On Doctrinal Authority

This essay represents a very short, and provisional set of ideas about the topic as I am just beginning to think about it more seriously. So much of the so-called “faith crisis” in contemporary Mormonism hinges on these issues, but very little theoretical work has been done on it.For a while now, Mormons have been concerned with doctrinal authority, especially what is authoritative and the consequences of deviating from it. Most recently the question has arisen concerning prophetic fal … [Read more...]

Funeral Lessons from Emma Lou Thayne

In the weeks before Emma Lou Thayne’s death I have been pondering how it was that an interaction with her felt so different from encounters with other people. In conversation, she was consummately present, loving, and curious. Her approach felt to me like this: "I know there is something really exceptional about you, and I can't wait to ask you questions and listen to you until I find it. It won't take long."This post has a devotional edge; funerals lead me in that direction. I came to know E … [Read more...]

The Liberal Soul, by Richard Davis

“How can a good Mormon be a Democrat?”If you’re Mormon and politically conservative, you’ve probably asked yourself that question. I certainly have, though it’s been a very, very long time. (Another question on my mind back then: “Why do people hate the Backstreet Boys?”)I had thought a lot about my faith and my politics—I’d read my Pres. Benson and my Rush Limbaugh, my Joseph Fielding Smith and my Ayn Rand—and I’d concluded that the one led pretty directly to the other. The War in Heaven … [Read more...]

“Toxic Religion”? The Parable of the Pan

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There are “winners and losers” in the wake of the acknowledgment by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that its founder, Joseph Smith, practiced polygamy [and in the subsequent media coverage] . The church itself is a clear winner. This step in the direction of transparency signals Mormonism’s maturity and adaptability in the twenty-first century. The acknowledgment is also vindicating for Mormon intellectuals who have worked hard to promulgate a nuanced narrative of Mormon history t … [Read more...]

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According to the official style guide of The Church, “Mormon” implies an individual, not an institution. But while it can be a label for a person, “Latter-day Saint” remains the preference. "Mormons" the guide explains, is “acceptable."And acceptable it is. Swaths of Latter-day Saints have now deemed themselves “Mormons,” not only in speech but in their Facebooking. The words “I’m a Mormon” (or “ Soy Mormon,” or perhaps even “Ich bin ein Mormone,” but lets not get ahead of ourselves) are now … [Read more...]

Faith and History Conference: 2015

A reminder to our readers that the Fifth Biennial Faith & Knowledge Conference will be held at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on February 27 and 28, 2015. The submission deadline for proposals is November 7, 2014. Please note that, unlike previous years, the conference is now officially open to LDS graduate students and early career scholars in religious studies and related academic disciplines interested in the intersections of scholarship and religious faith. … [Read more...]

Missional and Attractional Mormonism

Along with many  other churches in recent years, the leaders and membership of the LDS Church have made a concerted effort to create a more vibrant presence in the social media world. #Sharegoodness, #BecauseofHim,  #DidYouThinkToPray, #LDSConf, Mormon Messages videos, now the Meet the Mormons film— these Twitter and Facebook campaigns, shareable media, and documentaries all have become part and parcel with “hastening the work of salvation,” to quote Elder Bednar’s August address. … [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...]


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