“I am persuaded that many do not understand the Churchâ€™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!
Clarissa, the daughter of commenter East Coast, is a seventh-grader, the only Latter-day Saint in a student body of more than 600.
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.
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.
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
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: â€œIt is quite a curiosity for the inhabitants here to see a â€œMormon,â€ he wrote.
Terryl Givens is doing a great deal in People of Paradox.
Terryl Givens was kind enough to share some reflections on his book, People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture, in response to our questions. His answers follow, in italics.
Call for Papers: â€œInterpretation: LDS Perspectivesâ€ Sponsored by Mormon Scholars in the Humanities and Mormon Scholars Foundation
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. Givensâ€™ work had the added benefit of good prose that is actually fun to read.
This story begins at the bitter end, with suicide in a Butte brothel.
Today, my older brother, James Daniel Fox, turns 40. That’s right: 40. Forty! Which means I’m thirty-nine, and that’s plain crazy. Something has gone dreadfully wrong, I know it.
People of Paradox is unusual: Givens sets out four major paradoxes in Mormon thought and then shows how various aspects of Mormon culture (the life of the mind, architecture, visual art, dance, film, etc.), at various moments in history, negotiate those dilemmas.
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 â€œchurch doctrineâ€ is enormously important within the church discussions.
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:
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?
Several women I know and like recently signed on to an anti-President-Beck’s-talk statement.
John Varah Long was cited to appear before church officials in 1866 for, among other reasons, â€œbelonging to the young menâ€™s social club, and other conduct unbecoming a saint.â€ Is it possible that the social club, one cause of Longâ€™s excommunication, was also a model for the churchâ€™s Mutual Improvement Associations?
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Go read this. Then return and report.
Reading the Book of Mormon is a lot like reading Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan.”
So it’s vouchers time in Utah. Here are what I see as the relevant issues, minus the apocalyptic rhetoric:
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.
November is TV sweeps month, where networks and stations vie for audiences to set their advertising rates for the coming months.
Joseph Smith went to the woods because he wished to know the truth of his existence.
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.
Are all of us praying to Mother in Heaven, unawares?
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.
The textbook I used when I taught freshman comp at BYU contains an essay by Gilbert Highet titled â€œDiogenes and Alexander.â€ This well embellished tale recounts the legendary maybe-it-happened, maybe-it-didnâ€™t visit that Alexander the Great paid to the notorious Cynic philosopher at Corinth.
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?