In Good Conscience…

Over the past six years or so, I’ve watched a number of my friends and acquaintances---and one family member---leave The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ve heard many of them (but by no means all of them) say something like the following when explaining or defending their decision to leave: “I can’t in good conscience (variant: in good faith) remain a member of the Church.” Often (but by no means always), this formula appears in the course of expressing a set of relatively traditio … [Read more...]

Second Life and the Second Estate

From a hillside in Missouri, one can look out upon a relatively nondescript valley verdant with seasonal crops. It is to here, it is said, that Adam and Eve fled upon expulsion from the Garden of Eden and offered prayer to God and it is to here, it is said, that Adam will gather his posterity at the last day. Adam-ondi-Ahman, as Joseph Smith called the valley, is a locus of human-divine communication and visitation in Mormon theo-history.There is, however, another Adam-ondi-Ahman in the … [Read more...]

Foodism?

I am excited to read the new collection of essays on food and religion in North America (Religion, Food, and Eating in North America), published by Columbia University Press and edited by Benjamin E. Zeller, Marie W. Dallam, Reid L. Neilson, and Nora L. Rubel. We don’t know nearly enough about the intersection of food and religious practices and religious identity. And this extends beyond institutionally based religious identity and to the intersection between food and what Catherine Albanese w … [Read more...]

Mormons and Basketball in the Philippines

Filipino

“There are good Mormons, rogue Mormons, drunk Mormons, polygamy Mormons. But one thing they all have in common is basketball.” -Rick Majerus, former University of Utah head basketball coachMormons have a unique love affair with basketball, as Matt Bowman has deftly analyzed elsewhere. From the pickup games and (slightly) more organized local leagues sponsored by Mormon stakes and wards to 2011’s Jimmermania, and from LDS Prophet Thomas Monson’s casual backslap of former Utah Jazz head co … [Read more...]

Why Do Americans Love Pope Francis?

The other day, I was talking to my students about how the press has been giving Pope Francis very positive coverage. We hear often about phone calls he makes to a grieving, troubled people, or about his latest rejection of the costly privileges of the papacy. Facebook lights up with photos of the pope embracing disabled people, or indulging the antics of children. We’re still in the honeymoon phase with this pope and the press and average Americans, no doubt, will grow more critical of the c … [Read more...]

Being a Mormon Intellectual

Indulge me a moment in some reflections on how I think about a portion of my scholarly life and activities in personal, religious terms.Nearly 40 years ago, Eugene England delivered an address to young BYU students called “Good Books or True Religion? Defining the Mormon Scholar.” In this essay, England lays out a vision of the Mormon scholar modeled on Elder B. H. Roberts: You must develop your own vision of what, as an intellectual, your contribution to the Kingdom might be, of how you mi … [Read more...]

“If We Can’t Fix It, It Ain’t Broke”

 “IF WE CAN’T FIX IT, IT AIN’T BROKE.”Because I live in Hong Kong, whenever I’m in the States I tend to notice all sorts of little things and to recklessly ascribe deep cultural meaning to them. So when I read this slogan on the wooden sign nailed on the outside of the car repair shop, it struck me as a charming specimen of Americans’ optimistic, can-do attitude.The wooden sign was a play on the original saying,  “IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT." It kept nearly the exact same wo … [Read more...]

There’s So Much to Do, Outside the Ivory Tower!

I am an independent scholar. Not independently wealthy unfortunately – I have to earn my bread – but I am one of the growing number of people with PhDs who, for a wide variety of reasons, are not pursuing a traditional career track of teaching and scholarship, but rather have day jobs that variously engage our talents – academic and otherwise – while we continue to engage in the life of the mind on our own terms.  I’ve only been on this path for a little over two years, since earning my PhD i … [Read more...]


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