Why LDS Women Will Not Be Ordained to the Priesthood

Over the last year, a small but growing movement within the LDS church has emerged to promote women’s ordination. After the launch of the savvy and visually appealing site ordainwomen.org last March, countless Mormon bloggers have weighed in on the questions of the theology behind women’s ordination. Perhaps predictably, these arguments have ranged from the “women have always had priesthood in temples so they should have it in public” argument to the “women occupy a divinely sanctioned separate s … [Read more...]

We Are Special!: Religion, Historical Memory, and Regional Identity

Over the last week I’ve been re-reading Carol F. Karlsen’s book on witchcraft in Puritan New England and, strangely, this has reminded me how deeply religious traditions have shaped regional cultures and identities in the U.S. I grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, one of the centers of the witchcraft hysteria of 1692. We’d visit Salem and all the historical (and tacky) commemorations of that event. I assumed everyone knew a lot about the Puritans and witchcraft. And the Pilgrims and how they settl … [Read more...]

Why Mormon Feminism Should Be About Men Too

Anyone who has spent time in a feminist Mormon housewives discussion forum knows how frequently arguments break out over whether a new member has mansplained. So when I saw that the fMh blog had published an article addressed exclusively to wannabe male feminists, I hoped they would publish advice to help new members avoid these miscommunications. Instead, Reese Dixon managed to produce one of the most sexist and narrow-minded articles I've yet to see from a contemporary Mormon feminist.In … [Read more...]

Ghost Stories

I'm revisiting Judith Richardson's Possessions: the history and uses of haunting in the Hudson Valley as I start thinking about nineteenth century spiritualism for a new book project, and this time I've been struck by her emphasis on place.  The tangled and broken landscape of the Hudson Valley, full of cliffs and culverts and sharp bends in the river, makes for an ideal habitat for the unquiet dead. But just as powerful is the cultural landscape, marked since the seventeenth century with the … [Read more...]

LL Cool J, Accidental Mormon?

Last week, I logged onto facebook to see my newsfeed crowded with excited links from various Mormon friends to hip hop pioneer LL Cool J's twitter feed. Confused, I clicked over to discover that the man best known for the early 1990s hits "I Need Love" and "Mama Said Knock You Out" had tweeted to his 3.8 million followers the following:https://twitter.com/llcoolj/status/364587417795166208That quote comes from a 1994 farewell address to recently-deceased church president Ezra Taft Benson … [Read more...]

Why You Should Read More Fiction (and John Turner’s Brigham Young)

Recently, I finished John G. Turner’s excellent Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet. It is an eminently fair-minded biography that should prove to be the definitive account of Young’s life. Personally, I came away from the biography with far greater insight into Young’s spirituality and his theological contributions to Mormonism—one of the many wonderful pay-offs for reading Turner’s 400-page tome. I also came away from the biography with a previously held picture of Young confirmed: he was a harsh in … [Read more...]

Dan Brown’s “Inferno”: An Eternal Return

I just finished reading Inferno, Dan Brown’s latest book. I’m no expert on Brown, though I have also read The Da Vinci Code. He is justly derided as a bad writer, but he is a good storyteller and sets his attractive characters in compelling locations. I think that Brown’s popularity also comes from his ability to touch on big cultural issues and questions—sometimes overtly and sometimes more indirectly—in familiar, reassuring ways. He touches on them, but doesn’t resolve them for the reader. He r … [Read more...]

Hidden Cameras

“My mom is watching me,” my son’s six year-old friend Jared confided. Jared and my son had spent the entire playdate at the playground climbing and chasing without a single quarrel and I had just complimented Jared on his courteous behavior. “She has hidden cameras.”We had only recently arrived in Hong Kong and Jared’s mother Naomi had been one of the first people to reach out to our family. The ingenuity and authority implied by this “hidden camera” technique was one more piece of evidence c … [Read more...]


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