Friday, September 30, 2011

Bushman on Mormons and political civility

Excerpts of Scholar: Political name-calling goes against Mormonism by Peggy Fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune
If Mormon politicians were living their religion, they wouldn't engage in name-calling against their opponents or verbally attack any officeholder, especially the commander in chief, a prominent LDS historian said this week.

"I sorrow to hear my fellow Latter-day Saints resort to the demeaning language that has degraded political discourse in our time," Bushman told a packed audience at the University of Utah's Union Building. "Should not Mormons, with their tradition of working together, lead the [vanguard] in these calls for moderate speech and collaboration? Should they not live their religion seven days a week by extending the respect they afford church leaders to other kinds of authority?"

Mormon apologetics journal undergoes 4th name change

For an overview of Mormon Apologetics and its impact, see Defending the Kingdom, Rethinkng the Faith: How Apologetics is Reshaping Mormon Orthodoxy By John-Charles Duffy, Sunstone Magazine. Excerpts of 'Mormon Studies Review' is a scholarly feast, By Dan Peterson, Deseret News.
The FARMS Review of Books on the Book of Mormon was launched nearly a quarter of a century ago, in 1988. Since then, it has shed that original name (and the acronym ROBOTBOM by which its editors affectionately knew it) to become first the FARMS Review of Books and then, simply, the FARMS Review.

Over the years, the Review has entered controversies with gusto and has garnered a following of readers who appreciate — and a chorus of critics who loathe — its energetic, straightforward and often humorously ironic style.

The Review has again been renamed — for the last time, one hopes! — emerging now with both a new physical design and the title "Mormon Studies Review."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Inscribed metal amulets

Joseph Smith's seerstone was in some ways used as an amulet. It also led him to inscribed metal plates containing scripture.  This article discusses how inscribed metal amulets were sometimes used like scripture in the ancient middle east.

'Prayers of Petition' in the Psalms and West Semitic Inscribed Amulets: Efficacious Words in Metal and Prayers for Protection in Biblical Literature

This article compares several Phoenician and Punic inscribed amulets to the language preserved in several psalms that petition YHWH for protection against evil or other types of danger. The fact that both the amulets and these particular psalms share a similar concern or function, namely, protection against evil, invites such a comparison. It is argued in this article that the similarities between the psalms and the amulets allow for the conclusion that both forms drew from a similar stock of words commonly employed in West Semitic apotropaic religious practices. In particular, it is argued that the protective formulae inscribed on the amulets, which bear certain similarities to the language employed in such psalms, indicate that the psalms contain more reflexes of apotropaic formulae than previously recognized.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How Mormon economics shape the G.O.P.

Harper's Magazine has published Pennies from heaven: How Mormon economics shape the G.O.P(subscription only) by Chris Lehmann. Below are excerpts from a response by Martin E. Marty, Sightings  9/19/2011, Mormons Now
.  Also responding to Lehmann is Russell Arben Fox at ByCommonConsent andat the Deseret News

--- ... Chris Lehmann, in Harper's, has a novel, focused, cogent name for the new order, one which also has to stretch the concept of "we" significantly, as he judges: "We are all Mormons now." Read on: this column is not a Mormon-bashing, .... [article].

Instead, I will attend to Chris Lehmann's article on some often overlooked reaches of Mormon-influenced economics, themes which would be relevant even if there were no Mormons running for any office.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tanner Lecture: Richard Bushman, "Mormonism and the Public Good"

The Tanner Humanities Center is proud to present the 2011 David P. Gardner Lecture in the Humanities and Fine Arts

Please join us for a lecture by Richard Bushman "MORMONISM AND THE PUBLIC GOOD"
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
7:00 PM
Saltair Room – University of Utah Olpin Union
200 S. Central Campus Dr.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

60 Minutes on 'The Book of Mormon' musical

Book of Mormon musical
"After 15 years, Comedy Central's hit animated series "South Park" is still dishing up crude jokes and subversive plot lines. Its irreverent creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone haven't found a line they won't cross. Correspondent Steve Kroft profiles the team, following their zany creative process from television to Broadway, where their musical comedy, "The Book of Mormon," is also a huge success.

"If you came to New York this summer to see a Broadway play or a musical, chances are the one show you couldn't get tickets for was "The Book of Mormon." And if you want to come and see it next summer, you would be well-advised to book your reservations now.

