Category: Church History

“The constitution of this Land”

The attitude of Latter-day Saints towards the United States government has historically been paradoxical.  As Dale Morgan wrote: “The Mormons had a profound respect for government and governmental forms, but disrespect for and outright distrust of ‘the damned rascals who…

Archeology, Ceramics, and the Smith Family in Tunbridge

In addition to written records, people leave behind traces of their material lives that can tell us much about who they were.  In a recent interview with Kurt Manwaring, Mark Staker (a Master Curator for the Church History Department’s Historic…

Historical Mindset for Mormons, 101

While studying in a scientific field, two major ideas were drilled into me that have been fairly helpful in interpreting history.  First is the belief that nothing can ever truly be proved, only that things can be disproved.  If something…

“These two Priesthoods”

Words can be a bit slippery, particularly when we use them in different ways over time.  Take, for example, the use of the word “ordinance” in the Church.  In its most basic sense, an ordinance is an authoritative order; a…

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Joseph Smith’s presidential campaign has been an area of interest for several years now (particularly since the release of the Council of Fifty minutes), and Spencer W. McBride’s recently-published Joseph Smith for President: The Prophet, the Assassins, and the Fight…

Saint, Senator, and Scoundrel

“The lack of any biography of Frank Cannon seemed a glaring gap in [Utah] annals. It was high time to tell his story.”  Val Holley recently stated this during an interview with Kurt Manwaring where they discussed Frank Cannon and…

The American Apocalypse

The end of the world is a pretty dramatic scene.  Perhaps it is because of that drama that the idea has captured the imagination of human beings for thousands of years and continues to do so today.  It is not…

Know Brother Joseph

What did Joseph Smith think?  What was he like as a person?  Questions like these are interesting to think about and are important considerations when you’re a part of a religion that draws so heavily on one person’s writings and…

“The gathering of mine Elect”

Change and continuity create an interesting tension in the Church.  I explored this in a previous post as the tension of believing in an everlasting, unchanging gospel that we have had restored to us and the belief in ongoing revelation…

“You shall obtain a view of them”

What were the three witnesses promised and what did they claim to experience?  The basics of answering this question seems obvious—they saw the gold plates and other artifacts related to them.  What is less apparent is how the Three Witnesses…