Saturday, December 15, 2007
All Blog Symposium: Mormonism and Modernity
Faith Promoting Rumor is hosting an All-blog symposium on Mormonism and Modernity to address the following topics over the course of the next 45 days. Prizes will be given to the best blog posts. To enter, simply give the link to your post in the comments on this thread. ... The following topics are proposed:
1. Mormonism and pluralism. In the age of globalization, we come to interact with religious others in more profound and meaningful ways than missionary work, and as we come to learn and appreciate the depth of other religious traditions, we are forced to wonder if our exclusivist view on truth sustainable and defensible. Do inclusivist notions in Mormonism satisfy the theological and political dilemma that exclusive claims to salvation through Jesus Christ, or Mormon rituals? Can a Mormon pluralism exist, or must we take the burden of exclusivism along with fundamentalists of other religions?
2. Skepticism of authority based in the inaccessibility of revelation- How should modern Mormons regard the authority of revelation? In the contemporary church, at least at the top levels, revelation is rarely appealed to as a source of authority (though at the local level many leaders appeal to it to buttress their personal decisions). What sorts of standards will be applied to mediate the potentially disruptive element of revelation, even revelation from important church leaders?
3. Critical Study of the scriptures, both ancient and modern- Many religious traditions coping with modern challenges to historicity and infallibility have opted for the metaphorical, spiritual meaning of the text. Is this an option for Mormons given the challenges that critical scholarship provides to traditional understandings of the text?
4. The relationship b/t Mormonism and the State- There is no question that publicly and as a matter of policy, Mormonism reveres the Church/State divide, but has crossed it at times in its history. Further, Mormonism began as a nation-building movement. Many Mormons do believe that their religious convictions should impinge on their political views. Both conservative and liberal religious groups seem to agree. How should this relationship be figured?
5. Missionary work, Americanization, and neo-colonialism- Proselytism has suffered serious critical blows in recent decades as the relationship between European hegemony, cultural imperialism, colonial rule, and the spread of Christianity was exposed. Given that Mormonism is inseparably American, and has often used this heritage in shaping its public image abroad, what is the relationship between Mormonism and neo-colonialism? How does Mormonism see itself as an extension of American Manifest Destiny, or the Western Man's Burden?
6. The Family- The nuclear family appears to have been a rather short-lived expiriment of the post-Industrial Age. How will Mormonism respond to the increased diversity of family lives, including divorce, same-sex couples, and increased fragmentariness of traditional family structures. How will the emphasis on the nuclear family affect the church's ability to form larger social communities?
7. Sex, Gender, Sexuality- Since the second wave feminist movement, Mormonism has both resisted and accommodated the changing landscape of the role of women in the church and society at large. What will the future look like, and how should Mormonism address the new realities of a highly skilled female workforce? What will happen to the "traditional" gender roles many church members cling to in their understandings of gender? How should the perennial issue of women's leadership in the church be addressed? Along these same lines, homosexuality is reaching the height of its liberation movement (belatedly). How should Mormonism respond to this issue, perhaps using lessons from its interactions with the Civil Rights and feminist movements over the last five decades?