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...]

How Old Almanacs Help to Explain the “Nones”

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the Huntington Library looking at almanacs from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Strangely, looking at them historically illuminated for me the category “nones” (people who affirm no particular religious tradition). I think of almanacs as the smart phones of an earlier era, or, more accurately, smart phones as the present-day, more interactive versions of the earlier almanacs. These old almanacs are a compact source of numerous layers of information. They g … [Read more...]

March Global Mormon Studies Madness!

 Making up for lost time, Spring 2014 will see a flurry of global Mormon studies explorations with THREE exciting conferences at Brigham Young University (Provo and Salt Lake City, UT, March 6-7), Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, CA, March 22), and Utah Valley University (Orem, UT, Spring 2014). The program for the "Global Crossroads" conference on March 22nd is already out and features a star-studded cast including Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Joanna Brooks, and Gina Colvin. … [Read more...]


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