Category: 12 Questions

The Neglected Louie B. Felt

RoseAnn Benson’s book Alexander Campbell and Joseph Smith: 19th-Century Restorationists compares the two best known and successful figures in the broad restorationist movement of the 19th century. While those familiar with Latter-day Saint history know the relationship between the two movements, oddly in broader religious history only Campbell and his Disciples of Christ are considered restorationists. The book was warmly received and helped broaden the sense of restorationists as a more significant movement. Benson’s own background is ecclectic. She minored in history but her degree was in Physical Education and her first Masters was in Exercise Science. She then got a second Masters in Ancient Near Eastern Studies. She’s taught at BYU, George Mason University and UVU. Her new work which we’re focusing in on in association with 12 Questions is “Louie B. Felt, First General Primary President” published by BYU Studies.[1] Felt is a neglected figure in Church history. Her history, brought out by Benson is fascinating. This is an interview that definitely is worth a read.

6 Questions for Tom Kimball on the Kirtland Temple

The Sunday School curriculum is currently covering the Kirtland period of LDS history, including a full lesson on the Kirtland Temple. While we often treat that temple as part of 19th-century history, it is still around, it is still used for religious services, and it is available for public tours for visitors of any religious faith. I asked Tom Kimball, who lives in Kirtland, to respond to some questions about the Kirtland Temple. Tom is a semi-retired Mormon bookseller of twenty years, a former board member of the Mormon History Association, and presently a staff service volunteer at the Kirtland Temple visitor center.

12 More Questions for Armand Mauss, Part 3

We are pleased to post the last installment of our Q&A with Armand Mauss, LDS author and scholar. See Part 1 for a full introduction and the first set of questions and answers, and Part 2 for the second set. 9. In the third chapter of your recent book Shifting Borders and a Tattered Passport, you discuss how as a graduate student you encountered the theory “that truth or reality is socially constructed,” which you contrasted with an “absolutist or essentialist ontology” that you had developed as a young Latter-day Saint. At the end of the chapter, you reflected back on your early experience as an undergraduate student in Japan and “finally realized how my exclusive resort to a Mormon epistemology in those days had prevented me from fully understanding and appreciating Japanese culture.” It sounds like the traditional Mormon approach to truth and reality makes it difficult to engage with other cultures. That seems like a problem as the Church continues to expand into new countries and sends thousands of LDS missionaries to teach in increasingly diverse cultures.

12 More Questions for Armand Mauss, Part 2

We continue our Q&A with Armand Mauss, LDS author and scholar. See Part 1 for a full introduction. 5. Let’s talk now about some of the issues you discussed in your memoir, Shifting Borders and a Tattered Passport: Intellectual Journeys of a Mormon Academic (U of U Press, 2012). In Chapter 6, “Recurrent Visits with the Race Issue,” you recount how you conducted research on the LDS race issue during the 1960s for your dissertation on Mormonism and minorities, filed at UC Berkeley in 1970. That put you smack in the middle of the most contentious issue in the Church during a difficult ten or fifteen years (particularly difficult for many LDS scholars) right up to the 1978 revelation. Yet you held the middle of ground of not exiting the Church or being pushed out as a harmful critic while, at the same time, publishing scholarly analysis and gentle criticism of the existing LDS policy and remaining a fully active member of the Church. How did you manage that?

12 More Questions for Armand Mauss, Part 1

Way back in April 2004, almost exactly ten years ago, Armand Mauss was the very first Times and Seasons 12 Questions guest (see Part 1 and Part 2). A lot has happened in the last ten years, so Armand has graciously agreed to answer 12 more questions. He was a Professor of Sociology for many years at Washington State University (the other Cougars) and is the author of two must-read books for students of Mormonism, The Angel and the Beehive (1994) and All Abraham’s Children (2003). With Lester Bush, he co-edited a collection of essays, Neither White nor Black: Mormon Scholars Confront the Race Issue in a Universal Church (Signature Books, 1984). He recently published his memoirs, Shifting Borders and a Tattered Passport: Intellectual Journeys of a Mormon Academic (U of U Press, 2012).

