Doctrinal Disparity & Fragile Faith

Just over a week ago, the New York Times ran a well-considered and well-written (not to mention, front-page above-the-fold) in-depth examination of the expanding role of women in the LDS Church. The portrait it paints is even-handed, nuanced, and insightful, even if a bit discomforting for the increasing number of women and men who share the sentiment expressed by Joanna Brooks that the “great unfinished business of the church is gender equality.” Although the modifications may seem minute, and t … [Read more...]

On religious freedom and discrimination

With the recent proposed amendment to Arizona’s religious freedom law, Facebook has fed me a lot of outraged comments about religion and discrimination. Some rejected that discrimination was the sort of thing anyone could do for religious reasons: real religion teaches people to be kind to each other. Others allowed that people might have genuine religious reasons to want to discriminate, but denied that society had any reason to let them: “you can’t force your religion on other people” was the p … [Read more...]

The Decline of Something Called “Religion”

Stories of Decline Perry Miller’s exhaustive intellectual histories of Puritan theology were published back in the 1930s and 1940s, and did a lot to revitalize and rehabilitate the Puritans (what? You didn’t know that Puritans have been rehabilitated?).  One of Miller’s primary narrative structures – one he shared, interestingly enough, with his subjects - was the declension narrative: that is, early Puritanism of the 1620s and 1630s shared, as Miller put it, “almost unbroken allegia … [Read more...]

Mormons and Basketball in the Philippines

Filipino

“There are good Mormons, rogue Mormons, drunk Mormons, polygamy Mormons. But one thing they all have in common is basketball.” -Rick Majerus, former University of Utah head basketball coachMormons have a unique love affair with basketball, as Matt Bowman has deftly analyzed elsewhere. From the pickup games and (slightly) more organized local leagues sponsored by Mormon stakes and wards to 2011’s Jimmermania, and from LDS Prophet Thomas Monson’s casual backslap of former Utah Jazz head co … [Read more...]

Missionary Work in the Pre-Correlation Age, My Grandfather’s “Mormon Doctrine,” and Mormonism’s (Un)Systematic Theology

My grandfather's 3-volume "Mormon Doctrine."

My grandfather took a train to Toronto, Canada, to start his LDS mission in 1948. After a very brief stay at the mission home, he was off with his new companion to find converts. The Church was very small at the time in the area. Big cities like Toronto and Oshawa had branches, but most small towns lacked a single member and the missionaries were left to travel long distances, usually once every few weeks, to neighboring villages in order to gather with missionaries and have a makeshift … [Read more...]

Who is Speaking for Me?

In 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon famously faced each other in the first televised presidential debates in American history. Nixon appeared sickly and sweaty; Kennedy handsome and strong. Not only did the debates have a major impact on the outcome of the presidential campaign, but they heralded a new era for American media: we wanted to see ourselves represented in the images of our leaders.More than just a cosmetic satiation, the need to see ourselves reflected in our role models … [Read more...]

Expanding Our Languages of Religious Experience

“I can imagine Jesus befriending my grandfather, too, frying up some breakfast for him, talking things over with him, and in fact the old man did report several experiences of just that kind. I can’t say the same for myself. I doubt I’d ever have had the strength for it. This is something that has come to my mind from time to time over the years, and I don’t really know what to make of it.”    - John Ames, Gilead During a visit from a couple women in my ward last week, we were chatting over New … [Read more...]

On Mormon Marriage Anxiety

I was 27 when I got married. That was well after most of my friends, whose wedding functions I attended. It was also after two younger sisters had preceded me into marital bliss. When my marriage did occur, it happened to the relief of some distant relations and other parties who had started to worry that I was malingering in bachelorhood. And it was also something of a relief to me, who had started to believe them. For this reason I’m sympathetic about what I and many I’ve talked with perceive a … [Read more...]


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