Really? Open submissions? Apparently so. How long has this been going on?
The submission guidelines have some interesting things. For example, under the “General Ongoing Needs” section, one sees the first of several desired categories is “By Study and by Faith: These Church history and other academic or scriptural articles are doctrinally sound and serve to edify members. We are particularly interested in articles written by members with expertise in academic fields.” (Italics mine.)
I’ve got some “expertise in [an] academic field] and several years worth of blog posts about scriptures and other stuff. Maybe I’ll rewrite and submit a few, or some of my Institute handouts. I doubt they’d reprint my posts on myth or encultured prophets; too academic, too much background required, perhaps.
While I have my criticisms of the Ensign, I’m also aware that several of those criticisms result from the institutional constraints, which are made somewhat explicit further down. Under Other Tips, it says “Consider the style, voice, and purpose. The approach, tone, and style you take should be appropriate for a worldwide audience.”
On my mission, I really appreciated the section “I Have a Question.” There was often some lightly controversial issue or question covered, and they generally got better as one read older and older issues. Well, no more. RIP, IHAQ.
“Queries for “I Have a Question.” This department has been discontinued. Instead of writing to the magazine staff with your doctrinal or personal questions, please counsel with your local priesthood leader.”
Local priesthood leaders are (with exceptions) simply not equipped to deal with doctrinal or historical issues, and often don’t even know where to look to find answers.
I happened to meet a sub-sub-sub-jr.-Ensign-editor at a party a few years back, or rather, she had the misfortune to meet me. I peppered her with questions about several aspects of the Ensign, from which I learned that there is quite a large lead time on articles, in many cases 12 months. I sent the Ensign a question about that via the website, and heard a quick reply that they are already planning the 2012 issues. I’ll pass on Paul, then, and work on adapting some Book of Mormon material.
Oh, and “Manuscripts should be no longer than 2,000 words, and, where noted, may need to be shorter.” That’s tough.
What else strikes you about the submission guidelines?