Hidden Cameras

“My mom is watching me,” my son’s six year-old friend Jared confided. Jared and my son had spent the entire playdate at the playground climbing and chasing without a single quarrel and I had just complimented Jared on his courteous behavior. “She has hidden cameras.” We had only recently arrived in Hong Kong and Jared’s mother Naomi had been one of the first people to reach out to our family. The ingenuity and authority implied by this “hidden camera” technique… Read more

The Nuance of Prejudice: Why Paula Deen’s Racism Terrifies Us

With such strong allegations against Paula Deen, and in light of her own botched attempts at an apology, it’s hard to believe that anyone would not consider her decisions racist. In addition to using a racial slur which is itself a product of centuries of hatred and abuse against African Americans, Deen is condemned by the wedding she attempted to plan and a history of making racially insensitive remarks. Yet, despite all the evidence of Deen’s racism, the majority of… Read more

Justice, Law, and Politics

Reflections on the Case of Edward Snowden   Happy birthday, America! For all of you thinking about getting the country a gift, the good news is that you don’t have to worry about giftwrapping, since the government (and Google, and Amazon, and Apple) already knows what you’re going to give, when you got it, and how much you paid! The Edward Snowden case, following on the Bradley Manning and Julian Assange leaks and others in recent years, has opened a… Read more

LDS v. USA: Mormonism in the Age of Same-Sex Marriage

In a newspaper interview in 1994, Marty Baudet, the executive director of Affirmation, the flagship gay Mormon support group, said: “I predict society will acknowledge gay rights and, 20 years down the road, the church will find itself out of step once again [as in the case of LDS racial restrictions] and trying not to look bad.”⁠1 Baudet’s prediction was not quite as prophetic as it seems. It took only 19 years. In the wake of this prediction, the Church… Read more

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… Read more

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

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 Amazon.com wishlist) and funds for international… Read more

Memorial Day and Helmuth Heubner

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… 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… 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… 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 “prophetic people” rather than “a people with a prophet.”… Read more

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