Dr. Benjamin Park reading the AMERICAN ZION epilogue at Writ and Vision in Provo Utah (January 2024)

Dr. Benjamin Park reading and sharing AMERICAN ZION at Writ and Vision in Provo Utah (January 2024)





Transcript of above audio:
The George Q Cannon diaries, the Spencer W. Kimball and David O. McKay diaries, all these records that previously historians had to speculate about, and now we had actual access to, which was phenomenal.

Also, we’ve had a robust scholarly discussion of the 20th century. That’s come out in the last decade.

That was really the trailblazing to help us understand what’s going on in the 20th century. That wasn’t as reflected in some previous scholarship. So I tried to make it a focus in this book that a majority of the book takes place after 1890.

Which is hard for me because up until four years ago, I believe Mormon history ended in 1846 minutes.

But it shocked me—maybe it didn’t shock you—that hey, there are interesting things that happen after that. And I was taken by the more modern period and the more modern church and then became fascinated.

And so in convincing myself to take on this project, I decided I was going to focus on three main tensions at the heart of American religious history, through which I would understand the broader context. In the left through the lens of Mormonism.

The tensions between church and state, a chance the tension so I’m a political historian, especially in political culture, and I think Mormonism offers a great view to understand that.

Faith and intellect Where does religious authority lie? I’ve got my intellectual history and training comes in there.

And then finally, obedience and dissent. How do you define the boundaries of proper religious practice and bullets.

Those were the central tensions I was going to take on. So I started the project. And as I was working through the 20th century, a number of key through lines became central to my argument because I wanted this book to speak to the present. Not be you know, misinterpreting the past in order to understand the present, but to understand how we got to this point, so I ended up trying to demonstrate how water Mormonism in America became socially conservative, politically, Republican, yet culturally diverse.

And how we got to that row and especially emphasizing the contingent nature of that development, and highlighting moments where the faith paths might have taken different directions was quite quite crucial. To me.

And then, by the end, so I had my central tensions. I started with the three lines that came to my focus.

By the end I have my thesis, it’s probably not a great thing to not discover your thesis until the end, but it happened to me.

And I recognize that my thesis was framed by our current experience and I don’t think that’s something that we should shy away from because we want histories to be able to make sense of the present.

And the thesis was that modern Mormonism is a product of 200 years of cultural force, societal conflicts that took place both within the faith and outside the faith but still structured the faith.

This was not a shock to him.

This shouldn’t have been a shock to me because I attended BYU during some years when Dick Cheney came to give the commencement address and Proposition 8 was taking place in California, both of which prompted protests among my fellow students and professors that kind of shocked me were like, “Hey, these are people who are faithful and committed Who are you know, pushing for change and you know, for civic disobedience or however you want to define it.”

And it then made sense that if this can’t be a new thing, we have to have seeds of that impact.

So I tried to emphasize how there have always been conflicting versions of Mormonism since the very beginning. And how those conflicts shed light on not only the development of the faith, but the development of the nation.

And so I had two primary audiences in mind with this—kind of my 1A and 1B audience, my one a audience are those who may not know much about Mormon history or Mormonism in general, and maybe skeptical about the relevance of Mormonism, and Mormon history. And I want to convince them that Mormonism is important to understand the broader story of American religious history. My 1B audience is those who are aware of Mormonism, but may not be aware of either the cultural context in which Mormonism evolved, or the dynamic and evolving development of the faith.

So, I’ll give one example of what was the central argument in this. I make as a as a key push in this book that modern Mormonism was largely created in the 1930s over debates over fundamentalism and modernism and driven by J. Reuben Clark.

I placed that within the context I was sweeping over America that time over what were religious fundamentals. So I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Then when J. Reuben Clark gets his famous charted course address, that fundamentals is the word that shows up more than any other. Right he’s drawing from a cultural playbook, but there’s also a contest within Mormonism over fundamentals. This was the same decade that Mormon fundamentalism organizes. This was the same decade that the third convention indigenista saints down in Mexico were seceding over fundamentals of the Book of Mormon. So in a world in which many American religions were debating about what their religious fundamentals are, you had in Mormonism, a fight over what the Mormon fundamentals are with those sayings of fundamentalist polygamy, but those in Mexico, saying, No, it’s the reading of the Lamanites, the Book of Mormon as the chosen race.

