The biggest Mormon studies news this week is either that: A) the American Bible Society still exists, and also that 47% of Americans, according to the still-existing American Bible Society, believe that the Book of Mormon and Bible “teach the same spiritual truths.”
Or, B) That TLC is going to grace us with another reality show about a polygamous family.
Shut down the presses, everybody.
But if you’re still here, you might be interested in the ongoing career of Elder Stephen Snow, Church Historian and Recorder, and burgeoning master of the mike drop. Observe Elder Snow casually unveiling the newest – and perhaps most exciting to date – volume in the Joseph Smith Papers Project, “Documents, Volume 1: July 1828-June 1831,” informing us in deadpan that these documents “help us understand how the church was to be organized and run.” And then, tucked away at the end of another announcement, Elder Snow informs us that “We plan to publish the Nauvoo minutes of the Council of Fifty in the Administrative Records Series of the Joseph Smith Papers.” End story.
The Council of the Fifty was organized by Joseph Smith in the months before his death and was intended to serve as the political government of the Kingdom of God on earth; it is, of course, one of the most sought after and speculated about restricted collections in the possession of the LDS Church. There may not be anything in this collection historians have not already inferred from other records, or from the scant information from the minutes that has already appeared, but this is profoundly exciting news nonetheless, and perhaps most important as a symbolic gesture. Bravo, to everyone involved.
In other news:
Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online genealogy database, and the LDS church-owned Family Search have joined forces to produce a single genealogy database larger than some small countries.
In some genuine good news, the historic Ogden Fourth Ward building has reopened. These chapels are among Mormonism’s great cultural treasures, and it’s wonderful to see one restored.
The Brigham Young biographies are flying fast and thick now. You just finished John Turner’s definitive, award-winning, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet? Take a breath, maybe cleanse your palate with some Calvin and Hobbes, and pick up Ed Breslin‘s Brigham Young: A Concise Biography of the Mormon Moses. This may well be the Robert Remini Joseph Smith to Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling.
And, in some JI roundup news, come for miss Steve Taysom’s touching thoughts on the death of Joseph F. Smith’s children, and stay to applaud the newly promoted Robin Scott Jensen. As our own Ben Park said, thanks for the Council of the Fifty minutes, Rob!