Be Nice to Missionaries

Harline Way Below

There are many good reasons to read Craig Harline’s Way Below the Angels: the pretty clearly troubled but not even close to tragic confessions of a real live Mormon missionary. First of all, it offers solid proof that at least some historians have a wicked sense of humor and can employ it in writing. This [Read More...]

The Kirtland Temple

Kirtland Temple, 1934, from the LOC Historic American Buildings Survey collection

Every year tens of thousands of people visit the Kirtland Temple, dedicated in 1836 by what was then the Church of the Latter Day Saints. The vast majority of those visitors are members of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they come in part to see where Joseph Smith and Oliver [Read More...]

Why Mormons Love Margaret Barker

James Tissot, Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod, ca. 1886-1894

Several years ago, a Latter-day Saint friend encouraged me to read British Methodist theologian Margaret Barker’s books. Now I understand why. A cautionary note. Barker has a large corpus of books to her credit, including The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God and The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy. [Read More...]

Grace and Apostasy

Unveiling Grace

As a historian, I am grateful for anti-Mormon exposés. Admittedly, the genre poses obvious problems. Those who leave (and especially those who are expelled from) a religious organization often have an obvious axe to grind. At the same time, they have been inside the organization and know things about which outsiders are not privy. And [Read More...]

The Beginning and End of Mormon Polygamy

Zina D. H. Young

Many observers of Mormonism have offered their thoughts on the recent statements on plural marriage published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They discuss the origins of plural marriage and Joseph Smith’s own practice of polygamy; the living out of polygamy in early Utah; and the church’s abandonment of plural marriage between [Read More...]

The Lost Book of Mormon

9780385535694

There are not very many contemporary accounts of Mormonism in which the author is expelled from the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Avi Steinberg was not passing out illicit evangelical tracts to audience members, nor was he smoking pot behind the LDS Visitors Center. Instead, he was rehearsing for the show under an assumed name. “Like a [Read More...]

The Elders of Israel

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds semiannual general conferences, with twenty thousand of the faithful gathering in the church’s conference center across the street from Temple Square and others watching in local meeting houses, stake centers, and over the internet. General Conference always receives some coverage in the media. This year, the [Read More...]

Inventing Eden

Inventing Eden

Zachary Hutchins’s Inventing Eden is a remarkable book. As its subtitle explains, Hutchins examines “primitivism, millennialism, and the making of New England.” Many of us probably know that various colonial and early American boosters promoted the environs of the New World as paradisiacal, Edenic destinations in which beleaguered Europeans could quickly reap a bounty from [Read More...]

Brigham Young’s Favorite Hymn

Eliza-R.-Snow

On April 8, 1877, Brigham Young delivered a sermon on the occasion of his imminent departure from the St. George Temple. Many observers of Young’s multifaceted career forget how significant temple-building was for him and for his legacy. “We shall build Temples over north and South America,” Young declared in 1875 while planning the construction [Read More...]

Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham

Outsiders to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints familiar with Mormonism typically have heard something about the Book of Mormon. Perhaps they know that Joseph Smith claimed to have received golden plates from an angel. Those a bit more familiar with Mormonism might know that Smith also dictated scores of revelations, messages from [Read More...]


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