The Year in Review, January 3, 2015

In the news

For those who follow Mormon studies and Mormon culture, it may not be an exaggeration to say that 2014 will stand out as a deeply significant year for these reasons:

The LDS Church’s website , the Book of Abraham, and the Book of Mormon, showing engagement with scholarship.

Signature Books: News in ReviewThe momentum gained by the Ordain Women group and setback in the excommunication of founder Kate Kelly, who at the time of this writing was winning the voting at the Times and Seasons blog for Mormon of the Year.

Church growth in some areas and stagnation in others, according to research by Matt Martinich reported today in the Salt Lake Tribune. There was growth in Africa and the Philippines and official recognition for the church in Viet Nam but no growth in much of Central and South America, Japan, or South Korea and no headway in India.

Grounds made in the area of gay marriage, the church accepting a truce on that topic as far as non-Mormon civil marriage is  concerned but added rhetoric about rejecting gay marriage for members of the church and a renewed emphasis on traditional families.

More acceptance of diversity in the Meet the Mormons ad campaign, for instance, while simultaneously cracking down on beards for young men and exposed shoulders for women. At BYU Idaho there were even disparaging remarks about young men rolling up their pants too far—halfway (gasp) to their knees.

Professionalization of church history at the Church History Library and Neal A. Maxwell Institute at BYU. There is even now speculation about the behind-the-scenes impetus for this, the theory being that there is a faction of true believers in the church hierarchy who believe “the truth will out,” and that when it does it will sustain Mormon beliefs, at least those worth defending.