And in response to all of this, J. Reuben Clark defines what the true Mormon fundamentals are going to be.

And it’s that cultural matrix, that dictionary of theology that ends up shaping the modern day tradition, and shapes ideas of education, and shaves ideas of politics, and shapes, ideas of Scripture reading. It defines ideas of prophetic authority. And so that’s, that’s just one example. Now, let me talk a little bit about the process of what I tried to do maybe in part as a as a therapy session, so hopefully you can understand where my flaws come because there are plenty of flaws I’m sure many of you can highlight. Um, when I when I first signed the contract, the project was going to be 140,000 words, which I’ll say thank you so much. You are a savior. That’s great, thank you. Now I should have realized how preposterous it was to try to cover everything in 140,000 books by kingdom of Nauvoo for anyone who has read that, that was covering seven years and 120,000 words. And then trying to cover 200 years and 140,000 words, I envisioned 10 chapters, each chapter about 14,000 words. My first drafted chapter, which was going to cover 1890 to 1920 was 30,000 words. And I didn’t even cover World War One. It’s like at the end of that, like, Oh, crap, World War One happened during this time I need to write about and I emailed my editor, a very frantic email like three in the morning like hey, can I get 200,000 words? And he said, No. We ended up compromising by life. That was really hard and that in the end, I had whole sections that were cut under the cutting room floor. I had a whole section on Joseph F. Smith saw opposition to World War One and the RLDS tradition of pacifism. I had a whole section on young women’s diaries and journals and literature during the 1930s and like, but I came to the realization that I had to stay focused and discipline on a particular through lines, particular characters and it didn’t and it did not match that narrative. It could not fit. And so I would take characters, some characters that would have multi chapter arcs like me, round Lyman is one of the major figures that has an arc over several chapters. So some figures that only have an arc and individual subsections especially tried to ground the ideas and policies and practices by those who were not from elite circles to understand how things were experienced. So for instance, I Nari 1850s, Utah through the perspective of a woman named Phoebe Woodbury Pendleton. Anyone heard her before? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I hadn’t heard of her before, until I happened upon a collection of letters of the LDS church archives had just purchased a few years ago. She was an adult convert who moves from the east leaves her adult children behind and then writes monthly letters to her children, telling them what’s going on in Utah. And so that adds both flavor and like it helps us understand what the experience in Utah was and I tried to talk about Phoebe woodburning just as much as Eliza arsena.

