Are You a Good Mormon or a Bad Mormon? How Exclusive Language Might Just Lead to Apostasy

Like many liberal Mormons, I looked forward to Joanna Brooks's interview with Jon Stewart, like a teenage girl looks forward to a Justin Bieber concert. It's not just that I'm a long time fan of Jon Stewart, though I am. I was also excited to hear from a Mormon feminist who is still active in the church and for others to hear from her. Sometimes it seems that the only Mormons who get air time are men who are active in the church and women who left years ago and only wish they'd left the faith … [Read more...]

The political irrelevance of anti-Mormonism

Political anti-Mormonism was a real force in late nineteenth-century America.  Commentators across the country denounced Mormonism as “the octopus of our political life” and as being distinctly “un-American.”  Every level of the federal government weighed in.  The Supreme Court ruled against Mormon polygamy in the Reynolds v. U.S. decision in 1879, and Congress passed anti-polygamy legislation in 1862, 1874, 1882, and 1887, all of which was accompanied with strident anti-Mormon sentiment.  Anti-M … [Read more...]

What Does It Mean to Be ‘Friend’

Yesterday morning, readers of the New York Times opened their Sunday papers to find John Turner’s op-ed, “Why Race Is Still a Problem for Mormons.” Turner, an assistant professor at George Mason University and the author of the soon to be released, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet, provides a careful and concise history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (LDS) often troubling relationship with people of African descent. Turner also argues why the contemporary church (and its member … [Read more...]

Why Mormons Should Write Fantasy Novels

Fans of fantasy and sci-fi, or at least Mormon fans of fantasy and sci-fi, have often wondered why Mormon writers are so well represented in the genre. Some have said there’s something in our theology that sparks it; others say it’s just a coincidence—a few Mormon writers were successful writing fantasy and sci-fi, they trained others, and it became a trend. Some think Mormons aren’t overrepresented, just more open about their religious affiliation than other writers. And, of course, some smirk. … [Read more...]

What It Means to Be Christian

So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Acts 11:22-26And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come.- Alma 46:15, The Book of Mormon Here are some ways Americans of one religious stripe … [Read more...]

Recommended Readings on Modern Mormonism

There's a lot of top 5 lists out there listing the best books on Mormonism. I thought it might be useful to provide a similar list specifically focused on "modern Mormonism." Judging which books are the "best," of course, is a bit subjective. I am, by training, a historian of the early American republic, and my research on Mormonism is thus largely limited to its earliest years. The books listed below, then, are those I've found most helpful in trying to understand modern Mormonism.Note: … [Read more...]

Individualism, Communalism, and the Foreign Past of Mormonism

For verily I say unto you, the time has come, and is now at hand; and behold, and lo, it must needs be that there be an organization of my people, in regulating and establishing the affairs of the storehouse for the poor of my people, both in this place and in the land of Zion. For a permanent and everlasting establishment and order unto my church, to advance the cause, which ye have espoused, to the salvation of man, and to the glory of your Father who is in heaven; That you may be equal in … [Read more...]

Weed, Mormonism, and the Language of Sexual Politics

The Josh Weed story continues, as evidenced by the recent ABC News Nightline interview and continuing articles, blog posts, and mushrooming comments. The country is fascinated with this homosexual man with a purportedly happy and [even sexually] fulfilling marriage of over ten years.  He has raised interesting questions about the nature of homosexuality, marriage, and self, that I think have done a great deal to deepen and broaden the conversation.In tackling one of the many elephants in the … [Read more...]