MHA San Antonio 2014 Open Thread

Tomorrow will be my travel day; if the gods are willing, I should arrive at the hotel mid-afternoon. I wanted to throw this up early so that people will have a place to share their travel stories. For instance, Jared, Loyd, David, Brad and Colby are as I type this undertaking an epic road trip to get there; if one of you sees this, how about some reports from the road? Is anyone going to try to catch the Spurs v. Heat game tomorrow night? Anyone up for some dinner plans before the festivities begin? For the next four days, please feel free to share all things MHA right here. For those of you who will be there in person, I’m looking forward to seeing you. And please share what you can of your experience here for the benefit of those who are not able to attend in person.

Comments

  1. My wife and I just got back from Boudros, along the river walk. The mid-Texas humidity is out in force. On the plane we had Richard Turley, and others form the Church History Library. I was lucky enough to sit next to Brittany Chapman. As a result, my IQ went up about 15 pts.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    I looked at weather.com and see that the temperatures are going to be in the mid-90s for the duration. I’m glad I checked, as coming from Chicago I probably would have packed clothing that is too warm.

  3. URGENT: Can you confirm whether folks in San Antonio know what picante sauce is supposed to taste like?

  4. Disapointed I will be missing the newcomers breakfast and the first session Friday. Will be arriving as soon as possible Friday morning and attend everything else.

    Sorry that it’s more humid than usual.

  5. Excited to see old friends and make new ones. Cheers!

  6. Spurs in six.

  7. BHodges says:

    I’m embarking tomorrow morning and should arrive in the afternoon.

  8. Really, really wish I could attend. Everyone take lots of notes and leave lots of comments!

    Also, Spurs in 7. (Or 5.)

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    Heading to the airport soon…

  10. Also, for anyone reading who hasn’t heard about the MHA conference this year in San Antonio, here’s the full program:

    http://www.mormonhistoryassociation.org/pdf/2014-conference-program.pdf

  11. (And, of course, “Go, Spurs, Go!”)

  12. Not going to make it this year, so please post lots up updates, folks! And just sayin’, since Jerry Sloane retired, the NBA is dead to me.

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    Made it! I’m now in my hotel room at the Wyndham San Antonio River Walk, site of the conference. On the flight down I decided to use my time by perusing the conference program and making some preliminary selections of which concurrent sessions I would be attending. Daaamn, that was hard! I have my line-up mostly filled out, but some sessions are going to be a game time decision, I’m afraid. It is always challenging to select from such an embarrassment of riches; it’s like trying to pick which is your favorite child.

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    I just went down to the third floor to get my registration packet. Marilyn Barney was there passing things out. I ran into my fellow blogger J. Stapley and gave him a bro hug. The exhibitor spaces are set up with tables and signs, but no actual exhibits yet; I imagine people will be putting their wares up this afternoon. The layout looks pretty simple this year. On the second floor are Texas Ballrooms A, B and C, which can be combined for one giant ballroom; this is where the plenary events will be held. For smaller events, there are five Executive Suites, labeled 1-5, on the third floor. So it won’t be as confusing as in years past to get the lay of the land. Each room has several outlets, and so I’ll probably schlep my laptop around some and try to take some real time notes. In some cases I may not bother and just take a few written notes to put on the blog later. We’ll see.

    There’s a nice fitness center on the third floor. I didn’t bring any workout gear (I don’t like to check a bag, so I pack really light), but there is also an outdoor pool and hot tub, so I think I’ll go and take advantage of that for awhile.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    So I went to use the pool and hot tub. It was really nice after the long winter we’ve endured up in Chicago. The elevators had been empty all day, so I didn’t think anything of getting on one (still shirtless) to go back up to my room. But this one happened to have a bunch of MHAers on it, including Kathy Daynes and Jan Shipps. Good thing I’m a nobody in the Mo-history world and they clearly didn’t know who I was!

  16. Spent the day walking the Riverwalk, going to the San Antonio Art Museum (surprisingly amazing in its scope) and going to the Alamo (lots of mixed feelings there). Just listened to an amazing Tejano Mexican band and am about to go to the Opening Reception.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    Henry Cisneros (former mayor of San Antonio and Secretary of HUD under President Clinton) gave a very nice welcoming address.

    Paul Reeve was at my table, and the final manuscript of his race book has been accepted by Oxford and is starting production (a seven months process).

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    Oh, and had a Darius sighting. He seemed quite chipper and looked good!

  19. Sat in the back during the opening session with Margaret Blair Young and chatted until it started. Darius Gray came in a little late on the opposite side and only saw a seat in the front. I went to get him and sat down next to him and sad that Margaret was saving him a seat in the back. He said “Oh good, I’m more comfortable there”. I told him “Follow me, I’ll lead the way”. I felt like I was escorting a celebrity, except better–a real honor. Told him I love him and also Margaret as we walked back to his seat.

    I thought Henry Cisneros was fascinating and dynamic. Part of that might be because I’ve lived in San Antonio since 2007 and I fascinated with history, and he gave a welcome address and overview of the history of the local area and was very complimentary of the Mormon faith. I found him to be impressive and I was transfixed with the his-STORY he told of San Antonio from its early beginnings to its renaissance after the 1968 World’s Fair held here (HemisFair) that brought San Antonio onto the world tourism stage. He also recited its early military history and its current military connection as a hub of all things medical and military and its booming jobs in this sector even as other cities are loosing their military jobs. I felt compelled to go out and shake his hand after he left and thank him. He was the first hispanic mayor of a major American city and the first hispanic mayor of San Antonio since Juan Seguin, who fought with Davy Crocket and Jim Bowie et al at the Alamo during the War for Texas Independence.

    Was also happy to finally meet some folks in person: Ardis, Jared T., Loyd and Brad (who were setting up their Greg Kofford Books exhibit table) and Thomas Kimball (who gave who was setting up his Signature Books table and even gave me a free Mormon history T-shirt!). Spoke with Glen Leonard and failed to make the connection until after I sat down and then it clicked that he was one of the three authors of “Massacre at Mountain Meadows”. Speaking of authors of that book, I also introduced myself to Richard Turley, since my wife grew up in West Jordan with and was friends with his son, and he remembered my wife’s family. He was standing with the LDS Church Historian so I also introduced myself to Elder Snow, whom I recognized as well.

    Quick hand shakes with David Bokovoy (a friend in my ward is completely obsessed with his latest book on the Old Testament so I told him I’ll definitely be reading that soon).

    Had to bail out after Henry Cisneros because I had a friend from church driving around downtown with my kids so I wouldn’t have to pay to park and so that I could go in briefly, and she only agreed to drive down with me on the condition that I would get her home in time for the Spurs game (die hard fan–even made sure I agreed to wear black in honor of the Spurs). I’m pleased to report that I dropped her off at 8:01 just as the announcers were welcoming the NBA finals audience and showing an aerial shot of the AT&T Center. Stay to hear a very mediocre version of the national anthem and now letting the kids eat a late dinner at a McDonald’s playplace where I’m using the wifi and now needing to get them to bed. (Figured it was okay to keep them out late since today was the last day of school here in San Antonio).

    Looking forward to some really intriguing sessions these next two days. I was asked to be a part of singing a couple of musical numbers for Sunday morning’s MHA devotional and I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t learned the songs at all yet. But we’ll have a practice Friday night after attending the full day of sessions.

