Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Selected Chronology of George Albert Smith

41-01.gifThe Priesthood / Relief Society manual "Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith" will be studied by Latter-day Saint men and women in 2012.  LDS-Church-History will present a selected chronology of the life of George Albert Smith, 8th president of the L.D.S. Church, providing further insight into his life.

George Albert Smith was born of a "royal" Mormon heritage.  His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all members of the Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency.  His great-grandfather was a brother to Joseph Smith Sr., and  George Albert Smith's wife was a grand-daughter of Wilford Woodruff.  Genealogical information of his ancestry will be presented, as well as major events from their lives where available.

His father, John Henry Smith, kept a detailed journal, which sheds light on the childhood and family life of George Albert Smith.  When George Albert Smith became an apostle, he and his father were the first father-son pair serving at the same time in the Quorum of the Twelve.  Entries from John Henry Smith's journals provide valuable insight into the first forty years of the life of George Albert Smith.

Aspects of his life as an apostle will also be drawn from other sources, including his own journals, the journals of his fellow apostles, and also from President Heber J. Grant's.  Major issues dealt with by the Quorum of the Twelve will also be included.

Upon the death of Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith became the 8th president of the church. This chronology will include aspects of his life, presidency and major events in the administration and history of the church during his presidency.

Each day, several items from this chronology will be posted.  The best way to follow LDS Church History is by subscribing to one of the following:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another Mormon fundamentalist family in the spotlight


Television shows such as "Big Love" and "Sister Wives," have recently brought attention to polygamy in the U.S. Now, one Salt Lake City family is telling their story in hope of dispelling misconceptions about their beliefs.

Between Joe and his three wives, Alina, Vicki and Val -- two of whom are identical twins -- the Dargers have a total of 24 children. While they acknowledge their lifestyle is illegal in the United States, the four say they're willing to risk jail time in order to share their story with the world.

Herod did not complete temple in Jerusalem

New find sheds light on ancient site in Jerusalem, by Matti Friedman, AP
JERUSALEM (AP) — Newly found coins underneath Jerusalem's Western Wall could change the accepted belief about the construction of one of the world's most sacred sites two millennia ago, Israeli archaeologists said Wednesday.

The man usually credited with building the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary is Herod, a Jewish ruler who died in 4 B.C. Herod's monumental compound replaced and expanded a much older Jewish temple complex on the same site.

But archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority now say diggers have found coins underneath the massive foundation stones of the compound's Western Wall that were stamped by a Roman proconsul 20 years after Herod's death. That indicates that Herod did not build the wall —

Judge affirms Canadian ban on polygamy

Excerpts of Judge affirms Canadian ban on polygamy by Erin Alberty, The Salt Lake Tribune
A Canadian judge dealt a blow to polygamy advocates Wednesday by upholding the country's ban on plural marriage.
In a landmark decision, British Columbia Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman wrote that the ban prevents "sundry harms" related to polygamy and "minimally impairs religious freedom."

Review: The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 2: December 1841--April 1843

Excerpts of  Hedges, Smith and Anderson, "The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 2: December 1841--April 1843" (reviewed by Bryan Buchanan)
The latest volume in the Joseph Smith Papers series is the second Journals volume covering the period of December 1841 to April 1843.  This volume is the follow-up to the surprising bestselling first Journals volume, published in 2008. [1]  Included in this second volume are the journal portion of the Book of the Law of the Lord (hereafter BLL) and the first two of four memorandum books (in the case of the second memorandum book, only the first portion is included with the balance to be published in the third and final Journals volume) kept almost entirely by Willard Richards.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gay BYU professor fired

Excerpts of Openly gay BYU producer, filmmaker fired by Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake Tribune
Wilcox announced the move Friday morning on his Facebook page, saying he was terminated the previous week by his BYU supervisors who "cited certain tasks and communications that I had not performed to their liking."
The Emmy-winning filmmaker, who in an email Friday declined to be interviewed, defended himself in his Facebook post. He said he faced "an increasingly hostile work environment over the last several months with which I refused to continue to engage."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Review: "Free Inquiry"

Excerpts of "Free Inquiry" (reviewed by Richard Packham), Association of Mormon Letters
*Free Inquiry* is one of the leading journals for readers interested in "secular humanism."  The issue reviewed here features a series of articles under the general heading "America's Peculiar Piety: Why Did Mormonism Grow? Why Does It Endure?" The magazine's front cover is the famous 1842 portrait of Joseph Smith - probably the best contemporary likeness of the church founder - altered to show that he has his fingers crossed.

