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Q&A with David B. Ostler for Bridges: Ministering to Thos Who Question July 23 2019

 

 

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Q: Give us a brief background into who you are and why you decided to write this book.

A: I’m a retired father and husband, with six children and five, almost six, grandchildren. My children are wonderful and some no longer believe in basic principles and doctrines of the Church. I’ve been a leader in the Church and with my wife, served two full time and two church service missions. Our last mission was in our stake, working with leaders to better understand why people disaffiliate from the Church.

As we worked with our stake leaders, we research and studied the frequency and causes why people, particularly previously faithful adults, choose to disaffiliate. We found that Church-wide most leaders see disaffiliation as a very important concern in their ward, stake and particularly in their family. We also found that many leaders were not fully aware of the underlying reasons and didn’t feel they fully understood how to help. They probably feel the same in their homes.

So, after completing that calling, I decided that I could take what we learned and create a resource for members to better understand why people leave so that we could find common ground, build understanding and truly minister to those who no longer worship with us. I conducted some original research, interviewed leaders and disaffiliated members, and studied the words of our Church leaders as well as experts in the field. In this research, I learned that the pain of disaffiliation isn’t just felt by that person’s family or leaders, but also by the disaffiliating member. They often feel isolation, fear, anger and other hurtful emotions; often unintentionally caused by their family, friends, and leaders.

I hope this book can bridge that misunderstanding and give us a better understanding to build trusting and meaningful relationships with those who no longer believe as we do.

Q: Who is your intended audience for the book and how do you hope it will be used?

A: I think there will be two readers for the book. I wrote the book for fully believing members so that they can better understand their friends, ward member, or family member who no longer believes in the truth claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I hope it gives each reader understanding on how to build a trusted relationship with that person. With that understanding, I hope that some of the pain, fear, and hurt that is felt on both sides can be turned into love and acceptance. Perhaps in some cases, that understanding will create an opportunity for someone to “come back” or to have someone “stay.” For believing members, I hope that reading this book will help build a bridge with a better understanding as they minister to those who doubt.

I also realize readers will include some who no longer believe. I hope that this book will give them hope that we are trying to be more understanding and that their relationship with their families, friends and Church members can be strong and rich, even with differences in belief.

This isn’t a leadership book. But knowing that each leader is also a member and that we rotate in and out of ward and stake callings, I include some ideas that leaders can use with their callings. The principles are the same and can be applied in families, with friends, as church members, and when we serve in church callings.

Q: We hear numerous reports of religious disaffiliation in our modern age, particularly in Western society. How are these trends reflected in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

A: All churches and denominations are experiencing a drop in membership and participation. Younger Americans, particularly Millennials and Gen-Z, see little need to participate in organized religion. In fact, the fastest-growing group of religious identification is “spiritual, but non-religious.” As Latter-day Saints, we are experiencing these same trends. The underlying reasons include society’s broad acceptance of those who are non-religious, people being comfortable going it alone, less trust of institutions in general and of religions specifically, more opportunities to find friends and like-minded people through social media and other settings, and more. The reasons are many.

For the Church in the United States, data from social scientists show that disaffiliation for those born after 1970 is about 39% and, although the sample size is low, that 55% of millennials have disaffiliated. Most of those who disaffiliate remain on the rolls of the Church, but no longer think of themselves of Latter-day Saints. And they disaffiliate younger than previous generations. The average age of millennial disaffiliation is 18.4 years while for boomers it was 23.7 years.

Q: What are a few root causes for religious disaffiliation among Latter-day Saints?

A: Latter-day Saints experience all the same issues as other religions, but there are unique issues which we face. Some leave because they become aware of issues in our history which are controversial or seem inconsistent with our values. They may have concerns about particular Church policies, like our teachings about LGBTQ issues. They may disagree with the way in which women and men serve and experience the Church. Church culture and what they experience in their wards and classes may feel judgmental and perfectionistic. They may be different in some way, like being childless, or being single, experiencing mental illness, being politically liberal. Others just don’t feel the Church addresses the areas which are meaningful to them, including issues of social justice, poverty, racism, sexism or violence.

Q: What are a few typical responses among families and congregations towards those who disaffiliate or become disaffected with the Church’s teachings?

A: As I interviewed members and read their comments and experiences in my surveys, I was frankly surprised by the disconnect between fully believing members and local leaders and those who doubt, question, or have left the Church. Many believing members feel the primary reasons why people leave is because they are offended, have sinned, or are lazy. They sometimes blame the disaffiliating member for having not studied scriptures, prayed, or attended the temple often enough. Those members who are struggling with their faith often have serious doctrinal, historical, or cultural concerns about the Church. When members or local leaders don’t have a true understanding of why these people leave or struggle to stay, their efforts are often ineffective, or worse, hurtful, and push members further away.

Sometimes it is because they don’t understand, but also, it causes fear when a family member learns their child, sibling, or spouse is struggling with belief. It threatens their hope for an eternal family as they worry about their spiritual welfare.

Without thinking about it, we make a snap judgment as to why they have left and assume that it is because they have been offended or because of secret sin. We may be afraid to ask them because we don’t want to offend them. We might keep them at arm’s length and be afraid that they will infect us with doubt. Some disaffiliated members feel that they are labeled as “anti-Mormon” or “apostates” and don’t feel that they are welcome. We may exclude them from our social life because we are uncomfortable with them or with having our children associate with them. Leaders may release them from their callings even though they are willing to serve.

Sometimes in our interactions with disaffiliated members, we seek to testify or explain away their concerns when they just want to keep their close relationship, friendship, or continue to worship even with their doubts.

Q: What are a few ways we can minister to disaffiliated and disaffected members, both individually and as congregations?

First and most important, we need to learn to listen to them individually and collectively. We really don’t know their concerns unless we take the time to listen. Listening is hard—it means that we suspend trying to explain their decision and instead really let them share with us what they are feeling and why. Our minds will naturally try and explain it away and find the fault in their logic or life that lead them to their new beliefs. As they are talking, our minds might be filled with how we can counter their concerns. We might be tempted to encourage them to read more scripture, pray harder, or go to the temple. But first, we need to just listen to understand their concern and why it is important to them. Giving unsolicited advice rarely works.

While listening, we need to take their concerns seriously. These issues are very real to them and we should never try and minimize their concerns. We need to validate, even if we disagree. Later, after they know that we really care about their concerns and how it impacts them, perhaps we can discuss ways to think about the issue or even more forward without a clear resolution.

Q: What brief message can you offer to family members or friends of individuals who have become disaffected with the Church’s teachings or who have chosen to disaffiliate?

A: As we listen and validate, we can answer some questions; and when we can’t, we can mourn and comfort our family or friend who has become disaffected. We can find common ground, even if we aren’t 100% united in the values we live and in our spiritual beliefs. Our relationships can be meaningful, close, and full of love, even with these differences.

If they come back, that’s wonderful. If they don’t, we can trust the Lord and enjoy every moment, even within our differences. I take great comfort from Elder Orson F. Whitney, who said, “Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful, infinitely more charitable than even the best of his servants, and the everlasting gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite minds can comprehend.” Our Heavenly Parents love our family member or friend far more than we can comprehend. They want their happiness too, today and forever.

David B. Ostler
July 2019

 


Free ebook offer: The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future November 08 2018

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Book description:

Environmental decline, political gridlock, war and rumors of war, decadence, and immorality. The End of the World, Plan B traces the idea of the end, or destruction, of the world through a number of spiritual traditions. It shows that our present understanding of the “end game” has been distorted by a modern emphasis and demand on justice as the ultimate good. As an alternative to this self-destructive approach, Charles Shirō Inouye shows that in these traditions, justice is not the isolated end in itself that we ought strive for; rather it is taught in tandem with its balancing companion: compassion. Plan B is a hopeful alternative to our fears about how things are going.

“Inouye reminds us that justice is not enough and that obedience is not the currency of salvation. He urges us to recognize the limits of the law, to see that, severed from a willingness to compassionately suffer with the world’s imperfection and evanescence, our righteous hunger for balancing life's books will destroy us all.” — Adam S. Miller 


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Who is Lot Smith? Forgotten Folk Hero of the American West November 06 2018

 


WHO IS LOT SMITH?

LOT SMITH is a legendary folk hero of the American West whose adventurous life has been all but lost to the annals of time. Lot arrived in the West with the Mormon Batallion during the Mexican-American War. He remained in California during much the Gold Rush, and was later a participant in many significant Utah events, including the Utah-Mormon War, the Walker War, the rescue of the Willie & Martin Handcart Companies, and even joined the Union Army during the US Civil War. Significantly, Lot Smith was one of the early settlers of the Arizona territory and led the United Order efforts in the Little Colorado River settlements. What follows is a brief sketch of Lot's service in the Mormon Batallion and the experiences that shaped him.

Lot was reared by a hard-working Yankee father and a devoutly religious mother. His mother passed when he was fourteen. At the impressionable age of sixteen, Lot joined the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican-American War as one of its youngest members. His father passed before he returned to his family. Consequently, his experiences in the Mormon Battalion shaped his life significantly. The struggles of this heroic infantry march of two-thousand miles across the country embedded within him several valuable characteristics.

During most of the journey, his company marched with very scanty rations. Despite his teenage-boy-appetite, he learned that he could survive on almost nothing. At one point during the march, Smith and others were so hungry that they ate the bark from a pepper tree. It did not agree with Smith. Ever after, he never allowed pepper at his dining table. In later life, when he and the soldiers under his command suffered intense hunger during the Utah and Civil Wars, he knew how they felt and empathized. When neighboring Arizona colonists faced famine, he quickly came to their aid. When his own colonists had food shortages, he did not ration the provisions. He knew what near starvation felt like.

