Category: Church History

Reconsidering the Curse of Ham

In a candid moment in January 1858, an early Church leader named Zerah Pulsipher told his family that: “Most of you are young therefore you have the advantage of me because [yo]u have less Gentile Traditions to over com[e].”[1]  This…

Reconsidering the Curse of Cain

Eugene England once shared an experience he had with the prominent Latter-day Saint Church leader, scriptorian, and doctrinaire Joseph Fielding Smith.  President Smith had written extensively on the subject of the priesthood and temple ban against individuals of black African…

First Vision Special Edition

Before I move on from discussing the First Vision, I wanted to share something that I find exciting.  Once in a while in Mormon studies journals, special volumes focus on the First Vision—such as the Spring 1969 issue of BYU Studies and a 1980…

Memory and the First Vision

How do we account for differences between the various accounts we have on record of the First Vision?  What role does memory play in how it was presented over time?  How have we viewed those accounts since they were first…

All Are Alike Unto God

I’ve been thinking about the issue of race in the Church (and the history of the temple and priesthood ban in particular) a lot lately.  As part of that thinking, I am working on a series of posts wrestling with…

Statues in the Balance

One of my favorite episodes of the science fiction TV series Firefly is the “Jaynestown” episode.  In it, a self-serving mercenary of questionable moral character ends up visiting a planet he has been to before.  In the past, he’d attempted…

A Prophet for President

Imagine that when you check the news tomorrow morning you see that Russell M. Nelson has announced that he is running for the office of the President of the United States.  Now imagine that later the same day, you receive…

Seer Stones and Grammar

Book of Mormon translation is one of those interesting subjects that is central to the ongoing Book of Mormon wars.  As well, to me, one interesting aspect about the Book of Mormon is how self-aware of its own creation it…

The Olive Tree Restoration

There have been some common underlying themes to several Times and Seasons posts these past few months.  The three themes or questions that I have in mind at the moment are: “What is the nature of the Great Apostasy?”, “What…

Embracing Jacob’s Sermon

One of the more awkward moments of my time in graduate school came when I was reading a book about Mormon polygamy while taking a break in the lab.  A visiting scientist from Pakistan who was doing research in the…

The First Vision-A Close Reading

This year has been marked out as a bicentennial celebration of the year Joseph Smith experienced the First Vision.  President Russell M. Nelson invited us to “immerse yourself in the glorious light of the Restoration,” offering the suggestion to “begin…

Saints, Volume 2: A Review

The second volume of the Church’s official history, Saints: No Unhallowed Hand, 1846-1893 was released this Wednesday.  I just finished blitzing through the book and wanted to share my thoughts on the volume.  These official histories walk a tightrope, balancing…