Video clips here
Story here

70 addresses Evergreen conference, same-sex attracted can find peace in Jesus

Same-sex struggles? Find peace in Christ, Mormon leader says, by By Lee Davidson,  Salt Lake Tribune
Mormons with same-sex attraction can find peace by focusing on Jesus Christ and his atonement, an LDS Church general authority told a conference on Saturday that focused on members with such attractions.
"Through the infinite and eternal atonement, we can be reconciled and sit comfortably in peace by [the] side of Christ and Heavenly Father," said Elder Jay E. Jensen, of the church's Presidency of the Seventy.
He spoke at the 21st annual conference of Evergreen International, which describes itself as "the same-sex voice of faithful" LDS members. The one-day conference, in the church's Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, focused on resources to help members who struggle with same-sex attraction.

Gay Mormon suicide

Excerpts: Gay Mormon Excommunicated From His Church, Commits Suicide, pride in Utah.

Update (Sep 30)

40 year old Bryan Michael Egnew spent the last decades of his life building up the courage to come out to his family and Mormon church. Once he did his life, family and religion were stripped away from him, and he committed suicide within a matter of weeks.
...Bryan Michael Egnew went on a Mormon Mission when he was 19, was married in a Mormon Temple to his wife Amy and had 5 children. He served within his local Mormon congregation for years, and outwardly was everything a Mormon man was expected to be. But inside, Bryan fought a constant struggle over whether to continue pretending, or to be honest about himself.

But last month, Bryan found that courage and came out to his family and his church. The results were tragic. According to Curran, his wife Amy immediately packed up their children and drove them out of state to Tennessee, refusing to let Bryan see them. His parents and family withdrew, and his Church immediately excommunicated him because he refused to denounce his sexual orientation....

Active Gay Mormon story on CNN

Excerpts: Church leadership post for an openly gay Mormon By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
"I'm a man that lives in two worlds that a lot of people don't think intersect," Mayne said. "Both sides of myself exist in me. It's part of my DNA, part of my makeup."
Actively Mormon and openly gay: It's the sort of combo that might leave people wondering. After all, the LDS Church teaches that homosexuality, specifically if same-sex attractions are acted upon, is a sin. And the church has actively backed measures to ban same-sex marriages.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Utah demographics 2011

imageWho are Utahns? Survey shows we're highest, lowest, youngest, The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah still has the nation's largest households, highest fertility rate, lowest median age, youngest age at marriage and most stay-at-home moms.
That's according to the annual American Community Survey, which was released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The statistics gives a snapshot of America, and Utah, in hundreds of categories.
Demographers have long said that the Mormon culture has made Utah unique with those large families. But slowly over time, Utah is trending toward becoming more like the rest of the country.
<Full article here, including more stats>

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2011 John Whitmer Historical Association

John Whitmer Historical Association annual meeting.
September 22-25, Nauvoo Ill.

Papers & Panels
  • "Community of Christ and LDS Church Responses to Social Issues of the Modern Era" --Presenter: F. Ross Peterson, Utah State University, Logan, Utah; Editor Emeritus, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought
  • "On the Nauvoo Legion" --Presenter: Richard Bennett, BYU, Provo, Utah
  • "The Twelve Had Swallowed Up the Thirty-Eight: Minority Views of the Council of Fifty" --Presenter: Christopher J. Blythe, Florida State University

The Gift and the Power: Translating the Book of Mormon (review)

The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon'Brant A.  Gardner's new book is a game changer-a paradigm-bending exercise which combines rigorous methodology with creativity in a historical analysis of the Book of Mormon translation story.  Gardner amasses evidence from the historical record, the actual Book of Mormon manuscripts, and its text in order to "discover the most economical explanation for all aspects of the Book of Mormon"' ... '  I can't recommend "The Gift and Power" enough.' -- Blair Hodges

Student Review -- ressurrected

Excerpts of "Introduction to the Student Review" by Tamarra Kemsley, Craig Mangum & Hunter Schwarz, Student Review

The Student Review is a publication with a history. We thank and honor those Student Review-ers who originally founded the publication and set the precedent for what we are currently trying to do.
The Student Review is an independent, student-produced publication that seeks to be an open forum in facilitating student thought and discussion within the BYU campus community.
As articulated in Hunter Schwarz's article, the Daily Universe's status as a "lab" paper means its staff is limited to those majoring in communications. We do not criticize the Daily Universe for this policy. We understand that they have the obligation to train their students with the skills they will need to enter the workforce. However, the unfortunate consequence of this "lab" paper status is that the published "voice" of our BYU campus is drastically limited.
We sincerely hope that the Student Review will become a place where any student can write about what motivates him or her from a position of authority, an authority that comes from being an active participant in the campus community.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wilford Woodruff's personal appendix to the Book of Commandments

