Why Mormon Feminism Is True

“By proving contraries,” Joseph Smith once declared, “truth is made manifest.”  For many, the very phrase “Mormon feminism” is itself a “contrary.”  If so, then perhaps Mormon feminism is precisely the kind of place we should look for truth. … [Read more...]

Mirroring Mormonism

Negotiations continued this past Sunday evening at the 2012 Tony Awards. The show opens with one Elder Price ringing Ricky Martin’s dressing room “doorbell.” After an awkward pause and a cheesy smile that sparkled as bright as any 1980s toothpaste commercial, the young missionary then says/sings, “Hello, my name is Elder Price, and I would like to share with you the most amazing book.” Unsurprisingly, Martin immediately slams the door shut. The scene then moves down the hall to Elder after Elder … [Read more...]

The Divine Doctor

For the last few years, some of the world’s most interesting Mormon theology has been playing out in front of sci-fi geeks on laptops and television screens. Unbeknownst to nearly everyone, the writers and actors of one of my favorite shows have created a touching and compelling but still critical portrayal of Mormonism’s distinctive understanding of God.I’m referring, of course, to Doctor Who.For those of you who don’t share my love of fantasy, the BBC’s Doctor Who is among the longest-r … [Read more...]

The Illuminated Mundane

Image: Brian Neudorff

In Washington, DC, I didn't have a good view of the Venus Transit. It was cloudy until sunset, so I pulled up NASA's livestream from a telescope in Hawaii. For close to an hour, I flipped between the last tasks of work and the flickering image of a tiny dot sliding across the surface of a giant, shaggy circle. The light from the window, still warm and gray and pink at 7:30, hurt my eyes when I looked away from the screen. The transit won't happen again until 2117, a year that even our … [Read more...]

A Review of the Cover of Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven: A story of violent faith.

Under the Banner of Heaven (Doubleday, 2003)

Author’s note: Yes, I’ve read the book.Canaan Mountain is almost unbearably symbolic. … [Read more...]

The Limits of Mormon Assimilation

As a historian of religion in the early American republic, much of my research has focused on the connections between Mormonism and Protestantism in the 19th century. I’ve made it a point to emphasize the ways in which early Mormonism was influenced by evangelical Protestantism and have even gone so far as to argue that the early history of the Latter-day Saint movement is best understood not explicitly as a radical break from evangelicalism but rather as part of the larger American Protestant t … [Read more...]

Mormon Patriotism and the Cultural Reading of Scripture

Harold I. Hopkinson, "That We May Be Redeemed" (1989). This painting, which depicts Wilford Woodruff's visitation from the Founding Fathers, was commissioned by the LDS Church in the Constitution's bicentennial year.

At the New York Review of Books blog, Garry Wills recently asked some important questions about Mormonism and the Constitution. Recalling discussions he had with an LDS student two decades ago who believed that America’s two founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, were both inspired, Wills raised several provocative questions: Should every section and article of the original Constitution—including those that perpetuated slavery—be considered inspired? If the text … [Read more...]

Is Mormonism Ridiculous?

In The Book of Mormon Broadway musical, the central character Elder Price sings, “I Believe...” followed by a mixed series of benign and ridiculous claims. The genius of the song is that it so perfectly performs widespread American perceptions about Mormonism in the early 21st century.  Elder Price, and Mormons in general, are presented as harboring some naive and strange ideas, but in the end being good people with good intentions who might actually be able to help people.Mitt Romney's upco … [Read more...]