Fall Dialogue 2009

After a nice (but also very rainy and chilled) adventure downtown for Labor Day, I came home to a hot bath and the most recent issue of Dialogue. My observations:

Mark Nielsen in his “’That Which Surpasses All Understanding’: The Limitations of Human Thought” offers an experience tantamount to a fun conversation with a Really Smart Dude.™ I have the sneaking suspicion that he employs essentially a non sequitor while bridging mathematical domains of Cantor and Gödel, but it didn’t matter. Nielsen is strait forward in disclaiming his speculation as such; his argument is nonetheless compelling (and did I say fun?).

Speaking of Smart folks, the next two articles were taken from the proceedings of the “Faith and Knowledge Conference.” Matt Bowman, erudite as ever, presents “Toward a Theology of Dissent: An Ecclesiological Interpretation.” You can always count on Matt to brandish his analytical chops with grace and perspicacity. Here he offers a middle way (hat tip to the Catholics).

Mauro Properzi is an Italian grad student under Douglass Davies in the UK and riffs on being a Religious Studies Mormon. Good stuff.

It is also no secret that I love Margaret Young and Darius Gray. I love them. I have also keenly followed their recent documentary project Nobody Knows (hint: it is well worth the price). But Greg Prince interviewed them and documented information of which I was unaware and by which I was deeply moved. This is a great behind-the-scenes look at their projects and themselves. After this interview is a transcript of the documentary itself. This will be a great benefit to researchers.

Sam Bhagwat was a junior at Stanford when he was baptized into the Church. In “A Year of Dialogue: Thinking Myself into Mormonism,” Bhagwat describes finding the depth of Church’s past and learning to swim. It is enjoyable to see someone graduate from the wading pool successfully.

There is also an essay by Thomas F. Rogers, entitled “’A Climate Far and Fair’: Ecumenism and Abiding Faith,” which I haven’t had a chance to read. As well as what appears to be some excellent fiction from William Morris (of AMV fame) and Jack Harrell.

Book Reviews are as follows:

“Mormonism in Daniel Walker Howe’s What Hath God Wrought Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 by David W. Grua. This is an expansion of his nice review over at the JI.

“In the Nephite Courtroom”, a review of John W. Welch’s The Legal Cases in the Book of Mormon by our very own Ronan James Head. Ronan deftly navigates around the treacherous elephant in the room of historicity and gives well-earned props to Welch.

“Between Silver Linings and Clouds,” a review of Abel Keogh’s Room for Two by Laura Hilton Craner.

“Time Tabled by Mormon History,” a review of Christopher Kimball Bigelow’s The Timeline History of Mormonism from Premortality to the Present by Karen D. Austin.

“The Long-Distance Mormon,” a review of R. A. Christmas’s The Kingdom of God or Nothing! by Paul Swenson.


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    So far I’ve managed to read about the same stuff you have and have really enjoyed the issue. (I confess I was working on it during testimony meeting on Sunday.)

  2. For reasons known to only a few, I was especially thrilled to have Sam’s essay in this issue along with the transcript and interview relating to _Nobody Knows_. I e-mailed him last week (he’s serving a mission in India) to let him know.

  3. he’s serving a mission in India


  4. I enjoyed reading this issue, though most of it has just been skimmed so far.

  5. I served in the same mission as Mauro (so of course, in my mind he’s more properly Anziano Properzi). I’ll look forward to reading his essay, as well as the rest of the issue.

  6. Eve, you’re a Sorella? Cool, my wife is too. Padova Mission.

    /non sequiter.

    Sounds like a great issue. Thanks for the review.

  7. Yep (or I was, an alarmingly long time ago!) Catania Mission. My American comps and I always used to shorten it to “Sorel’ ” and use it as a general nickname. Just the kind of sloppy slangy language practice I understand has now been cracked down on.

  8. This makes me want to go take a bath- and I just re-upped my subscription.

  9. Steve Evans says:

    Porca miseria!

  10. Thanks, J.

    Laura Craner is also an AMVer.

    Also: for Dialogue readers who don’t read the contributors bios or are too lazy to type in a URL: Liner notes for “Gentle Persuasions”

  11. Thanks, J!

  12. Thanks for those links Wm; I was a bit out it of last month.

  13. Struwelpeter says:

    Isn’t Nobody Knows going to be broadcast in Utah soon?

  14. So I went and asked my wife and Mauro was her teacher in the MTC. We get a Christmas card from him every year. She thinks he is GA material (and apparently had a nerd crush on him in the MTC). Mormonism is so small sometimes.

    Anyway, I wanted to give “mad props” to Kristine, because I am fairly certain she is the power behind how excellent this content is. (expect to see my name on the subscription roles)

  15. #13–the PBS version (56:40 minutes rather than 72) will be broadcast on KUED on October 7 and 11th. Anyone with HD can get it on those dates and one other date–all in October. I’ll keep you informed.

  16. 14–Just to add another twist to this lengthening string of mad small-Mormon-world coincidences, Mauro also went to grad school with one of my sisters.

    I suppose this is an incentive to should start behaving better on the Bloggernacle, since it will someday be revealed that you’re all related to people in my ward or best friends with my former missionary companions.

  17. Jonathan, I want to thank you for this post, while noting that Dialogue does NOT advocate reading in the bathtub (especially if you have an electronic subscription).

  18. Steve Evans says:

    Too many people have died in the bathtub reading Dialogue.

  19. I say perhaps Dialogue is being irresponsible in even offering electronic subscriptions, knowing that people will read them in the bathtub.

  20. Now I’m feeling left out and wondering where my magazine is…

  21. FoxyJ, if it’s any consolation, mine hasn’t arrived either!

  22. And in a fun set of coincidences, I got two emails on Wednesday morning, just before reading this post: one from my parents, who live in the Boston area, saying they had just met Kristine Haglund at some ward function, and one from my younger brother, on a mission in India, saying that he’s getting a new companion, a certain Elder Bhagwat who converted while he was at Stanford. I’m pretty sure this is the universe telling me I need to stop stealing my uncle’s copies of Dialogue and get my own darn subscription already.

  23. Yes, Petra, by all means, get your own subscription, and let me know when you’re coming home for a visit. (Incidentally, your mom is a kickass RS President!)