The Brightness of the Sun

The Conversion of St. Paul, Jean Fouquet, in the Hours of  Étienne Chevalier, ca. 1450s

Sometime around the year 1820, the young Joseph Smith was troubled. According to the earliest account, written in 1832, Smith was anxious over the state of his sinful soul. He “felt to mourn,” for his own sinfulness and that of the world. He was convinced of God’s existence, simply by looking at the wonders of [Read More...]

American Pseudobibles (and the Book of Mormon)

American-Zion

Americans during the Revolutionary era and the Early Republic lived in a world suffused with the Hebrew scriptures. That reality, already charted by many historians (including Mark Noll, who once termed the Old Testament (“the common coinage of the realm”), is only the backdrop to Eran Shalev’s remarkable American Zion: The Old Testament as a [Read More...]

Stephen Webb’s Mormon Christianity

I recently had the pleasure of reading Stephen Webb’s Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints (Oxford, 2013). My review is up on the Books & Culture website — I characterize Mormon Christianity as “brilliant, provocative, and occasionally maddening.” The maddening, from my vantage point, is what I consider a rather [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...]

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 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...]

Evangelical-Mormon “Detente”?

Adelle Banks of Religion News Service has a fascinating piece on signs of a possible new evangelical-Mormon detente, a thaw that goes even beyond the widespread evangelical support for Mitt Romney as president. She writes Last month, after being sure to get his caffeine fix at Starbucks, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land went where few [Read More...]

Elizabeth Smart’s Story

Most visitors to the internet this week have probably noticed that Elizabeth Smart has just released a memoir of her horrific ordeal. Ten years after her rescue, she details her abduction and captivity and explains how she transcended the evils she experienced. My review is here. Warning: the book induces nightmares, especially when you have [Read More...]

Das Buch Mormon

About a year ago, I asked for advice about how to structure a course on American evangelicalism. Many first-rate suggestions were forth-coming. This fall, I’m teaching a course on Mormonism in Heidelberg, Germany (gluecklicherweise auf Englisch, sonst waere es mir sehr peinlich). For the next year, I am residing at the Heidelberg Centre for American [Read More...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X