    Kevin, I’ll be looking for you just to shake your hand and meet you in person. I’ve been enjoying these open MHA threads of yours for years wishing I could attend in person and now I finally get the chance. Pretty cool experience for me.

  20. Oh, and very importantly, the Spurs game is on live here at McDonald’s and I’m also DVR’ing it at home.

  21. I should also probably add why I’m a temporary single father of four and had to have a ward friend drive with me to be with the kids tonight. My wife and 8 year-old daughter are in France for the 70th anniversary of D-day tomorrow. My daughter sings with the Texas Children’s Choir and they were the choir chosen to represent the United States at the official ceremonies at Normandy, which President Obama will also be attending. The band chosen to represent the United States and which will be playing the Star Spangled Banner, Hail to the Chief when the President arrives, and also the French national anthem also is from San Antonio (UTSA).

    Once in a lifetime experience for them and for which they’ve been fundraising like crazy and in the meantime my respect and empathy for long-term single parents has grown immensely.

  22. Kevin Barney says:

    Clean Cut, thanks for the great summary of the Cisneros talk. Yes, I was quite impressed by him; it was very interesting, history-centric, and he clearly has a warm spot in his heart for the Mormon people. A great way to start the conference.

  23. Kevin Barney says:

    OK, the Friday morning opening plenary is about to start. Dick Bennett is conducting (outgoing MHA president). I’m way on the left side of the room so I can plug my laptop into a wall outlet. The address will be by Ignacio Garcia of BYU, “Finding a Mormon Identity through Religion and Activism: A Personal Note on Constructing a Latino Time and Place in the Mormon Narrative.”

  24. Kevin Barney says:

    He doesn’t do Mormon history himself (more Latino history), but he appreciates it and learns from it. Born in Mexico, but grew up here in San Antonio. His friend had a bumper sticker that said “Remember the Alamo” (and underneath: “…and don’t forget who won…”). He’s telling stories about growing up as a Mexican in San Antonio and the cultural divide that existed. Everything was close because most people didn’t have cars and public transportation limited to main streets. His father never joined the church, but was always proud of his accomplishments in the faith. As a boy had little interest, but then he somehow found religion. The faith was a family and was all-encompassing. We were all children of God. Positive views of America. Being of pioneer stock or economically secure not a prerequisite to serve. Importance of the family. Back then you would buy church books out of the SP’s home. Once two young Latino boys were shot by police; he found himself talking to a white man (the SP) about a social issue. SP was callous about it, which troubled him. Latino Mormons seemed to be second class citizens in the Kingdom. Scriptures often failed them because white brothers were the gatekeepers to their meaning. Felt they had no history of great Latino men and women in the church. Divide particularly apparent in their schooling. Their school specifically designed for Mexican-American students. Not designed for college preparation; more vocational, very limiting. Parents wanted them to retain their language and heritage; school to become Americans, but only partially so.

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    Segregation and powerlessness was their version of being in the world but not of it. Never spoke of Americanism at home, or Mexicanism at school (back then speaking in Spanish not allowed). They began to engage in student protests; branded as troublemakers. Adults would say stick to your studies and be a nice kid. How did political participation mesh with the church? Could be a dangerous conversation. Local church leaders acutely aware of civil rights movement, alarmed by it. In 1950s to late 60s church involved in a wave of assimilation with larger society (Mormon Tabernacle Choir an example). A city election: someone from barrio was going to run against only Mormon on city council. Seemed like had to choose between being Mexican and Mormon. He was too young to vote, but he felt the tension. The Mormon was a good man–but had always favored the business community and “white” side of town. He decided to support the Latino candidate (but couldn’t bring himself to tell the Mormon one). He established the Mexican-American Activists club at BYU in the 1970s. His mother even began to engage in protests and activism.

  26. Kevin Barney says:

    Latinos and white Mormons continue to live divided, parallel lives. Mormonism for many Latinos remains a beloved, but white religion, which carries many of the problems with white culture generally.

    To understand Mormonism, have to understand its ongoing relationship to the Other. How do we better integrate? (Mentioned ambivalent support of the Utah Compact–lots of Mormons not on board with church position.) How we treat, accomodate, integrate.

  27. Kevin Barney says:

    Mormon Latinos need an historical narrative. So few working in Latino Mormon history. Need to recruit more students to this subject. Not only Latinos can write Latino Mormon history; others can as well, from different perspectives.

  28. Kevin Barney says:

    We’re about to start the session on Mormons on the Internet in the Information Age. Kristine asked me to run and get her a Diet Coke, but all I could find was a Diet Pepsi! D’oh! I consider myself lucky I am still alive to tell the tale.

    I know Jana Riess, who was supposed to be the commenter this session, didn’t make it due to a dog emergency, and Kristine mentioned someone else involved in the session didn’t make it as well. Cristine Hutchison-Jones also didn’t make it, so Kristine is going to read her paper as well as her own.

    I got to say hi to Ardis, who is sitting up front. (Once again, I’m on the side, my location constrained by an electrical outlet.)

  29. Kevin Barney says:

    Cristine’s talk: “Google It….” What Can We Learn about Mormonism on the Internet.

    By 1960 Americans no longer constructed view of Mormons from written material, but audio-visual material.

    Searching for word Mormon gets you over 9 million results. (The mike isn’t working, so it’s hard to hear.)

    Discusses hits on a search for “Book of Mormon.” Church article is outward looking, designed to show readers Mormons are Bible believers.

    Church-sponsored ads designed to establish Mormons are Christian.

    Ongoing tension in American culture regarding Mormonism. Mormons continue to advocate their place as Christians and Americans.

    General searches a mixed bag. Anti-Mormon groups one big category. Many sites not necessarily faith promoting, but cater to a Mormon audience.

    Her fundamental concern is with people genuinely seeking info on Mormonism; explicitly anti sites unlikely to be what they are looking for.

    Neutral or educational sites. Info still tends to come from one end of the spectrum or the other, albeit more temperate in language.

    Common topics: Mormon business acumen, missionary army, polygamy.

  30. Kevin Barney says:

    Wikipedia–she expected an anti slant, but tended to have more of an apologetic slant, which surprised her.

    Mormonism as hyper-Americanism.

    3 degrees of glory mentioned, but not effectively explained.

    Tug of war for control of the Mormon public image. Still tends to be a tug of war between apologetic and polemic. Info not stable; Wikipedia whipsaws one way and then the other.

    Advocacy groups, such as exmormon.org “recovery from Mormonism.”

    Affirmation.org occupied a sort of interesting middle ground. A much more moderate tone.

  31. Kevin Barney says:

    Talks about some sites that occupy a more middle ground. FMH: “angry activists with diapers to change.”

    Compatibility of Mormonism with other identities. Online communities allow people to negotiate what it means to be Mormon.

  32. Kevin Barney says:

    Now Kristine will read her own paper, on the Bloggernacle.

    If someone dropped in without prior knowledge, would assume Joanna Brooks, Matt Bowman and Jana Riess the voices of the church, and that all Mormons are feminists. Part of that is that journalists reach out to people like that who are willing to talk openly.

    Running down Bloggernacle history. November of 2002 group of Harvard grad students started a blog, The Metaphysical Elders on primitive blogspot. Conversations among themselves, then created Times and Seasons in 2003. Goal to be ideologically diverse. All practicing. Self consciously recruited bloggers for diversity. She was first girl recruited. Difficult to find conservatives. Ideological diversity turned out to be a mixed bag; fairly frequent defections. Most of women left over infighting.

