Category: Mormon Studies

International Bibliography 2010


With the growth of the LDS Church worldwide, I think few academics of Mormonism disagree that the Church’s international progress deserve more attention. Even so, I was surprised when I compiled a list of international publications from last year. The list is substantial.

Stop! Hamer time

Next Friday and Saturday, May 21st and 22nd, John Hamer will be at Miller Eccles in southern California to discuss the history of the Community of Christ.  John’s work is fascinating, and if you’re in the area, I’d encourage you to attend one of the two events, either on Friday the 21st in Orange County, or Saturday the 22nd in Los Angeles. The event announcement (with lots of information about why you should attend) is this: Dear Friends: We are pleased to announce the next meeting of the Miller Eccles Group will be on Friday, May 21, 2010 (Villa Park) and Saturday may 22 (La Canada).  Both sessions will be at 7:30 p.m.  The speaker will be John Hamer, an independent historian and author (more about John below).  We anticipate a fascinating discussion of “The History of the Community of Christ.” The Speaker: John Hamer is president of the John Whitmer Association (the Community of Christ counterpart to the Mormon History…

Dialogue 2.0

Searchable archives.  Free access to the entire vault of past articles.  Helpful starting points in a Classics section.  No more one-page-at-a-time clicking through the wacky — lovable in a quirky way, but definitely *not* user-friendly — old pdf-image page-by-page e-archives at the U library website.  Did I mention, we’re talking about searchable archives and free access to the vault? What are you still doing here?  Go check out Dialogue’s new website — or discuss in comments what you like about it best.  Take advantage of the free access.  (Starting in summer, the most recent two years will be subscription-only, but the rest of the vault remains free.) And a big kudos to the Dialogue crew.  Mormon studies has officially entered the new millennium.

Claremont Conference: What Is Mormon Studies?


The Claremont Mormon Studies Student Association is holding its Spring 2010 Conference on April 23 and 24 on the theme What Is Mormon Studies? Transdisciplinary Inquiries into an Emerging Field. The Conference line-up is as follows: Keynote Address Jan Shipps – Indiana University-Purdue University Critical Approaches to Mormon Studies Loyd Ericson – “Where is the Mormon in Mormon Studies?  Subject, Method, Object” Cheryl L. Bruno – “Mormon History from the Kitchen Window: White is the Field in Essentialist Feminism” Blair Van Dyke – “How Wide the Divide? The Absence of Conversation between Mormon Studies and Mormon Mainstream” Christopher C. Smith – “What Hath Oxford to do with Salt Lake?” Challenges Facing Mormon Studies Adam S. Miller – “A Manifesto for Mormon theology” Jacob Rennaker – “Through a Glass, Darkly? Biblical Studies, Mormon Studies, Parallels, and Problems” Greg Kofford – “Publishing Mormon Studies: Inside Looking Out” Scholar Panel Brian Birch  – Utah Valley University J. Spencer Fluhman – Brigham Young University…

Theological Anthropology at UVU this weekend

The Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology holds its 2010 conference at UVU this Thursday through Saturday (March 25-27) on the theme of theological anthropology. Invited speakers include: Terryl L. Givens (University of Richmond)—”Finding the Divine in Man: Romantic Angst and the Collapse of Transcendence”; Kevin Hart (University of Virginia)—”The Prodigal Son”; Laurence Hemming (Lancaster University)—”A Singular Humanity: The End of Anthropology”; David K. O’Connor (University of Notre Dame)—”Plato, Purity, and the Iconoclast Temptation: A Catholic Imaginarium” Other session themes include agency and grace, the natural man, human pre-existence, perfectability and theosis. The full conference schedule and abstracts of the presentations are listed on the SMPT website. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Mormon Studies on a Kindle?

I was kind of excited when I got my Kindle a few weeks ago. I liked the idea of having lots of books in one place, not having to haul the usual load around. I liked the idea of searching a book easily, of highlighting text and copying it out. Other features, like mailing in my own papers, also sounded intriguing. Unfortunately, the Kindle doesn’t deliver particularly well for Mormon studies.

Mormon Studies on a Budget?

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?

12 Questions for Marvin Perkins, Part One

Marvin Perkins has graciously agreed to answer a few questions from Times & Seasons. Brother Perkins is a Latter-day Saint music producer who is currently the Public Affairs Co-chair for the Genesis Group and who has worked to nurture understanding between African Americans and Latter-day Saints and attack misconceptions. As part of this effort, he has appeared on CNN, among other places. In late 2007, Brother Perkins and former Genesis Group President Darius Gray put out a DVD entitled “Blacks in the Scriptures” that contains four lecture-style scriptural presentations on Blacks and the Bible, Skin Color, Curses, Equality, Priesthood and Blacks as well as a historical look at Blacks and the LDS Priesthood.

DNA Delight

A recent DNA study has gotten some attention, both on our sidebar and in a post by J. Nelson-Seawright at By Common Consent. The Mormon question that inevitably comes up from such a study is does it cast any light on the question of whether Lehi really landed in the Americas long ago? J. Nelson-Seawright discusses some possible ramifications if the study (or ones like it) do matter. Let me make clear that, for those who think Lehi landed in an already populated America, this study is basically irrelevant.

What I Learned about Mormon Courts (and the Writing of Mormon History)

For those who are interested in Mormon legal history, my article “Preaching to the Court House and Judging in the Temple” was just published in the most recent issue of the BYU Law Review. (You can download a copy of the article here.) This article provides my own take on the rise and fall of civil cases in church courts in the nineteenth-century. Of course the story of how nineteenth-century Mormons took lawsuits over broken contracts, wandering cows, disputed property lines, and the like to their local bishops has been told before, most elaborately in Ed Firmage and Collin Mangrum’s book Zion in the Courts, which was published about twenty-years ago. Here is where my take differs from previous interpretations.

