Very Serious Reflections on the occasion of our first anniversary.

Times and Seasons has turned the searching glare of its inquiry onto itself. We don’t know exactly the question that was asked, but whether the answers are self-parody or just self-indulgence is up to you.

Yesterday I was reading the various obituaries of Johnny Ramone in the New Yorker, the New York Observer, the New York Times, and the Village Voice. Although Johnny–one of the key figures in the metastisation of first wave punk–wasn’t Mormon, his rejection of the meritocratic assumptions of 1970’s rock makes me think that he really should have been. Whereas Bob Dylan displayed prophetically exquisite musicianship both before and after his early exilic period (it wasn’t exactly forty days and forty nights, but close enough), Johnny always stuck with his virtuously un-virtuoso three chord downstrum. Reflecting on that downstrum, I must admit that big law firm life is far closer to the elitist, baroque “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts,” than, say, the magnificent mediocrity of “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.” So I will be ever grateful to Times and Seasons for providing me a forum for my lackadaisical efforts toward pedestrian ordinariness.

Greg Call

I want to say this as carefully as possible: Times and Seasons has become a bastion of empty elitist liberal pseudo-intellectualism. Most of you are without a doubt, Left and Wrong. I’m Right and I’m Right. Of course, Bush’s reelection was designed to make us think all is well in Zion, but we must not forget that the forces of darkness permeate the whole world Babylon, and the depravity of some of these conspiratorial forces is so great they even speak of — dare I breathe the word? — filibuster! When the nine kings in black robes declare group and sibling marriages legal, and the church to be a hate group, you’ll wail, “Why didn’t we listen to Matt? Why did we reject his wise counsel? We don’t even like messes of pottage!”

Matt Evans

Rereading Winnie the Pooh over the past several weeks, I’ve been thinking about its implications for this blog, indeed for the future of this blog. Perhaps the most important question that came to mind was, “What is the ontological relation between the original text and the Disney text(s), and what does that tell us about the ontological relations among the texts of our careers, the texts of this blog, and the scriptures?” My suspicion is that close attention to the ontological relations in the Winnie the Pooh case(s?) will help us better understand our own ontic case(s?) and will situate this blog in the nexus between theory and praxis in such a way that we will see at least darkly why Times and Seasons is what it is as well as, perhaps, what it can become. I’m interested in readers’ responses and theories (though not in Reader Response Theory), but I insist that each be at least civil and, preferably, formally polite. The best responses will, of course, recognize the importance of Heidegger and scrupulously avoid nasty comments about Derrida.

Jim Faulconer

And so, in the end (meaning the achievement or recognition of a given, the always-already potential which adheres in the emergence of being (something which can be expressed equally well (more or less) in either Heideggerian (late Heideggerian, not early (though this is a debatable point)) or Aristotelian terms (thus showing the interplay of the es gibt and the telos (and thus making problematic the (presumed) distinction between the existential and the teleological))), not “the end� in the sense of a final point (as there is no final point, no opportunity to turn around and say that things have “worked out in the end� (that would imply that our hermeneutical “working� upon the world, the coming-to-be of worldhood (whether literal or imaginative (here noting the sense in which Anderson described all communal constructions as “imagined communities� (a point strongly contested by those with a non-materialist reading of culture (such as Taylor and others influenced by the thinking of Herder and other early Romantics)))) is a project which can only disclosed through a projection of linearity, a line which has a beginning and end, which of course denies the agency of others who may cross our narrative lines (and thus may be read as a demand for sovereignty, an unblocked and unshadowed path towards our goal (a demand which is called up short by the shadow of that cross which lays across all our paths (or as one might put in Lutheran (and hence arguably Augustinian (and thus Pauline)) language, we stand constantly in the shadow of Christ’s work (which is also infinite (and thus never complete))))))), we must fall silent.

Russell Arben Fox

I think there’s a lot we can all learn from the women in the Book of Omni:
Julie M. Smith

Come the day–‘day’ still the word, in memory of Earth–when the worldships of the Saints go out on their generations’ journey to the destination star, pointed by the gleaming guide we call the Milky Way and they will call the Iron Rod–

oh, swell my heart, I see the feet of the faithful pressing centrifugally on the gardens that line the inner hulls, green gardens by the streams that temple-from flow,
I see gaping solar sails outstretched to catch the sun’s photonic blast, sails gleaming silver against great arcs of the firmament–Zion with her banners rampant–
and tides of comet dust lapping loud on the hulls (while Christ knocks quiet on the heart),
and hymns sung at the setting forth, a new song sung,
and voices in the heavens proclaiming glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!
and many prophecies fulfilled or reborn,
I see all this, I see–

come that day, I see that
we and our work here will be forgotten,
and the cause of little effect.