    Next group blog BCC. One guy picking people he thought would be fun to hang out with. Turns out it is fairly ideologically diverse. A lighter and more irreverent tone, indelibly branded liberal from its early days; can’t escapt that label.

    Next big group blog to come was FMH, started by Lisa Butterworth. Controversial from very beginning. High traffic numbers, more media attention. A battle over inclusion of them on Mormon Archipelago. Arguments especiall vicious because the stakes were so low.

    Another important episode was in 2005, the Banner of Heaven fake blog created. Many people took as real, built up a community. A mess when truth came out.

    Next big controversy was whether mommy blogs were part of the Bloggernacle, whether they belonged.

  33. Kevin Barney says:

    Several blogs named after early Mormon newspapers.

    Ideological fracturing among Mormon blogs; it would have been difficult for an outsider to quickly determine orthodox from heterodox blogs.

    Also wouldn’t know from comment wars that most commenters were active members of the Church.

    Biggest wars fought over topics of gender and sexuality.

    More liberal blogs more likely to criticize church policy; less deferential. Blog medium craves relentless novelty. The “Adam Greenwood” principle. Liberals start with “of course we can have this conversation,” while more conservatives uncomfortable with that starting place and thus the tension that underlies these conversations.

    Conservative blogs have more official church content, more testimony bearing, more jabs at feminism, and intellectualism. But it’s hard for orthodox blogs to generate interesting new content. So much of their content ends up being a correction of liberal blogs, arguing what read Mormons believe.

    J. Max Wilson set up a different aggregator, omitting heterodox blogs. Here are two concerns he articulates: 1. Yes, some merits to public conversation, as long as diversity does not challenge proophets and apostles. If their views are not superior, we might as well be Protestants. 2. Wolves in sheep’s clothing problem. Inwardly some really are ravening wolves.

  34. Kevin Barney says:

    “I’m a Mormon” response was that the heterodoxy would actually look good to outsiders; not a cult. Keepapitchinin’ a positive example; always faithful, but not obnoxiously so; gentle with beginners.

    (“If this were a youth talk, I would say in closing I hope we can all be more like Ardis Parshall….” Great line, got a round of applause.)

    Assimilation and retrenchment more rapid, maybe even simultaneous, in the blog context.

  35. Kevin Barney says:

    Saskia Tielens on LDS Uses of Pinterest. Since launched in 2010, one of fastest growing sites, over 70 MM users, over 80% female. Mormon users small percentage of users, but have an outsized participation on the site. Relatively drama free; people don’t get into drama wars. Like a gated community; drama-free. Process of self-representation and identification that occurs on sites like these. Like much of English-speaking internet, dominated by Americans.

  36. Kevin Barney says:

    Certain cultural pressure to present an image of perfection, of domestic bliss. There is a subversive reaction, like “My Imaginary Well Dressed Toddler Daughter.”

  37. Kevin Barney says:

    Very nature of Pinterest leads to a certain flattening of religious identify (there are only so many words you can fit on a sunset).

    But don’t sell it’s users short or oversimplify.

  38. Kevin Barney says:

    Oh, Jana is going to join us via Skype! I hope this works. We can see her on the screen; it’s a Festivus miracle! She says it’s appropriate for this session that someone is joining entirely by the internet.

    She enjoyed very much these three papers. What is real? What is true online? Need to be very careful. Pinterest largely aspirational, not reflecting who we are, but who we would like to become. Because little contestation on the site, Mormon blaism to be Christian are accepted with little contestation. You won’t see anything esoteric, like the planet they would like to rule some day. A large common denominator; Mormons can be perceived as normal. Middle class values and families with a veneer of middle class Christianity on top.

    Talks about Roger Nicholson’s “Something Wiki This Way Comes” and the editing wars on Wikipedia over Joseph Smith.

    Talks about basic concept of a wiki. But it still has its own hierarchy; contributors overwhelmingly male.

    Interested in Cristine’s idea that there might be a middle ground. Proliferation of church voices we’ve never seen on this scale. Rise of identities as “Mormon and….” Jana has managed to offend all of her FB friends from every corner. Her own online presence may be more complicated, but only as a matter of degree. Used to be people did not discuss religion in polite society.

    An integrated online identity–a lot more difficult to hide. People who would not feel comfortable discussing controversial issues at church are more bold on social media. The more we affirm on FB, the narrower our sphere becomes. Do we end up just preaching to our own choirs.

    Who is the target audience online?

    Both groups care a lot about what non-LDS think of them. Hallmark of a religious minority. Sense people may be judging our entire religion based on what they hear from us personally; not really true anymore.

  39. Kevin Barney says:

    Q&A: changing nature of social media. Blogging not as popular as it used to be.

    Kristine says while this has been happening, it has been liveblogged on BCC (my moi), twitter is blowing up about it, and she has gotten various FB messages about it.

    Is demographic mainly white? Answer is there is a little diversity. Mentions the Sistas.

    Why so little racial diversity? Bunch of white guys started T&S, then their friends, so the history affected this.

  40. Thanks, Kevin, keep it coming.

  41. Kevin Barney says:

    I did indeed meet Clean Cut, and he gave me a wonderful compliment. He said my previous blogging from MHA conferences inspired him to actually come to one, and the experience has been all the fun I’ve portrayed it as. I was very happy to hear that.

    After lunch there was a reader’s theater, compiled by Paula Kelly Harline, with four women reading from the journals of four different polygamist wives on the underground, giving us a sense for what that experience was like. Hint: it was one trial after another.

    The first afternoon session is about to start. I’m attending one on Mormons and the Cold War. Up to bat are Nancy Kader on the Anti-War Hugh Nibley and the Young Democrats at BYU, Reid Neilson on Apostle Ezra Taft Benson’s 1959 sermon at Moscow’s Central Baptist Church, and Patrick Mason on Ezra Taft Benson and Modern (Book of) Mormon Conservatism.

  42. Many thanks for the heroic reporting, Kevin. It is a lifeline for the ungathered!

  43. Kevin Barney says:

    First up Nancy Kader. (I remember her husband Omar, who taught at BYU while I was there in the late 70s and early 80s.) BYU was not quite the conflict free zone as was publicized at the time. Anitpathy towards the war in 1969; Wilkinson sought to identify and repress and even expel students with “radical” views. Despite this, a few students wanted their voices heard, and the Young Democrats was the only club on campus that was a possible outlet. They were allowed to write a newsletter for their membership. Omar Kader was president of Young Democrats in 1969 and 1970. Patriotic, but he had been drafted and was unhappy because from his reading he believed war was a mistake. Entered the service, but never sent to Vietnam; went to Germany instead. Young Democrats swelled to 500, biggest such club in the country. Students tried to quell the notion they were being led by outside agitators.

    Leaders all became solid citizens in their later lives. (Andy Kimball was one, grandson of SWK, which very much upset Wilkinson.) They wore black armbands. An anti-war moratorium; marching in SLC. There were two old men in Provo who really were communists and proud of it, but they were eccentrics and not a threat to anyone.

    Technology didn’t exist to spy on the students effectively. There was a meeting at Carson’s market, but it was too dark for them to take pictures of the students there.