What Does it Mean When a Book is Mentioned in Conference?

Some time ago, I started putting together lists of the books mentioned and referenced in General Conference Talks. So during the Priesthood Session I started wondering what would be referenced in the printed version of Elder Eyring’s talk. The talk, titled “Man Down!” included Elder Eyring’s telling of a story widely known as “Black Hawk Down,” which has been both a bestselling book and an R-rated Hollywood movie. After the session, I began to wonder whether Elder Eyring’s talk would reference the movie or the book. I assumed it would reference the book, since the movie was rated R. I was wrong.

The Implied Statistical Report, 2008

Every General Conference, the LDS Church releases a statistical report that gives a brief window into how the Church has changed over the past year. With my accounting background, I’m a bit of a statistics wonk, and I’ve long thought that there is a lot that can be gleaned from these statistics and from the additional information published in the Deseret News Church Almanac. So this year, I thought I’d put together some statistics calculated from the figures that the Church gives out each year — a kind of report of the implications of the Church’s statistical report.

BYU Church History Symposium, Feb 27th

Church Historian Marlin K. Jensen and Asst. Church Historian Richard E. Turley Jr. will be among the many speakers at this year’s BYU Church History Symposium.  The event is free, open to the public, and requires no registration.   More information can be found at the symposium web page.   Full announcement below.

Getting over Nibley

Of late I have been thinking of late about how to read Mormon scriptures.  In particular, I have been working on some passages in the Book of Mormon on legal interpretation and thinking about how best to approach these sections.  By and large, it seems to me that there have been three basic models of how to read LDS scriptures.  First, there has been what I think of as an external, sectarian reading.  This consists essentially of proof texting in debates and discussions with Protestant outsiders.  There is a sense in which this is the oldest kind of LDS hermeneutic.  The first Mormons to carefully study the scriptures with Mormon eyes were looking for biblical verses with which to answer Campbellite critics and other Protestant naysayers of the Restoration.  The second LDS hermeneutic has been internal.  It is aimed not at outsiders but at Latter-day Saints and it has served two purposes.  The first, and  in my opinion overwhelmingly the most important, reading has been…

First Mormon Studies Fellowships Announced

Mormon Studies took another step forward this week with the announcement of two doctoral fellowships in Mormon Studies. Courtesy of the George S. and Delores Doré Eccles Foundation, the two fellowships will be awarded one a year this year and next. With any luck, the fellowships will be repeated in future years, assuming that they successfully lead to dissertations.

Of Courses

I recieved one of those continuing education catalogs in the mail today (from Lehman College, not BYU), and glancing through it, I began to wonder why the courses are all very basic. The courses are all introductory, and seem to be for those looking to start a career in relatively low-skill professions. I suppose there is good reason for this–colleges offer courses that people want to take. But with the rise of the Internet and “distance learning” shouldn’t  the reverse be happening also? Shouldn’t these tools result in a lot of small, narrowly-focused courses, more academic in nature? Perhaps even courses that are more narrow and more open than what can be provided when students are seeking degrees? There might not be enough students at one university for these narrow courses, but there may be enough students at 10 or 100 universities or more. For example, what about courses in Mormon Studies?

Dancing the Doctrines: Theology in Motion

A call for papers, panels, movement sessions and choreography Sponsored by the Department of Dance with support from the BYU Museum of Art July 17 and 18, 2009 at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art and in the BYU Richards Building dance studios.

The Canonization of the Book of Mormon?

Penguin Books has just published a “Penguin Classics” edition of the Book of Mormon edited by Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp. Penguin Classics, of course, are the paperback editions of literary staples like Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. They are printed and marketed largely as texts for college classes. The assumption is that a text included in the Penguin series has become a stable part of the high-brow diet of books, or at least ought to be. It is worth reflecting a little bit about what this edition of the Book of Mormon might or might not mean. The Penguin book itself is based on the 1840 edition of the text rather than our current edition of the scriptures. The text was chosen because this was the last version that Joseph Smith was personally involved in editing. Also strictly speaking there is no standard 1830 version of the text for the simple reason that Grandin edited the book as he was printing…

Teaching the Reformation

Just as I went to publish this post, I saw Ben’s post about the conference on Mormons and Evangelicals. It’s a nice coincidence. As are the recent posts by Kent and Marc on labeling and categorizing. I was already scheduled to attend another conference this week, an annual conference for historians of the Reformation (surely you knew about it), where I’ll be part of an ongoing panel devoted to issues in teaching. This year’s issue is “Defining Protestantism,” as everyone is rightly concerned about labels we impose on people. Five or six scholars make up the panel, and we all get about 10 minutes to reflect on our particular experience with that issue. I’m supposed to talk about teaching the Reformation to Mormon students, both in general and in regard to defining Protestantism, as some of the panelists are wondering how Mormons fit or not. I’m planning to touch on some of the following, but would be happy to hear…

National Student Dialogue Conference II

Standing Together and the Religious Studies Program at Utah Valley University are hosting a conference of Latter-day Saint and evangelical Christian students and scholars this coming Friday and Saturday, October 24-5, 2008, on topics including, “Was a Restoration Necessary?,” “Authority and Scripture,” and “The Nature of God: Finite or Infinite?” Directly addressing some of the primary points of disagreement between Mormons and evangelicals, the discussion is sure to be electric.