Terry Eagleton and the Mormons, take II

Back in Aug. 2004 I wrote a post titled Terry Eagleton is Utah-obsessed which cited two Mormo-centric references in his book After Theory. More recently (just last month) Dave Banack posted on the same references at Times & Seasons. An excellent discussion ensued which referenced Eagleton’s latest book Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate.

In the interest of completism, here is the one Mormon reference in that book (or at least the only overt one I found):

It is true that a great many Christians have fallen prey to flagrantly ideological versions of the Gospel — that is to say, version of it which in one way or another play into the hands of what Saint John darkly refers to as the powers of this world. As far as I can see, there is no support in Scripture for what I believe may still be the practice at the Mormons’ Brigham Young University (I refrain from placing that last word in scare quotes), where those students or faculty members who need for medical reason to grow beards are required to carry on their persons a so-called beard card. But perhaps I have overlooked some vital antishaving verse in Luke or Matthew here. (pages 58-59)

Anyone who doesn’t like Eagleton’s style and/or core philosophies won’t enjoy this book. I derived some mild pleasure from the Richard Dawkins/Christopher Hitchens (or Ditchkins as he calls them) take down although you have to buy in to so much of Eagleton’s social justice version of Christianity for it to really be convincing.

As for the Mormon potshot: eh, whatever. It’s sort of like the potshots on Gilmore Girls — I still find you somewhat witty and interesting, but think you’d do best to keep to what you actually know.

On the new BYU MFA

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So that BYU is starting an MFA in Creative Writing. My only real wonderment is why it took so long. It’s a trendy program to have and BYU, one would think, should have a vested interest in flooding the earth with good writers. This is self-evident.

Furthermore, I am hopeful that this will result in writers being treated with the same slavish love and devotion that lawyers and MBAs receive. I’m wondering if the economic crisis and Tim Flanigan might be making them rethink their institutional preference for those professions and start giving writers a shot. Surely this is the underlying message behind the new MFA program: Perhaps artists aren’t that dangerous after all. (Comparatively.) Continue reading “On the new BYU MFA”

“Our Refined Heavenly Home”

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Elder Douglas L. Callister of the Seventy wrote a delightful article in this month’s Ensign, “Our Refined Heavenly Home.” I’m ashamed to admit that I might never have read it had not my dear wife told me I should. (I keep saying I’ll stick the Ensign in the bathroom where it will actually get read, but it seems weird to have all those pictures of Jesus on my toilet, Backslider or no Backslider.) The article is adapted from a BYU devotional Elder Callister gave in 2006 which is about 1800 words longer and has even more dandy quotations. (Frankly, it’s tempting to just lift all his quotations and anecdotes and place them here for discussion, but I can’t quite feel good about that.)

The article has three main thrusts, language, literature and music, with an everything-else category to finish things off.

For brevity’s sake, I will take a short excerpt from each section to comment on, but in your comments, feel free to reference any part of his talk. Continue reading ““Our Refined Heavenly Home””