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And so the Mormon Studies Review charts Mormon studies at a crit- ical early juncture. This interdisciplinary experiment shows signs of productive growth in literature, sociology, cultural studies, political science, and phi- losophy. In our hope to 8. What do we care if the so- ciety is good? Spencer Fluhman is assistant professor of history at Brigham Young University, where he teaches American religious history and Mormon his- tory. He was named editor of the Mormon Studies Review in Andrew F.
Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds. Tell me what drew you to that initiative and why you contin- ued to support it as it developed. AT: The formation of the Mormon Studies Council, as an advisory group to the School of Religion, and the subsequent development of the Hunter Chair were part of a broader plan to diversify the School of Religion.
As the faculty person in the modern history of Christianity and American religion, I was the natural faculty repre- sentative to the Mormon Studies Council, which at that time was com- posed of the dean, LDS leaders from Southern California, and myself. It was an exciting experience, coming together from our various perspec- tives to envision what Mormon Studies might look like at CGU.
They brought together members of the various councils—Islamic Studies, Indic Studies, Jewish Studies, Coptic Studies, and so on, along with Mormon Studies— to discuss some theme of potential interest to everyone, such as transmis- sion of faith across generations. These events provided council members a sense of what it is like to bring multiple traditions into conversation, something that each of the councils alone often found hard to envision.
The basic ideas behind the diagram emerged from my ex- perience as an American religious historian and historian of Christianity with a religious studies orientation who had been teaching for two decades in a Protestant theological school. While at Claremont, I taught courses in denominational history Methodist and Unitarian-Universal- ist , a survey of the global history of Christianity since the Reformation, courses in American religious history, and theory and method in the study of religion.
SF: What, if anything, has changed since you originally conceptualized this? I think I still am pretty happy with the trunk of the diagram— denominational studies, American religious history, Christian studies, and religious studies. Each of the lateral lines running through the nodes on the trunk could and should be expanded. I looked at some of the blogs from the conference on Mormon studies at Claremont in , and it strikes me that, among other possible improvements to the chart, orbs could be added to represent different audiences that Mormon studies scholars might be engaging, that is, various Mormon audiences LDS, Community of Christ, Sunstone types, etc.
Dif- ferent questions are going to come up depending on the audience that scholars are addressing. How and why they want to be posi- tioned in the academy varies somewhat. Jewish studies chairs have been around the longest and tend to be the most broadly conceived. As far as I am aware, the other programs generally are. Catholic studies chairs and programs of that sort have religious formation as one of their aims, per- forming a function much like Religious Education at BYU.
Often this presence offers a tacit recognition that the tra- ditions value. Chairs in Sikh studies differentiate Sikhism from Hin- duism, chairs in Tibetan Buddhism ensure the preservation of a tradition under threat, and chairs in Mormon studies give the tradition a place alongside other Christian traditions and other religions.
What space do you see for re- ligious education within Mormon studies? Is there something about contem- porary Mormon studies that makes LDS religious formation uniquely problematic? AT: I doubt there is anything uniquely problematic about the relationship between LDS religious formation and Mormon studies.
In general and as holder of a chair in Catholic studies at a public university, I stress our ability to shift our voice to one that is ap- propriate relative to a given audience or constituency. In the former, the aim of the institution is not religious formation but formation in the liberal arts, as well as the formation of educated citizens or something like that.
In private universities with a religious mission, the institution often aims to combine formation in the liberal arts with religious formation. Within any of these institutional contexts, we may want to teach students to dis- tinguish different voices, for example, the voice of the historian who speaks in light of approaches and methods shared by historians and the voice of a religious or nonreligious person when speaking in light of beliefs shared with cobelievers.
I wonder if this approach could be used to ease some of the tensions within Mormon studies. What strike you as unique opportunities or challenges that come with the academic study of Mormonism? This is not the kind of data we have for older traditions! The golden plates take us straight into one of the most interesting challenges: taking the whole range of ev- idence and views on contentious claims into account and making our way through them as scholars in as transparent a fashion as possible.
As you say in your introduction, we can never be completely transparent, but I found that being as forthright as possible about the problem I was trying to solve and the presuppositions I was bringing to it has generated a pretty positive response from both LDS and non-LDS audiences. How might religious studies help the imbalance?
AT: I agree: history does dominate. But I think there is a growing pres- ence of scholars from literature and sociology. With the global spread of the LDS Church, I would love to see ethnographers looking at how Mormonism is translating across cul- tures, not just in terms of formal procedures but in actual practice. Nor do we know much about subtle differences in what it means to be LDS in various cultural contexts or for different ethnic subcultures within the United States.
So all that strikes me as ripe for exploration. Religious studies scholars not only are free to embrace a range of meth- ods, but they ideally are trained in more than one tradition. Scholars who lack this training, and this includes most historians, are typically not as prepared to mentally enter into the beliefs and practices of a tra- dition and, thus, to capture what it feels like from the inside.
