Author: Greg Call

Mormon Punk Rock Pioneer Dies

Arthur “Killer” Kane, the original bassist for the New York Dolls, passed away this week in Los Angeles from leukemia. He had joined the Church in recent years, and according to the New York Times obituary, he worked in his stake’s family history center.

12 Questions for Rodney Smith

Rodney Smith, the president of Southern Virginia University, has agreed to participate in our next installment of 12 Questions. Smith took over as president of SVU in June 2004, after serving at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law (University of Memphis) as the Interim Dean and Herff Chair of Excellence in Law. Among other positions, he has been a law professor and administrator at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the Capital University Law and Graduate Center, and the University of Montana School of Law. He was also the City Attorney in Bishop, CA for two years. Smith received a Doctorate in Juridical Science from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of BYU’s law school.

Where is God?

Some of you are probably tired of retellings of conversations with putatively precocious toddlers that are supposed to elicit some great insight or something. If so, I apologize in advance. But last night my 2.5 year old son stumped me pretty well.

A Dynamite Testimony

I’m so grateful that one of our ex-guest-bloggers, greg.org, gratefully took the opportunity to bear his testimony about Napoleon Dynamite, a Rushmore-esque indie film by Mormon writer and director Jared Hess. Check out greg.org’s remarks here.

12 Questions for Sarah Barringer Gordon, part two

Here’s the second half of our dialogue with the esteemed Professor Gordon. [Click here for part one.] I’m sure everyone joins me in thanking her for such intelligent and provocative responses to our questions. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out her landmark book, The Mormon Question. Again, our questions are in bold and her responses follow in plain text. Enjoy! 7. There has been some discussion here at Times and Seasons about the apparent analogies and disanalogies between the nineteenth-century antipolygamy movement and the current battles over same sex marriage. To what extent do you think that cultural and legal strategies employed by antipolygamists are (or are not) available to those who now seek to define marriage as between a man and a woman? I was waiting for this one!

12 Questions for Sarah Barringer Gordon, part one

Without further ado, we are pleased to present Professor Gordon’s responses to questions submitted by the T&S community. Questions are in bold; her preface and responses are in plain text. Look for the second half Friday. (For background on Professor Gordon and her work, click here.) * * * First and most important, I would like to thank Nate Oman, Greg Call and other member of Times and Seasons for your interest in my work and for the opportunity to participate in the forum. I will try to keep my answers short, but the questions you all have posed are challenging (in the best sense of the word) and thought-provoking. I apologize in advance for any long-windedness. Most of all, I look forward to engaging in a dialogue about the meaning and worth of scholarship with a new group of people, and especially to learning from the process. Last, a warning: I am typing my responses on a laptop while…

Moroni over Modernism

This may be old news to Manhattanites, but I see that the Church has recently announced that the temple there will be getting a steeple and Moroni. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this. Certainly the changes will help with “branding” (for lack of a better word). But I always liked the building’s fairly pure modernist bent, which blends in well with the surrounding neighborhood (especially Lincoln Center), and has become somewhat rare in Mormondom. Moroni comes, I think, with no small aesthetic cost, but perhaps one worth paying. For more on Mormon architecture and aesthetics, see this thread.

Feminist Agitation, Mormon style

Julie’s post on the daughters of Zelophehad and the ensuing comments reminded me of a story I read in a locally-published book called An Ensign to the Nations: History of the Oakland Stake. It seems that in the late 70s, the Church’s opposition to the ERA caused a bit of an uproar in the Oakland Stake, particularly in the Berkeley ward. During an especially tense period, Paul H. Dunn of the the First Council of the Seventy came to town to speak at a missionary program in the Interstake Center auditorium. Because of previous protests involving the ERA, there was some concern that the gathering (about 4,000 people) would invite further incident. Toward the end of the meeting, two women walked up the side of the aisle, stopped, and waited there until Dunn had finished speaking and the closing hymn was being sung. As the closing hymn continued, the two women approached the stage. It became clear that one was…

12 Questions for . . . Sarah Barringer Gordon

Just a reminder — please submit questions for Professor Gordon by Monday, May 10. For more information on Professor Gordon, here is an article she wrote in Legal Affairs on polygamy and gay marriage; here is an interview she did on NPR on a similar topic; and here is a Tribune article about a speech she gave at Weber State.

