A lot of digital ink gets spilled on recent Gospel Topics essays about race, polygamy, the First Vision, Mormon scripture, etc. The Gospel Topics page itself is occasionally updated without public announcement. News of the more sensational pieces spreads via back-channel whispers followed by blog post and Facebook discussions and perhaps a Peggy Fletcher-Stack article or two. Some people have been frustrated that many church members are likely unaware of the Gospel Topics because they haven’t been highlighted in General Conference or in letters to local leadership. Newer church curriculum materials call direct attention to the essays, though. At the same time, they aren’t featured obviously on the home page of lds.org, but you can find them currently in the menu options under “Scriptures and Study>Learn More”:
The easiest way to find Gospel Topics is Google, but you’d need to know what they’re called first,. It would be useful if the church would do more to alert church members to their presence. But I digress.
Maybe I’m just slow on the uptake, but I just realized the website itself makes a distinction between “Gospel Topics” and “Gospel Topics Essays”:
I think my confusion stemmed from the fact that Essays and Topics are both housed in the same alphabetical list. But the length, level of detail, and composition of the Essays clearly sets them apart from the Topics. The Essays also have their own landing page, which you can access by clicking the blue “Explore the essays” link which takes you here:
So to sum up: There are Gospel Topics and Gospel Topics Essays, the latter dealing with select sensitive matters of church history and theology.
My next post will go into the reasons I’m bringing all this up in the first place, but for the time being, I’m interested in your thoughts on a few questions about the Gospel Topics page itself.
—What do you think about the website’s current construction, ease of use, or ease of access? (Note: Essays are also being translated into other languages!)
—If you’d like to see the Church emphasize the Essays more, how do you recommend they do that, and what are some of the benefits and drawbacks or increased attention?
—Do you have any interesting stories about sharing Essays with people in your family, ward, etc.?
—Did any of the essays personally come as a surprise to you?