I think that whatever else we want to say about a tradition, conveying what it means to insiders is crucial. Do concessions or adjustments need to be made on various sides, Mormon and non-Mormon? AT: You made an observation about your experience attending an Ad- ventist studies conference a while back that I found quite illuminating. From what you said, it sounded as if you recognized yourself and other Mormon studies types in the Adventist scholars and felt as if you were looking at yourself in a somewhat distorted mirror.
I think this experience lies at the heart of being less parochial and more cosmopolitan. She is currently working on a book entitled Revelatory Events: Un- usual Experiences and New Visionary Movements, which will include ex- tensive discussion of early Mormonism. Louis on a west- ward journey by stagecoach, and Roughing It, published in , includes an account of what they found along the way, including Mormons.
Twain offered a somewhat mixed assessment of the Latter-day Saints. Mark Twain, Roughing It ; repr. Blair Hodges and Virginia Garrard Burnett also helped in important ways. Twain, Roughing It, , They were dusty and uncombed, hatless, bonnetless and ragged, and they did look so tired!
We walked about the streets. This was fairy-land to us. We felt a cu- riosity to ask every child how many mothers it had. In that sense, their story seems to harmonize with other US narratives about the trans- Mississippi West, tales about hardy individualism and collective destiny. At the same time, Mormons stood apart. They had prophets when the time for prophecy had passed. They had new scripture after the canon had closed. They had theocracy after democracy had won the day.
They practiced polygamy at least until the turn of the century when the Vic- 3. Twain, Roughing It, Twain, Roughing It, 87— Some themes for a comparative study of Mormonism It seems to me that Mormonism offers scholars of religion a number of interesting points of comparison. Let me mention a few. The rise of Mor- monism can be usefully compared with the emergence of other new reli- gious movements including Christianity and Islam , and that comparison 5.
I am grateful to Philip Barlow for this insight. The mature Mormon body is clothed with sacred undergarments and marked by ritual prac- tice, and it might be interesting to compare Mormon with Sikh, Zoroas- trian, and Daoist bodily practices. David G. Bromley and Phillip E.
Reid L. For comparative analysis of religion and the body, see Sarah Coakley, ed. In my theory of reli- gion, I argued that religions are about crossing and dwelling. And Mormonism seems to emphasize crossings of all sorts. As I un- derstand the term, religious crossings can be terrestrial, corporeal, and cosmic: in other words, traditions prescribe and proscribe movement across the landscape, the life cycle, and the ultimate horizon of human life, however that is imagined.
To focus only on two terrestrial cross- ings—or the ways that religions propel devotees across the natural land- scape—both migration and missions seem especially important in Mormonism and especially useful for comparisons. Thomas A. Jan Shipps has explored similar themes in connection with Mormonism.
George, UT: Dixie College, Stop along the trail and read their own accounts of what happened. This distinction between voluntary, coerced, and forced migration is one that some social scientists have made. The term missionary has re- ferred more narrowly to a Christian charged with spreading the faith, though by extension scholars have used it to label emissaries of other tra- ditions as well.
Not all religious traditions have dispatched representatives to convert others, and even those that have a history of such activity have not supported religious emissaries as vigorously in all times and places.
At other times missionaries were representatives of the state and used co- ercion, even violence, to win converts. Charlemagne turned to coercion to bring the Saxons to the faith, even laying out penalties that included death for those who refused baptism.
Missionaries have been less promi- nent during most of Islamic history, yet there are some instances of sys- tematic attempts to seek converts. As with Islam and Christianity, at some moments in its history, Buddhism also has been spread by monastic- or state-sponsored representatives of the faith.
See Matthew ; Acts Middlesex, UK: Penguin, The LDS Church reports that nearly 70, missionaries—most of them young people—are serving at any one time. On Charlemagne, see Matthias Becher, Charlemagne, trans. David S. For a translation of the Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae, see the passages in Dana Carleton Munro, ed. King, Of course, Buddhist emissaries also have transmitted practices, artifacts, and beliefs in other times and places—for example, as monks from the Paekche kingdom 18 BCE— CE brought Buddhism from Korea to Japan.
Buswell Jr. On Buddhists as active agents in the propagation of their faith since the nineteenth century, see Linda Learman, ed. Shipps, Mormonism, As Jan Shipps noted while analyzing the recent growth—and the concomitant shift in emphasis from ethnic to religious identity—accord- ing to church estimates, the Latter-day Saints claimed one million mem- bers in , most of them in North America. Expanding at an av- erage rate of about 1 million new members every three years, the church estimates the current membership at more than 14 million, about one quarter of them Spanish speakers, who now make up a larger proportion of members than English speakers.
As of September , they re- ported 14,, members worldwide, with 29, congregations using languages. I realize that some scholars have raised questions about the reliability of self-reported in- formation about religions in general and Mormons in particular. Our History, I am indebted to John-Charles Duffy for the reminder that temple building has led to a decline in movement in some ways.
