Thank you, Mr. President, for your kind introduction.
For those interested in the BYU summer seminar, I’ve revised the post, adding the titles of and abstracts for the papers.
My wife and I were in Jerusalem for a week in March. Below are some thoughts on the city, its religious heritage, and the current conflict.
David O. McKay presented a dramatic contrast to his predecessors: an athletic, movie-star-handsome, clean-shaven figure who often wore a white double-breasted suit; contrasted to the dark-suited, bearded polygamists (or, in the case of George Albert Smith, son of a polygamist) who preceded him as Church President ever since Joseph Smith. In an age prior to professional image-makers, he instinctively grasped the importance of appearance, and coupled it to the substance of a professional educator to become an icon of Mormonism whose persona did much to change the negative image of the Church in much of the world.
I visited a Lutheran worship service today, and had one of those odd experiences where what I expect to be familiar is not, and what I don’t expect to be, is.
Mormons are neither Catholic nor Protestant, we often hear, and I see no reason to doubt the basic truth of the statement. Is there any spectrum of Christian religions such that we can say, “Mormonism is one of the X churches”?
Mormons are often dismissive of some Protestants, especially evangelicals.
I have been reading papers that I may use in a Fall class, and one is a survey of the economics of religion. As best I can tell, this field largely consists of sociologists applying rational choice modeling to questions of religion. As subject matter it is very interesting but the modeling is not terribly well-developed or convincing. In any case, I though I would share the facts of religion, as culled from this paper. Note that this is all from a 1996 paper by Laurence Iannaccone. I should almost put quote marks around it, but it isn’t verbatim so I won’t. 1. American Church membership has risen throughout our history, from 17% in the beginning to 60% today. 2. We have, in the U.S., about 1.2 clergy per thousand people. This number has been about the same for 150 years.
Over at Philocrites, Chris Walton, a knowledgeable UU and a sometime T & S visitor and commenter, discusses that very interesting question.