The articles, although written from a non-Mormon perspective, are generally respectful, rational, and sincerely trying to answer the questions posed by the series

Mormon Ad Campaign

Excerpts of Mormons' Ad Campaign May Play Out on the '12 Campaign Trail, Laurie Goodstein, New York Times
After Sunday worship in recent months, Mormon bishops around the country gathered their congregations for an unusual PowerPoint presentation to unveil the church's latest strategy for overcoming what it calls its "perception problem."

Top Mormon leaders had hired two big-name advertising agencies in 2009, Ogilvy & Mather and Hall & Partners, to find out what Americans think of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Using focus groups and surveys, they found that Americans who had any opinion at all used adjectives that were downright negative: "secretive," "cultish," "sexist," "controlling," "pushy," "anti-gay."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An outsider's tour of the LDS church

Excerpts of Questioning General Authority Jim Burklo

Jim Burklo, ... is Associate Dean of Religious Life at USC.
For an exotic cultural and religious experience without leaving the borders of the United States, pay a visit to the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!
... I went to Salt Lake City this past Thursday and Friday to meet with top leaders, known as "General Authorities", of the Mormon church. We were guests of the church, invited by the interfaith representatives of the LDS in southern California....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Harold Bloom on a Mormon candidate for president

Famed literary critic Harold Bloom called Joseph Smith a religious genius in his acclaimed The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation.  Since then he has been quoted in general conference, and has been quoted in the pages of the New Era and Ensign.  Now he weighs in on possibility of electing a Mormon for president.  Below are excerpts of Will This Election Be the Mormon Breakthrough?, Sunday Review, New York Times, by Harold Bloom
... Mr. Romney, earnest and staid, who is deep within the labyrinthine Mormon hierarchy, is directly descended from an early follower of the founding prophet Joseph Smith, whose highly original revelation was as much a departure from historical Christianity as Islam was and is. But then, so in fact are most manifestations of what is now called religion in the United States....
However, should Mr. Romney be elected president, Smith's dream of a Mormon Kingdom of God in America would not be fulfilled,

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Dreams of Brigham Young

Excerpts of The Dreams of Brigham Young by Clair Barrus,
Dreams were an important component of early Latter Day Saint spirituality. Many Mormons attached a high level of importance to their dreams, seeing them as heavenly communications. Recorded below are the dreams of Brigham Young, second prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich lecture: "Stirring up LDS History"

Time: Sunday, December 11 · 7:30pm - 9:30pm
Location: University of Utah, meeting room to be announced
Sponsored by Sunstone

Joseph Smith Papers series, Journals, Volume 2 announced

The first volume of the Joseph Smith Papers series, Journals, Volume 1, became an overnight bestseller. The much-anticipated Journals, Volume 2, covers the Nauvoo period from December 1841 to April 30, 1843. Two major documents are featured in this volume:

Monday, November 07, 2011

Mormon bishop says church responsible for gays’ emotional wounds

Excerpts of Mormon bishop says church responsible for gays' emotional wounds by Bill Oram, The Salt Lake Tribune

The way gays are treated and perceived by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an "atrocity," an LDS bishop from Illinois told a group of gay Mormons Sunday.
"If you leave here not remembering what I have to say, remember this: I'm sorry," Bishop Kevin Kloosterman.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Journal of Mormon History now online

Digitized issues of the Journal of Mormon History are now online through Utah State University's digital commons. All issues two years or older are available to anyone, while more recent articles are available to members of the Mormon History Association.

The Journal of Mormon History is published four times a year by the Mormon History Association.  The Mormon History Association is an independent organization dedicated to the study and understanding of all aspects of Mormon history -- who welcome all who are interested in the Mormon past, irrespective of religious affiliation, academic training, or world location. We promote our goals through scholarly research, conferences, awards, and publications.

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Gold Plates seminar

                                  The Annual Summer Seminar on Mormon Culture

                              "THE GOLD PLATES AS CULTURAL ARTIFACT - II"
                                                      Brigham Young University
            June 18 – July 27, 2012

            In the summer of 2012, the Neal A Maxwell Institute at Brigham Young University will sponsor a second summer seminar for graduate students and junior faculty on "The Gold Plates as Cultural Artifact." 

Friday, November 04, 2011

Poll finds 62% of gay Mormons inactive or have left the church

A recent online poll, co-sponsored by Bradshaw and Renee Galliher of Utah State University, invited commenters from Mormon blogs, Facebook, LDS gay and lesbian support groups, media outlets and word of mouth.
Researchers found nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the 1,600 respondents had tried to change their orientation, and 86 percent classified church counseling that sought to end their same-sex attraction as not helpful, somewhat harmful or severely harmful.
About a third (29 percent) of the respondents said they remained active in the LDS faith, a little more than a third were inactive (36 percent) and 26 percent asked to have their names removed from the church's membership rolls.
Still, nearly 70 percent said they believed in God, 52 percent believed in Jesus Christ, and 36 percent believed that LDS Church founder Joseph Smith was "a prophet of God." .....