Ed- munds, D. In recent decades this tradition has also reached across the globe, transforming and being transformed by con- tacts and exchanges along the way. Our Heritage, 1. Neilson and Van C. See also Reid L. Reflecting on the history of Mormonism might be a good place to start, however, as we respond to the challenge of writing boundary-crossing narratives.
So, as I have tried to suggest, Mormonism can serve as a generative case study for comparative religious studies, transnational American Studies, and translocative history. Tweed holds the W. He is currently working on projects about the history of religion in the Americas. There are local and regional studies of Mormonism in Latin America, including these historical and social scientific studies of Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, and Argentina: F.
Yet the Mormon heartland of Utah has stood out as a state particularly committed to the discipline even as it too has begun to see cutbacks. Jan Brunvand—arguably the most famous folklorist in the country—made his career at the University of Utah drawing on numerous LDS examples in his popularization of the folklore term urban legend. USU Press has been one of the top three or four presses for academic folklore publishing, responsible for the most popular classroom textbooks and much cutting-edge folklore scholarship.
When William A. William A. Wilson further noted that, paralleling shifts throughout the study of folklore, scholars studying Mormon folklore shifted from viewing the songs and stories they were collecting as survivals of the past to seeing them as vi- brant traditions that often told much more about what is relevant and meaningful in the present than about the past they purportedly de- scribed.
He also pointed to past oversights such as assuming cultural ho- mogeneity among all Mormons, focusing on the text to the detriment of situational context and audience interpretation, ignoring the people who create and perform these folk traditions, and attending only to Utah Mor- mons.
It is this last complaint that is particularly noteworthy since so much of the history Wilson recounted was tied to the region, where Utah and Mormon were often assumed to be synonyms—an assumption that continued long after his article. Jill Terry now Jill Terry Rudy picked up where Wilson left off, at- tempting to capture the state of Mormon folklore studies of the s and 80s. Austin E. Themes addressed in early studies continued to be explored, but with new approaches or dimensions.
In addition to studies of humor attending to J. Golden Kimball anecdotes4 and jokes about Scandinavian immi- grants,5 studies of various joke cycles circulating among contemporary Latter-day Saints began to emerge. Claude Richards, J. Lee, J. Wil- son and Richard C. New explorations in folklore study, however, also began to emerge, including attention to folk speech,9 women,10 and new method- ologies in which interview data that provided emic interpretation joined textual analysis as an increasingly meaningful way to approach folklore analysis.
Mark P. Charles L. Wilson and John B. Harold S. Madsen and John L. David Stanley, ed. In addressing these questions, Rudy discussed how the study of Mormon folklore shifted from a regional focus to a religious one as the reach of the LDS Church expanded across the country and around the world. Instead of accolades, the focus on the super- natural has become problematic by creating too great an imbalance and a false impression that the daily lives of Latter-day Saints are consumed with supernatural encounters and experiences.
Golden Kimball stories16—but also suggested areas that she and others hoped would be explored in greater measure. These included more attention to the LDS Church in international con- texts, a focus on the contemporary lives of diverse members, perform- ance-oriented studies, and comparative work to place the Mormon experience within larger contexts.
Looking back at them with the advantage of hindsight, however, suggests room for revision, as does the decade of studies between the survey and today. Eliason, The J. Fife and James M. Concerns that Mormon folklore studies have often ignored deeply spiritual religious traditions, focusing instead on unusual supernatural occurrences, beliefs, and legends such as those about the Three Nephites, should be tempered.
While the intense focus on the Three Nephites is noteworthy, it is important not to overlook a substantial body of schol- arship that has attended to religious traditions more at the center of Mor- mon spiritual life. Louie W. David J. Attebery, ed. Fife and Fife, Saints of Sage and Saddle George H.
Eric A. Lucy M. Cornwall, T. Heaton, and L. Young Chicago: University of Illinois Press, , — Michael Quinn, Western His- torical Quarterly 20 : — To a large extent, the study of Mormon folklore serves as a metonym for the study of folklore in the United States more broadly. However, there are areas where the study of Mormon folklore has developed either slightly out of step with, or in anticipation of, these larger trends.
In Wilson noted that more attention needed to be paid to situational con- text, and he was right; but we should acknowledge that Hector Lee was beginning to ask these questions of his data on Three Nephite stories as Scholars of Mormon family dynamics have followed the lead of their family studies discipline in investigating the importance of customs, traditions, and rituals to functional families. This approach has been a central feature of folk- loristics since the s.
Loser et al. Marks and D. Hoffman New York: Routledge, , — Phil Barlow and Terryl Givens forthcoming in These traditions consist of ballads, folk songs, narratives including legends, personal ex- perience, and histories , material culture, and vernacular architecture. Accordingly, the history of Mormon folklore studies should include the work of cultural geographers and architectural historians such as Thomas Carter, Richard Francaviglia, Richard H.
