As of last Sunday, I have posted every week for fifty-two weeks in a row. Posting every week didn’t start out as a thing, but it became one somewhere along the way and, proportionate to its actual importance in the world, I’m pretty dang pumped about completing a year. In particular, now that it’s done I can have Saturday evenings (and lately, Sunday afternoons) back: as of today I’m shifting to a once-per-month or once-per-two-month schedule. (more…)
This week brings us a diverse assortment of news and research for your perusal.
A recent study conducted by UVU professor of psychology and behavior science Kris Doty examined the effects of returning home early from a mission due to circumstances such as failing physical health, mental health issues, or indiscretion can have on individuals. The study involved survey responses from 348 early returned missionaries. Unfortunately, there is no link to the study anywhere on the Web.
A new job listing went up this week at the Utah Division of State History for a Senior State Historian-Digital Editor. “This person will co-manage the Utah Historical Quarterly operations with a Senior State Historian-Print Editor. Together the co-managing editors will run the day-to-day operations of the Quarterly.” Check it out yo!
Next weekend, tens of thousands of scholars of religion will come together in Baltimore, Maryland, for the joint annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature. You could review the full program book for each group, but we thought we’d save you some time and trouble by providing a round-up of sessions and papers of interest to the Mormon Studies community. I have highlighted the JI affiliation of specific panelists. We hope to see many of you there!
For more information on any of the panels and papers listed below, including abstracts and the location of the presentations, please visit the official conference program books.
JI would like to welcome James Egan. He is a third-year law student at Brigham Young University who studied literature and political philosophy at the University of Utah. He reads JI regularly and loves jazz music.
I must confess at the outset of this post that I am most definitely an amateur when it comes to Mormon history. (If I had the guts, I’d confess that I am in fact a law student.) So with the all-too-convenient excuse for ignorance that my amateur status afforded me (I trust I haven’t lost it yet), I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the annual Maxwell Institute Seminar, which gave time to dive into the deep well of early Mormon primary documents. I spent a good portion of my time in the Utah sermons of the latter half of the 19th century, and my paper for the seminar’s symposium grew out of a fascinating remark in one of Brigham Young’s earlier sermons. During one of his many calls for gathering truth from every corner of the world, Young pointed the saints to “pagans of all countries” and made the remarkable claim that “in their religious rights [sic] and ceremonies may be found a great many truths which we will also gather home to Zion.” I ended up writing about the elements of Mormon intellectual history that made it possible for Brigham Young to entertain the possibility that pagan or heathen ritual would be a part of Mormon gathering, but along the way, I spent a little time considering how other invocations of heathen nations functioned rhetorically in Young’s sermons. (more…)
This installment in the JI’s Mormons and Natives month comes from Corey Smallcanyon. He is a Din4 (Navajo) Indian from the Gallup, New Mexico area, who grew up on and off the Navajo reservation. He works as an Adjunct Professor with Utah Valley University teaching United States History. His emphasis is in U.S. History, the American West, Utah history, LDS history, Native American and Navajo history. In his spare time he volunteers teaching Navajo genealogy to surrounding areas and spending time with his family.
Among the Dine’ (Navajos) Ma’ii (coyote) stands center stage as a trouble maker, wise counselor, cultural hero, and powerful deity. Ma’ii stories help establish a foundation for the ethical teachings for all children. Early traditional memory tells of Ma’ii who tried to steal the farm of Grandfather Na’asho’ii Dich’izhii (Horned Toad). Ma’ii came “wandering” upon Na’asho’ii Dich’izhii tending his farm and asked for some of his corn to eat. After much begging, Na’asho’ii Dich’izhii gave into Ma’ii’s demands, but Ma’ii was not satisfied and began taking more without permission. As Na’asho’ii Dich’izhii tried to take the corn away Ma’ii ate Na’asho’ii Dich’izhii. Upset with his predicament, Na’asho’ii Dich’izhii was eventually able to make his way out of Ma’ii, and triumphed by taking back his farm.
