I fully expected the good folks at the SMPT to reject my paper. I was then going to post it with a title something like ‘Wanna read a rejected SMPT paper?’ I am glad that they accepted it because it allowed me to have a great experience. I would like to review what I thought were some of the highlights, and then give my impressions of the session I was in.
The tribute to Truman Madsen was wonderful. What a way to start out the conference! After the presenters it became a time for audience members to share their memories of this great man. It was almost like being at his funeral.
Sheila gave an interesting presentation on grace, where she comes at it from a relationship perspective. I am one who gets a little grumpy about easy grace, so I was listening for what our part in this perspective would be. Sheila suggested that this relationship must be mutual and that we must participate in this relationship. If there had been more time for questions, and if I had more confidence, I would have asked about the specifics of what appropriate participation would be on our part – and if these specifics would end up being faith, repentance, baptism, keeping commandments, etc., and if we end up with a distinction without difference. I am sure she would have a good answer for that.
Grant Underwood blew me away with his presentation on ‘Reflections on Justification, Theosis, and Grace in Christian and Mormon Discourse’. He might be one of my new heroes. I asked him if he had a copy of his talk, and he said that a more complete one is available on line. I might post a review of that some day.
Adam Miller gave something of a Buddhist like presentation. He suggest that we should accept the givenness of grace in the here and now, and view things in a non-sequential rather than sequential way. He suggest that the girl in the parable of the bicycle should enjoy her life in the moment whether she gets her bicycle or not. The end goal should not be in the foreground, but the moment at hand should be in the foreground. If I would have asked a question it would be – must we accept everything that comes at us as the will of God to be accepted?
Rob Line’s presentation on Dual Innocence was entertaining mostly because it made Blake squirm so much. It was comical to watch. Rob was very CES and I think he made more BRM and JFSII quotes than in the history of SMPT conferences combined. Blake found this challenging, and charitably made a peace offering that Rob wisely accepted. This presentation made me feel I was back in seminary.
It was great to meet Chris Henrickson. He did a nice job. I was not very prepared to receive his presentation.
Sam Brown. Wow. What a great guy. He talked about a Suprehuman chain, and the importance of being sealed into one big family. Lot of great quotes from early church leaders. A very gifted guy, and a real trooper – he was obviously fighting a massive headache.
Kevin Hart took a long time to thoroughly dissect the prodigal son. It was new to me to consider the father of the story as the one we should emulate. It was also interesting to note that forgiveness comes first – justification comes at the end.
Blake’s presentation ended up being downright devotional for me. He ended up getting at knowing religious truth comes from within us. From the heart, not the head. Finding truth being something of a recovery rather than a discovery. It was almost Madsen like. It was a great way to end the conference. Blake made a lot of 800 pound gorilla observations. Heck, he is an 800 pound gorilla. But is also a gracious and nice guy.
It is hard to evaluate your own presentation. I was scared to death. I am not sure how everyone took it. My parents and an aunt and uncle attended my presentation. They were very complimentary of course. My dad said he felt like getting up and shouting ‘Thats my boy!’ This was a meaningful thing to me. My father is quite ill. On top of a nasty cold, his body just doesn’t produce red blood cells fast enough. He is having to get frequent transfusions just to keep going. He also is not the type to hand out compliments like Halloween candy.
There were tough questions. Loyd Ericson made an observation that has to do with our resurrection. Just how much of our biology get resurrected anyway? Are we resurrected … guts and all? This does have some relevance to purposeful/functional gender.
Shelia doesn’t seem to like the implications of this eternal gender thing. I tried to be sympathetic to this in the paper, but I am not sure what would be enough sympathy. What do I do or say if people do not like the idea of purposeful eternal gender without just dumping it? I am not very good at that type of thing.
One guy asked about how this affects the omnipotence of God. I really wish Paulsen would have chimed in on this, since he ‘wrote the book’ on Mormon finitude.
Meeting David Paulsen was great. But he did not participate as much as I wish he would have. He mostly stayed out of the QA (for all presentations), and apparently read a paper that Martin wrote.
Overall it was a wonderful experience. I am grateful for the charitable reception even from those who might not have liked what I said. I am grateful to my aunt and uncle for putting me up, and my parents for the transportation. I was glad I followed though with this. I was very impressed with everyone involved.