Mauss and anthropologist David R. Knowlton; and religious studies scholars such as Richley H. Crapo—all of whom have attended to ver- nacular traditions of Mormons in the same way that Jill Terry Rudy drew archaeologist Mark Leone into her earliest survey of folklore scholarship on account of his work in Mormon architecture.
Somewhat more problematic, but still productively drawn into any survey of Mormon folklore studies, are the studies done by historians considering vernacular histories of the LDS Church. One of the most notable examples of this tension was when Kate B.
Carter, president of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, was rumored to have been telling interviewees for her book series of faith-promoting stories not to talk to Hector Lee or any of his university colleagues who were engaged in similar work.
Certainly part of this can be explained by commercial territorialism, but there is also the suggestion that Carter was worried that stories she viewed as spir- itually powerful would be handled inappropriately by academics. Yet in folklore this divide between academic-trained folklorist and amateurish collection remains, as evidenced by the many popular press collections of ghost stories and folktales, many of which have been reworked and retold by authors, rendering them of little use to academic folklorists.
In Mormon studies, there is a parallel divide between faith-promoting books written for church members and academic studies written by and for academic audiences. First, it should be noted that there has not been a huge increase in Mormon folklore scholarship in the past decade. When these works are placed within the larger context of Mormon folklore research, how- ever, it is possible to identify patterns that appear to endure by either con- tinuing into the present or taking interesting detours.
The growing shift toward ethnography in Mor- mon folklore studies is not surprising. Folklore as a discipline developed out of two academic traditions: one based on literary texts and focused on ballads, the other ethnographic with a focus on American Indian cul- ture and mythology. Mormon folklore studies grew out of the text-based ballad branch of the discipline, and the history of Mormon folklore In Tom Mould continued the synthesis of ethnography and archival research as Brady had done but reversed the balance, this time with the archival data serving to provide depth and breadth to a primarily ethno- graphic study that moved outside the Intermountain West to North Car- olina.
While the increase in regional variation has been affected by studies within the Mould, Still, the Small Voice Eliason, Celebrating Zion ; Eric A. The same is true for the more historical studies of Jessie Embry and Jorge Iber, who have been exploring Mormonism among the nonwhite minority Latter-day Saints in the United States, including Asian Ameri- can and Hispanic members.
See, in particular, Jessie L. This work has been taken up primarily by female scholars outside the LDS Church. With ethnography comes variety and variation, situated perform- ances, and divergence in view and opinion. It also has the potential to highlight individual performers. This potential has to a large extent gone unaddressed. There are some important exceptions. For example, Mar- garet Brady, as previously noted, highlighted folk poet and healer Susan- nah Fowler as the focus of an entire book, though it is noteworthy that Fowler had been dead for eighty years by the time Brady published her work.
Golden Kimball, Porter Rock- well, and Joseph Smith have all received attention as subjects of folklore, but except for Kimball, none were viewed as folk performers. Brady, Mormon Healer Folk Poet Cheney, Golden Legacy ; and Eliason, J.
Golden Kimball Stories Sharing per- sonal revelation, for example, requires humility among Mormon narra- tors, where joke telling among the same group does not. Many folk genres of narrative, material culture, and foodways, for example, should be ripe for this kind of analysis that approaches individual performers as the skilled artists they are. At tension with the shift toward ethnographic study is the call for greater work in comparative studies.
Take conversion narra- tives, for example. Eliason has provided an important case study of the form, function, and aesthetics of conversion narratives within the Mor- mon church. It is useful to ask, then, whether there are patterns in conversion narratives that are fairly uni- versal among Christian groups, or among world religions more generally. Personal communication to author, Wilson was LDS. That said, when one considers the sustained commitment to Mormon folklore studies, the balance tips dramatically.
More attention has been given to areas outside the Intermountain West and to the kinds of questions that as- sume variation rather than homogeneity. For instance, Leonard Primiano has sug- gested the exploration of creativity within the context of an institution- alized church. Having the structures in place with formula, norms, and patterns as building blocks can help encourage creativity by providing Robert C.
Freeman and Dennis A. The creative process in the context of an institutionalized, hierarchical church like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will no doubt feel restrictive for some, but it will be liberating for others.
Comprehensive, event-based approaches that con- sider multiple genres within a single performance context hold particular promise for understanding vernacular traditions. Carol Edison, for ex- ample, has conducted studies on gravestones and obituaries.
A study of the intersecting traditions surrounding death that considers the distinct but related genres of gravestones and obituaries with music, foodways, narrative, and ritual related to death and mourning as a single coherent phenomenon would be particularly rewarding. Finally, with the yearly addition of student projects to the archives at Brigham Young University and Utah State University, folklore archives will no doubt continue to provide scholars with material, whether it is for comparative, historical studies showing longitudinal shifts and trends; for targeted studies of a particular theme, topic, or genre; or for mixed method studies in which archival research is used to support ethnographic It does, however, show clear signs of evolution that make it clear that Mormon folklore studies is dynamic rather than stag- nant and that there is room, lots of room, for continued exploration.