Since the JI’s founding in 2007, our permas and guests have spent a lot of time thinking about Mormonism’s encounters with indigenous peoples. Here’s a “blogliography” (ht: Blair) of our past posts on the subject, through October 2013:
True Blue, Depending on Who’s Telling the Tale: The Redacted Story of Joseph F. Smith and the “Ruffians”
It’s a powerful story. The young Joseph F. Smith, fresh off his mission to the Sandwich Islands, is traveling through Southern California on his way home to Utah in late 1857/early 1858. The Mormons are viewed with mistrust and hostility: rumors surrounding the Mountain Meadows Massacre are fresh on everyone’s lips as Johnston’s Army converges on Utah. Joseph F.’s party is confronted by a band of rough and tumble men on horseback, looking to pick a fight with any Mormons they can find. Joseph F.’s fellow travelers scatter, and when one burly ruffian pointedly asks Joseph F. if he is a Mormon, the young returned missionary responds, “Yes, siree, dyed-in-the-wool; true blue, through and through,” diffusing the tense confrontation by staying true to his identity.
But was he really “dyed-in-the-wool, true blue, through and through”? (more…)
One of the difficulties with engaging in new fields of inquiry is finding out what books are essential for providing a background in the topic. As part of our month investigating the relationship between indigenous people and the LDS Church at the Juvenile Instructor, we have compiled a list dealing with the top 10 books on Native American, Polynesian, and other native peoples within Mormon history. Compiling the list of books was difficult because it raised issues of how much weight should be placed on different categories. How should we weight syntheses vs. monographs? How much should theory count over information? How do you compare books about different locales and different time periods? How should articles count?
Included with each books is a description of its contents from Amazon.
In no particular order, they are: (more…)
I am writing (very slowly) an article on Mormon horns. The way things look to me now, it seems that “Mormon horns” were mostly a verbal, rather than graphical, phenomenon. That is, the idea that Mormons have/had horns seems to have been transmitted mostly through oral and written accounts rather than by the distribution of images. Such images did exist, however, and the purpose of this post is to collate all the horned-Mormon graphics I have identified and solicit further examples. (Note: clicking on most of the images below will link to higher resolution graphics.) (more…)
We have a lot of links to share this week, so I’m going to dive right in.
For those of you curious about other faiths and in need of more direct contact with believers than the Internet can give you, there’s now “speed faithing.” (Yes, that is a reference to speed dating.) KSL reports this is happening at college campuses around the country: participants have ten minutes to talk about their faith to interested listeners. Coming soon to a campus near you, perhaps.
The 2013-2014 list of Nibley Fellows includes two of our own: Joey Stuart and Jordan Watkins. Congratulations to all.
Buzzfeed weighs in on the “post-Mormon moment” moment: “Although Mormonism isn’t in the spotlight like it was a year ago, it’s more a part of the national conversation than it was before Romney’s candidacy, and how the faith is perceived, both inside and outside the church, has changed.”
The Orlando Sentinel announced that the LDS Church will soon own 2% of Florida with its recent purchase of over 300,000 acres. It is hailed as a “transaction between two of Florida’s largest and most committed land stewards [and] a meaningful reminder of the economic and ecological value of agriculture in our state.” The land will continue to be used for agricultural and timber purposes.
The Salt Lake Tribune featured a short piece on food storage, for those of you interested in the practice or perhaps needing a reminder to work on your own: “After two wars, numerous natural disasters and an economic downturn, Americans suddenly have a voracious appetite for survival skills. They’re researching underground bunkers, buying freeze-dried food and watching television reality shows like “Doomsday Preppers.” But long before “prepping” became popular, faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had mastered the art of food storage and emergency preparedness.”
Mother of six Michelle Mumford is the new dean of admissions at BYU law school. Vivia Chen interviews Mumford at thecareerist.com about motherhood, the law, and BYU. Mumford acknowledges the pressures facing Utah working women from inside the Mormon community, but also says, “I think I have a story that will help attract women. I can show women what the possibilities are: If you want to work, you can. . . . [But] it will be a while before it’s the norm.” (The law school is currently 39% female.)