12 Questions with Grant Hardy – part I

To cap off our roundtable review of Grant Hardy’s new book Understanding the Book of Mormon we’re fortunate to feature an interview with the book’s author. The interview will be posted in two parts. Our thanks to all who have participated, and especially Bro. Hardy.

12 Questions with David E. Campbell Part II

Here is Part II of our 12 Questions interview with David E. Campbell, co-author of American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (see here for Part I). In this half of the interview Campbell answers questions related specifically to his and Robert Putnam’s research concerning Mormonism. 1. Mormons feature prominently in this book. I’m biased to say that this is because, as you state on page 15, Mormonism is a “highly distinctive tradition[] that, because of [its] size, [is] often neglected in analyses of the American religious environment.” Despite our currently being in “the Mormon moment,” however, I suspect that many would claim that the prominence of Mormonism in your study is merely a result of your being one of the authors. How legitimately is Mormonism stacked up alongside the other traditions you analyze in order to accurately gauge the American religious scene? And can you speak to the reaction of your audience at large with regard to your discussion of Mormonism and its prominence in your analysis? I confess that I wondered myself whether reviewers would criticize the book as featuring Mormons too prominently. (As an aside, you may be interested to know that our chief ethnographer, Shaylyn Romney Garret, is also LDS). I can report that, thus far, no one has raised this as an issue. To the contrary, one prominent scholar (non-LDS) who reviewed an early version of the manuscript actually suggested that we say more…

12 Questions with David E. Campbell – Part I

American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell is deservedly receiving a great deal of attention. It is undoubtedly the most comprehensive and significant sociological examination of religion in America to be published in decades, and perhaps ever. Aside from the sheer mass of sociological data that this book makes available in a magnificently readable format (the book is page turner), the book is also a tour de force of sociological analysis and interpretation. People in all fields related to religion in America are giving careful attention to this very important book. Times and Seasons is very excited, then to have the opportunity of sharing some of David Campbell’s additional insights. What follows is the first half of our 12 Questions interview with Campbell. One of the unique features of American Grace is the prominence it gives to Mormonism alongside other major U.S. religions. Consequently, we divided up our questions topically between those that deal with general issues from the book and those that deal more specifically with issues related to Mormonism. This first post will deal with former. By way of introduction, Campbell is the John Cardinal O’Hara, C.S.C., Associate Professor of Political Science and founding director of the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy at the University of Notre Dame. His research and teaching focus on American politics, political participation, religion and politics, and education policy. Also, as…

Royal Skousen’s 12 questions — The Critical Text Version

Last month we posted Royal Skousen’s discussion of his work on recovering the earliest version of the Book of Mormon, along with some updates.  Unfortunately, that post garnered some annoying formatting problems — mostly due to the new format T&S adopted this year.  We’re happy to now present to you mark III of Royal Skousen’s 12 questions interview.  Royal Skousen’s book, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, was published last month by Yale University Press and yes, you can order  it at Amazon.

12 Questions and a Book by Royal Skousen

5 years ago we published one of my favorite “12 Questions” posts, in which Royal Skousen discussed in some depth what he has learned from his extensive work on the earliest editions of the Book of Mormon.  His book, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, is being published in September by Yale University Press (and yes, you can order  it at Amazon right now).  To mark this milestone, Royal was kind enough to update his “12 questions” discussion, which we have posted below, for the benefit of those who did not catch it the first time.   Enjoy!

12 Questions for Marvin Perkins, Part Four

Here is the last installment of our 12 Questions with Marvin Perkins, comprised of Brother Perkins’ responses to our last two questions. We’d like to thank Brother Perkins for the time and effort he’s put in to giving us a set of very substantive and thought-provoking responses.

12 Questions for Marvin Perkins, Part One

Marvin Perkins has graciously agreed to answer a few questions from Times & Seasons. Brother Perkins is a Latter-day Saint music producer who is currently the Public Affairs Co-chair for the Genesis Group and who has worked to nurture understanding between African Americans and Latter-day Saints and attack misconceptions. As part of this effort, he has appeared on CNN, among other places. In late 2007, Brother Perkins and former Genesis Group President Darius Gray put out a DVD entitled “Blacks in the Scriptures” that contains four lecture-style scriptural presentations on Blacks and the Bible, Skin Color, Curses, Equality, Priesthood and Blacks as well as a historical look at Blacks and the LDS Priesthood.

