Mormon News, January 11–15, 2016

In the News

Apostle Russell Nelson gave a talk last week that declared the new LDS policy labeling gay couples as apostates and barring their children from membership temple-doorwas “the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord.” Nelson recounted that after President Thomas S. Monson revealed God’s will to the Quorum of Twelve, it was their “privilege…to sustain” the policy. But in private talks and in social media posts, knowledgeable Mormons tell a different story. They identify Nelson as a driving force behind the policy—one not all members of the Quorum of Twelve may not have liked or agreed with.

The University of Utah announced the Marlin K. Jensen Scholar and Artist in Residence Program this week. The program will host “scholars with expertise in Mormon Studies or renowned artists who explore the relationship between faith and art in their work.” The fellowship is a semester-long program that allows the recipient to teach, give lectures, do artistic work, and act as a mentor.

On the Blogs

Russell Nelson’s claim that changes defining apostasy and limiting baptism was the will of God has sparked a new flurry of blog posts re-evaluating, analyzing, and in some cases lamenting, the policy. Cynthia Bailey Lee wrote about being part of the Army of Helaman and the paradoxical goodwill she has felt from fellow Mormons during this “excruciating time to be a member of the church.” She signaled the conflict would not ebb soon and concluded the church cannot believe “that eventually those like me will yield on something we know so deeply in our core is not of God.”

Kalani, in a post at Feminist Mormon Housewives, identified the tension over the policy as the Mormon Milgram Experiment, referencing the famous study where participants delivered electric shocks to others when pressured by authority figures. She took issue with calling this an Abrahamic test and said “we know we are causing pain, and yet we double down and dig in and say, ‘I will be obedient at the expense of your pain and distress.’”

In Books

Historian John Turner asked “How to Market a Book” this week, in preparation for his forthcoming work, The Mormon Jesus: A Biography. Turner’s last book, a biography of Brigham Young, was well-received in the Mormon history community and his latest is anxiously awaited. He also goes through the challenges of marketing academic titles, including a story about once speaking at an early morning gathering with four audience members.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            —News update by John Hatch