    Most useful tool of Young Democrats, which immunized them somewhat, was Hugh Nibley. A defender of the faith. A long friendship between Omar and Hugh (Hugh knew his father). Hugh wrote an article, “Brigham Young and the Enemy,” didn’t refer to Vietnam, but included all sorts of anti-war rhetoric from BY.

  44. Kevin Barney says:

    Hugh continued to support the Democratic party, even after the war ended. Hugh would help put up lawn sign. Hugh and Robert Redford went door to door in Provo stumping for Ted Wilson.

    Wilkinson’s reputation lost because of the spy scandal. Not a good environment for students.

  45. Kevin Barney says:

    Reid is up now. Two years ago he traveled with Elder Snow to Moscow. On the lookout for things to learn. Benson called to 12 in 1943. In 1946 called to help in post-war Europe. Became troubled by the atheism in the Soviet Bloc. His mind closed irrevocably to atheism. In 1953 Eisenhower added to his cabinet over Agriculture. Kruschev came to America. Benson asked to escort him to an agriculture research center in Maryland. Kruschev had a more than passing interest. Kruschev told him that his children would live under Communism. Would feed it to them piecemeal; no fight necessary. Benson despised Kruschev for years to come. A week later left on a diplomatic tour of the Soviet Union (10 American journalists accompanied on the trip). He reflected on how much had changed since WWII, but also on problems that still remained, a people enslaved, lost liberties.

    Tito of Yugoslavia seemed to him to genuinely desire peace. Then to Germany; contrast between East and West Berlin striking, seemed to symbolize the differences between the nations. Finally came to Russia. He would leave even more disillusioned and pessimistic than he had been before. Attended Bolshoi theater; one of the few positive moments for Benson on the trip. Negative effects of Communism everywhere; nothing impressive to him there.

    Up to this point he had been experiencing trip as Secretary of Agriculture. But the last night he experienced it as an Apostle. Wanted to celebrate Jesus Christ on Soviet soil. Russian guide seemed bent on thwarting his request to worship at a Christian church. Pulled up before an old stucco building, the central Baptist church. He would be able to worship with Christians in the Soviet Union. Guides said no one attended church anymore; the opiate of the masses. But when they entered they found it filled, spilling into the street. Many older, but a surprising number were young. 4 of 5 were women.

    He had not come prepared to speak, but he shared his testimony of Jesus Christ on an impromptu basis.

  46. Kevin Barney says:

    Gave a basic Christian message to the assembly. As Russian translator gave each of his short sentences, people nodded their assent, tears welling up in their eyes. Talk was short, but heartfelt and full of love. He concluded his remarks when he was overcome with emotion and could not longer speak. Congregation sand “God Be with You til We Meet Again.” He described it as a night never to be forgotten.

    He returned to America more pessimistic about Russia. Goodwill mission had not accomplished what it was meant to. After 8 years, ETB returned to Utah, resumed his apostolic responsibilities. Became president of the church in 1985. This speech remained one of the most meaningful experiences of his life, and he would refer to it often in his ministry.

  47. Kevin Barney says:

    Now Patrick is up. In recent decades Mormons have become one of the most solidly Republican voting blocs in the nation. (He made a joke about this being a big surprise.) Benson hardly the only conservative, but he was the most outspoken. If JFS and BRM played more of a role of doctrinal conservatism, Benson played that role in formulating economic and political conservatism.

    Arguably, a big part of that was the emphasis he placed on the BoM, which had been largely ignored previously. He didn’t just encourage them to read it. Through his selective reading, he found certain themes resonating with his archconservative worldview.

    In Oct. 1963 conference, he sad BoM has a lot to say about America, freedom, and secret combinations. These three themes would be his dominant way of reading the text.

  48. Kevin Barney says:

    Benson an American exceptionalist. God assured the American settlers would win the Revolutionary War, for instance. A free people, but only conditioned on righteousness. In modern times, socialistic communism the secret combination. Not just a matter of political preference–this is in General Conference. No coincidence that modern communism similar to the Gadianton robbers. Benson considered Moroni a fellow traveler.

    He wanted every American to read the BoM–not to lead to JC, but to learn of the prophetic history and potential of America. In an era of duck and cover, he promised God would protect America.

    Title of Liberty became emblematic of the need to plant the flag of freedom throughout all the Americas (plural).

  49. Kevin Barney says:

    Fighting communism was an article of faith–and perhaps even the first one.

    To his detractors who saw him as a chicken little, he pointed to the BoM. “There is no conspiracy theory–there is a conspiracy fact.”

    In a 1968 devotional address, he warned BYU students what the BoM was warning America about. Supreme Court leading country to communistic socialism. Military handcuffed in Vietnam, etc.

    By mid-70s, his presentation of BoM became more holistic. Focused on witness of JC, but did not abandon his older reading of the book as relevant to all the social maladies of the day. So some development in his use, but what is striking is his consistency over time in his reading of the BoM.

    1989, Benson’s reading of the BoM seemed to capitulate to external enemies of communism, which was by then essentially beaten. Principal sin becomes the sin of pride.

    Preliminary observations:

    1. ETB continues to be a leading light for LDS conservatives and libertarians. Website Latter-day Conservatism is Bensonian in tone and content.

    2. His insistence on the centrality of the BoM. A new age of Mormon Christocentrism. From the Reformation, putting scripture in the hands of the people has always had unintended consequences. (Modern Mormon liberals cite the BoM for their own ideals: equality, pacifism, etc.)

  50. Kevin Barney says:

    Gary Bergera giving comments. Not aware of scope and depth of Young Democrats club. Not in the written record; resides in memory of club members. Nancy able to do this because of her own past involvement in that history. A corrective, yes, but illustrates the variety of necessary historical sources.

    Reid’s presentation reflects high academic standards, but also geared for ordinary members. Visit to the church is one of least controversial events. Benson understood value of the bully pulpit. A sincere desire to worship and to witness, but also a desire to confront communism.

    Some of details of Benson’s recollection of conversations with Kruschev don’t hold up. Encounter is not supported by historical record. Previously ETB cited these ideas but attributed them to other interviews Kruschev had had with various reporters. Library of Congress tried and could not document Kruschev had ever said these things to ETB. Flexibility of memory.

    Would like to see more quantitative analysis BoM was little studied before hand. (Perhaps not aware of Noel Reynolds BYU Studies article establishing this point.)

    Benson was an “unbaptized” member of the John Birch Society.

  51. Kevin Barney says:

    Q&A: Did ETB believe in White Horse Prophecy? How much was anti-communism directed towards interest in higher office? ETB would use “hanging by a thread” a lot, but differ how he referred to it depending on audience (for Mormons would mention elders of the church). Wouldn’t specifically tie this to political ambition for high office. Those opportunities were brought to him externally; not a lot of evidence he was hankering to run for office.

    When ETB gets back from Russia, he is so strongly anti-communist, causes problem with rest of Cabinet. Others thought him off-putting for them.

  52. Mark B. says:

    By 1972 Young Democrats at BYU were less than 100. Even in an election year, it was impossible to get many people interested–although plenty of people seemed happy to re-elect the crook in the White House.

    So I’m not surprised that Gary, a few years later, found a lot smaller group than the crowd that Nancy described. And maybe Omar was just a better organizer than the people who came afterwards.