I also tried to ground each chapter in particular primary sources that I can sprinkled throughout and help give a skeleton to the narrative but make sure everything’s always tethered to an actual experience that is documented at the time. Lucy Maximus memoir, of course, one more famous documents and I use that in the first couple chapters. I use BB Woodberry letters for 1850s I use that one B Wells as diaries that George Buchanan’s diaries, both of which were just recently made available and both offer some of the richest perspectives of territorial Utah. Juanita Brooke says letters, BH Roberts his writings for mid 20th century. David O. McKay and Leonard Arrington diaries for the post world war two era. Carrie pray and Jen Smith’s collection of LGBTQ voices for the modern period, I wanted to make sure that when I talk about things that that impacted marginalized figures, whether they be racial minorities or gender minorities, that I don’t just talk about the policies, but how their, the reactions they got and the impact that they have. Alright, so I probably babbled on quite a bit. I’ll only babble on a little more and then I hope to have quite a bit of discussion. I hope a lot of you have questions wonder about content of the book or the process. But in general, does circle back to Brad’s comment that that started us what what justifies the new project? I think there’s one, the primary source of video made available that allows us to take a peek at elements of Mormonism that previously had been secluding the rise in scholarship, especially on the 20th century that now we can have a better sense of what 20 cent 20th century Mormonism was and how it developed. And third I think it’s worth having a book for our time that speaks to our present issues. If you think back to Matt Bowman’s amazing book, which by the way that he wrote in like six weeks, and I still don’t understand how that happens. Like that’s just unhuman that book was published. In the midst of the Mormon moment, right. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, the Book of Mormon on Broadway. It was a moment of triumph for Mormon culture. They finally made it on the main stage, even if they’re kind of doofus is on some of those stages, right? But like it’s a story of, of Mormon inclusion and assimilation. Writing about Mormonism, post 2016. And post 2020 is a different world. Right? We’re trying to understand Mormonism in a context where we are in divisive cultural battles that are as deep as they’ve ever been. And that Mormon in Mormonism is part of a cultural block that is receiving this kind of divisive scholarship and term, so it might have a bit more of a cynical edge, it might have more of a darker sense of its own ends on a much more sour note than like Matt Bowman’s did, because I feel like this moment, required it. And this is something that as a historian I struggled with, because sometimes when I’m writing about the 20 teens and 20 odds, it almost feels like I’m more of a journalist and historian because I want that historical distance to make sense of the times. But I also think that if you’re not connecting it to the present, it’s going to be hard to see those three months. All right, I’m going to read just a couple passages to kind of get a sense of at least the narrative. Can I borrow this thank you so much. The first one, let’s see I’m going to read one about Walker Lewis and the origins of the racial restriction and territory in Utah. And then I’ll read one section on Joseph F. Smith and the vision that can be known as DN C 138, both of which emphasizing the cultural context in which they took place and the experiences that led to them. Write for Walker Louis, I’m going to read from 102. The background to this is I’m discussing how a series of fears over interracial unions prompts Brigham Young and other white leaders to fear that crease universal priesthood access and temple access was going to be interracial unions with William McCarran winter quarters, and Enoch Lewis out of Boston, and I framed this entire discussion around Walker Lewis for those of you who don’t know Walker Lewis is an African American convert to Mormonism in 1840s. Lowell, at one point becoming basically the branch president of the local congregation. And we know Brigham Young was aware of them because he praised him at one meeting say one of our best elders as an African out of all. This follows the discussion that Brigham Young and others outrage over informational humans. Oblivious to these discussions, Louis personally informed Wilford Woodruff of his intent to gather you taught me to the move involved leaving his network of activists is abolitionists heritage and even his immediate family. Not knowing what was before him, he prepared a final bill and Testament, pass all his belongings to his family, and set out for Zion in the spring of 1851 alone. Louis’s time among the Mormons was short, and the people were as alien as the environment and the culture as oppressive as the weather. Having left one of the largest hubs of free African Americans, Lewis now found himself in a territory, with only around two dozen free blacks, or odious Lee having previously surrounded himself with anti slavery activists he now lived among in slavers, several Utah’s most prominent and then brought their shadow practice from the south, including Charles see rich and apostle from Kentucky who enslaved around a half dozen men and women. Abraham smoked a Salt Lake City Bishop enslaved a woman named Lucy. There were around 50 enslaved persons in the territory by 1851. The final nail in the territory legislature met during the frigid first months of 1852 apostle George J. Smith introduced the bill to legalize slavery in Utah territory. Brigham Young, despite previously expressing moderate anti slavery sentiments, back the legislation and deliver a series of servants that offer the most explicit anti Black Theology yet uttered in the Mormon tradition. Jung declared himself a firm believer in slavery, though the legislation he supported differentiated ucross practice from the that existing in the south, those of African descent were naturally designated for service as a seed of Canaan, the very genuine logical marker placed on Lewis in this Patriarchal Blessing was irrevocably cursed. Now I go a few more paragraphs, I’d rather debate with Orson Pratt. Then I come back to Louis because I always wanted to ground it in the experience. It is it is unlikely that Louis heard a rationale for these changes from church leaders. If any of the apostles met with Lewis during his Utah sojourn, none chose to record it. Perhaps they could not bring themselves to face the Mormon elder who no longer had a place in their kingdom. Not partly Pratt, but baptize them not Wilford Woodruff who had urged him to gather and certainly not Brigham Young who only five years earlier had praised. Lewis, who had dedicated decades to celebrating his African ancestry and fighting for racial equality, discovered his church had formerly cursed both repulsed Louis fled sign and return to the east. Not that young minded. The Prophet boasted later that year that the legislature’s actions have, quote, nearly freed the territory of the colored population. His sermons and the church’s policies have their desired effect by defining their empires racial boundaries. The saints had found the place that God had prepared, but it was not open for all. Lewis was back in your Boston by October 18 due to the land of abolitionists agitation, the region where he worked with David Walker to foment revolution for the cause of emancipation. A local newspaper announced the reopening of his barbershop lose hope to focus on cutting the hair of little children.




