The place of Utah in LDS history is occasionally a topic of lessons like Doctrine and Covenants Gospel Doctrine lesson 36. And while today not all church members live in Utah or want to live there or feel that it is a place to admire, still, it is hard to argue with the fact that Utah played an important role in the formation of what Mormonism is today. As the lesson observes, the pioneers went to a place that no one wanted, a veritable desert, and created an impressive civilization. Its hard to say what they would think of Utah today. In some ways its not what they intended, or what they achieved some 30 or more years later when the following poem was written. Like all geographical locations, Utah, and its place in Mormonism, continue to evolve.
Carlos Boozer on Utah
As one who has turned into something of Boozer-apologist this past year in the face of attacks on him by some disgruntled Jazz fans, I was buoyed to see an account of a recent Boozer interview yesterday in the Deseret News. When the Miami-area sports station host interviewing Boozer called Utah “gorgeous” but “a horrible place to live, horrible,” Boozer said: “Nah, it’s not that bad. You know, I’m raising my kids out there. It’s pretty nice. We have a good time out there with our basketball team, successful of course. That’s the frontcourt of it, the most important thing of it. And it’s a great place to raise your kids. And it is beautiful.” The host kept at it though, asking: “But those Mormon people are crazy, aren’t they? I mean, the Mor…” At which point Boozer, cut in saying: “Nah, they’re not bad at all. They’re not bad at all. Yeah. Not bad at all.” Here’s hoping Utah is able to keep him (and draft a decent center)… or next season could be a painful one for Jazz fans.
Bizarro World Meets Utah County
A Utah County today’s residents would hardly recognize: A onetime famed FBIman, Reed Ernest Vetterli, whose career could yield a dozen detective yarns, is in the middle of his hardest case: trying to get elected to Congress as a Republican in Utah’s heavily New Deal Second District. His platform: support the President in the war; get new blood into Congress…. Republican Vetterli, with State G.O.P. backing, practically has the nomination in his pocket; so has the Democratic incumbent, stocky, stodgy J. Will Robinson of Provo. But G.O.P. chances in the election are—according to the recent past—slim: many a former WPA worker has moved to the Second District for war work to strengthen the strong Democratic forces. “Utah’s Vetterli,” Time Magazine, August 10, 1942 Vetterli later ran for Governor of Utah on the Republican ticket where Utah County again proved problematic. “In Utah County we are much concerned about the nominee for Governor.” (Deseret News, June 21, 1944). (Hat Tip: Sheldon)
Utah is not part of the Midwest. Idaho is also out. That is all.
Explaining the Puzzle of Cross-State Differences in Bankruptcy Rates
Bankruptcy rates vary alot across states. With a fairly simple statistical model, Lars Lefgren and I explain about 70% of these differences in a paper just published in the Journal of Law and Economics. For cross sectional work using survey data, where you are looking across states at a point in time, explaining 70% is pretty darn impressive.
Reviewing News about Mormonism for the Year
OK, now that we’re looking at the Mormon of the Year, I’d also like to look at what the big news stories were for the year. In a lot of ways its been a very busy news year, with, by my count, three big stories dominating: Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy The confusion of the LDS Church with the FLDS Church in the news The Mormon role in the successful effort to pass Proposition 8. But there were also smaller, important stories that happened during the year, especially if you include in News about Mormonism news about people who are Mormon.
Moderation in all Salt
Like in many Mormon families, my siblings and I helped fix dinner. On Sunday’s I loved to fix the mashed potatoes. It was in making mashed potatoes that I learned early that though a little is good, a lot is not necessarily better. Early on, I served a large bowl (there were 8 of us) of mashed potatoes after thinking that if a little salt was good, . . .
A modest, sensible, reasonable proposal that is certain to fail
Utah’s NBA team needs to change its name, period. The name is silly. There is no jazz in the state of Utah. They should give the Jazz name back to the good folks of New Orleans, for whom the moniker actually makes sense, and pick a new one that actually makes sense for Utah. Which new monikers might work?
The Mormon Bankrupt
Utah has a very high rate of bankruptcy. In 2000 it hovered at around 7 filings per thousand people– twice the national average. This lonely fact has launched a thousand explanations for why Mormons have such a problem with defaulting on their creditors. Clearly, the thinking seems to be, this shows some of the rot in the Kingdom. Just as clearly, this view has very little support in the data.
Military Fatalities in Iraq
Take a look at this state ranking. It ranks states by Iraqi-war casualties per 100,000 residents. The chart was made as part of a rather silly debate about red states and blue states that doesn’t interest me. What interests me is Utah.
I Shall Be Free
I got my bill today and it turns out that there really is something cheaper than a Germanist these days.
Violating the First Amendment
What I’m about to tell you are two true stories in which public employees clearly violated Supreme Court rulings on the First Amendment. The names and a few other details have been changed to protect the guilty.
