Mormon News, September 7–11

In the News

The LDS Church provided a rare glimpse this week at an internal memo meant to address rumors and urban legends shared by members. The memo was spurred by a spike in the number of Mormons who assemblybelieve end times are near and are stocking up on food storage and supplies. It cautioned Church Education System leaders against recommending or using Julie Rowe’s book, A Greater Tomorrow, an account of her near-death experience. Rowe, an active Mormon, believes calamitous events will begin within days and she appears to have gathered a following. Older “spurious materials” mentioned in the memo include quotes inaccurately attributed to Mormon leaders, false stories about Latter-day Saints in war, and missionaries called to China. Millenarianism is a common theme among many LDS urban legends that share anecdotes to suggest the Second Coming of Christ is near.

In Books

A new book, Conversations with Mormon Historians, is part of ongoing efforts by the LDS Church to reframe its history by acknowledging non-traditional events while maintaining the divine origins of that history. In recent years, the rise of professional Mormon history alongside the Internet has allowed rank-and-file members to discover details that challenge faithful narratives. Conversations with Mormon Historians highlights names well-known to Mormon scholars—Claudia and Richard Bushman, Tom Alexander, Dean Jessee, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and eleven others—and discusses their work in history as well as their Mormon faith. The end result is a portrait of historians who understand the details of the Mormon past while remaining firm in their membership and activity in the church.

In Memoriam

Signature Books was terribly saddened to learn of the passing of Scott H. Partridge last week. Scott, a graduate of Harvard, had previously published in BYU Studies and edited the diaries of Eliza Maria Partridge. He was 85 and currently working with Signature to complete the diaries of Amasa Lyman, his great-great grandfather, for publication. Scott was a joy to work with and an astute historian; readers will rely on his meticulous edition of the Lyman diaries for many years to come.

Although the events of 9/11 were fourteen years ago, our modern age, with its technical ability to  capture nearly every angle and every moment on camera, sometimes makes it feel like it was yesterday. This remembrance from David Filopov, a journalist who lost his father on September 11, 2001, gets to the heart of the paradox of that day: the need to look, and the need to look away.

News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor