What, if anything, do GAs read?

This most recent conference struck me in an interesting way. I found myself listening closely for some small sign that the speakers read and engage topics outside of the scriptures and other GA talks. While I didn't hear every talk this weekend, I found little evidence that they consumed many books or are aware of scholarly or educated discourses on the topics they discussed. Instead, they seem mostly to traffic in anecdotes and offer homespun wisdom. I do not intend to suggest an implicit … [Read more...]


Misrecognition is one of those important terms in anthropology that is so useful that you almost can't help thinking about it all the time. Two of its most important proponents are Pierre Bourdieu and Catherine Bell who use it to explain ritual, or more precisely, ritualized practices. … [Read more...]

Gender, Mormonism, and Transsexuality

The declaration that "gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose" is presumably attempted to rebut the second-wave feminist articulation of the sex/gender dichotomy which sees sex as natural and gender as culturally/socially constructed, and therefore malleable. While it is perhaps unclear that "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" is theoretically sophisticated enough to be aware of the sex/gender distinction that emerged in the … [Read more...]

Apocaliterature and Historical Fiction

NB: This post compares and contrasts a set of books that I have never read (just like a true academic, or a true fundamentalist, er, a true ideologue of some sort ), so any feedback would be extremely helpful.It is useful to compare the Left Behind series that has been so popular since 1995 in evangelical circles, with the Work and the Glory series since its release in 1990. Both are multi-volume epics that are aimed at the faithful as didactic literature that inculcates its audience into a … [Read more...]

Open Letter to Protesters of LDS Support of Prop 8

Dear Protesters, It has been a frustrating week. You're angry, maybe even irate. I understand. The courts recognized marriage as a right for same sex couples, and that right was lost in a close battle in the ballot box. Though Mormons make up a small amount of the total votes in favor of Prop 8, you hold them responsible for much of the fund-raising, canvassing, and phone-banking for the Yes on 8 campaign. Mormons seem like the easiest and most obvious targets for your anger. You have … [Read more...]

Children and SSM: An Analysis of “The Divine Institution of Marriage”

As far as I know, FPR has never had a SSM post, and I think that we are somewhat proud of that fact. Despite this record, I am so confused by the document that the Church put out today, called the Divine Institution of Marriage, that I simply must break the silence about this for the purposes of clarification. This document suggests that as a result of the court decisions in MA and CA (the legislative decisions legalizing marriage and civil unions in other states are not mentioned), "The … [Read more...]

On Criticism

I think that it is important to discuss a technical term in LDS culture as it overlaps with a term in academic discourse: criticism. This term and its related forms (critical, critic, etc) is extremely important concept in both worlds, with an almost exactly opposite valuation.For Latter-day Saints, to be "critical" is very negative. It implies a negative view of ones leaders, the Church, and by implication for many, God and Christ themselves. We covenant not to practice this kind of … [Read more...]

African American Spirituals and the Mormon Pioneers

In honor of the 161st anniversary of the Saints entering the Salt Lake Valley, I would like to explore the relationship between two of the most profound spiritual movements of the 19th century: ante-bellum African American spirituals and the rise of Mormonism. While the vast majority of work with regard to African Americans and early Mormonism has focused on the explicit role that African Americans played in Mormonism, and LDS attitudes to African Americans, I would like to examine some shared … [Read more...]