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


[Ardis lists the following concerns, and addresses them]

  • It's so graphic! He didn't need to be so explicit in describing the acts for which Carrington was tried!
  • But don't you think the author was deliberately being provocative / sensational / lurid?
  • But this is about a General Authority. This is disrespectful.
  • But sex is different.
  • We should leave topics like this to Dialogue or to Sunstone.
  • What would you say if, hypothetically, a donor were so upset about an article like this that he cancelled his commitment for a many-thousands-of-dollars contribution to MHA and to the Journal?
  • What about the author's sources?
...  This study is original, it's authentic, and it's significant. We don't need to be afraid of it, and we don't need to hide from it, and we don't need to be punitive about it. Really.

Read the full article here

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