Week in Review for November 18–22
In the News
Richard Turley, the assistant LDS Church Historian, has been awarded the American Historical Association’s prestigious Feis Award. The annual award is given in recognition of contributions to public history. Carol Van West, the Feis Award committee chair, said that, “In an age concerned with transparency and the accountability of institutions, his actions stand as a beacon to others.” Turley has been instrumental in the opening of Mountain Meadows Massacre records and in publishing the Joseph Smith papers, among many other accomplishments. The award was announced in an internal church memo, and will be presented formally at the 2014 meeting of the American Historical Association.
National Geographic has reported that as much as one-third of Native American genes are linked to European and Middle Easterners who mingled with eastern Asians. Prior to this, it was believed that Native Americans descended exclusively from east Asians who traveled across the Bering Sea via a now-vanished land bridge. These new findings do not invalidate the land bridge theory, but instead suggest a diversity among the travelers that was not previously understood. The findings come from a Danish team of anthropologists studying the 24,000 year old remains of a Siberian youth. Native American DNA studies have become important to Latter-day Saints who have traditionally believed that Amerindians are the descendants of Book of Mormon peoples who sailed to America tens of thousands of years after the land bridge migrations.
On the Blogs
At Patheos, blogger Chris Henrichsen joins in the many remembrances of President John F. Kennedy by recalling his visit to Utah. Kennedy spoke in the Tabernacle as a guest of LDS President David O. McKay just two months before Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. Henrichsen notes that Mormons seem to have wanted Mitt Romney to be their Kennedy, following the same path to the White House, perhaps even with a speech echoing Kennedy’s famous Catholic address. Henrichsen suggests too much has changed, and any future Mormon President will have to tread a new path of their own making.
Sheri Dew has authored a new book titled Women and the Priesthood: What One Mormon Woman Believes. Dew takes the traditional road and suggests that anyone who sees controversy in the lack of women’s ordination is missing the point. She argues that by studying the doctrine of the priesthood, women will receive the answers they seek—implying that answers exist beyond church policy and that it is indeed God’s intention to withhold priesthood from women—and that righteous women can still be a force for good in the world. Online, Mormons who support women’s ordination to the priesthood see the book as not coincidentally timed, but a calculated response by church leaders to soothe feelings.
—News updates by John Hatch, acquisitions editor