The church has this data of church membership and participation that I would argue is unrivaled in the globe, in terms of religious participation, and they know how many people are participating. They know the likelihood of you know, sack correlating sacramental attendance to Temple participation. And of course, we’ll never see that. So the people who know you know, whether there is a cliff of participation people leaving is the church and I don’t think we’ll ever know. What we do know is the church is worried about it. I mean, at the very least we have those those leaked videos from 2008. On someone presenting to church leaders in Salt Lake City. I think it was Mormon leaks or someone leaked these videos, where they gave it a date as sunlight 35% of Mormons between the ages of 23 and 29 were active. Right? It’s something startling. So I think at the very least we know that that church leaders are worried about that.

We have some fragmented ideas. So for instance, the Pew Research poll of religious participation in America which is one of the best sources we have for religious affiliation, but it’s still you know, spotty, in 2012 said that 2.9% 2.8% of Americans identified as Latter-day Saints. Last year, they did the same poll with the same question and it was down to 1.9. Now there’s a margin of error there. Right? There’s a margin though. There’s a huge margin of error. But if we were to take those numbers as accurate, that would be a loss of something like 2 million Mormons, numbers wise in America. Now again, take that with a grain of salt because there’s a huge margin of error. So the answer is, I don’t know I think that I think we can at least be say a certain that that churches are worried about retention numbers right now and and they’re trying to do things that they feel push it for instance, I think I think the major temple construction project right now, it’s due to a number of things like what are we going to do with all this money, but but also, I could go into that more to buy like it’s also I think they believe that the answer to the loss of retention is committing more people to Temple participation because to have a temple in your neighborhood, that means you have to have temple workers, you have to have temple attendance to be temple worker temple attendance, you have to be tied players to be tied players, you have to be active. And I think that’s the way they see as one of the ways to confront that issue. So I so the answer is I don’t know the truth. I wish I did. But I think it’s safe to say that there is decreasing participation levels in America. I think we all have the we don’t have the data but we all have the anak data, right in our in our local congregations. And I think we could all give examples of that. But but the full extent of that, it’s we’re just making educated guesses.

So it doesn’t really go and I’m looking forward to reading the book, but thank you. Let’s cut it off there. With the Christian coalition, yeah. I see that as sort of a direct line coming out of the Birch Society. Yeah. That’s a great question. So and I will even take it back for an IV J. Reuben Clark is Langos c o 1930s. Because J Reuben Clark and this is another segued that I promise I’m gonna get to the point. J. Reuben Clark joins the first friend CNIT 33. He attends his first General Conference. And here’s a guest that several members of church authorities including the Presiding Bishop and Amy Brown Line and who wasn’t present their disciple was the driving force are really exciting. Both get up to the General Conference, and they praise ftrs New Deal. And Jada Clark as a lifelong devoted Republican partisan, is is gobsmacked by this. And he ends up having a meeting with with church leaders release it leaders, priesthood leaders, and he asked them what will it take to get the Latter Day Saints off of welfare? And they get certain numbers and one of the people in attendance we have this record at the University of Utah one of the people in attendance writes across the agenda for that meeting. This amount of aid would bankrupt us. And so J Reuben Clark start from that time that the goal to wean Mormons both off of welfare and away from the Republican Party, or from the Democratic Party toward the Republican Party. And that’s a slow process that takes several decades. Over the next three elections. Clark writes under the masthead of the First Presidency editorials in the desert news telling the saints to vote against FDR. He’s the devil. And every time the Latter Day Saints vote for FDR, but he lays the groundwork there’s a wonderful memoir written by James moil, who was a prominent Mormon Democrat. And he actually served the FERS administration. And he writes a memoir a few years later, and he says, what, what Clark and others are doing. It hasn’t worked yet, but it’s going to be slowly moving the saints towards the Republican Party. They removed the entire desert news masthead and replaced them with Republican leaning people. They start a framing church curriculum around Republican talking points. This is the period where we redefine the law of consecration and Mormon memory to not be a communitarian endeavor. And then and then as Rob Benson and Cleon Skousen others build on that foundation. They start offering a vision of Mormonism that is more in accordance with conservative politics and conservative ideas. And in a way some of them have have are embraced by the broader nation. I think there’s still a story to be told about how Cleon Skousen builds inroads with the religious right as way back as in the 1960s and 1970s. But it’s not until the 1970s and 1980s that the Mormons prove their worth to the religious right. Because they do that not just through their words, which they’ve been doing for a few decades, but they do that through their action, especially their opposition of the Equal Rights Amendment. And once they prove their worth to the religious rights, then the religious right are willing to adopt them. So we even have what Jerry Falwell veto, and it could have gone otherwise, because many of you might be aware of like the rise of anti Mormon like cult rhetoric that takes place in the 1970s and 1980s with like the god Baker’s right, which is seen by a million people a month in the early 1980s. And because it’s this rise of counter cult, anti cold rhetoric and evangelicalism prompted by, you know, Jim Jones and and all that, and so it would have been very possible that the evangelicalism wouldn’t have held hands with the Mormons because they still see them as heretics. But Jerry Falwell goes Hang on. Maybe the Mormons can be useful. So he actually refuses to play the god makers on his Christian television station. They invite as Dr. Benson to serve on the board of the Moral Majority. And so I think it was through grooming and there’s of course these other cultural appendages. Let’s attach to that to where the church realizes that if they are going to form this alliance, they’re going to have to package the faith certain ways. We’re going to change the logo of the church to emphasize Jesus Christ more than everything else. So to emphasize our Christian we’re going to we’re going to add a subtitle of the book of mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ, all that and we’re gonna downplay our unique historical origins like polygamy and other things, which is an context I think often gets overlooked when we talk about the fights over history with Arrington is Camelot and stuff. That one of the things that historians that made historian so troublesome during the 1970s and 1980s, where they’re going to ruin this whole path that we’re that we’re moving toward. And so that’s why I think it’s 1970s and 1980s that you see the formation of seeds that are being planted decades earlier. Yeah.

years ago COVID Wondering about Yeah, organza ordain women movement. So yes, so the question of women’s ordination that was one of the through lines that I tried to trace from the very beginning of the book. I’m Joseph Smith, dictates the revelation that comes to be known as DNC 25. In response to Emma Smith, we often see that as you know, the first revelation written in response to a woman talks about the woman’s role. I think it’s also important to note that like, it wasn’t for ordained that only men were gonna be ordained as a priest in the 1830s. The role the what the role of women would be in religious organizations was up in the air. There were some religious movements that were allowing women to serve as quasi ministers. And so Joseph Smith dictates the revelation that allows them to submit to be an extraordinary scripture, right language that was borrowed by the way from Methodist at the same time when they’re trying to decipher what the role of them is going to be. You have allies our snow who’s often meditating on the relationship of women to priesthood authority. Rejecting modernists, reformers, but also not moving to call toward you know, women in prison. It’s also important to remember, as Jonathan stately would probably tell you the definition of priests itself was evolving throughout all these years. I was struck as someone who you know, as everyone in this room lived through the ordain women movement in the backlash in the 20s, how much it was a repeat of previous decades of fighting over the same types of issues. Dialogue and Sunstone and exponent, the 1980s were raising issues of women ordination, that in some ways were more radical than what we’re still seeing today. And that also caused a backlash. I don’t think we would have seen the September 6 excommunications and disciplines if it weren’t for the feminist context of those agitation scholarship in that decade, by the way. So when Kate Kelly and ordain women movement caused this question of the role of them, again, they’re building on a long tradition that goes back and church leaders were also drawing from 200 years of reserves that how to respond to that. This was not the first time that a woman was excommunicated for pushing for women’s ordination. Right. So I think it shows the constant the cyclical nature of these debates over women’s feminism, because you see these moments of massive unrest and kind of backlash that is then followed by a fallow period where things subside to the point to where after the the tense decade of the 1980s excommunications and disciplines of the 1990s we got to the point in 2002, when Peggy Fletcher staff writes an article in the Salt Lake Tribune saying, wherever the Mormon feminists gone and so it’s cyclical you see these bushings you see the retrenchment and often they fit in the broader context suit because in the 1980s, when he got the women’s priesthood scholarship, that’s at the same time that you get second wave feminism, doing the same thing and all these other contexts. You have some religious denominations, who approve women preachers and pastors in the 1960s and 1970s. And it seemed destined that a lot of American religions were going to do the same. And then guess what, many denominations have backlashes and the 1980s the Baptist stepped back on women’s ordination. The Anglicans end up having a schism over it. And so I think you can both see the cyclical nature within the Mormon tradition as well as the broader context in which these people are, you know, holding hands with other agitators. Other questions? Let’s see. How are we doing? We’re great. Yeah.

