Category Archives: Religion

The Esoteric Mormon Doctrine of Baptism for the Dead


Many have all wondered about it in Washington, D.C., at one time or another while driving around the Beltway and see the Mormon Temple rising before us like the Emerald City out of Oz. What do the Mormons do in there? … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “The Prophet Puzzle: Interpretative Essays on Joseph Smith”


The Prophet Puzzle: Interpretative Essays on Joseph Smith. Edited by Bryan Waterman. (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1999. Vii + 351 pp. Editor’s introduction, notes. $18.95.) Many people have suggested that I write more on Joseph Smith (1805-1844), the … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844″


The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844. By John L. Brooke. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994). 421 pages, $35.00, hardcover. Now twenty years old, this work is still a stunningly significant book. It is a classic in Mormon … Continue reading

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Is There a New Mormon History?


Is there a “New Mormon History?” D. Michael Quinn, one of the foremost practitioners of the type of work distinguished as the “New Mormon History,” certainly thinks so. He assembled more than two decades ago The New Mormon History: Revisionist Essays … Continue reading

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The Assassination of Joseph Smith Jr.: Meanings and Interpretations


I was at a local party the other night and ended up in conversation with a professor who teaches early nineteenth century history about Joseph Smith Jr. and early Mormonism. Our conversation turned to Smith’s assassination at Carthage, Illinois, on … Continue reading

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Proposed Historical Paper: “The Battle over Cosmology in Recent America: Intelligent Designers, Science Communicators, and the Home Schooling Movement”


I will be participating in an historical workshop at the University of Manchester on the intersection of “Science, Religion, and Entertainment Media” in June 2014.  I am proposing the following paper. Comments are welcome. “The Battle over Cosmology in Recent America: … Continue reading

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The Conspiracy Motif in Early Mormonism


A persistent theme in American history is the belief in conspiracy, whether it is justified or not. Conspiracy ideas shape our modern society, casting doubt on many areas of public and private life. From the denial of the Moon landings … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Mapping Mormonism: An Atlas of Latter-day Saint History”


Mapping Mormonism: An Atlas of Latter-day Saint History. Brandon S. Plewe, Editor-in-Chief. Associate Editors: S. Kent Brown, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard H. Jackson. Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 2012. Foreword by Richard Lyman Bushman. Introduction, glossary, notes, color illustrations, bibliography, … Continue reading

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Nauvoo Mormonism and the Question of Class


Early Mormons in the 1840s founded the Mississippi River town of Nauvoo, Illinois, as a stronghold of their religion. Many historians have analyzed the Nauvoo sojourn of the Mormons, and there is a long list of very good books and articles … Continue reading

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Replacement Theology and the Early Mormons as a Chosen People


Perhaps the single most important tenet of Joseph Smith’s emerging Mormon ideology in the 1830s and 1840s was the identification of his church as “latter-day Israel.” This identification drove much of the rest of his scripture and doctrine, from his … Continue reading

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