Author: Kaimi Wenger

Art and Part

“What e’er thou art, act well thy part.” David O. McKay’s famous line motivated him during his mission and during his presidency. It’s not a bad philosophy, either. If I’m a Mormon, I should be a good one. However, for many of us, the question isn’t acting well a part. It’s discovering what we are to begin with.

Brides Among the Beehives

In the Reuters interview with Elder Christofferson, the interviewer asks, “There is historical evidence that suggests Joseph Smith took a 14-year-old bride, Helen Mar Kimball, when he was 38 years old. In today’s terms, that would make him a pedophile. Does this bother you or other LDS church members?” Elder Christofferson replies, “It would depend on what all the facts were and the context. In those days, of course, was that it was not so uncommon in the society of the time.” Just how factually accurate is this defense?

MWS: Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson is the Campbell-nominated author (twice-nominated now) of the fantasy novels Elantris and Mistborn: The Final Empire. His novel Well of Ascension, second in the Mistborn trilogy, will be published in a few months. Other projects (including the playfully titled Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians) are on the horizon. Brandon also recently released another full novel in draft form, Warbreaker, which is available for free at his website. He blogs at and posts frequently on the message board at The Official Time-Waster’s Guide. Brandon graciously agreed to be interviewed, as part of our ongoing Mormon Writers Symposium. [Interview questions by Kaimi Wenger] 1. You’ve established a reputation as a writer of genre fiction (fantasy). Many LDS writers (Orson Scott Card; Glen Larson) have used the genre of speculative fiction, broadly speaking. Is there something uniquely LDS about speculative fiction (or perhaps something uniquely speculative about the LDS mindset)?

Race and the LDS Church (Part I)

Some recent blog comments have discussed how the church’s history on race compares to other religions. Now, national politicians and pundits are discussing the same thing. There seems to be a general perception that the LDS church has not had a strong record as to race. The underlying facts, however, are quite a bit more complicated than that simple answer would suggest. As it turns out, the correct answer to the query “In matters of race, has the LDS church been progressive compared with other religious institutions, or has it been regressive?”, is: Both. This is the first in a series of posts which will discuss the church’s comparative record on race, and particularly on interaction with Blacks.

Checking our e-male

According to the pronoun counter at the He/She Ratio website (hat tip: Feminist Law Profs), Times and Seasons uses a female pronoun 43% of the time and a male pronoun 57% of the time. For comparison purposes, here are some other websites, with corresponding percentages of female pronouns:

Mormons discussing “Mormons”

Just in case 141 comments and counting on this thread aren’t enough for you, there are discussions of “The Mormons” up at Mormon Mentality, Mor-Mormon Mentality, Faith Promoting Rumor, Feminist Mormon Housewives, Dave’s Mormon Inquiry, Millennial Star, Mormanity, and a few threads over at The Blog of Satan ™. All this commentary leaves me with barely any time to watch the show!

Mountain Meadows in LDS consciousness

On the “Mormons” thread, reader Kevinf notes his own surprise and chagrin at the fact that his 29-year-old daughter didn’t know about Mountain Meadows. I’m less shocked; when I was 29, I really didn’t know much about the topic, either. Here’s a question for our readers: At what age, and through what avenue, did you learn about Mountain Meadows?

Modesty and culture

How much do ideas about modesty, decency, and obscenity depend on cultural context? Consider that recently, actor Richard Gere was widely criticized in India for publicly engaging in a vulgar, lewd, obscene, immodest, and indecent act. He was burned in effigy, and a warrant issued for his arrest; he was called a sign of decaying morals, and of the erosion of values. What was his crime? He kissed a woman, on the cheek, in public.

Arrayed in Light

Our hymnals show changing themes through time, and the themes in older hymnals are a window into the concerns of the age. One striking theme from older LDS hymnals is the large number of funeral hymns, including several hymns for bereaved parents.


“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” The real problem with Holy Week celebrations, Kristine, isn’t Nate’s theory about high versus low church and liturgy and ritual. The real problem is falling deities. Just ask any resident of San Pablo.

AggreGatekeepers (Updated)

A quick question/poll, for our readers: Do you use aggregation to read blogs? If so, which aggregator(s) do you typically use? The major choices I’m aware of are Archipelago, LDSelect, and Google Reader; are there other popular options? Do you use any of these? All of them? Why (not)? And what feature(s) do you (not) use? I’m curious.


The standard reply to every bad-bishop or awful-ward story is well known by now: “The church is perfect, but the members aren’t.” Your interaction with an awful leader or member or ward — hypocritical, sexist, gossipy, unrighteous dominion, Red Sox fan, or otherwise unpardonable — is due to the humanity involved. The church itself is just fine, and please bear in mind that hide-bound church individuals are hide-bound only in their individual capacity. Why, the scriptures even tell us that unrighteous dominion is sadly inevitable. How exactly do we reconcile that line of reasoning with Matthew 7?

Around the blogs: WHM at Feminist Mormon Housewives

Feminist Mormon Housewives has been in superlative form in celebrating Women’s History Month. WHM posts so far have included Ronan’s discussion about an Akkadian princess and poetess; Julie’s feminist Family Home Evening lesson; Kiskilili’s discussion of women’s status in Ancient Mesopotamia; Margaret Toscano’s personal essay about her history; Heather O.’s post on pregnant women soldiers in the Civil War; Julie’s Young Women’s version of the anointing at Bethany; and now a guest post from Todd Compton about the life and feminism of Emily Dow Partridge. It’s simple — if you’re not reading FMH this month, then you’re missing out on one of the best sets of posts the bloggernacle has seen in some time. Kudos to Lisa and her crew (do I detect traces of Janet’s handiwork?) for putting together this event, which should finally put to rest the tired old myth of FMH frivolity. For the entire WHM series, check the WHM category page at FMH — or just…

Scholarship versus dissemination

Over at the great and spacious blog, Richard Bushman writes that “what I would hope for [in blogging] is more serious and focused thought, the kind that Nate Oman turns out, rather than off-the-cuff chatter that is fun but leads nowhere.” Similarly, recent discussion at DMI focuses on whether blogging can or should displace conventional scholarship. These discussions touch on the same questions: Why are we blogging, anyway? Are some types of blogging more valuable than others, as Bushman seems to suggest? Should we all be more like Nate?