Lot Smith came to value the comfort of clothing and shoes in the absence thereof. As the battalion march continued, his clothing and shoes wore out. He had only a ragged shirt and an Indian blanket wrapped around his torso for pants. At the death of one of the soldiers, he gratefully inherited the man’s pants. His feet were shod with rawhide cut from the hocks of an ox. Ever after, he never took shoes for granted. It appears that he may have developed an obsession for them. Soon after his arrival in Utah Territory, he was known to have bought himself a pair of shoes that was outlandishly too large. He said that he wanted to get his money’s worth! Years later, he bought thirty pairs of shoes at a gentile shoe shop. When he saw the astonishment of the shopkeeper, he said, “If these give good service, I’ll be back and buy shoes for the rest of my family!” He frequently carried an extra pair of shoes. In at least two recorded instances, he gave an extra pair of shoes to grateful men who were in desperate need. He knew how feet with no shoes felt—sore, bruised and cut.

Several times the battalion marched miles and even days with no water. One of the more fortunate times, the soldiers found rainwater in wallows mixed with buffalo urine and dung. Only a few sickened. Once after marching two days without water, they were promised water at the end of their march, only to find that there had been water, but the officers and their mounts had finished it off. The troops crowded around the moist hollow and dipped with spoons and sucked through quills for a mouthful of water. Another time after a more than two-day waterless march, Smith helped dig for water. He was then asked to carry a keg of water back to the soldiers, who had been too weak to continue, with strict orders to start with the farthest soldier. He passed the first few but could no longer pass his pleading thirsty comrades. Compassion became one of his strong characteristics. Yet he also learned obedience—strict obedience. For his disobedience, he was tied to the back of a wagon to walk in trying and humiliating circumstances. Throughout his life, he expected firm obedience of himself and from those he led in war, those he led in colonizing, and those within his family.

Smith developed endurance during the Mormon Battalion march. He carried a shoulder load of paraphernalia, walked as many as twenty-five miles or more each day—sometimes dragging mules through the heavy sand. There was no stopping—and absolutely no pampering. When the going got rough, he had to keep going. He suffered extreme heat and freezing nights on the deserts.  Through all of these challenges, he learned to laugh at the hardships and to maintain a happy optimistic view of life. He emerged from the Mormon Battalion as a young man who knew he could do hard things.

It is not known how skilled Smith became with a gun during his battalion march, but during his later years in Arizona, he was known to be an expert marksman who could shoot accurately even from the hip. Every morning he took a practice shot. Navajos and Hopis would come from miles around to challenge him. He gained a reputation of the most feared gunman in Arizona.

Smith faced many life-threatening ordeals throughout the rest of his life. Many different kinds of hardships would test his endurance. He faced them with courage, a trust in God, and an upbeat attitude. His example inspired those who followed him. As a significant and beloved military leader, he knew how to succor those under his command. One who served with him in the military said, “We loved him because he loved us first.”

Lot Smith learned many valuable life lessons on the Mormon Battalion march that served him well. Yes, he rid his table of hot pepper—and he should have done away with something else hot—his temper!


Talana S. Hooper is a native of Arizona’s Gila Valley. She attended both Eastern Arizona College and Arizona State University. She compiled and edited A Century in Central, 1883–1983 and has published numerous family histories. She and her husband Steve have six children and twenty-six grandchildren.

 


Lot Smith recounts the Mormon frontiersman’s adventures in the Mormon Battalion, the hazardous rescue of the Willie and Martin handcart companies, the Utah War, and the Mormon colonization of the Arizona Territory. True stories of tense relations with the Navajo and Hopi tribes, Mormon flight into Mexico during the US government's anti-polygamy crusades, narrow escapes from bandits and law enforcers, and even Western-style shoot-outs place Lot Smith: Mormon Pioneer and American Frontiersman into both Western Americana literature and Mormon biographical history.

Available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook

Q&A with Laura Rutter Strickling for On Fire in Baltimore: Black Mormon Women and Conversion in a Raging City September 11 2018

On Fire in Baltimore is more than just the personal stories of Black women who converted to Mormonism. Against the background of a city known for its racial and economic inequality, these devout women of color tell stories of drug addiction and rape, of nights spent in jail and days looking for work, and of single motherhood and grief for lost children. Yet, their stories are also filled with visitations from heavenly beings, dreams of deceased mothers, protection from violence, and missionary messengers. They share how they reconcile their membership in a historically White church that once denied them full membership because of their race. Laura Rutter Strickling takes the reader on an intimate journey where Black and White racialized lives meet, where she is compelled to question how her own whiteness has impacted her perspective, and where an unquenchable spiritual fire burns bright in a raging city.

 

Available October 9, 2018, in print and ebook

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Q: Will you give us a little background into your formal education and how it relates to this book.

A: I received an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University way back in 1977, then, twenty years later, completed post-baccalaureate work in Spanish at Augusta State University. In between this time, our family of six lived in southern Spain for seven years where the kids attended Spanish schools in Rota, across the Bay of Cádiz. Later, back in the States, I taught high school Spanish in North Carolina until our four kids left home, then went on to do graduate work. I received an M.A. from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in Intercultural Communication, and a Ph.D. in Sociocultural Linguistics. My doctoral research focused on the impact of educator's attitudes toward students who speak African American English, and I developed a model that explains the process of reframing a linguistic mindset. This model shows that standard language ideology (in this case, the belief that Black English is poor English, instead of a language variation) is not easily modified, but requires incremental training, and the implementation of linguistically aware practices followed by analysis. I also completed a two-year post-doctoral position in Urban Education in Baltimore where we evaluated the efficacy of Turnaround interventions in low performing schools. In terms of writing On Fire in Baltimore, my academic preparation provided me with an interdisciplinary theoretical foundation regarding language, race relations, and intercultural difference; and living in the city provided me with day to day experience in an interracial neighborhood.

Q: How did this study come together and what were your goals with it?

A: Well, come together is probably a good description because it implies a process. Qualitative research can be fluid and take on twists and turns as the research unfolds. I began a study focused on recording the life and conversion of the African American women in my congregation—an endeavor that spanned over ten years and resulted in twenty-five recorded interviews and four hundred pages of transcription. But the interviews were more than data collection; they opened the door to sisterhood and sojourn into the Black community. Sitting side by side in their living room or at the kitchen table, these women would draw me into their narrative with Black vernacular, laughter, and tears. More than once I would find myself holding their hand as their eyes welled up from painful memories or smiling at their sarcasm as they described a family member. And my association did not end with the interviews; the women would invite me to family celebrations and birthdays or ask for rides across town to pick up prescriptions. They would call me out of the blue because they “had a feeling,” then tell me another story about their lives. These church sisters also let me know that they were interested in my work. “How are the stories coming?” some would ask as they passed me in the church halls. “We are praying for you,” they would tell me as the unfinished book advanced from months to years.

But our time together was not always easy; sometimes there were tense moments that were difficult to navigate. Sometimes I would find myself in a racialized snare that I could not resolve by intuition. A feminist theoretical approach obligated me to be mindful of these emotions and enabled me to adopt a reflective process aimed at exposing my biases and questioning my responses. It provided me with the theoretical underpinning to acknowledge that, as a researcher, I would naturally affect the research I do, but also, in the process, I would be affected by it. Keeping this in mind, I documented the evolution of my thoughts as I interacted with these Black women and as I attempted to peel back the layers of my racialized assumptions.

Q: You mentioned that what began as a linguistic study quickly turned into racially-entangled conversion narratives. Can you explain that a little further?

A: What I’m saying is that intersectionality became clearer to me. By intersectionality, I mean that socially constructed categories such as, race, class, and gender-hierarchy interrelate and come together to impact the degree of marginalization or healthy acceptance into a society. You cannot separate these Black women’s marginalized lives from their conversion stories. For example, Delilah talks about “the worst time in her life” when her husband pushed her to the floor, then held a gun to her head. After that, he beat her up, so she left him. Alone and without food for her children or electricity for the house, she went to her Baptist Church seeking help. Instead of help, she ended up losing twenty dollars. In anger and without resources, she yells at God, telling him that she would not go to church anymore—God would have to send a church to her. A few days later, she says “two White boys came knocking at my door, and I wondered, what are these White boys doing in this Black neighborhood?” Delilah says that her life changed after baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ.

But once Black women join the Latter-day Saints, they also have to reconcile that the Church denied them full access to full membership before 1978. Their membership was yet another layer of marginalization. The women in On Fire in Baltimore each have their own way of explaining the reason for this lack of access. Delilah, for example, researched the story of Black Mormon pioneer, Jane Manning James, and found comfort in Jane’s fortitude.

Q: Can you provide one or two specific examples from the book of stories that stood out to you in particular?

 A: Every one of these Black sisters’ stories impacted me, but I can offer two examples. The first is found at the beginning of the book and was an experience that left me deeply reflective as to where I would take my work. In this excerpt, I am interviewing Ruth:

"I love doing these interviews," I explain, taking a stab at getting the interview started, "because I feel like the sisters are with me every day when I listen to their recorded voices and transcribe their words." Ruth smiles at me and nods her head, and I'm feeling confident in the work I'm doing. But my satisfaction is short lived, and I am quickly reminded of how fragile the interview process can be. With my next comment, I fall from academic grace onto uncertain interview ground. I tell Ruth that I have run across colleagues who were surprised to learn that there were African American Mormon women in Baltimore, and that they were interested in hearing their conversion stories. Without a hint of accusation and with her customary mild voice, Ruth asks, "Are you only interviewing African American women? Because I'm not African American. My father was White and my mother was Native American."

I catch my breath for one speechless moment as a wave of panic washes over me. I had assumed Ruth's racial identity. After years of theoretical study regarding the hegemonic construction and social complexities of identity, culture and race--how had I done that?

This experience sent me on a four-month journey researching race--in particular, the racialization of America and the formation of whiteness.

The second excerpt is found toward the end of the book and shows the reader how this work is more than a series of interviews or a collection of conversion stories. It illustrates how my life became intertwined with the Black sisters in my congregation. At the time of this story, I was the choir director and Clara was a member of the choir:

“[A]s I went to sit down Clara appeared out of nowhere. ‘Could we meet together for ten minutes some time?’