  53. Kevin Barney says:

    Jan Shipps refers back to Richard Bushman’s Presidential address. Not a 19th century book; an ancient book, but ETB would read it as specific to America in the 20th century. Patrick says ETB saw as an ancient document with a prophetic eye for the future. Not for the ancient people–they didn’t read it–prepared for us today, to warn us of these things.

    Q for Patrick: did other GAs offer similar warnings in GC? Absolutely. DOM an example. Remember, everyone in America is anti-communist in the 1950s. It becomes a matter of degree, tone. John F. Kennedy is anti-communist. So all church leaders denouncing communism. He was most strident, most frequent and regular commentator, persisted the longer, unique in sources he uses (Birch publications, cites J. Edgar Hoover).

    Lots of connections between Benson and Skousen. Contemporaries. Hasn’t tracked down yet his relationship to the McCarthy hearings. (In his official account of those years, he is silent on that, which is unusual.)

  54. I’m having MHA envy.

  55. It’s a common affliction among those who frequent the Bloggernacle but can’t attend, Kristine.

    Thanks for all your notes, Kevin and others, including those using Twitter (#MHA2014).

  56. Christopher J. says:

    This is great, Kevin. Thanks for the reporting.

  57. Keepa posted a contemporary report of ETB’s visit it that Russian church here: http://www.keepapitchinin.org/2008/07/03/an-apostles-testimony-in-soviet-russia-1959/

  58. Kevin Barney says:

    Lisa-Michele Church on Tourism in Rural Utah. Southern Utah with its isolated small towns; the world comes to them; can they maintain their identity? Cedar City, St. George, Panguitch begin to welcome the world, produced a tourism economy, but still incorporating pioneer traditions. These places probably would not have been settled, at least not at that time, were it not a matter of religious duty. Panguitch described as “9 months winter, and 3 months damn cold weather.” All had Mormon settlers who came from Europe. 1st 50 years told to isolate, not mingle with Gentiles. After Mormons did the work, outside population begins to pour in. Southern Utah about to be discovered. Zion National Park 1919, Bryce Canyon National Park 1928, Cedar Breaks National Monument 1933. A tension between original idea of working land and developed idea of preserving it. No. of visitors became staggering; well over 100,000 for a town of 2,000. From every state; in 1936, visitors from 30 foreign countries. They organized chambers of commerce, began pursuing tourism as a business. Begin to brag about nature instead of battling it. Cedar City Shakespeare festival–over 150,000/ year.

  59. Kevin Barney says:

    Susan Pugh on Mormon Motel Men. Word “motel” coined 1926, but didn’t really enter the lexicon until late 40s early 50s. A highway hotel for people wanting to schlep their own bags. Predecessor was “tourist court” (cabins around a gas station); these were converted to modern motels. Talked about three Mormon motel men. Origins of Best Western, Little America (an oasis on a long, lonely highway).

  60. Kevin Barney says:

    Council of 50 Minutes. Consists of three bound volumes, over 780 manuscript pages, dating from Nauvoo era in handwriting of William Clayton. March 1844-June 1846. Titled “Record of the Council of Fifty or Kingdom of God.” Publication expected late 2016, web thereafter. No redactions. Footnotes and appendices as usual.

    1844 George Miller and Lyman Wight in Wisconsin pineries send JS two letters. JS calls a meeting at Nauvoo to discuss the letters; all the apostles and a few others. Letters read aloud, discussion encouraged. Formally organized Council of 50 as a result, to look for some place to go–Texas, Oregon, California. Rules adopted to organize the Council. 22 men admitted; by last meeting, 54 men. (Sorry, no women.) Organized by age, oldest to youngest; each voted by voice. Dealt with candidacy for presidency, possible migration, meaning of the Kingdom of God on earth.

    Unlike most northerners, JS advocated annexation of Texas. Eventually Oregon becomes a greater subject of interest. Woodruff returned from a trip to Texas May 2, gave a detailed report. (Lyman Wight had just returned from Wisconsin, was present.) Sam Houston said political divisions would make giving the Mormons a land grant difficult. Still, Woodruff returned to Nauvoo hopeful. Gave lots of details on Texas. Woodruff wrote Houston two weeks after Joseph’s death; seems to suggest some actions had been in the works that were interrupted by the martyrdom. Wight leads a group to Texas, founds several settlements. Break in minutes after death until February 1845. Number of possible locations still being discussed. But then Texas is annexed by U.S., so they lost interest in it (they wanted to leave U.S.). Attention shifted to what they called “upper California.”

    Subject of forming a constitution of the kingdom of God. Much good work has been done, but some will not hold up in light of the actual records. Discussion of theodemocracy. With these minutes, we now have a “seat at the table.”

    No minutes kept at first full meeting (reconstructed from Clayton’s memory and diary). Record often disappointingly transactional in nature; important thought and discussion not recorded. Some later minutes in 1844 more complete; 1845 is more complete still.

    Plan was if elected President, to protect religious rights of all people.
    If not, plan B was to leave the U.S. and establish their own government.

    Lots of rules and parliamentary procedure; pretty thin on actual organization. Church leaders prominent in the organization, but this was not the church. Clear distinction drawn between the church (spiritual) and Kingdom of God (civil, to protect religious rights and worship). Not a separate or superior source of priesthood authority.

    There were both practical aspects and millennial aspirations.

  61. Kevin Barney says:

    This will be a substantial volume in JSPP, but not extensive new info on JS’s teachings–more fleshing out things we generally know about.

    3 nonmembers on the Council. This was mainly symbolic. Not prominent men, didn’t do much. Meant to symbolize that in millennium there would be nonmembers as well as members, and all would be afforded their rights to worship freely.

  62. Kevin Barney says:

    JI usually gives a detailed awards report. I’m too lazy to type this all out, so I’m just going to write a list of names who won awards at this evening’s banquet:

    Kevin Jones
    Jillian Clare
    Hannah Eckhardt
    Bradly Kime
    Mykle Law
    Jeremy Lofthouse
    Matthew Pitts
    Bridger Talbot
    Bradley Kime
    Chris Blythe
    Blair Hodges (BCC represent!)
    Brent Rogers
    Lisa Tait
    Richard Jensen
    Matt Harris
    Max Mueller
    Ryan Tobler
    Matt Kester
    Craig Livingston
    A bunch of JSP guys for Documents 1
    Todd Compton
    Elizabeth Anderson
    J.B. Haws
    Darius Gray (special citation)
    Ron Romig (Arrington award)

  63. Matt W. says:

    It was a lot of fun today, meeting the Landriths, Elder Snow, Kevin, Blair, Kristine, J. Stapley and so many others. I was especially moved by Ardis’ telling of the Arminian Genocide and hope she publishes it somewhere so it can enjoy the wider audience her masterful storytelling deserves. Stapley’s interaction with Kathleen Flake was fun to participate in (if only from the periphery) and it makes me want to hang out with the two of them and just listen to them talk to each other about priesthood and community.

