Author: Rosalynde Welch

I grew up in Southern California, the daughter of Russ and Christie Frandsen and eldest of their eleven children (including Gabrielle, Naomi, Brigham, Rachel, Jacob, Benjamin, Abraham, Christian, Eva, and Isaac, in case you're wondering if I'm related to that Frandsen you used to know). In 1992 I graduated from La Canada High School and started at BYU, where it didn't take me long to switch from a pre-med to an English major. In 1993 and again in 1994, I spent several months in England studying literature and theater with, among other able teachers, Eugene England. I developed interests in Renaissance English literature, contemporary critical theory, and creative writing, and wrote my Honors thesis on composition pedagogy. I served in the Porto, Portugal Mission from 1996-1997. I graduated from BYU in 1998 with a degree in English, and married John Welch later that week. John and I attended graduate school at the University of California at San Diego, and I was awarded a PhD in Early Modern Literature from that institution in 2004. I studied under Louis Montrose and dissertated under the title "Placing Private Conscience in Early Modern England," combining my interests in Renaissance literature, religion, and poststructuralist theory. During our years in San Diego, our daughter Elena Rachel was born in 2001, and our son John Levin Frandsen in 2003. We moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 2004, where John is an oncology fellow and I stay at home with our children, including since 2006 our daughter Mara Gwen. I currently serve as Relief Society instructor and choir pianist in our ward. I also maintain eclectic interests in backpacking, piano, food writing, travel and jogging.

Call and Response

Last night at 6:30 PM Pacific time, most members of my family dialed in to a conference call to Provo, Utah—to the lobby of Stover Hall on BYU campus, to be specific. My brother Benjamin—seventh child, sixth freshman at BYU, fifth missionary, third son, and a few days shy of nineteen—was about to open his mission call.

At Sixes and Sevens

The high point in my Church career so far came at age two, when I stood and recited the first four Articles of Faith from memory in Sacrament Meeting . Alas, early precocity did not usher in mature perspicacity, and I confess that these days, while I can still recite most of the Articles as stand-alones with some accuracy, I’m hard pressed to string them together in any recognizable series. (I can, however, rattle off all the books of the Old Testament in order to the tune of “Praise to the Man,” thanks to the heroic efforts of my Sunday School 14 teacher.)

Kinds and Reasons

I recently read an article by Robert Winston, a British writer and television presenter, exploring the implications of evolution for religion and asking whether our earliest ancestors gained some competitive advantage from their shared religious feelings. Winston’s stuff was just okay, I thought; it was something else that caught my attention.

Holy Men and Hucksters

This post is ostensibly by way of reminding our Southern California readership that it’s not too late to catch the last day of the Claremont Conference on Joseph Smith. It’s also an excuse for me to ruminate on the ever-engaging question of what sixteenth-century blogging might have looked like had they, you know, invented computers and the internet and everything. Here’s a possibility:

On the Blowing of Noses and the Bearing of Testimonies

While I was running errands with my children one morning last week, I glanced up at the rearview mirror to see my four-year-old daughter’s finger probing her nostril. I reprimanded her, gently, and asked if she needed a tissue. “No thank you, Mom,” she answered cheerfully, “This kind comes out only by a fingernail, right?”

Heder-day Night Live

Last night Jon Heder, star of Napoleon Dynamite, hosted “Saturday Night Live.” I caught a few of the sketches he played in, and one thing was pretty clear: the kid’s no Philip Seymor Hoffman. He’s amiable and sweet-faced, to be sure, but there’s a muddiness to his voice he can’t seem to clear, and his mouth, for all its soft pliability, is suprisingly unagile with dialogue. I haven’t seen his latest effort, a supporting role in the romantic comedy Just Like Heaven, but in my judgment he doesn’t have either the chops or the charisma to make a career of movie-acting. It’s too bad, because he seems like a genuinely good kid, and Napoleon earned him a ton of celebrity-capital among an important demographic; he might have been the really big, genuinely Mormon star we haven’t had yet. I just hope the boy has managed to keep clean in Hollywood and New York; those are pretty muddy straits for a…

Claremont Conference on Joseph Smith

As part of our occasional series of announcements on important Mormon Studies events, we’re happy to publicize an academic conference entitled “Joseph Smith and the Prophetic Tradition,” sponsored by the School of Religion of the Claremont Graduate University and to be held on its Southern California campus on October 20 and 21.

Mother Eve Goes to Relief Society

The August Ensign reprints a talk prepared by Elder Richard G. Scott for an international leadership training session in 2004; entitled “The Doctrinal Foundation of the Auxiliaries,” the piece outlines the functions and footings of the three female-led auxiliaries.


Early this morning my children clattered out the door to the schoolyard across the street, where they returned to freedom a tiny ground frog they’d captured yesterday.

Mormon Studies Periodically: Bert Wilson and Mormon Folklore

After a stimulating discussion following the first installment of this recurring feature, we’re happy to present the second, courtesy of the Association for Mormon Letters’ publication Irreantum, and exclusively accessible online at Times and Season. In keeping with its overall theme, the current issue of Irreantum features an interview with the eminent Mormon folklorist Bert Wilson. The interview is available for Times and Seasons readers to view here.