You mentioned one of the themes you’re exploring are the contingencies Yeah. Can you comment on a couple of the favorite counterfactual contingencies unless you prefer to talk about all that money?

Well, well, the money’s always fun, all point to one contingent period, and it’s one that I kind of touched on earlier today. The J. Reuben Clark. I really believe that 93rd Gate was a hinge of Mormonism because up until that point, you had several potential trajectories on the faith. You have those who are pushing for lotteries into more, be more incorporated in mainstream modern scholarship. You are those who are pushing for democratic politics. You are those who are pushing for more jet women’s activism or women’s role in the public sphere. And one of the reasons that Chamberlain Cartwright’s who crashed out on all of them in between 1933 and 1938. Is because he feared that those trajectories were winning. I mean, he could look at BYU and see that the BYU religion department in the 1930s didn’t teach any courses on the Book of Mormon. They’re teaching courses on religion and evolution. Or religion and psychology. There was a poll that was done at BYU in 1935 that found that only 38% of students believed there was a literal devil. Or that 38 34% believed that humans were the product of organic evolution. Like something that would have made Joseph Fielding Smith gasp right. And so he kind of cuts down all those and leads on another trajectory, I think other moments, the late 1880s That was a beer that really struck me while I was writing the book where I don’t think we fully grasp the consequences that between 1885 and 8090. A majority of church leadership were fugitives from the law. Right living on the underground means not like they were hiding fraud they all had you know, indictments against and they’re on the run. There it was possible that the LDS church could have become similar to something like we see the LDS church today, right where church leaders are constantly on the one causing underground and making decisions to remain in incorporating public church was a crucial move. I mean, you can even point to some contingent trajectories all the way back into 1831. I was at 38 to 31. Because I was worried how much am I doing stretching to find his throughlines route and 1839 31 you have debates over the place of women to a place of intellectual and religious individualism with high one page SEER stone, the place the question of racial equality with black peace, a black member in Kirtland who was considered one of the leaders of the congregation and then eventually falls away issues of indigenous missions and and the role of laborers, all of those trends you find all the way in the early 1831. And just because the church goes one direction, didn’t mean those other directions were possible. So those are just a few examples. All right, yeah. You touched on like the clergy over his tenure as Yeah, I’m not really um, I I fear as some of it gets a bit too in the weeds for like, and like the most recent like five years. It’s so recent. I have a hard time like making statements. I did some of you might have saw Salt Lake Tribune essay of mine that went up this week that connected J Reuben Clark to Clark Gilbert and like the two Clark’s I’m kind of jealous I didn’t think of that phrase myself. But I think it at the very least I tried to explain the context that makes it possible for someone like Clark Gilbert to push number six. Yeah. So

do you have any comments or thoughts on the LDS Church’s emphatic insistence that the heavens are open? And we’ve got this we’ve got this channel you can? Yeah. And in the modern times, they don’t use it we’re in the world is full of perplexity, conflicts that couldn’t be more written. I could use it about now. writing anything in research about that?

No. Only that. I mean, I wish I could have a stronger take on that. Only that that shift happens very early in Mormons. I mean, by nine by 1833. Joseph Smith is sleeping more on Council decisions than individual revelations pushing for things like that’s not to Well, I mean, there are some doctrines that are introduced later on that are not made by counsel. But I think there’s a sense of there’s a sense of stability that comes from my idea of, of having logical consequences and movements in the church and decisions being made that way, as opposed to thus saith the LORD revelation, but what I can say, and what I tried to dig into the church is that you have members who are uncomfortable with that shift from the 1830s. You already have members who are critiquing church leaders for not following for not having a prophetic voice in times of cultural crisis, and as a result, starting their own break off group. And so, the fact that now we can have a Denver snuffer figure who can get a large following because he says, Hey, here’s my book of Revelations, let me compare it to yours. And you have 1000s that follow that, that shows the power of this kind of precedent that’s in the Mormon tradition that when you’re founded by someone who asked God for revelation and receives that and that gives you the authority to dismiss everyone else and start your own trajectory. That’s always gonna be replicated.

