Articles by

Mees Tielens

History and Presence, Chapter 7: The Abundance of Evil

By March 7, 2017


Welcome to the eighth installment of our Tuesdays with Orsi series! We’re taking a look at the seventh chapter of Robert Orsi’s History and Presence, and as Hannah introduced last week, today’s discussion will be on the meaning of abundant evil. Previous installments can be found here: Intro, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4Chapter 5, and Chapter 6.

Where chapter six took on the idea of heaven, this chapter deals more with hell. What happens, Orsi asks, when the abundant event believers encounter is an evil one? He uses the stories of men and women who were sexually abused as children to tease out the question of presence and abundance in light of clerical sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

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Summer Book Club Week 5: Mormon Enigma, chapters 13-15

By July 4, 2016


Click here for part onetwothree, and four of this year’s summer book club. 

I have a magnet of Emma Smith on my fridge. It?s the lone souvenir of the church history trip I took in the summer of 2014, from Palmyra all the way down to Nauvoo, and I bought it at the Community of Christ-operated shop in Nauvoo. Emma?s portrait stares at me, amongst the magnets commemorating visits to national parks and museums, pictures of my family, postcards my friends send me from far-away places, and the coupons I can never remember to use before they expire. I deliberately did not buy the portrait of Joseph Smith. As a non-Mormon, Joseph is mostly irrelevant to my life, except in the ways he matters to those that matter to me. But Emma, Emma I feel for. And thus she has a place in my kitchen, and I was excited to start this year?s book club selection. 

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Summer Book Club Week 4: Mormon Enigma, Chapters 10-12

By June 27, 2016


J. Stapley brings us the next installment of the Summer Book Club. Click here for part one, two, and three

Ben mentioned last week that Mormon Enigma was one of the best treatments of Nauvoo polygamy available. The topic is a morass, and to be honest I have started more than one book on the topic, only to set it down never to pick it back up after a chapter or two. I’ve read a lot of the primary documents, and some of the prominent secondary literature. And it is true, that the chapters in Mormon Enigma are some of the most readable and insightful, even while laboring under the constraints of time. 

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Modest is Hottest: Beyond Amish Romance Novels?

By March 15, 2016


Valerie Weaver-Zercher’s 2013 book, Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels unpacks the popularity of Amish romance novels among evangelical women. Although often dismissed as escapist fiction, women’s fiction, fluff lit, or all of the above, Weaver-Zercher argues that evangelical women turn to Amish romance novels for a variety of reasons, many of which have to do with the hypermodern and hypersexual world in which readers live.

This post isn’t about that, however. Rather, my interest was piqued by a footnote, in which the author catalogues writers who are writing similar stories, but in different settings. You have your Amish romance novels, but also your Mennonite, and Shaker, and Quaker romance novels. And to my surprise, apparently also Mormon romance novels.

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Giselle, or the making of idols

By January 21, 2016


One of my dissertation chapters deals with gender and the family as protectors of religious order, discussing how Mormon discourse contributes to the erasure of women?s voices on a local and institutional level. During my research, I read Fresh Courage Take: New Directions by Mormon Women, edited by Jamie Zvirzdin. It?s a book filled with essays by seasoned writers, and not-so-seasoned writers, traditionalists and progressives alike, and one of the essays that really struck me was ?Giselle,? written by the editor herself. 

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Job Ad: Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer

By October 26, 2015


We’d like to make our readers aware of an exciting new opportunity: the University of Virginia posted an ad for a Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Mormon Studies.

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JI Summer Book Club: Rough Stone Rolling, Part 5: Chapters 10-12

By June 8, 2015


This is the fifth installment of the first annual JI Summer Book Club. This year we are reading Richard Bushman?s landmark biography of Mormonism?s founder, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005). JI bloggers will be covering small chunks of the book in successive weeks through the summer, with new posts appearing Monday mornings. We invite anyone and everyone interested to read along and to use the comment sections on each post to share your own reflections and questions. There are discussion questions below.

Installments:

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Review: David Conley Nelson’s Moroni and the Swastika

By April 16, 2015


MoroniDavid Conley Nelson, Moroni and the Swastika: Mormons in Nazi Germany. University of Oklahoma Press, 2015.

David Conley Nelson’s book centers on a bold premise: that Mormonism in Germany did not only survive WWII relatively unscathed, but actually benefited from it. Nelson, who has a PhD in history from Texas A&M University, asserts that the church, helped by faithful historians, is invested in promoting a picture of German Mormons as suffering for the sake of the gospel. However, a more accurate picture would be that “German Mormons and their prewar American missionaries avoided persecution by skillfully collaborating to a degree that ensured their survival but did not subject them to postwar retribution” (xvi). Throughout the book, Nelson uses the rhetorical devices of ‘memory beacons’ and ‘dimmer switches’ to illustrate the construction of memory sites, and the ways in which realities of collaboration, then, were transformed into memories of appeasement and survival.

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Mormon Studies Weekly Roundup

By April 12, 2015


This week, I have for your perusal:

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Understanding RLDS History: A Resource List

By February 16, 2015


In January, JI got an email asking for a post highlighting the “essential” books to understanding the history of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints/Community of Christ. We reached out to David Howlett, author of The Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space (University of Illinois Press, 2014), and visiting assistant professor at Skidmore College. David’s book is well worth your time, and I urge you all to read it. He graciously provided us with a list of five essential books for any readers interested in RLDS/Community of Christ history.

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