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Saturday, August 9, 2008

People I met at the FAIR Conference

This year at the FAIR Conference, I had the opportunity to meet some outstanding people from online and elsewhere. I apologize for not listing everyone, but I shall nevertheless try to do my best to report who I met and the experiences we had.

1. Kerry Shirts - I have to mention the BackyardProfessor, since he not only is a fun and energetic dude with the smarts of a Hugh Nibley and the charisma of a Dan Peterson, but because he mentioned me on his Youtube video site. Kerry and I talked about a number of things, including the Book of Abraham and current LDS scholarship. He recommended some books to me which I am excited to look over, including Mark Smith's The Origins of Biblical Monotheism and Edward Watson's Mormonism: The Faith of the 21st Century. Kerry furthermore is very funny in person. I had the opportunity to speak with him at the 2007 FAIR Conference, but only for a moment. It was very nice to be able to speak with him some more and I wish him all the best of luck with his future podcasts and Youtube videos.

2. Blair Hodges (aka lifeonaplate) - Blair is an absolutely hilarious guy who can also be very profound when he talks on theology and Mormonism. I enjoyed some wonderful conversations with him and am sorry that he cannot afford all of the book he wants (don't worry, Blair, we are in the same boat).

3. Daniel C. Peterson - Professor Peterson is an absolute riot. He is very funny when you talk with him. A group of us were speaking with him when he related his desire to start an anti-Mormon watching club similar to the Audubon Society or how, when asked what will happen to the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, remarked that it would make a great Celestial Room for the temple going to be built there. But Dan is also very smart and intelligent, and I also enjoy his company as we can also talk about serious questions relating to Mormon apologetics.

4. Sione Pauni (aka Lamanite) - I met Sione for the first time at the FAIR Conference. He is a very nice gentleman who offered some insightful views on theodicy, or how to explain the existence of evil in the world and the relationship it has to God. Really a nice and intelligent guy.

5. Tyler Livingston (aka livy111us) - Tyler is my new pal at FAIR. We had met before to team up in filming Daniel C. Peterson before at a lecture he gave at Olivewood Bookstore and again to film Brant Gardner at the FAIR Conference yesterday. Tyler is a wonderful filmmaker who has produced video rebuttals to anti-Mormon charges and posted them on Youtube. Because of his efforts, he won the prestigious John Taylor Defender of the Faith Award this year at the FAIR Conference. I look forward to working on future projects with him.

6. Dan Vogel - Dan Vogel is a researcher and historian who has written some books critical of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. However, that being so, he has also produced some wonderful books covering Mormon history, including a 5 volume series entitled Early Mormon Documents and I must applaud him for bringing this valuable series together. I was also informed that Dan is working on a critical text edition of the 7 volume series History of the Church.* I had the opportunity to meet Dan at the FAIR Conference (he had showed up to listen to Daniel C. Peterson's talk on apologetics) and speak with him on some stuff. He is a very nice gentleman who is amiable, friendly and soft spoken. He is also very civil in his discussions on Mormon history and all around a nice fellow. Even though I disagree with a lot of his conclusions on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, I nevertheless respect him in that he is trying to be honest to the historical sources (unlike many other critics of Joseph Smith) and for his work done on documenting Mormon history.

Others I met include Matt Roper, Brian Hauglid, Louis Midgley, Scott Gordon, Mike Ash, Brant Gardner, Matt Brown, and several MADB posters such as HiJolly, Calmoriah, Deborah, Darin, C.I. and Wade Englund.

I also was able to pick up some wonderful book selections including The Origins of Biblical Monotheism by Mark Smith, Mormonism: The Faith of the 21st Century by Edward Watson, Organize my Kingdom by John Tvedtnes, Massacre at Mountain Meadows by Richard Turley, Ronald Walker and Glen Leonard, and How Wide the Divide? by Craig Bloomberg and Stephen Robinson. Hopefully I will be able to post my thoughts on these volumes in later posts here at American Testament.

* By critical text edition, that does not mean that Dan is going to be critical in that he will be criticizing, but instead that he will be providing historical and textual context for the different entries in History of the Church series.