I Think I’m In The Wrong Room

I prepared my conference paper with a particular audience in mind—the one I know: Mormons, specifically academic Mormons. The conference was the American Academy of Religion, Seattle, and I (so I thought) would be part of the Mormon contingent. I went to my session with Blair Hodges, who was also set to present. As my readers would expect, I had prepared a presentation on race and Mormonism—specifically what we mean by the recent Church statement, “We condemn racism, including any and all past … [Read more...]

Letter to a Struggling RM


He could be anyone. I might have made him up. Or this might be the template letter I sent to every missionary I wrote to after they returned. Someone once told me that we need a post-mission MTC--the RMTC. The struggles missionaries encounter upon their return when they are suddenly without a companion, back in the "real world," and in culture shock when they enter their own bedrooms deserves some special treatment.So here is my letter:Dear R.M.I want to do this the way I did for two … [Read more...]

For My Friend, Who’s Going through the Temple for the First Time

Lake_District_Liverpool_181 - Copy

Dear Ms. C:I received this in an email from a Congolese friend, Aime Mbuyi, two years ago: Long before I went into the Ghana temple as a missionary, I knew that it was the House of God. Two years earlier, my cousin had come to me and told me that he had had a discussion with some people who had just been in the USA. He said that these people had told him bad things about the Church and its temples. He told me many things against the Church and especially the temple. I was troubled. My … [Read more...]

Bruce Loves Margaret (and visa versa)


Our courtship is slightly famous.  Bruce gives his students copies of the essay he wrote about it, and I have my students read it as well.  And then, to boldly move it into the public blogosphere, Rosalynde Welch wrote about it here.The truth is, Bruce had been assigned by his friend Phil Barlow to write the essay for a book, but he hadn't finished it by the 1984 deadline.  Actually, he hadn't started it--though he had good ideas. He thought he'd write about faith and love.  But how do you do … [Read more...]

Official Declaration 2 PLUS

lucile bankhead

 It’s slightly old but very good news now.  The LDS Church has added to its scriptures.  For me, the addition to Official Declaration 2 (the statement that “all worthy males” could now be ordained to the priesthood, undoing the policy restricting those of African lineage from priesthood and associated privileges) is particularly significant:  Book of Mormon teaches that ‘all are alike unto God,’ including ‘black and white, bond and free, male and female’ (2 Nephi 26:33). Throughout the … [Read more...]

Dr. King, President Lincoln, and Joseph Smith

Genesis 562

On June 27th, 1844, Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith, Jr. was assassinated.  He was, at the time, running for the presidency of the United States.  LDS missionaries, unaware of his death, carried his platform for weeks afterwards as part of their proselytizing efforts. The winner of the 1844 election was James Polk, a slaveholder who made gains in territory but gave a de facto nod to slavery. He was succeeded by yet another slave holder—Zachary Taylor, who survived only part of his term and wa … [Read more...]

Mike Crapo: The First Boy I Kissed

Mike doesn't remember it, I'm sure.  He was twelve years old.  I was eight.  I was hopelessly infatuated with him--as any eight year old girl would have been.  He was adorable. Picture this: dark hair styled like Paul McCartney's; grey-green eyes; tall and still verging the growth spurt that would make him a lean specimen of manhood any artist could use as a model for Peter the Apostle.He was my uncle George's best friend.  I was certainly perceived as a bratty kid--and a redhead at that, wit … [Read more...]