Their blogs will be called Times without Seasons and their syntax, we hope, will be less tangled than ours. And those are the least of the differences. To them God has appointed one work. To us another.

To us then the present. It is well.

Adam Hartley Greenwood

The other day, my achingly gorgeous and startlingly brilliant 4-year-old asked, “Mommy, what’s a blog?” “Oh, darling,” I sighed, “it’s complicated. I’ll explain it after you reach the age of accountability.” So, what is a blog? It’s like the first green spears of grass in the spring, the last perfect crimson leaf on a sugar maple in the autumn, like coming in from a snowy walk in the woods to sit around a fire and argue with people you’ve never met who somehow ended up in your living room. It’s like a stanza from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins: “As tumbled over rim in roundy wells/Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s/Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name . . .”

Kristine Haglund Harris

A precondition for advancement in knowledge is a community of inquiry, in which practitioners explore ways of more fully understanding the world within a shared paradigm. If as the number of (non-lawyer!) bloggers increases, that which all have in common decreases, does this make T&S less paradigm-atic, or more (micro?)cosmic?

Ben Huff

Times and Seasons’ prolific output over the past year has raised many questions for all of us. Perhaps the most pressing one is how to explain the need to substitute meaningful and intelligible prose for Random Jargon? For this study, Random Jargon (RJ) is assumed to follow a well-defined stochastic ARMA process with normally distributed period-by-period jargon shocks. After some testing, I find RJ is heterogeneous across individuals, with strong “occupation effects� apparent in the data. Under reasonable assumptions about rational posters (RP), it is not hard to show that RJ follows a random walk that is un-forecastable. Indeed, should RJ become forecastable, the optimal poster reaction is to arbitrage the RJ premia and “over-jargon�. This arbitrage returns RJ to being un-forecastable. This is the Perfectly Random, Random Jargon Hypothesis (PRRJH). The one exception to PRRJH is the “Economics effect�, which is, in fact, perfectly forecastable as leading to RJ with an R^2 of .97. It is unclear why this effect is not arbitraged away, but it probably has to do with the fact that nobody reads far enough into the post to bother.

Frank McIntyre

It is time for Mormons to start thinking seriously about the implications of collateral estoppel and res judicata for Mormon Studies. For too long, the stale discussions at Sunstone and other fora touting themselves as places for serious Mormon thought have focused far too much on what might be thought of as the “non-legal” (and hence irrelevant) aspects of Mormonism. In particular, there has been no attempt to grapple with either Dworkinian or more positivistic accounts of preclusion and work through how these jurisprudential theories can (and should!) inform our thinking about such things as the doctrine of intelligences, the mythos of the plan of salvation, and the failure of the New Mormon History to produce a global theory of economic change and legal development. Until Mormons seriously begin thinking about the procedural aspects of the Hart-Fuller debates and their by now obvious connection with religious philosophy, attempts at Mormon thought will continue to fall under the sway of a largely irrelevant and self-referential group of Wasatch-Front blowhards

Nate Oman

I just noticed a post on Sons of Mosiah that reminded me of another post I saw at BCC. They touched on a theme similar to a recent discussion at Let Us Reason. As Dave’s Mormon Inquiry notes, the same theme is addressed at Feminist Mormon Housewives in response to an argument raised at Nine Moons. This relates to posts by John Fowles and Ryan Bell arguing against the analysis at Orson’s Telescope. And Clark Goble disagrees with them all. (danithew, as usual, agrees with them all). Is this related to the prior discussion between Jeff Lindsay and Mormon Wasp? William Morris isn’t so sure. Of course, the single best analysis on this topic can be found at Celibate in the City.

UPDATE: Fixed a few broken links. Umm, don’t forget to check out the links, people.

Kaimipono David Wenger

What is Times and Seasons? There is wide disagreement among the experts about exactly how to define it. Weber postulates that T&S is evidence of the disenchantment of the world which is increasingly bureaucratized and routinized. Durkheim suggests instead that T&S is ultimately about “the social.� Feuerbach disagrees, claiming that T&S is merely the projection of the bloggers’ imagination, an expression of their self-alienation. Marx describes T&S as a representation of the material condition of the bloggers which both reflects and supports the basic social and economic organization of the blogosphere. He claims a revolution is imminent. Freud is certain that participation in T&S is very similar to a neurosis. Eliade defines T&S as both the Sacred and the Profane. Schleiermacher tells us that by writing at T&S the bloggers manifest their feelings of absolute dependence. Silent until now, Kierkegaard finally concludes that T&S is the ultimate paradox.