Tom Mould holds a PhD in folklore from Indiana University and is cur- rently associate professor of anthropology and folklore at Elon University. His current project examines the impact that legends and personal experience narratives about welfare have on shap- ing public opinion and policy. He has published on Mormon, Caribbean, Russian, English, Afghan, American, Mexican, military, hunting, and biblical cultural traditions.
His publications include The J. We tasked the group with exploring what it would mean to do Mormon studies in an academically rigorous manner consistent with the values of a state uni- versity. During this period, I was left to lead the project to conclusion and de- termine next steps for Mormon studies at UVU. This experience served as a powerful catalyst for questions regarding my field of study and has had a profound impact on my intellectual development.
With this background in mind, I intend to explore questions in this essay related to issues and challenges in the development of Mormon 1. The institution was at this time Utah Valley State College. Throughout the NEH seminar, two primary approaches emerged. Others, such as myself, argued that this approach faced both practical and methodological difficulties. On the practical side, which features of Mor- monism are to be celebrated, and which are eligible for critique?
And perhaps most importantly, who decides? To say this is certainly not to imply that cultural studies could not be an important component within Mormon studies. Owing to the influential work of Peter Winch, D. Phillips, and David Tracy, the intersection between devotional and critical approaches to the study of religion was a crucial question from the earliest days of my graduate studies.
What emerged for me was an approach that creates space wherein diverse methodologies and perspectives are allowed ade- quate and appropriate voice. This space would protect and facilitate both methodological and ideological diversity, which is itself a core value in higher education and one more central, I would argue, to the aims of the academy. Thus the criterion for inclusion in Mormon studies would be the extent to which a perspective was able to critically take account of other perspectives with intellectual rigor and with an appropriate open- ness to revision.
My arguments will be aimed in two different directions. On the one hand, I seek to argue that Mormon studies absent theological and apologetic voices is artificially exclusionary and unpro- ductive. On the other hand, I argue that the appeal to religious authority in deflecting critical arguments can be equally inappropriate and detri- mental.
To accomplish this, I will utilize the arguments of Robert Neville in his presidential address to the American Academy of Religion. The short space of this essay allows for a mere sketch of the arguments.
I present them in the hope that they can inform a more sustained and rich dialogue on these issues. There is, for example, an entire literature surrounding 4. It will have to recognize the limits of expla- nation and theory and be content to explain the subject-matter—and nothing more—rather than show itself a form of political or religious be- havior. Eerdmans, ; and J. Smith, and other notables in religious studies. See James L.
One barrier to progress lies in the historical particularities of Mormon apologetics. Though the quality of this literature has been uneven and the discourse polarizing , this does not, in my view, affect the principle at hand. Contrary to certain of my colleagues in religious studies, I be- lieve that apologetics can and should have a legitimate place in the ac- ademic study of religion; and further, that it can aid in clarifying the issues that unite and divide those of diverse faith communities.
That said, I believe equally as strongly that apologetics done poorly and inappro- priately has the ability to do tremendous harm to the intellectual and eth- ical life of a religious community. According to this description, apolo- getic accounts would have application here at least to the extent of my use of the argu- ments. David L. Paulsen and Donald W. Known in the philosophical litera- ture as negative apologetics, it has the relatively modest goal of neutraliz- ing criticisms rather than proving as true a particular point of doctrine.
Others maintain the legitimacy of going beyond negative apologetics and employing arguments to demonstrate the superiority of Mormon belief and practice. Arguably the most articulate and passionate defender of this position is Daniel C. Peterson, whose approach to these issues provides an example of key issues at hand in this essay. Like me, Peterson wants to argue for a more inclusive approach to Mormon studies that would incorporate apologetic voices.
There is, I believe, a place for both. Livingstone, 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, , Daniel C. Thus, according to R. One illustration of this phenomenon is the popular metaphor of apologetic arguments as buttresses in support of religious faith rather than serving as the foundation to faith. Peterson will almost cer- tainly affirm that these arguments are, at least in principle, subject to re- vision and correction.
See Antony Flew, R. Since this debate, the philosophical community has produced a vast literature de- voted to the question of the epistemological status of religious belief. Be that as it may, one may inquire regarding the practical implications of these but- tressing arguments in the life of a religious community.
Within Mor- monism in particular, certain of these arguments have acted as valuable supports to religious belief and action. Finally, and more practically, whose voices will be included? To what extent would a defeating argument be allowed voice in this imagined community? I maintain that in order to preserve both methodological consistency and ethical charity, inclusivity must allow arguments that could potentially defeat a valued apologetic argument. This has not been readily observ- able in the LDS apologetic community; but if apologetic voices are to maintain academic legitimacy in the conversation, they need to be pub- licly accessible to criticism and potential defeat.
