Mormon News, November 3–7

In the News

Peggy Fletcher Stack profiled Patty Willis and Mary Lou Prince in the Salt Lake Tribune, two BYU graduates who met at an LDS congregation in Paris, France, in 1978 and fell in love. Both struggled with the relationship because the church looked askance temple-doorat lesbian relationships. To make a long story short, the two are now legally married. Patty—named after Patty Sessions, the well-known pioneer midwife—is the pastor of the South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Salt Lake City. Her wife “Lou” is the music director. The article posed the question about whether, if two such women met in Paris today, they might stay in the LDS Church, given it’s more neutral stance toward LGBT members. (Lou is the sister of Signature Books author Gregory A. Prince.)

A Mormon bishop was criticized after making some intemperate political comments on a blog post after the U.S. elections Tuesday. He offered the opinion that Harry Reid, majority leader of the U.S. Senate for another two months, cannot be a good Mormon and a Democrat. Bishop Mark Paredes of Los Angeles cited the Democratic Party’s stance on abortion, gambling, and same-sex marriage as being in conflict with church teachings. Paredes subsequently apologized. The church released a statement that although members are “entitled to express their own political opinions,” they should not exploit their church position to do so. “Publishing such views while using a title of a church officer, even if only as a leader of a local congregation as in this case, is entirely inappropriate,” the statement read. Paredes has formerly been a member of the U.S. diplomatic corp in Israel and Mexico.

Last week the New York Times gave a positive profile of an increasingly popular BYU TV series, Granite Flats. Since the show is set in the 1960s, the producers can authentically eschew profanity and adult themes. However, as the Times clarified, the show is “not ‘Ozzie and Harriet.’ The characters include a father struggling with alcoholism and petty crime, a war veteran hospitalized for what would now be called post-traumatic stress disorder,” and other serious issues. The plot involves people in a small Colorado town who have just encountered possible evidence of aliens from outer space. Granite Flats has managed to attract some recognizable Hollywood faces, including a few actors we saw in Back to the Future and The Princess Bride.

In Books

Avi Steinberg, a “lapsed Orthodox Jew,” according to a San Francisco Chronicle profile, decided to retrace the steps of Book of Mormon characters and events for his new book, The Lost Book of Mormon. He begins in Jerusalem, but soon discovers it is almost impossible to find a copy of the Book of Mormon there due to the church’s agreement not to proselytize in exchange for a building permit near the Mount of Olives where the BYU Jerusalem Center was constructed. From Israel, Steinberg follows the path of Lehi and his children on a proposed ocean voyage to such places as Mesoamerica and upstate New York. In New York he wrangles a part in the Hill Cumorah Pageant, which makes sense considering his ethnicity. Published by Doubleday, the book is garnering largely positive reviews, including one from Signature Books author and professional arts critic Ellen Fagg Weist in the Salt Lake Tribune.

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor