By July 9, 2018
In 1894 Wilford Woodruff stood in general conference and announced a revelation that had a larger influence on Mormon cosmology than the Manifesto. Even though most Mormons today are unaware of it, this revelation was the bedrock of twentieth century sealing and genealogical practice. I’ve written about these developments in an article on adoptive sealing rituals and in my recent volume on Mormon liturgy.
By June 28, 2018
The trick of successful religious and cultural movements is situating ephemeral presence and evolving relation in timelessness. This is equally true for Mormon and Native American identity. The trick for scholars of religious and cultural movements is to simultaneously respect that timelessness and complicate it. Farmer is a successful scholar, and in Chapter 1 of On Zion’s Mount frames both Mormons and Native Americans in the Great Basin by their physical place in the world—literally the space on this planet.
By April 1, 2018
Quorum. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
First, let’s take a step back, but not all the way back. Mostly because this isn’t a book. Let’s go to 1964. At this time, each stake and mission generally included a High Priests quorum, at least one Elders quorum and at least one Seventies quorum. In the years leading up to this time, church policy was that if there were not at least 49 elders (a majority of the scriptural 96–D&C 107:89) then a “unit” en lieu of a quorum was to be organized. But why would that matter? I imagine that the majority of Elders quorums in the church today don’t have 49 members. The answer goes back to the definition of what a quorum is, namely, “the number (such as a majority) of officers or members of a body that when duly assembled is legally competent to transact business” (to quote Miriam-Webster).
By March 10, 2018
After talking to some folks about some material in my recent book, a friend suggested I write a short primer on nineteenth-century sealings based on my work.
First some nineteenth-century premises:
- Heaven is comprised of people sealed together in various ways. People called this construction variations of “the priesthood.”
- All sealings, regardless of type, are durable, and bestow a measure of “perseverance” (the unpardonable sin notwithstanding).
- All of the various temple rituals can be performed outside of the temple except child-to-parent/adoption sealings.
By August 7, 2017
I’m working my way through the production process for my first book, The Power of Godliness: Mormon Liturgy and Cosmology, and I thought it would be helpful to review some of the practical aspects of getting the book together. In this post, I address selecting artwork and acquiring permission to publish from the various repositories.
First is the issue of copyright
By July 2, 2017
The Nauvoo Temple Liturgy, the killings of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the “succession crisis,” and the Nauvoo Temple. There are justifiably entire books and dissertations on each of these. And despite coming in at 26 lean pages, Ulrich still manages to surprise.
By March 6, 2017
Sometimes I go fishing in the various digital collections, and once in a while something interesting comes up. I thought one such case was illustrative of several not-so-obvious techniques of research that it was worth posting.
By August 8, 2016
This summer I’ve been rewriting my manuscript on Mormon liturgy and cosmology, and I have thought many times how much more difficult it would have been without the extraordinary increase in documents accessibility over the last decade. I live a thousand miles away from Salt Lake City, research mostly in the evening, and only am on-site at the various archives for short moments. I know there were some heady times in the LDS Church archives decades ago (without which we could not do what we do now, even), but I think it is currently the best time to be researching Mormon history. Camelot Shmamelot.
In this post I thought I would share some pointers as a guide for those interested in similar work. This post is focusing on the LDS Church History Library (CHL), and includes some recent correspondence I have had with Keith Erekson, director of the CHL. Also, please note that the CHL will be closed to the public for renovations from October 10, 2016 to February 21, 2017.
By May 20, 2016
Paul Peterson’s thesis was for a long time the go-to resource for the cultural context of the Joseph Smith (JS) revelation known as the Word of Wisdom (WoW). He focuses mostly on booze, the temperance movement, and health reformers (e.g., Sylvester Graham of cracker fame). The more scholarly of the commentaries typically used by Mormons have generally stuck with that [n1].
By March 17, 2016
At the recent history symposium focusing on women in Mormon History, the director of the LDS Church History Library announced a new research aid entitled ?Women in Church History.? Among the various highlighted documents was a link to CR 11 175, Relief Society record, 1880-1892. This caught my eye because it has been restricted in the past and closed to research, though some researchers have been granted access. I?m always grateful for wider access to historical documents such as these, and this one in particular is important. Thanks to the dedicated staff and administrators at the CHL for their ongoing work.
As it is the anniversary of the founding of Relief Society, I thought it would be fun to reproduce from this document the ordinations of the first General Presidency. May it ever increase. [Note that this is a first pass transcription, you can verify it yourself if you would like]