Category Archives: Religion

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 2013.  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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Wednesday’s Book Review: “To Touch the Face of God: Religion and the American Space Program, 1957-1975″


To Touch the Face of God: Religion and the American Space Program, 1957-1975. By Kendrick Oliver. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012. There is something ethereal in the enterprise of spaceflight. Oliver Kendrick’s To Touch the Face of God: The … Continue reading

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Sacred Space, Chosen-ness, and Perspectives on the American Past


In his classic book, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion (1959), Mircea Eliade suggested that humanity has always sought to designate physical locations as either sacred—to be held reverent and exceptional, to be approached with respect and awe—or … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Jerusalem’s Traitor: Josephus, Masada, and the Fall of Judea”


Jerusalem’s Traitor: Josephus, Masada, and the Fall of Judea. By Desmond Seward. Philadelphia: DaCapo Press, 2009. This life and times biography of Josephus does several important things. First, it tells what there is to know about the life and career … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Science and Religion: A Historical Introduction”


Science & Religion: A Historical Introduction. Edited by Gary B. Ferngren. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. This is a fascinating edited collection of essays on several episodes of the confluence of science and religion in Western Civilization. Intended … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Culture Wars: The Struggle To Control The Family, Art, Education, Law, And Politics In America”


Culture Wars: The Struggle To Control The Family, Art, Education, Law, And Politics In America. By James Davison Hunter. New York: Basic Books, 1992. Since I mentioned this book in last week’s Wednesday book review, I thought it was appropriate … Continue reading

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