What’s a Nice Mormon Kid Doing at Harvard Divinity School?

…and other topics in contemporary Mormon studies and Mormon experience are the subjects of a symposium sponsored by the Harvard Divinity School Latter-day Saint Association in conjunction with the Sunstone Education Foundation, November 1-3, 2007, at the Harvard Divinity School.

UPDATE: The complete program, including talks by Judith Dushku and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich can be viewed here. You can register online here. And please do register, if only to make life easier for the person (me!) in charge of feeding you that day.

The symposium is a bit like a progressive dinner, with appetizers and dessert served at several venues in the Greater Boston area, as well as the main course at HDS on Saturday, November 3rd. Events include:

Thursday, November 1, 2007 – “Of Golden Plates and Global Warming: Translating Mormonism in the Twenty-first Century” – Dan Wotherspoon, PhD, Editor, Sunstone Magazine, as part of the Deitchman Family Lectures in Religion and Modernity, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA.

Friday, November 2, 7:30-10 p.m. Opening Reception and Keynote Address, location TBA

Saturday, November 3, 8:30-5:30 Conference at Harvard Divinity School, including panel discussions on “Finding God at Harvard, MIT, Wellesley, and Boston University: Mormon Undergraduate Experience in the Diaspora*”, and “What’s a Nice Mormon Kid Doing at Harvard Divinity School? Personal and Scholarly Reflections on Graduate Studies in Religion”. Other topics include music in worship services, the lay of the land in contemporary Mormon literature, the experience of Blacks in the first decades of the Restoration, among the many intriguing possibilities.

*”diaspora” is how Gentiles pronounce “mission field”

If you’re in Boston, or within hailing distance, please come!! RSVP or get more information by writing sunstoneboston@gmail.com.


  1. Congratulations Dan and Sunstone, and I presume you Kristine, as you likely have lots to do with this. It’s a very promising and worthy project. Please send us a summary of the highlights.

  2. If only South Carolina was in hailing distance… Sounds amazing though, congrats wherever they are due.

  3. hahaha. Several people asked John and me a very similar question when we were studying Yiddish together in Vilnius, Lithuania at a summer program sponsored by Oxford. Their question was “what are nice Mormon boys doing studying Yiddish?”

    The title of this conference brought back the memory… Sounds like it will be a great conference.

  4. For those of us who can’t be there, any plans to have some of these things published in future issues of Sunstone, online, etc.? I, for one, would love to read the Wotherspoon piece, among others.

  5. I wish Ohio were in hailing distance. I would love to drop by and talk with Harvey Cox again. He was my favorite professor – both at the College and the Divinity School.

  6. Hmmm. I’m really going to think about this.

  7. As a fan of the golden plates and global warming, I wish I could attend.

    How many LDS students attend HDS?

  8. Ray,
    Were you an undergrad only or also a div school student?

  9. “Reflections and New Directions in Mormon Women’s Studies”

    Do you have list of participants for this?

  10. T-ylor: I was an undergrad who cross-registered for as many Divinity School classes as my electives would allow. I absolutely loved Father Fiorenza’s “Fundamentals of Christian Theology” and Prof. Cox’s “Jesus and the Moral Life” (an undergrad Core class). I took a couple of small group seminars, where I was exposed to Feminist Theology, Gay Thoelogy (yes, that’s what it was called at the time), Liberation Theology (Cox’s specialty), and other fascinating theologies. Even though I concentrated in East Asian Studies then History, those classes were my favorite.

    My claim to fame is that my picture was published in the New York Times Magazine and the Russian Voice of America publication – as a student with whom Prof. Cox was talking after a lecture. If it comes up and I’m feeling particularly haughty, I fail to add that last part. *grin*

  11. Actually, it was called Gay Theology, not Gay Thoelogy. That truly would have been odd. I’ll never forget the student who was writing his seminar paper to refute the claim that King David and Jesus were homosexual. Talk about an interesting class for someone who was raised in rural Utah County.

  12. Adam Greenwood says:

    This post is consistently interesting.

  13. As is that comment. Hurray for interesting things!

  14. The conference sounds great, and I will likely attend as much of it as I am able.

    Incidentally, the title of this post reminds me of the book my mom co-authored (in which I make a cameo appearance!).

  15. The talk here about Harvey Cox prompts me to plug this week’s Speaking of Faith show featuring Cox talking about the atheism-religion divide. Haven’t listened to it yet, but the show is always terrific.

    Glad my talk title for the College of Holy Cross lecture has intrigued a few of you. When offered the chance to give this lecture, they charged me with presenting Mormonism in the twenty-first century to an audience whom I am to assume knows nothing about the tradition. And they wanted a title last spring–long before I began writing. Anyway, somewhere in my title brainstorming I came up with the idea of “translating Mormonism” as a kind of Mormony sounding metaphor to use for the charge of presenting the faith to outsiders, and that touchstone led to my thinking of “golden plates” as a sort of stand in for the history I’ll have to review. I then added “global warming” as something to represent the interests I have and hope to discuss a bit about Mormon engagement with contemporary issues. The lecture really won’t be “about” either of those things, though I’ll certainly mention them.

    Now back to writing the dang thing!

    Hope to see a few of you at the lecture. And I may need your help during the Q&A!

  16. Justin, depending on how you count, there are between 5 and 10. The number depends on whether you count interested former Mormons and those graduate students studying religion in non-Div school departments.

  17. And there are many alumni/ae in and out of the church. For such a bunch of Unitarians, HDS has been a great place for Mormons over the years. In fact there are some donors who have had an ongoing interest in Mormon topics. There was even a seminar on Mormonism back in 1994 or so, with a new hire from within the tradition in this last cycle.

  18. (I like Unitarians.)

  19. Great title for a topic, btw.

  20. If I’m not working that night, I’ll hit the lecture at Holy Cross.

  21. We love Judy and Laurel and wish we could see them speak. Delighted to hear about your project.

  22. Way off subject: Judith Dushku… Is that the mother of actress Eliza Dushku (whom I once heard was LDS)? Anyone know the answer?

  23. Kevin Barney says:

    lurkgirl, the answer is yes, Judith is Eliza’s mother.


  1. […] As noted at BCC, Sunstone is holding a regional symposium in Cambridge, MA on November 1-3, 2007, at the Harvard Divinity School. […]

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