As you watch General Conference this weekend, appreciate it for some of the textual certainties. And you never know what you may hear.
As you watch General Conference this weekend, appreciate it for some of the textual certainties. And you never know what you may hear.
For part 1, see here.
The late summer and early fall of 1843 was not a healthy time in Nauvoo. Philadelphia had yellow fever in the summer (and it emptied the town) and Nauvoo had malaria. If you could survive a year, the general weakness would usually subside and you had a good chance of staying alive. But the elderly and the very young had a more guarded prognosis. Often, malaria teamed up with pneumonia or cholera or some other bug to take out even the robust. In James Adams’ case, cholera got the blame for his August 11 demise:
This may be boring, but it has mass.
Joseph Smith was an intensely loyal family man and that attachment was mirrored in Church structure. Family members played important roles in the LDS hierarchy. His father was a member of the Church presidency for a period and also served as the first “patriarch.” His brothers held prominent Church offices. He continued to mourn the loss of older brother Alvin, 20 years later. His wife led the women of the Church in the formal women’s organization, the Nauvoo Female Relief Society.
If any of you fans of Mormon Studies happen to be in or around Logan this Thursday, be sure to check out the 16th Annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture, held in the Logan Tabernacle. Details below the fold.
The Annual Summer Seminar on Mormon Culture
“THE GOLD PLATES AS CULTURAL ARTIFACT”
Brigham Young University
July 11 – August 19, 2011
In the summer of 2011, the Neal A Maxwell Institute at Brigham Young University will sponsor a summer seminar for graduate students and junior faculty on “The Gold Plates as Cultural Artifact.” The seminar will be held on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, from July 11 to August 19. Admitted participants will receive a stipend of $3000 with an accommodations subsidy if needed. The seminar continues the series of seminars on Mormon culture begun in the summer of 1997.
The seminar will be conducted by Richard Bushman, Professor of History Emeritus at Columbia University, and Terryl Givens, Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond. [Read more...]
The BCC Zeitcast returns from a short summer vacation! In this episode, Scott B. is joined by DKL and a random John for a discussion of too many topics to list, including Glenn Beck, Church block programs, thinking evil of your fellow saints, chocolate, and a fractured [BLEEP]. Download this episode here or subscribe to the BCC Zeitcast in iTunes. (And don’t forget to leave a rating/review in iTunes!)
Links for your convenience:
This post comes from BCC Guest mmiles.
I was sixteen when Mr. Zeeman assigned our journalism class to interview another student. “Lisa” was in the class with me, and I could interview her while we waited our turn in typing class. Lisa was “on placement.” She was from an Indian reservation and was assigned to live with a foster family for the school year. She had been a participant for a few years already. [Read more...]
“And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth.”
So it is with the Mormon Wasp, known only in the commenting rolls of the bloggernacle as the unassuming “Justin” these days. BCC is happy to present the following interview with Justin, the author and host of some of the best Mormon History blogging the ‘nacle has ever seen. As J. Stapley once told me, “When Justin speaks, the thinking is done.” [Read more...]
Armand Mauss, author of The Angel and the Beehive, All Abraham’s Children, Neither White nor Black, (with Lester Bush) and scores of important articles on many aspects of Mormonism, has graciously agreed to guest post his reflections on the anniversary of OD2.
I appreciated Greg Prince’s post (8 June) reflecting briefly on his association with Lester Bush and on the issue of LDS racial history for which Lester will always be remembered with admiration. Lester certainly did the hard and meticulous work that uncovered that history and revealed the utter lack of a revelatory basis for the long-standing Church restrictions on people of black African ancestry. My own association with the same issue has been more sociological than historical, although I always benefited enormously by Lester’s pioneering work. [Read more...]
My wife and I recently agreed to write an essay on “embodiment and sexuality” in Mormonism and as I have often confessed to many of you I know very little about the Utah period of Mormonism. I suspect that, other than being a little tired of the constant fights about the status of Joseph Smith’s dual wives in Nauvoo, many others are curious about how participants in polygamy might have talked about or understood sexuality, how the Mormon family system might have resisted or intersected with trends in the broader American society. Any of you out there have any primary or secondary sources that you strongly recommend for someone interested in understanding more about sexuality in 19th-century Mormon polygamy? I think it’s fair to say that the Victorian polygamy romance novels are not at the top of my interest list, though if there was one you thought was absolutely exemplary it might be interesting.
