Maxwell Institute

This post is brought to you by the Maxwell Institute. View the original post here.

Historian Richard Bushman says he was reluctant to go along with it when Jerry Bradford, former Maxwell Institute executive director, suggested a festschrift in his honor. But when Spencer Fluhman, Kathleen Flake, and Jed Woodworth started planning one anyway, he began to see the possibilities. This would be an opportunity to gather scholars—Latter-day Saints as well as people from other backgrounds—to talk about the intersection of faith and intellect, church and academy, discipleship and scholarship. Their presentations would be edited and compiled into a book published in Bushman’s honor.

“Consecration”—the idea of laying one’s gifts on the altar for God—is a longstanding point of interest for Mormons. It was a prominent theme in many sermons delivered by the Institute’s namesake, Elder Neal A. Maxwell. Speaking to scholars, Elder Maxwell once observed:

Whatever our particular fields of scholarship, the real test is individual discipleship, not scholarship. But how good it is when these two can company together, blending meekness with brightness and articulateness with righteousness. Such outcomes only occur, however, when there is commitment bordering on consecration.”

What might it mean for Mormon scholars to consecrate their time and academic talents? This became one of the guiding questions that led to the new book, To Be Learned Is Good: Essays on Faith and Scholarship in Honor of Richard Lyman Bushman. The volume is both a product of and a tribute to a collaborative community of scholars who take religion and the academy seriously. As Bushman observes in his contribution to the volume (which you can read in full here), reconciling discipleship and scholarship in our times isn’t always easy. But we aren’t alone in the undertaking:

I think we all feel some tension between our religious convictions and the secular times in which we live. In one way or another, modernism invades and unsettles our thinking, perhaps our thinking about our fields, perhaps our personal beliefs. What I hope we all realize is that this tension is not to be suppressed or regretted. Unanswerable as some questions are, we need not lament the discomfort they bring. The strain of believing in unbelieving times is not a handicap or a burden. It is a stimulus and a prod. It is precisely out of such strains that creative work issues forth. And we can take satisfaction in knowing that we are in this together.”

See Richard Lyman Bushman, “Finding the Right Words: Speaking Faith In Secular Times,” here.

To Be Learned Is Good: Essays on Faith and Scholarship in Honor of Richard Lyman Bushman is available now. 



Recently Posted

Maxwell Institute

MIPodcast #75—“To be learned is good,” with Richard Bushman

Our 75th Episode! The Book of Mormon warns against mistaking intelligence for wisdom, but adds a crucial caveat: “to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Nephi 9:29). Where LDS founding prophet Joseph ...

Inspirational Messages

Has the Day of Miracles Ceased?

"A critical question to ponder is “Where do we place our faith?” Is our faith focused on simply wanting to be relieved of pain and suffering, or is it firmly centered ...

Inspirational Messages

The Doctrine of Christ: Our Daily Walk

"As we come to know God, we begin to really know ourselves and our potential. These two things cannot be separated. Joseph Smith taught, “If men do not comprehend the character ...

Inspirational Messages

Becoming a True Disciple

"Discipleship is all about doing and becoming. As we obey His commandments and serve our fellowmen, we become better disciples of Jesus Christ. Obedience and submission to His will bring the ...

Inspirational Messages

Three Sisters

"You are in His hands. Very good hands. Loving hands. Caring hands. And nothing anyone ever says about you can change that. Their words are meaningless compared to what God has ...

Inspirational Messages

The Eternal Family

"An eternal bond doesn’t just happen as a result of sealing covenants we make in the temple. How we conduct ourselves in this life will determine what we will be in ...