Sunday, January 29, 2012

Changing Mormon Demographics 1990-2008

Highlights from  "Mormons in the United States 1990-2008: Socio-demographic Trends and Regional Differences" by Barry A. Kosmin & Ariela Keysar, Rick Phillps & Ryan Cragun; Hartford, CT: Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society & Culture.  Mormon Stories has posted an interview with Dr. Cragun about this study.
  • Mormons were 1.4% of the U.S. adult population in 2008, a proportion unchanged since 1990.
  • The Mormons of Utah are the only religious group in the U.S. today that comprises a numerical majority of a state's population (57% of Utah).

Friday, January 27, 2012

Novel about the gold plates: "Land of the Saints"

Excerpts of New Mystery Thriller 'Land of the Saints' Draws From Mormon Church History, by Ginny Grimsley, Market Wire
Los Angeles attorney Robert P. DesJardins plumbed the history and mysteries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for his newest novel, "Land of the Saints".

The folding of fact into fiction produced a Mormon-style "Davinci Code" -- so plausible, some readers might wonder where history ends and imagination takes wing.

"As with the LDS church, the book centers on the Golden Plates that church founder Joseph Smith said the angel Moroni gave him in 1830,"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"The Rescue" - a plan to address the difficulties of Mormon history

Note: More about this issue here

Dr. Phillip Barlow (Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University) invited Elder Marlin K. Jensen (Church Historian and Recorder) to speak at USU. Excerpts of the Q&A session specifically having to do with the difficulties Mormons face when learning about church history are included below. This points to an unfolding crisis affecting the church, and efforts to address this issue. Several items of note from Elder Jensen include:
  • The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve realize that "maybe since Kirtland, we never have had a period of, I'll call it apostasy, like we're having right now"  
  • "What we have in mind is to develop a response to the tough issues – whether that's polyandry, or DNA in the Book of Mormon ... we do have another initiative that we have called, "Answers to Gospel Questions". We are trying to figure out exactly what channels to deliver it in"
  • Where has the prophet laid his emphasis right now? It's on something called 'The Rescue'
  • "There's no sense kidding ourselves. We need to be very upfront with [this generation], tell them what we know, and give answers to what we have, and let them fall on their faith for things that we don't completely understand."
The text below was excerpted from Simple Mormon Spectator

Friday, January 13, 2012

Liberal General Authority to retire as church historian

Elder Marlin K. Jensen holds a first edition Book of Mormon
Excerpts of Changing of the guard in Mormon history by Peggy Fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune.
...Jensen helped transform the Utah-based faith's approach to its history. He put thousands of its documents online, oversaw the groundbreaking Joseph Smith Papers Project, reorganized the staff and moved into a new state-of-the-art building. He also pushed for an honest telling of the Mountain Meadows Massacre and lobbied to make the southwestern Utah location of the 1857 siege a national historic site.

Monday, January 09, 2012

William Clayton diaries

William Clayton
One of the most illuminating and elusive Mormon history resources, the diaries are not accessible except, apparently, to some working on the Joseph Smith Papers project (a few pages of the diaries were included in the latest Joseph Smith paper volume).  As part of J. Stapley's review of of this volume, he tells the story of how the Clayton diaries became available to three researchers in the 70s, and how their transcripts have either come into print, or have influenced important works of history. 

William Clayton was in Joseph Smith's inner circle and kept a detailed, personal journal of his experiences.  Recording more than just the day-to-day events, he wrote about his feelings and challenges, as well as those of his associates.  His record provides a frank look behind the scenes of Nauvoo, providing a view of how Joseph Smith's teachings were interpreted and practiced at that time.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Setting the record straight

Historian Michael Marquardt has begun a new series of short articles titled "Setting the Record Straight."  The first two mini-articles are regarding the Doctrine and Covenants:
Revelation headings changed

  • having to do with a mix-up of the location of a number of revelations
Date Modified, Text Added
  • showing that D&C 27 (LDS) was not originally two revelations combined into a single revelation as the section heading states