Interpreting Scripture, History, Science, and Creation: A Free Course by Me!

Red brick store in Nauvoo, where the first endowments were done on May 4, 1842.

Edit: I’ve added this syllabus to the main menu at left, and simplified the url for easy access, to http://BenSpackman.com/syllabus

May 4th holds significance in LDS history: it’s the day Joseph Smith introduced temple ordinances in the upper room of the red brick store in 1842. The temple ties together a number of questions, like: Continue reading “Interpreting Scripture, History, Science, and Creation: A Free Course by Me!”

Joseph Fielding Smith’s Assumptions

The future is difficult to plan right now, but I’m happy to report my proposal for the American Academy of Religion (AAR) national conference has been accepted. It traditionally meets with the Society of Biblical Literature in a massive multi-day conference attended by thousands. This year it’s in Boston, mid/late November. I pray by then we’ll be back to some kind of normalcy. Continue reading “Joseph Fielding Smith’s Assumptions”

The Most Important Question I’ve Been Asked

I had a heavy weekend, between flying cheaply (read: uncomfortably and really early), a family funeral, and TWO related firesides: one on how Latter-day Saints came to read scripture in stark anti-evolutionary ways, the other on making sense of LDS creation accounts in light of what we know about both scripture and science.

During the Q&A, a young sister missionary assigned to the Visitor’s Center asked a practical question.

“As missionaries, what can we do to promote this kind of understanding as we teach the simple truths of the Gospel?”

Continue reading “The Most Important Question I’ve Been Asked”

Announcement: Two Firesides This Weekend in the DC Area

It’s been a remarkably good Monday morning. Chilly, but I scored a $72 long-sleeve Merino wool bike jersey for $18 recently, and so went out for a 24-mile ride in 40 degree weather.

Chilaquiles!

Made myself chilaquiles afterwards. Bit of a foodie here.

But more importantly, we’ve crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s, so… I will be in the Washington DC area this weekend, doing two firesides. I know this announcement is sudden; technically I’m coming out for a family funeral, but I’d talked to people before about doing this, and now I have opportunity. Continue reading “Announcement: Two Firesides This Weekend in the DC Area”

BYU Studies, Evolution, and Faith: Some Clarification (Updated!)

We recently put forth an open call for abstracts for a special issue of BYU Studies dedicated to biological evolution, LDS faith, and practice. I am the guest editor overseeing the non-scientific submissions and as such, would like to emphasize a few things from the call that seem to be getting overlooked. Update: Please note, we have extended the abstract submission deadline from February 1 to March 1Continue reading “BYU Studies, Evolution, and Faith: Some Clarification (Updated!)”

Mormon History Association Conference 2020: Scripture, Science, Interpretation, and Fundamentalism

Notices are going out for the MHA Conference this year, to be held in Rochester NY, June 4-7. The schedule is not up yet, but a panel I organized has been accepted, entitled “Developing LDS Exegesis, Hermeneutics, and Epistemology from 1876-1980: Trends and Influences.” Continue reading “Mormon History Association Conference 2020: Scripture, Science, Interpretation, and Fundamentalism”

Speaking Announcements: Harry Potter and Faith, Complexity in Church, Plus a MHA Preview

First, Nov 9 at the LDS Institute in Mesa, I’ll be speaking and participating in a panel. I’ve titled my remarks something like Harry Potter’s Faith Crisis and Our Own: The Only Way Out is Through. (The latter phrase is something I’ve heard Elder Holland cite in “For Times of Trouble” and “However Long and Hard the Road,” both excellent)

This event is sponsored by a large Facebook group called Uplift, some fliers and more info below. Continue reading “Speaking Announcements: Harry Potter and Faith, Complexity in Church, Plus a MHA Preview”

On Hiatus until June

“I confess that I am constantly appalled by the scarcity of my knowledge, and the one resentment I think I carry concerns the many pressing demands which limit the opportunity for reading.” President Gordon B. Hinckley, in The Voice of My Servants (BYU Religious Studies Center, 2010): 61.

I have the opposite problem; right now I am doing nothing but reading. Due to time and stress related to preparing for my qualifying exams and dissertation proposal, I will not be posting anything new or updating my Gospel Doctrine posts until June. If you’re looking for them, you can use the category or date selector at the bottom of the page. I’ve also cut out or blocked myself from virtually all my distractions and other activities. It’s eat, sleep, read, and study, for the next 59 days. Continue reading “On Hiatus until June”

A Short Announcement and a Seattle Fireside on Reclaiming the Literal Interpretation of Genesis

First, I’ve had a lot of Facebook friend requests from readers. I’m taking a break from Facebook to focus on my preparation for my three qualifying exams in spring: American Religious History, Reformation History, and History of Science. However, I will continue posting things to the Benjamin the Scribe Facebook page. I suggest you both Like and Follow that page. (I put a link to it and my GoFundMe  at the end of every post, but apparently, not everyone makes it that far.)

Second and more exciting, Friday Nov. 2 at 7:30, I’ll be speaking at a home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. My topic, “Reclaiming the Literal Interpretation of Genesis: A Short History of How It Went Wrong,” expands on several of my previous papers, presentations, and podcasts (scroll down). Seating is limited, so you must RSVP to this email address. If there are seats remaining, you’ll receive the home address.

See you there.