Week in Review for November 25–29
In the News
LaJaen Purcell Carruth was featured on KUTV in Salt Lake City for her work in deciphering and transcribing an obscure form on 19th century shorthand, first developed by Isaac Pitman in 1837. Carruth’s work is important to Mormonism because LDS convert George Watt used the shorthand to record sermons of LDS leaders. Hundreds of discourses by men like Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and John Taylor are now being revealed for the first time. The work is time consuming and painstaking, and it will take Carruth years to finish her project at the LDS Church History Library.
World-renowned musician David Byrne of Talking Heads fame, recently blogged about Mormonism after visiting Salt Lake City for a show. Byrne is a Grammy and Oscar winner, and he’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His summary of LDS beliefs recalls European visitors who would travel through Salt Lake City during Brigham Young’s tenure as LDS president and then write books inevitably filled with errors, but also with a unique perspective on the singularly American faith. In addition to his overview of Mormon history and beliefs, Byrne recounts his strong desire to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant and his amazement at baptism for the dead.
On the Blogs
An LDS bishop who dressed up as a homeless man to teach his congregation a lesson was much remarked upon this week on blogs and Facebook, and the story was picked up by the Associated Press. David Musselman, of a Taylorsville, Utah ward, went all-out in disguising himself so his neighbors and ward members wouldn’t recognize him. Once on church property, a handful of people asked Musselman to leave, but most simply avoided him altogether. He was especially struck by the “lukewarmness” of most of his congregation, and he later approached the podium and revealed himself to audible gasps. It was a touching, humbling reminder, members of the congregation later said.
Amanda Hendrix-Komoto, a graduate student at the University of Michigan and blogger at Juvenile Instructor, argues for the use of queer theory in Mormon studies as a way to “mend” divides between Mormon history and other areas of historical study. She notes that Mormonism has a complex history with same-sex dynamics and cites the work of D. Michael Quinn and the research of Connell O’Donovan as examples. Amanda concludes that it would be a mistake for Mormon scholars to reject queer theory and scholarship simply because of the LDS church’s recent tension with the gay community.
—News updates by John Hatch, acquisitions editor