    I went to the History conference and I bought 3 theology books… go figure. (2 Adam Miller, 1 Joe Spencer)

  64. This is great Kevin, much appreciated

  65. Christopher J. says:

    Full list of award winners was posted last night at JI: http://www.juvenileinstructor.org/mormon-history-association-awards-recipients/

  66. Kevin Barney says:

    Failed healings. Brad Kramer. What are they? Easiest–failure of desired outcome–doesn’t work. (He hopes to complicate.) A continuum, from complete restoration to death. What is really happening? 1995 “When Prophesy Fails.” Faith doesn’t usually dissolve, but counterintuitively is strengthened. Key is “social support.” Group sustains one another. Other book: “When God Talks Back.” Faith is a decision to live as though a set of claims are real, even if one doubts. Importance of shared experience

    Kris Wright. Talked about Adeline Savage and “illness narrative.” Long term illness, years and years. (Yet she kept having babies, which none of us could understand.) Many times blessed, baptized for health in the temple. Confined to hospital for a while in SLC, but she valued more spiritual forms of healing over medical. Quit taking drugs. Difficulty mediating among various healing tropes. How care is ritualized. “Healing is healing, even if it fails.”

    Anne Leahy (who was very funny). She is a sign language intepreter. George Bowering a “cripple.” (When on boat from Liverpool “I only puked once or twice.”) George begins getting inspiration for himself through spirit; writes this down in a journal. At age 34 very concerned about whether his disability will prevent him from getting a wife. Eventually he succeeds. Then she talks about a number of deaf examples. Fidelia Shamp, b. 1836. Father claimed to heal her at 4-1/2 years, but listed as deaf and dumb on all future censuses, so either didn’t take or relapse. (She’s never seen anyone spiritually healed of deafness; now seems to be in a category where we don’t even try in such a case.) John Sherratt (1828-1899) got an Indian name, which loosely translated means “The Guy Who Can’t Talk.” She likes to see seated addresses at GC, hopes that becomes normalized.

  67. That sounds like a great session.

    Anyone who’s interested in the topic of disability (or pioneer life or both) won’t want to miss this fascinating lecture from the Church History Library a couple of years ago:

    http://history.lds.org/article/the-untold-story-of-mormon-pioneers-with-disabilities

  68. Mark B. says:

    Minor nit. That was Susan Rugh on the Mormon motel men.

  69. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks, Mark B. That’s what I intended to type, but my fingers failed me.

  70. Kevin Barney says:

    Jehu Hanciles, Tanner Lecture (last one–next year Smith-Pettit Lecture), on “Would That All God’s People Were Prophets: Mormonism and the Shape of World Christianity.”

    Begins by talking about globalization of Christianity generally. Then brings it to Mormonism. Globalization inescapable; a fact of our time. (More Christians attending services in China than in U.S.) Gave Uchtdorf quote on how we’re becoming more global, too, more diverse racially and linguistically.

    Rodney Stark in 1980. Weakness: treated Mormonism as a separate category from Christianity, rather than as a restoration movement.

    Numerical growth does not equal successful globalization. Two defining attributes of successful globalization: Localization and multidirectional transformation.

    It’s not a managed, one-directional, totally Western process. Reality involves a dynamic of exchange–frequently in unpredictable ways.

    LDS Church has had a vision of worldwide expansion from the beginning, and technological innovation has fueled that. First 150 years a mixture of remarkable success and self-imposed underachievement. As of 1950 92% in U.S., not a single stake in Latin America, Africa or Asia. Even in 1980 hardly a global movement. Removing the priesthood ban was essential.

    Contrast JWs. (Personal note: David Stewart, an LDS expert on world wide LDS proselytism, commonly compares LDS efforts to JWs and 7DAs and finds the LDS wanting, so this comment was consistent with that perspective.) They have consistently outperformed LDS in the non-western world.

    U.S. now a minority. Africa still a small slice, but rapidly growing. Europe not at all promising. Increasingly less white. Growth rate has slowed.

    Lifting of priesthood ban not a crowning achievement, but a starting point.

    Church remains predominantly an American phenomenon, lags behind virtually everyone else in acculturation. (Ironic, since church has many natural advantages in terms of resonating with indigenous around the world.)

    Growth in Africa originally spontaneous. Since then quite modest, about 351,000 today. Main reason lack of accomodation to African cultures. Few concessions to local tastes and customs. Mormons should enjoy a large competitive advantage, but not so. Nonwestern voices, questions, diversity. Must be constantly negotiated.

    Need to stop focusing so much on Mormon identity, on exportation from Utah. Largely unidirectional now.

    Need to take better account of global migration.

    Need more academic production. Lack of local histories disheartening. Need to write from a global perspective, not because it’s fashionable, but needed to tell the whole story.

    In a church that features native speakers of 171 languages, only God knows how many prophets are among us.

  71. Kevin Barney says:

    There was a lot here that was similar to the Philip Jenkins Tanner Lecture from 2008. See:

    http://www.juvenileinstructor.org/africa-anxiety-for-ancestors-and-mormon-work-for-the-dead-considerations-after-jenkinss-tanner-lecture/

    For my original notes, go here and scroll a little over half way down:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2008/05/21/mha-sacramento-2008-open-thread/

  72. Kevin Barney says:

    The session on BY’s racist statements in the 1852 Territorial Legislature was both packed and electric. This was a preliminary presentation of what should be a forthcoming JMH article (still in the review process) by LaJean Carruth, Chris Rich and Paul Reeve. LaJean found the original George Watt Pittman shorthand notes of speeches given by Brigham Young, Orson Pratt and others during the session, and she has created a new transcription of this material, which will be presented in the article. BY gave three speeches, the first two relevant to race, on Jan. 23 and Feb. 5, 1852 (not the later date widely understood; finding the correct date was a key to finding the correct shorthand record). It turns out Orson Pratt gave an impassioned plea not to adopt the Servitude Act, and LaJean read the entire speech. I’ve gotta tell you, that was WAY cool! As usual, he and BY were at loggerheads.

    Chris Rich, a JAG lawyer, gave a presentation on defining slavery. Apparently when you look at the debates and the actual text of the Servitude Act (which they will present in their article), he took the position that the legislature did not enact Southern style chattel slavery. Back then there were gradations of servitude we’re not familiar with, from apprenticeship to indentured servitude to full on slavery. There were four key speakers, and all argued against chattel slavery, which they agreed was an evil (just as BY thought radical abolitionism was also an evil). Apparently BY was trying to craft a middle way. He saw servitude in essentially contractual terms. If a southern slaveholder brought a slave to the territory, he reasoned the slave would negotiate the terms of his indenture with his master (a horribly naive assumption on BY’s part, btw [my commentary]). In the final form of the bill, children would be indentured only into their 20s, but thereafter would be emancipated. [Orson Pratt, rightly in my view, saw these legal contractual distinctions from southern chattel slavery as a distinction without a difference.] Rich got a lot of push back on his thesis in the Q&A.

    Paul Reeve. Act in Relation to Service has already been passed. Scholars need to stop using Woodruff version of speech. General sense is correct, but several important errors, such as the one drop rule, which BY never endorsed. Also, it’s clear from this material this is a new course, not relying on JS or anything like that.

    Previous day election code had been debated. Contained absolutely normal language that white men over 21 eligible to vote. OP voted no on both the state code and a couple of city charters with the same language since they would deny the vote to black men. Pratt here is taking a very, very progressive view for his time, and BY is ticked that Pratt is “sticking his thumb in him.”

    1P issues its own version of a one drop rule in 1907 statement, but that does not come from BY, nor is it drawn from Woodruff. (1908 is hte last brick in the wall for priesthood restriction, because now no longer any black men holding the priesthood, and everyone forgets that there ever were any.)

