Welcome to this installment of Mormon Studies Weekly Roundup!
To the news:
This week brings formal tidings from the University of Virginia of Kathleen Flake’s appointment as the inaugural Richard Lyman Bushman Chair of Mormon Studies in UVA’s Department of Religious Studies, a development that we celebrated and discussed with her a week ago. The news must have piqued some broader interest as well, because the appointment also was noted in the New York Times.
Some items of interfaith and ecumenical interest. At the Washington Times, Mark Kellner highlighted the recent work of Stephen H. Webb, until recently a professor of religion and philosophy at Wabash College. Webb’s new book Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn From the Latter-day Saints, which is now available from Oxford University Press, professes to take “Mormon theology seriously from an outsider’s perspective, arguing persuasively that Mormons are a part of the Christian family tree, and that their doctrine offers valuable insights and alternatives to traditional Christianity.” It’ll be interesting to see whether the book is a bombshell in the Christian community. Meanwhile, the Deseret News drew attention this week to comments of Rt. Rev. Scott B. Hayashi, Episcopal Bishop of Utah, condemning “anti-Mormon humor.”
The Deseret News also has a writeup on what must have been a fun panel at the Salt Lake’s recent Comic Con conference, which explored representations of Mormons in comic books from the nineteenth century (beginning with the Sir Thomas Doyle Sherlock classic, A Study in Scarlet) and the rise of Mormon comic writers. Those who missed it can review much of the content in the 2010 Sunstone special issue on Mormonism and comics.
At the Patheos blog Peculiar People, Joe Spencer evaluates at length the state of the field of Book of Mormon Studies, and pitches some good ideas for a path forward. Spencer was recently appointed as an associate editor for the Maxwell Institute’s newly renamed Journal for Book of Mormon Studies.
At the legendary blog Keepapitchinin, our historical compatriot Ardis Parshall investigates the origins of the rumor—stubbornly persistent, she notes, in Mormon culture—that the Smithsonian Institute used the Book of Mormon as guide to Mesoamerican archeology during the 1920s and 30s. As usual, Ardis’ sleuthing leads to intriguing conclusions: if this doesn’t kill the resilient rumor, nothing will.
Finally, the Associated Press noted this week the 50th anniversary of the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) on Oahu, Hawaii. The PCC, which has been previously written about here at the JI, has been in operation since 1963.
Now, to the announcements and events:
A reminder of the upcoming, nineteenth annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture at Utah State University on September 19. Greg Prince will speak on “Faith and Doubt as Partners in Mormon History.”
For those in the neighborhood of Boston, the Mormon Social Science Association has announced that Laurel Thatcher Ulrich will its annual Glenn Vernon Lecture on “A House Full of Females: Faith and Family in Nineteenth-Century Mormon Diaries” on November 9, during the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. The preliminary program for the conference is available on the SSSR’s website.
For those who may be interested, organizers are seeking contributions for a collaborative symposium, “Religion in California,” to be held at UC-Berkeley in April 2014. See the entire CFP at Religion in the American West.
As always, we encourage you to point us toward developments in Mormon Studies we missed!