The latest issue of BYU Studies just hit my mailbox yesterday. I’ve only read three of the articles so far, but I thought I would try to give you a sense for what is in it so you can see whether anything catches your interest.
The cover art is beautiful; it is a piece called Mazmuur Naafi, or the Arabic Psalm of Nephi, in a Muslim calligraphy style. There is actually a several-page essay near the back explaining this piece.
The issue begins with a BYU forum address by Alwi Shihah, former Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the need to build bridges of understanding, preceded by a substantive introduction by Elder Boyd K. Packer. This is the only time a forum speaker has been introduced by an Apostle (they are personal friends), which suggests the importance of the topic. I must say that I take no little pride in the Church’s relations with Islam, which is something I think it gets right. We had positive statements about the religion from church leaders as early as the mid-19th century; we work closely with them on humanitarian projects; the Maxwell Institute is publishing classic Arabic works in two-language editions; even in my local area, we are having joint youth activities with a local mosque. Good stuff.
Kendall Moss has an article that looks really interesting, but I haven’t gotten to it yet: “Alhamdulilah: The Apparently Accidental Establishment of the Church in Guinea.” This piece details the remarkable convergence of several factors at just the right time so that a branch of the Church could be formed there.
James Toronto, “‘Strangers in a Strange Land': Assessing the Experience of Latter-day Saint Expatriate Families” should be of interest to many here who are themselves expats. Based on personal interviews, he explores the effects of such a situation on family relationships, personal testimonies and cultural diversity.
A. LeGrand Richards, “Moritz Busch’s Die Mormonen and the Conversion of Karl G. Maeser” was of particular interest to me because just last Sunday my home teacher talked about the conversion of Bro. Maeser as a part of his lesson on family histories. The author of this article has a personal interest, because he is the GGGrandson of Franklin D. Richards, who baptized Maesar. Well, guess what–my home teacher is Trevor Budge, and he is the GGGrandson of William Budge, the missionary who was sent into Germany (a very dangerous situation at the time) to teach Maeser, and the interpreter in the famous “gift of tongues” episode following Maeser’s baptism. And I just learned about this connection this past Sunday! So I’m excited to make a copy of this article to present to my home teacher. (He actually brought over William Budge’s autobiography, published in the early years of the 20th century, to show me.)
J. Gordon Daines III, “Charting the Future of Brigham Young University: Franklin S. Harris and the Changing Landscape of the Church’s Educational Network, 1921-1926.” This article is about how BYU was preserved as the Church’s flagship institution of higher education during the economic depression that hit Utah in the early 20s, resulting in the sale of most other religious schools.
Richard Lyman Bushman, “The Archive of Restoration Culture, 1997-2002,” is an introduction to and explanation of this remarkable resource, which was featured on the BCC sideblog recently.
Samuel Brown, “The ‘Beautiful Death’ in the Smith Family,” shows how the bereavement of Alvin and Joseph Sr. does not reflect mental instability, but rather the “beautiful death” culture of antebellum America.
Mark B. Nelson and Steven C. Harper publish a document dealing with the imprisonment of Martin Harris in 1833.
Amber Esplin has an essay, “Life with Ana,” and Mark Bennion [any relation to our Molly?] has a poem, “Astonishment.”
There are also two film reviews, of Sisterz in Zion and States of Grace, and book reviews of Lengthen Your Stride, Junius and Joseph, Black and Mormon, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, In All Their Animal Brilliance, and The Secret Message of Jesus. I saw clips of Sisterz in Zion at Sunstone, and thought it looked great, so I’ll be anxious to read the review (and see the film).