Imagining Bathsheba

Recent weeks have seen stimulating (and occasionally heated) discussion of a July Ensign article on the life of Bathsheba W. Smith. The article, meticulously parsed by Justin Butterfield, omits, together with other biographical material, all references to Bathsheba Smith’s sister-wives and any reference to the polygamous families of her husband, George A. Smith. This conspicuous lacuna looks to many readers like a deliberate effort to edit the historical record, selectively striking embarrassing references to polygamy—and, in the process, variously flouting standards of historiography and simple honesty, dishonoring the memory of polygamous wives, and writing women out of Mormon history. I’m instinctively sympathetic to the concerns articulated by Justin and Kris (I mean really, who wouldn’t want to put themselves in such distinguished company?), and to my mind they raise compelling historiographical questions. They stop too soon, though: the work of writing history is just that—writing and history–and thus the questions we ask about that work need to be both historical…

Round Here We Stay Up

very very very very late. I do, at least. It’s 11:41 presently, and I’m still planning to finish this post, fire off some comments, do my sit-ups and read the new Adam Gopnik in this week’s New Yorker before I turn in.

Reading in the Sand

The first thing you need to know about what happened is that it’s not about doubt. This is not the story of how I lost my testimony. I’m as committed to the church and as convinced of the reality of the restoration now as I was before what happened on Friday night. This is a story about reading, and how to do it.

Mormon Studies Periodically: Episode I

This first installment features Scott H. Faulring’s article, “An Examination of the 1829 ‘Articles of the Church of Christ’ in Relation to Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants,” available here. The long title introduces a careful examination of a fascinating document: the 1829 “Articles of the Church of Christ,” composed by Oliver Cowdery, is a little-known forebear to D&C 20, the 1830 “Articles and Covenants.” Faulring’s thorough treatment includes a discussion of the relationship between the two documents, a close summary of the “Articles,” and a complete holograph photographic reproduction of the handwritten text. The article raises compelling questions about the nature of revelation, the place of bibliographic research, and the role of the Book of Mormon in Latter-day Saint doctrine and practice.

Stay-in-School Mothers

Recently a T&S reader emailed me asking for my advice on the graduate school questions: is graduate education a worthwhile option for a young woman who intends to have children? I wrote back to her (rather astonishing myself at how much I found to say), and I’ve posted here my reply.

Mater Abscondita

Gordon’s post has prompted, not surprisingly, a torrent of discussion, which now seems to have veered off into a rather different streambed. I want to paddle up to a stream of the conversation that branched off a while back, taking another look at the presumptions behind the “absent mother.”

The Sea All Water

(Note: We seem to have something of a glut of Mother’s Day posts. By all means, read Julie’s and Kristine’s before mine.) Motherhood rose around me like a tide in the weeks after my daughter’s birth. Each night advanced toward me, implacable as a wave, my panic and dread rising like froth up a beach until the moment of submersion, when, wondrously, I found I could float. Few things in life have come to me as arduously as motherhood came, and nothing else has revealed itself as suddenly.

Pictures of You

The current issue of BYU Magazine, organ of the Alumni Association and tireless fundraising vehicle, is in mailboxes now–or, if your dining room table looks like mine, buried under gleaming drifts of your husband’s voluminous correspondence with the American Medical Association.

The End-Stopped Line

Sixteen years ago today, May 2, 1989, was a Tuesday. I got up and went to school that morning, along with my three other school-age siblings; I was fourteen, in ninth grade, an everting adolescent just starting to worry about my weight, thinking about my first AP exam in a few weeks. My mother probably stayed in most of that day, occupied with our new two-month-old, Abraham, and the three other home-age children. My dad went to work, and then to a school board meeting that evening. My grandma was in town, too, visiting for a few weeks.

Friday I’m in Love

It’s Friday morning, and the house is full of the feeling that something good is just around the corner. Nothing is, of course: I have no plans for tonight, tomorrow brings no particular respite from the daily round, the weekend provides no special bookmark in the text of my life, these days. Well, there is the adults-only session of Stake Conference on Saturday night, I guess. Still, though, Friday tastes good, like movies and loud music and books and beds and restaurants and release. Yeah, you could say I’m in love.

Bon Appetit at the Ward Dinner

Speaking of dreams, I have a recurring nightmare that I’ve been called to a church position whose primary purpose is to produce food for large numbers of people: you know, activities chair, primary teacher, stake Relief Society president. I’m convinced I would fail more spectacularly at this task than any other woman in the ward, nay the whole stake, even unto the entire region. So spectacular would be my failure that baby meals sign-up clipboards would discreetly avoid me in RS, and the missionaries would rustle up a discussion rather than risk dinner at the Welch’s. I was convinced of this, that is, until last Saturday, when I attended our ward Young Women’s annual fundraising spaghetti dinner and dessert auction. Then everything changed.

Night Light: “Without Conscience”

This week’s New England Journal of Medicine opens with an essay by Elie Wiesel entitled “Without Conscience.” The essay asks how Nazi doctors, who played a horrifically crucial role in the organized cruelty of the Holocaust, came to betray the Hippocratic oath, their consciences, humanity.