An Open Letter to the Blue Planner

Dear Blue Planner, So it has finally happened. You’ve gone the way of Mr. Brown and projection films. I suppose I knew that someday you’d be gone, but I’d hoped against hope that you were somehow less transient than other proselyting aids that have fallen by the wayside. To me, you were nothing less than the platonic ideal of Planner.

Walter Kirn, golden contact

In today’s New York Times Magazine, critic and novelist Walter Kirn uses his family’s conversion to Mormonism as a hook for his (dare I say stale) riff on Christianity as pop culture: “I remember my own family’s Great Awakening back in the Jesus-haunted 1970’s, when President Carter was advertising his piety and ”Godspell” and ”Up With People” were packing concert halls. In the same way that it does now, three decades later, religion seemed to be everywhere back then — except in our house. We were secular suburbanites, prone to all of the usual middle-class miseries, and when one of us felt particularly low, we called a doctor, not a priest. But then one day two missionaries came knocking, and everything changed. They were Mormons, two crewcut, fresh-faced boys weighed down with books that they promised would save our souls — souls that we weren’t even certain we possessed. Reading the books enlightened us, however; we converted to Mormonism a…

12 Questions for Armand Mauss, part two

As promised, here’s the second half our our “interview.” [For part one, click here.] Thank you, Brother Mauss, for your willingness to lend your unique voice to the bloggernacle, and thanks to all our readers who submitted questions. (Again, the questions are in bold and his responses follow in plain text.) 7. In April conference, Elder Hafen discussed the “misconception” that the Church is “moving toward an understanding of the relationship between grace and works that draws on Protestant teachings.” Any reaction? This is truly an interesting development. The “misconception” Elder Hafen is referring to might not be exactly what it seems.

12 Questions for Armand Mauss, part one

We are pleased to present our first installment of “12 Questions,” with sociologist and Mormon Studies scholar extraordinaire Armand Mauss (here is a mini-bio). Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. As you will see, they generated a wide-ranging and thoughtful set of responses. Questions appear below in bold, and Brother Mauss’s responses follow in plain text. [Click here for part two.] 1. You have spent your academic career largely outside of church-affiliated schools. As a Mormon studies scholar, what are the advantages and disadvantages taking this route from your perspective? How does it inform and/or impede your work in Mormon studies?

A Mormon Image: The Vault

The Granite Mountain Vault lies hidden away on the north face of Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake City. Built by the Church in the early 1960s, the Vault lies under 700 feet of stone, and was meant to withstand a nuclear blast. Contrary to the ramblings of your crazy uncle, it safeguards mainly genealogical microfilm. There is an manmade lake inside that keeps humidity at the optimal level. Alas, it is no longer open for public tours.

The Meadow on the Roof

I just returned from a quick trip to Salt Lake. My father was sealed to his wife in the Salt Lake Temple early Saturday morning and it was a beautiful occasion. I had an hour to spare after the celebratory breakfast, and Sister Hinckley’s funeral was nearly over, so I headed north to the Conference Center for a tour. The tour included the impressive 21,000 seat arena, Arnold Friberg’s original Book of Mormon paintings series, and several interesting examples of Mormon folk art. It was the roof, however, that I found most interesting.

Reminder: 12 Questions for Armand Mauss

As I posted earlier in the week, Mormon sociologist extraordinaire Armand Mauss has graciously agreed to be interviewed by the T&S readership. For those that may not know his work, Mauss has studied and written extensively on issues such as the priesthood ban, the international growth of the Church and the challenges it poses, and Mormon assimilation and retrenchment in the 20th century. You can get the flavor of some of his interests and views here, here, and here. [The questions and answers are now up here and here.] Please send any questions for Brother Mauss to greg@timesandseasons.org. The last day for submissions is Monday, April 12. We will select our favorite 12 questions and send them along.

