Mormon Engagement With the World Religions–Conference at USC

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…]

Forgetting McConkie

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.

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A Sort of Homecoming: Segullah Turns Five

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…]

Mormon Migration Database: Blacks and Mormonism

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.

[Read more…]

Call for Papers and Panels: Mormon Media Studies Symposium

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”


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…]

MHA 2010 Independence Open Thread

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…]

BCC Papers 5/2: Smith, ‘Suspensive’ Historiography

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…]

Just Posted in Dialogue Classics


Eugene England–Blessing the Chevrolet
A Conversation with Henry Eyring
Richard Haglund (yeah, my dad :))–Science and Religion: A Symbiosis

An Interview with Robin Jensen, Part 2

This post is the second of a two-part interview with Robin Jensen, editor with the Joseph Smith Papers Project (Part 1 available here). Robin continues to discuss his research in early Mormon record keeping.

[Read more…]

An Interview with Robin Jensen, Part 1

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.

[Read more…]

SoCal Mega-Weekend: Bloggersnacker, Miller-Eccles, & Mormon Scholars

A fantastically eventful weekend is about to take place in SoCal for the Bloggernacle and Mormon Studies. [Read more…]


The new Dialogue website.

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…]

Mormon Studies “auf Mish”!

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…]

Creativity, Generosity and Humility: Grand Fundamentals of Mormonism

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…]

Correlation: An Uncorrelated History (Part 9 — History Done Backwards)

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…]

Heber J. Grant on politics

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…]

Correlation: An Uncorrelated History (Part 8 — The Rise of Correlation)

Read the first seven installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7. You can download and read Daymon’s dissertation here.

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…]

Correlation: An Uncorrelated History (Part 5 — The Rise of Fundamentalism)

For those of you who have kept up with and continue to follow this series, we thank you for your diligence and patience. In part 1 we tracked the polygamist Underground and the discursive splitting it generated within Mormonism. From there, part 2 cast the issuance of Manifestos in light of the possibilities for reading capacitated by that discursive rupture and semiotic fragmenting. This led, eventually, to strategies for curtailing what was emerging as a kind of neo-Underground by Church leaders, and the Church courts wherein these things were (not particularly) sorted out were canvassed in part 3. The formal division between holdout polygamists and the newly monogamous Church only began to really take hold with the excommunication of recalcitrant apostles, most prominent among them John W. Taylor. Discussion of his excommunication comprised the bulk of part 4 in the series. Again, I heartily recommend that you read Daymon’s dissertation, available here. Now, to business… [Read more…]

Correlation: An Uncorrelated History (Part 4 — John W. Taylor, Excommunicated)

Catch up on the series with parts one, two, and three. Daymon’s dissertation can be downloaded and read here.

Brad: So to this point we’ve basically laid some important historical groundwork. We began in the 1880s on the Underground and ended last time roughly three decades later with the implementation of disciplinary hearings. These historical developments entailed some really difficult, complicated, entangled issues involving authority, priesthood, the relationship between polygamous and monogamous Mormons in the wake of the 1904 Manifesto, etc. The whole idea is that by the time we actually get around to the emergence of what we can today recognize as Correlation—that process doesn’t really make a lot of sense in a vacuum. It doesn’t just come out of nowhere, and the more we understand the issues that LDS leaders faced at the time in their efforts to transform Mormonism into a “modern” religion and church, and especially a post-polygamous church, the more the rise of Correlation will make a kind of historical and logical sense, as a particular response to a particular set of concerns and difficulties. [Read more…]

Religion Without Culture: Self-Identifying as a Mormon

Since the results for the Pew Forum’s Religious Landscape Study (RLS) were released, there has been fairly little attention paid in the Bloggernacle to the outcomes as they pertain to LDS belief and policy–a few posts here and there, mostly reporting a particular outcome: As a Church, we are more effective at retaining life-long members than any other of the major religions included in the study. However, an eye single to this stat robs us of a more curious one: the LDS Church is the only major religion in the United States in which lifelong members exhibit higher degrees of religiosity than converts. Julie Smith at Times & Seasons provided a link to a summary article on this topic last October, and I recommend reading the comments in her thread, as they touch on the key purposes of this post.[1] The full paper can be found here and contains considerably more detail.[2] [Read more…]

The Social Science of Mormonism Q&A, Part I

This post is brought to BCC by Mike McBride is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California, Irvine.