In 1973, Dialogue published an article by Lester Bush which traced the history of the LDS church policy banning members of African descent from holding the priesthood. That article itself became an important part of that history, as guest blogger Gregory Prince recounts below. If you’ve never read the article, it would be a great way to commemorate this important day in church history.
Update: In this post, I mentioned that a grandson of President Kimball was said to have seen a copy of the Bush article heavily marked up, apparently by the president. Since then I have tried but been unable to confirm that statement. Ed Kimball, who was close to the situation, indicates to me that he doubts the accuracy of the report. –GP
Thoughts on the 32nd Anniversary
My first contact with Lester Bush was indirect. I was in graduate school at UCLA in 1972 and was dating the Dialogue secretary, whose office was across the street from the campus. I noticed a 2-inch-thick book above her desk with the title Compilation on Blacks. Having completed a mission to Brazil three years earlier, I was well aware of the effects of the policy prohibiting ordination of blacks, but I was fuzzy on the cause. [Read more...]
W V Smith returns with some thoughts about battling socio-religious entropy.
One of the difficulties Joseph Smith struggled with, both in himself and in the Church he founded was the tension between a doctrine of “opened heavens” and creating a functioning hierarchy in Mormonism. There are a lot of issues here, I’m just touching on a few.
The enthusiasm of early Mormonism had a down side: it was difficult to control in terms of the creation of a commonly held system of belief. There is an element of trust that is necessary in funding a knowledge base of doctrine. But if anyone has free access to the heavens, since the canon is not complete, how do you establish consistency? The answer has always been, you create bureaucracy! But this is easier said than done. [Read more...]
If you’re in or near SoCal next weekend, you should check out this conference at USC. For one thing, it’s probably the only time Daniel Peterson and I will ever be on a program together–talk about ecumenism! Seriously, it’s an astonishing lineup of folks, and I’m really looking forward to listening and observing. [Read more...]
The recent and perennially anticipated announcement that Deseret Book would finally let Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine go out of print was warmly received by many. After being stripped from the references in Church curricula, it was perhaps no surprise that the day had finally come (to the likely consternation of many in Seminary and Institutes). As much as I find sections of MoDoc deeply problematic and unhealthy for the Church, I also think it is important to remember that it is and always will be important.
Summer, 2003: I was a wreck. My sixth child was six months old, and I wasn’t even close to recovering from his birth and the trauma that followed: For him, lung failure and three weeks in the NICU. For me, a profound emotional and spiritual crisis. The combination of outward and inward events shook me hard. My testimony was intact, but I felt disconnected from it. Unmoored. All my usual connection points failed me: church meetings, scripture reading, even prayer. [Read more...]
Dr. Fred E. Woods at BYU has recently made available an online database of migration primary sources. This project compliments work done by the LDS church on overland trail sources. Work like this allows for extremely precise surveys of lived Mormonism by groups that often fall beneath the radar of history. As an example of the excellent material now available, I present some of the sources relating to immigrating Mormons and people with black-African ancestry. Coming from Northern Europe, many of these immigrants had never seen black people before.
Sponsored by BYU Department of Communications, BYU Broadcasting, and BYU Studies
In Conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of BYU Broadcasting
November 11 & 12, 2010
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA
“Mormon Media Studies: Across Time, Space, and Disciplines”
**KEYNOTE SPEAKER: TERRYL GIVENS**
The full announcement, with additional information on submission guidelines, deadlines, conference and contact information can be found here.
As this is the first ever interdisciplinary Mormon Media Studies Symposium, the range of topics to be explored in paper and panel sessions is wide. [Read more...]
I’ve set my alarm for 5:00 a.m., should be on the road by 6:00, and have about an 8-hour drive to the conference hotel. I’m looking forward to the road trip. With my iPod I won’t be limited to country music, but basically have my entire music collection to choose from. When I get there I’ll check in to the hotel, check my work e-mail, pick up my registration materials, and maybe walk around and check out the water park and fitness center. Then a number of us are getting together for some good ol’ Kansas City barbecue (I usually skip the opening reception in favor of dinner with friends). After that is the opening plenary session, and we’re off to the races–two full days of Mormon history action. [Read more...]
Is “Suspensive” Historiography the Only Legitimate Kind?
