Greetings from beautiful Assisi, Italy! This year’s Mormon Theology Seminar is underway, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Brigham Young University’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute and Wheatley Institution.
The selected scripture of focus is Mosiah 4 (particularly verses 4–25). Our participants hail from a variety of disciplines and institutions. Adam Miller and me are co-directing this year’s seminar; participants include Diana Brown, Jared Hickman, Patrick Mason, Rosalynde Welch, Christy Spackman, and Brandie Siegfried. Jim Faulconer is graciously serving as host.
The seminar has just completed its first week of work—a week focused on carefully sifting every word of the chosen text—nouns and verbs, but articles and pronouns and auxiliary verbs as well! Each participant has prepared a short paper each day on a selected portion of the text, and we’ve been reflecting together on subjects ranging from concrete matters like the hunger and nakedness of beggars and children to hyper-abstract questions of ethics and metaphysics. This week will be given to intensive writing, preparing a summary report of our collaborative work. Each participant will write a final paper to be presented preliminarily at a public symposium this coming Saturday.
Surrounded by pilgrims seeking to connect with Saint Francis of Assisi, we’re reflecting together on what the Book of Mormon has to say about matters of poverty and concern for the disadvantaged. And we’re finding that we could spend a year sorting out the implications of this remarkable text. We look forward to the final results of the seminar, which will be published in the coming year.