If you’ve been reading the blog, you’re aware that November is National Native American Heritage Month. The National Archives has a page of resources for those wanting to learn more, both in and out the classroom. Worth your while.
Lastly, the Church announced that the general Relief Society and Young Women meetings currently held on the Saturday before General Conference will now be replaced by a semi-annual general women’s meeting, including Primary girls age 8 and up. Deseret News writes about the change here. Interestingly enough, this is a return to the past: the separate meetings were started in 1993.
The Journal of Mormon History will be sponsoring a special issue devoted to innovative student scholarship. The issue, which will be edited by Christopher Jones and Amanda Hendrix-Komoto, will seek to highlight a wide variety of perspectives and methodologies. They particularly welcome submissions that take seriously Mormonism’s international history, its engagement with non-white people, and its emphasis upon materiality. Please see the call for papers below.
Call For Papers
Special Student Issue of the Journal of Mormon History
The Journal of Mormon History is seeking contributions for a special issue that will highlight the work of undergraduate and graduate students working on Mormon history. Papers may address any aspect of the Restoration Movement, including the Community of Christ and Mormon fundamentalists. The Journal is especially interested in contributions that address Mormonism’s racial and geographic diversity, twentieth-century Mormon history, and material culture. All topics and contributions, however, will be given serious consideration.
Interested students should submit a short 500-word abstract of their suggested article along with a CV or brief biography by January 1st, 2014. Accepted articles will be due September 1st, 2014 for planned publication in Fall 2015. The issue will be co-edited by Amanda Hendrix-Komoto (PhD Candidate, University of Michigan) and Christopher Jones (PhD Candidate, College of William and Mary).
This installment of the JI’s Mormons and Natives month comes from Matthew Garrett, associate professor of history at Bakersfield College in California. He received his Ph.D. in American History from Arizona State University in 2010. He is currently revising for publication his dissertation, “Mormons, Indians, and Lamanites: The Indian Student Placement Program, 1947-2000,” which should prove to be the definitive history of the ISPP.
When David G. approached me to contribute to this month’s theme, I initially thought the notion of a “Mormons and Natives” field of study seemed a bit odd. I never viewed the two fields with much connectivity, other than a few mid-century works about Jacob Hamblin or Chief Wakara. As I sat down to draft out the separate evolutions of the two fields, the task proved far more complicated than expected, and the only way I could think to articulate it was to take the reader on a semi-biographical journey that follows my own intellectual awakening. I trust that the Juvenile Instructor’s readers will tolerate a little self-indulgence as I relate the divergence and re-convergence of Mormon and Indian history. (more…)
Here is a guest post from Megan Falater who is researching the interactions between nineteenth-century Mormon ecclesiastical authority and doctrine related to the family for her dissertation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also a longtime lurker of Juvenile Instructor. For this post, she revisits an undergraduate project on the LDS Indian Student Placement Program.
In 1971, Victor Selam complained in Diné Baa-Hani, an underground newspaper published in the Navajo Nation, that Brigham Young University limited American Indians’ expression of their identities. Selam recounted a conversation he held with a member of the University Standards Office prior to his dismissal from the school:
I reminded the “Man” that in Mormon prophecy the Indian people would “rise up and blossom as a rose in the latter days.” I said that I fully agreed with the prophecy and that it also exists among the Indian people, only in different words in a different language. But how can this rose “blossom” if it doesn’t push and pull itself up? How will Indians rise up if they sit back, quote prophecy, and do nothing like some people at B.Y.U.? And furthermore, what of those Indians who cease to exist as Indians-who want to be white people and act accordingly and forsake their own people? (more…)
For the past several months, the JI has sponsored various theme months, allowing permas and guests to ruminate on such topics as politics, the international church, and material culture. November is Native American Heritage Month, which was first promoted in the Progressive Era by reform-minded Indians to recognize the contributions of Natives to the development of the United States. As in the case of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, we at the JI believe that Natives are an intricate part of Mormon history, rather than a sub-topic only worthy of discussion once a year, but we also see the value in focusing our thoughts at this time in conjunction with Native American Heritage Month. This month’s editors, David G., Amanda, and Farina, have assembled an all-star cast of guest bloggers, who will share fascinating insights from their research, alongside contributions from permas. The editors have also put together some brief thoughts on their areas of expertise for this introductory post.