So quick follow up was common consent. Also, did it meet its demise Verrilli,

all the way. Yeah. I mean, you’re you’re not seeing robust debate, overcoming consent in the LDS tradition. After novel

Yeah, you had a question? Yeah. Um, one of the things that just completely blows my mind how we’ve been able to redefine Mormon concept and family to be the nuclear family unit. Yeah, you’re already in history. That’s yeah, that’s really quite shocking. And as we have tried to set up alliances with different groups. What kind of tensions are you seeing emerge there?

Yeah, so first of all, you can point to a very, a cultural moment where that nuclear family emphasis comes. It comes from the post world war two era, when all of America’s turning toward the nuclear. There’s a great book that argues that the traditional family is created by the new capitalist society that comes out of the post world war two economics. And so many religious traditions turn to the family as the nucleus of their belief and Mormonism buys that whole hammer. And they embrace this notion of the family. To the point that where when that notion of the family then becomes a divisive topic in the 1970s. It’s like finally writing the party right when it’s breaking up. Right that’s kind of what the Mormons do have a Downunder. And of course, it requires a rereading of the past. Um, it’s kind of one of my favorite anecdotes, and that is Leonard Arrington, who was a church historian is asked by the enzyme to write an essay on Brigham Young’s family and they said, but don’t mention polygamy. Right. You have recently signed manuals, I was like, Mary’s Mary and work them in 1835. And that was his last marriage. Right. So it takes them a reprinting, because even after polygamy kind of subsides, that subsides after 8090. You you get I mean, multiple types of family structures that intergenerational families that kind of communal groups together is still dominant, and you can almost trace to the rise of like the discussion of the nuclear family during that time and the commitment to that has meant prioritizing that over some other things. And what I’ll also emphasize is like, that idea has had always been a myth. I mean, scholars have pointed to that at the very moment that religions have started emphasizing the nuclear family, when especially a husband and the stay at home and wife and children was that the very moment that that became a fiction in society, that you had a majority of working mothers, you have a growing number of single parents that the emphasis on the family is not because it is the common denominator in society. But is is a backlash because it’s not in the way that you dress through this whole time period with indigenous people. Absolutely. Um, I have I tried to make it a goal not just to discuss Mormon views of indigeneity. But I tried to always incorporate the voice of indigenous peoples in that story. And further, there is a unfortunate trend of scholars, including religious scholars who end up perpetuating the vanishing Indian myth to where you’ll discuss Native Americans up until the point of colonization of western expansion. And then they don’t just get discussed in the 20th century because they’re not there anymore. Right. There’s a recent huge history of America that was a New York Times bestseller and not a single indigenous persons named after 1890. So I made a concerted effort and I probably could have done better but I did made a concerted effort to not only discuss indigenous Mormon issues throughout the 20th century of the present, but that every chapter even every chapter after 1945 on includes indigenous voices within the chapter. Yeah.

We’re here tonight because of this book of yours, and that’s what brought me here, and reflection from the wonderful discussion of Mormon history shocked but I love you as a pro stylist. And you’re reading so few paragraphs there were just elegant examples of that. It’s It’s not common among historians. I mean,

it’s a lot of what my students agree

I guess I wonder if you could comment on your literary Sure. Not not in Mormon history

right. Your literary roots because

I just think it’s, it’s to make a quick buck me I’m here to buy the book because you know, what you have to say, but the way you say it is really beautiful.

Thank you. I will review your

teaching as a teacher here. I’ve been loving that experience but but you as a pro stylish, and the way you can dress sentences, paragraphs and

