Taves’s Revelatory Events, pt. 2: Translation

By May 14, 2018


See part one here. 

Again, Taves uses very little cognitive science until she turns to the question of the translation. To do so she compares the Book of Mormon translation to Helen Schucman’s writing of A Course in Miracles. Schucman’s case is particularly useful because in a private interview she described the process. Schucman said she, “didn’t hear anything,” the process was “strickly mental,” but still “it wasn’t my voice” (247). Schucman said the process wasn’t automatic writing and that she could “stop and start the flow at will” (247-50).

Taves then looks at research on “highly hypnotizable individuals” (HHs) for insight into how this process might have worked for Schucman and Smith. Such individuals can easily go in and out of such a state and may even learn to control the process. In such a state HHs can tell very vivid narratives as though they are experiencing a complete different place (254). Taves gives the example of a student of researcher Ernest Hilgard for how vivid these experiences can be. At a party, the student had been hypnotized, during which he described a setting in Victorian England so vividly that he believed he was recounting a past life. Despite this belief, the student went to Hilgard for analysis of the events to get a further perspective. Under hypnosis, Hilgard had the student enter other settings, including the Old West, where the student gave equally vivid descriptions and felt like he was there (250-51).  

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The Eagle Scout in General Conference

By May 11, 2018


On Tuesday the Church Newsroom announced a “Plan for Worldwide Initiative for Children and Youth” that will change, among other things, Personal Progress and the Church’s relationship to Scouting. Yesterday I wrote about mentions of the Personal Progress program in General Conference. Today I look at mentions of the Eagle Scout award.

[Edit: Due to a very embarrassing error on my part, I only searched from 1940 to the present. There were two mentions of Eagle Scouts before 1950: In 1924 then-President Heber J Grant quoted approvingly a letter published in the Improvement Era that enthused at some length about Mormon scouting and included the line “There are more boys of advanced rank and a greater percentage of Eagle scouts than in any other section of America” (1924 April, p 155). In 1923 Apostle Richard R Lyman said, in a talk on training young people, “You cannot know what real scouting is until you have at least one Eagle Scout in your troop” (1923 April, p 157).]

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The Personal Progress Program in General Conference

By May 10, 2018


 

On Tuesday the Church Newsroom announced a “Plan for Worldwide Initiative for Children and Youth”. On the associated FAQ page it says that, among others, the “Personal Progress” program “may be affected by this change” beginning in 2020. In a preliminary effort to better understand the context for these potential changes, I looked at what has been said about Personal Progress in General Conference (or, at least, has been published in the Conference Report editions of the Ensign).

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Scholarly Inquiry: Q & A with Seth Perry

By May 9, 2018


We are pleased to present a Scholarly Inquiry Q&A with Seth Perry, Assistant Professor of Religion in the Americas at Princeton University and a past guest contributor to the JI. Professor Perry earned his PhD from the University of Chicago (whoop whoop!) in 2013, and he maintains an active research interest in Mormonism, which he discusses both below and in his article “An Outsider Looks In at Mormonism,” in The Chronicle of Higher Education 52, iss. 22 (3 February 2006) [subscription required for full access]. He is also the author of “The Many Bibles of Joseph Smith: Textual, Prophetic, and Scholarly Authority in Early-National Bible Culture,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 84, no. 3 (September 2016): 750-75. See my overview of that article here. Perry’s first book, imminently forthcoming from Princeton University Press, is Bible Culture and Authority in the Early United States

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Mormonism in the Travel Ban Supreme Court Case

By May 7, 2018


Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments surrounding President Trump’s travel ban. The arguments centered around whether the president had authority to issue such a ban, whether the ban targeted Muslims, and how long the ban would last. Public responses have fallen largely into two camps: that the ban is a continuation of presidential campaign prejudice against Muslims, or that the ban protects national security based on confidential information.

A telling article in the Salt Lake Tribune last week gave some historical context for the Supreme Court situation. During World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which authorized the removal of Japanese-Americans to internment camps because of a potential threat to national security. Fred Korematsu refused to be removed, was arrested, and argued that the order was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that the executive order was constitutional and that national security took precedence over protection against racial prejudice. This court case was not the only source of presidential authority over national security in relation to race and migration, but it was a symbolically important one.

“Forty years later,” Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke writes, “an attorney named Dale Minami persuaded a court to vacate the conviction [against Korematsu] based on new evidence that the government had lied about the ground for the interment order.” In 1983, Korematsu won an appeal against the original Supreme Court decision, and in 1988 the federal government issued $20,000 in reparations to each surviving interned Japanese-American.

So, what does this court case mean for today’s travel ban? And why are you reading it on a Mormon History blog?

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Job Post: LDS Church History Department Records Manager

By May 4, 2018


The LDS Church History Department has opened a full-time position as a Records Manager in the Library, Research, and Preservation Division.

