Tag: LDS

Great Sermons: Criticism

“I am persuaded that many do not understand the Church’s teachings about personal criticism, especially the criticism of Church leaders by Church members.” Thus begins Elder Oaks’ 1987 article on criticism, its uses and abuses. Our Relief Society President used it as the basis for a Sacrament Meeting talk last month and I thought it deserved a renewed audience. As is typical of Elder Oaks, this is a well thought out piece. Enjoy!

The Monolithic Myth

Much of the commentary and criticism swirling around Mitt Romney and the religion issue seems to take as its starting point the assumption that there is a single Mormon view on any particular issue, decided by LDS leaders and accepted by the LDS membership. Too bad there isn’t a Mormon view on particular issues. That kind of kills the theory.

Thoughts from the Anvil

I suspect that on Thursday Mitt Romney’s Mormonism will perform the function that Mormonism has been fulfilling in American politics for a century and a half: It will be an anvil on which this mainly Protestant nation hammers out the place of religion in public life.

Orality, Literacy, Apostasy and Restoration

In the historiography of communication, orality refers to reliance on the spoken word as well as to the corresponding institutions and habits of mind, while literacy means not just the ability to read, but also the mental habits and social institutions that attend the use of writing, or more specifically the use of an alphabetic writing system, or the particular cognitive framework that has developed along with the alphabetic systems of Western Europe. The Mormon concept of a historical apostasy can be described in terms of orality and literacy. In fact, Brian Stock, an eminent historian of medieval literature, has already (if unintentionally) done just that

What Do Mormons Look Like?

In 1846 during the Mormon Exodus from Illinois, as the Saints were strung out in various camps across Iowa and farther west, Mormon Warren Foote went in search of a mill to grind some of his grain: “It is quite a curiosity for the inhabitants here to see a “Mormon,” he wrote.

The Wonder of a New Religous Art Tradition

Terryl Givens and Richard Bushman share a common pattern of scholarship. Both seek to put the Mormon experience into a broad cultural and historical framework. Both seek engage us by bringing Mormon history into dialogue with the broader history of our shared civilization. This is part of an encouraging direction in serious Mormon scholarship that seems to be moving beyond myopic focus of endless chronicles. Givens’ work had the added benefit of good prose that is actually fun to read.

Blogging, Church Doctrine, and the Limits of Authority

People frequently claim that Mormonism is an essentially atheological religion. It is not always exactly clear what is meant by this statement, but it generally seems to me something like we place right practice and sacred stories at the center of our faith rather than an abstract set of propositions. Whatever the merits of this claim, I think that it is hard to deny that the concept of “church doctrine” is enormously important within the church discussions.

Sorting voices from the dust

When we read the Book of Mormon, whose voice do we think we are hearing? Trying to answer that question, I think, is one of the essential moves in a Mormon mode of interpretation. Consider, for example, 2 Nephi 2:17, where Lehi pauses to speculate on Lucifer’s origins:

Three Statements

In 2004, the church issued True to the Faith, a First Presidency-approved booklet discussing many points of church doctrine. The booklet includes a discussion of birth control. How does that official, First Presidency-approved discussion compare to both President Beck’s recent talk on Mothers Who Know, and to the anti-Beck statement at the What Women Know website?

Going Long: Of Clubs and Conduct

John Varah Long was cited to appear before church officials in 1866 for, among other reasons, “belonging to the young men’s social club, and other conduct unbecoming a saint.” Is it possible that the social club, one cause of Long’s excommunication, was also a model for the church’s Mutual Improvement Associations?

Mormonism and American Politics conference, November 9-10

This weekend, Princeton will host an interdisciplinary conference to discuss the contested intersection between religion and American politics. Speakers include Richard Bushman, Richard Land, Kathleen Flake, Philip Barlow, Marci Hamilton, Alan Wolfe, Helen Whitney, Mark Silk, Noah Feldman, Sarah Barringer Gordon, Stephen Macedo, Thomas Griffith, Melissa Proctor, Robert George, Russell Arben Fox, Chris Karpowitz, David Campbell, John Green, and Francis Beckwith.

Mormon Studies Moves Up a Notch

Today’s LA Times has a longish article on the recent official announcement of Richard Bushman as the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies, in the School of Religion at the Claremont Graduate University in Southern California. [There is also a story at the Salt Lake Tribune.] The appointment as a visiting professor is an interim post until the endowed chair is fully funded. The article makes some interesting comments.

Mothers Who Know: Homemaking

Note: this post begins a series of posts on President Beck’s recent conference talk. If you feel the need to vent your dislike of the talk, I imagine that you might possibly be able to find a thread somewhere in the Bloggernacle where you can do just that. But you can’t do it here.

If I’m Not Alexander, I Must Be Diogenes

The textbook I used when I taught freshman comp at BYU contains an essay by Gilbert Highet titled “Diogenes and Alexander.” This well embellished tale recounts the legendary maybe-it-happened, maybe-it-didn’t visit that Alexander the Great paid to the notorious Cynic philosopher at Corinth.

The multitudinous family of Smith

Josiah Quincy famously wrote that, “Of the multitudinous family of Smith, from Adam down (Adam of the “Wealth of Nations,” I mean), none had so won human hearts and shaped human lives as this Joseph. His influence, whether for good or for evil, is potent today, and the end is not yet.” Was he right? And does this still hold true today? Where does Joseph rank, within the multitudinous family of Smith, in present-day influence?