Is Mormonism optimistic?

I’ve been having a problem with optimism lately. My last two blog posts were basically just exercises in much needed mental cleansing. I feel alone at church and all my friends are leaving, etc. You know, young person stuff, I guess.But I’ve been fighting harder lately. Getting in the ring to punch out pessimism. ‘I believe this stuff” I keep reminding myself, “so I gotta figure out how to make this work and make it work well.”A big part of my efforts toward optimism is a sort of reconver … [Read more...]

Application Deadline Extended for Wheatley Seminar

Advanced undergraduate and graduate students are invited to apply to participate in a three week seminar from June 22-July 10 in Provo, Utah, surveying early Christian thought, Mormon theological foundations, contemporary social issues-- and how we might find connections among all three. A rare opportunity to integrate the sometimes esoteric realms of Mormon theology with the practical, lived reality of our political engagement in the real world. Generous stipend for those selected.Click … [Read more...]

Announcing the 2nd Wheatley Summer Seminar

Announcing the 2nd Annual Wheatley 2015:The 2nd Annual Wheatley “Faith Seeking Understanding” summer seminar will run from June 22 through July 10, 2015.  It is being sponsored by the Wheatley Institution at Brigham Young University and is under the direction of Professor Terryl Givens, Wheatley Fellow and Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond. From the announcement: What are the general contours of Christianity’s efforts to find a marriage of belief and intellec … [Read more...]

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...]

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


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...]