beyond. Well, thank you. That’s very, very kind. And that’s a compliment that I don’t take lightly. I think it’s important to recognize when you’re trying to write to different audiences, you have to take different styles right? Because I’m one that actually celebrate some historians who get into the jargony like type things that no read outside when they’re writing for other historians. Right. But if you want to and that’s great. I have a book that’s been read by dozens of people. That is that is written in a in an academic lexicon. That like requires a buy in to understand. But if you want to write for a general public, you have to write in a way that the general public and I had a big learning experience when I when I wrote kingdom and Abu and I’m like, I know how to write for a general audience. And I wrote a draft and I sent it off to my editor a guy by the name of Bob Weil, who’s phenomenal. And he sent back my first draft with reading every single line as like, and it wasn’t just content things, and I could go into like what he said about polygamy that, you know, helped me understand, but like stylistically, so I’ll give one example. He said, You have to remove 70% of your quotations which is hard for a historian. Because as the kids say, those are my receipts. Like, I want to show my evidence, right, especially, all of you who write you know how great it is when you find a juicy quote, and you want to share, right? But if you want to write a narrative, it has to stay in your voice. It has to move along. Every chapter what my editor gave me the great advice every chapter has to be a short story. There has to be a narrative arc, there has to be character development, you have to end that and especially the phrase that I kept on hearing over and over again, and this book specifically is take out all the potted history, or the potted context that sometimes i Alright, no, I have to talk about World War Two. You can only talk about this stuff if you weave it into the narrative, which means it has to be a light touch, which means like when I think I have a great history of graphical intervention where I can finally prove this specific thing I’m like, Alright, either move that direct historical intervention into the footnote. Or you have to emphasize the character of what’s going on here. So yeah,

just make a quick note. Yeah, I just reviewing a manuscript. And I came up with this I said, you have to bid for this author. Yes. And you have to move from. Let me tell you everything. I’ve earned the right to say to you got to hear the story.

Yeah. It’s a show don’t tell. Yeah. You have to Yeah, I could. I could tell you that modernism was a driving ideological force at night in the 1920s. But it’s a lot better to show it through experiences and ideas. So there’s 100 in front of my cartoon. Yeah.

To my mind in the in the mid 20th century to those important verse books in LDS thought are Joseph Fielding. SNESs man says to the Broussard mechanic ease Mormon doctrine, yeah. And both of those ways the prophets iron, there’s a lot of consternation tension, right? Yeah, both of those folks end up defining with Orthodoxy is right. So how is it that conservative dissenters for lack of a better term can use the levers of power to create their orthodoxy?

Yeah, that’s a great question. Um, I haven’t. By the way, I have a great anecdote in this book when that you guys know the swearing elders at the University of Utah, these Utah professors who get together and debate Mormon topics, there was one meeting where they’re debating does feeling Smith man his origin and destiny and Bruce are McConkey showed up. After the meeting had gone a lot of those of you of course know that Bruce are McConkey is Joseph Smith’s son in law. After the day goes on long Bruce are McConkey stands up fully exceeds the two minute allotment for responses. And finally, struggling Big Bird stands up and says you need to as Your time is over, sit down and shut up. And then Sterling bird turns to his grad student and says, You need to write up this account because this is the only time I’ve been able to tell a general authority to sit down and shut up. I doubt I’ll ever get it again. And that book, so matches origin and destiny causes a kind of crisis among a lot of Mormon intellectuals where they’re like, do we have to buy into these ideas? Is this what it means to be Mormon and David O McKay meets or receives letters from one nice people and everyone case says no, that’s his personal idea, yada yada yada. And then Bruce are McConkey takes to the next level with Mormon doctrine. Those of you who haven’t read the story of the reaction, Mormon doctrine, do so because it’s fascinating. I mean, they get an apostolic committee. To read through they find something like 1500 errors in their view, they take it off the shelves, and I truly believe that it’s Mormon doctrine. That is the final. The final domino to fall that leads to the correlation. Right, so I really think it’s Mormon doctrine that finally get gets people to agree to a correlation movement that we have to grow like it’s not the liberal voice there was it was Bruce arm because liberal voices always framed their ideas as a hypothesis because they know they can get in trouble for it right they always frame their message is kind of countercultural, whereas the Conservatives back there said this, this doc, right more of a doctor. I think those books end up being influential a because they have kind of a prophetic or apostolic impromptu or that’s placed on them later. But also they’re the last voices before the coronation. And Bruce are McConkey knows how even after a Mormon doctrine gets taken off the shelf, he knows how to maneuver to get back on the shelves a decade later. And so I think there’s so for instance, on politics, also a cause for a correlation was ezard had Benson’s political speech has over the pulpit. But the fact that his voice rang last and rang the loudest is going to have the lasting legacies because it’s one thing to start the correlation. It’s another thing to then denounce those previous teachings and because they don’t take that step, that problems are as

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You May Also Like
Img 2156

Please pray for the people in Ukraine!

Please pray for the people in Ukraine! A full scale invasion has commenced and explosions are being reported in Kyiv (temple pictured).   The Presidency of the Eastern European Territory…
View Post