The Faith of Our Fathers

While chatting with a new LDS convert recently, he asked how long I had been a member of the Church. I told him that I’d actually been one from the very beginning—that my parents had been practicing members of the faith when I was born, and that I had been raised in a more or less orthodox household. In fact, I mentioned, much my family’s participation in the Church ran back some five or six generations, when early forbears made the choice to embrace the faith and let it completely transform them … [Read more...]

On Mormon Marriage Anxiety

I was 27 when I got married. That was well after most of my friends, whose wedding functions I attended. It was also after two younger sisters had preceded me into marital bliss. When my marriage did occur, it happened to the relief of some distant relations and other parties who had started to worry that I was malingering in bachelorhood. And it was also something of a relief to me, who had started to believe them. For this reason I’m sympathetic about what I and many I’ve talked with perceive a … [Read more...]

On the Virtues of Old People

Among Mormons, there is a classic short film produced by the LDS Church many years ago, called The Mailbox (1977). The Mailbox tells the story of Lethe, an 83-year-old widow who lives a quiet, solitary existence interrupted only by the visits of a neighborhood child—and pines for news from her children, who never write. It’s a rare example of Mormon tragedy, and even in all of its late-seventies glory, the film still packs an emotional punch today. … [Read more...]

A New Accent on Religious Freedom

Last month the LDS Church reinforced its advocacy of religious freedom by further expanding the resources on that subject available at its Newsroom website. In addition to launching a social media campaign focused on galvanizing support for religious liberty, the Church released several new video segments on the subject in an effort, according to its news release, to “help people of conscience everywhere understand the importance of protecting religious freedom.” One clip is an introductory mes … [Read more...]

The “Turning of Hearts”: On Family, History, and Faith

A few weeks ago, during an unusually long summer excursion away from home, my wife and I had the opportunity to spend a few days staying with my paternal grandparents. It turned out to be a nice time with them in their quiet, settled home. In part, this was an opportunity simply to be in their company; as they advance in age, and we continue to live at a distance, there’s no guarantee of when we’ll see them next. But our week-long visit also had more focused and deliberate purpose. As much as an … [Read more...]

Memorial Day and Helmuth Heubner

While Memorial Day in the United States is an opportunity to cultivate memory of all kinds—remembrance of ancestors, family, and departed friends—it is often used to memorialize courage, and even heroism. Whatever the politics of the war in which they died, for instance, most Americans honor war dead for the courage it took to endure the peril of conflict. And the valorization of courage extends to Mormons in the United States as well. On Memorial Day many Mormons (particularly those in and aro … [Read more...]

Of Paratexts and the New LDS Scriptures

For Mormons (and for their friends and for interested observers), the big news this week is the announcement of a new edition of the LDS scriptures. As the culmination of what the Church noted was eight years of work and preparation, this new 2013 edition is the first comprehensive refreshing of the LDS canon since 1981, and it registers a variety of adjustments. While changes to the scriptural texts themselves were few and minimal (generally limited to matters of punctuation), the new edition … [Read more...]

Mormons, Politics, Palestine

Once again, unfortunate developments in the Middle East appear to be undercutting what has been a very long and elusive search for peace there. As Israelis and Palestinians come to blows once again, they seem poised to begin another episode in one of the world’s deepest and most intractable political conflicts.Palestine has been of long-standing interest in American politics, and not least of all, it turns out, to Mormon politicians. William King and Elbert Thomas, Democratic Senators from U … [Read more...]