Tips on Being an Independent Scholar: Ardis Parshall

1) Tell us about your background, education, and career goals when you were just starting out? Did they change over time?I don’t have any formal education or training for what I do, which is Mormon history. No one knows better than I do what a handicap that is, or how much I regret my lack of opportunity, but being self-taught is not anything to be ashamed of, either. I have a knack for history, for analysis of documents and evaluation of historical claims, and for ferreting out where people … [Read more...]

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Tips on Being an Independent Scholar: Blake Ostler

1) Tell us about your background, education, and career goals when you were just starting out? Did they change over time?I grew up in Sandy, Utah at a time when it was growing from around 8,000 to 75,000 residents over 10 years. I am the second of 6 children. My parents were both pioneer descendants -- 75% Swedish and 25% English. My mother was active in the LDS Church and for many years my father was somewhat active. I have told the story of my questions at age 14 and how they led me to … [Read more...]

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Tips on Being an Independent Scholar: Kevin Barney

1) Tell us about your background, education, and career goals when you were just starting out? Did they change over time?  When I went to BYU as a freshman in 1976, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I just took general ed classes. At the end of that year I still didn't have a clue (although I recall some thought about psychology, as is common among college freshmen). It was on my mission to Colorado from 1977 to 1979 that I began to gain some tentative interest in scholarship. … [Read more...]

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Tips on Being an Independent Scholar: Julie Smith

We are pleased to welcome our first entry in this series from Julie Smith.1) Tell us about your background, education, and career goals when you were just starting out? Did they change over time?So I started out getting an English degree and teaching certification (from UT-Austin) because those seemed like practical things to do. One of my mentors began a lecture (I think this was a 17th century British Literature class, but it's been a few decades so I may be off by a few centuries) by … [Read more...]

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The Aspirational Language of Mormonism

This post is a guest submission from Isaac Black.Recent events in Mormondom, including the excommunication of Kate Kelly and the Church's blog posts on controversial topics like the priesthood ban and polygamy, have prompted a higher scrutiny of seemingly basic terms of the religion. What defines apostasy? What precisely is priesthood? Even, what is doctrine? It is my observation that Mormon vocabulary, rather than being strict and legalistic as some of the more textually inclined among us … [Read more...]

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Some Thoughts on a Recent Excommunication

We recently received this communication from a friend, who wishes to remain anonymous.It’s been a difficult week, but now I'm just sort of irritated all around.I'm irritated with the Church for treating Kate Kelly as an existential threat rather than a nuisance. Kicking her out polarizes the situation, makes everyone wary and fearful of sharing honest opinions (except for those who are confident that the Church can do no wrong), alienates members, scares off investigators, and makes an e … [Read more...]

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The 2013 Adjustments to the Book of Mormon: Accuracy Delayed

This post is written by guest contributor, Grant Hardy.It is a weighty responsibility to decide how God’s word should be presented to the world, and the Church takes this charge very, very seriously. The recent adjustments to the official standard works include many welcome corrections to the headings of the Doctrine and Covenants, but otherwise the revisions are quite minimal. As Elder Neil L. Andersen explained, “members should not feel that they need to purchase a new set of scriptures . . … [Read more...]

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Masculinity and Mormon Apologetics

We are pleased to have this guest entry by Mrs. Silence Dogood, a friend of the blog.Have y’all heard about the latest squabble amongst apologists and academics?Anyways, the main lesson that has seemed to come out from the most recent spat is the vast and increasing divide between the two fields. Though someone can certainly use scholarly tools in making apologetic arguments, and someone can certainly become too apologetic in their scholarship, the works of the current generation of M … [Read more...]

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