Reviewing News about Mormonism for the Year

December 29, 2008 | 14 comments
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OK, now that we’re looking at the Mormon of the Year, I’d also like to look at what the big news stories were for the year. In a lot of ways its been a very busy news year, with, by my count, three big stories dominating:

  • Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy
  • The confusion of the LDS Church with the FLDS Church in the news
  • The Mormon role in the successful effort to pass Proposition 8.

But there were also smaller, important stories that happened during the year, especially if you include in News about Mormonism news about people who are Mormon.

So, what were the important news stories of the year that involved Mormons and Mormonism?

Personally, I’m most interested in stories from outside the United States — stories that demonstrate that Mormons aren’t just in Utah and the Intermountain West; and stories that help us go beyond the culture that the concentration of Mormons there represents.

But others may find that particularly interesting.

If you post a story, please give us a link to where we can read more about it.

Over the next few days I hope to go through the news sources I have available to me and I’ll add what I can find.

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14 Responses to Reviewing News about Mormonism for the Year

  1. Bevan on December 29, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    So, who was MOTY in 2007, 2006….?

  2. Kent Larsen on December 29, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Bevan:

    Those years the MotY process wasn’t held. I did try to run a version of MotY in 2001 (and perhaps in 2000 – I can’t remember), but when I stopped running Mormon News in 2002, I lost the only venue where I could run such a contest. When I was brought on here on T&S in August, I gained a venue for doing this kind of thing (although I didn’t really think about trying to do it until last week).

    To my knowledge, no one else has tried to run MotY or anything like it.

  3. Adam Greenwood on December 30, 2008 at 9:04 am

    I’d say the biggest story is President Hinckley dieing and Thomas Monson being sustained as the new prophet.

  4. Kent Larsen on December 30, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Adam, I’ve seen this transition happen 7 times during my life. It is a marvelous thing in many ways.

    But, I can’t see how the transition itself is big news. The procedure for transition is laid out so clearly that what will happen and how it will happen is almost not news! We all knew that Pres. Hinckley was old, that he would pass on eventually, and that President Monson was next in line to take his place. The only think we didn’t know is when it would happen.

    While the change in the prophet can have certain far-reaching implications, with the Lord actually running things, I’m not even sure that the transition will mean much change in Church doctrine, policy or practice — and if there are, certainly those changes would be newsworthy.

    I guess what I’m saying is that it is an important news story, but I don’t see it being as big a story as the Proposition 8 effort, and probably not as big as the other two either.

  5. sscenter on December 30, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I would like to submit an idea about the story of the year and would like to relate it back to Elder Ballard’s talk encouraging members to get involved in online forums. I was visiting my parents this summer and asked them what the biggest change in thier lifetime had been in the church and they both stated it was the revelation on the priesthood. I thought that made sense but told them that for myself (I was two when the revelation was recieved and so I have never known anything else) I thought the biggest change had been the way the church has reached out to members outside of Utah. Growing up in the midwest, the only time you ever heard a general authority was at General conference, I can still remember my parents having to drive twenty hours to go to the Dallas temple, and there was little in the way of LDS scholarship available to the general public. Now the information about the church is everywhere. If one wants to one could spend their entire day talking to members throughout the world, reading articles on every subject from very pro-Mormon writers and now my wife and I drive just a couple hours to get to Chicago to go to the temple. It is just a very different experience, and I love it.

    I know that a lot of this was not just from this year but it seems that 2008 has been a year where this online community has really been entrenched in the consciousness of many members.

  6. Sarah on December 30, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Can I construe your statement implying that “the United States” = “the Intermountain West” to mean that Mormons who live in states in the Central and Eastern timezones are less relevant than Mormons in Canadian provinces or Mexican states generally (including the ones substantially closer to Idaho/Utah/Arizona than, for example, Ohio happens to be?)

    Big news not already mentioned… how about the removal of missionaries from Russia, or the shirtless missionary calendar fiasco?

  7. queuno on December 30, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    While I agree with Sarah, in that we tend to overrate Western US Mormon stories, the three candidates at top are all good candidates. I think the Russia missionary story has been undercommented on the nacle at large.

  8. Kent Larsen on December 31, 2008 at 1:28 am

    Sarah, Queuno:

    I absolutely agree. The Russia story was underreported.

    Weren’t missionaries also pulled out of Bolivia during the year?

    IMO, the construction on the Manaus Brazil Temple should be news too, because it eliminates one of the more difficult trips for members to visit a Temple (IIRC, its 3 or 4 days by boat from Manaus to the nearest Temple in Brazil — in Recife. Members also traveled by bus to Venezuela or Colombia, but there was an accident in which many members were killed.

    So, yes, there is a lot of news that doesn’t seem to make it here.

    As for my statement implying “US=Intermountain West,” please re-evaluate your assumptions with the understanding that I live in Zion (aka New York City) and I generally dislike the culture in the Intermountain West.

  9. GuyC on December 31, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Was Prop8 and the Mormon role in passing it really that big of news?
    Maybe inside the Mormon culture it was, but outside?

    For me, the big thing about Prop8 was the role that the Church actively took in it. In all my years I can’t recall the Church deciding to take such an active (and somewhat controversial) role in a political decision. In our ward, Church members were individually contacted and asked to help in cold-calling California voters to try and persuade them to vote yes. I’ve never seen this done before.

    I wasn’t an opponent to Prop8, but I also didn’t agree with the role the Church took in it.

    I would have to consider the biggest news would have to be Mitt Romney and the JFK’esque speach he did about the non-impact his religion would have on his role in the White House.

  10. Raymond Takashi Swenson on December 31, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    The announcement by the Catholic Church that it would not cooperate in having church records copied by LDS Family History is another notable event that denotes organized opposition to the Church, a sort of backhanded compliment in light of the Church’s growth, especially ironic in light of the Catholic bishops in California seeking Church support in the fight over Prop 8.

  11. Ben H on December 31, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Considering the long-term influence of our universities on culture, I’d say Melissa Proctor’s teaching a course on Mormonism at Harvard is a very important news event. The immediate impact is not like a Mitt Romney or a Harry Reid, but it both represents and reinforces an important shift in where Mormonism is located in the cultural landscape.

    There were several other events in a similar vein, like the filling of chairs of Mormon Studies at Utah State and Claremont this fall, and Brian Birch’s course on Mormonism at Claremont also last spring, but they didn’t make the same splash in the news as far as I know.

  12. Sarah on January 3, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    I interpreted this statement:

    “stories from outside the United States — stories that demonstrate that Mormons aren’t just in Utah and the Intermountain West;”

    To imply that the only Mormons who count in the US are in Utah and surrounding states. However, I evaluate most Bloggernacle posts from the Ohio Has Mormons Too perspective, and am probably too defensive.

    I forgot about the Catholic records announcement. As a practical matter, I already don’t go broadcasting my church affiliation when seeking genealogical information – Lithuanians and Jewish groups and the folks in charge of most of the places my family members once lived are not known for their pro-Mormon/baptism-for-the-dead views. It’s usually easier to just say which neighborhood and (likely) synagogue/parish I’m looking for, and leave it at that. So, I’m not sure that one counts.

  13. Kent Larsen on January 4, 2009 at 2:00 am

    GuyC wrote: “Was Prop8 and the Mormon role in passing it really that big of news? Maybe inside the Mormon culture it was, but outside?”

    I think so. Any news that influences a group to stage protests involving thousands at various places around the country probably qualifies as big news.

  14. Kent Larsen on January 4, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Sarah (12) wrote: “I evaluate most Bloggernacle posts from the Ohio Has Mormons Too perspective, and am probably too defensive.”

    I’ve done the same thing, so I probably should have worded my original statement a little better.

    “As a practical matter, I already don’t go broadcasting my church affiliation when seeking genealogical information.”

    Nor do I. BUT, the employees of the Family History Library kind of have to say who they work for in order to be able to microfilm/scan large quantities of records, so I assume the Catholic news was directed at them more than at individual Mormons researching personal genealogy.

    Perhaps we will need to go to these facilities one person at a time, copying a single page each person, so that we don’t have to explain what we are doing. [just kidding]

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