    By the end of his speech, BY moderated his tone somewhat. Made it clear this was his personal view, and that others may disagree–but still maintained he was right.

    Something I pesonally feel they need to clean up is the Compromise of 1850. Utah was clearly considered a slave state for that purpose, so as far as the rest of the country was concerned they were a slave state, although supposedly BY viewed them as a free state. Darius and Jack Welch both started to make comments along those lines, but that was right at the end and we ran out of time. But how this fits in with the Compromise is eomething they need to take into account.

  73. Kevin Barney says:

    Ken Cannon on Isaac Russell and his role in the Spalding controversy of 1912-13. Russell a New York Mormon, left leaning, not really a believer anymore but doing PR work for the church. He gets embroiled in the Spalding controversy. He was friendly with Spalding, who told him in advance what he was going to do, and eventually Spalding sent Russell proofs for his pamphlet on the Facsimiles, hoping he would write an article on it for the NY Times. Russell did indeed write such an article, which appeared without a byline as was customary at the time. JFS pretty p.o’d, writes him a letter asking him what he’s doing, not pleased at all. Rather than taking it negatively, Russell actually appreciated the very direct tone and was touched by the letter. Beginning about February 1913, Russell reverses course and starts to do what he can to mitigate the damage, with some success. It’s interesting to see this one man end up being on both sides of the controversy.

    (Someone asked why JFS would keep Russell around and pay him for his PR, and the answer was that in other areas Russell was fabulously helpful and successful in advancing the Church’s interests, including getting Franklin Roosevelt to write a letter for the Church, which was sort of like getting Caesar to endorse the Christians.)

  74. Thank you for the report on the Rich-Carruth-Reeve session.

    The story of emancipation in the United States is a complex one, and an appeal to the Compromise of 1850 doesn’t invalidate the point that Rich is making, since we do not appreciate the distinctions between free and slave states as they did at the time.

    For example, slavery was “abolished” in New Jersey in 1804, so most of us would conclude that there were no slaves in the state after 1804. However, as one scholar noted, “New Jersey’s emancipation law carefully protected existing property rights. No one lost a single slave, and the right to the services of young Negroes was fully protected. Moreover, the courts ruled that the right was a ‘species of property,’ transferable ‘from one citizen to another like other personal property.’ ”

    As a result of the gradual emancipation law, there were still 18 “apprentices for life” (slaves in effect, if not in name) in New Jersey in 1860 and 16 remaining who were freed at the time the 13th Amendment was enacted after the Civil War.

    So, I think we are not used to considering some of the issues of contracts and indentures and the free-state systems of gradual emancipation that play into the distinctions Rich is making, and it’s an oversimplification to say that the United States considered Utah a slave territory but Brigham Young considered it a free territory. (But I haven’t read the debate yet…)

  75. Kevin Barney says:

    You’re right that we’re not used to those kinds of legal distinctions, which was basically Rich’s point. My only point is that he needs to comment on the relevance or lack thereof, whatever the case may be, of the Compromise. Since at least three people in the audience independently had a similar thought (Darius, Jack and myself), that means that even if that’s a non-issue he needs to address it and explain why it’s a non-issue in his paper.

  76. J. Stapley says:

    That Orson Pratt sermon really was incredible.

  77. A chorus of thanks for these fantastic notes, Kevin.

  78. Molly Bennion says:

    J. Stapley,, can you please add anything about your discussion of PH and community with Kathleen Flake? The note above intrigued me.

  79. Kevin, I am glad that you and Jack and Darius brought up those concerns, since on their surface these new arguments might sound like naive or ahistorical apologetics for Brigham Young, and that is definitely not the case. Viewed in the context of slave legislation dating back to colonial days, the Act in Relation to Service is a startling piece of legislation. On one hand it provides a framework to recognize existing contracts of servitude; on the other hand it requires slaveowners to educate their slaves. (!)

    Paul Reeve and Christopher Rich and LaJean Carruth and Margaret Young and Jeff Johnson and others are doing some remarkable work on this topic, updating previous generations of scholarship in important and valuable ways. I do wish I’d been able to hear their presentations, along with other presentations and discussions on other topics, including J.’s, like Molly mentioned in the previous comment, and I am looking forward to reading published reports of a variety of presentations, including the text of the 1852 debates.

  80. Kevin Barney says:

    Amy T, it’s too bad you weren’t able to make, that was indeed a great session (in my words from above, “electric”), and the conference as a whole was a lot of fun!

  81. Kevin Barney says:

    I sat with Matt Roper during one of the sessions and am very happy to report that he is going to dust off his Robert C. Webb research and publish it. He already has found new information he did not have before. This is very good news. For those who don’t recall who Webb was, see here:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2006/10/18/robert-c-webb/

  82. Kevin Barney says:

    I was unable to stay for the entirety of Dick Bennett’s Presidential address last night, but these things are usually published in JMH, so you’ll all get to read it. It was on temple work from 1846 to 1855. We usually think of that period as a black hole for anything related to the temple given the exigencies of basic survival, but in fact it was not, in three areas:

    1. Baptism for the dead.

    2. Live endowments.

    3. Sealings for both living and dead, including adoption sealinigs.

  83. What a great experience at MHA! Too many things to share about my highlights and such delightful people! Kind of a dream, actually. And Kevin, thanks again for your detailed notes. Because we only attended one or two sessions together, I appreciated reading about the other sessions I missed.

    And it was such a joy and a treat to get to sing at this mornings devotional with such a great group of singers. I’ve loved everything about my first experience at MHA.

  84. Kevin Barney says:

    I just returned from the closing devotional, which was held in a beautiful old Catholic building, the Coates Chapel and Gardens of the Southwest School of Art (a lovely walk a couple of blocks along the Riverwalk).

    Steve Shields gave the invocation, and Ron Romig prayed at an earlier session. Can I just say that our CoC brethren just pants us LDS when it comes to public prayers? Yes, they’re more Protestant, but they have a thoughtfulness and beauty that our standard formulae simply cannot match.

    There was a chorus that sang two numbers (it looked to me like an octet, but there were nine names listed in the program, so I may have just had a bad angle). They were freakin’ fantastic. They sang a cappela, and their harmonies were lovely. To me that was a highlight of the service.

    There were also very nice talks by John Glaser (CoC Coordinator for Hispanic Leadership Development), and Marilyn and Ron Barney, the outgoing business managers and executive directors of MHA.

    It started to rain softly on the walk back to the hotel, which was really nice.

    So that is the end. Now I’m going to pack up and head to the airport.

    Finis.

  85. Kevin Barney says:

    Yes, Clean Cut was one of the singers, and as you can see from my note above, you guys were fantastic! Really, really well done.

  86. Hope to see everyone next year in Provo! Laurel Ulrich is now MHA president, and Spencer Fluhman and Tona Hangen are the program chairs, so it will be a conference not to be missed.

  87. RE the compromise of 1850 – it is worth clarifying that the compromise did NOT admit Utah as a slave state. It admitted New Mexico and Utah as territories, and with a clause in their organic acts of popular sovereignty, which allowed the territorial legislation and population to decide/vote to be free or space. While this was largely viewed as a victory for slave states (remember, this became a major liability for Stephen Douglas later as it was viewed as a loss for the North), but it was no de facto a slave state. Moreover, the legal existence of slaves did not make a state or territory slave. There were legally owned slaves all over the north. They could not be bought or sold in the north, but they could be brought in by masters. That is why the emancipation proclamation specified that it was freeing slaves in the rebel states (not the slaves legally held in the north). Just a few thoughts.

