Thoreau’s Resistance 

[Today is Thoreau’s 200th birthday. (Happy birthday, Henry!) As such, it was worth writing something about his work while relaxing on a beach in Hawaii. Also, make sure to check out the brand-new and exquisite biography by Laura Dassow Walls.] I recently completed a two-week-long NEH seminar on “Transcendentalism and Social Reform,” which took place…

The LDS Church’s Parental Employment Policy: Some Context

The LDS Church announced last week a series of important revisions for employment policies. Among other changes, Women will no longer be forced to wear skirts or dresses, and men can wear colored shirts. (Though still no beards!) More importantly, mothers are assured six weeks of paid maternity leave after the birth of their child,…

Benjamin Franklin as Christian?

(I’m sure nobody has noticed, but this blog has been silent for the past month as I’ve been on the road for a conference, research, and now an NEH institute. Alas, I’ll still be on the road for another month—gotta escape the Texas heat!—so my entries here will continue to be sporadic, though I do…

Sally Gordon and Jan Shipps on the Mountain Meadows Massacre

“At Mountain Meadows, competing visions of the American Kingdom of God met head on.” So states a new article by esteemed historians Sarah Barringer Gordon and Jan Shipps in their new article, “Fatal Convergence in the Kingdom of God: The Mountain Meadows Massacre in American History,” Journal of the Early Republic (link here). This is…

Is the World Wide Enough?: SHEAR Takes on “Hamilton”

It took two years, but my children finally became addicted to the Hamilton soundtrack. I played it for them on the way to the waterpark a couple Saturdays ago and they have wanted to listen to nothing else since. It seemed fitting, then, that the most recent issue of Journal of the Early Republic has a roundtable…

LDS Church Distances Itself from Boy Scouts: Some Thoughts

Today it was announced that the LDS Church would stop using using the Boy Scouts of America’s Varsity and Venturing programs, which are designed for 14- to 18-year-old young men. While they will still enroll younger boys, between 8 and 13, in the Cub and Boy Scouts, this is a big move. (You can read…

Article Highlight: Barry Joyce on Mormon Sacralization of Mesoamerican Space

A couple weeks ago I highlighted Laurie Maffly-Kipp’s presidential address which appeared in the recent issue of Journal of Mormon History. That issue also featured another article I wanted to highlight: Barry A. Joyce’s “The Temple and the Rock: James W. Leseur and the Synchronization of Sacred Space in the American Southwest.” Joyce is an…

Repealing the Johnson Amendment and the Meanings of Religious Liberty

Most of the attention yesterday, May 4th, was on the congressional vote repealing the Affordable Care Act. With good reason. But just up the road from the Capitol, President Donald Trump also signed his thirty-fourth executive order. Titled “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty,” the order counseled the Department of the Treasury not to pursue…

Chronicling Modern Mormonism Through Comics

Last week my employer, Sam Houston State University, hosted a book talk that featured American hero John Lewis. Known for his Civil Rights activism, Lewis recently co-authored a trilogy that documented the fight for racial equality. Titled March, the series was different than your typical political memoir: it was a comic book. The trilogy has been…

Amici Curiae Brief Against Trump’s Immigration Order

I am pasting below the news release for an amici curiae brief that I was honored to be part of. You can find the brief, and more information, here. _________________________________ A group of 19 scholars of Mormon history have filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit attacking President Trump’s…