Feed My Lambs

Primary kids from the Liahona Children's Foundation website

“The Church may or may not be true,” quipped my father-in-law, who was at the time serving as a stake president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “But it is organized.”Born of the theological basis of hierarchical priesthood authority and of the practical exigencies of running a worldwide church with mostly volunteer labor, Mormon organization is indeed a force to be reckoned with. When the Church organizational machinery rumbles into motion, it mobilizes labor and resourc … [Read more...]

Sneakers and Salvation

Dirty_sneakers

Several years ago, I took a trip to Egypt with a group of students at the BYU Jerusalem Center.  We spent several days touring the country, and returned to Cairo from Luxor on a sleeping train that Thursday night.  The accommodations were dirty and bug-infested, and we arrived at the hotel on Friday morning tired, dirty, and road-weary. Since Friday is the Muslim day of prayer, we used it as our Sabbath (just as we celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday while we were in Israel). Because of limited l … [Read more...]

Mormons and the FBI – A Bleg

The Associated Press reported in the early 1980s that “The CIA does some of its most successful recruiting in predominantly LDS Utah.”[1]  … [Read more...]

No More Strangers

One of my most familiar childhood religious memories is waking up at the end of the General Conference broadcast, sprawled full-length on the floor with the marks of the carpet in my cheek. “This has been the [ordinal number] conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the familiar voice intoned over the postlude. As the camera panned around the trees at Temple Square, I would pan around the living room to get the lay of the land. My father was asleep. My mother was asleep. My … [Read more...]

On religious freedom and discrimination

With the recent proposed amendment to Arizona’s religious freedom law, Facebook has fed me a lot of outraged comments about religion and discrimination. Some rejected that discrimination was the sort of thing anyone could do for religious reasons: real religion teaches people to be kind to each other. Others allowed that people might have genuine religious reasons to want to discriminate, but denied that society had any reason to let them: “you can’t force your religion on other people” was the p … [Read more...]

The Decline of Something Called “Religion”

Stories of Decline Perry Miller’s exhaustive intellectual histories of Puritan theology were published back in the 1930s and 1940s, and did a lot to revitalize and rehabilitate the Puritans (what? You didn’t know that Puritans have been rehabilitated?).  One of Miller’s primary narrative structures – one he shared, interestingly enough, with his subjects - was the declension narrative: that is, early Puritanism of the 1620s and 1630s shared, as Miller put it, “almost unbroken allegia … [Read more...]

On Mormon Marriage Anxiety

I was 27 when I got married. That was well after most of my friends, whose wedding functions I attended. It was also after two younger sisters had preceded me into marital bliss. When my marriage did occur, it happened to the relief of some distant relations and other parties who had started to worry that I was malingering in bachelorhood. And it was also something of a relief to me, who had started to believe them. For this reason I’m sympathetic about what I and many I’ve talked with perceive a … [Read more...]

Scrap It: An Historian Contemplates Her Imaginary Photo Albums

People approach personal recording keeping in different ways. Historian Rachel Cope, who clearly chose the right profession, kept her dolls as a child so future scholars could see how children’s toys changed over time. I approach record keeping by feeling bad about doing it too little.A year and a half ago, when I learned I had cancer but did not yet know the prognosis would be positive, the weight of two unfinished projects immediately settled in to haunt me. The first was my dissertation. M … [Read more...]


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