Revelation and publicity This brings us to a related set of considerations regarding the role of rev- elation and religious authority. Defeasibility is an important category in the epistemology of religion. A defeating argu- ment is thus one that successfully demonstrates the weakness or falsity of a belief. This situation may be acceptable or even desirable in serving religious ends; but its academic limitations must be recognized by parties on all sides.
In my judgment, ample mischief has followed from the conflation of academic and confes- sional considerations in the study of religion. See also Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures, ed. Paul Y. This is the balance that must be sought if apologetics is to enter at the right place in the conversation. Rather than balkanizing the conversation, I hope the Mormon studies community can reach out to see what might be of value in the other voice and build upon it.
Brian D. After completing undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Utah, he attended Claremont Graduate University, where he received a PhD in the Philosophy of Religion and Theology in His areas of specializa- tion include religious pluralism, comparative theology, and interreligious dialogue. Gender in Mormon Studies: Obstacles and Opportunities Susanna Morrill Past and present According to thy sex thou art a mother in Israel, thy posterity shall multiply and become numerous upon the earth, thy name shall be handed down to the latest generation in remembrance of thee as an honorable mother in Zion.
Groves on 23 February 1 Even in airports, gas stations, and department stores, we Mor- mons could spot other Mormons: married people with several chil- dren in tow; always modestly dressed. Gender is an essential way that LDS leaders and members struc- ture time and space, rituals, and cultural roles. It forms the backbone of 1. These gender structures carry through in the lived religious experiences of members as demonstrated by Joanna Brooks in her recent memoir when she describes how easily she could recognize Mormon men and women.
The Mormon community nurtures these traditional gender norms in order to set itself apart from main- stream American culture. From a Mormon theological perspective, men and women are born gendered in a spiritual preexistence as spirit chil- dren of Heavenly Father and a Mother in Heaven, and they remain es- sentially male and female into eternity. The unit of highest exaltation is a man and women sealed together for eternity by the priesthood power manifest only in the lay institutional structures of the LDS Church.
Gen- der distinctiveness, therefore, is one of the central engines for eternal progression, even as it offers clear directions on how men and women should go about their daily lives—how they should be a mother and fa- ther walking through an airport or department store.
And yet, in Mormon studies, gender has been often neglected as an interpretive category. This stems, in part, from internal pressures on Mor- mon scholars who have gender as their focus. Because gender is so central to the community, and because, in Mormonism, historical interpretations have theological resonance, as is well known, in the recent past some scholars and writers who studied gender ran afoul of the church. To cherry-pick a few examples, today John Turner incorporates the experiences of early LDS women into his biography of Brigham Young, the church has published the minutes of the Nauvoo Relief Society, and Dave Hall is preparing a biography of Amy Brown Lyman that explores shifting notions of gender in the early twen- tieth century.
Questions and obstacles remain. How 5. See, for instance, Emmeline B. Women of the Past. John G. Mormon scholars of Mormonism have been protective of the historical and cultural legacy of their com- munity, a community that has faced much public derision.
The people and subjects Mormon scholars write about are alive to them in ways that escape non-Mormon scholars—alive, perhaps, in the memory of a loved one, or alive in the proxy embodiment of a deceased relative during tem- ple rituals. Thus, there will always be internal, community-focused dis- cussions over this central issue of gender. This is inevitable and healthy in a community where historical interpretations shape present-day ex- pectations and church policies.
Still, as scholars we need to continue to reach out to larger academic discussions. This creates scholarly synergy on all sides. The history and experiences of the LDS community are a vital part of wider cultural dialogues about gender. They illuminate larger realities in the American experiment, as the work of, for instance, Sarah Gordon and Samuel Brown demonstrate in their books on marriage morality and death practices, respectively.
Mormon studies scholarship on gender can contribute much to the ultimate goal of the academic study of religion: to understand the varieties of religious experiences and, thereby, to support more civil, informed dialogue about religion and gender. Catherine A. Thou art a daughter of Abraham of the loins of Joseph, a lawful heir to the blessings, privileges and power that pertain to the fullness of the Holy Priesthood. Groves on 23 Feb- ruary 9 In the world I grew up in, it was not okay to tell unorthodox sto- ries.
We did not hear them in church. We did not read them in scripture. But sooner or later they break through the surface in every Mormon life, in every human life, in every life of faith. Brooks, Book of Mormon Girl 10 Because of the more internal focus of Mormon studies, scholarly questions around gender can get focused on the big, obvious, and con- troversial: polygamy, priesthood, the Mother in Heaven, same-sex mar- riage. This is necessary, and even as a non-Mormon, I am as guilty of it as the next person.
Yet I hope—and see this is happening—that we also can move behind these big issues and delve more deeply into the multifarious, complex ways that gender has shaped and continues to shape Mormon culture, from how men and women dress and move in their bodies to how gender assumptions inform noninstitutional modes of authority. Because gender has always been so central to the social structures and theology of the church, gender has always been discussed in the community.
