Despite their titles, articles like the one to which I link below from the online British publication The Independent — it seems odd to call it an “online newspaper,” since it’s paperless — almost never delve below a superficial and rather sensationalized account of Mormon doctrine. Apparently, the chief principles of our faith, beyond the Book of Mormon, are polygamy, racism, disapproval of homosexual relations, and success on Wall Street. There’s seldom if ever any mention of our belief in the literal kinship of humanity to deity (with its attendant doctrine of human deification), or of our near-universalism, or of Mormonism’s strongly humanistic tendency, its tradition-bucking rejection of original sin, its positive evaluation of the fall and of the material world, its openness to inspiration in other religious communities, its robust communitarianism, or any of its other fascinating and distinctive positions. We’re just an unusually patriarchal form of Evangelicalism, with an extra book and, perhaps, a few extra wives.
I recall a conversation, many years ago, with a rabbi who taught religious studies at a major university in the American East. We found ourselves the last of a group who had met in Graz, Austria, for a “trialogue” of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The others had already left; I was waiting for a flight to Tel Aviv. The subject of Mormonism came up, and, along the way, I passingly mentioned the challenges of growth. “Growth?” he responded. “I don’t mean to be insulting,” he said, “but why would you be growing? I’ve always thought of Mormonism as the quintessential boring Midwestern Protestantism.” I replied, “You really don’t know very much about us.”
I think that we need to do much more to get our story out there.
In that context, I was disappointed that this book didn’t receive nearly as much attention as it deserved:
In the meantime, though, this article isn’t as bad as it could have been. It’s just shallow:
“Mormons: What does the powerful religious group actually believe? The newly anointed 17th president Russell M Nelson finds himself at the head of a Church that has nearly 16 million members worldwide”
For those who missed the first broadcast of the new Interpreter Radio Show, which occurred on 14 January 2018, that first broadcast is now available online. Of course, those who didn’t miss it but who want to savor it a second time at greater leisure are also welcome to listen in, as it’s available online: