Below you will find pages that utilize the taxonomy term “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”
technology-mediated authority in early Mormonism
As I wrote earlier, I recently appeared on the Salt Lake Tribune’s Mormon Land podcast to discuss a recent publication in which I discuss the history of official Latter-day Saint domain names. Near the end of the interview, David Noyce (managing editor of the Tribune and one of the podcast hosts) asked me the “so what” question—sure, this history is interesting, but what’s the takeaway? Here’s (part of) how I answered:
the Book of Moses and the subjectivity of scripture
One of the more interesting passages of scripture produced by Joseph Smith Jr. is in Section 36 of the Community of Christ Doctrine and Covenants (or the Book of Moses in the Latter-day Saint Pearl of Great Price): And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residee of the people, and he wept, and Enoch bore record of it, saying, How is it the heavens weeps and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?
media coverage of recent article on Latter-day Saint online presence
I recently wrote about a new article of mine in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought where I trace the history of the official domain names of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This past week, I was lucky enough for the fine folks at the Salt Lake Tribune to take interest in the article. Peggy Fletcher Stack wrote a summary of my findings in this (unfortunately paywalled) article, which appeared on Sunday.
new publication: technology, naming, and legitimacy in the Latter-day Saint tradition
I’m very excited to share that I’ve just had an article published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, a historically and culturally important journal in Mormonism. My article is entitled “The correct [domain] name of the Church: Technology, naming, and legitimacy in the Latter-day Saint tradition.” The title is a riff on Russell Nelson’s use of the phrase “The Correct Name of the Church” when leading a renewed emphasis on the full name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints early in his ministry as President of the same church.
reckoning and forgiveness
I write a lot about Mormonism on this blog, and even though I’m not shy about being critical, I think I’ve also made clear that in relative terms, I’m on pretty good terms with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Not on such good terms that I’m still an active member of that church, of course, but I still feel a lot of fondness for it, and I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself an “ex-Mormon”—the great thing about the word “Mormon” no longer being officially approved is that it makes it all the more appropriate for describing my own religious identity.
on reading scripture with an agenda
I grew up in a faith tradition that put a huge amount of emphasis on the King James Version of the Bible. It was only four years ago (in the early phases of my faith transition), that I deliberately picked up another translation to read instead. Even then, I picked a relatively “safe” transition to venture into: Thomas Wayment’s The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints. Since it was co-published by Deseret Book and BYU, it had some tacit approval from Latter-day Saint institutions, even if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints itself still identifies the KJV as its official English language text.
on the SEC and conflating a church with God
On January 24, 2023, Elder Kevin S. Hamilton of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave a speech at BYU where he made the following comments: As I visit with members across the Church, I sometimes hear things like “I don’t support the Church’s policy on (you fill in the blank).” Or “I don’t agree with the way the Church does (this or that).” Could I suggest an alternative approach?
a surprising (but ultimately damning) non-apology
Earlier today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement announcing that: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its affiliated investment manager, Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc., have settled a matter with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Unsuprisingly, the Salt Lake Tribune describes the context surrounding the settlement in more detail: In a settlement announced Tuesday with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Utah-based faith and its investment arm, Ensign Peak Advisors, have agreed to pay $5 million in penalties for failing to properly disclose past stock holdings and going to “great lengths” to deliberately “obscure” the church’s investment portfolio.
on faith transition and letting go of LDS modesty worship
I’ve mentioned before that I support the Salt Lake Tribune’s Mormon Land podcast on Patreon, one of the perks of which is that I get access to the Tribune’s Mormon coverage without having to subscribe to the whole paper (which would be a lot of money for someone who doesn’t care about Jazz coverage or Utah politics). Thanks to this Patreon perk, I read a lot of news about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and between that and over three decades that I spent as an active member of that church, you’d think that nothing would surprise me anymore.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'BYU-I instructors fired for failing ‘ecclesiastical clearance.’ They can’t find out why.'