Mormonism’s Encounters with Native America in the 19th Century (David G.)
From the earliest days of Mormonism, indigenous peoples were central to Joseph Smith’s vision of the future. (more…)
Response: J.B. Haws Answers Questions about his recent JMH article and his forthcoming book (Part II)
We’re pleased today to welcome back J.B. Haws for Part II of our Q & A on his recent article in the JMH and his forthcoming book, The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception (Oxford, December 2013), both exploring the changing image of Mormons in American media from George Romney’s presidential run in the 1960s to his son Mitt Romney’s campaigns in the early 21st century. Last time, we focused mainly on Haws’ methods and sources. Today, we’re exploring specific aspects of his analysis and a few of his conclusions.
A few months ago I wrote about the Upas Tree as a metaphor for Mormonism in the nineteenth century. Today I would like to follow-up briefly with some examples of non-Upas plant or fungus metaphors. (more…)
Welcome to the Mormon Studies Weekly Roundup!
This week did not begin well for “Mormons in the News” when it was revealed that Orem-born and primary-raised Julianne Hough had apparently missed the memo that blackface is racist and decided to darken her skin for her Crazy Eyes costume. Hough, who is most famous for her appearances on Dancing with the Stars, is also a country singer whose first album debuted (more…)
For our monthly series Childhood, Children, and Youth, we are excited to have a guest post from Spencer Green. Spencer is finishing a PhD in American Studies at Penn State Harrisburg. He focuses his research in folklore and environmental humanities, but as a past president of the Children’s Folklore Society, he makes frequent forays into LDS children’s folklore as well.
An article I wrote which is coming out in the next issue of the Children’s Folklore Review has made me think more about how Latter-day Saints in America view children and childhood. Nearly half of all speakers in General Conference will mention a child’s exemplary actions. This of course follows many scriptural precedents where members are instructed to ‘be as little children.’ The conspicuous absence in scriptures or general conference addresses of the crying, willful children present in pews every Sunday is understandable, but interesting. Pre-modern Europeans viewed children as little imps, devils or “hellions” as my mother was fond of saying. Despite all the facebook updates about how wonderful our children are, the popularity of sites like reasonsmysoniscrying.com attests to some recognition that this is more than a medieval view, so why the reluctance to speak of our little angel’s darker natures? (more…)
At the annual meeting of the Mormon History Association in June, historian Leigh Eric Schmidt delivered a fascinating Tanner Lecture on “Mormons, Freethinkers, and the Limits of Toleration” (a helpful summary of his remarks can be found here). Among other things, I was struck by Schmidt’s discussion of the occasional moments of agreement between Mormons and Freethinkers in the late 19th century. It was, most often, their mutual distrust and dislike of mainline Christians that afforded them these brief instances of mutual respect and accord.
I recently browsed through several issues of The Truth Seeker, a prominent 19th century newspaper devoted to “freethought and reform,” in search of something entirely unrelated to Mormonism. But as I did, I came across a couple of articles on Mormonism. In the May 15, 1886 edition of the paper, Samuel B. Putnam, the secretary of the American Secular Union, reported on his recent visit to Utah. Among other things, Putnam noted with pleasure that “there are many Liberals at Ogden,” including some former Mormons. “Mr. James B. Stoddard was born in Mormonism,” he reported. “He, however, has a keen and fearless mind, and has broken away from the trammels. He will do much for Freethought by his influence and ability.” (more…)
From the Media History Digital Library comes this amazing collection of “over 800,000 pages of digitized texts from the the histories of film, broadcasting, and recorded sound.” The site has a fresh interface and the search filters are helpful. Also, a little trick to limit the default full-text search (since the OCR [optical character recognition] of the texts can be pretty bad) enter ‘0001‘ to disable full-text search and exclusively search metadata.
Here is a typical page of search results: