On the more academic side of things, the annual conference of the John Whitmer Historical Association kicked things off this weekend in Lamoni, Iowa. Check out the twitter feed for JI Ben’s tweets on the conference. The feed also confirms rumors that LDS Church Historian Steven E. Snow is in attendance. BYU’s L. Tom Perry Special Collections has advertised a position for Curator of 19th and 20th Century Mormon and Western Americana Books. Also, the Mormon Texts Project announced that five historical Mormon e-books have been added to Project Gutenberg. If you’re in the Logan area next week, come hear venerable historian Ron Walker speak on Brigham Young and the Utah War at the 20th Annual Arrington Lecture.
Elder Snow and other Church History Department officials spoke at a press conference recently that provided details on the Church History Museum’s permanent exhibit renovation, “The Heavens Are Opened,” scheduled to open October 2015. As several media outlets noted, the new exhibit will augment the museum’s artifact collection with technology to enhance the story of the early Restoration (1820-1846). These newspaper articles interpret the new exhibit within the church’s recent efforts to approach its history with transparency (with the Joseph Smith Papers and the Gospel Topics essays as the most notable examples), as the exhibit will attempt to tackle difficult historical issues, such as multiple accounts of the First Vision, seer stones and Book of Mormon translation, and Nauvoo polygamy.
Mormonism in popular media continues to draw attention from commentators. BYU music prof Jeremy Grimshaw provides an extended account of Mormon composers and their attempts to engage audiences beyond Mormonism, from Evan Stephans to Brandon Flowers, and wonders whether we’ve entered a “post-Mormon Moment” or “post-normalcy” (i.e., the long-20th century attempt to mainstream Mormonism) period. Craig Harline writes in the Huffington Post about “Five to Nine Things You Maybe Didn’t Know About Mormon Missionaries.” Also at the HuffPost, Stephen Mansfield promotes his new book on The Mormonizing of America, in which he argues that the “Mormon Machine” (defined as organizational efficiency, Mormon doctrine of progression, and individual initiative) has allowed a relatively small religious group to achieve such prominence in the United States.