The Awkward Image of the Pro-Trumpian Religious Right

Don Peay, founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, is a Provo businessman who has a message for Mormons who failed to support Trump’s 2016 campaign: it is time to repent. “The people who did not get behind Trump,” he explained to the Utah County Republican Women,“probably need to look at themselves in the mirror and…

William Law’s Amazing (and Suspect) Diary

One of the most fascinating figures during Mormonism’s Nauvoo sojourn is William Law. Joseph Smith made him a counselor in the First Presidency during that period, making him one of the most powerful men in the city. He was also one of the most noteworthy individuals who objected to Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy. His…

REVIEW: Richard Van Wagoner, Natural Born Seer

Prior to his untimely death, Richard S. Van Wagoner was a prolific and respected amateur historian of the LDS faith. Besides an excellent biography of Sidney Rigdon, he also authored a well-received history of Mormon polygamy. It was therefore justified when the Smith-Pettit Foundation tapped him to write the first of a three-part biography of…

CFP: Toward a Conversation on Book of Mormon Studies

Some good friends of mine are launching a new conference and organization, so please check out the details. Here is a poster, and I’ve pasted the text from this pdf file below that. Academic study of the Book of Mormon has never been more promising than at present. Royal Skousen’s work on producing a critical text…

The Modern Mormon Athletic Image

Mormons have always held a precarious yet consistent place in America’s sports culture. Danny Ainge, Steve Young, Ty Detmer, and, most recently, Jimmer Fredette are among those have captured the nation’s popular imagination at various moments in the past four decades with their college accomplishments and, at least in the first two cases, professional success. (Still…

Book News: “American Nationalisms” Now Has a Home

When I was a graduate student at the University of Cambridge, I often walked past the Cambridge University Press bookstore that was directly in front of Kings College Chapel. They always had the “recent releases” on display, and I spent many hours skimming through their pages. I dreamt that one day I might add my…

Blogging about Robert Orsi at Juvenile Instructor

The Juvenile Instructor has been running a series on Robert Orsi’s newest book, History and Presence. I was privileged to contribute the third entry. You can read it here. And below is an excerpt.  One final thought from the chapter. Robert Orsi concludes this topic by addressing the scholarly (and modern) anxiety to find a purpose…

Barack Obama, Eddie Glaude, and the Black Prophetic Tradition

I’ve always been an apologist for Barack Obama since reading Audacity of Hope shortly after it was published in 2006. I think he’s the most careful and sophisticated interpreter of and proponent for deliberate democracy to be elected president in over a century. I was therefore really excited to receive the first substantive edition of…

Mormons and the Trump Administration: Some Recent Essays

Since this blog is a scrapbook of sorts for my writings elsewhere, I figured I should register a couple recent essays that I wrote related to the LDS Church’s relationship to the Trump administration.  The first essay, “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Will Usher In the Trump Era,” puts the inauguration in context of Mormonism’s peripheral…