A Civil Dialogue

I just read a review of God Is No Delusion: A Refutation of Richard Dawkins by Thomas Crean, a Dominican Catholic. What really stood out to me was the reviewer’s intellectual honesty – followed by the friendly exchange in the Comments section.

Here’s a taste, from James E. Egolf:

“I liked the frank, honest, and polite exchange. There are people with serious religious religious convictions who are knowledgeable about advanced physics, astronomy, geology, etc. There are folks who are atheists who are kind, compassionate, and honest. I agree with both gentlemen in their comments.”

It’s a model worthy of our following, amongst those of faith and no faith, and of course among those of differing faiths. I’ll write more about this later.

Having had my fill recently of political and religious expediency, historical ignorance, and poor logic – if not downright dishonesty – in this year’s presidential race, the comments left by Bagpipe Player, P. Boire, and the rest served to curb the cynicism I had recently begun to feel. There is definitely a lot of good out there; it just takes perseverance on our part, and a little gem like this comes along. 🙂

Many thanks to those mentioned – you really made my evening.

(P.S. Here’s a review of an earlier version of Crean’s book.

On a related note, just today I was reading an interview with Thomas D. Williams, who is a theology professor in Rome, Vatican analyst for CBS News, and author of Greater Than You Think: A Theologian Answers the Atheists About God – which came out just today, actually. Williams takes on Dawkins and his peers, including Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens.

After reading the reviews, interview, and comments, I plan on reading both books eventually.)


Book of Mormon Internet Resources

This page is periodically updated – most recently on 03 March 08. Any suggestions are welcome! (add comments below)


LDS General Conference Scriptural Index
“This index links from scriptures to the general conference talks that cite those scriptures. So, for example, suppose you want to know who has cited 1 Ne. 3:7 in general conference; click on the Book of Mormon link at the left and scroll down to 1 Ne. 3; there you’ll find the answer. Who has quoted Matt. 5:48? Use the New Testament index to find out.

“We have indexed the scriptures cited by speakers in LDS General Conference between 1942 and the present. You can sort the citation index by scripture (the default), by speaker, or by date of citation.” (from the website)

From lds.org:
Elder Ballard Speaks: Is There Scientific Proof Authenticating the Book of Mormon?

New Era/Ensign Articles:
Composition and History of the Book of Mormon

BM Resources by Spackman
Misunderstanding Scripture Language


-“And with All Thy Mind” by John W. Welch – another classic address – viewable as a web page; downloadable in various formats, including pdf and mp3

Purposes of the Book of Mormon: 1 Ne. 13:39-40

-To establish the truthfulness of the Bible

-From President Hugh B. Brown’s superb talk, “Profile of a Prophet” (here’s another version arranged according to parallistic patterns):

“there is no chapter in all literature, sacred or profane, which I say to you as a lawyer, has greater evidential value, than the chapters in Third Nephi where multitudes of people said, we saw him, we felt of his hands and his side, we know he is the Christ.


1 Ne. 1:18-20 Why did the people of Jerusalem reject the message of Lehi and the other prophets (e.g., Jeremiah)?

-“The False Gods We Worship” by President Spencer W. Kimball

1 Ne. 8, 11-12, 15

-“Lehi’s Dream: The Indispensable Foundation of the Book of Mormon” by Bruce Satterfield of BYU-I (rough draft)

1 Ne. 11:36; 12:18-19 “the pride of the world;” “the pride of the children of men;” “the pride of [Nephi’s] seed.”

-“Beware of Pride” by President Ezra Taft Benson – a landmark address!!

-“Hubris and Ate: A Latter-day Warning from the Book of Mormon” by Richard D. Draper. From the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies

1 Ne. 12:1-3 Nephi’s vision of his people at the time of Christ’s first coming; parallels to our day – the last days before Christ’s Second Coming (cf. JS-M 1:27-37).

