Doctrinal Disparity & Fragile Faith

Just over a week ago, the New York Times ran a well-considered and well-written (not to mention, front-page above-the-fold) in-depth examination of the expanding role of women in the LDS Church. The portrait it paints is even-handed, nuanced, and insightful, even if a bit discomforting for the increasing number of women and men who share the sentiment expressed by Joanna Brooks that the “great unfinished business of the church is gender equality.” Although the modifications may seem minute, and t … [Read more...]

The Rejoicing and the Torment of Religion

All-too-often these days we hear about the rise of doubt and the loss of certainty with regard to religious faith; the rise of angst and the loss of confidence; the rise of sorrow and the loss of joy; the rise of suffering and the loss of innocence; the rise of the ‘nones’—or the ‘nons,’ whichever you prefer—and the loss of believers. The trend in America has (relatively recently) finally begun to align itself with that which has characterized Europe for nearly a century—i.e., the pews are less a … [Read more...]

Is Mormon Studies Possible at a Mormon University?

"Should we begin with a prayer?" One of the most common, simple, and straightforward questions for anyone who knows anything about Latter-day Saints. I mean, really, what LDS gathering doesn’t begin with a prayer? Still, this time it was different . . . very different. This time it was anything but mundane and insignificant. For one of the very few times in my life I had to think seriously about how to respond. And, if I’m being brutally honest, I was even a little upset with Richard Bushman for … [Read more...]

On the Discourse of Dichotomy

Despite the fact that social scientists have yet to discover a single human society that is devoid of what we modern folk usually refer to as religion, it remains a highly contested category. Or, perhaps better, because of the ubiquity of religion, it’s a perspicuously polyvalent term that includes a massive variety of diverse expressions, and is thus notoriously difficult to pin down with precision. Still, however else one might understand the meaning and significance of religious ways of being … [Read more...]

Bearing the Burden of Testimony

John Turner, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at George Mason University, has had a very busy schedule this fall, as he’s been travelling throughout the country on a sort of scholarly junket to promote his new book, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet. He’s done interviews with KSL Radio, National Review Online, and Mormon Stories, visited Utah State University, Brigham Young University, and Baylor University, and will be heading down to southern California this week to speak at Claremont Gra … [Read more...]

Mirroring Mormonism

Negotiations continued this past Sunday evening at the 2012 Tony Awards. The show opens with one Elder Price ringing Ricky Martin’s dressing room “doorbell.” After an awkward pause and a cheesy smile that sparkled as bright as any 1980s toothpaste commercial, the young missionary then says/sings, “Hello, my name is Elder Price, and I would like to share with you the most amazing book.” Unsurprisingly, Martin immediately slams the door shut. The scene then moves down the hall to Elder after Elder … [Read more...]

The Many Folds of Mormonism

In 1860, world traveler and adventurer Sir Richard Burton visited Salt Lake City to find out for himself whether the widespread rumors were true—that a vicious, violent, and vile cult had taken over the Utah Territory. “Going among the Mormons!” one acquaintance warned him, “they are shooting and cutting one another in all directions; how do you expect to escape?” What Burton found during his twenty-four day visit, however, ran quite contrary to the numerous popular portrayals filled with venom a … [Read more...]