Wilford Woodruff hand-copied the Word
of Wisdom into his Book of Commandments

Rather than reproducing the text, the editors of the Joseph Smith Papers project included photographs of each page of an original the Book of Commandments (BOC) in their Published Revelations volume.(1) This was done in part to allow the modern reader to experience the revelations as they were by the original reader -- with the same size, font, color and type.  Wilford Woodruff's personal copy of the BOC was used as the source of this photographic reproduction.

The final "gathering" or the last 32 pages of the BOC were never printed. Because the printing press was destroyed by a mob, the BOC ends abruptly in the middle of a verse. Thanks to efforts by the Joseph Smith Papers scholars, we now are quite confident of the content that would have been included in the completed BOC. (2)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Too much? The controversy of the Albert Carrington article in the Journal of Mormon History

Excerpts of Gary James Bergera, "Transgression in the LDS Community, Part 1" JMH, Summer 2011 by Ardis Parshal,
The most recent issue of the Journal of Mormon History ... Gary James Bergera's "Transgression in the LDS Community: The Cases of Albert Carrington, Richard R. Lyman, and Joseph F. Smith." Part 1, the case study of Albert Carrington, appears in this issue, with articles on the other two cases [Apostle Richard R. Lyman and Patriarch Joseph F. Smith] scheduled for fall 2011 and winter 2012 issues of the Journal of Mormon History.
Part 1 begins with a very brief overview of excommunication in Latter-day Saint practice, followed by a brief biography of Albert Carrington, a 19th century member of the Quorum of the Twelve, then a detailed report of the investigation, hearing, and excommunication for adultery, and Carrington's appeal for mercy and the Quorum's consideration of that appeal. The narrative is straightforward, explicit, and painful, and I recommend it for reading of almost all serious students of Mormon history


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

LDS patriarch pens evolution book

"Let the Earth Bring Forth": Evolution and ScriptureExcerpt: LDS patriarch pens evolution book by Duane Jeffery, correspondent, Herald Extra
Howard Stutz ...Mormonism's first formally trained evolutionary geneticist, head of academic departments at two different institutions of higher learning ...Brigham Young University faculty member, Latter-day Saint high councilor, bishop and stake patriarch ...
The book is titled "Let the Earth Bring Forth — Evolution and Scripture" and is available from Kofford Books (Salt Lake City) and the usual LDS book outlets. ...

His book covers many ... evolutionary matters from both animals and plants: comparative anatomy, geographical distribution, embryology and other speciation mechanisms. But none illustrate his title so clearly as his own work with native American plants.

The book is written for a general audience and should be of interest to all students of "evolution and scripture."

∫ Duane Jeffery is an emeritus professor of biology at Brigham Young University.
Read the entire review here.

"Book of Mormon" musical will be made into movie

Excerpts: "Trey Parker and Matt Stone say they will definitely make a 'Book of Mormon' movie -- EXCLUSIVE", Entertainment Weekly, by Clark Collis
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have confirmed to EW that they plan to adapt their Broadway hit The Book of Mormon for the big screen. The multiple Tony-winning comedy-musical, which stars Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad as a pair of Mormon missionaries attempting to find converts in Uganda, has been playing to sold out houses since opening this spring and a national tour is set to debut in Denver, Colo., next summer. "Hopefully it will have a big run and a big tour and then we can do the movie in several years," says Parker, who penned the musical with Stone and Avenue Q co-writer Robert Lopez. .....

Read the entire article here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mormon fundamentalist convicted of murder

A member of a Mormon fundamentalist sect (not part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Community of Christ, etc...) was convicted of crimes related to blood atonement against "sons of perdition" (I.E. apostates).  Excerpts: Ervil LeBaron's daughter going to prison in connection with '92 sect killings, Salt Lake Tribune
Houston • A polygamous sect leader's daughter was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge relating to the shotgun killings in Texas of an 8-year-old girl and three sect members who had left the church.
Jacqueline LeBaron, the daughter of Utah polygamist Ervil LeBaron, was originally indicted in 1992 but was a fugitive for almost 20 years before being arrested last year in Honduras. She had faced 14 counts, including murder, and could have faced life in prison.
Jacqueline LeBaron was among six family members charged in the killings. Authorities say she and her family were following their sect's doctrine of blood atonement, in which defectors were killed.

