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Common Ground-Different Opinions: Latter-Day Saints and Contemporary Issues Paperback – October 8, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Greg Kofford Books, Inc. (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589585739
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589585737
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,025,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Austin on November 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In his introduction to Common Ground/Different Opinions, BYU Philosophy Professor James E. Faulconer writes to fellow Latter-day Saints that “our disagreements over questions for which there is no revealed answer must not create a break between us. Loving brothers and sisters can disagree, even on important matters and continue to love, respect, support, and comfort one another. They can disagree about many things yet stand together as witnesses of God” (x). From this impressive starting point, White and Faulconer have produced a lively collection of essays from a politically diverse group of contributors—all of whom are active, professing Latter-day Saints.

The main purpose of the collection, Faulconer tells us, is to model ways of discussing controversial issues within a loving and supporting ecclesiastical community. Here the volume succeeds splendidly. Everybody comes in with their shields down and their phasers on stun. Most of the participants argue their case vigorously, while, at the same time, acknowledging that reasonable, faithful people might disagree. And a few of them even admit the possibility that they might be wrong. The discussions are respectful without being subdued. This matters.

And the essays themselves matter too. After three solid essays laying out different ways of thinking about “Church doctrine,” the volume’s contributors engage with some of the most controversial issues of American politics today: feminism, same-sex attraction, race relations, environmentalism, stem-cell research, etc. Occasionally, the essays are presented in a fairly straightforward “pro-and-con” pairing—such as David A. Jenson’s “An Argument against Embryonic Stem Cell Research” and Sariah Cottrell and Steven Peck’s “Becoming a Person: Stem Cells and LDS Teachings.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Blair Dee Hodges on October 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is is a collection of essays written by a variety of Latter-day Saint authors on controversial issues like environmentalism, stem cell research, gay marriage, feminism, and war. According to the editors of the volume, the essays are less about providing arguments that readers ought to accept and more about modeling different ways faithful Mormons approach such difficult and presently pressing topics when the Church as an institution is less-than-clear on them.

Not all of the essays live up to the lofty goal of identifying common ground where opinions differ. Perhaps of most interest, the volume as a whole demonstrates shifts among Mormons over the past century on several fronts. Margaret Blair Young’s essay discusses the problem of racism in the Church and calls for the extinguishing of old explanations about why the priesthood and temple blessings were withheld from blacks of African descent. Two contributions on evolution speak unequivocally about its salience as a scientific theory; no representative of young earth creationism or the like is present. These essays would have been unlikely back in the 1950s, but some Mormons still perpetuate old theories about race, or the idea that evolution is a false/evil belief. While forbearance is an important component of maintaining civility and unity amongst members, the collection doesn’t exemplify interaction with people who perpetuate what might be seen by some as hurtful or wrong “doctrines” or address the problem of latent, potentially hurtful, perspectives.

That being said, the collection is successful in each case where it manages to give readers pause with regard to an issue they’ve been fond of debating, or more importantly, convinces them to approach such conversations with greater charity and much more patience. Overall, the collection served as just such a reminder and encouragement to me, and for that reason above all, I recommend this book.
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By Jenny Webb on March 22, 2015
Format: Paperback
White and Faulconer have collected a broad range of topics treated by an equally broad range of thinkers within this thought-provoking volume. Several of the essays in particular shine—enough to make up for other more distracting issues. For example, I found the essays by Kristine Haglund, Bruce Young, and George Handley most useful for my current personal thoughts and reflections, though I can well imagine that another reading would produce a different result.

The editors have included prior to each essay a page containing a bolded summary of the following material, something that made the volume more useful since it was then easy to scan through the summaries to determine the particular topic under consideration and the argument or approach that would follow. Well worth reading.
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Format: Paperback
This volume is a breath of fresh air in the increasingly polarizing tendency of much of the rhetoric on politics these days. Instead of talking past each other, the essays in this volume model what it means to think carefully about a particular issue from a particular religious perspective. I really enjoyed reading the essays I tended to agree with but I probably grew more and developed more charity by reading the essays I disagreed with!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By the narrator on October 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
Depending on your own ideologies, the book can be pretty hit and miss. Easily the two best essays are by Taylor Petrey and Kristine Haglund, the former being one of the most provocative essays on Mormon theology in the last decade. Of course, if I were on the opposite ideological swing, the essays that I disagree with the most would probably be the ones I liked the best. That I could find so much agreement and disagreement with persons of my own faith highlights the value of this book--it shows how open Mormonism is in its ability to make space for so many differences of opinions while sharing a common ground of faith.
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