And He Spake Unto Me, Saying....

I could do without hearing anything more about Mitt Romney for a while. That would be totally okay. And it seems reasonable to guess that in a few weeks my wish might just come true.

Come what may, though, I remain quite interested in the history of Mormonism. It's been a few years since I wrote a feature story called Latter-day Studies.

Along the way, I interviewed Wayne Booth. He was still at least nominally a Mormon, though it was pretty clear that the operative word there was "nominally."

He was very circumspect about saying anything tending the characterize what he did or did not believe about (let's put it this way) the relationship between sacred and profane history. In short, he didn't want to be excommunicated.

This has tended to color my reading of Booth's work ever since -- especially upon noticing that he had written a book called The Rhetoric of Irony. As well he might.....

December 7, 2007 10:35 AM | | Comments (6)

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6 Comments

What I've found fascinating about LDS history is that it seems to me the first religion which grown up in the world of newspapers and archives. The stories of Joseph Smith are (& I suppose this puts me squarely in the anti-Mormon camp) at best false and at worse fraudulent. It doesn't have that distance that makes other religions at least somewhat plausible. But it grew up & now has many similar characteristics to any other religion: liberals & traditionalists, debates over scripture, schismatic sects, etc. It seems to provide a great way to study religion.

On the other hand, I can't agree with Sarah Gordon that it is essential to understanding American history. It's a great laboratory for studying religion, but I think it's basically a sideshow in American history.

For a crash course:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fbzoNT7iKY

Sardonic as this is, it's also accurate.

yes, that sums it up, just about.

It's a pity they didn't mention the book of Abraham and the translations from papyri. I especially like that story.

Yeah, one of these days I'm going to try to catch up with how they deal with the inconvenient circumstances of the Book of Abraham. That must take some real ingenuity to finesse. But it's a footnote to the basic story, which the South Parkers cover pretty well.

For the uninitiated: A follower gave Smith an ancient Egyptian manuscript, which, happily, turned out to be another important scripture he could "translate" via inspiration, the Book of Abraham.

About a century later, the papyrus turned up. It was a pretty generic chunk of the Book of the Dead with no mention (strange to say) of the Old Testament patriarch.

At one point I had a book on the matter by the most prominent LDS scholar but never found time to read it.

True. Thanks, by the way, for the bibliography in the Chronicle article.

I just tried to read some stuff by Hugh Nibley about this, but I don't have enough background or patience to read it.

The wikipedia page on Nibley, by the way, is a little bit over the top.

Actually that's who who wrote the monograph I was thinking of. Somehow the author escaped me. Not sure how you can forget a name like Hugh Nibley, but I did.

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