Thinking that this must be a question about the choir, I answered, ‘How about now?’ and followed her out the chapel door into the hall. But when she kept on walking, I realized that she must have wanted to meet more privately. Clara led me into a classroom and closed the door.

‘Can we have a prayer?’ She was asking me. In the split second that I automatically said yes, I was also wondering which one of us would be praying and for what purpose. But I was not left to ponder long because Clara immediately grabbed my hands, facing me. She pulled me close and started praying out loud in a strong voice. But she had crossed her arms in front of her chest so that she was holding onto my hands, right to right and left to left. I did not hear what Clara was saying at first, because I was trying to figure out the meaning of this hand position.

She was praying for me. ‘Heavenly Father, thank you for Sister Strickling. She was inspired to come today. Help heal her with the treatment she is going through. Thank her Heavenly Father. Heal her. Heal her Heavenly Father.’”

Q: In what ways did this study challenge your view of whiteness, and how race impacts your own perspective?

A: Generally, we do not become “raced” until we experience a racialized encounter. In other words, because race is a social construct, we are not aware of our whiteness, blackness, or browness, until someone’s behavior points it out. Several of the Black women in this book told me that they did not realize they were Black until they got their first paycheck and went shopping only to be told that Black people could not try on clothes in that store. Growing up in rural Oregon, I did not have many racialized experiences, and living in Spain, I viewed my day to day encounters with Spaniards in terms of cultural or linguistic difference. Baltimore was a good place for me to learn about racialized behaviors.

A: What are you hoping that readers will gain from this book?

That the last shall be first and the first shall be last. In other words, I'm hoping that these stories will inspire readers of all races to question their assumptions. Lorraine Hansberry, author, and the first Black playwright to write a play that was performed on Broadway, said: [Do you want to know about] love . . . and life? Ask those who have tasted of it in pieces rationed out by enemies . . . Ask . . . those who have loved when all reason pointed to the uselessness and fool-hardiness of love. Out of the depths of pain we have thought to be our sole heritage in this world—oh, we know about love! Perhaps we shall be the teachers when it is done.[1]

Today, social discourse on race and racism persists, in the news, on talk radio and social media, but how do we go about being the teachers and the students that Hansberry described? What quality of relationship would foster this reciprocity? This book is really the beginning of that discussion.

__________

[1] Lorraine Hansberry, To Be Young, Gifted and Black: A Portrait of Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words, 104. Hansberry (1930–1965) playwright and author, wrote A Raisin in the Sun (1959) and was the first Black playwright to write a play that was performed on Broadway.

 


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Q&A Part 2 with the Editors of The Expanded Canon: Perspectives on Mormonism & Sacred Texts September 11 2018

Edited by Blair G. Van Dyke, Brian D. Birch, and Boyd J. Petersen
276 pages, Paperback $25.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-638-3)
Hardcover $35.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-637-6)



Part 2: Q&A with Brian D. Birch
(Part 1)

Q: When and how did the Mormon Studies program at UVU launch?

A: The UVU Mormon Studies Program began in 2000 with the arrival of Eugene England. Gene received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to explore how Mormon Studies could succeed at a state university. A year-long seminar resulted that included a stellar lineup of consultants and guest scholars. From that point forward, the Religious Studies Program has developed multiple courses complemented by our annual Mormon Studies Conference and Eugene England Lecture—to honor Gene’s tragic and untimely passing in 2001. The program also hosts and facilitates events for independent organizations and publications including the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology, the Dialogue Foundation, the Interpreter Foundation, Mormon Scholars in the Humanities, Association for Mormon Letters, and others.

Q: How is the UVU Mormon Studies program distinguished from Mormon Studies programs that have emerged at other campuses?

A: Mormon Studies at UVU is distinguished by the explicitly comparative focus of our work. Given the strengths of our faculty, we have emphasized courses and programming that addresses engagement and dialogue across cultures, faith traditions, and theological perspectives. Permanent course offerings include Mormon Cultural Studies, Mormon Theology and the Christian Tradition, Mormon Anthropology, and Mormon Literature. Our strengths lie in areas other than Mormon history, which is well represented at other institutions—and appropriately so. Given the nature of our institution, our events are focused first and foremost on student learning, but all our events are free and open to the public and we welcome conversation between scholars and nonprofessionals.

Q: How long has the annual UVU Mormon Studies Conference been held, and what have been some of the topics of past conferences?

A: As mentioned above, the Mormon Studies Conference was first convened by Eugene England in 2000, and to date we have convened a total of nineteen conferences. Topics have ranged across a variety of issues including “Islam and Mormonism,” “Mormonism in the Public Mind,” “Mormonism and the Art of Boundary Maintenance,” “Mormonism and the Internet,” etc. We have been fortunate to host superb scholars and to bring them into conversation with each other and the broader public.

Q: Where did the material for the first volume, The Expanded Canon, come from?

A: The material in The Expanded Canon emerged came from our 2013 Mormon Studies Conference that shares the title of the volume. We drew from the work of conference presenters and added select essays to round out the collection. The volume is expressive of our broader approach to bring diverse scholars into conversation and to show a variety of perspectives and methodologies.

Q: What are a few key points about this volume that would be of interest to readers?

A: Few things are more central to Mormon thought than the way the tradition approaches scripture. And many of their most closely held beliefs fly in the face of general Christianity’s conception of scriptural texts. An open or expanded canon of scripture is one example. Grant Underwood explores Joseph Smith’s revelatory capacities and illustrates that Smith consistently edited his revelations and felt that his revisions were done under the same Spirit by which the initial revelation was received. Hence, the revisions may be situated in the canon with the same gravitas that the original text enjoyed. Claudia Bushman directly addresses the lack of female voices in Mormon scripture. She recommends several key documents crafted by women in the spirit of revelation. Ultimately, she suggests several candidates for inclusion. As the Mormon canon expands it should include female voices. From a non-Mormon perspective, Ann Taves does not embrace a historical explanation of the Book of Mormon or the gold plates. However, she does not deny Joseph Smith as a religious genius and compelling creator of a dynamic mythos. In her chapter she uses Mormon scripture to suggest a way that the golden plates exist, are not historical, but still maintain divine connectivity. David Holland examines the boundaries and intricacies of the Mormon canon. Historically, what are the patterns and intricacies of the expanding canon and what is the inherent logic behind the related processes? Additionally, authors treat the status of the Pearl of Great Price, the historical milieu of the publication of the Book of Mormon, and the place of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. These are just a few of the important issues addressed in this volume.

Q: What is your thought process behind curating these volumes in terms of representation from both LDS and non-LDS scholars, gender, race, academic disciplines, etc?

A: Mormon Studies programing at UVU has always been centered on strong scholarship while also extending our reach to marginalized voices. To date, we have invited guests that span a broad spectrum of Mormon thought and practice. From Orthodox Judaism to Secular Humanists; from LGBTQ to opponents to same-sex marriage; from Feminists to staunch advocates of male hierarchies, all have had a voice in the UVU Mormon Studies Program. Each course, conference, and publication treating these dynamic dialogues in Mormonism are conducted in civility and the scholarly anchors of the academy. Given our disciplinary grounding, our work has expanded the conversation and opened a wide variety of ongoing cooperation between schools of thought that intersect with Mormon thought.

Q: What can readers expect to see coming from the UVU Comparative Mormon Studies series?

A: Our 2019 conference will be centered on the experience of women in and around the Mormon traditions. We have witnessed tremendous scholarship of late in this area and are anxious to assemble key authors and advocates. Other areas we plan to explore include comparative studies in Mormonism and Asian religions, theological approaches to religious diversity, and questions of Mormon identity.


Download a free sample of The Expanded Canon
Listen to an interview with the editors


Upcoming events for The Expanded Canon:


Tue Sep 18
 at 7pm | Writ & Vision (Provo) | RSVP on Facebook
Wed Sep 19 at 5:30 pm | Benchmark Books (SLC) | RSVP on Facebook


Q&A Part 1 with the Editors of The Expanded Canon: Perspectives on Mormonism & Sacred Texts August 29 2018

Edited by Blair G. Van Dyke, Brian D. Birch, and Boyd J. Petersen
276 pages, Paperback $25.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-638-3)
Hardcover $35.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-637-6)


Part 1: Q&A with Blair G. Van Dyke (Part 2)

Q: How is the Mormon Studies program at Utah Valley University distinguished from Mormon Studies programs that have emerged at other universities?

A: The Mormon Studies program at UVU is distinguished by the comparative components of the work we do. At UVU we cast a broad net across the academy knowing that there are relevant points of exploration at the intersections of Mormonism and the arts, Mormonism and the sciences, Mormonism and literature, Mormonism and economics, Mormonism and feminism, Mormonism and world religions, and so forth. Additionally, the program is distinguished from other Mormon Studies by the academic events that we host. UVU initiated and maintains the most vibrant tradition of creating and hosting relevant and engaging conferences, symposia, and intra-campus events than any other program in the country. Further, a university-wide initiative is in place to engage the community in the work of the academy. Hence, the events held on campus are focused first and foremost for students but inviting the community to enjoy our work is very important. This facilitates understanding and builds bridges between scholars of Mormon Studies and Mormons and non-Mormons outside academic orbits.

Q: Where did the material for The Expanded Canon come from?

A: The material that constitutes volume one of the UVU Comparative Mormon Studies Series came from an annual Mormon Studies Conference that shares the title of the volume. We drew from the work of some of the scholars that presented at that conference to give their work and ours a broader audience. Generally, the contributors to the volume are not household names or prominent authors that regularly publish in the common commercial publishing houses directed at Mormon readership. As such, this volume introduces that audience to prominent personalities in the field of Mormon Studies. It is not uncommon for scholars in this field of study to look for venues where their work can reach a broader readership. This jointly published volume accomplishes that desire in a thoughtful way.

Q: What are a few key points about this volume that would be of interest to readers?

