Church History

Visions and Enivison

September 17, 2008 | 28 comments
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I am sorry I have not been posting more regularly. Hurricane Ike slowed me down a bit. However, everything is starting to get back to normal. So…. Here we go. If the nineteenth century Mormon experiment in planning claimed anything, it claimed to be founded on revelation. Read more »

Changing Conceptions of Zion

September 8, 2008 | 26 comments
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The Mormon conception of Zion has changed dramatically over the past century. Today’s members of the church are likely to define “Zion” as wherever the members of the church are: LDS homes, congregations, and stakes. While the conception of Zion in the 19th century may have included these elements, these Saints were determined to literally be Zion communities Read more »

Returning to Zion

September 8, 2008 | 11 comments
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Given all that might be said of Mormonism, it should not come as a surprise that a lot of interesting topics sit pretty much neglected. One of these, I would argue, is the Mormon contribution to building settlements in the United States. Read more »

Why Visit Mountain Meadows?

August 20, 2008 | 46 comments
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A week ago I visited Mountain Meadows for the first time. I was surprisingly hard to find. While the site does appear on maps of the area, there aren’t any signs until you get within a mile of the entrance. That is a shame. Read more »

Wish I’d Been There

August 12, 2008 | 41 comments
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Need a smile? Then you might wish you’d gone to sacrament meeting on March 15, 1857 in the Salt Lake Thirteenth Ward: Read more »

Pioneers and Indians in Utah Valley

August 11, 2008 | 9 comments
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Just last week I heard a familiar comment at church: Brigham Young’s policy was to feed the Indians rather than fight them. The actual record of relations between Pioneers and Indians was a bit more complicated, especially in Utah Valley, the watery jewel of early Utah. Read more »

Yesharah

August 8, 2008 | 15 comments
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Did you know that BYU had a combined-gender missionary club in the early 1920’s named the Y.D.D.? It took me a month to discover the secret of the initials: “Young Doctors of Divinity.” Read more »

Socialism and United Order

August 5, 2008 | 21 comments
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I stumbled across a few LDS socialist stories when I was writing my MA thesis. Read more »

Political Remembering

August 4, 2008 | 12 comments
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Fascinating Utah history factoid: Read more »

Christianity by Continent

August 3, 2008 | 8 comments
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I recently read Martin Marty’s The Christian World: A Global History (2007). The subtitle is slightly misleading, as Marty recounts Christian history on a continent-by-continent basis. The last two chapters, covering the modern return of Christianity to Africa and Asia, raise issues of particular interest to the LDS experience: correlation and assimilation. Read more »

Death and Doctrine, II

August 1, 2008 | 41 comments
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Can you help me a bit more with this topic? . . . Since LDS funeral sermons were given exclusively by men before 1900, they make an interesting comparison with LDS women’s death poetry of the same time period. Read more »

Death and Doctrine

July 29, 2008 | 39 comments
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I have an uneasy relationship with death. Read more »

Carl and Mathilda

July 23, 2008 | 22 comments
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Let us praise pioneers. Of all sorts, but today especially the traditional sort. I myself am thinking of Carl and Mathilda, whom I came to know through one of those wholly unexpected spine-tingling unbelievable fantastic experiences. Read more »

Massacre is Just Around the Corner

July 22, 2008 | 51 comments
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The Deseret News just ran a lengthy article giving some details on the long-awaited but soon-to-be-released book Massacre at Mountain Meadows, by three LDS historians. Read more »

Cycling Through Mormon History

July 18, 2008 | 3 comments
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For you, summer might be a succession of beaches, barbeques, and baseball games, but for one young man this summer is an extended bicycle tour of American religious sites. He has posted excellent photos of his visits to the Smith family farm and the Hill Cumorah Pageant that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. If he makes it to SLC, someone should throw him a party or something. Read more »

Foundation and Apostasy

July 12, 2008 | 31 comments
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What if the historical evidence for the foundation of the early Christian church is indistinguishable from evidence for its apostasy? What if the early church and its scriptures only arose through processes of decay? Read more »

LDS Historical Sites

August 22, 2007 | 72 comments
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A couple of months ago I heard a presentation on the general topic of historical sites that the Church owns and manages. I came with a pocketful of snarky questions but left with some appreciation for how tough the task is and (on the whole) how well the sites are set up and managed. I’ll give a couple of paragraphs summarizing the talk, then a couple of paragraphs commenting on historical sites I have visited. Read more »

Summer Seminar update

August 8, 2007 | no comments
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For those interested in the BYU summer seminar, I’ve revised the post, adding the titles of and abstracts for the papers. Read more »

BYU Summer Seminar

August 6, 2007 | 11 comments
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The annual summer symposium, this year “Joseph Smith and His Times,” will be held on Thursday, August 9, 2007. The symposium will feature papers by twelve summer seminar fellows on the theme “Mormon Thinkers, 1890-1930,” covering topics ranging from the influence of Herbert Spencer on Mormon thought to Mormonism and Modernity. Read more »

Missing Essentials

July 11, 2007 | 75 comments
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Once upon a time, there was a book called Essentials in Church History. It was first published in 1922 and authored by Joseph Fielding Smith, who was made Assistant Church Historian in 1906 and an Apostle in 1910 (then President of the LDS Church from 1970 to 1972). For many years, this book (in one of its many successive editions) was part of every ward library and was found in most LDS homes. It was sort of expected that Mormons would read the book and know their history. It may have been faith-promoting history, but at least it spent... Read more »

A Mormon Narrative for the 21st Century

June 23, 2007 | 98 comments
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Historians don’t just catalog events, they assemble events into stories or “historical narratives.” But to really be relevant or worth reading, a given historical narrative has to tap into a bigger theme or “grand narrative” (using the term rather loosely). I’m going to flesh out that concept a bit, then float some observations on the emerging grand narrative that might frame Mormon history in the 21st century. Read more »

Biographies of a New World Man

June 21, 2007 | 31 comments
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Joseph Smith, it’s fair to say, was a rebel and a runner and a restless young man. That, plus his many religious accomplishments, makes him an attractive subject for biographers both in and out of the Church, who have responded by writing dozens of Joseph Smith biographies. In fact, I think that when it comes to history, Mormons are spoiled without generally knowing it. Pull down a denominational history or the biography of any other 19th-century religious figure from the shelf of your local library and you’re likely to get a snoozer. By comparison, early LDS history and the... Read more »

“New Pioneers … On the March!”

June 2, 2007 | 7 comments
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“New Pioneers … On the March!”

What does today’s Deseret Morning News editorial have in common with my 1941 copper medal bearing the legend “Our Standard Bearer” over the likeness of President Heber J. Grant? Read more »

Tooth Bugs

January 26, 2007 | 73 comments
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Recently my husband and I came across a set of rather old LDS song books. As my ward’s primary chorister my favorite was The Primary Song Book: Including Marches and Voluntaries. The edition is missing the title page and so I’m not sure when it was published (and am at a loss as to how I would find out). Let’s just say that it’s really old. Among the very few songs that have survived from this edition to the current one are, “Give said the little Stream”, “I Thank Thee Dear Father”, “Can a Little Child Like Me”, and... Read more »