Skip to content


June 25, 2014



It’s been a rough week for me re: my fellow Mormon sisters. If you’re unfamiliar with what has happened, and even if you know all about it, the best articulation of the issue that I have read is this interview with David F. Holland, a professor at the Harvard Divinity School. I would put that link in blinking lights if I knew how to write the code. Note: it’s pretty academic but very good.

Anyway, the combined effect of the news of Kate Kelly’s disciplinary notice and excommunication on Monday has made much of my Internet experience as noisy and frightening as if someone had yelled “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and it has made my heart as sad as would a death in my neighborhood, even though I personally have not been a supporter of Ordain Women. I think that’s true of many of us, regardless of to what extent we agree or disagree with OW. And just as it would be very difficult to process one’s feelings about a death while running to a fire escape, this combination of frenzy and pain hasn’t always brought out the best in people. That hasn’t been the only side to it, though. While I don’t agree with OW in many respects, I am so grateful for the opportunity they have provided to think more carefully about women in the church. I’ve loved the conversations I’ve had with colleagues, friends, family, and leaders on this topic, and for the most part, those discussions have redoubled commitments and hope for improvements, fostered patience in the process, and fed a desire to comfort those who are struggling.

On top of that, while all this has been happening in real time, I’ve been going back in time with my seminar reading, getting to know more about polygamy in the early LDS Church. Read more…



June 24, 2014

Awesome day!

This morning bright and early I picked up a couple fellow seminarians and a baby, and off we went to Zion. I felt powerful in the HOV lane, zooming past all the other cars, and even better, the Conference Center parking was free today. Wahoo!

Today we went here

LDS Church History Library photo by Maithe38

LDS Church History Library
photo by Maithe38

and here (but just for lunch)

LDS Church Office Building photo by Ricardo630

LDS Church Office Building
photo by Ricardo630

and here.

LDS Church History Museum

LDS Church History Museum


Read more…

A Gentile and a Guest

June 23, 2014

Okay, this post is longer, but I couldn’t figure out what to cut. Such amazing stuff!

Elizabeth Kane

For today we read A Gentile Account of Life in Utah’s Dixie, 1872-73: Elizabeth Kane’s St. George Journal (Tanner Trust Fund Series), written by–you guessed it–Elizabeth Kane.

Elizabeth Dennistoun Wood Kane

Elizabeth Kane was not a Mormon and was married to General Thomas Kane who was a friend and defender of the Mormons in the Brigham Young era.


Elizabeth was raised back East with all the Victorian sensibilities of a fine lady, and like many other women in the East, she concluded that, given their practice of polygamy, the Mormons must be rather barbaric, and their women must be oppressed. Read more…

Fun with the JoD

June 19, 2014

Today we discussed individually assigned portions of the Journal of Discourses. I’ve said before that the JoD seems like the Apocrypha. You can find fabulous stuff in there. And, well, let’s just say that exactly what it is you find can be fabulous in many ways.


I found one discourse that opens with John Taylor saying that if everyone could finally get quiet he just might be able to share something. Some record shouted responses from the audience to the speaker’s message. The extemporaneity is obvious, even in the titles of the discourses. Some have three rather unrelated subjects in the title, just depending on where the speaker ended up. Of course what is included at all is somewhat arbitrary and was contingent on whether or not the two specialists in shorthand were present, Mr. Musser and Mr. Watt. Read more…

Polygamy, practically speaking, and poetic doctrine

June 18, 2014

Orson Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles delivered the first public address on polygamy or “plural wives” as he put it on August 29, 1852 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. You can find the address in the Journal of Discourses, vol. 1. I like imagining this guy



speaking on plural marriage in, I presume, this place–the Bowery–because not even the Old Tabernacle had been built yet, much less the current one.

Salt Lake Bowery

(By the by, if you’re interested, you can see several cool photos of General Conference throughout history here.)

Read more…

Family according to Lucy, Joseph, and Emma

June 17, 2014


After class today, I went to the HBLL (BYU’s very excellent library), and walking inside I was whisked back ten years and overwhelmed by the familiarity of the sight in this photo, the feel of pulling back the door’s weight, even the smell. I hadn’t realized the library had a smell! But there it was, right in my nose, and I loved it.

Here’s the other thing: I drove right up to that library because I HAVE AN A-LOT PARKING PASS. I can hear that you’re impressed all the way through the interwebs. BYU parking is about as bad as parking in downtown Chicago and almost as bad as NYC. Anyone who has fought this battle can imagine the powah I feel. I can park freakin’ anywhere but in handicapped and Deans and Directors spots. The feeling is like a grown-up version of beating an entire video game.

In class today we talked about the First Family of Mormondom, Read more…

I think I’m gonna like it here

June 16, 2014

The washer and dryer are down the hall.

Inside the house?? Oh, boy!!


Today was our first day of the Mormon Studies Summer Seminar (which I’m tagging SumSem) at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute with Claudia and Richard Bushman. The focus for this summer’s seminar is the family in Mormon culture. Various people have expressed an interest in the seminar, and so I decided that for them and for my own recordkeeping, I’d blog about it from time to time. If there are specific things you’d like to hear about, let me know in the comments. Read more…