A: Few things are more central to Mormon thought than the way the tradition approaches scripture. And many of their most closely held beliefs fly in the face of general Christianity’s conception of scriptural texts. An open or expanded canon of scripture is one example. Grant Underwood explores Joseph Smith’s revelatory capacities and illustrates that Smith consistently edited his revelations and felt that his revisions were done under the same Spirit by which the initial revelation was received. Hence, the revisions may be situated in the canon with the same gravitas that the original text enjoyed. Claudia Bushman directly addresses the lack of female voices in Mormon scripture. She recommends several key documents crafted by women in the spirit of revelation. Ultimately, she suggests several candidates for inclusion. As the Mormon canon expands it should include female voices. From a non-Mormon perspective, Ann Taves does not embrace a historical explanation of the Book of Mormon or the gold plates. However, she does not deny Joseph Smith as a religious genius and compelling creator of a dynamic mythos. In her chapter she uses Mormon scripture to suggest a way that the golden plates exist, are not historical, but still maintain divine connectivity. David Holland examines the boundaries and intricacies of the Mormon canon. Historically, what are the patterns and intricacies of the expanding canon and what is the inherent logic behind the related processes? Additionally, authors treat the status of the Pearl of Great Price, the historical milieu of the publication of the Book of Mormon, and the place of The Family A Proclamation to the World. These are just a few of the important issues addressed in this volume.

Q: What is your thought process behind curating these volumes in terms of representation from both LDS and non-LDS scholars, gender, race, academic disciplines, etc?

A: Mormon Studies programing at UVU has always been centered on solid scholarship while simultaneously broadening tents of inclusivity. To date, we have invited guests that span spectrums of thought related to Mormonism. From Orthodox Judaism to Secular Humanists; from LGBTQ to opponents to same-sex marriage; from Feminists to staunch advocates of male hierarchies, all have had a voice in the UVU Mormon Studies Program. Each course, conference, and publication treating these dynamic dialogues in Mormonism are conducted in civility and the scholarly anchors of the academy. Given our disciplinary grounding, our work has expanded the conversation and opened a wide variety of ongoing cooperation between schools of thought that intersect with Mormon thought.


Download a free sample of The Expanded Canon
Listen to an interview with the editors


Upcoming events for The Expanded Canon:


Tue Sep 18
 at 7pm | Writ & Vision (Provo) | RSVP on Facebook
Wed Sep 19 at 5:30 pm | Benchmark Books (SLC) | RSVP on Facebook


Contesting Truth through Mutual Openness July 18 2018

by Charles Randall Paul


Charles Randall Paul will be speaking on the topic of religious diplomacy and signing copies of his book at Weller Book Works (Salt Lake City) on Tuesday, Aug. 7th at 6:30 PM and at Writ & Vision (Provo) on Thursday, Aug. 9th at 7PM. Both events are free to attend.



Humans are social influencers by their very existence. They are always intentionally persuading each other in some fashion. All human life includes continual negotiation of social activities from “pass the salt” to “should we get married?” When one of us believes a purpose is good and an action right, that influences a response from others—and the response influences further responses.

While the ideal might be complete social unity or unconstrained freedom for all, human groups and societies should expect continual religious and ideological contestation. Within our interconnected societies, conflicting world-views and purposes are inevitable. No social program for peace will succeed that requires adamant believers to compromise or dilute their core values. Instead, we sustain peaceful tension within our societies through co-resistance and collaboration with our ideological rivals. Crucial to this is the absence of ill-will in our collaborative contestation.

Let me now make a distinction between these terms: Enemy, antagonist, agonist, ally, and friend. An enemy desires and acts to eliminate, enslave, or diminish others by passive or aggressive means. An antagonist acts like an enemy but does not desire to be one. If she presumes you are an enemy, she might be reacting defensively with no intent to harm you otherwise. An agonist is a fellow contestant who desires to win an ideological contest through persuasion. An ally is on your side because of shared interests. A friend desires your love and well-being and will self-sacrifice to promote it. It is possible to be an ally that is also really an enemy, but it is impossible to be a real friend and an enemy. However, your agonistic rival can also be your friend—but enduring (much less enjoying) this relationship is an acquired taste and skill.

If you have a real enemy, you need to defend yourself accordingly. But we need to determine first if antagonists are true enemies or agonists. An agonist desires to contest differences in order to bring about positive change for both sides, rather than the destruction of their rival. Sportsmanship is a common attitude of agonists. Persuading agonists to your side may make them allies; but converting agonists to trust and love can make them friends even while they remain persuasive agonists. The path forward lies in vulnerable openness between rivals with an open and honest disclosure of motives and beliefs. This requires courage to exchange critical and offensive ideas and ideals without taking offense. Let there be no mistake: openness that is truly open to change is always a dangerous experiment, especially for those who are concerned about diluting true orthodoxy (on the left or right) with relativism.

To prepare for inevitable contestations over religious, political, or ideological differences, I present ten useful attitudes and methods to remember when the pressure to either disengage or eliminate our fellow agonists becomes intense. I call this The Way of Mutual Openness:

Be Honest

Honesty begins when you look in the mirror. Who do you really think you are and who do want to become? When you are deeply honest, you acknowledge your motives for doing things and express your thoughts and feelings without faking it. Your honesty prompts others to respond the same way, and with open hearts and minds real communication results.

Be Kind

Kindness goes further toward building trust than the other practices listed here. It is not weak, naive, or mere politeness. Kindness is a language easily recognized and understood by everyone. Sincere kindness is a powerful way to influence others to desire to hear you. But, be wise: nothing shatters trust more than phony, manipulative kindness, or false respectfulness.

Listen Well

It is hard to listen well when you focus more on your feelings and thoughts than those of the person addressing you. Listening well is not remaining quiet before you insert your response; it is intense focus on a unique person with a desire for understanding. By listening like this to others you offer the gift of respectful empathy that everyone craves to receive. In return others feel like they should listen well to understand you.

Share the Floor

If you want to be taken seriously you must take others seriously. Sharing the floor means allowing others equal time to speak even when you “know” you are right and they are wrong. It acknowledges the mutual dignity of those engaged in conversation. Hogging the floor is disrespectful and rude, and it always undermines your persuasive ability when you appear dismissive or fearful of what others have to say.

Presume Good Will

We often presume that others do not have our best interests at heart. Sometimes they don’t. But you sabotage any honest communication with someone you presume to be stupid, duped, or ill-intentioned. Presuming good will is not agreeing with others’ beliefs or values. It means that you grant that others are clear thinking and good hearted unless they prove otherwise.

Acknowledge the Differences

Each human is uniquely different with a unique history and perspective. Acknowledging our important differences openly frees us to know where we stand without having to guess. It creates a tone of trust for real conversation. You cannot feel whole or honest if you focus only on similarities and avoid facing differences in deep beliefs and values.

Answer the Tough Questions

With genuine differences come tough questions—especially if the goal is a trusting relationship. When you answer tough questions in a straightforward way, sharing the floor equally and presuming good will, you build strong mutual trust. You can then face offensive issues without taking offense. However, diving deeper for better understanding has a limit. Aggressive interrogation or pushing for private details destroys trust.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Any compliment feels good, but a sincere compliment from an unexpected source such as a rival or critic can move our hearts powerfully toward trust. By openly admiring the excellence or good on “the other side” you demonstrate your honesty and fairness, and your confidence that your side can handle the truth. But be cautious—insincere compliments to manipulate or disarm others disastrously undermine any grounds for trust.

Speak Only for Yourself

Each of us is unique and we don’t like others—especially outsiders—to stereotype us or claim they know what we really believe or value. So, ask rather than tell others what they think and feel. It is tempting to speak for your friends and tribe members as if they all share the same view as you do. Except when you have been authorized to speak on behalf of others, speak only for yourself and encourage others to do likewise.

Keep Private Things Private

Humans are social beings, but their thoughts and feelings are private unless expressed. Personal dignity is based in large part on your freedom to choose when and where to share your inner self with others. Being open, honest, and trustworthy does not require you to disclose all things to all people. Keeping private things private means that you strictly honor someone’s choice to say something to you alone. If you cannot keep it private, you should ask the person not to share it.

These are the times that try our souls. In our increasingly polarized society, we will doubtless continue arguing over political, ideological, and religious differences. Based on years of experience in religious diplomacy, I believe the ten attitudes above will sustain with confidence anyone using them to actively engage in challenging and rewarding conversations that build healthy trust.


 Charles Randall Paul is board chair, founder, and president of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy. He has lectured widely and written numerous articles on healthy methods for engaging differences in religions and ideologies. He is the author of Converting the Saints: A Study of Religious Rivalry in America.


Free ebook offer: Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family June 05 2018

FREE EBOOK FOR NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS

Book description:

For over a decade, Boyd Petersen has been an active voice in Mormon studies and thought. In essays that steer a course between apologetics and criticism, striving for the balance of what Eugene England once called the “radical middle,” he explores various aspects of Mormon life and culture—from the Dream Mine near Salem, Utah, to the challenges that Latter-day Saints of the millennial generation face today.

"Petersen should be considered among the preeminent essayists of this moment in Mormon history.” — Mark Brown, BYU Studies Quarterly

 


STEPS TO DOWNLOAD

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5 Things We Learned About the Jesus of Nazareth January 22 2018


 

Consider the many different ways Jesus has been portrayed over the centuries or the ways his name has been employed in support of this or that cause. N. T. Wright, a prominent Jesus scholar and Anglican Bishop, observes that he is “almost universally approved of” but for “very different and indeed often incompatible reasons.” If this is the case, then we wondered what Jesus were we worshiping and whether that Jesus was one of our own making?

During the past half-century historians have made significant strides examining the most recently discovered source materials in order to think once again about existing documents like the four Gospels. The aim was to reconstruct the Jesus who the men and women in first-century Palestine would recognize and follow. Jesus was born into an ancient society constrained by millennia of social, theological, and political practices perpetuated by the minority ruling elite and facilitated by a vast majority of souls who knew of no other way. Periodically prophets would rail against the system in the name of God. But the great, colossus of ancient Rome remained sustained through the oppression of individuals, the very individuals that Jesus came to invite into a new, righteous Kingdom.

The Jesus of history and the Gospels largely displaced the conventions of his day with regard to women and the family, as well as the social standing of the poor, the wealthy, and the outcast.

On Women:

In the twenty-first century, when issues regarding the roles of men and women in religious environments are alive and controversial, Jesus’s treatment of women was prescient. His example and the privileges afforded the first female Christians provide important perspectives. The subject takes on added significance as we appreciate the meaning of the priestly roles that women play in Latter-day Saint temples. Echoing what N. T. Wright suggests in his recent book Surprised by Scripture, we must “think carefully about where our own cultures, prejudices, and angers are taking us, and make sure we conform not to the stereotypes the world offers but to the healing, liberating, humanizing message of the gospel.” He continues, “[we live in a time when] we need to radically change our traditional pictures of what men and women are and of how they relate to one another within the church, and indeed of what the Bible says on this subject.”

On the Family:

What little Jesus had to say about the family is jarring to modern ears. He replaced the household of his day with a new universal family called the Kingdom of God where all were brothers and sisters. All were welcome: the poor and the rich, men and women, bond and free, high and low, Jew and Gentile. Members were asked to live in a communal order where everyone had what they needed.

On the Poor:

At the end of Jesus’s ministry, his priorities had not shifted from those he announced by way of the Isaiah text he read as he stood in the synagogue in Nazareth. Prior to his betrayal, Jesus spoke about the Final Judgment. He reminded those who heard him then, as well as those who hear him today, that when our lives are weighed in the balance, we will be judged not on what we know, or how many things we owned, or on how many church meetings we attended; rather, we will be judged on the basis of how well we loved our neighbors, and how well we fed the hungry, clothed the naked, cared for the sick, and visited those in need (Matt. 25:31–46).

On the Wealthy:

Matthew’s Gospel records that Jesus spoke to a “rich young man” who, by his own report, kept all the commandments in Torah, the Mishnah, and the Oral Traditions. Jesus asked him to go one step further and distribute all his wealth equally amongst the poor in order to be a part of God’s kingdom (Matt. 19:21-22). The apocryphal Gospel of Hebrews records that when the young man could not take that step, he “began to scratch his head because he did not like that command.”  But then, Mark’s Gospel says, “Jesus felt genuine love for [this man]” (Mark 10:21 NLT).

Father James Martin, in a memoir on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2014, writes about his encounter with the story, standing on the supposed spot where Jesus told it: “Jesus ‘loved him’? Where did that come from? I had heard this Gospel story dozens of times. How had I missed that line? . . . Those three words . . . altered the familiar story and thus altered how I saw Jesus. No longer was it the exacting Jesus demanding perfection; it was the loving Jesus offering [agency]. Now I [and we] could hear him utter those words with infinite compassion for the man. . . . Jesus explicitly offers a promise of abundance to everyone” (Jesus: a Pilgrimage, 271).

Jesus invited all to be bound to him by the “covenant of salt.”

The Covenant of Salt is a three-part obligation. The meaning of the name of the covenant would have been obvious to the men and women who followed him: salt was and is the root word of salvation and it was an enormously valuable commodity in their day. At the end of our study, we came to understand a little better what N. T. Wright observes – that what mattered most to Jesus was that his true disciples were “the kind of people through whom the kingdom will be launched on earth.” Being like Jesus meant that each of us qualified for heaven through serving his “lambs.” Being like Jesus was about loving others and thereby transforming the earth, making it a Godlike place. It was what Jesus earnestly prayed for and by example asked us to pray for: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10 KJV; emphasis added). God’s ultimate rule on earth will come about because we, as true disciples of Jesus Christ, are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matt.5:13, 14 KJV). We have covenanted. We have come away from this pilgrimage with a resolve to “have salt in ourselves, and have peace one with another” (Mark 9:50 KJV).

 

James and Judith McConkie will be speaking and signing books at Writ & Vision in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, January 30 at 7 pm, and at Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, February 7 at 5:30 pm..These events are free to the public.

 


James W. McConkie has JD from the S. J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. His practice has focused in the area of torts and civil rights for more than four decades. He has been an adjunct professor at Westminster College teaching Constitutional law for non-lawyers. He has taught Church History and New Testament courses for BYU’s Division of Continuing Education for over 15 years with his wife Judith and is the author of Looking at the Doctrine and Covenants for the Very First Time. In 2017 he and his law partner Bradley Parker created the Refugee Justice League, a non-profit organization of attorneys and other professionals offering pro-bono help to refugees who have been discriminated against on the basis of their religion, ethnicity, or national origin.

Judith E. McConkie has an MFA in printmaking from BYU and a PhD in philosophy of art history and museum theory from the University of Utah. She has taught art history at the secondary and then university levels for over 40 years. She was the Senior Educator at BYU’s Museum of Art and Curator of the Utah State Capital during its major renovation project from 2004–2010. During that time she authored With Anxious Care: the Restoration of the Utah Capital. She continues to teach in BYU’s Division of Continuing Education with her husband James. She has published in Sunstone and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Though and has presented at Sunstone’s annual symposium. Her prints and watercolors have been exhibited nationally and in the Henry Moore Gallery in London, England. She and James are the parents of three children and 12 grandchildren. 

Whom Say Ye that I Am? Lessons from the Jesus of Nazareth
By James W. McConkie and Judith E. McConkie

Available Jan 30, 2018

Preview the book

Pre-order your copy


Q&A with James and Judith McConkie for Whom Say Ye that I Am? Lessons from the Jesus of Nazareth December 19 2017

309 pages, Paperback $27.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-707-6)
Available January 30, 2018


Pre-order Your Copy Today

 

How did both of you become interested in writing about Jesus from a cultural perspective?

For over 15 years we have taught CES together and have enjoyed an ongoing conversation about the gospel. Our daughter attended the BYU study abroad program in Jerusalem. When she returned she started an even more intensive discussion with our family about Jesus -- what he stood for and what he did. This conversation culminated in our desire to write this book together. We have always taught classes together and are stronger when we work as a team.

 

What do you feel distinguishes Whom Say Ye? from other work written about Jesus, particularly for an LDS audience?

All of us create a Jesus in our own image—a self-validating Jesus. What we mean by that is that there are as many versions of Jesus as there are religions. He is wheeled out in support of almost any “good” cause: socialism, capitalism, pacifism, use of force, government programs to help the poor and not help the poor. He was even used by the South to support slavery during the Civil War and by the North to oppose it.

During the last 20 years or so historical Jesus scholars have stripped away centuries of assumptions about Jesus in an attempt to reveal more closely who he really was, what he thought, what motivated him (made him angry or sad) and what kind of a community he was trying to establish. This book examines the historical Jesus literature and what its implications may be for the Mormon community and other Christian faiths. 

We did not want to devise a self-validating Jesus who just happened to agree with our view of things—a Jesus that could make us feel good about whatever we happened to be thinking or doing at the time. Making Jesus in our own image was no God at all, and certainly not one who could save us.

 

What sources did you rely on for this study?

We decided to use only the four Gospels and preeminent Jesus scholars such as N. T. Wright, Marcus J. Borg, John Dominic Crossan, Bart Ehrman, Raymond Brown, Michael White, Lisa Sergio, Karen Torgesen, Anthony Salderini and others. We also consulted newer alternate translations of the Bible, history texts and a number of respected commentaries.

 

What is the major focus of Whom Say Ye?

In general, we focus on how Jesus treated and interacted with individuals and then with the institutions of his day: the Jewish religious establishment and the Roman Empire. Almost without exception he was inclusive, compassionate, and forgiving with individuals, and angry and confrontational with institutions that exploited the poor and caused unnecessary human suffering—the social misery caused by cultural structural systems of society.

 

How has the book changed your understanding and appreciation for Jesus? 

In writing this book, we found it reinforced the idea that all men and women everywhere, no matter what religion, culture, race, or background are equally important and valuable in the sight of God. We witnessed in the pages of the four Gospels the deep compassion Jesus had for humankind.

 

What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

We hope those who read this book find a clearer of view of who Jesus is and what he stands for and a greater desire to be more like he him.

 

Pre-order Your Copy Today


Ebook Flash Sale on Mormon titles starts December 12th! December 11 2017

Greg Kofford Books is pleased to announce our second annual EBOOK FLASH SALE on select titles on Tuesday, December 12th and Wednesday, December 13th! Pick up a few titles that have been on your reading list for as low as $2.99!

Click image below to purchase. Offer is valid for Kindle ebooks only.

Future Mormon: Essays in Mormon Theology
By Adam S. Miller

$2.99 sale
$9.99 ebook
($18.99 paperback)

Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology
By Adam S. Miller

$2.99 sale
$9.99 ebook
($18.99 paperback)

The Mormoness; or The Trials of Mary Maverick: A Narrative of Real Events
Edited by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

$2.99 sale
$9.99 ebook
($12.99 paperback)

For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope
By Joseph M. Spencer

$2.99 sale
$9.99 ebook
($19.95 paperback)

Who Are the Children of Lehi? DNA and the Book of Mormon
By D. Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens

$2.99 sale
$9.95 ebook
($15.95 paperback)

Fire on the Horizon: A Meditation on the Endowment and Love of Atonement
By Blake T. Ostler

$2.99 sale
$9.99 ebook
($17.95 paperback)

Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women's Local Impact
By Neylan McBaine

$2.99 sale
$9.99 ebook
($21.95 paperback)

Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding
By Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales

$2.99 sale
$9.99 ebook
($19.95 paperback)

Knowing Brother Joseph Again: Perceptions and Perspectives
By Davis Bitton

$2.99 sale
$9.99 ebook
($19.95 paperback)

The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future
By Charles Shiro Inouye

$2.99 sale
$9.99 ebook
($13.95 paperback)

The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl, Part One
By Scott Hales

$9.99 sale
$19.99 ebook
($22.95 paperback)

Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics
Edited by Blair G. Van Dyke and Loyd Isao Ericson

$9.99 sale
$22.99 ebook
($25.95 paperback)

 


Twelve Days of Kofford 2017 November 21 2017

Greg Kofford Books is once again pleased to offer twelve days of discounted holiday shopping from our website!

