Michael Plekon is a man of many talents: he is a sociologist, an anthropologist and an expert in Kierkegaard’s thought. His spiritual pilgrimage includes converting from Catholicism to Lutheranism to Eastern Orthodoxy. His writing reflects all of this variegated experience, and for that reason it is sometimes tough to follow.
As long ago as 1996, Jon Levenson wrote an important article, “The Universal Horizon of Biblical Particularism.” In that piece he reflected on the way in which the Hebrew Bible adjudicated the particularity of Israel and a reach beyond Israel to the nations.
Brigham Young, unlike Joseph Smith, played no role in the translation of the Book of Mormon. He never ran for president of the United States, as Smith did in 1844. And Young was not dramatically martyred, as Smith was when a mob shot him in his prison cell. But without Young, we might not remember Smith.
Richard Gallagher, a board-certified psychiatrist and professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College, was skeptical when a priest/exorcist asked his opinion of a woman diagnosed with demonic possession. In time Gallagher’s scientific habits of observation led him to believe that in rare cases, the only explanation for bizarre behavior is that it’s the work of evil spirits. Over the past 25 years he has consulted with hundreds of ministers, helping them to distinguish between mental illness and demonic possession. Gallagher, a practicing Catholic, is working on a book about demonic possession in the United States (Washington Post, July 1).