Sunday, October 01, 2006

Mormon Studies Wiki - Simple. Factual. Non-Polemical.

Mormon Studies Wiki - Simple. Factual. Non-Polemical.

About About

The Situation: Every day, members of the LDS Church are going to the Internet to learn more about their religion and are discovering a great deal of new information about LDS history and culture that does not match their current perceptions. In many cases, this "Gap of Understanding" leads to a great deal of distress and cognitive dissonance--often leading to disillusionment or even apostasy.

The Problem: Several anti-, post-, and ex-Mormon sites exist which attempt to explain this gap--a sampling of which includes: Utah Lighthouse Ministry,, and While many of these sites have a great deal of good information and are often written by smart and sincere people, they also operate from the assumption that the Church is false and its leadership deliberately deceitful.

The Solution: Imagine a centralized directory for Mormon issues, where anyone with any of the "big questions" surrounding Mormon studies can go to find accurate, complete information and non-polemical answers.

A Proposal for What We Might Try to Accomplish: Target Audience: Members of the LDS Church who are newer to the Internet and who are exploring tough historical and/or cultural issues for the first time. The target audience will NOT be academics, scholars, etc. The reading level should be comparable to USA Today, Newsweek, etc.

Goal: Create a content directory that addresses the gap between official LDS teachings/perceptions and the actual facts surrounding the top issues in Mormon studies.

This will include:

  • The top 20 or 30 issues in Mormon studies
  • A whitepaper describing what the mainstream LDS view and/or teaching is (or has been) on the particular topic. This whitepaper would include quotes and references to Church publications that created or reinforced this view
  • A 10-20 page "definitive" whitepaper on each of the major topics (written collaboratively with amateurs and experts). This definitive whitepaper would outline the basic facts (as best as they can be established) in a neutral, "as objective as possible," way. This definitive whitepaper would also include links to the "definitive" articles, webpages, and blog/forum postings related to each issue (Sunstone, Dialogue, BYU Studies, Journal of Mormon History, Blogs, etc.)
  • Eventually I would like to see (at a minimum) "screencasts" produced for each topic (think of this as an audio-narrated powerpoint presentation viewable on the web, kinda like this and this)--and ultimately 30-minute video documentaries for each topic. This will help us reach the new generations.

The aspirations for this project are inspired by the work of Linux, Wikipedia, the Open Directory Project, Slashdot, and the writings of Yochai Benkler

For instructions on working with the Wiki, check here: MediaWiki Documentation

List of Current Pages

List of Current Categories

An Initial List of Major Topics

Broad Theme Specific Issues Whitepaper on official church teachings/perceptions, w/ links to church publications 10-20 page whitepaper on "basic facts", w/ links to seminal additional readings
Joseph Smith and Mormon Origins      
  The First Vision Controversy    
  Treasure Digging and Magic   Magic and Early Mormonism
  The Priesthood Origins Controversy    
  Polygyny and Polyandry in Kirtland, Missouri, and Nauvoo    
  Danites and Theocracy in Missouri and Nauvoo    
  Apostasy Among Top Church Leaders    
  Causes of Persecution in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois    
  The Masonic/LDS Endowment Ceremony Connection    
  The Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith    
The Polygamy Period      
  The Succession Crisis    
  Demographics of Polygamy    
  The Mormon-American Conflict    
  Mormons and Race in the Brigham Young Era     Race
  Blood Atonement     Wikipedia entry
  Adam-God Doctrine     Wikipedia entry
The Book of Mormon      
  Theories of Book of Mormon Geography    
  Evidence Against Continental Theory of the Book of Mormon    
  Evidence For and Against the Mesoamerican Theory    
  Church Leader Statements about Geographic Theories    
  19th-Century Environmental Parallels in the Book    
  Chiasmus and Statistical Authorship Evidence    
  Evidence of Modalism in the Book    
  The Question of Racism     Race in the Book of Mormon
The Book of Abraham      
  The Debate Over the Papyri    
  Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar    
  The Kinderhook Plates    
  Book of Abraham as a Justification for Racism     Race
  Divergent Creation Accounts in Abraham, Moses, Temple Ceremony    
  Book of Abraham Cosmology and Modern Science    
Modern Leadership and Contemporary Issues      
  Post-Manifesto Polygamy    
  Word of Wisdom--From Suggestion to Requirement    
  Fundamentalist Authority Claims    
  Church Actions Against Fundamentalist Groups    
  The Leonard Arrington Experiment and Rise of "New Mormon History"    
  The end of the race-based temple/priesthood restriction     Race
  Racial folklore developed/used to explain the racial ban     Race
  The Church's Stance on Homosexuality    
  The Mark Hofmann Affair    
  Church Political Efforts Against Gay Marriage and "Right to Die" Initiatives    
  The rise of literal/fundamentalist approaches to scripture and religion    
  Political Efforts Against the ERA    
  The Decline of Mother in Heaven in LDS Discourse    
  Women and the Priesthood    
  Intellectual Freedom Issues at BYU    
  Faith-Promoting History Issues    
  The End of Financial Disclosure    
  Baseball Baptisms    
  Membership Statistics and Trends    
  Organic Evolution   Church Position  

Additional Reference Points, for context/ backdrop:

Church History Timeline #1 - Basic Developments

Overview of Key Persons

Please see User's Guide for usage and configuration help.

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