Mormon News, May 19–23

In the News

Mormon Apostle Dallin H. Oaks is especially well known for his frequent talks on marriage equality and the threat to religious liberty same-gender marriage globalposes. From Oaks’s perspective, it is religious believers, not those who are currently denied the right to marry someone of the same gender, who are persecuted and whose freedom is at stake. While Oaks’s views are undoubtedly popular in Utah and when he speaks at General Conference, his oft-repeated message was received with decidedly less enthusiasm in a New Zealand conference, where marriage equality is already the law of the land. According to Gina Colvin, reporting on her blog hosted by Patheos, many members were put off by Oaks’s talk and wondered why he could not be more like their stake president, whose speech invoked love and compassion. One member complained that he had brought his less-active family to see Elder Oaks and was concerned after hearing his talk they would never return again. Other members spoke of their gay family members and their disappointment with Oaks’s speech.

On the Blogs

Karen H., blogging at By Common Consent, argues that the line in the sand currently drawn by LDS Church Public Affairs vis-à-vis the Ordain Women movement, has caused pain and questioning in many LDS women, including those who might not otherwise align themselves directly with the Ordain Women movement. Karen goes on to ask whether boundary maintenance is really the overriding goal, and one that should trump leaving the ninety-nine to save the one. She writes, “The spokespeople of the church are selling a dubious product—submission and feminine agreement—that is not palatable to an increasingly large number of concerned and thoughtful women whose public lives and responsibilities are ever-increasingly at odds with their expected demeanor at church.  Dressing it up through proxy self-congratulatory language extolling the ‘treasure’ of ‘bold women’ who dare to publicly agree with the status quo and current authority is unconvincing.”

In Books

A new novel, The Lincoln Myth by Steve Berry, weaves Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and modern Mormonism together in a mystery with Berry’s recurring character, Cotton Malone. Berry says that “There’s actually a strong connection between the Mormon church and Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was probably the first president to read the Book of Momon. We know that because he checked it out of the Library of Congress in July of 1862.” Without giving too much away, let’s just say Brigham Young may have saved the Union. The Associated Press called it Berry’s “best novel in years.”

For book lovers and collectors alike, the Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan currently has a display of “Modern Masterpieces,” and many of them feature stunning dust jackets. Edward Rothstein, reporting for the New York Times, writes that “this could be thought of as the jackets’ golden age.” The pristine jackets on The Maltese Falcon and The Grapes of Wrath are especially stunning.

—News update by John Hatch, acquisitions editor