I recently discovered an article about “the first real confrontation of Mormonism with science” during the Utah smallpox outbreak at the turn of the 19/20th century.
From 1934-5, the age of the earth, evolution, and scripture was hotly debated in the Deseret News. (See here for a little history and context.) Elders John Widtsoe and Joseph Fielding Smith wrote nothing themselves, but encouraged, solicited, and pushed articles reflecting their own views. On Widtsoe’s side was James E. Talmage’s son Sterling, who had received a PhD in geology. (JET had died the year before.) On Smith’s side, were several people, including Sidney Sperry, Major Howard S. Bennion, and Dudley J. Whitney, a Pentecostal farmer. Continue reading “Tales from the Archives 3: The 1934-5 Newspaper Proxy Wars and Writing Hot”
In 2007 General Conference, President Monson told the story of an unusual convert to Christianity. Continue reading “Tales from the Archives 2: Wait, what?”
Many people are aware that Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s book Mormon Doctrine was not universally received among Church leadership as a positive thing. That story has been told in a number of places, from a number of perspectives. This, however, was new to me, summarizing from this article and expanding from the McKay diaries, around Jan 14, 1960. Continue reading “Mark E. Petersen, Expertise, Interpretation, and McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine”
I will occasionally post things from the archives, with minimal explanation or point, sometimes. Here’s a fun one recently.
I was set to present a paper at the Mormon History Association this year (now pushed to next year), “Seventh-day Adventist Influence on LDS Creationism, from Joseph Fielding Smith to Ezra Taft Benson.”
Here’s an expanded teaser with some analysis of philosophical underpinnings.
An insightful comment in an archival letter highlighted an irony for me this week. While the Church cares deeply about history, encourages historical research and production— personal journal writing, family history, etc.— it is simultaneously true that Church materials have long tended to flatten or even ignore all that history. Continue reading “LDS History and History-writing”
I’ve been thinking a good bit, and collecting various notes and ideas, around something Betsy VanDenBerghe said to me on Facebook.
What comes out of our mouths, as Jesus said, reflects the state of our hearts and minds, what we’ve been reading and contemplating, and coming to conclusions about…. The quality of your talk, sermon, or lesson will not exceed the quality of what you’ve been reading and thinking about.
If our spiritual diet mostly consists of Twinkies, social media, and a few minutes of scripture before bed, well, that’s not good for the quality of our discussions with family, friends, neighbors, and students. Continue reading “Nels Nelson on LDS Preaching, Teaching, and the Life of the Mind”
I’ve gone through multiple refining drafts of my dissertation proposal. My main problem, said my advisor, is atypical; most people at this point have the bulk of their research ahead of them, but I already have enough for two books and half a dozen papers. The trick is filtering, narrowing, and tightening. A good amount of material will be saved for the future book(s) based thereon. So here are some snippets of thought, brain-storming, and writing from along the way. Continue reading “Snippets from my Dissertation Proposal on the Roots of LDS Creation/Evolution Conflict in the 20th Century”
I’ve written a bit about Henry Eyring before (here in connection with General Conference and creationism, and here on Church authority and argument.) He’s a central figure for talking about 20th century science-and-religion arguments in the Church, which you can read about in his Faith of a Scientist, his biography Mormon Scientist: The Life and Faith of Henry Eyring, and this article from The Search for Harmony called “Agreeing to Disagree: Henry Eyring and Joseph Fielding Smith.” Continue reading “Henry Eyring Sr., Church Magazines, and the Wrong Meeting: “Everyone was Very Nice to Me””