Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family


By Boyd Jay Petersen

Also Available in ebook for the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Kobo eReader, and Apple iBookstore

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.

Praise for Dead Wood and Rushing Water:

Dead Wood and Rushing Water gives us a reflective, striving, wise soul ruminating on his world. In the tradition of Eugene England, Petersen examines everything in his Mormon life from the gold plates to missions to dream mines to doubt and on to Glenn Beck, Hugh Nibley, and gender. It is a book I had trouble putting down.” — Richard L. Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

“Boyd Petersen is correct when he says that Mormons have a deep hunger for personal stories—at least when they are as thoughtful and well-crafted as the ones he shares in this collection.” — Jana Riess, author of The Twible and Flunking Sainthood

“Petersen’s book provides a road map to the contemporary minds and concerns of the LDS intellectual. Always thoughtful and interesting, gracefully written and significant, these essays will encourage many other thinkers to get their thoughts down.” — Claudia L. Bushman, co-editor of Mormon Women Have Their Say

“Boyd Petersen invites us all to ponder anew the verities we hold, sharing in his humility, tentativeness, and cheerful confidence that our paths will converge in the end.” — Terryl. L. Givens, author of People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture

“Boyd Petersen models the courage of a true seeker: the bravery to take on life as a journey to be savored. These essays prove the wisdom of giving time and life and imagination the chance to do their sorting.” — Dan Wotherspoon, host of Mormon Matters podcast

“Petersen’s essays speak in the voice of the best kind of friend—the one whose company is warm and familiar and comfortable, but who still manages to surprise you, make you laugh at unexpected moments, and show you new ways to think about everything you thought you knew.” — Kristine Haglund, editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought

Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family left me wanting to hang out with its author, Boyd Jay Petersen, maybe have dinner and enjoy conversation that stretched long into the night. Not only did the essays in this volume spark new thoughts and invigorate old ones, it kindled feelings of friendship for a fellow Saint who is as much like me as he is unlike me. I suppose, when we are talking about a volume of personal essays, that strike of personal connection between author and reader is the surest sign of success. . . . [It] is a fine collection, deserving of a reader’s time and money.” — Lisa Torcasso Downing, Association for Mormon Letters

“Boyd Jay Petersen’s Dead Wood and Rushing Water is a breath of fresh air among LDS-authored books. . . . This book is a rare treasure among modern Mormon thought.” — Laurie Williams Sowby, Nauvoo Times

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


More reviews are available at Goodreads.


Boyd Petersen is interviewed for the A Thoughtful Faith Podcast.

About the Author:

Boyd Jay Petersen teaches English and religious studies at Utah Valley University. He is the biographer of Hugh Nibley (Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life—winner of the Mormon History Association’s Best Biography Award), 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 both the editor for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and the program coordinator for Mormon Studies at UVU. He and his wife Zina are the parents of four children and make their home in Provo, Utah.

More Information:

248 pages
ISBN 978-1-58958-658-1 (Paperback)

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