First-Order Myopia: What Donald Trump Can Learn from Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith’s life was cut short because he failed to look beyond first-order consequences. Trump should learn from his mistake. In the summer of 1844, the bustling new city of Nauvoo, Illinois, was a powder keg. Doctrinal disputes and personal feuds had birthed a state of heightened tension between Joseph Smith, the mayor of Nauvoo and founder of Mormonism, and certain Mormon dissidents. These tensions came to a head on June 7, when some of Smith’s detractors published the first… Read more

Unbridling Mormon Illustration: “From the Dust” – 2 of 2

In yesterday’s post, I discussed the relationship  between Mormon illustration and historical accuracy, specifying that I’d prefer to see a efflorescence of approaches in the Mormon illustrative tradition.   To exhibit the analytical richness artistic diversity can encourage, I present From the Dust, a graphic novel project based on the Book of Mormon. There’s a major difference, however, from all previous illustrations of the Book of Mormon: in From the Dust there are no humans. From left to right: Lemuel,… Read more

Mormon Illustration and the Burden of History – 1 of 2

In his book Miracles, C.S. Lewis dwells for a peculiarly long time on the Ascension of Christ. Namely, he muses on the how onlookers perceived and today’s Christians imagine the event. Why the sustained attention to this aspect of this moment? For one, Lewis is bound to the Neo-Platonic Christian theology that divorces the spiritual from the material, and sets the former above the latter on the scale of truth and value; however, he faces an account wherein Christ’s Ascension… Read more

Trump: The Enemy of the Family

This morning Isabel, a middle-aged Mormon woman from Colombia who has lived in the US for years, left her home in Draper, Utah and was forced to board a plane bound for Colombia. ICE, acting under what they would only describe as “changed priorities,” took Isabel away from two US citizens who depend on her care. Her 18-year-old son, who is disabled and unable to care for himself (a fact that her Mormon bishop corroborated over the phone), as well… Read more

Trump Should Learn from Andrew Jackson: Keep Church Out of State

Trump can learn from his hero and reject a fusion of Church and State.  Among the Religious Right, the idea that America is a secularized, atheistic wasteland has become an article of faith. From annual jeremiads about the “War on Christmas” to lamentations about prayer in schools, conservative Christians portray the country as a prodigal nation that has strayed from its faith-based roots. President Trump has pandered to this religious discontent, proclaiming that his America will “start saying Merry Christmas again”… Read more

The Anti-Trump General Conference

Like many Mormons around the world, I’ve spent this weekend watching the Church’s General Conference, a biannual assembly of Church leaders and members where they come together to learn and be uplifted. While watching it, I’ve been struck by one thought – this is the anti-Trump conference. No, the leaders of the Church haven’t spent their time denouncing President Trump or calling for his ouster. Rather, they have offered forceful denunciations of some of the key tenets of Trumpism. That… Read more

The Casual Sexism in Trump’s Condolences to Theresa May

To hear Trump tell it, you’d think that Theresa May fainted after the Westminster attack.    Theresa May is a strong woman. The first female British prime minister since Margaret Thatcher, and the second in history, has had to weather the turbulent storms of Westminster’s raucous political culture, constantly fending off the schoolboy-like taunts of opponents during regular appearances before Parliament. She’s also had to guide her nation through a harrowing period of uncertainty, with Brexit and an illiberal U.S…. Read more

A Hillbilly, a Professor, and a Mormon Mayor Walk into a (Dry) Bar . . .

The experience Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams gained on his Mormon mission helped him bridge economic and political divides. A year of national service could do the same for young Americans. A few months ago I finished reading Hillbilly Elegy, an engaging memoir by J.D. Vance that has been seized upon to explain the historic shift of blue-collar whites from their Democratic roots to voting for Trump in the 2016 election. In it, Vance discusses how many working-class whites,… Read more

Mormons and Free Trade

Despite a rocky history, Mormons have come to love free trade. They should keep advocating for it in the face of Trump’s skepticism. An ancient text describes a group of people who benefited from open borders and free trade. But it isn’t British economist Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, but rather the Book of Mormon, a collection of scriptures revered by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its description of a borderless trading regime is set… Read more

What Vox got wrong about Jon Huntsman

Why did Trump pick Huntsman as Ambassador to Russia? The reasons are many.  On March 9, Vox’s Zack Beauchamp published an article puzzling over Trump’s appointment of Jon Huntsman as U.S. Ambassador to Russia. In it, he pointed out that Huntsman has no issue expertise in Russia or Eastern Europe, has a history of turning on those whom he has previously supported, and holds views on human rights and free trade that run counter to Trump’s. But while Huntsman’s nomination… Read more

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