with the Church. But it seems to me that Milgrom ought to have provided a model for how to be a rigorous scholar and biblical critic and still be a religious believer. Sure, he probably couldn’t teach GD effectively any more, but there are lots of other ways to maintain community with the Saints. He paints Milgrom as a kind of heroic figure, and rightly so, but he seems unable to translate Milgrom’s virtues into his own religious tradition. That was the thought I had as I read the piece; what did you think?