  88. J. Stapley says:

    Molly, it was in part of a fairly complex discussion that would be hard to reproduce here. Part of it is based on my work on the Nauvoo Temple Cosmology where priesthood, kinship, salvation, and government are virtually synonymous. This was in contrast to the vision of Zion as an eternal, and sacred geographical society. Kathleen was pushing me to reevaluate priesthood, especially in what we now call the Book of Moses, in relation to Zion. It was a really wonderful discussion.

  89. Villate says:

    From Kevin Barney’s post above (6/7/2014, 4:26 pm): “Paul Reeve. Act in Relation to Service has already been passed. Scholars need to stop using Woodruff version of speech. General sense is correct, but several important errors, such as the one drop rule, which BY never endorsed. Also, it’s clear from this material this is a new course, not relying on JS or anything like that.” and “1P issues its own version of a one drop rule in 1907 statement, but that does not come from BY, nor is it drawn from Woodruff.”

    How interesting the presentation on Brigham Young’s views on slavery must have been – I am currently working on comparing texts of Wilford Woodruff’s biography for the Mormon Texts Project, and I was just reading about this today. Here is the relevant bit from the bio:

    “The attitude of the Saints on the question of slavery had been a source of trouble to them in Missouri. There was naturally throughout the United States some interest in the position which the new Territory should take upon that question. In those days the influence of the South was predominant, and the pro-slavery party was asserting itself wherever possible. The lines were drawn more distinctly between the pro and anti-slavery communities. In those days men might have regarded it as good policy to keep friends with the South and the democratic party. To be pronounced for or against slavery was sure to invite the opposition of the North or of the South.

    “President Young felt it, however, to be his duty to make plain the attitude of the Mormon people in Utah on the subject. In an address to the legislature he said: ‘The Lord said I will not kill Cain, but I will put a mark upon him, and that mark will be seen upon the face of every negro upon the face of the earth; and it is the decree of God that that mark shall remain upon the seed of Cain until the seed of Abel shall be redeemed, and Cain shall not receive the priesthood, until the time of that redemption. Any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot receive the priesthood; but the day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have. I am opposed to the present system of slavery.'”

    Do I understand correctly that this is not what he actually said based on the transcribed shorthand notes?

  90. Think you can convince them to come to Fairbanks, Alaska? I wanna meet Ardis, and of course the rest of you too.

    Conference Services would see to it that you didn’t have to stay in a hotel, so for only $50 a night (that’s the total for both people in the dorm room) you could relive dorm life and never have it be dark!

    Mormon history is all about stepping into the light, right?

  91. Kevin Barney says:

    Villate, yes, BY himself never uttered the one drop rule thing.

  92. Villate says:

    Well! I’m not sure whether to be relieved or more confused. :) So how did WW come to report what he did? Did someone else say it and he made a mistake? Or did the biographer mislabel something (I have not seen WW’s journals, only the bio)? I will have to get my hands on this article when it is published.

  93. Mormon Heretic says:

    Villate, according to the session, it does seem that Woodruff conflated some issues. Reeves said we should no longer rely on the Woodruff diary of Young’s speech. I am also curious where the one drop came from if Young didn’t say it. That JMH issue will be a very important issue! I can’t wait to read it too. Pratt’s speech was very eloquent, and I think many will find solace in what Pratt had to say. It’s too bad more people didn’t vote with Pratt.

  94. Christopher Rich says:

    I just arrived back in Italy, and I was interested in many of the comments made about the presentation by Paul, LaJean, and myself. We will try to address many of these questions in our forthcoming article which will include transcriptions of the legislative debates, original documents such as the Indian and African Service laws, as well as introductions to the sources. I first became interested in this subject in law school, and when I actually began to read An Act in Relation to Service, I was surprised by what I found. I eventually published an article on the subject in Utah Historical Quarterly in winter 2012. Afterwards, I was introduced to Paul through a mutual friend. We began talking, and with the help of LaJean were able to find and transcribe these fantastic new sources. Orson Pratt’s stance on African-Americans in general was truly a revelation although I had previously found hints about it in the diary of Hosea Stout. I always knew that my general thesis would be controversial, and that it might make me look like an apologist for slavery or even worse. However, I believe that it is supported by the evidence. If we take slavery down to its essence, it is the dehumanization and comodification of a person; in short turning a human being into property. Yet if one theme comes out clearly from the speeches of Brigham Young and others, it is that holding a human being as a chattel was a moral obscenity. I argue that the status created by an Act in Relation to Service was legally and practically different than chattel slavery if the law was followed as written. In fact, it is interesting to note that the law actually created two modes of service; one for white immigrants, and one for African slaves. These were treated almost identically in the statute, the main exception being how the original relationship was formed. Nevertheless, I fully understand why people today and even contemporary progressives like Orson Pratt viewed this as slavery. Indeed, at the time even indentured servitude had come to be viewed as slavery by many. That is one reason that I advance the term “involuntary servitude” to describe the status of African servants in Utah; not chattel slavery, but not a truly voluntary association either. While I agree that Brigham and many others were incredibly naive in creating this law, it also seems clear that they did not want to institute chattel slavery in Utah. They wished for a middle way between slavery and immediate abolition. Insofar as the Compromise of 1850 is concerned, I do not see how it affects this basic premise. Under the Organic Act creating Utah Territory (remember that the compromise was not one bill but a series of bills) it states that “when admitted as a State, the said Territory, or any portion of the same, shall be received into the Union, with or without slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission” and “the legislative power of said Territory shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation.” Most northerners were willing to support popular sovereignty because it was commonly believed that slavery could never flourish in the desert west. I have never seen a hint that Utah was ever going to be a “slave state.” As early as 1849, the Saints wrote the constitutional convention of California supporting a slavery ban, and in 1859, Brigham Young was very clear in a conversation with Horace Greeley that Utah would come into the Union as a free state. In the interim, I think that the legislature was purposely ambiguous in an effort to attract support for statehood in the North and the South. But I don’t think that makes Utah a “slave territory.” A few slaves show up on the federal census, but they show up on the census of many “free” states as well. Things were also complicated by the Dred Scott decision in 1857, and attempts by Congress to pass a federal slave code for the territories in 1859. That same year, New Mexico created a genuine slave code which differs greatly from the Utah law.

  95. Kevin Barney says:

    Chris, thanks so much for coming by and giving these clarifying comments on your presentation. I thought the thread had died so I hadn’t seen this until just now. I’m very much looking forward to you guys’ JMH article. As I said above, I thought your session was a highlight of the conference!

  96. Villate says:

    Yes, thank you. I hope the article also addresses how the Woodruff source came to be enshrined in the thought of so many later explainers of the priesthood ban if it was in fact in error – if that can even be known!

  97. Kevin Barney says:

    Villate, during the presentation I could kind of see how the Woodruff misreading came to be. Woodruff seemed to misinterpret something BY had said has a one drop rule type of concept. Since the article is going to be including the actual text of all things, I think you’ll be able to see fairly clearly where and how the misunderstanding first arose with Woodruff.

  98. Kevin Barney says:

    In the above comment, “has” should be “as.”

  99. Villate says:

    Thanks – the shorthand shall set us free!

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