Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
The heart-wrenching nature of this tale must have caused many broken hearts. I have read a few reports about this and see nothing too bigoted in the coverage of Mormons -- indeed, one article seemed to blame that fact that the young suspect had a hard time fitting in, almost as though the community somehow shared some blame for this atrocity, assuming the young man is guilty of what is alleged. While such a linkage between a Mormon missionary and murder is frustrating, but isn't the fault of the press.
Alas, what often riles Latter-day Saints is when the press reports that a suspect is Mormon, but not the religion of other suspects. I am not very troubled by this, actually, for two reasons:
First, as Latter-day Saints, we wish to be seen as examples, as a light on a hill and a peculiar people. If we are to wish that, we should accept the other parts of it, when our members go wrong.
Second, as a Mormon and journalist, I am aware of times where journalists haven't identified Mormons in print, even when there might be nominal news value in doing so. I am aware of a time or two when such coverage may have hurt the church, actually, but wasn't printed as a connection. So, to be fair, journalists generally do follow professional norms in ways that readers don't always understand.
So, no need to complain of the linkage here. It seems relevant to this story -- how could a good kid go bad?
Beyond that, one of the great challenges of being a peculiar people who has suffered persecution, can be a kind of group-think and sense of persecution that can lead to lashing out and pain to others. It can be dangerously isolating. As an LDS member, this sad story again demonstrates the need we have in using care, especially around our teens, in telling the stories of Mormon persecution.
God bless the families involved in this travesty.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
This article in the U.K.'s Daily Mirror is a generous portrait of Utah's beauty and variety, but a lazy approach to the church.
It's sort of like complaining about dandelions to complain about some elements of coverage in a British tabloid, but, alas, the story shows the chronic and annoying way Mormons are often portrayed in Britain. The name of the church is wrong; no distinction is made between Mormons and fundamentalist Mormons and the stereotype of backwardly quaint is a big part of the portrayal. Here is what it says:
""Utah?", laughed a friend of mine from New York. "Why the hell are you going there? Isn't it just fields and religious nuts?" He meant the Mormons, the controversial, conservative and supposedly polygamist followers of the Church of the Latter Day Saints - which the majority of Utahns are.
"Other than them, and maybe The Osmonds, little is known about this landlocked state.
Near the end, the author says he can't understand what is wrong with the state. He probably thought he was being kind. Alas, it seems not too much to ask to get a few basic facts right.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Here is the story.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
As a journalist, I am moved by the quality of the stories in the Book of Mormon -- they are dense but very good and very memorable stories because the human conflict in them is deep and real. The book is stunning.
Lastly, and most importantly, recent critics of the Book of Mormon neglect entirely the Mormon argument. Ask God, and he will manifest the truth of it unto you, if you ask in faith.
I have received my answer -- in many ways and in many times.
The book is true. I marvel at it every day.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
As Massimo Introvigne so ably pointed out in the International Journal of Mormon Studies recently, the European Press does a poor job of evaluating Mormonism, often getting their facts wrong and playing our faith as stereotype.
Today, London’s Guardian again framed Latter-day Saints as nut cases. World-renowned Burmese peace activist Aung San Suu Kyi receive a visitor this week – a violation of her house arrest and a visit that appears that it will extend her tragic confinement.
The visitor was John Yettaw, the Guardian reports, who was also arrested. He had home-made flippers and swam about a mile across the lake that isolates her.
Catch these stereotypes for strange people in the article: He is a Vietnam vet. He is from the Ozarks. And, that’s right, he’s evidently a Mormon – supposedly working on a “faith-based” book on heroism. He is even described as a “nutty fellow” in the article.
Credit, however, goes to The Washington Post. Its much-more detailed, factual account of the event never brings up his faith – it isn’t relevant to the story. So, when people say, "Why do reporters always bring up a Mormon’s faith in stories?" They don’t always know the times reporters don’t.
