Year of Mercy-ing

I was struck by Jeremy Lott’s year-end piece at Real Clear Religion: “The Year of the Sinner.” Apparently, Pope Francis (it is so much easier for non-Catholics to have a pope without Roman numerals after his regnal name) caused a stir in some quarters by telling America that Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s basic identity is that [Read More...]

Reforming Hollywood

reforming hollywood

Reforming Hollywood is a complex and fascinating book. “The prevailing view in histories of American film,” writes William Romanowski, “is that Protestants were determined to impose the rule of censorship on Hollywood, and for that reason they refused to cooperate with the [Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America].” For a detailed and thorough review, [Read More...]

The Latter-day Saints and Anti-Polygamy Laws

Sister_Wives_TV_series_logo

One would think that with the half-decade “Mormon moment” now well past, Mormonism would now generate news only infrequently. That is not quite turning out to be the case. New missionary requirements, concerns about internet-driven apostasy, the recent statement on the priesthood ban, and now a Utah District Court decision that strikes down part (but [Read More...]

Mormons and Race

Last week, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a new, detailed statement on “Race and the Priesthood” on its “Gospel Topics” website. For those unfamiliar with the topic, during Joseph Smith’s lifetime the church ordained a number of black men into the priesthood, an expected progression for any male member of the [Read More...]

Advent Music

I love Advent hymns. My mother was always adamant that Christians had no business singing Christmas hymns prior to at least Christmas eve. We only have four Sundays on which to sing Advent hymns, so there’s no musical reason — and no theologically sound reason — to rush past our season of hopeful expectation. Well, [Read More...]

Thanksgiving Edition

It’s Thanksgiving. My plan was to plug my review of Tracy McKenzie’s The First Thanksgiving before stuffing myself with eel and turnips. Alas, it’s hard to feel thankful when one’s co-bloggers interrupt one’s plans by both reviewing the same book. But if I also write a hearty endorsement of Tracy’s book, visitors to the Anxious [Read More...]

Mormon Handcart Pioneers

C.C.A. Christensen, Handcart Pioneers, 1900

One of the most poignant times in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came in the fall of 1856, when two companies of Mormon handcart pioneers became trapped in winter storms and endured roughly two hundred deaths before their rescue and November arrival in Salt Lake City. The self-sacrificial perseverance [Read More...]

The Secularization of Christian Holidays

Weinachtsmarkt

The Christmas season starts early in Germany as well. Some stores have had their displays out for weeks, and bakeries are already churning out the Stollen and Plätzchen. I’m trying to imagine what December in Germany would be like if American-style jurisprudence reigned. Christmas markets across Germany (organized by cities) would become “Winter markets” or [Read More...]

The Book of Mormon in 15 (or so) Days

C.C.A. Christensen, "The Hill Cumorah," ca. 1878

I’m re-posting the below, which originally appeared in two separate segments at Religion in American History: After years of studying the history of Mormonism, I finally resolved to read the tradition’s founding scripture in short order: the Book of Mormon in fifteen days. Because of its large print and easy-to-read format (I’m not quite as [Read More...]

Luther and the Word of God

Martin Luther did not want to preach in Wittenberg’s city church. The year was — most likely — 1513. Luther later commented that he “was chosen against my will to preach here.” He was afraid of what he considered a great responsibility. “I shall not live a quarter-year,” he feared. Germany is currently just more [Read More...]


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