Mormon News, September 29–October 3

In the News

Lisa Ling, a correspondent with CNN, reported on prescription drug overdoses and addiction in Utah, including a focus on Mormonism. Ling, using access granted by the LDS Church, attended a twelve-step meeting and interviewed MormonsMormons struggling with addiction. Over the past decade, Utah has rated as one of the highest states for prescription drug addiction per capita. The reasons for Utah’s addiction troubles defy easy answers, but the role of the LDS Church inevitably surfaces around the issue. Ling asks if Mormonism, with its high standards and strict moral codes, imposes pressures that might lead to the need for a release. One woman also said that the Mormon prohibition on alcohol might naturally lead members to pills. “There’s that pressure to be perfect, and since we don’t drink, there’s always the pills, which we don’t talk about,” Kathy, a participant in the report, said.

U.S.-based Latter-day Saints often like to think of themselves as partners with other Christian faiths in a fight against a rising tide of secularism and even religious bigotry. But in Rome, Italy, as a new LDS temple rises alongside other church-owned buildings, some Catholic leaders are expressing concern. Cardinal Elio Sgreccia is concerned that the wealth of the LDS Church might give the wrong impression to Catholics. “It is not a sin to have economic resources, but for an ecumenism, this new Mormon center, the largest in Europe, will certainly be a problem… their presence in Rome is not necessarily an uplifting factor. We shall wait and see.” Monsignor Enrico Feroci was even more blunt. “I have a lot of respect for Mormons in Rome, but they certainly do not share the Gospel with us because their concepts and the way they operate in society differ so greatly to Catholics.”

On the Blogs

Ardis Parshall, writing on her Keepapitchinin blog, lays down two of her “rules” for judging well written history. The first is the interconnectedness of life, with historical figures appearing beyond just the obvious links central to the thesis of a book or article. Ardis writes, “Arguments that are too neatly constructed, without the interconnectedness of real life, are not persuasive to me.” Her second rule is that real life is naturally inclusive, and this inclusiveness should be reflected in the pages of historical writing. Women, minorities, and foreign Latter-day Saints were a natural part of the past, acting and interacting within the church in a variety of ways, and this organic past is a natural part of good historical writing. Or, as Ardis puts it so well, “Historians, don’t wait until your conclusions are drawn and your work is outlined before you look for ways to sprinkle in teh ladies or teh foreigners. Your intentions may be good, but you know what road is paved with good intentions. That artificial injection is painfully obvious and offputting.”

At By Common Consent, Sam Brunson writes that “Church leaders remind us, on a not-infrequent basis, that the family is under attack, and that we, as members, have a duty to defend marriage and family.” Brunson takes up this challenge and focuses on non-marital births, but posits that it is essential to understand the underlying causes of the spike in children born out of wedlock. He also writes that the 1950s, the era of the baby boom and Levittowns, is the exception, not the norm. Brunson pushes back on the claim that we are simply an immoral, or less moral society, than in the past, and instead writes that the problem is a socioeconomic one. In order to solve the problem that LDS leaders insist is one of the most pressing, we must “make it possible for men (and women) to get jobs that allow them to support a family,” Brunson writes.

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor