Blog Archives

Cosmos: a personal view

September 4, 2007 | 58 comments
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In 1980, when I was nine, for thirteen weeks running, I watched Cosmos on Sunday nights with my father. Read more »

We’re number 68!

August 21, 2007 | 34 comments
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BYU shot up over 50 places in the university rankings that were just released this week. Not in the US News and World Report rankings, where BYU continues to bounce around the 70s, but in the Washington Monthly rankings of universities’ based on their contributions to society, where BYU went from 124 to 68, right between Loyola Chicago and Brown. Read more »

Suggestions for expatriate Mormons

August 14, 2007 | 71 comments
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I don’t know of any Americans planning to move into my ward soon. If there were any, I wish they would understand a few things from the outset. (If you’re contemplating a foreign assignment in an industrial nation, some of this might apply to your situation as well.) Read more »

Brigham Young and the history of reading in the West

July 30, 2007 | 38 comments
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Brigham Young’s condemnation of novel reading during the last two decades of his life is a perfect example of a much-studied moment in the history of reading, the hypothesized “reading revolution” of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. But the peculiar trajectory of Brigham Young’s attitude, from wary tolerance of novel reading to blanket combination of it, is unusual. Read more »

Mormon literature: the horror, the horror?

July 20, 2007 | 32 comments
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One of the frequent laments about Mormon literature is that so much of the Mormon experience is tied to spiritual experience, which is very difficult to describe in prose. Mormon authors facing that problem could learn a trick or two from Stephen King. Read more »

Before the cradle

July 15, 2007 | 6 comments
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There are songs that make me feel that God is all and I am nothing, and that God has given me everything and I deserve none of it, although that is far too precise and theological a description for an experience that is almost entirely pre-rational. Read more »

A German mirror on Mormons in American religion and politics

July 4, 2007 | 23 comments
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Gerhard Spörl, reporter for Der Spiegel, surely did not have an easy task. After his editors at the finest German-language news weekly on the planet took notice of a German Mormon apostle and a Mormon candidate for the U.S. presidency, they gave Spörl the responsibility for interviewing Dieter Uchtdorf, visiting the church offices in Frankfurt, and trying to explain Mormons and their religion to a million German readers (article in English translation here). Read more »

Laie and statistics

June 29, 2007 | 27 comments
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If you’re applying to BYU-Hawaii, should Dartmouth be your safety school? Read more »

Living in the limelight

June 25, 2007 | 41 comments
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Sometime on or before November 4, 2008, the Romney campaign is going to tank. (Dwelling too long on the possibility that he won’t tank is not good for the cardiac health of both his supporters and his opponents, so we’ll ignore that possibility for now.) After the Romney candidacy is no more, how are we Mormons going to make people notice us? Read more »

The wisdom of one-room schools

June 22, 2007 | 31 comments
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I think Kaimi’s metaphor is apt, maybe in more ways than he intended. Every few weeks, or every few days, there’s another discussion of polygamy, and some country hick who’s new to the big city suggests in breathless wide-eyed wonder that plural marriage was a way to care for widows and other women without families. Thereupon much merriment ensues among those who are wise to the ways of the world. Who could be so naive? But then I read what Richard Bushman told the Pew Forum a few weeks ago: Read more »

The reader in Mormon literature

June 10, 2007 | 24 comments
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What I dislike most about discussing Mormon literature is the all but inevitable moment when someone disparages the low artistic taste and congenital stinginess of Mormon readers. So let me set out the foundation for any discussion of Mormon literature and its readers: Readers owe authors nothing. Not a single copper-plated cent. Not a second of their time. Nothing. Read more »

The recycled image

June 1, 2007 | 14 comments
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Does source study make us better readers? I, Hercules, Duke of Ferrara, we now have in our city of Ferrara several nuns miraculously redolent of holiness, and above all the worthy sister Lucy of Narnia Read more »

The Mormon reader in the national market

May 26, 2007 | 24 comments
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Writing for a Mormon audience may be wasting the potential influence of Mormon readers. Read more »

Golden plates, prophesying of Christ

May 17, 2007 | 11 comments
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Part of medieval Christianity’s reworking of its inheritance from Classical Antiquity included turning the Greek Sibyls from local oracles into foretellers of Christ’s birth. After the christianized Sibyls’ prophecies had spent a thousand years or so on the medieval equivalent of the bestseller list, meddling philologists started asking just how the pre-Christian Sibyls came to know Jerome’s Vulgate so well. Read more »

Why I am biased against Mormon students[1][2]

May 11, 2007 | 96 comments
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Now updated with footnotes! Read more »

The Church of Latter-day Global Nomads

May 3, 2007 | 38 comments
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“Global nomads” is apparently how marketing demographers refer to people who make a practice of living outside their native country. I imagine it’s supposed to make the expatriate experience sound adventurous, upscale, and fashion-forward, but mostly the phrase strikes me as a bit silly and pretentious. That being said, it’s remarkable how perfectly suited Mormonism is as a church for global nomads. Read more »

Essential texts in Mormon Studies by non-Mormon authors

April 26, 2007 | 44 comments
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I haven’t a clue. Read more »

The Man Nephi

April 25, 2007 | 32 comments
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Is Nephi an eponymous ancestor? Well, clearly, yes. Read more »

Kurt Vonnegut

April 14, 2007 | 46 comments
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There was a time, during my senior year in high school, when I listened to the Doors and Pink Floyd for the sake of their lyrics, and memorized modern poetry, and read Kurt Vonnegut. Read more »

Mitt Romney, commencement speaker

April 9, 2007 | 43 comments
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Misinformation about Mormonism is nothing new, so the bloopers in Kenneth Woodward’s editorial about Mitt Romney’s upcoming speech at Regents University in today’s New York Times don’t disturb me much. What annoys me is Woodward’s argument about how Mormons should talk about themselves. Read more »

The Revelation of Reymund

April 3, 2007 | 10 comments
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At the moment, I’m looking at prognostications and popular prophetic tracts of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and last week I came across the following Read more »

Your Mormon problem

March 28, 2007 | 59 comments
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Do all job seekers, academic or otherwise, share Mitt Romney’s “Mormon problem?” Where do you list your religion on your CV? Nowhere. Everywhere. Read more »

To the ABD fathers in Zion

March 20, 2007 | 215 comments
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Over the last several years, I’ve gotten to know a good number of Mormon men whose life goal is to land an academic job in order to provide for their family. Read more »

Humility in the academic job market (or, why you shouldn’t forget about BYU)

March 13, 2007 | 48 comments
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In a job interview, the rhetorical approach you are looking for is “I can solve all your problems for you”: increase enrollments, raise the department’s research profile, advise the student club, pull in outside funding, the whole enchilada. (Can you really do all this? Of course you can! You now have a Ph.D., right?) Now is not the time for false modesty. Humility, however, is an essential part of your job search. Read more »