HERE IS HOW IT WORKS: Every morning from Dec 1th through the 12th, we will be posting a DISCOUNT CODE on our Facebook or Twitter pages. Use this discount code on the corresponding day to receive 30% off select titles. The final day will be an e-book flash sale on Amazon.com.

To help you plan, here are the dates, titles, and sale prices we will be offering beginning Dec 1st. These sales are limited to available inventory. You must follow our Facebook or Twitter pages to get the discount code. Orders over $50 qualify for free shipping. Customers in the Wasatch Front area are welcome to pick orders up directly from our office in Sandy, UT.

Day 1 — Brant Gardner collection

Second Witness, Vol 1: First Nephi
by Brant A. Gardner

$39.95 hardcover
$27.97 sale price

Second Witness, Vol 2: Second Nephi through Jacob
by Brant A. Gardner

$39.95 hardcover
$27.97 sale price

Second Witness, Vol 3: Enos through Mosiah
by Brant A. Gardner

$39.95 hardcover
$27.97 sale price

Second Witness, Vol 4: Alma
by Brant A. Gardner

$49.95 hardcover
$34.97 sale price

Second Witness, Vol 5: Helaman through Nephi
by Brant A. Gardner

$39.95 hardcover
$27.97 sale price

Second Witness, Vol 6: Fourth Nephi through Moroni
by Brant A. Gardner

$39.95 hardcover
$27.97 sale price

The Gift and the Power: Translating the Book of Mormon
by Brant A. Gardner

$34.95 paperback
$24.47 sale price

Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History
by Brant A. Gardner

$34.95 paperback
$24.47 sale price

 

Day 2 — The Garden of Enid

The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl
Part One

by Scott Hales

$22.95 paperback
$16.07 sale price

The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl 
Part Two

by Scott Hales

$22.95 paperback
$16.07 sale price

 

Day 3 — The Mormon Image in Literature

The Mormoness; Or, The Trials of Mary Maverick:
A Narrative of Real Events

Edited by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

$12.95 paperback
$9.07 sale price

Boadicea; the Mormon Wife: Life Scens in Utah
Edited by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

$15.95 paperback
$11.17 sale price

Dime Novel Mormons
Edited by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

$22.95 paperback
$16.07 sale price

 

Day 4 — Women's topics

Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women's Local Impact
by Neylan McBaine

$21.95 paperback
$15.37 sale price

Mormon Women Have Their Say: Essays from the Claremont Oral History Collection
Edited by Claudia L. Bushman and Caroline Kline

$31.95 paperback
$22.37 sale price

Voices for Equality: Ordain Women and Resurgent Mormon Feminism
Edited by Gordon Shepherd, Lavina Fielding Anderson, and Gary Shepherd

$32.95 paperback
$23.07 sale price

 

Day 5 — Polygamy titles

Joseph Smith's Polygamy, Vol 1: History
by Brian C. Hales

$34.95 paperback
$24.47 sale price

Joseph Smith's Polygamy, Vol 2: History
by Brian C. Hales

$34.95 paperback
$24.47 sale price

Joseph Smith's Polygamy, Vol 3: Theology
by Brian C. Hales

$25.95 paperback
$18.17 sale price

Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding
by Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales

$19.95 paperback
$13.97 sale price

Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto
by Brian C. Hales

$31.95 paperback
$22.37 sale price

Mormon Polygamous Families: Life in the Principle
by Jesse L. Embry

$24.95 paperback
$17.47 sale price

Prisoner for Polygamy: The Memoirs and Letters of Rudger Clawson at the Utah Territorial Penitentiary, 1884–87
by Stan Larson

$29.95 paperback
$20.97 sale price

 

Day 6 — Science titles

Who Are the Children of Lehi? DNA and the Book of Mormon
by D. Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens

$15.95 paperback
$11.17 sale price

“Let the Earth Bring Forth”: Evolution and Scripture
by Howard C. Stutz, with a foreword by Duane Jeffrey

$15.95 paperback
$11.17 sale price

Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements
Edited by William E. Evenson and Duane E. Jeffrey

$15.95 paperback
$11.17 sale price

Parallels and Convergences: Mormon Thought and Engineering Vision
Edited by A. Scott Howe and Richard L. Bushman

$24.95 paperback
$17.47 sale price 

 

Day 7 — Biography

Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life
by Boyd Jay Petersen

$32.95 hardcover
$23.07 sale price

“Swell Suffering”: A Biography of Maurine Whipple
by Veda Tebbs Hale

$31.95 paperback
$22.37 sale price

William B. Smith: In the Shadow of a Prophet
by Kyle R. Walker

$39.95 paperback
$27.97 sale price

LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, 4 Vols
by Andrew Jenson

$259.95 paperback
$181.97 sale price 

The Man Behind the Discourse: A Biography of King Follett
by Joann Follett Mortensen

$29.95 paperback
$20.97 sale price 

 

Day 8 — Political topics

Liberal Soul: Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Politics
by Richard Davis

$22.95 paperback
$16.07 sale price

A Different God? Mitt Romney, the Religious Right, and the Mormon Question
by Craig L. Foster

$24.95 paperback
$17.47 sale price

Common Ground—Different Opinions: Latter-day Saints and Contemporary Issues
Edited by Justin F. White and James E. Faulconer

$31.95 paperback
$22.37 sale price

Even Unto Bloodshed: An LDS Perspective on War
by Duane Boyce

$29.95 paperback
$20.97 sale price 

War & Peace in Our Time: Mormon Perspectives
Edited by Patrick Q. Mason, J. David Pulsipher, and Richard L. Bushman

$29.95 paperback
$20.97 sale price

The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future
By Charles Shirō Inouye

$13.95 paperback
$9.77 sale price

  

Day 9 — Personal essay

Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family
by Boyd Jay Petersen

$22.95 paperback
$16.07 sale price

Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays
by Mary Lithgoe Bradford

$20.95 paperback
$14.67 sale price

Writing Ourselves: Essays on Creativity, Craft, and Mormonism
by Jack Harrell

$18.95 paperback
$13.27 sale price

On the Road with Joseph Smith: An Author's Diary
by Richard Lyman Bushman

$14.95 paperback
$10.47 sale price 

 

Day 10 — Church history

Hearken O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith's Ohio Revelations
by Mark Lyman Staker

$34.95 hardcover
$24.47 sale price

Fire and Sword: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri, 1836–39
by Leland Homer Gentry and Todd M. Compton

$36.95 hardcover
$25.87 sale price

A House for the Most High: The Story of the Original Nauvoo Temple
by Matthew McBride

$29.95 paperback
$20.97 sale price

Villages on Wheels: A Social History of the Gathering to Zion
by Stanley B. Kimball and Violet Kimball

$24.95 paperback
$17.47 sale price

Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890–1930, 3rd ed.
by Thomas G. Alexander

$31.95 paperback
$22.37 sale price

 

Day 11 — International Mormonism

Tiki and Temple: The Mormon Mission in New Zealans, 1854–1958
by Marjorie Newton

$29.95 paperback
$20.97 sale price

Mormon and Maori
by Marjorie Newton

$24.95 paperback
$17.47 sale price

The Trek East: Mormonism Meets Japan, 1901–1968
by Shinji Takagi

$39.95 paperback
$27.97 sale price

From Above and Below: The Mormon Embrace of Revolution, 1840–1940
by Craig Livingston

$34.95 paperback
$24.47 sale price

The History of the Mormons in Argentina
by Néstor Curbelo

$24.95 paperback
$17.47 sale price

For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830–2013
by Russell W. Stevenson

$32.95 paperback
$23.07 sale price

 

Day 12 — Flash ebook sale

 CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS


Free Scriptural Theology ebook for newsletter subscribers! October 30 2017

FREE EBOOK FOR NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS

Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Scriptural Theology
Edited by James E. Faulconer and Joseph M. Spencer

Part of the Perspectives on Mormon Theology series

$24.95 FREE FOR OUR NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS (Limited time)

Greg Kofford Books is pleased to offer for a limited time a free ebook version of Scriptural Theology, the first volume in the Perspectives on Mormon Theology series.

This volume is edited by James E. Faulconer and Joseph M. Spencer and seeks to offer a variety of perspectives regarding the nature and meaning of scripture for Latter-day Saints.


Book description:

The phrase “theology of scripture” can be understood in two distinct ways. First, theology of scripture would be reflection on the nature of scripture, asking questions about what it means for a person or a people to be oriented by a written text (rather than or in addition to an oral tradition or a ritual tradition). In this first sense, theology of scripture would form a relatively minor part of the broader theological project, since the nature of scripture is just one of many things on which theologians reflect. Second, theology of scripture would be theological reflection guided by scripture, asking questions of scriptural texts and allowing those texts to shape the direction the theologian’s thoughts pursue. In this second sense, theology of scripture would be less a part of the larger theological project than a way of doing theology, since whatever the theologian takes up reflectively, she investigates through the lens of scripture.

The essays making up this collection reflect attentiveness to both ways of understanding the phrase “theology of scripture.” Each essay takes up the relatively un-self-conscious work of reading a scriptural text but then—at some point or another—asks the self-conscious question of exactly what she or he is doing in the work of reading scripture. We have thus attempted in this book (1) to create a dialogue concerning what scripture is for Latter-day Saints, and (2) to focus that dialogue on concrete examples of Latter-day Saints reading actual scripture texts.

Contributors: James E. Faulconer, Joseph M. Spencer, Robert Couch, Adam S. Miller, Eric D. Huntsman, Claudia L. Bushman, Bruce W. Jorgensen, Jane Hafen, Jenny Webb, George B. Handley



Subscribe to our free newsletter by entering your email address above and receive instructions for downloading your free ebook.

Once you have signed up for our newsletter, you will recieve a welcome email that will provide instructions for downloading the ebook. Please read these instructions carefully. Check your junk folder if you do not see the welcome email.


