Mormon News, November 3–December 4

In the News

Signature Books NewsLDS Church’s new policy forbidding ordinances for minor children raised in households with same-sex parents received more national attention this week when  a married Mormon couple, Paul and Rick Sautter-Walker, faced the reality that their seven-year-old son, Morgan, would not be eligible for baptism after his birthday next year. This, despite the fact that the Sautter-Walkers are raising their children in the faith and that Morgan had been looking forward to the ordinance. Paul, who returned to the church a decade ago after leaving the fold in his youth, now anticipates a bleak future in Mormonism for himself and his spouse, who are now defined as apostates by the church’s handbook; as such, they face mandatory discipline unless they resign their memberships voluntarily first. They have written letters of resignation but remain undecided about whether to formally submit them. Openly gay Mormon Mitch Mayne reminded his fellow church members and the public at large that families like the Sautter-Walkers “are not faceless, nameless statistics” but “are friends, family, [and] neighbors.”

Displaying Mormon stories on the big screen became popular in 2000 with the release of Richard Dutcher’s film, God’s Army. A plethora of movies geared toward Latter-day Saints have followed in the years since—some good, some not so good. An article by Mike Vego  at briefly highlights the history of Mormon movies and their impact, including documentaries (New York Doll) and even output by Disney (The Other Side of Heaven). The piece also discusses some obvious challenges. Although this genre has served a growing culture within the LDS Church, as expected, “these films are nearly unheard of (and unwatched) outside of the LDS community.

In a surprise announcement Friday, football fans around the country learned that BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall is leaving  the university to take a job as coach at the University of Virginia. Mendenhall is departing BYU after eleven seasons. He will receive a salary of $3.25 million per year in his new position. Mendenhall, Mountain West coach of the year in 2006, has led the Cougars to two championships and multiple bowl games.

David Pace, author of the new Signature Books title, Dream House on Golan Drive, was interviewed for the Huffington Post about some of the unique aspects of Mormon culture. Pace answered six thoughtful questions posed by Mormon writer Mette Ivie Harrison about the difficulties Mormons face when they doubt their faith or seek to find fulfillment elsewhere. “My experience with exiting Latter-day Saints is that they are left wandering and that it is often a tortuous wandering,” Pace said, and explained how his own relationship with the church has shifted in the two decades since he formally resigned, ten of which he spent as an Episcopalian.” Yet for reasons he could not explain, he was unwilling to let go of his Mormon identity. “That’s when it occurred to me that there was a third option between in or out: secular Mormonism or what I’ve called ethnic Mormonism.” Pace’s novel centers around a Mormon family in Provo, Utah, and to the realities of life outside of that bubble.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           —News update by Devery Anderson