Melissa Proctor

The rhetorical act of commenting upon the history of Times & Seasons after having been involved with the enterprise for less than three months throws into relief the central poststructuralist critique of historiography: the historian is always already doomed to project her own presentist ideological systems backward over the discontinuous fragments of an essentially unknowable past. That T&S has been guided by the grand narratives of Marxist historical materialism and Christian providential teleology to its glorious pinnacle at the present moment, perfectly situated to launch the new LDS critical gender studies and revive a languishing LDS Althusserianism, can scarcely be contested; what good does it do to trot out the old acknowledging-my-own-biases gesture? No, I will simply rummage up an introductory personal anecdote, make an arcane reference to Renaissance England, and get to the post.

Rosalynde Welch

I am the Belgian on the team. English is third language to me. I write in simple English. Has great advantage. I am the only one readers understand. But I am under pressure to do as the others. Happily there is shift F7 and dictionaries. The result becomes nice.

Territorial occupancy among the Belgae brought me to this associative assemblage.

Wilfried Decoo

19 comments for “Very Serious Reflections on the occasion of our first anniversary.

  1. Having spent the last 3 hours reading, and re-reading, Russell’s comments, I can confirm that yes, he does ultimately use the same number of “close parentheses” as he does “open parentheses.”

    Aaron B

  2. Thanks T&S. I’ve really enjoyed this forum and all my interactions here. Congratulations Rosalynde on making the team!

  3. Reading T&S is like watching ballet. Beautiful, enjoyable, somewhat useless, and I know I’m missing the finer points due to my own ignorance. Sometimes I’m envious of an ability I don’t have, then I shake my head and think, “I would *worry* about myself if I could do that.”

  4. once i took a class from jamesf, once i met kaimi, and near daily i read timesandseasons while not paying attention in CivPro… thanks T&S for helping me fail professionally, failing to help me spiritually, but at least occasioning a free play of the senses that is pleasant and therefore beautiful.

  5. Janey,
    More than “somewhat”, or else both T&S and ballet have hidden depths heretofore unexpected.

    If you need help on the fine art of not paying attention in CivPro, I could give you some pointers. Just ask.

  6. Mark Bigelow,
    Yes, we all know that Russell’s remark about falling silent was tongue-in-cheek. He was writing a parody, you know.

    A remarkably fine one, too. I wish I’d done as well as he. I set out to write the most overblown thing I could think of and about two lines in I realized I meant it. Shows what a blowhard I am.

    I don’t think I’m the only coblogger that ended up mostly meaning their parody, but I won’t name names. You HUACers will have to get you joy elsewhere.

  7. Adam, I was wondering if this was the work of one person with a good ear and a remarkable talent for mimickry, or if you each contributed your own.

    Either way, it’s pretty funny. Self-parody is a gift.

  8. Adam (and more importantly, Russell),

    I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear in my comment. I was aware of Russell’s self-parody and found myself laughing along with him. That was what I was trying to do in my comment. I value Russell’s words and friendship a great deal.

  9. I’m wondering why we haven’t all followed the lead of the posters and continued the theme in our own comments:

    First of all, let me just say that I disagree with Julie, Kristine, Kaimi, completely agree with Nate, Adam, Matt and Greg, and have no idea what Jim, Gordon and Russell are saying.

    Still, I think it’s important to note that: we are all afraid of figuring out what presiding in the home means, education is a tool of the elite used to make the rest of us feel non-elite, Bob Caswell has serious problems, the scriptures can always be trusted, even when they make mistakes, primary programs are great, and BCC presents a serious threat to the foundation of the church.

  10. Of course I knew what you meant to say Mark. All is forgiven. Well, actually not, because there’s nothing to forgive. It’s all good.

    We miss you guys, as always, especially around this time of year. Remember that wonderful joint Thanksgiving dinner at our place, back in, what was it, 1998. Man, I still miss your soup.

  11. Quite possibly the most hot-headed, yet mellifluous, onymous Mormon group blog in history.

    Hat tip to all. Let’s hear more in the future from Matt & Adam though. They truly under-represent themselves.

  12. Cooper,
    you appear to have, ah, unique tastes. Even I get sick of myself. Truth be told, I’d like a lot more Adam Greenwoods around here, so then I wouldn’t have to be him. :)

  13. It is time for Mormons to start thinking seriously about the implications of collateral estoppel and res judicata for Mormon Studies in other words, giving some sort of stare decisis power to dead prophets over living ones? Or large blogs over small, I’m still trying to contextualize the original intent of that post.

  14. hears an interesting thought about the ramones song “kkk took my baby away”. given that many of the early mobs of missouri were the forerunners to the kkk, to me that song sounds like the story of early mormonism and its missed fellowship in precivilwar america. whether it was intentionally evocative I couldn’t say.

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