On the twelfth day of Kofford: $1.99 flash sale on Kindle e-books! December 12 2016

On the twelfth day of Kofford, fill your digital stockings with our HUGE e-book promotion. Today only, each of the following titles are only $1.99 on Kindle! PLUS, to help you prepare for the upcoming D&C year in Gospel Doctrine class, we are offering B. H. Robert's classic six-volume A Comprehensive History of the Church on Kindle for only $3.99!

This flash sale ends at midnight tonight (Dec. 12th)

 

 As Iron Sharpens Iron: Listening to the Various Voices of Scripture
Edited by Julie M. Smith

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK

Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology
by Adam S. Miller

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK

Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family
by Boyd J. Petersen

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK

The Man behind the Discourse: A Biography of King Follett
by Joann Follett Mortensen

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK

The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future
by Charles Shiro Inouye

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

 

“Swell Suffering”: A Biography of Maurine Whipple
by Veda Tebbs Hale

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

Discourses in Mormon Theology: Philosophical and Theological Possibilities
by James M. McLachlan; Edited by Loyd Ericson

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

The Liberal Soul: Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Politics
by Richard Davis

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

“let the earth bring forth”: Evolution and Scripture
by Howard H. Stutz

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

Villages on Wheels: A Social History of the Gathering to Zion
by Stanley B. Kimball

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays
by Mary Lithgoe Bradford

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

The Mormoness; Or the Trials of Mary Maverick: A Narrative of Real Events
by John Russell; Edited and annotated by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Century One (All 6 Volumes)
by B. H. Roberts

$3.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 


On the third day of Kofford: 30% off personal essay titles! December 03 2016


All personal essay titles are 30% off on December 3rd. These special prices are only available for one day, so don't wait!

To get the 30% discount, simply enter the code OURSTORIES (all caps) in the discount code box at check-out.


Orders over $50 qualify for free shipping. Also, local Utah customers can opt to pick up their order directly from our office in Sandy (select this option under the shipping menu). 

For more information about the Twelve Days of Kofford holiday sales, click here.

Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family
by Boyd Jay Petersen

Retail: $22.95
Sale price: $16.07

Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays
by Mary Lithgoe Bradford

Retail: $20.95
Sale price: $14.67

Writing Ourselves: Essays on Creativity, Craft, and Mormonism
by Jack Harrell

Retail: $18.95
Sale price: $13.27


Q&A with Adam S. Miller, author of Future Mormon: Essays in Mormon Theology April 15 2016

by Adam S. Miller
146 pages

Paperback $18.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-509-6)


Pre-order your copy today.

Q: Why the title, “Future Mormon”?

It is difficult to be contemporary. Historians can avoid the trouble of being contemporary by writing about history and the history of ideas. But as a philosopher and theologian, I think the other tack is more appropriate. Rather than taking shelter in the past, my work takes shelter in the future. It takes future Mormons as it audience. I can't claim any kind of authority in the present, but my hope is that my work might be useful down the road for my grandchildren and great grandchildren. No one, right now, is asking me to write anything or think harder about anything. That's understandable. But maybe I can still be useful and leave something behind that could be helpful in the future.

Q: How does this new volume differ from Rube Goldberg Machines?

Future Mormon is, I think, a stronger collection of essays. They are more tightly integrated around a handful of key themes and, while they frequently remain academic in spirit, they are, in general, less playful or poetic and more straightforward than some of the material in Rube Goldberg Machines.

Q: In the introduction you describe your book as a “future-tense apologetics.” In what ways is your book apologetic, and how does it differ from how apologetics is traditionally understood?

The book is apologetic in that it offers a defense of Mormonism. But it is different from conventional forms of apologetics because it doesn't attempt to defend Mormonism against the specifics of any past or present criticisms. Rather than supplying specific answers to specific questions, I think these essays, instead, try to gather potential tools and resources that future Mormons may need to tackle problems that, for us, may be only barely perceptible at present.

Q: When you look at the generations coming up, what do you suspect will be the most pressing issues for them as they navigate their relationship with Mormonism? And how does Future Mormon address those issues?

The most pressing issue will be Christ. Future generations will have to—just as we must—figure out how to not just talk about Christ but live life in Christ. Life in Christ is the perpetual challenge. They, however, will also have to figure out what such a life looks like in a world that, increasingly, takes sexual, racial, and economic equality seriously, all while dealing with profound and planet-wide ecological changes.

Q: As does much of your work, this book focuses a good deal on grace. This is a topic that has received much more traction in Mormonism today than it did in the past. Why do you think this is the case, and how does your understanding of grace differ from how Mormons generally view it?

Grace is just one way of talking about what life in Christ looks like. But it is a good way. It is language native to Christianity's earliest and most influential expression. For my part, I think that Mormons generally use the word in a way that is still too narrow, still too secondary. We need something like a general theory of grace. In this book, I try to open up some accessible lines that could help us think about what a general theory of grace would involve.

Q: In one of your essays, you say that Mormons need to learn to be more Pauline. In the last several decades there has been a growing interest in Paul by philosophers--and even atheist philosophers. What has drawn their interest, and what is it about Paul that Mormons have generally failed to learn from?

Paul's message, as an apostle of Christ, has perennial traction, with Christians and non-Christians alike. In his letters Paul is trying to describe what a certain kind of life, an awakened and liberated life, looks like. This kind of life—whether someone comes to it by way of the Christian tradition or more directly by way of life itself—has a kind of universal appeal. If atheists aren't interested in the theological work that we're doing, then we're probably doing it wrong. Paul, though, is a good example of doing it right.

Year in Review and the Year Ahead December 29 2015

2015 was another amazing year for Greg Kofford Books! Here is a recap of the year and a look ahead to what is coming in 2016 and beyond.

Award-winning Publications

Several Kofford titles won awards from the Mormon History Association and the Association for Mormon Letters in 2015:

MHA Best Book Award

For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013
By Russell W. Stevenson
$66.95 hardcover
$32.95 paperback

“Invaluable as a historical resource.” Terryl L. Givens, author of Parley P.
Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism
 and By the Hand of Mormon: The
American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion

MHA Best International Book Award

Mormon and Maori
By Marjorie Newton
$24.95 paperback

“Unflinchingly honest yet unfailingly compassionate.” — Grant Underwood,
Professor of History at Brigham Young University

AML Religious Non-Fiction Award

Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World's Greatest Poem
By Michael Austin
$50.00 hardcover
$20.95 paperback

“A new gold standard for Mormon writings.” — Julie M. Smith, author, Search,
Ponder, and Pray: A Guide to the Gospels

 

All 2015 Titles

Here are all of the great titles that Greg Kofford Books published this past year:

Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays
By Mary Lythgoe Bradford
Published January, 2015
$20.95 paperback

“Vibrant portraits of a kind and loving soul.” — Boyd J. Peterson, author of
Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and
Family

Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Scriptural Theology      
Edited by James E. Faulconer and Joseph M. Spencer
Published February, 2015
$59.95 hardcover
$24.95 paperback

Each essay takes up the relatively un-self-conscious work of reading a
scriptural text but then—at some point or another—asks the self-conscious
question of exactly what she or he is doing in the work of reading scripture.

Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding
By Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales
Published April, 2015
$19.95 paperback

“It is a book that will be read and discussed for years to come.” — Robert L.
Millet, Professor Emeritus of Religious Education, Brigham Young University 

Even Unto Bloodshed: An LDS Perspective on War
By Duane Boyce
Published May, 2015
$29.95 paperback 

“Indispensable for all future Mormon discussions of the subject.” — Daniel C.
Peterson, editor of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture

William B. Smith: In the Shadow of a Prophet
By Kyle R. Walker
Published June, 2015
$69.95 hardcover
$39.95 paperback

“Walker’s biography will become essential reading.” — Mark Staker, author of
the award-winning Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph
Smith’s Ohio Revelations

Voices for Equality: Ordain Women and Resurgent Mormon Feminism
Edited by Gordon Shepherd, Lavina Fielding Anderson, and Gary Shepherd
Published July, 2015
$32.95 paperback

“Timely, incisive, important.” — Joanna Brooks, co-editor of Mormon
Feminism: Essential Writings
and author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A
Memoir of an American Faith

Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History
By Brant A. Gardner
Published August, 2015
$34.95 paperback

“Illuminating, prismatic views of the Book of Mormon.” — Mark Alan Wright,
Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University and
Associate Editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies

 

Looking Ahead at 2016 and Beyond

Here are a few eagerly-anticipated titles currently scheduled for the first part of 2016 and a look at what is in the works for the future:

The Mormon Image in Literature Series
Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall, series editors

The Mormoness; Or, The Trials Of Mary Maverick: A Narrative Of Real Events
By John Russell, edited and annotated by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall
Available January 26, 2016. Pre-order your copy today!
$12.95 paperback

Published in 1853, the first American novel about the Mormons is also one of
the best. John Russell, an Illinois journalist and educator, witnessed the
persecution in Missouri and Illinois and generally sympathized with the Saints.
The Mormoness tells the story of Mary Maverick, the heroine of the novel,
who joined the Mormon Church when her husband was converted in Illinois.
Though not initially a believer, Mary embraces her identity as “the
Mormoness” when her husband and son are killed in a Haun’s Mill-like
massacre–and at the end of the novel, she must find a way to forgive the
killer.

The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future
By Charles Shirō Inouye 
Available February 16, 2016. Pre-order your copy today!
$13.95 paperback

Environmental decline, political gridlock, war and rumors of war, decadence,
and immorality. The End of the World, Plan B traces the idea of the end, or
destruction, of the world through a number of spiritual traditions. It shows that
our present understanding of the “end game” has been distorted by a modern
emphasis and demand on justice as the ultimate good. As an alternative to
this self-destructive approach, Charles Shirō Inouye shows that in these
traditions, justice is not the isolated end in itself that we ought strive for; rather
it is taught in tandem with its balancing companion: compassion. Plan B is a
hopeful alternative to our fears about how things are going.

 

Also forthcoming...

More volumes are in the works for our The Mormon Image in Literature, Contemporary Studies in Scripture, and Perspectives on Mormon Theology series.

Saints, Slaves, and Blacks by Newell G. Bringhurst, revised and updated

Lot Smith: Utah Hero, Arizona Colonizer by Carmen Smith and Talana Hooper

The Trek East: Mormonism Meets Japan, 1901-1968 by Shinji Takagi

Science the Key to Theology by Steven L. Peck

And much, much more...

Thank you for making 2015 exceptional and we are excited about 2016!

 

 

 

 

 


Kofford Authors at MHA June 01 2015

Greg Kofford Books authors have long been well-represented as speakers and panel chairs at annual conferences of the Mormon History Association, and the 2015 Conference at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, Utah, June 4-7, is no exception! Check out the titles of their presentations and panels below: 

  

Russell Stevenson, author of For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013 will present, "We Aren't Africa: Mormonism in Nigeria, 1960-1964."

 

  

Joseph Spencer, author of For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope will present, "Canon and History: On the Revelation to Emma Smith."

 

    

Boyd Petersen, author of Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life and Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family will chair theTheology and History panel. 

 

  

Claudia Bushman, co-editor (with Caroline Kline) ofMormon Women Have Their Say: Essays from the Claremont Oral History Collection will present "Early Decisions," as part of the Exponent II: Present at the Creation panel.

 

    

Lavina Fielding Anderson and Newell Bringhurst, editors of Excavating Mormon Pasts: The New Historiography of the Last Half Century will chair a panel and present a paper, respectively. Lavina will chair the Mormon History Journals Editors panel, and Newell will present "President David O. McKay's 1954 Encounter with the LDS Church's Black Priesthood Ban: An Important but Forgotten Episode."

 

  

Thomas Alexander, author of Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930, 3rd ed. will speak as part of the Culture of the Early Mormon History Association roundtable. 

 

 

  

Todd Compton, author (with Leland H. Gentry) ofFire and Sword: A History of the Latter-Days Saints in Northern Missouri, 1836-39 will present "Ganado Mucho, Navajo Headman, and the Mormons."

 

  

Don Bradley, author of the forthcoming The Lost 116 Pages: Rediscovering the Book of Lehi will present, "From Cumorah's 'Ark' to Joseph's Hat: Sacred and Mundane Objects in the Emergence of the Book of Mormon."

 

 

  

Christine and Christopher Blythe, editors of the forthcoming Mormonisms: A Documentary History, 1844-1860 will chair panels and present papers. Christine will present, " 'Presiding at Birth:' The Creation of Folk Theologies among Latter-day Saint Women," and she will chair the Mormonism and Material Culture panel. Christopher will present, "Martyrdom Canes and Vernacular Mormonism" in that same panel.

 

  

Stuart Parker, author of the forthcoming History through Seer Stones: A Hundred Years of Mormon Pasts will present, "Margarita Bautista's 'Eternal Mexico:' A Revolutionary Mormon proto-Chicanismo."

 

 

 

 


Q&A with Joseph Smith's Polygamy authors Laura Hales and Brian Hales April 06 2015

Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding

by Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales

223 pages

Paperback $19.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-723-6)

Available April 14th in print and e-book

Pre-order your copy today.

Q: The last few years we've been inundated with new information concerning Mormon polygamy, from podcasts about polygamy, to the Church posting an essay on the subject, to Brian's 3 volume set on the history and theology of polygamy in early Mormonism. How does Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding fit into that landscape and contribute to this ongoing conversation?

Laura: The Gospel Topics essay on early polygamy gave as good of a basic introduction to the subject as it could in ten pages. Brian’s book was 1500 pages. This book expands on the information in the essay by using the research used to write the trilogy. The first third of the book provides a theological framework for the unfolding of Nauvoo plural marriage; the second third provides the history; and the third contains short biographies of 35 of Joseph’s possible plural wives who agreed to participate in this strange practice.

Brian: Even though this volume is short, no major topic has been avoided. All the controversies have been presented. This volume fills an important niche to help inquirers who want more information than that found in the LDS.org essay, but don’t have the time or interest to dive into 1500+ pages of my trilogy, which deals more with the various opinions regarding the controversies.

Q: Like most authors, you would probably like as many people as possible to read your book. Is there an intended audience for this volume?

Laura: Absolutely. This book differs from the first three volumes in the series in that it was written specifically for Latter-day Saint members curious about Joseph Smith and his many plural wives, or who wonder about the meaning of Doctrine and Covenants 132. Whether the reader has a basic or a more comprehensive knowledge of the topic, they will benefit from the information in this volume.

Q: What do you hope they get from it?

Laura: Our hope is that readers will gain some reassurance. Often in the past, aspects of the practice have been exploited or sensationalized by authors less concerned about accuracy than promoting their opinion of Joseph Smith or for their distaste for the practice of plural marriage.

There may be things that are surprising and possibly discomforting about what occurred during the time period, but when contextualized, they are easier to understand. The early polygamists were just as skeptical as us about the restoration of the practice. Their actions (including the behaviors of Joseph and Emma) are better understood when historical and theological information is provided.

We would also hope that readers will gain just a little bit of sympathy for Joseph Smith as they learn of the difficult choices he had to make. Perhaps readers will also feel admiration for the plural wives whose faith, courage, and tenacity enabled them to have the bravery to embrace this commandment.

Q: Books about controversial subjects invite all kinds of commentary and criticism. As you have thought about what you would like reviewers to write about the book, what would top your wish list?

Laura: We did our best to present the story in the words of the participants without overly opining on motivations for behaviors, leaving the reader to ponder the evidence. At times, we probably could have provided more context, but we really wanted the reader to be able to look at the scant evidence and realize that much that has been previously published has included a fair amount of guess work. There is so much that we simply do not know. Hopefully we have conveyed the nebulous nature of the historical record, so the reader will be wary of any author that proclaims to know for surety what happened in any given situation.

If readers and reviewers could leave the book with an open mind, pondering what they have read, and searching on their own to answer their questions through further research, then I would be pleased. I have done this myself, studying the history of these people, how they interacted socially, and why Joseph would choose to be sealed to certain women. Some of my questions have been answered, but it takes time, patience, and study on the part of the seeker. Having reviewers laud us for leaving the door open instead of evaluating the merits of the book on their preconceived notions of what occurred, would be great.

Brian: Because polygamy involves sex and religion, it is immensely controversial. It appears that the greatest factor in determining a person’s reaction to plural marriage (or a book about it) involves their a priori beliefs. Because of the ambiguities and contradictions in the historical record, multiple interpretations can be advanced. Unbelievers seem to disagree with any explanation that does not depict Joseph as an adulterer motivated by libido. Believers, on the other hand, may join with us in seeing that while questions exist, there is no credible evidence Joseph was involved in sexual immorality and much documentation to support he was sincere and felt compelled by God to establish the practice.

This book is not an attempt to increase testimony, but instead to tell the story as accurately as we can, believing that historical truth will support belief better than any alternative. Accordingly, the best we may be able to hope for is for reviewers to conclude that we have presented the evidences with clarity and in a balanced way allowing individuals to understand our interpretations, even if they do not agree with them. 

Q: Laura, tell us a little about your own journey in co-authoring this volume with Brian. Where were you at personally about the subject matter when you began the project, and where did you end up?

Laura: My journey began before I married Brian. I attended an author-meets-critic session at the Sunstone Symposium where Brian’s trilogy was being critiqued. I hadn’t read the book, so I had no idea if the criticisms were valid. So I read the books over the next six weeks, expecting not to learn much new about early polygamy. After I finished the last page of the book, I found myself asking what had happened to the Joseph Smith I knew.

After thinking, writing, and studying about Joseph Smith and his practice of polygamy for the last eighteen months, I think I have found him again. He isn’t the sanitized prophet that I grew up with, but he is much more real to me. Over time I have been able to feel sympathy for him, which was elusive for me for a long time. The Joseph I know now is so much more multi-dimensional, and I feel like I have been able to get a small glimpse into his character from those who knew him. Hopefully over the years that view will broaden with even more study because I still have unanswered questions. 

Q: What were the most enjoyable and least enjoyable aspects of writing Joseph Smith's Polygamy?

Laura: The most enjoyable part of writing a book with a co-author is the synergy that happens—working together on an idea, completing each other’s sentences, and suggesting that elusive word to express a common thought. The least enjoyable aspect of writing this book were the spirited conversations that occurred when we disagreed on how to present a specific concept. I had to keep reminding Brian that he had already written “that book” and this one was for a different purpose and audience. I’m sure this was frustrating for him as well because this it is the first time he has collaborated on a writing project.

 

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Boyd Jay Petersen, Inaugural Speaker at 2014 John A. Widtsoe Lecture Series January 09 2014

The John A. Widtsoe Lecture Series has invited Boyd Jay Petersen, author of Dead Wood and Rushing Water and Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life to be the inaugural speaker in the 2014 lecture series.

His lecture, “Mormonism's All Seeing I: The Personal Essay and the Search for Truth,” invokes the legacy of Mormonism's great essayist Eugene England, exploring not just the balance between faith and the critical demands of rigorous scholarship but on the kinds of selves we uncover and create through self-narration and the cultivation of narrative voice. Boyd's writing takes up the legacy of Gene England's project—in its vulnerability and honesty, its generosity and warmth, and in its internal tensions.
Time: Tuesday, January 21st, 5:00pm
Place: Rm 206, Family Life Building, Utah State University.
The lecture is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be available.
 
Buy It Now- Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family
Buy It Now- Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life
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Boyd Jay Petersen teaches English and religious studies at Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University.  He is the authorized biographer of Hugh Nibley (Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life. Greg Kofford Books, 2002), was awarded the adjunct faculty excellence award from UVU in 2006, and completed his PhD in comparative literature at the University of Utah in 2007. He currently serves as the program coordinator for Mormon Studies at UVU, book review editor for theJournal of Mormon History, and is a past president of the Association for Mormon Letters.  He and his wife Zina are the parents of four children and make their home in Provo, Utah.