Friday, August 24, 2012

War and Peace in Our Time

I received the date for the release of my essay in the upcoming volume, War and Peace in Our Times: Mormon Perspectives. From the website:

Edited by Patrick Q. Mason, J. David Pulsipher, and Richard L. Bushman

These essays reveal how the scriptures, prophetic teachings, history, culture, rituals, and traditions of Mormonism have been, are, and can be used as warrants for a wide range of activities and attitudes—from radical pacifism to legitimation of the United States’ use of preemptive force against its enemies. As a relatively young religion that for much of its early history was simply struggling for survival, Mormonism has not yet fully grappled with some of the pressing questions of war and peace, with all of the attendant theological, social, and political ramifications. Given the LDS Church’s relative stability and measure of prominence and influence in the early twenty-first century, the time is ripe to examine the historical, spiritual, and cultural resources within the tradition that provide a foundation for constructive dialogue about how individual Latter-day Saints and the institutional Church orient themselves in a world of violence. While recognizing the important contributions of previous scholars who had offered analysis and reflection on the topic, these essays offer a more sustained and collaborative examination of Mormon perspectives on war and peace, drawing on both historical-social scientific research as well as more normative (theological and ethical) arguments.

"This provocative and thoughtful book is sure both to infuriate and to delight. It brings together reflections and advocacy pieces by an eclectic and serious group of scholars, national security professionals, and peace activists, united by a common passion to discern within Latter-day Saint scriptures and history patterns of thought concerning the causes of war and the conditions of peace. The contributions range from expansive definitions of national defense to philosophic pacifism and from subtle arguments to crusading manifestos. The essays demonstrate that exegesis of distinctly Latter-day Saint scriptures can yield a wealth of disputation, the equal of any rabbinical quarrel or Jesuitical casuistry. This volume provides a fitting springboard for robust and lively debates within the Mormon scholarly and lay community on how to think about the pressing issues of war and peace." - Robert S. Wood, Dean Emeritus, Center for Naval Warfare Studies, Chester W. Nimitz Chair Emeritus, U.S. Naval War College

"This is an extraordinary collection of essays on a topic of extraordinary importance. The editors have deliberately included thoughtful LDS voices on war and peace from a variety of perspectives—from peace activists and veterans to historians and national security professionals. The result is a book that will frustrate easy answers and partisan positions. The Book of Mormon includes both military heroes and a devastating critique of militarism; J. Reuben Clark was indeed a pacifist, but for problematic reasons; Hugh Nibley’s strong aversion to war came directly from his personal experiences on the battlefield, while other Mormons have been able to reconcile their commitment to “renounce war and proclaim peace” with their service in uniform. When is state-sanctioned violence necessary or appropriate? Does war ultimately do more harm than good? Are the alternatives reasonable or realistic? Whatever your current opinion on the topic, this book will challenge you to reflect more deeply and thoroughly on what it means to be a disciple of Christ, the Prince of Peace, in an era of massive military budgets, lethal technologies, and widespread war."
- Grant Hardy

I'm honored that my essay seemed to inspire the line about "[legitimizing] the use of preemptive force" found in the first sentence of the book blurb. Although I don't think it is the polar opposite of radical pacifism. If anything, my position articulated the belief of the majority position in the church which supported the war. I hope you buy a copy and enjoy the read.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Amalickiah: God Made Me King

I found a great article by Ben Spackman which details the possible origins of Amalickiah. Spackman, in making his case, details some of the behaviors of Near Eastern usurpers and suggests several intriguing items. He points out that Amalickiah could be a throne name designed to grant him additional legitimacy. He also hints at the idea that since his brother assumed the throne after his death that they killed the sons of the previous Lamanite King. Spackman pointed out that this article still needs some work, but he certainly presents some intriguing ideas.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Drinking the Blood of your Enemy

I'm listening to the FAIR Conference online. (I'm buying a house in the near future and need to conserve money. Plus, listening to a conference while you sit on your couch and surf facebook is the best way to go!) John Sorenson spoke this morning about his upcoming book. It is said to be roughly 800 pages of parallels and evidence which support the authenticity of The Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican text. He shared some of that evidence which included a practice of generals fighting until "they drank the blood of their opponent." We see almost the exact phrase in Alma 49:27. His book isn't expected until early next year, but I look forward to seeing his source and the exact material behind it. I am already planning on using it for an upcoming paper on the warrior ethos in The Book of Mormon. If you have some free time I highly recommend the conference to you.