Utah and the Working Mother
On a recent post, Kristine was wondering about the number of Mormon women who work*.
Mormons From Utah
The New York Times is reporting that “Mormon genes are hot.” To a scientist, the single greatest attraction of Utah – and its biggest distinction in a nation of rootless wanderers – is stability. For more than 150 years, largely because of the Mormon church, the state has been a magnet to people who mostly stayed put. A relatively small founding population was fruitful and multiplied – aided in the 19th century by polygamy, adding a unique wrinkle to the genetic trail. With its emphasis on family records and genealogy, the Mormon church, officially the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then created a treasure trove of details about those people.
Since things are a bit slow around here today (unless you are interested in Zelph), I will take the opportunity to contemplate with you a silly question that has been on my mind from time to time lately: what is a “Utah Mormon”? I started wondering about this a few Sundays back, when a visitor to our Gospel Doctrine class started answering all of the questions with great authority. When I learned that he was from St. George, and I immediately thought, “Oh, it figures. He’s a Utah Mormon.” Then I started wondering how I could identify him as one of this breed.
It’s Official: U. Goes Mormon
The Board of Regents of the University of Utah have selected Mormon law professor and dean Michael Young as the new President of the University. The Deseret News has a story here. (Link thanks to Jared Jensen.) The story says: He said he is a “committed, active member of the LDS Church” and doesn’t see that as a conflict in his new role. “It’s an important part of who I am and why I do what I do,” he said. “At the same time I have spent my entire academic career outside of Utah. It has never been a problem.” Jardine [a member of the Board of Regents] said Young’s religion was not brought up as an issue as the regents discussed the candidates. The Salt Lake Tribune has a story here, which also touches on the Mormon angle: Young said his Utah roots and his faith are a part of who he is. “I am a committed, active member of the LDS Church. At the same [time], I have spent my entire life outside of Utah and that has never been a problem.” The U.’s previous two permanent presidents were not LDS; the first 11 were. Rob Allen, a Democratic state legislator, did note in the Trib story that Young needs “to remember that his main task is to help students and keep the U. an independent, secular institution.” And, yes, President Young is descended from the other President…
Will the U. Go Mormon?
The University of Utah is currently in the midst of a search for a new president. They have narrowed it down to two potential candiates and one of them is . . . Michael Young. Young is a graduate of Harvard Law School, a former law professor at Columbia, and current dean at George Washington University Law School. He is also a BYU graduate, an active Mormon and a former stake president. Since BYU now has a former Ute as its president, will the U. return the favor by hiring a former cougar? Would both presidents be allowed to root for their alma maters at Utah’s annual football jihad . . . er . . . grudge match. What is happening to the Beehive state?!?
The Meadow on the Roof
I just returned from a quick trip to Salt Lake. My father was sealed to his wife in the Salt Lake Temple early Saturday morning and it was a beautiful occasion. I had an hour to spare after the celebratory breakfast, and Sister Hinckley’s funeral was nearly over, so I headed north to the Conference Center for a tour. The tour included the impressive 21,000 seat arena, Arnold Friberg’s original Book of Mormon paintings series, and several interesting examples of Mormon folk art. It was the roof, however, that I found most interesting.
A while back I commented on the greying of Mormon studies. I just ran across something that further confirmed my initial intuition. According to a survey collected at the 2003 Sunstone Symposium, the age break down of Sunstoners looks like this: 6% — Under age 25 7% — age 25-34 8% — age 35-44 14% — age 45-54 35% — age 55-64 30% — age 65 or older Wow! Think of what that means. Well over half of the participants are over the age of 55. A whopping 79% of Sunstoners are over the age of 45, and under the most generous reading of the data less than 15% of Sunstoners are in their twenties. Unless Sunstone can do something to reach younger folks, they probably ought to think about marketing promotional deals with modern maturity. Here is one bit of unsolicited advice. One thing Sunstone might want to think about is its rather awful on-line presence. Their website is clunky in the extreme. One problem that Sunstone has is that even if it wanted to change its reputation to one that was more hospitable to mainline Mormons, the costs of (especially young) Mormons finding out anything about current Sunstone topics are quite high. In a rather obvious move to protect what I assume are dwindling subscription dollars, very few Sunstone articles are on line. The result is that folks have to actually fork over the money to buy a…
Utah Near the Bottom for Public Corruption
A recent study ranked all fifty states according to how corrupt they were. As a measure it used the ratio of public officials convicted of corruption to the population as a whole. Lousiana came in first, as the most corrupt state in the country. (Actually D.C. is more corrupt, but it didn’t count as a state.) Nebraska came in as the least corrupt state. Utah ranked the sixth least corrupt state after Nebraska, Oregon, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Colorado. Interestingly, Idaho, which I believe is the second most Mormon state in the Union, came in as the 17th most corrupt.