These conversations have been loud, quiet, challenging, reinforcing, negotiating, direct, indirect, and even unknowing. Scholars are exploring the ortho- dox as well as the unorthodox conversations that Brooks claims always come to the surface. Marquardt, Later Patriarchal Blessings, Brooks, Book of Mormon Girl, They use this personal, prophetic au- thority to work out—to live within and even create—the ideal gender structures of their community.
Women wrote literature that was also theology. That is too dualistic and simple a formulation, but there is some truth to it. Mormon men and, especially, Mormon women have been writing stories and poems since they began converting to Mor- monism in the s. In the nineteenth century, there was an especially lively culture of literary Mormon women.
In her capacity as editor, Emmeline B. Best-selling authors Orson Scott Card and Stephenie Meyer are descendants of these earlier authors, as are lesser-known authors and poets who contribute their work to the Ensign, Sunstone, or Mormon mommy blogs.
These literary, poetic, and personal creations are gold mines for schol- ars as they examine how men and women talked about and lived within the simultaneous distinctiveness of gender roles, the realities of life, the patriarchal structures of the church, and the wiggle room of prophetic op- portunity. As scholars mine these sources with an eye to gender as a central, or- ganizing category, we will learn more about the way gender has shaped— and continues to shape—the history, theology, and everyday lives of Mormons.
We will see the diversity of experiences in the church through time, and the increasing diversity of the LDS Church today as it becomes even more of a global community. This is an exciting time for those in- terested in understanding gender in Mormonism. The will, sources, and experience exist to widen, complicate, and, thus, enrich the discussion. The door is open; I hope we step through. She is currently working on a cultural history of the Mother in Heaven.
Despite the fact that a majority of Mormons now reside outside North America and that the stakes of Zion now dot the globe, the vast majority of Mormon stud- ies focus on Mormonism in North America, usually in the United States. Yet it is also important to note that outstanding work has been done on Mormonism outside North America and that some ambitious and prom- ising projects are under way. Four structural issues immediately come to mind.
First, Mormonism, though claiming a global presence, is still a very young religion. Not all roads lead to Salt Lake City, but for Mor- mons, wherever they may be scattered around the world, there is at least one road that does.
This information gap in church statistics is particularly problematic outside North America, where populations of Mormons are so tiny that they are ignored by external researchers while in America numerous external religious surveys have included Mormons as a group. In many places where they have been established for decades, Mormon ecclesiastical units actually have very shallow generational footholds that are unable to sustain the sort of organic growth one would expect to see in a church mature enough to be a worldwide religious tradition.
Schol- arly projects must contend with this great and often hidden variation in the strength and distribution of Mormon units across the globe. Fourth, while the majority of Mormon studies scholars residing in North America agree in principle on the importance of doing more re- search outside North America, numerous practical impediments exist. For an answer we might turn to anthropologist Fenella Cannell, who suggests that academics studying religion should be careful to examine their own internalized as- sumptions.
She notes, for instance, that the Western discipline of anthro- pology may have internalized certain Western Christian theological positions, such as the notion of the radical separation of body and spirit. Could there also be ways in which we have unconsciously internalized certain theological, cultural, or other as- sumptions that shape how we organize and interpret Mormon history?
Indeed, when it comes to the life of a local Mormon unit, as the Chinese saying goes, Heaven is high and the emperor is far away. Fenella Cannell, introduction to The Anthropology of Christianity, ed. Cannell Durham: Duke University Press, I suggest that this center is in fact what many are accustomed to seeing as the periphery: the Global South.
It would be interesting to know, for instance, what per- centage of miracle stories healings, visions, exorcism, etc. My preliminary impression based on my experience within the church as a member is that the relationship between North American Mormonism and non—North American Mormonism might be described in terms of the symbiotic, mutually dependent exchange of an economic system. I wonder if charismatic resources i. See, for instance, the work of David D.
See Thomas D. See, for instance, Sheridan Gilley and Brian Stanley, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Lamin Sanneh and Joel A. In most places outside North Amer- ica, Mormons are a tiny minority, often representing less than 1 percent of the population. In many cases, Mormon communities become shaped as much by their minority status as by their beliefs and practices. Gordon Melton and Elisa Zhai. See, for instance, Elizabeth E.
Rick Lee, e-mail message to author, 14 March I would like to suggest a pair of images that may be useful in conceiv- ing how to approach the study of Mormonism as a global religion. Sup- pose we visualize Mormonism as a tree that grew from a seed. The oak tree, common in North America and Europe, might come to mind.
It starts from a single seed, puts down roots, and starts to grow. As it grows, Espiritu, Asian American Panethnicity, 8. It starts from a seed lodged in a crack of a host tree. It puts down roots and starts to grow. As it grows, it branches. These branches send down slender roots, called prop roots, that plant themselves into the soil all around the main trunk.
Over time, prop roots develop that can become indistinguishable from the original trunk. The challenge of studying global expressions of Mormonism will lie in showing that Mormon communities in places such as Hungary, Guatemala, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are not just branches of an American church, but authentic parts of a vibrant religious tradition that is nourished by deep local roots—all over the world. Mormon studies simply involves studies of things Mormon, including the Mormon people and their history but also their scriptures and their doctrines.