Mountain Meadows Massacre memorial dedication on 9-11

Excerpts:Mountain Meadows group walks path of victims for first time by Mark Havnes, Salt Lake Tribune
More than 100 people gathered in Washington County at the site of the infamous massacre of 120 California-bound emigrants by a Mormon militia. Thanks to land ownership changes, they were able for the first time to walk the path taken by the doomed, unarmed men and women from Arkansas as they were led away from the security of their besieged wagons under the guise of being taken to safety, then ruthlessly gunned down.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

BYU Studies review - Nauvoo Polygamy: “. . . but we called it celestial marriage”

Reviewer: Thomas G. Alexander
Journal: 50:3

Although focusing on the introduction of plural marriage by Joseph Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy is also an analysis of the background of pre-Mormon polygamy, a consideration of the expansion of the institution, and the testimony of those who entered it. Significantly, it is the first attempt since Todd Compton's In Sacred Loneliness to provide a critical list and analysis of the women whom Joseph married. It is not, however, an attempt to provide a statistical analysis of plural marriage, and its consideration of the operation of plural family life is much shorter than we find in the works of Kathryn Daynes and Jessie Embry. Rather, it essays more on the organizational aspects of the practice, the antecedent practices, and the opposition to the practice. It also focuses more on internal opposition rather than on outside political pressure, as found in Sarah Barringer Gordon's The Mormon Question.

…George Smith's Nauvoo Polygamy is an excellent book.

The Essential Parley P. Pratt - online

The Essential Parley P. Pratt (Classics in Mormon Thought Series)The Essential Parley P. Pratt (now online)

Foreword by Peter L. Crawley

One of the first converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Parley Parker Pratt (1807-57) would eventually become early Mormonism's most famous and widely published defender. ...


Friday, September 09, 2011

Richard Bushman lecture "Mormonism and the Public Good"

The Tanner Humanities Center is proud to present the 2011 David P. Gardner Lecture in the Humanities and Fine Arts

Please join us for a lecture by Richard Bushman

"Mormonism and the Public Good"

Recent events in Washington have demonstrated once again how much Americans differ on how to resolve the nation's problem.  The parties to the debate cannot even agree on the nature of the public good.  The lecture will argue that these conflicts arise out of basic contradictions in our national values and therefore will perpetually recur.  The question the lecture will pose is: Can Mormonism, a religious tradition of particular relevance to Utahns,  contribute to the resolution of these fundamental disagreements.  Can a religion that is authoritarian in nature help solve the problems of a democracy?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Orson Scott Card accused of adding homophobia to Hamlet

Hamlet's FatherScience Fiction writer, NOM board member, and Mormon Times columnist Orson Scott Card has re-written Hamlet. Below are excerpts of  "review of Hamlet's Father by Orson Scott Card" by William Alexander,

Update (9-15-2011)]
  • This reviewer thinks that while there may be a subtle reference to homosexuality in the book, Card is generally discussing pedophilia, not homosexuality.
  • Orson Scott Card has responded to the review below, claiming the book discusses pedophilia, not homosexuality
Orson Scott Card has rewritten Hamlet. The back of this slim novella boasts that once we have read this "revelatory version of the Hamlet story, Shakespeare's play will be much more fun to watch—because now you'll know what's really going on." .....

The extent of the novella's failure is surprising—and embarrassing, given that Card is a skilled veteran novelist and Subterranean a well-respected press. The most polite thing for us to do would be to walk away and quietly forget the whole painful exercise. But Card does not deserve our polite amnesia. His failures should be known and remembered, because the revelation in his "revelatory new version" turns out to be a nightmare of vitriolic homophobia.

President Monson on 9/11, Washington Post

Excerpts of 9/11 destruction allowed us to spiritually rebuild by Thomas S. Monson
The calamity of September 11th, 2001 has cast a long shadow. Ten years later, many of us are still haunted by its terrible tragedy of lost lives and broken hearts.  This week, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with Tom Brokaw, will pay its own homage to the unforgettable events of September 11, 2001.

There was, as many have noted, a remarkable surge of faith following the tragedy. People across the United States rediscovered the need for God and turned to Him for solace and understanding.

