As summer ends, my time to engage with Nibley’s social criticisms has begun to return. Of course, I say that the week before classes begin, so a couple things I want to point out before we get started: first, this is a long, detailed chapter.
This chapter (understandably) overlaps significantly with the previous chapter, Gifts. These are, after all, discourses he delivered at various times, to various audiences, with common themes. I’m reading them separately, though, and different things hit me at different readings. So, like always, I won’t discuss everything Nibley focuses on (and I’ll try to not spend too much time on things I’ve discussed previously). With that out of the way, on to the chapter.
Another confession: I had a really hard time with this chapter. And it’s not just because I read it sitting in an airport waiting for a plane that was delayed for an hour and a half. Rather, it’s because of the way Nibley speaks of the wealthy. Certain of his descriptions feel, to me, so laughably one-dimensional—so moustache-twirling, tying-the-heroine-to-the-tracks—that I find myself fighting both his prose and my instincts to not just dismiss his entire piece out of hand.
I received my review copy of Hearken, O Ye People at work; I opened it and began to read on the El heading home. And, from page 1 (or, actually, page xvii), my jaw dropped. Staker started his book with an almost-15-page chronology of Kirtland, beginning in May 1796 as a group begins to survey townships in the Western Reserve and ending on July 6, 1838, when Kirtland Camp leaves Kirtland to settle in Missouri. For that chronology alone, Hearken, O Ye People is worth its price, at least for those form whom the Kirtland years are overshadowed by the founding of the Church in upstate New York, the conflicts and eventual extermination order in Missouri, and the theological and organizational innovations in Nauvoo.
Christopher Jones has a post over at the fine group blog Peculiar People listing ten books on modern Mormonism. The post deserves more discussion, so I thought I’d post my own short comments on the first four books from the list and invite readers to add comments on the others as well as reflection on the original post by Jones.
While we know that gospel principles are eternal, we must also admit that the language used to describe them changes over time. And now we have a tool for discovering and analyzing how Church leaders have changed their descriptions of the gospel over the past 160 years.
5 years ago we published one of my favorite “12 Questions” posts, in which Royal Skousen discussed in some depth what he has learned from his extensive work on the earliest editions of the Book of Mormon. His book, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, is being published in September by Yale University Press (and yes, you can order it at Amazon right now). To mark this milestone, Royal was kind enough to update his “12 questions” discussion, which we have posted below, for the benefit of those who did not catch it the first time. Enjoy!
A few years ago, Armand Mauss advised our readers that an essential texts list for Mormon studies probably included a dozen books (including Shipps, Bushman, Arrington, and Givens) as well as regular reading of four major periodicals. That remains a very good recommendation; however, for many Mormon studies newbies, that level of depth may not be an option. This post addresses the question, how should someone on a limited budget begin to explore Mormon studies?
There are a number of Mormon pamphlets and books that have achieved a kind of semi-canonical status within Mormon studies. Everyone agrees, for example, that Parley P. Pratt’s Key to the Science of Theology or John Taylor’s Mediation and Atonement are key texts for understanding nineteenth Mormon thought. If any evidence is needed, both texts, I believe, are still in print. At the very least both have produced modern reprints. I have a proposed addition to the canon, George Q. Cannon’s A Review of the Decision of the Supreme Court in the Case of Geo. Reynolds v. the United States.
Which Dialogue articles should the savvy blog-reader have hot-keyed and ready to go? What would the top three articles be, for useful citation in blog conversation?
In honor of Women’s History Month, I’d like to reopen our occasional series of Essential Texts in Mormon Studies. Traditionally, posts in the series have asked commenters to suggest their top five books within some segment of Mormon studies. For this post, let’s discuss what might be the essential texts in Mormon feminism.
The Mormon Social Science Association, under the direction of editors John Hoffman, Cardell Jacobsen, and Tim Heaton of BYU’s Department of Sociology, is currently putting together a volume of essays that retrospectively assess O’Dea’s 1957 classic The Mormons.
Thomas F. O’Dea’s The Mormons (1957) is a classic text in Mormon studies. So much that the Mormon Social Science Association is currently putting together an edited volume
A not-so-hypothetical from a reader: Your daughter’s AP English class is using Tony Kushner’s Angels in America as a central part of a semester’s curriculum. You are friends with the teacher and would feel comfortable suggesting that she supplement the Angels module with another book or short story dealing with Mormonism from a different, hopefully “insider,” perspective. What work of Mormon literature would you suggest?
First thanks to everyone for actually allowing me to write on topics unrelated to my blog. Hopefully I can live up to some of the excellent guest bloggers from over the past year. (Damon Linker was among my favorites.) One thing I’ve noticed of late is that my favorite series on Times and Seasons has been neglected. I speak, of course, of the essential texts series that was so enjoyable in the early days of this blog. Beyond encouraging those who’ve not read through those lists to do so (and add their own comments) let me suggest another useful list: Essential Net Resources.
I live in a relatively mission-field ward, which has a lot of new members. Several months back, one member asked about reading material. I happened to have an extra copy of Truth Restored on the shelf, and it seemed like a good new-convert book, so I gave it to the new member. It was a big hit. Now, in interactions with other new members, I’m thinking I should get them some reading material. But where to start?
I am feeling testy today, so I thought that I would post on a subject I have been thinking about for a while: the most over rated text in Mormon studies. Perhaps it is part of being raised in a prophetic, leader-revering culture, but there is a tendency on the part of Mormon intellectuals toward hagiography. Not of church leaders of course. (Being Mormon intellectuals has liberated them from anything so crass.) Rather, I am talking about hagiography by Mormon intellectuals of Mormon intellectuals. (See the article on Quinn.)
In our casting about essential Mormon texts and our questing for Mormon literary achievement, I think that we frequently foget on of the great Mormon mediums and one that we have produced in huge quanties, with occasional examples of great quality. I am talking about sermons.
Let’s see if we can start a discussion that doesn’t revolve around homosexuality and same sex marriage. (What a sexually obsessed bunch we are!) A while back, one commenter suggested that what we needed in addition to a list of “must read” Mormon studies texts is a list of books that haven’t yet been written but should. In the spirit of that question, let me offer some ideas.
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.
Due to popular demand, I invite nominations for the Times & Seasons Essential Scholarly Papers in Mormon Studies list. Double credit awarded for links to the article.
In December Greg posted the very interesting question of what the five essential texts in Mormon studies are. The thread generated a lot of comments. A follow-up thread also got some comments. I just went through and tallied votes thus far. The results are interesting. Besides being a potential catalog of essential texts, the results also illustrate the broad range of ideas that people consider “Mormon studies”. A total of eight (sort of) texts received more than one vote.
Without question, the following essay has shaped my world view more than any other. I’ve spent so much time turning the ideas in my head that I can no longer tell where they stop and where mine began. One of my favorite priesthood or Institute lessons is to pass copies to everyone in the class, read it, then lead a discussion. It never fails to make an impact. Several people have later told me it changed their whole perspective on life, as it did mine. I strongly recommend doing the same thing for your class or family. Here’s the slightly condensed version I hand out. The full version is here.
Perhaps second only to regular features as a reliable blog standby are lists. I know, I know, such posts usually generate endless quibbling about meaningless personal preferences. But I want to propose what I think will be a worthwhile exercise. I want to know, what are the five essential texts in Mormon studies?