When the folks at BCC offered me the chance to do a blog post, the idea of a Q&A panel on the social science of Mormonism sounded like a great topic. Though the social scientific studies on Mormonism are not as large in number or as well known among the LDS population as are the historical studies of Mormonism, there are many such studies. There is even a dedicated professional association–the Mormon Social Science Association (MSSA).

In this two-post series, I asked four MSSA members a series of questions about the social scientific research on Mormonism. Our four panelists are, in alphabetical order: Ryan Cragun (RC), Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Tampa; Armand Mauss (AM), Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, Washington State University; Michael Nielson (MN), Professor, Department of Psychology, Georgia Southern University; and Rick Phillips (RP), Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of North Florida.

[Read more…]

Early Mormonism and Masonry: Lesser-Known Connections

There is no shortage of interest in the connections between the Masonic Craft and Joseph Smith-era Mormonism. Nearly four decades ago Dr. Reed Durham, then director of the LDS Institute at the University of Utah and president of the Mormon History Association, delivered a now (in)famous address to the MHA on Joseph Smith and Freemasonry. His presentation emphasized the connection between masonic ritual and temple ordinances, though in what Durham viewed as a faith-promoting way. Despite the subsequent public apology Durham issued (at the behest of his CES superiors), and his refusal to submit the paper for publication or even to publicly discuss it, the fascination over the connections between the Craft and the innovations of Nauvoo Mormonism — most importantly the inception of Mormon temple ritual — has remained vibrant. [Read more…]


From David Morris:

I am pleased to announce that the new issue of the International Journal of Mormon Studies is released and can be accessed on You will also find a link to order a hard copy. We have tried to keep the price down to a minimum in order that you might support the printed version. If any profits are made they will be reinvested into the EMSA programme of conferences. The full issue can also be downloaded gratis at the journal home page.
This issue contains articles from distinguished scholars both Mormon and non-Mormon who present different perspectives of the international experience of Mormonism, many of which were presented at the 2008 EMSA conference in Finland. The full table of contents are listed below. For those who would like to submit articles, be considered as reviewer or any other role please drop a line to us (davidmmorris at hotmail).

[Read more…]

Restoration Studies X

Restoration Studies X
The new volume of Restoration Studies is out — and I have the first copy here in my hands. If you’re not familiar with it, the first nine volumes of this Mormon studies journal were published irregularly by the Community of Christ’s Temple School. Going forward, Restoration Studies will be an annual journal, jointly published by the John Whitmer Historical Association (JWHA) and the Community of Christ Seminary Press.
[Read more…]

Restoration Studies Symposium 2009

I’m very pleased to announce the program for our second annual Restoration Studies / Sunstone Midwest Symposium, held from the evening of Friday, April 17, to the morning of Sunday, April 19, in Independence, Missouri. The first of these was held last year and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. This year’s program leads me to expect a similarly energizing experience. [Read more…]

Coming Soon

nathancover …to a mailbox near you!

The Spring 2009 issue of Dialogue is in the mail. You should first judge its cover–the artwork is by Dialogue’s new Art Director, Nathan Florence, and it’s beautiful. He also designed the new logo. I try studiously not to have an opinion about such things, because I’m completely ignorant of principles of design, but I’m interested in your (undoubtedly erudite) opinions.

There’s some good stuff inside, too. [Read more…]

MHA Preliminary Program

The Preliminary Program for the MHA Conference, May 21-24, has now been posted at the MHA website. It looks like a terrific program. Please make plans to join us in Illinois in about three months.

[Read more…]

An interview with Joseph Smith Papers editors: Part 2 of 2

Thanks again to the crew of the JSPP for their participation. Part 1 available here.

[Read more…]

An interview with Joseph Smith Papers editors: Part 1 of 2

Mark Ashurst-McGee and Robin Jensen, both volume editors of The Joseph Smith Papers, were kind enough to answer a few questions about their work and the project generally. I thank them for their participation. [Read more…]


Signature Books recently announced that it has stopped publishing for an undetermined period of time. As one who is critical of Mormon Studies publishing generally, I see Signature’s move as unfortunate, though perhaps not unforeseeable. As I peruse my shelves I count not a few seminal works distributed by the press that George Smith built and I hope that most people join me in the hope that the press will soon be back in action. [Read more…]