This is such a frustrating story. I never wanted to work at a BYU, but as a Mormon earning a PhD, I often told myself I couldn’t afford to rule it out. This adds to the pile of reasons that I’m glad there weren’t jobs open for me to apply to. link to ‘BYU-I instructors fired for failing ‘ecclesiastical clearance.’ They can’t find out why.’
new publication: an autoethnography on French, data science, and paradigm change
I’m pleased to share the publication of a new chapter of an edited volume. The chapter in question is “I"m a French teacher, not a data scientist”: Culture and languages across my professions, and it’s part of a volume called Cultures and languages across the curriculum in higher education. According to the CLAC Consortium, Culture and Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC) is a: a curricular framework that provides opportunities to develop and apply language and intercultural competence within all academic disciplines through the use of multilingual resources and the inclusion of multiple cultural perspectives.
further thoughts on Jephthah's daughter
Yesterday, I wrote a post on Jephthah, a figure in the book of Judges who makes a commitment that if God helps him out in battle, he’ll sacrifice the first thing that exits the door of his house when he returns home. Robert Alter notes that there’s been a lot of rabbinic and scholarly effort to make sense of this but that in “any case, it is a rash vow.” Indeed, the vow goes wrong, and Jephthah winds up in a situation where’s he believes he’s committed to offer up his daughter in sacrifice.
on Jephthah, Jeremiah, and David Archuleta
Some of the most troubling passages in the Christian canon have to do with the sacrifice of children in the name of God. Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac is perhaps the most obvious example of this, but there are other examples that (ought to) raise as much concern in the mind of the believer. Perhaps the most interesting (to me) story along these lines is found in Judges 11:31 (I’m using Robert Alter’s fantastic translation throughout this post), where one of the eponymous judges, a man by the name of Jephthah:
thoughts on recent Mormon Land podcast
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Mormon Land podcast is one of my favorites—I’ve gone so far as to support it on Patreon so that I can get all the Tribune’s religion coverage without having to subscribe to the entire newspaper. Mormon news interests me a lot, but Utah news doesn’t interest me at all. Yesterday’s episode on age and Latter-day Saint leadership was one of the most interesting episodes that I’ve listened to.
on distinctions between 'church' and gospel'
During the last few years I spent as a practicing Latter-day Saint, one recurring pet peeve that I had was the overbroad use of the term “gospel” to refer to all Latter-day Saint doctrines, teachings, and beliefs. In hindsight, learning to separate the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ from everything that I believed was a major part of my faith transition—and my ability to continue in Christianity even when the version that I was used to started to no longer work for me.
standing the wrong way in the elevator: a response to Oaks and Gilbert
I ride an e-bike into work, and because an e-bike is expensive, I bring it into my office rather than lock it up at one of the bike racks on University of Kentucky campus. Because an e-bike is heavy, I also take it up the elevator to get up to the third floor, where my office is. My e-bike takes up a lot of space, but I’ve figured out how to share the elevator with others as I make my way up to my office.
sticking with the Book of Mormon
I am a big fan of the Book of Mormon. It’s one of the reasons that I stuck with Community of Christ when transitioning out of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know the book is problematic, and I doubt its historicity, but I’m still an advocate for making some religious meaning out of it. There are diverse opinions about the Book of Mormon in Community of Christ, and while there’s plenty of room to believe lots of different things, the default institutional view tends to be either indifferent or suspicious of the text.
Oaks and Benson on love of God and neighbor
Dallin Oaks, the second highest-ranking apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a speech at Brigham Young University yesterday where he touched on the “two great commandments” identified by Jesus in the Book of Mark. Unsurprisingly for anyone who’s been following recent signals of retrenchment at BYU (or anyone familiar with the apostle for that matter), Oaks put the two commandments in a particular order. Here’s how the Salt Lake Tribune quotes him:
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'How Mormons are addressing sex abuse: Too little, too late'
Appreciate Jana’s perspective on this horrible story. link to ‘How Mormons are addressing sex abuse: Too little, too late’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'A Few Minor, and Hopefully Helpful Editing Suggestions on the LDS Church’s Recent Statement about Abuse | By Common Consent, a Mormon Blog'
I’ve long lacked confidence in my own opinions (as a general rule—I can also be an opinionated jerk), so even the simplest disagreement with a position I’ve taken can take some wind out of my sails. When I read the official Latter-day Saint response to the recent AP story, I didn’t agree with it, but it still slowed me down some. “Maybe I should consider things from another point of view,” I thought.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'The Teen Who Helped Expose the Boy Scouts’ Pedophilia Epidemic, and the Mormon Church’s Cover-Up'
This reporting is from a couple of years ago, but I wasn’t paying enough attention at the time, and recent events make me regret that. link to ‘The Teen Who Helped Expose the Boy Scouts’ Pedophilia Epidemic, and the Mormon Church’s Cover-Up’
should I stay or should I go?
