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...]

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...]

Why LDS Women Will Not Be Ordained to the Priesthood

Over the last year, a small but growing movement within the LDS church has emerged to promote women’s ordination. After the launch of the savvy and visually appealing site ordainwomen.org last March, countless Mormon bloggers have weighed in on the questions of the theology behind women’s ordination. Perhaps predictably, these arguments have ranged from the “women have always had priesthood in temples so they should have it in public” argument to the “women occupy a divinely sanctioned separate s … [Read more...]

We Are Special!: Religion, Historical Memory, and Regional Identity

Over the last week I’ve been re-reading Carol F. Karlsen’s book on witchcraft in Puritan New England and, strangely, this has reminded me how deeply religious traditions have shaped regional cultures and identities in the U.S. I grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, one of the centers of the witchcraft hysteria of 1692. We’d visit Salem and all the historical (and tacky) commemorations of that event. I assumed everyone knew a lot about the Puritans and witchcraft. And the Pilgrims and how they settl … [Read more...]


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