Category: Mormon Publications

Changing of the Guard at Dialogue

Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought gets a new editor every five or six years, and that time is now upon us. As a subscriber and supporter, I wanted to get a sense of where the incoming editor, Boyd Jay Petersen, is going to take the journal, so I bought a copy of his Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family (Greg Kofford Books, 2013) to get the lowdown. After all, Kristine is a hard act to follow. After reading the book, I am optimistic. To offer a few comments, I will highlight one essay from each of the three sections in the book.

Mauss on Dialogue

shifting borders

I am almost done with the recently published memoir by Armand Mauss, Shifting Borders and a Tattered Passport: Intellectual Journeys of a Mormon Academic (U of U Press, 2012; publisher’s page). Like Leonard Arrington’s earlier memoir, Adventures of a Church Historian, the book is something of a insider’s guided tour of fifty years of Mormon Studies, including the two important books on Mormonism authored by Mauss, The Angel and the Beehive (1994) and All Abraham’s Children (2003). Anyone who reads T&S or the other blog will certainly enjoy the tour.

Book of Mormon Comics


I love stories. A narrative strikes me as the most fundamental way of ideas with other people. And by ideas, I mean not only the bare events of the narrative, but also abstract concepts, morals, and emotional truths. It makes sense to me that our basic scriptural texts have strong narratives. The Old Testament is a collection of stories, with the consequences of one generation’s choices setting the stage for the actions of the next. The Book of Mormon also has very strong narratives. Other classic stories that we are familiar with, we feel free to reimagine. We update fairy tales, retell myths in modern settings. Even the stories of Genesis are recognized as archetypes that we re-present and reinterpret. But too often Mormons tend to shy away from this type of creative engagement with the text and narratives of the Book of Mormon, perhaps from a kind of self-censorship that fears corrupting in some way the most true book…

Consumerism vs. Stewardship

The following is a modified excerpt from my presentation at Sunstone this summer. We live, not only in a capitalist, but a consumerist, society. Our society is all about spending, acquiring, cluttering, and replacing, not about maintaining, restoring, renewing, and protecting. It is cheaper to buy new than to repair old.  We live in a disposable country, where everything is trash, if not now, then soon. How did we get here? One of the best explanations I’ve found is in the work of the social theorist Max Weber (1). He examined the correlation between the Protestant religious belief and its accompanying work ethic and the accumulation of capital and the subsequent rise of capitalism. One aspect [of the concept of calling that arose during the Reformation] was unequivocally new: the fulfillment of duty in vocational callings became viewed as the highest expression that moral activity could assume. Precisely this new notion of the moral worth of devoting oneself to a…

Books of Interest to the LDS Nerd

A few of these are forthcoming, a few have appeared recently. I am compelled to read them all, as soon as I can get to them. Now Available Charles Harrel,“This Is My Doctrine”: The Development of Mormon Theology (Kofford Books) “In this first-of-its-kind comprehensive treatment of the development of Mormon theology, Charles Harrell traces the history of Latter-day Saint doctrines from the times of the Old Testament to the present.” I have my doubts that someone who does not equally control original Biblical sources and LDS history, as well as the vast amounts of secondary literature on historiography, exegesis, etc. can give LDS doctrine a truly comprehensive diachronic treatment, and compress it into 597 pages. Nevertheless, I’m grateful to Harrel, an engineering professor, for making the attempt and I look forward to reading it. Too many LDS labor under the assumption that the status quo sprang fully formed from Joseph Smith. I don’t recall which of my friends said, but…

Confessions of a Shopping Mall Santa

Illustration: Jeanette Atwood

Christmas Season, 1989. I was a freshman at the University of Utah, my first year away from home. As a poor student I was looking for extra holiday cash, and the Help Wanted ad for a shopping mall Santa seemed like just the thing. Despite my 18-year-oldness, the manager was desperate to fill the big chair, so I walked out of my short interview with a prosthetic belly, a red suit, a wig, and some bells. [quote] Christmas had lost its luster a decade before, the day I had gone searching for my swimming mask and snorkel in our travel trailer. It turned out that my parents had thought the travel trailer an ideal hiding place for Santa’s loot. It had been, actually, until their young son decided that he needed a mask and snorkel in the dead of winter. I spent several years playing along, afraid to reveal that I knew the big secret, afraid that the loot would…

Liveblogging Symposium – Stay-at-home Moms: On the Record

EDIT: Emily Jensen has a great article on this at Mormon Times, and offers a much better (and more readable) synopsis. See it at Approximately 30 people in attendance, an engaging and personable panel: Moderator/ CAMILLE AAGARD, former account executive at a public relations agency; cleaned out her desk two days before giving birth to her first child in 1998 and began a new career at home rearing five children, ages one to 11

Tired-blogging from Sunstone, Day 3

It’s early, and I’m still recovering from karaoke, but I’m at the Sonia Johnson panel. I’m sad to miss Kristine singing this morning, but this panel has a distinct advantage — I can sit with a laptop and write my talk for next time. I’ll try to type up some notes on this session (and not get them mixed up with my talk).

Liveblogging Sunstone, Day 1

I’m going to be live(ish) blogging Sunstone, at least some. The level of effectiveness will depend on a lot of factors, including access to wireless (which seems to be a little spotty). If you’re here (or just here in spirit), please weigh in in comments with your own thoughts.

Rainy Day Panels # 12 & 35

Oh, they’ll stone you when you speak about the blogs They’ll stone you over feminists and God They’ll stone you when you say “September Seven” Or if you talk about Mother in Heaven But, I would not feel so all alone Everybody must Sun Stone. Which panels are you looking forward to at Sunstone next month?

Misguided faith?

There was a lot that I liked about this month’s Ensign; but one of the short articles bothered me.  It was the tithing article where the writer, a single mother of six, compared utility and mortgage bills to tithing, and then stated that: I would rather lose the water source to my house than lose the living water offered by the Savior. I would rather have no food on our table than be without the Bread of Life. I would prefer to endure the darkness and discomfort of no electricity than to forfeit the Light of Christ in my life. I would rather abide with my children in a tent than relinquish my privilege of entering the house of the Lord. Is anyone else uncomfortable with the idea that it’s more important to pay tithing than to put a roof over one’s children’s heads?