Mormon News, February 15–19

In the News

Utah State Senator Steve Urquhart apologized this week and expressed frustration after the LDS Church issued a press release that he said effectively killed hate-crime brickpantslegislation. Urquhart, a Republican, sponsored the bill and said it would offer greater protection to a wide variety of minority groups in Utah. But after the church publicly opposed the bill, he issued a terse statement: “I apologize to the Jewish community and to the State of Utah that legal protections will not be provided against such threats, because of a press release issued by my church.” It is uncommon for a sitting legislator to publicly acknowledge the influence of the LDS Church over Utah’s government.

On the Blogs

Brian Whitney wrote at Worlds Without End this week on “passing through the fires of doubt.” He used Peggy Fletcher Stack’s article on “the era of doubt” as a jumping-off point to examine grassroots efforts at ecumenicalism within the LDS faith. At the heart of Whitney’s post is an often unspoken question about the fundamental nature of the LDS Church. Is it, as both its leaders and critics have posited, a binary proposition, all true or all false, all divine or all fraud? Or, as more LDS members ask, is there room for gray areas along a spectrum of possibilities?

Ardis Parshall created a text file this week that stripped the Book of Mormon of all characters except its punctuation. She posted the results to her Keepapitchinin blog and also included examples in foreign languages. The result is patterns and rhythms that, as Parshall writes, allows readers to “to delight in the nerdiness” of the process.

In Books

A new book by John Gary Maxwell, The Civil War Years in Utah: The Kingdom of God and the Territory That Did Not Fight, examines the push and pull between Brigham Young’s theocratic territory and the Union and Confederate causes during the war. Maxwell is the author of a highly regarded biography of Robert Baskin. His book on Utah and the Civil War debuts next week.

Harper Lee, the eighty-nine-year-old author of To Kill a Mockingbird, passed away Friday in Monroeville, Alabama. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, first published in 1960, is considered one of the most beloved American novels.

News update by John Hatch