On the Virtues of Old People

Among Mormons, there is a classic short film produced by the LDS Church many years ago, called The Mailbox (1977). The Mailbox tells the story of Lethe, an 83-year-old widow who lives a quiet, solitary existence interrupted only by the visits of a neighborhood child—and pines for news from her children, who never write. It’s a rare example of Mormon tragedy, and even in all of its late-seventies glory, the film still packs an emotional punch today. … [Read more...]

A Song for the Body Electric

A Song for the Body ElectricWhen we moved from Boston to Salt Lake City, my husband had been working as an attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. He completed both medical school and his residency through Harvard, and we all thought of him as a highly competent doctor. But early in his subspecialty training at the University of Utah Hospital, his colleagues stumped him. They asked him to interpret a chest x-ray that presented a condition he had never yet come across — strange … [Read more...]

Diary of a Single Mormon Female: A Review

Few people are brave enough to publish their diary, and yet that is what Aleesa Sutton has done in Diary of a Single Mormon Female. Starting with a recent singles adult activity that Sutton jokingly describes as a savanna, full of competing lionesses but low on prey (I'll just note that I've met many desperate-for-marriage LDS men, so I do not support this stereotype), Sutton then retraces the steps that have brought her to where she is today:"Mormon and still single at the ripe old age of … [Read more...]

Mormons as Christians; Christians as Mormons

In the nineteenth sixties and seventies, an "anti-cult" movement emerged in America, assailing religious movements like Krishna Consciousness and the Children of God and Jim Jones's Peoples Temple with the word "cult."  The anti-cult movement was secular, and as such attacked these movements in secular language: it popularized concepts like 'brainwashing' and 'deprogramming,' warned that such religious movements were not really religious but rather elaborate means of self-gratification erected … [Read more...]

Beyond Family: Women’s Leadership in the LDS Church

 A recent flurry of debate and discussion over the issue of women’s roles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provoked exasperation and hurt on multiple fronts. Advocates for an expansion of women’s ecclesiastical authority and responsibility point to the underrepresentation of women in church leadership structures (here, and here). For instance, during the four main sessions of the church’s worldwide General Conference last weekend, only two out of twenty-eight sermon … [Read more...]

Thinking Historically as a Christian (And/Or a Mormon)

This last weekend, during the Saturday morning session of General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Dieter Uchdorf of the First Presidency offered one of the most meme-worthy quotes for scholars of Mormonism. (You know, if Mormon scholars did memes.) While explaining that there are a number of possible reasons why some would choose to leave the Church and giving the particular example of being nagged by “unanswered questions,” he admitted that “there have b … [Read more...]

Mormonism and the Christianity Police

This post is a slightly modified reprint of an earlier post. I am adding it as part of the Patheos Roundtable on "Are Mormons Christians?"If one were to rank the issues about which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is most sensitive, near the very top of the list would be the persistant accusation that Mormons are somehow not Christians.  This is literally the first question in the FAQ section at www.mormon.org.In responding to this charge over many decades, the church has … [Read more...]

On Housework

Martha Hughes Cannon (1857–1932) wrote to her friend Barbara Replogle in 1884, “’Tis not the bringing of noble spirits into the world . . . That dwarfs talent, and retards her intellectual advancement but it is the multiplicity of household drudgery… and the conformity to the vile customs of modern society. Barbara even if we have to be poor let us not waste our talents in the cauldron of modern nothingness—but strive to become women of intellect, and endeavor to do some little good while we live … [Read more...]


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