Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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A Landmark in Mormon Thought: Exploring Mormon Thought, Volume 1: The Attitudes of God, by Blake T. Ostler
Book Reviews 193 Protestantism's embrace of federal authority to control one religion has proved to be a slippery slope for all American religions, it seems to me that the slide began much earlier than the antipolygamy campaign. Do not its American roots, as opposed to Reformation and Enlightenment roots, lie in the first amendment itself, which subordinated church to state, making the duty of citizens to the state superior to the believer's to the church? Only with the shift in the pre-Civil War balance of state and federal authority does this become obvious through the post-Civil War anti-polygamy campaign. I should say, of course, that this is obvious only in retrospect. The Mormon Question details the naivete of the Protestant reformers who facilitated a constitutional order which, it seems to me, leaves not merely the marginalized but also, and more likely, the mainstream descendants of nineteenth-century evangelicalism feeling oppressed by federal reg- ulation of their religious activities and beliefs, such as public prayer and creation science. Meanwhile, the Mormons remain an oligarchy, if not a "Kingdom," in the West, with considerable local autonomy over non-religious matters and the ability to use federal authority over religious matters to stymie "general Christianity," as one of their members recently did in a complaint to the Supreme Court over school prayer.2 As mentioned, the ironies in and suggested by this book are legion. Scholars of American religion assume religious disestablishment exacted no cost except to minority traditions or so-called "New Religious Movements." But good books inspire good questions, and Gordon's is no exception. The Mormon Question invites us to consider what is "free" about American religion: who is free, and when? And, finally, to ask a question we are scarcely able to conceive: what was the cost to religion of religious disestablishment? A Landmark in Mormon Thought Blake T. Ostler, Exploring Mormon Thought, Volume I: The Attributes of God. (Salt Lake City: Gregg Kofford Books, 2002), 485 pp. Reviewed by James McLachlan, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Western Carolina University. It is difficult to make comparisons between previous works in LDS philosophy and theology and Blake Ostler's Exploring Mormon Thought: The Attributes of God. This is the first volume in a projected trilogy that will include a second volume on the problems of theism and a third that will leave the mode of analytic philosophy and take a more phenomenological approach to Mormon thought. One could easily say that this is the most important book in Mormon philosophy of religion since Sterling McMurrrin's Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion, or one could say that it is the most speculative Mormon theol- 2. See Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000).