Nothing in the term privileges, say, research into the reception history of the scriptures over philological, archaeological, and historical approaches linked to their claimed origin or Sitz im Leben—even if, as in the case of the Book of Mormon, that origin is controversial. A portion of this essay is drawn from Daniel C. Unlike Chairman Mao, though, I mean it sin- cerely. But these are political considerations, not philosoph- ical issues.
I am a pluralist. Many of them are Muslims, some fervently believing and some only nominally 3. I hope that my sympathy is apparent in such things as Daniel C. I had a mentor in graduate school who, so far as I could see, was utterly color-blind, religiously speaking—which struck me as an odd quality in a historian of Islam. Many of them are non-Muslims, of various religious and secular back- grounds.
Because they see things from a different perspective than I do, they tend to see different things than I do. Just as my own vantage point creates blind spots, though, so do theirs. We need each other. Religious studies may, and often do, involve history, but the use of history may not quite rise to the level of professional historiography.
Fifty survey courses, Hugh Nibley used to remark, do not a scholar make. One might easily remain a dilettante. Or one might, at the worst, be simply an ax-grinding ideologue, having the form of scholarship but denying the power thereof. But none of that changes the fact that they are not, in and of themselves, distinct disciplines.
Rather, they are areas on which various disciplines can be fruitfully brought to bear. I would much prefer to see people gain solid training in a discipline and then bring that discipline to bear upon their study of Mormon-related topics. They can even be unproblematically undertaken by the same person. Indeed, Mormon apologetics has often drawn upon completely nonapologetic scholarship, both from out- side the LDS Church and from within.
Instead, they rely upon non-Mormon schol- arship that seldom if ever has Mormonism in mind. To cite two personal examples, I have applied the completely nonapologetic Book of Mormon scholarship of my fellow Latter- day Saints Grant Hardy and Royal Skousen for what I judged to be legitimate apologetic purposes. Paul J. See Daniel C. In response, a negative Buddhist apolo- getic will seek to show that there is no contradiction between them.
Critics of Christianity often argue that the existence of massive nat- ural evil in the world is incompatible with the existence of a benevolent God. A negative Christian apologetic will argue that the fact of natural evil actually can be reconciled with belief in a loving God. Attacks against the claims of the restoration began even before the publication of the Book of Mormon and the organization of the church, and Latter-day Saints have been responding to them for nearly two centuries now.
We should not be in- different to the truth or falsity of what we claim, and all the more so when our claim involves matters of ultimate importance. This means that reli- gious communities have an ethical duty to engage in negative apologetics, to defend or justify their assertions. Just as a person on the shore holding a lifeline has an obligation to help a drown- ing man, so do those who have the saving doctrines or practices have an obligation to help their fellow mortals who might otherwise perish.
Michael E. Marmura, 2nd ed. This is exem- plary apologetic behavior. These views are part of their blood and bone, among the presuppositions of their existence as human beings. Several earlier accounts of the vision were discovered as part of an effort to counter her claim. Author of, among other things, Muhammad: Prophet of God Eerdmans, , he founded the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative and served as its editor in chief for over two decades.
Also, my view of the future of Mormon studies is likely to pro- voke heated objections from some quarters. Nevertheless, I feel that the launch of the Mormon Studies Review provides a unique opportunity to offer my views, and because I do care deeply about both Mormonism as a religion and Mormonism as an object of scholarly inquiry, I have agreed to contribute.
Let me begin by offering my own view of what Mormon studies might be. I envision Mormon studies as the academic study of Mor- monism in its broadest sense. Like similarly constructed fields of study such as Buddhist, Catholic, or Jewish studies, Mormon studies belongs to the academy at large and is, therefore, not primarily a devotional ex- ercise.
Mormon studies is a discipline that will require a very wide array of methodological approaches. Many scholars will bring to Mormon studies methods that work from the assumption that Mormonism can be studied academically only if we either assume that it is a human con- struct and cultural artifact, or if we set aside those questions of origin Mormon Studies Review, vol.
I happen to prefer the former approach, and I will provide an example of how this method works later in the essay. First, let me point out that a scholar who takes such a methodological tack does not necessarily believe that the religious tradition he or she studies is a human construct.
But, recognizing that the rules of scholarly inquiry are different from those that govern eternal Truth, even believing scholars can apply the same method to their own faith tradition as they would to faith traditions that they do not accept as God-given. Certainly, in LDS Church—sponsored institutions, this will not be the case. Theology and scholarly apologetics must be part of Mormon studies, and they will certainly find support and expression in such institutional settings.
He was a faithful member of the Church for five years and went to the Temple many times. He also The manuscript displayed was copied by Eva Palmer. Black for preserving and making this family history available. Property Reserve, inc. Turkish in Armenian characters Salt Lake City, , in pdf pages.
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