The job entails working with LDS Church departments and offices to collect and preserve institutional records, and involves maintaining a records management policy, training department records managers, and managing and tracking records.

The application requires either an MA with 5 years of experience or a BA with 7 years of experience in history, library science, archival studies, business, public or non-profit admin, or related fields. All applicants must be members of the LDS Church and temple worthy.

https://careers.lds.org/search/public/jobdetail.aspx?jobid=207497


The Western History Association Graduate Student Prize: Applications due June 1

By May 3, 2018


The Western History Association is pleased to accept applications for the WHA Graduate Student Prize. Inaugurated in 2014, the prize is designed to foster graduate student professional development and to enhance collegial citizenship within the organization. Up to ten students may receive the award. Each recipient will receive: a one-year WHA Membership, complimentary conference registration and tickets to the Welcoming Reception and Graduate Student Reception, and three nights of lodging in the conference hotel.

Prize ResponsibilitiesPrize winners must attend the WHA conference in the award year. The WHA Graduate Student Prize may be held concurrently with other WHA graduate student awards. WHA Graduate Student Prize winners are expected to be active in the organization through service on WHA committees and/or through participation in annual conference events and attendance at conference sessions. In addition, WHA Graduate Student Prize winners will act as co-hosts of the Graduate Student Reception each year.

More importantly, each WHA Graduate Student Prize winner must submit a two-page post-conference report to the WHA no later than December 31 of the award year. Details on report requirements will be included with the award letter.

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JMH Spotlight: Brian Q. Cannon’s Presidential Address

By May 2, 2018


Brian Q. Cannon, ??To Buy Up the Lamanite Children as Fast as They Could?: Indentured Servitude and Its Legacy in Mormon Society,? Journal of Mormon History 44, no. 2 (Apr. 2018):1-35.

The most recent issue of the Journal of Mormon History has arrived in mailboxes and it is a very strong number. We?ll be highlighting many of the articles over the next few weeks, starting with the Presidential Address of outgoing president, Brian Q. Cannon. His piece, ??To Buy Up the Lamanite Children as Fast as They Could?: Indentured Servitude and Its Legacy in Mormon Society,? examines the white Mormon entanglement with the 19th-century Indian slave trade, a system that emerged in the violence of Spanish colonization of the Great Basin. As Native nations such as the Utes acquired horses, they began raiding non-equestrian tribes and capturing women and children, who were then sold as slaves in New Mexico and California. After the Mormons? arrival in the Great Basin, they found themselves drawn unwillingly into the trade, leading to the purchase of captive children, and in 1852 the Utah Territorial Legislature legalized the trade as an indenture system of unfree labor, albeit one with extensive requirements for the education and good treatment of the indentures.[1]

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Call for Papers Reminder: Book of Mormon Studies Conference

By May 1, 2018


Last year’s Book of Mormon Studies Conference was one of my favorites. The deadline for papers and proposals is quickly approaching. Come and join us in Logan for two days of engaging work on the Book of Mormon. See http://bomstudies.com/ for more details.


Race, Gender, and Material Religion in Salt Lake City’s Utah Jazz Shrine

By May 1, 2018


In the past few weeks, a shrine to the NBA?s Utah Jazz has appeared next to Ken Sanders Books in Salt Lake City. The shrine features a confluence of religious figurines (none Mormon as of this writing), flowers, photos, Jazz memorabilia, and candles. J Stuart and Cristina Rosetti thought it would be an ideal opportunity to discuss lived religion and material religion within Mormonism. The authors acknowledge that the shrine isn?t uniquely Mormon, but we feel that there are some aspects of Mormonism that shine through when examined closely.

JS: I have jokingly referred to praying to the ?basketball gods? for favor in NBA games and playoff series. I loved seeing that someone had actually created a shrine, seemingly to the basketball gods, on behalf of the Utah Jazz. After my immediate basketball nerdery ebbed, my religious studies nerdery surfaced and I thought about how peculiar it was for there to be a shrine to anything in a place as Mormon-heavy as Salt Lake City. Of course there are fewer Mormons in Salt Lake County than throughout Utah, but it still struck me as particularly Mormon. Mormonism is both a lived and a material religion that believes in the ?presence? of supernatural beings directing events and people on the earth. Robert Orsi calls these forces ?the gods,? as he explains in History and Presence, ?Presence is real, but not necessarily good, not necessarily bad, and it is rarely either good or bad, as these words are understood in ordinary social discourse.? Presence is simply taken as for granted for many Mormons. Mormonism began with the apparition of heavenly beings and individual Mormons have continued to report their ?presence? to the present day. This shrine is another way for Mormons to acknowledge ?presence? in a way that doesn?t contradict what many of their leaders saying about the uselessness of praying for sports teams. What do you think, Cristina?

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