Conference for LGBTQ (SSA) Mormons

Excerpts of Conference to discuss issues for gay Mormons By Peggy Fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune
The purpose of the conference, sponsored by researcher John Dehlin, along with Mormon Stories and Open Stories Foundation, is "to create a space where LGBTQ or SSA individuals and their families and allies can gather to acknowledge, explore and honor shared experiences."
It will bring together speakers such as author and playwright, Carol Lynn Pearson, retired Brigham Young University microbiology professor Bill Bradshaw, Utah State Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis, filmmaker Kendall Wilcox, psychologist Lee Beckstead, as well as Dehlin, who has helped conduct online research within the LDS gay community.
"Circling the Wagons" will run Friday through Sunday. The main portion of the conference will be Saturday at the First Baptist Church, 777 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City. For times, other locations and registration information, go to

Voices of Dissent in the Mormon West

Playing with Shadows: Voices of Dissent in the Mormon West
(h/t Reed)
Edited by: Polly Aird, Jeff Nichols, Will Bagley
Volume 13 in Kingdom in the West: The Mormons and the American Frontier
Subject: History of the American West
The personal journeys of four Latter-day Saints who came to doubt the faith
This collection of narratives by four individuals who abandoned Mormonism—"apostates," as Brigham Young and other Latter-day Saint leaders labeled them—provides an overview of dissent from the beginning of the religion to the early twentieth century and presents a wide range of disaffection with the faith or its leaders.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Mormonism To Be A Bigger Issue In The General Election, Say Evangelicals

Excerpts of Romney's Mormonism To Be A Bigger Issue In The General Election, Say Evangelicals - The Huffington Post
The loudest objections to Mitt Romney's Mormonism have not yet been raised, according to evangelical leaders and conservatives.

Romney's faith does give many protestants pause. But polls, and evangelical leaders, tell another story:

The BYU tithing police fiasco, 1957-1963

Excerpts of Ernest L. Wilkinson and the BYU tithing police fiasco,  Doug Gibson, Standard Examiner
In the latest issue of Sunstone magazine, ... "The Moniteering of BYU Faculty Tithing Payments, 1957-1963," ... Wilkinson, upon assuming the presidency of BYU in the 1950s, was outraged that some BYU professors paid only a partial tithing, and some paid none at all...

At one point, Wilkinson told LDS Church President David O. McKay that 27 percent of BYU faculty were either part tithing payers or paid no tithing at all.

Upon the Temple Lot: The Church of Christ’s Quest to Build the House of the Lord

R. Jean Addams. Upon the Temple Lot: The Church of Christ's Quest to Build the House of the Lord. (Independence, MO: John Whitmer Books, 2010, v + 167 pp., photographs, maps, notes, index, $14.95., paperback.)

Reviewed by H. Michael Marquardt, published in Mormon Historical Studies 12, no. 1 (Spring 2011):179-81, and available on here.

This important book on the effort to build the temple in Independence, Missouri, by the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) is a welcome work on the history relating to the progress and circumstances toward this project. The author, R. Jean Addams has devoted many years in gathering hard to find sources in understanding the history behind this attempt.

The "spot for the temple" in Zion was designated by Joseph Smith in 1831 (see D&C 57). The author provides a brief history of emergence of what became the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), which is nicely presented (7–17). Some members had been associated with the original Church as early as 1831–1833. After a few families gathered to Independence in 1867, they commenced purchasing city lots where they anticipated the temple was to be located.
George D. Cole, who had been baptized in April 1870, said he received a dream or vision regarding the location where the temple would to be built. ...

Continue reading review here

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Banning blame game over anti-Mormon claims

Excerpts of RedState: We don't ban Mittites, but 'bigotry' claims,Ben Smith, Politico
... Free Republic founder Jim Robinson affirmed the explicit ban on Romney supporters. But RedState's Erick Erickson -- whose site was also accused of the practice -- said any Romney supporters banned from the site would have been banned for accusing people of "anti-Mormon bigotry":

Group sues to ban Church influence in Utah Liquor Laws

Excerpts of Group Wants Mormon Church Blocked From Future Liquor Law Debates, Fox News
A trade group for bars and restaurants is asking a federal judge to block Utah legislators from considering input from the Mormon church when drafting future liquor laws.
The Utah Hospitality Association contends that considering the views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unconstitutional under federal laws separating church and state.