Mormon News, January 18–22

In the News

In a meeting with members of the Navajo Nation, apostle Neil Anderson called the American Indians the “children of Lehi,” a reference to uteMormon beliefs that Natives are Lamanites, the remnants of the Book of Mormon. While Anderson’s statement is perhaps not surprising, it comes at a time of an identity crisis for some Latter-day Saints who grew up being told they were Lamanites and descendants of Lehi. In recent years, the church has downplayed past beliefs that Native and Latin Americans are Lamanites, even changing the introduction to the Book of Mormon. Archaeology and DNA studies have prompted a rethinking among church members that has shifted Book of Mormon events from a hemispheric stage to a small, unidentified locale in Mesoamerica.

Joyce McKinney, famous for her 1977 kidnapping and assault of a Mormon missionary, has filed suit against Errol Morris, the documentary filmmaker behind the movie Tabloid. McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming, claimed Morris tricked her into participating in the film. Morris is well known for getting controversial subjects to appear onscreen, including Robert McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld. Tabloid is currently streaming on Netflix.

LDS members can now go online to see their own patriarchal blessings or to request a copy of their ancestors’ blessings. The development is part of a shift towards online and digital access for church members to see records. The church continues to embrace online tools even as the Internet has significantly impacted how Mormons understand their faith and its history.

On YouTube

A YouTube channel, “Hard-to-Find Mormon Videos,” posts LDS videos and filmstrips from the 1950s to the present. A popular slideshow was this 1980 film about the evils of coffee and rushing to judgment. Other movies include animated filmstrips and training videos by church leaders, as well as better-known films like Legacy, the fictional depiction of Mormons crossing the plains.

In Books

Martha Bradley’s book, Pedestals and Podiums, was recently featured on the Rational Faiths podcast as one of the “Top Ten Books in Mormon History.” Host Brian Dillman and historian Ben Park discussed it as the last installment examining the ten books they decided were the most important or significant on Mormon history.

Signature Books continues to publish its current books and several of its back-list titles on Kindle. In 2015, we released the following:

In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith by Todd M. Compton
Mormonism Unvailed edited by Dan Vogel
Fresh Courage Take: New Directions by Mormon Women edited by Jamie Zvirzdin
Dream House on Golan Drive by David G. Pace
Some Love poetry by Alex Caldiero

In 2016, we’ll release Kindle editions of our forthcoming books:

Island Adventures: The Hawaiian Mission of Francis A. Hammond, 1851-1865 by John J. Hammond
Thirteenth Apostle: The Diaries, Correspondence, and Sermons of Amasa M. Lyman edited by Scott H. Partridge
Confessions of a Mormon Historian: The Diaries of Leonard J. Arrington edited by Gary James Bergera
The Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth and Power by D. Michael Quinn
Salt Lake School of the Prophets, 1867-1883 edited by Devery S. Anderson
Natural Born Seer: Joseph Smith, American Prophet, 1805-1830 by Richard S. Van Wagoner
Glorious in Persecution: Joseph Smith, American Prophet, 1839-1844 by Martha Bradley-Evans

In addition, we have scheduled these backlist titles:

Early Mormonism and the Magic World View by D. Michael Quinn
The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger
Discourses of Brigham Young, vols. 3–5 edited by Richard S. Van Wagoner (vols. 1–2 available here and here)
Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power by D. Michael Quinn
Mormon Polygamy: A History by Richard S. Van Wagoner

News update by John Hatch