How Conference Comes to Hong Kong

In one month, General Conference will come again to the red brick building with the crossless gray spire that sits on Gloucester Road, the east-west artery into Hong Kong’s throbbing urban heart. By Hong Kong standards, the Wanchai building is a modest twelve-story low-rise, dwarfed on all sides by great and spacious towers easily over four times as tall. But small as it may seem, it contains worlds.Hong Kong is famous for its diversity and discontinuities. Its tiny borders create a crowded s … [Read more...]

*Angels in America* at 20: Revisiting Tony Kushner’s Millennium — and His Mormons — in the 21st Century

2013 is the 20th anniversary of Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize for his groundbreaking play Angels in America, which first appeared on Broadway in two-parts in 1993. Kushner's sweeping epic critiqued conservative politics in Reagan-era America and confronted the devastating realities of HIV-AIDS for the gay community. Along the way, Angels engaged with a variety of American identities, cultures, and issues, many of which are grounded in religion and spirituality. In addition to the obvious … [Read more...]

“It’s like Methodism, only more”: Mormon Conversion and Narratives of the Great Apostasy

A couple of weeks ago in Sunday School, a middle-aged woman shared her conversion story to Mormonism. Born and raised a Methodist, she noted that she always felt like something was lacking. When she discovered Mormonism, she explained, "it was like Methodism, only more."I smiled to myself as she said this, recognizing in her own conversion narrative a common refrain that dominates the autobiographical writings of her 19th century predecessors. Among the first generation of converts to … [Read more...]

Mending a Fractured World


In his Bancroft Prize-winning book, Age of Fracture, Daniel Rodgers tells the story of how, following the 1970s, America's intellectual world fell apart. Ideas that were taken for granted during the mid-twentieth century, like national consensus, gender norms, racial identities, historical meaning, and market-based capitalism, fragmented into numerous directions. The social unrest of the 1960s (which challenged traditional assumptions), the end of the Cold War (which eliminated the nation's most … [Read more...]

Finding a Bit of Comfort in the Image of Mormonism That Americans Most Respect

About a week ago, I decided to write my next post on a recurrent popular representation of the Mormons that we didn’t see much of during Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign: the image of Mormon violence. I was going to talk about why I think this image didn’t surface during the recent Mormon moment, and whether or not I think it has a future now that the moment is over. But since last Friday, we have all watched in horror as unspeakable violence and its aftereffects have unfolded in Newto … [Read more...]

Pants, Doctrine, and Culture, and Why Maybe We Shouldn’t Worry

And the Mormon Moment grabs the spotlight again- with Pantspocalypse!A nutshell attempt: Mormon feminist Stephanie Lauritzen vents online about the slow, tip-toeing steps Mormon Feminism has tried to take towards gender equality over the past decades. She urges women to “stop playing nice” and model American suffragists by “starting a revolution” of civil disobedience to effect (mostly) cultural and policy-related changes. She and other women form the group All Enlisted, whose first move is t … [Read more...]

An International Snapshot of Mormonism

Mormonism has been called an (if not the) American religion. To go further, I think that it could also be called an American middle-class religion, an American mountain-west religion, or an American white religion. All of these possible labels spotlight particular characteristics of Mormonism's majority structure, culture, demographics, and history.What often gets overlooked, however, is Mormonism's international presence.  I should note, I'm not trying to make a case that international M … [Read more...]

Recommended Readings on Modern Mormonism

There's a lot of top 5 lists out there listing the best books on Mormonism. I thought it might be useful to provide a similar list specifically focused on "modern Mormonism." Judging which books are the "best," of course, is a bit subjective. I am, by training, a historian of the early American republic, and my research on Mormonism is thus largely limited to its earliest years. The books listed below, then, are those I've found most helpful in trying to understand modern Mormonism.Note: … [Read more...]