Doubting at Zion’s Gate

Through happenstance, two of my recent reads synergistically centered on doubt and the thresholds of religion.In the first, Elmer Miller’s Nurturing Doubt, the author reflects on his time as a Mennonite missionary in the Argentine Chaco (exactly where I served my LDS mission) and his later return as a professional anthropologist. He relates how his experience in ministering to the Toba, an ethnic group native to the Chaco, caused him to question the utility of the Christian message and A … [Read more...]

I Even Remain Alone?: Reflections on Eve Tushnet’s “Gay and Catholic”

About two years ago Ralph Hancock, a BYU professor of political philosophy, met with the Claremont Mormon Studies Student Association. As I reflected on the ensuing conversation, which had quickly veered into the troubled waters of Mormonism and same-sex marriage, I formulated two questions which I feel would have turned the discussion down less well-trodden—and hence potentially more productive—paths.First, I would have asked Hancock, “As non-heterosexuality poses existential questions categ … [Read more...]

INTERNATIONAL MORMON STUDIES: MORE HELP WANTED!

 This is a report AND a call for input going forward from the directors of the International Mormon Studies Book Project, launched in February 2013 to encourage the expansion of Mormon studies research throughout the Mormon South (i.e. outside of North America). Part I: Report on IMS book placementsThe IMS Book Project organizers express our gratitude for the many generous individuals and institutions who have contributed to the cause of improving the quality and … [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...]

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...]

The “Value” of the Book of Mormon

As part of a project I’m currently at work on, I’ve been reading as systematically as possible through the literature on the Book of Mormon that has been produced by adherents to the Community of Christ movement (formerly, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). It’s been a remarkably instructive experience for me, and I hope that the written result of my studies will be available in published form at some point. In the meanwhile, I thought I’d offer a few reflections on jus … [Read more...]

Apologetics Again—But This Time with Feeling

Violent, sudden, and calamitous revolutions are the ones that accomplish the least. While they may succeed at radically reordering societies, they usually cannot transform cultures. They may excel at destroying the past, but they are generally impotent to create a future. The revolutions that genuinely alter human reality at the deepest levels---the only real revolutions, that is to say---are those that first convert minds and wills, that reshape the imagination and reorient desire, that … [Read more...]

In Praise of Cafeteria Mormonism

It was both troubling and fascinating (something like watching a car wreck) to witness the dustup of the past few days over the unfortunate column by LDS author Joni Hilton excoriating what she dubbed “liberal Mormons.”  I’m sure that Sister Hilton is a wonderful person who may or may not regret at least some of both the tone and substance of what she wrote, not to mention the minor firestorm she set off.  I have no idea why she feels the way she does, or what prompted her to write the column in … [Read more...]


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