Wilford Woodruff Conference at Yale

This upcoming conference at Yale is the same weekend as the conference on Mormonism and Politics at Princeton. It looks like there are going to be some interesting papers, but it is unclear exactly if any of them are going to be more than historical recitations. If you are in the area, please go and let us know how it was!

The only question is why this conference is being held at Yale. All but one of the presenters is BYU faculty (Richard Lambert is a US attorney in Utah who runs the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation). Further, there is only a small LDS population in New Haven. Why fly out 8 people to speak to 8 other people?
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Conference Announcement at Prinecton

“Mormonism and American Politics”

Princeton University, November 9-10.

Mitt Romney’s run for the White House raises perennial questions about the place of religion in the public square and offers scholars an interesting occasion to reconsider the contested intersection of religion and politics. The media has made much of Romney’s religion and so have some sectors of the American public. What can we learn from public attitudes about Mormonism? Are the religious beliefs of a political candidate relevant to serving in office, and if so, how? Are there political implications to Mormonism? Do the legislative records and political careers of other Mormon politicians shed any light on this question? In what ways is Mormonism politically comparable to other religious groups?

This conference will explore some of these issues in four separate panels that will discuss 1) the earliest encounters of Mormonism and American politics, 2) Mormonism as a case study for church/state separation 3) media perceptions of Mormonism and 4) the role religious identity plays in the public square.

Participants include Richard Bushman, Richard Land, Kathleen Flake, Philip Barlow, Marci Hamilton, Alan Wolfe, Helen Whitney, Mark Silk, Noah Feldman, Sarah Barringer Gordon, Stephen Macedo, Thomas Griffith, Melissa Proctor, Robert George, Russell Arben Fox, Chris Karpowitz, David Campbell, John Green, and Francis Beckwith.

The event begins Friday, November 9th at 8:00 p.m. and continues until 5:00 Saturday, November 10th. It is free and open to the public.

For more information please see http://www.princeton.edu/~csrelig/

Is there a Mormon Diaspora?

Diaspora studies have become increasingly important in recent years. Anthropologists, political activists, theologians, linguists, and others have moved to the diaspora communities for rich research and fascinating studies. LDS scholars and thinkers have not been unaware of this trend and have sought to capitalize on this conceptual framework for making sense of contemporary Mormonism. There is no doubt that there has been a major shift in LDS populations leaving Utah for California, the East Coast, and other places around the world for educational, economic, and marriage reasons. However, I wonder whether this trend is properly understood as diasporic in a similar way to Africans, the archetypical contemporary diasporic community.
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The Study of Mormonism: A Growing Interest in Academia

In light of the recent FARMS post, I wanted to briefly discuss an article I came across by M. Gerald Bradford, published in a recent FARMS Review. I should first state how impressed I was to see an LDS scholar trained in a Religious Studies program, addressing the role of Mormon Studies within the context of Religious Studies. Bradford even lays out a brief outline of “Religious Studies”, influenced by Ninian Smart (former Professor at UCSB, and leading figure in the development of the field of Religious Studies). While tentatively accepting his characterization of Religious Studies, I would like to raise a couple of issues as it relates to both Mormon Studies and the Latter-day Saint engaged in this kind of Religious Studies. Continue reading “The Study of Mormonism: A Growing Interest in Academia”

Does FARMS Still Matter?

The latest issue of the FARMS Review offers useful insight into the past, present, and possible futures of FARMS. The issue (19/1) is a hodgepodge of topics, themes, and approaches. It addresses ancient scripture, Mormon history, debates with evangelicals, tributes to a recently deceased Mormon historian, reflections on a Joseph Smith biography, an essay on Mormon studies, book reviews, a lecture by Terryl Givens, and a BYU lecture on theology by Jim Faulconer. The FARMS Review is, indeed, a many-sided thing.
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Barlow going to USU

It’s official: Philip Barlow will fill the new Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University (see Salt Lake Tribune story here). This will likely disappoint some prospective students of Claremont Graduate University. However, it’s great news for USU students. Barlow is an excellent scholar by all standards. So what are your initial thoughts on the appointment?