12 Questions for . . . Armand Mauss

We are pleased to announce that Armand Mauss has agreed to be the first participant in the newest regular feature at T&S, “12 Questions.” In this feature, we will be “interviewing” some of the bright stars in the Mormon firmament. And you, dear reader, may participate by submitting the questions. [See here and here for the questions and answers]

At long last, Mia!

Cirila and I are pleased to announce the arrival of our daughter, Mia Elizabeth Call. She was born early yesterday morning in Berkeley, weighing in at 7 lbs, 1 oz. Mom and baby are doing great. Here’s an early photo:

A Nepotistic Link

My brother (who is normally a sportswriter) has this article in today’s Deseret News, dealing with Mormon tours of Central America. Noel Reynolds, Stephen Houston, and Brian Birch weigh in. I’ll have to tell him that Sorenson’s book is “An Ancient *American* Setting . . .”

Thanks Linda, and Welcome Greg

Linda Hoffman Kimball’s illustrious run as a guest-blogger ended yesterday, and I’m sure everyone here joins me in thanking her for the great posts. Hopefully we’ll hear from you again soon, Linda! Our newest guest blogger, Greg Allen, joins us today. I was a fan of Greg’s critically-acclaimed blog for a while before I came across a post that outed him as someone who could contribute to our discussion here. Here’s a bit of a bio:

Today’s Church Statement on Immigration

Apropos of our recent political discussions, the Church released a statement today proclaiming neutrality on a Utah immigration bill and saying “The Church repeats its oft-stated caution to members that they should never infer that the church endorses their personal political positions.”

The Receding Second Coming

As a kid growing up on the Wasatch Front, I figured that the Second Coming was just around the corner. I remember being Primary age and thinking that I would not have to worry about post-mission plans — the world would be over by then anyway.

Don’t Drink, Don’t Smoke

Perhaps nothing outwardly sets Mormons apart from the rest of society more than our adherence to the Word of Wisdom. And for insiders, as someone once said on this site, the Word of Wisdom just *feels* important. I’m far more likely to offend the Sabbath day, forget a fast, skip hometeaching, use inappropriate language, break the speed limit, or commit dozens of other sins of omission and commission than I am to join my friends sipping tea at a Chinese restaurant.

Bushman v. Brodie: Biographies

We’ve had several discussions about essential texts in Mormon studies; see here, here, here, here and here. I was hoping we could generate a list, or at least some productive discussion, about a topic we haven’t yet addressed — the great Mormon biographies and autobiographies.

Should Mormons Avoid R-Rated Legal Opinions?

You remember the case: Mormon acting student at the University of Utah files suit because she felt that her free speech and free exercise rights were violated by her acting teachers’ requirement that she say f–k and g—–m in classroom performances. The federal district court tossed the suit, but the student just won her appeal, keeping the case alive (caveat clicker: the court’s opinion contains profanities) .

God and Man at Martin’s Cove

Here’s a fairly balanced story from the front page of today’s New York Times on the minor controversy surrounding Martin’s Cove in Wyoming. For those new to this story, the land in question is purportedly the place where the Martin and Willie handcart companies were stranded in the winter of 1856, and it is presently owned by the US Bureau of Land Management. When a prior deal giving the Church access to the site expired in 2001, the Church sought to purchase the land outright. The Wyoming senators, however, responding to a some public concerns, worked to block the necessary legislation. The Church then sought a lease of the property, and Congress agreed to a renewable 25 year deal, which was tucked into an energy bill and signed by President Bush in December.

A Knock at Midnight

In honor of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I offer some excerpts from a sermon he delivered August 9, 1964 at Riverside Church in New York City. It is entitled “A Knock at Midnight.” ___ This morning I would like to have you think with me on the subject of a knock at midnight. Out text is taken from the very familiar parable as recorded by St. Luke: “And he said to them, ‘Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”; and he will answer from within, “Do not bother me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything”? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will…