Sadly, it seems that much of that renewal of faith has waned in the years that have followed. Healing has come with time, but so has indifference.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Public lecture: "The Sharpest Thorn: Life on the Borderlands of the Mormon West" by Will Bagley

Mormon Expression Lecture Series:  Dale L. Morgan lecture, "The Sharpest Thorn: Life on the Borderlands of the Mormon West" by Will Bagley.

Podcast availble here:

An Evening with an Author - '“This is My Doctrine:” The Development of Mormon Theology"'- Charles Harrell

This Is My Doctrine: The Development of Mormon Theology


We are delighted to announce the publication of "This is My Doctrine:" The Development of Mormon Theology by Charles R. Harrell, published by Greg Kofford Books.  ... Many of the principal doctrines defining Mormonism today have developed over the course of the Restoration. This book shows that these doctrines did not originate in a vacuum but were rather prompted and informed by the religious culture from which Mormonism arose. However, Mormons often interpreted these doctrines differently than their Christian neighbors. Early Mormons, like their early Christian and even earlier Israelite predecessors, brought with them their own culturally conditioned theological outlooks which often changed with time.

Movie about Masons feature Orrin Porter Rockwell

Excerpts of Student made film to premiere at SLC Masonic Temple, UVU Review
It's a movie about Porter Rockwell, Free Masons, ancient bloodlines and the Ark of the Covenant. Oh, and UVU students. "The Masonic Map,"  is set to have its Utah premiere in downtown Salt Lake City. As James describes it, the movie "a story about a Masonic bloodline that protects a sacred relic."

The film's premiere will take place at the Masonic Temple in downtown Salt Lake City. The movie's story involves Freemasons and their ties to Porter Rockwell and sacred religious relics. "No secrets were revealed. I tried to respect all that while still pushing the edge," J

Monday, September 05, 2011

Review and Interview: "How We Got the Book of Mormon" by Richard Turley and William Slaughter

How We Got the Book of MormonHow We Got the Book of Mormon by Richard E. Turley Jr. and William W. Slaughter, Deseret Book, Salt Lake, 2011 -- reviewed by Clair Barrus, plus an interview with the authors:

How We Got the Book of Mormon tells the story of how the Book of Mormon came into being, and gives an historical overview of the printing of each edition. Noting there have been 150 million copies of the Book of Mormon printed in over 100 languages, authors Richard Turley (Assistant Church Historian) and William Slaughter (photograph historian and consultation archivist) say their book was written "to help members of the [church] better understand the history of the Book of Mormon."  They wrote with a general audience in mind, with references in the footnotes to more scholarly works.

"Dimensions of Faith: A Mormon Studies Reader" (reviewed by Julie J. Nichols)

Dimensions of Faith: A Mormon Studies ReaderStephen C. Taysom, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Cleveland State University and the editor of this impressive collection, declares in his introduction that this is the book he "would love to have had as a graduate student. That way, [he] could have simply thrust it wordlessly into the hands of those who expressed skepticism about the fitness of Mormonism as an object of serious academic study. Anyone who gives the essays in this book a thorough and fair reading will be left with no reservations on that score" (vii). Readers should not think of it as a "comprehensive archive," he says, but as "an introduction to the kind of fine scholarship that is flowering in the field."

Friday, September 02, 2011

A Year of Biblical Womanhood

Excerpts of A Year of Biblical Womanhood By Ruth Graham
An evangelical blogger is spending 12 months following the Bible's instructions for women

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as PossibleRachel Held Evans is writing a book about the Bible's rules for women Before Easter this year, Rachel Held Evans camped out for the weekend in a purple tent she had set up in her Tennessee yard. For nine days after this adventure, she abstained from sex and even from touching her husband. She stayed home from church, and toted around a stadium seat cushion to avoid sitting directly on chairs outside her home. Evans' goal was to obey the Bible's commandments for menstruating women in Leviticus Chapters 15 to 18, a passage that takes a lot of shalls and shall nots to make a simple point: Women on their periods are untouchable.

Her Easter weekend in the tent was part of a project called "A Year of Biblical Womanhood," in which she is following all the Bible's instructions for women as precisely as possible for 12 months.

Joseph Smith, Volume 1: Plates of Gold

imageExcerpt: Movie review: Little passion in Joseph Smith biography by Sean P. Means, Salt Lake Tribune (another review here).

Mark Twain uncharitably described The Book of Mormon as "chloroform in print," and this dramatic retelling of its translation will, for the nonfaithful and perhaps some faithful, have a similar sleep-inducing effect.
Writer-director Christian Vuissa begins the story of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' founder in 1826,