12 Questions for the LDS Newsroom, Part One

Representatives from LDS Public Affairs who manage and direct the Newsroom site at agreed to respond to a dozen questions submitted by the T&S permabloggers. We are pleased to post the first six questions and answers below, with the second set of six to follow shortly. We appreciate the time and effort that went into preparing these detailed responses. They should help make the Newsroom an even more useful resource for LDS readers.

MWS: Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson is the Campbell-nominated author (twice-nominated now) of the fantasy novels Elantris and Mistborn: The Final Empire. His novel Well of Ascension, second in the Mistborn trilogy, will be published in a few months. Other projects (including the playfully titled Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians) are on the horizon. Brandon also recently released another full novel in draft form, Warbreaker, which is available for free at his website. He blogs at and posts frequently on the message board at The Official Time-Waster’s Guide. Brandon graciously agreed to be interviewed, as part of our ongoing Mormon Writers Symposium. [Interview questions by Kaimi Wenger] 1. You’ve established a reputation as a writer of genre fiction (fantasy). Many LDS writers (Orson Scott Card; Glen Larson) have used the genre of speculative fiction, broadly speaking. Is there something uniquely LDS about speculative fiction (or perhaps something uniquely speculative about the LDS mindset)?

MWS: Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale is a Newbery Honor-winning, New York Times bestseller-listed author of youth and fantasy fiction, most particularly Goose Girl and Princess Academy. This week sees the release of her latest novel Austenland, her first adult fiction novel. She is a returned missionary and lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and two under-three-years-old children.

MWS: Doug Thayer

Douglas Thayer is one of the pioneers of what Eugene England called “faithful realism” in his definitive study of Mormon literature. Besides having taught literally thousands of Mormon writers during his fifty years as a professor of English at Brigham Young University, his short story collections Under the Cottonwoods and Mr. Wahlquist in Yellowstone have become a template for those writing about the interior life of Mormons today. He has also published the novels Summer Fire and The Conversion of Jeff Williams.

An Interview with Jared Ludlow

Jared Ludlow has been at BYU-Hawaii since 2000 and is an assistant professor in the History and Religion Departments. He earned his PhD in a joint program in Near Eastern Religions from the University of California-Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union. He is the author of Abraham Meets Death: Narrative Humor in the Testament of Abraham.

An Interview with Todd Compton

Independent scholar Todd Compton is the author of the much acclaimed volume In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (hereafter, ISL) and three forthcoming books: Victim of The Muses: Poet as Scapegoat, Warrior and Hero in Greco-Roman and Indo-European Myth and History (Harvard University Press), Fire and the Sword: A History Of The Latter-Day Saints In Northern Missouri From 1836 To 1839 (Greg Kofford Books), and Cyril of Jerusalem: Initiatory Lectures (translation and commentary, FARMS).

12 (or so) Questions for Kathleen Flake

Back in November, we solicited questions for Kathleen Flake, author of the terrific book The Politics of American Religious Identity (2004). We are now pleased to present her responses. Thanks Professor Flake! 1. How have you negotiated the tension between focusing on Mormon studies versus the broader issues within your discipline? How have your faith and your interest in Mormon studies affected your career at Vanderbilt, if at all? My focus has not been on Mormonism as an end in itself. Rather, I have experimented with using Mormonism as a tool to understand the “broader issues.”

12 Questions with Senator Robert F. Bennett

Our next installment of the 12 Questions series will be with Robert F. Bennett, the junior Senator from Utah. Senator Bennett, a Republican, was elected to the Senate in 1992. As Assitant Majority Whip, he is a member of the Republican leadership. Prior to his election, he was a business man, PR executive, lobbyist, and Congressional staffer. His own father, Wallace F. Bennett, served as Senator from Utah in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. He served his mission in Scotland, is a former bishop, and currently attends the Arlington Ward of the McLean, Virginia Stake. Senator Bennett has agreed to discuss Mormonism and politics. Please post your questions.