I haven’t attended the Latter-day Saint congregation I officially belong to since March of 2020, and I’m coming up on one year of being an official member of Community of Christ. It’s pretty clear to me—and, likely, to others—where my religious future is headed. Yet, I’ve always expected that I would remain a de jure—if not de facto—member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even if it’s not the right spiritual home for me or my family any more, and even if I have major disagreements with it, this church has been an important part of my life, and I’ve always wanted to preserve that by retaining my official membership.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Mormon church sex abuse: AP investigation | AP News'
This is a horrifying, sickening story. When it’s marriage equality, the Church is eager to say that being legal doesn’t make something right (a bad take, for the record), so to hear “it was fine because it was legal” as a defense for bishops’ failure to report child sexual abuse (at Salt Lake’s encouragement) is sickening. link to ‘Mormon church sex abuse: AP investigation | AP News’
'Belgian French' and the intentional awkwardness of LDS Book of Mormon translation
This week and last, I’ve been reading up on Mormons’ commitment to both the language of the King James Version (Philip Barlow’s Mormons and the Bible is a fantastic read) and what is seen as the authoritative text of the Book of Mormon. In Paul Gutjahr’s The Book of Mormon: A Biography, he quotes the official Latter-day Saint Scripture Translation Manual as including the following guidelines for translators of the Book of Mormon:
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'At long last, a photo of Mormon founder Joseph Smith emerges'
Some more coverage of the (possible) photo find. This is the only news I’ve ever read related to facial recognition software that I’ve been happy rather than grumpy about 😂 link to ‘At long last, a photo of Mormon founder Joseph Smith emerges’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Mormon founder Joseph Smith's photo discovered by descendant after nearly 180 years'
Whoa. Big news here. My feelings about Joseph Jr. are complicated, but it’s very cool to see a possible photograph of him. link to ‘Mormon founder Joseph Smith’s photo discovered by descendant after nearly 180 years’
thoughts on an in-press article—and on names and legitimacy in Mormonism
One of the highlights of the summer has been getting an article accepted in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. This article takes as a starting point Cragun and Nielsen’s argument (also published in Dialogue) that: what is really at play in the debate over the use of “Mormon” is legitimacy. Cragun and Nielsen are writing in 2009, at a time when Big Love is on the air and the April 2008 FLDS Temple raid is (or was recently) on the news.
thoughts on Joseph, Jesus, and fundamentalism
Over the past several months, I’ve been slowly working my way through Mark Scherer’s three-volume The Journey of a People, the most recent quasi-official history of Community of Christ. The first volume was interesting, since it covered an era of Mormon history that I’m familiar with from a perspective that I’m not familiar with. I found the second volume a bit harder to get through—some individual sections were fascinating, but it seemed to lack an overall throughline or narrative.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Learn English: The Anglicization of the Church | Times & Seasons'
Very interesting look at Anglocentrism in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. link to ‘Learn English: The Anglicization of the Church | Times & Seasons’
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'What the Latter-day Saint hymn ‘Love at Home’ has to do with blackface'
So, so many wild things in this article. I grew up loving this hymn and had no idea it had roots in blackface minstrelsy. Hope the Church will take it out of its next hymnbook, but I’m not holding my breath. The real kicker is Brigham Young’s concern about blackface—not because it’s racist but because it’s degrading to white people. link to ‘What the Latter-day Saint hymn ‘Love at Home’ has to do with blackface’
an 'ultimate sense of FOMO' and joining Community of Christ
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been putting a lot of work into adjusting my online presence, a project that I expect to last through most of the summer. In dividing my website into distinct subareas and pivoting from a single Twitter account to a number of Mastodon accounts, I’m trying to do something about the context collapse that’s been keeping me from sharing some of the big things going on in my life lately.
Dallin Oaks and Marjorie Taylor Greene on heterosexual extinction
Thanks to a recommendation from BoingBoing, I just finished reading a Business Insider article describing a recent video in which Marjorie Taylor Greene: predicted that identifying as heterosexual will be a thing of the past within a period of less than 200 years thanks to LGBTQ-inclusive sex educators, who she called “trans terrorists.” More specifically, Greene was quoted as saying that heterosexual extinction would come about “probably in about four or five generations.