Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Paper Abstract: The Narrow Strip of Wilderness in the Modern Age

This is a rough draft of a paper I would like to present at the Claremont Conference for the Study of War and Peace. Please let me know what you think, and if you would like to organize a panel with me.


The Book of Mormon records how God commanded the Nephites to assume a defensive posture. Relying upon the “narrow strip of wilderness” the Nephites reacted to Lamanite aggression to defend themselves. This and their few disastrous offensives provide support for an isolationist foreign policy. Most recently, this position has been vigorously used against U.S. action in Iraq. But as we more closely examine the Nephite decisions dictated by terrain and technology and compare them to the modern challenges we see that this neo isolationist foreign policy is not only dangerous, but an incorrect application of lessons learned from The Book of Mormon. This paper will argue that a careful reading of The Book of Mormon provides evidence that supports an active defense and interventionist foreign policy. Historiographically, this paper examines the resources with which Mormons can make decisions regarding current events, and the necessity of armed force.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Call for Papers: War and Peace in Our Time

Call for Papers

War and Peace in Our Time:
Mormon Perspectives

A conference sponsored by the Latter-day Saint Council on Mormon Studies, and
the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame
Held at Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA
March 18-19, 2011

In a world pervaded with religious fervor and seemingly perpetual war, it has become essential for religious believers to consider the realities of violent conflict and the possibilities for a more peaceful world. Adherents and scholars of the world’s largest religious bodies have had long and often contentious debates over what their sacred sources and traditions teach them about how and when, if ever, it is justifiable and even righteous to engage in violence. While some contend that religion is inherently violent, others maintain that the core message of all religions is peaceful coexistence and compassion for one’s neighbor; meanwhile, nuanced scholarly treatments suggest that in fact “the ambivalence of the sacred” on questions of war and peace is common to all faith traditions.

As a relatively young religion, Mormonism has not yet fully grappled with the many complicated questions of peace and war in the modern world, with all of their theological, social, and political ramifications, but the time is ripe to do so. Accordingly, this conference seeks to examine not only Mormonism’s history in relation to issues of war and peace, but also the resources within the tradition that provide a foundation for constructive discussion and dialogue about how individual Latter-day Saints and the broader church orient themselves in a world of violence.

We are soliciting papers reflecting on all aspects of Mormon perspectives on war and peace, from historical-social scientific, theological, and normative standpoints. Professional scholars, students, and members of the community at large, both LDS and non-LDS, are welcome to submit papers and to attend the conference; all sessions will be open to the public. The conference aims to be exploratory and deliberative, seeking to include and represent voices from across the spectrum and engage multiple perspectives in respectful dialogue.

The deadline for proposals, which should include a paper abstract of no more than 500 words and a brief CV of the presenter, is September 1, 2010. Proposals should be submitted by e-mail to Questions may be directed to one of the conference co-chairs, Richard Bushman ( or Patrick Mason (

[I'm very interested in submitting a panel for this. Please let me know if you are interested.]

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Old School Values of Captain Moroni

I came across an interesting article on Captain Moroni. This post by Robert C. interacts with Grant Hardy's new book on The Book of Mormon. If you can get past his admitted jealousy over Captain Moroni he makes some excellent points about the values that he represents contrasted with those of modern Western society.