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.
José Gabriel Funes, who runs the Vatican’s astronomy program, is not bothered by the idea that there might be intelligent life on some other planet, such as on the recently discovered Kepler 452b which appears to be earthlike. “Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures on Earth, there can be other beings, even intelligent, created by God,” Funes said. “This is not in contrast with our faith because we can’t put limits on God’s creative freedom.” He does not believe that the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligent life would mean there could be another Jesus. “The incarnation of the son of God is a unique event in the history of humanity, of the universe,” he said. Pope Francis has already said the church should be open to baptizing extraterrestrials, should they ever be encountered (Washington Post, August 1).