Christopher C. Smith*
I am a PhD student at Claremont Graduate University, doing History of Religions in North America, with a particular focus on Mormon Studies. I also happen not to be a Mormon. I have never been a Mormon. My interest in Mormonism is academic, and I’m especially interested in Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith is a fascinating puzzle to me, and I have struggled to make sense of who he was and what motivated him to do the things he did.
That of course puts me in a difficult position, because here at Claremont I am surrounded by believing Mormons, and so I’m constantly aware of the risk that the way I make sense of Joseph Smith and the Mormon movement may be offensive to some of my friends and colleagues here.
As a result, I’ve thought a lot about this question of whether it’s legitimate for me as a scholar and a historian to talk about LDS truth claims. Is it legitimate for me to express views about Joseph Smith that fly in the face of what Mormons believe? Will this be perceived as an attack? Will I be considered biased and anti-Mormon by my colleagues?
My Mormon colleagues here at CGU face a similar problem, but from the opposite direction. If they speak as faithful Mormons from a position of belief in the Church, they run the risk of alienating non-Mormons, of being labeled biased apologists, and of being seen as non-academic and perhaps even unemployable by secular universities. [Read more...]
In 2009 the Joseph Smith Papers Project published their second volume, the first in the Revelations and Translations series (review here). This volume included the “Book of Commandments and Revelations,” which had previously been unknown to researchers. Robin Jensen (RSJ) is an editor with the JSPP and worked specifically on Revelations 1 (Robin introduced some important aspects of the text in a series of posts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). Robin also recently wrapped up his thesis involving early Mormon record keeping and has graciously agreed to an interview about his important work. This is the first of two posts with him.
A fantastically eventful weekend is about to take place in SoCal for the Bloggernacle and Mormon Studies. [Read more...]
In the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that Dialogue cannot survive as strictly a print publication. A new generation of thoughtful Saints and scholars who would benefit from becoming acquainted with Dialogue’s rich history will never find that content if it is languishing in library stacks. Thus, with some trepidation, the Board has decided to make all of Dialogue’s archive accessible online, retaining only the last two years’ content as premium content available by subscription*. [Read more...]
My title is borrowed from Ronan, I hope he does not mind me plagiarising. Following a brilliant post at JI on Nibley, I was talking to some Missionaries the other day about their Mission reading habits and rules (they apparently have quite strict guidelines in this Mission) and it reminded me of the time and money (photocopies are not cheap) I spent trying to gather everything I could find about the Church. Yet, apart from Ensigns and the odd mimeographed essay from yester-year, pretty much everything I read was from either Truman Madsen and/or FARMS. [Read more...]
At a recent FAIR conference, Terryl Givens, while introducing his work on the history of the Pre-Mortal life in Western thought, made this statement: ‘What I have come to appreciate is this cardinal insight: If the restoration is not yet complete, then other traditions have much to teach us. Not by way of confirming, corroborating, or verifying the truths we already have. But by way of actually adding to the body of revealed doctrine we call precious and true. The Restoration is neither full nor complete… What if, instead of scrambling frantically to find explanations when Joseph appears to have borrowed from the masons, or Ethan Smith, or Tom Dick, we instead see another marvellous possibility of his actually practicing what he preached.’ [Read more...]
This is the final, and longest, post of the series. Read the first eight installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, and Part 8. You can download and read Daymon’s dissertation here.
Remember, Daymon has made his dissertation available for purchase in bound form here. All of the proceeds will go to the Utah Food Bank. [Read more...]
I am deeply troubled by the actions and attitudes of some our people with regard to politics. I encourage you to read John Fowles’ guest post at Millennial Star for further context. What follows is a post from a number of years ago that highlights President Grant’s message with regards to politics that I believe is timely (particularly the last quotes).
Perhaps not unlike our current Church President, Heber J. Grant was fond of telling stories in Church meetings. He told of the time when Eliza R. Snow blessed him at least five times in General Conference that I have found; and I have run across journal entries that described him telling the story at various stake conferences. It seems that he was also fond of a particular humorous story on politics and repeated it at General Conference at least four times that I have seen: [Read more...]
I should note that the dissertation chapters that coincide with this portion of the discussion are among the most accessible of the entire work. They’re also rich with detail in a way that this conversation can really only approximate. Remember, Daymon has made his dissertation available for purchase in bound form here. All of the proceeds will go to the Utah Food Bank. [Read more...]