Cutting-Edge Latter-day Saint Research, February 2024

Rappleye, Neal. “The Nahom Convergence Reexamined: The Eastward Trail, Burial of the Dead, and the Ancient Borders of Nihm.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 60 (2024): 1-86.

Abstract: For decades, several Latter-day Saint scholars have maintained that there is a convergence between the location of Nahom in the Book of Mormon and the Nihm region of Yemen. To establish whether there really is such a convergence, I set out to reexamine where the narrative details of 1 Nephi 16:33–17:1 best fit within the Arabian Peninsula, independent of where the Nihm region or tribe is located. I then review the historical geography of the Nihm tribe, identifying its earliest known borders and academic interpretations of their location in antiquity. My investigation brings in data on ancient Yemen and Arabia that has not been previously considered in discussions about Nahom or Lehi’s journey more generally, and leads to some surprising conclusions. Nonetheless, after establishing both where we should expect to find Nahom and the most likely location of ancient Nihm independent of one another, the two locations are compared and found to substantially overlap, suggesting that the “Nahom convergence” is real. With the convergent relationship established, I then explore four possible scenarios for Lehi’s stop at Nahom, the burial of Ishmael, and the party’s journey eastward toward Bountiful based on the new data presented in this paper.

Skidmore, Samuel J., Sydney A. Sorrell, and Kyrstin Lake. “A Relational-Cultural Approach to Examining Concealment among Latter-Day Saint Sexual Minorities.” Religions 15, no. 2 (2024).

Fun aside, I was a reviewer for this paper.–Stephen C. 

Sexual minorities often conceal their sexual identity from others to avoid distal stressors. Such concealment efforts occur more frequently among sexual minorities in religious settings where rejection and discrimination are more likely. Using a sample of 392 Latter-day Saint (“Mormon”) sexual minorities, we assess (a) the effect of religious affiliation on concealment efforts, (b) the relationship between social support, authenticity, and religious commitment on concealment, and (c) the moderating effect of authenticity on religious commitment and concealment. Multi-level model analyses revealed that religious affiliation alone accounted for over half (51.7%) of the variation in concealment efforts for Latter-day Saint sexual minorities. Social support directly was related to less concealment, whereas religious commitment was related to more concealment, with authenticity moderating the impact of religious commitment on concealment efforts. The present study provides insight into how religious sexual minorities may approach relationships and inadvertently wound their chances to connect with others.

Rosetti, C.M., 2024. Joseph White Musser: A Mormon Fundamentalist. University of Illinois Press.

In 1921, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints excommunicated Joseph White Musser for his refusal to give up plural marriage. Cristina M. Rosetti tells the story of how a Church leader followed his beliefs into exile and applied the religious thought he began to develop in the mainline faith to become a foundational theologian of Mormon fundamentalism.

Musser’s devotion to Joseph Smith’s vision and the faith’s foundational texts reflected a widespread uneasiness with, and reaction against, changes taking place across society. Rosetti analyzes how Musser’s writing and thought knit a disparate group of outcast LDS believers into a movement. She also places Musser’s eventful life against the backdrop of a difficult period in LDS history, when the Church strained to disentangle itself from plural marriage and leaders like Musser emerged to help dissident members make sense of their lives outside the mainstream.

The first book-length account of the Mormon thinker, Joseph White Musser reveals the figure whose teachings helped mold a movement.

Rogers, B.M., 2024. Buffalo Bill and the Mormons. University of Nebraska Press.

In this never-before-told history of Buffalo Bill and the Mormons, Brent M. Rogers presents the intersections in the epic histories of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and the Latter-day Saints from 1846 through 1917. In Cody’s autobiography he claimed to have been a member of the U.S. Army wagon train that was burned by the Saints during the Utah War of 1857–58. Less than twenty years later he began his stage career and gained notoriety by performing anti-Mormon dramas. By early 1900 he actively recruited Latter-day Saints to help build infrastructure and encourage growth in the region surrounding his town of Cody, Wyoming.
In Buffalo Bill and the Mormons Rogers unravels this history and the fascinating trajectory that took America’s most famous celebrity from foe to friend of the Latter-day Saints. In doing so, the book demonstrates how the evolving relationship between Cody and the Latter-day Saints can help readers better understand the political and cultural perceptions of Mormons and the American West.

Perez-Figueroa, Adlyn M., G. Tyler Lefevor, Kyrstin Lake, Rachel Golightly, and Connor Berg. “Tending to the Flock: The Experiences of LDS Clergy with LGBTQ Congregants.” Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling (2024).

Clergy from theologically conservative churches face challenges in providing counsel to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans- gender, and queer/questioning) congregants and use diverse strategies to address them. Thirty-three clergy from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints participated in a qualitative survey. Results revealed that implementing church policy while simultaneously addressing the needs of LGBTQ congregants and diverging views posed challenges for clergy. Focusing on lis- tening, love, and spiritual counsel while avoiding messages of defectiveness were helpful for LGBTQ congregants.

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