Here is a clear example of a media representative doing the right thing by not engaging in stereotype or bringing up a faith.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Why this is of note here , is the conversation in the Irish Times about it has brought up Mormonism -- in a most unflattering way. A letter-writer wrote:
"Should I anticipate prosecution of those who utter blasphemy against Scientology, Mormonism, Ashanti mythology, Zoroastrianism, Baltic polytheism and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?"
In other words, Mormons are very extreme and odd. My sense in reading the European Press -- much more so than the American Press -- about the faith is that Mormons are seen often as odd balls -- just this side of wacko in these writers' eyes.
In answer to these critics, I will always come back to the great either-or question of Mormonism in our defense.
If Joseph Smith were somehow not telling the truth about the Book of Mormon origin story, we would have to be considered followers of an oddball, so to speak, it is true.
But I implore those who do think we are oddballs: If you follow this logic about Joseph Smith, you must have a substantive explanation story about the Book of Mormon's origins.
It seems just as fanciful to believe the book is the product of Joseph Smith, in fact.
Basically, the Book of Mormon is a serious claim worthy of thought:
I have like 15 years of education, and I struggle to write a dissertation over five years. Brother Joseph wrote something longer -- if he wrote it, which I believe he didn't, he translated it by the power of God -- in about 60 days without edit in extreme poverty -- often lacking for paper. (Indeed, I know of no major American author who produced a book of such significance, fiction or otherwise, in such a short amount of time and in such poverty.) He had a third grade education.
Then there is this: Read the Book of Mormon and contrast it with his known writings and you see no similarity. The tone and word choice is vastly different. Beyond that, Joseph's preaching, as recording in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, while profound, rarely rely on stories to make their points. The Book of Mormon drips in story -- and the stories are serious and timely to us today.
And many chapters, I recommend Alma 42 and 2 Nephi 2 as evidence, are profound in their depth and complexity of doctrine at thought -- all presented in a precious, simple way.
The historical records seems little in dispute. There were essentially no edits. He did it off the top of his head to several scribes -- if it were fiction. The book has more than 300 original, but Hebrew-sounding, names. 11 men signed affidavits -- which often cost them in their personal lives -- that they saw the Golden plates. None changed their story. Joseph Smith died defending his work -- never once wavering.
Beyond that, there isn't anything approaching a serious explanation of another source for the Book of Mormon, save this young man supposedly made it up. Remember, one of the historic criticisms of Joseph Smith is that he was stupid and lazy. Try producing a book in that short amount of time being stupid and lazy that meets all of these criteria.
It should be easy to find glaring inconsistencies that are the product of the 19th century. No one has. It is a prodigious challenge to explain the Book of Mormon without believing its origin story. No one has even come close to doing it.
Say I believe in a spaghetti-monster type religion if you will. I will remain in earnest.
The Book of Mormon is a miracle in a world in desperate need of one.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Warchol's point, in which he quotes Vanity Fair, was somehow that three Mormons were involved in what he deemed crafting of torture memos and are hisses and bywords among many scholars. What Mormonism has to do with the whole thing is a little unclear other than some Mormons worked for Bush/Cheney
It is invidious because Mafia frames Mormons as dangerously secretive, an unfortunately common stereotype of Mormons. My doctoral research and the work of Pew and of Terryl Givens suggests that these kinds of linkages in national memory remain.
Nineteenth Century portrayals of Mormon portrayed us as a kind of dangerous Islam -- men with dangerous harems living in a desert with warlike tendencies. The on-going fascination with Mormon polygamy, with Mormon wealth, even to a lesser extent with the terrible Mountain Meadows Massacre are examples of how this frame continues to work. By linking Mormons with Mafia, torture and secret practices, he plays on the worst Mormon stereotypes and those stereotypes wound.
I am working on a Ph.D. on this topic.
Especially, I wish to point out things that people miss about Mormonism in the press, to correct errors.