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Found in translation

July 10, 2014

Book of Mormons

A week and a day ago I attended a lil’ shindig at Zion’s Books in Provo featuring three theologians’ thoughts (say that three times fast) on the question, “Is scripture relevant?” Joseph Spencer, David Bokovoy, and Adam Miller each presented short papers on this topic as it relates to recent work they’ve done, and I loved it! First of all, let me just say that while I’m kind of a newbie to this scene, from what others say and from my own observation last week, these three are great thinkers to keep on one’s radar of hip Mormon theologians. Yes, hip.

You can listen to each of their papers here, and there’s even photographic proof that I was there and that it was crowded. Read more…

“Everybody should tell their own story.”

July 7, 2014

Today and tomorrow we’re going through selections of oral histories collected under the Claremont Women’s Oral History Project, a major undertaking that Claudia spearheaded a few years ago while teaching at Claremont University. Reading someone’s own words about her life ends up being a really compelling experience, and then reading several together, I was struck by how vividly these women’s language-portraits emerged. Their personalities, temperaments, eccentricities, etc. took shape right before our eyes; it really stopped me up short. As we began today Richard made a comment about thinking in general that applies to this effect as well. He said, “Thinking is like walking in a London fog. In the distance you see something, but you don’t know what it is. It could be a bear. It could be a crocodile. You don’t know what it is, but it keeps coming. And in time, you start to get the silhouette, then the details and trappings, and then the features, and then you recognize it as an acquaintance.” I loved that. I loved the idea that by the time you get to where you can recognize your own thought, it’s no longer so unfamiliar, even though you may be articulating it in a particular way for the first time. And similarly, these women became people that we cared about after we heard them tell their stories. Read more…

Utah’s Best Crop

July 3, 2014

I’ll keep the post short today partly because in class we just talked more about our work in the periodicals and partly because I need to get some research done before partying it up on the 4th tomorrow. I am in Provo, you know, one of the meccas and capitals of 4th of July celebrations in the good U.S. of A. But it’s that very celebration that prompted one the fascinating things I learned in our discussion today. Claudia told us that back in the day, one of the floats or entries in Utah parades often touted several children along with the banner, “Utah’s Greatest Crop.” Claudia said, “Of course that’s true–they didn’t grow other things very well.”

I’m a Provo baby, so for better or for worse I’m a (partial) testament to the quality of this Utah crop. I’m also going to the parade tomorrow. If I see a Greatest Crop float, I’ll take a picture. Happy 4th!

Utah's Best Crop

“Utah’s Best Crop” — one that never fails.

Family, Inc.

July 2, 2014


In class today we each rummaged through an earlier and a later edition of a Mormon periodical or church publication to look for what they said about the family across the first half of the twentieth century. We’d hoped to be able to develop a narrative about the family from the various patterns we found. After discussing a slew of advertisements, the Boy Scouts, two-and-a-half-minute talks, general conference addresses on marriage, sentimental articles that chastise drunken husbands, and much, much more, Richard said, “Well, I feel discouraged. There’s just too much to deal with. One of the benefits if you’re first in a field is you can create the master narrative, but it seems like rather than forming a master narrative, we would need a series of dimensional studies.”  Read more…

Family HOME Evening

July 1, 2014
Wilford Woodruff

Wilford Woodruff

In 1890 under the direction of the fourth prophet and president Wilford Woodruff, the LDS Church issued the Manifesto, later canonized as Official Declaration 1, which banned the practice of polygamy in the LDS Church.

We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice…

Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.

…And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.

But did you know that there was a second manifesto?

Read more…

Family Feuds

June 30, 2014

* Thanks for so many visits to so many posts this past weekend! I feel kind of shy about publicizing the blog (but not as shy as many of you seem to feel about commenting), so if you want to get future updates, the easiest way would be to sign up to follow it on the right here. You’ll get an email when I put up a new post. But I probably won’t post the links on Facebook or elsewhere very often. Thanks!



If you had to pick a social issue that is the greatest threat to the family, what would you choose?

a) premarital sex
b) abuse
c) divorce
d) poverty
e) declining marriage rates
f) same-sex couples
g) working moms
h) abortion
i) single parents

It’s like a super serious Family Feud question. Ha! Get it? Family Feud? Read more…

How to write a book…with thousands of characters

June 26, 2014

That was our discussion today. Andrew Kimball was our guest in class. He’s a fifth-generation descendent of Heber C. Kimball, one of the founding and most influential early members of the LDS church. Andrew’s working on a project he estimates will require ten years of work, to write a book on Heber’s children and grandchildren. Here’s the catch: Heber had 65 children.

Lots of Kids

Read more…