Friday, December 15, 2017

An Other Testament: On Typology

How does the Book of Mormon itself suggest that it should be read?  According to Joseph Spencer, it may not be the way that most of us have been reading the Book of Mormon.  In his book An Other Testament: On Typology, Joseph Spencer argues that the Book of Mormon is meant to be read  typologically as typology is understood through the eyes of a converted soul, such as that of Lehi's son Nephi.  Spencer's argument, like the Book of Mormon itself, is much more complex than that, but the simple thread that ties his argument together pertains to a particular understanding regarding the nature of grace, the law, and the prophets.  

Like Grant Hardy (see also here), Spencer has read the Book of Mormon more closely and more carefully than most people.  One of the benefits of reading Hardy's book Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide and Spencer's book An Other Testament: On Typology together is that their books reveal how much more there is to discover in the book that Joseph Smith called "the most correct of any book on earth."  Moreover, those who suppose that Joseph Smith could have somehow written the Book of Mormon face not only the daunting obstacle of explaining the complexity of the Book of Mormon itself, but now they also face the obstacle of explaining the intricacies outlined by Hardy and Spencer that may have escaped the notice of more casual readers.  Could Joseph Smith have written the Book of Mormon?  First read the Book of Mormon.  Then read Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide and Spencer's An Other Testament: On typology.  Try if you will to come up with an argument to support the conclusion that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon.  All I can say to you then is... good luck.

While I don't agree with every detail of Spencer's or Hardy's readings of the Book of Mormon, their books open up new vistas for those who seek a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the Book of Mormon.  You may not be persuaded by Spencer's thesis, but if you read An Other Testament: On Typology, you may never read the Book of Mormon in the same way again. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide

Understanding the Book of Mormon, by Grant Hardy
Grant Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide is a remarkable book.  It is remarkable in terms of Hardy's very close and careful reading of the Book of Mormon, but it is even more remarkable for the way in which it inspires both experienced readers and skeptics alike to take a closer look at the Book of Mormon.  If you think that you have read the Book of Mormon closely and carefully, I encourage you to read Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide to catch a glimpse of what you might have missed.

In his article "The Book of Mormon: A Great Answer to 'The Great Question'", Elder Neal A. Maxwell expressed his eagerness to broaden and deepen his understanding of the Book of Mormon: 

"For my part, I am glad the book will be with us 'as long as the earth shall stand.' I need and want additional time. For me, towers, courtyards, and wings await inspection. My tour of it has never been completed. Some rooms I have yet to enter, and there are more flaming fireplaces waiting to warm me. Even the rooms I have glimpsed contain further furnishings and rich detail yet to be savored. There are panels inlaid with incredible insights and design and decor dating from Eden. There are also sumptuous banquet tables painstakingly prepared by predecessors which await all of us. Yet, we as Church members sometimes behave like hurried tourists, scarcely venturing beyond the entry hall to the mansion."

In a similar vein, Hardy has explored many of the towers, courtyards, and wings of the Book of Mormon.  He has entered rooms and found fireplaces, furnishings, panels, decor, and banquet tables that may have escaped the notice of rushed readers.  Hardy ventures beyond the entry hall, into the mansion, and his exploration invites us to do the same.  Whether we have been hurried tourists or skeptics in the past, Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide invites us to enter the Book of Mormon mansion with a fresh perspective.  

In some instances, Hardy stretches his interpretations beyond credible speculation.  Nevertheless, for the most part, his study of the Book of Mormon is enhanced by his capacious knowledge of world religions and his keen literary interests.  Throughout his book, Hardy highlights the editorial efforts of the three major prophet-historians of the Book of Mormon, namely Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni.  The result is a panoply of penetrating insights into a book that for good reason members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regard as a "marvelous work and a wonder."

