Review: Russell Banks, Cloudsplitter: a novel.

Partway through Cloudsplitter, Russell Banks's ambitious fictional account of John Brown's adult life, our narrator, John's third son Owen, reflects that his relationship to his father is analogous to Job's relationship with God.  That is, God is, well, God, just like John Brown was John Brown, and the status entitles this looming divine presence to behave as he will, and Job or Owen must simply follow, because one does not question the divine.   As Job says, in chapter 42:I have uttered wh … [Read more...]

Coming to MHA: the International Mormon Studies Book Drive Summer Fundraiser

An eye-catching design by "Family Ties," a small Mormon family-run company in Shenzhen, China.

Thanks to many wonderful donations, the IMS Book Drive is nearly ready to ship its first collection to the French Institute for Research on Mormonism in Bordeaux, France!The IMS Book Drive aims to promote quality scholarship on international Mormonism and the development of a global Mormon studies community by placing Mormon studies collections (books, journals, and access to online resources) at universities and research centers outside of North America.Donations of books (via the … [Read more...]

Memorial Day and Helmuth Heubner

Helmuth Huebener

While Memorial Day in the United States is an opportunity to cultivate memory of all kinds—remembrance of ancestors, family, and departed friends—it is often used to memorialize courage, and even heroism. Whatever the politics of the war in which they died, for instance, most Americans honor war dead for the courage it took to endure the peril of conflict. And the valorization of courage extends to Mormons in the United States as well. On Memorial Day many Mormons (particularly those in and aro … [Read more...]

The Pope’s Conservative Reasons for Saying Nice Things about Atheists

 Every Wednesday morning, the pope celebrates a Mass and holds a public audience.   It is routine for popes to offer a homily at these occasions – a brief exhortation to his audience that normally follows uncontroversial and tedious paths: do good, attend Mass, or so forth.  We had little reason to suspect that Pope Francis would be all that different.  After all, he was widely reported to be a theological conservative, a “conventional choice” for the papacy, not that different from his … [Read more...]

It’s That Time of Year

The mulberry tree in my backyard has just blown seedpods all over the grass, but it’s a male, thank goodness, so we deal with neither the fruit nor the birds who would flock to eat that fruit. An arborist told me the tree is as old as the house (1928). Our church building, a block away, is on land that used to be a mulberry orchard, created to sustain the silkworms that LDS women so painstakingly cared for and harvested in the 19th century. I like to think our mulberry tree is older than the h … [Read more...]

Joseph Smith the Seeker and Same-sex Marriage: The Community of Christ Negotiating Change

 The Community of Christ’s April 2013 USA National Conference in Independence, Missouri resoundingly approved the extension of the sacrament of marriage to same-sex couples and the ordination of individuals in monogamous same-sex relationships. That the Community of Christ, Mormonism’s most progressive denomination, has approved these measures through a democratic conference is perhaps unsurprising. Community of Christ laity and leaders are fond of saying that they are called to be a “pr … [Read more...]

On the Cleveland Kidnapping and Anti-Polygamy Literature

This semester I taught early American religious history. We start with European settlement and end with the Civil War. A whole lot happens during this span of time. A whole lot changes—but maybe not as much as it first appears. During the semester, we looked at how conceptions of gender evolved over time. We began with Anne Hutchinson excommunicated and banished for opposing her Puritan ministers by stating that she had better, inside divine information than they did. Along the way, we perused t … [Read more...]

Mormons and the Politics of Mother’s Day

Mother's Day is a big deal in Mormonism. By some measures, Mother's Day has the most elaborate rituals of any holiday celebrated in the LDS Church. Like Christmas and Easter, Mother's Day is typically filled with special musical numbers and talks dedicated to the topic of the day. In addition to this, adult women receive a gift that is passed to them at the end of Sacrament Meeting. This year, my ward is also planning a special meeting in the third hour for all adult women. LDS adoption of … [Read more...]