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… Read more

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 sphere” trope…. 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… Read more

Belief and Belonging in Mormonism

Mormonism’s founding narrative is of a young man struggling with doubt, and finding sure answers.  Mormonism implicitly and explicitly repeats this promise, which often puts the Mormon doubter in an uncomfortable position.  How can one claim to doubt in a tradition which is based on a promise of surety of knowledge? This is precisely the space that many, including those at the highest levels, are attempting to carve out. For instance, Latter-day Saints have recently been given permission to doubt… Read more

On Science and Faith, Part II: Of Seekers, Heretics, and Organized Religion

In August, I argued that faith and science have a lot more in common than popular understandings of them suggest. In response to arguments raised in the comments, I’m writing two or three more posts on the subject. When I argued a few weeks ago that belief in religious teachings and belief in a scientific theory have more in common than people usually recognize, a few commenters objected that most religion isn’t really based on evidence but on simply accepting… Read more

The Next Century of Book of Mormon Studies

For at least one very obvious reason, I’ve been thinking a good deal lately about the past, the present, and especially the future of academic study of the Book of Mormon. What roads have led us from the beginnings of academic study of the book into the twenty-first century? What’s been accomplished with the Book of Mormon over the past decade or so? What needs doing immediately, what needs attention over the next twenty or thirty years, and where ought… 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

There Will Be Blood

On Saturday President Obama took to the podium in the Rose Garden and announced that he had decided that in response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against its own people, resulting in well over a thousand casualties including hundreds of children, he believed that the United States “should take military action against Syrian regime targets.”  Acknowledging paralysis at the level of the United Nations Security Council and a lack of will even among our closest allies, he… Read more

A Plea for Identity on the Internet

I recently watched a preview for The Fifth Estate, the new film about WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange.  At one point in the trailer, which seems to me to lean toward an image of a crusader for democracy and free speech, Benedict Cumberbatch earnestly portrays Assange as telling a hushed crowd, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. But if you give him a mask, he WILL tell you the truth.” I don’t buy it. Much as… Read more

The Rejoicing and the Torment of Religion

All-too-often these days we hear about the rise of doubt and the loss of certainty with regard to religious faith; the rise of angst and the loss of confidence; the rise of sorrow and the loss of joy; the rise of suffering and the loss of innocence; the rise of the ‘nones’—or the ‘nons,’ whichever you prefer—and the loss of believers. The trend in America has (relatively recently) finally begun to align itself with that which has characterized Europe for… Read more

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