There is simply too much in Hardy's book, and even more in the Book of Mormon itself, to appreciate in one short blog post.  But it is a such pleasure to read Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide in part because it allows the reader to enter into a conversation with someone who treasures the book enough to read it carefully.  The Book of Mormon is anything but "chloroform in print."  Critics have wrongly supposed that the Book of Mormon is not "one of those books that must be read in order to have an opinion of it."  The Book of Mormon does not easily reward the casual or cavalier reader.  Grant Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide demonstrates that the Book of Mormon brims with meaning for those who are willing to pay the price of careful study.  But you don't have take my word for it.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Galilee Grill

"I opened Galilee Grill and Bakery to share with our community the wonderful flavors that I grow up with in Nazareth. My family was in the Pita bread business, both in making bakery machines and in running bakeries in Nazareth. I even built some of the machines that we use to make our pita bread in Lehi, from family designs. The pita bread you find at our bakery is almost identical to a pita bread you would buy on the streets of Nazareth. Keeping our food authentic and true to the traditional recipes of the Holy Land has been an important part of our menu choices. Where possible we have expanded to offer as a wider variety as possible from other countries in the Middle East. We even use a more expensive imported brand of Tahini because to keep our flavors as authentic as possible.
I am committed to our guests' satisfaction, we are humans and make mistakes. So if you are not satisfied with your food for any reason, please talk to a manager and they will be happy to do what is necessary to resolve the situation to your satisfaction. If you are still not satisfied, then I am not satisfied. Please send me an email at  We do appreciate your business."

Ehab Abunuwara

A First Faint Gleam of Heaven

C.S. Lewis
"[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you."

Friday, December 1, 2017


C.S. Lewis
What is Sehnsucht?
  • "If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world." - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
  • "In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited." - C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
  • "It appeared to me therefore that if a man diligently followed this desire, pursuing the false objects until their falsity appeared and then resolutely abandoning them, he must come out at last into the clear knowledge that the human soul was made to enjoy some object that is never fully given--nay, cannot even be imagined as given--in our present mode of subjective and spatio-temporal experience. This Desire was, in the soul, as the Siege Perilous in Arthur's castle--the chair in which only one could sit. And if nature makes nothing in vain, the One who can sit in this chair must exist. I knew only too well how easily the longing accepts false objects and through what dark ways the pursuit of them leads us: but I also saw that the Desire itself contains the corrective of all these errors. The only fatal error was to pretend that you had passed from desire to fruition, when, in reality, you had found either nothing, or desire itself, or the satisfaction of some different desire. The dialectic of Desire, faithfully followed, would retrieve all mistakes, head you off from all false paths, and . . . to propound, but to live through, a sort of ontological proof. This lived dialectic, and the merely argued dialectic of my philosophical progress, seemed to have converged on one goal; accordingly I tried to put them both into my allegory which thus became a defence of Romanticism (in my peculiar sense) as well as of Reason and Christianity." - C.S. Lewis, Pilgrim's Regress
  • "That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World’s End, the opening lines of Kubla Khan, the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves." - C.S. Lewis, Pilgrim's Regress
  • "It still seemed to be early and the morning freshness was in the air. They kept on stopping to look round and to look behind them, partly because it was so beautiful but partly also because there was something about it which they could not understand.
  • “Peter,” said Lucy, “where is this, do you suppose?”
  • “I don’t know,” said the High King. “It reminds me of somewhere but I can’t give it a name. Could it be somewhere we once stayed for a holiday when we were very, very small?”
  • “It would have to have been a jolly good holiday,” said Eustace. “I bet there isn’t a country like this anywhere in our world. Look at the colors. You couldn’t get a blue like the blue on those mountains in our world. . . .”
  • Lucy said, “They’re different. They have more colors on them and they look further away than I remembered and they’re more … more … oh, I don’t know.…”
  • “More like the real thing,” said the Lord Digory softly. - C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle

Sanity and Genius

G.K. Chesterton
  • “It is indeed, an absurd exaggeration to say that we are all mad, just as it is true that we are none of us perfectly healthy. If there were to appear in the world a perfectly sane man, he would certainly be locked up. The terrible simplicity with which he would walk over our minor morbidities, or sulky vanities and malicious self-righteousness; the elephantine innocence with which he would ignore our fictions or civilization—these would make him a thing more desolating and inscrutable than a thunderbolt or a beast of prey. It may be that the great prophets who appeared to mankind as mad were in reality raving with an impotent sanity."
- G.K. Chesterton, Lunacy and Letters
  • "Genius ought to be centric. It ought to be the core of the cosmos, not on the revolving edges. People seem to think it a compliment to accuse one of being an outsider, and to talk about the eccentricities of genius. What would they think, if I said I only wish to God I had the centricities of genius."
- G.K. Chesterton, The Poet and the Lunatics