-Regarding the last days, Elder Holland gave a marvelous and powerfully reassuring talk during a CES fireside on 12 Sept. 2004:

Terror, Triumph, and a Wedding Feast

2 Ne. 6-8

-Garold N. Davis, “Book of Mormon Commentary on Isaiah

2 Ne. 9

-Elder James E. Faust, “The Supernal Gift of the Atonement

-Elder Spencer J. Condie, “The Fall and Infinite Atonement

CELTA, weeks one and two

I’m now at the halfway mark in the journey to earning my “CELTA,” which stands for “Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.” The training is a rigorous as anything I’ve experienced; probably similar in intensity to the MTC (which explains the 2-week hiatus in blogging), but with a different focus. One of this generation’s wisest men said that “education is the key to opportunity,” and I think he would approve of such a course. It’s already changing how I teach and how I think about teaching. I recommend the course to anyone who would like to learn how to teach the English language. And while I won’t be able to go abroad to teach English until sometime next year due to a commitment to Big Brothers (which I also recommend), my plan is to teach free English classes locally so as to get some practice and not lose the valuable (and moderately pricey) skills I’m learning.

I’ll comment more on the CELTA experience later.

Note: I’m also reading A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century by Oliver Van DeMille. You really should read this book, and think about what it means for you, your children, and anyone else whose education matters to you.

The Best Books They Read in 2007…

If you’re looking for good books to read, here are a few suggestions from some folks whose taste I consider trustworthy (authors, editors, & staff of Ignatius Press):

The Best Books I Read in 2007…

Highlights from the article:

From Peter Kreeft‘s reviews:

Regarding Michael O’Brien’s new novel, Island of the World : “Michael’s book was predictably good, perhaps his best one yet, an intergenerational, long, yet exciting read about the Catholic heroes of Croatia. Michael is spinach.”

Anne Rice’s novel Jesus of Nazareth: Out of Egyptis a book supposedly written (or thought) by Jesus Himself as a kid! Yet it works, remarkably well. There is not an inauthentic note in it. I’d rank it third on the all-time list of Jesus fiction, only the third time anyone has successfully written a piece of fiction about Jesus (the first being Dostoyevski’s “The Grand Inquisitor” and the second being Lewis’s Narnia chronicles (they should be called the Aslan Chronicles).

(Note: the book’s title is actually Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.)

From Dale Ahlquist, president and co-founder of the American Chesterton Society:

Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI. A lifetime of learning comes together in the most important subject of all. I savored each page.

Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, by Christopher Dawson. A glorious study of Medieval civilization. A book that should be read by everyone even remotely connected to education.

The Offbeat Radicals: The British Tradition of Alternative Dissent, by Geoffrey Ashe. Shows how Chesterton influenced Gandhi.

Mark Brumley is President of the Board of Directors of Guadalupe Associates and Chief Executive Officer for Ignatius Press.

Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen. I had never read it before. Loved it. Would read it again at the drop of a hat.

The Jesus Legend, by Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd. Good rebuttal to the Jesus Seminar, and the other revisionists.

From journalist, author, and architect Moyra Doorly:

Story of a Soul, by St Therese of Lisieux. This was the first account of the spiritual life that had me laughing out loud with delight.

From Dr. Thomas Howard, a highly acclaimed writer and literary scholar noted for his studies of Inklings C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams:

The Lyttleton–Hart-David Letters. A 3-vol. collection of letters written between 1955 and 1962, between the publisher Rupert Hart-Davis, and his former Eton “beak” (master) George Lyttleton, of the gold-plated Lyttleton family. Gloriously literate, clever, urbane, flashing letters. The best sort of bedtime reading.

From Sandra Miesel, a Catholic journalist, medieval historian, and co-author of The Pied Piper of Atheism and the best-selling The Da Vinci Hoax:

An Experiment In Criticism, by C.S. Lewis. An admirable model for critics.

Preface to Paradise Lost, by C.S. Lewis. An excellent antidote to Philip Pullman.

Planet Narnia, by Michael Ward. An exciting and persuasive new interpretation of the Chronicles in terms of planetary symbolism.

Michael O’Brien, Canadian self-taught painter and writer, wrote:

The Bridge on the Drina, by Ivo Andric, a novel that chronicles the “life” of a bridge and a town in Bosnia, including its Serb, Croat, Muslim, Turkish, Jewish, and Austrian residents. First published in 1946, this book has become a classic, beloved by (amazingly) all peoples of former Yugoslavia–and throughout the world.

I wanted to include something from each of the article’s contributors, but this post is already quite long enough. So I opted for a few excerpts that I hope motivate you to read the article in its entirety – it doesn’t take as long as you might suspect, and you may find yourself planning to read nearly all of the books listed (as I did). My favorite comment is the reference to spinach (though I’m not sure what it means…).

Note: most of the descriptions above are taken directly from the article at Ignatius Insight.