Tag: Church History

10 Questions with Spencer Fluhman

Continuing our work with the 10 Questions team, we are pleased to present Kurt Manwaring’s interview with Spencer Fluhman, Director of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU and an editor of “To Be Learned is Good: Essays on Faith and Scholarship in Honor of Richard Lyman Bushman.” Manwaring and Fluhman cover a wide range of topics during their discussion, which is well worth reading in full. A couple of highlights that stood out to me include Fluhman describing the mission of the Maxwell Institute: The Institute is a research unit dedicated to religious topics but defined in particular by that intersection between the practice of faith and the rigorous study of it. We ask our scholars to conscientiously serve two audiences: those academic fields interested in the study of religion and the Latter-day Saints themselves, whose religious commitments compel many to care deeply about the broader world of religious ideas and scholarship. We can’t typically write for both audiences at once, so we take care to be clear about who we’re talking to. The two audiences demand different skills and tools. Academic audiences expect specialized language, deep immersion in scholarly literature, and an academic tone. LDS audiences, on the other hand, expect sensitivity to their covenantal commitments, to their regard for some texts and voices having spiritual authority over others, and for writing that is accessible rather than specialized…. Our work with the academy seeks understanding and empathy, for…

Three big things (and some little things) this lifelong Mormon learned from Matt Bowman’s history of the Church

How do you tell the story of a 200-year-old movement in a single volume? In the summer of 2011, Matthew Bowman received a call inviting him to write such a volume in under three months. The result — The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith — is an accessible, even-handed volume that uncommonly gives as much attention to the modern church as it does to the days of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Here are three things that I learned from the book: The power of the primary during the correlation reorganization of the 1960s: “The reorganization drained some power from the First Presidency itself and undeniably from the various departments and auxiliaries of the church. Some resisted as best they could; LaVern Parmley, president of the Primary since 1951, retained her position and through sheer force of personality a good deal of independent authority until she stepped down in 1974.” You can read more about President Parmley generally in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. You can read about how she led a movement toward the modern conception of reverence in primary in Kristine Haglund Harris’s Dialogue article. Acceptance of Mormonism in American culture has not proceeded obviously in one direction: George Romney and Mitt Romney both ran for president, father in 1968 and son in 2008 and 2012. With George: “His faith was rarely mentioned in any of his political campaigns, for Mormonism by the 1960s had become unexceptional to most Americans.”…

A Baseball Team in Every Ward

In the late 16th century Henry IV of France expressed a desire that everyone in his realm would “have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.” That idea showed up again in Herbert Hoover’s promise of a “chicken in every pot”—the politician’s promise of prosperity. I’m not sure whether “a baseball team in every ward” is a promise of prosperity or programming gone awry, but that is essentially what leaders of the MIA suggested in 1922—some years before Hoover made his ill-fated promise. They wrote: “Each ward should have an organized baseball club, and each stake should have an organized baseball league…”

Literary DCGD #1: On the Latter-day Dispensation

The initial lesson in the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History course of study points out that the revelations found in the text are meant for our time and cover our dispensation, while the history presented is the history of our people, as opposed to those who lived aeons ago. This course should, therefore, be relevant to us today in a way that the other Gospel Doctrine courses can’t hope to accomplish. The poem below discusses not only a few of the major events that opened our dispensation, but also follows the prediction often made; that our dispensation has a great destiny leading to the coming of our Lord.

Edits have never been so cool

This month’s Ensign features a ground-breaking discussion of the nuances in the Doctrine and Covenants creation process — and it’s all about edits, like you’ve never seen them before.  Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, who is the current church historian, writes at some length about the general process, including the fact that there were later changes and edits made to earlier manuscripts: