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BYU Studies

BYU Studies

By BYU Studies
BYU Studies publishes scholarship that is informed by the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Submissions are invited from all scholars who seek truth "by study and also by faith" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118), discern the harmony between revelation and research, value both academic and spiritual inquiry, and recognize that knowledge without charity is nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2). For more information, visit our website at
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The Jerusalem Center at Thirty
Volume 59:4 (2020) - I first “met” James E. Faust in June 1989, when, a month after the Jerusalem Center was dedicated, he called my home. BYU president Jeffrey R. Holland had appointed me an associate academic vice president in late February, with a portfolio that included the university’s international and undergraduate programs, but this assignment was set aside when he was called to the Seventy in April and Rex Lee was named president of BYU. In June, Rex invited me to stay on in that same role with the portfolio President Holland had given me, which on the international side included administrative oversight of the university’s new Jerusalem Center. Elder Faust introduced himself, asked me a bit about myself, and then asked when I planned to go to Jerusalem. “Probably at Christmas,” I responded. He replied, “Well, if I had administrative oversight for a First Presidency project, I think I would want to see it as soon as I could.” I can take a hint: I was on a plane for Jerusalem in early August 1989 for the first of more than ninety trips in the next thirty years. I returned to Provo, started teaching and learning about my administrative assignments. A couple of weeks after I returned from Jerusalem, I got another call from Elder Faust. He asked about my trip and, within a minute or so, it became very clear that I had been sent but had not returned and reported, and that this was a mistake. Having gently delivered that message, he invited me to join him in the office of Howard W. Hunter, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, later that week. So began wonderful relationships with, to a lesser degree, President Hunter and, to a much greater degree, Elder Faust that lasted until each passed away—relationships that have extended, in a sense, beyond their deaths with Elder Holland’s gentle reminders on occasion of their keen interest in the Center and his thoughtful counsel and concern for its success.
December 13, 2021
Book notice about The Annals of the Southern Mission: A Record of the History of the Settlement of Southern Utah
Volume 59:4 (2020) - Author James Godson Bleak (1829–1918) was a British convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and veteran of the Edward Martin handcart company. In the early 1860s, Bleak accepted President Brigham Young’s charge to be a clerk and historian for the Utah South Mission in St. George. The Annals of the Southern Mission is the result of decades of Bleak’s fulfillment of this commission.
December 08, 2021
Student Panel Discussion on the Jerusalem Center
Volume 59:4 (2020) - Students come to the Center with different ambitions. They come as young people to have fun. They come as travelers to find adventure, exploring the foreign and exotic places in the Holy Land. They come to learn about the ancient Near East and the history, culture, and religious beliefs of the Christians, Jews, and Muslims. They come as guests to encounter the gracious peoples who inhabit the Holy Land. They come as students to read and study the scriptures. Significantly, they come as pilgrims searching for experience and insight into the sacred, with hopes that their hearts can be changed. They come to walk in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Kings David and Solomon; the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Lehi; and the Apostles Peter and Paul. Most importantly, they come as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ to heed his admonition, as he told his ancient Apostles, “Come and see” (John 1:39). Our students come to see and hear and smell and touch and feel and experience the Spirit. They come to the land where he walked in order to learn to walk in his footsteps. Today, in the spirit of pilgrimage, we have gathered to share our stories, our stories of encountering the Holy Land through the Jerusalem Center. We are going to start this panel discussion by introducing ourselves. We have three students from the Jerusalem Center programs from 1990 through 2000 and three from programs after 2007.
December 06, 2021
Review of Understanding Covenants and Communities: Jews and Latter-day Saints in Dialogue
Volume 59:4 (2020) - Organized topically, this book’s sixteen essays provide a wealth of information about Jewish and Latter-day Saint perspectives, scripture, experience, worship, culture, and politics. However, at least for me, the true treasure of these essays is not so much informational as it is relational. In my experience, interfaith meetings frequently bear an uncanny resemblance to middle-school dances: occasions where two groups very much want to get to know each other but have absolutely no idea how to do so. Consequently, they hang back, occasionally venturing forth to make awkward, momentary contact, only to quickly retreat to the safety of their respective camps afterwards. With this book, Jewish and Latter-day Saint scholars from Loyola Marymount University; Brigham Young University; Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles; and the Academy for Jewish Religion California attempt to remedy this situation not only by offering their readers several “good practices and lessons learned about successful interfaith dialogues” (xiv) but also by demonstrating in essay form what such a dialogue looks like and what it can lead to.
December 01, 2021
Faculty Perspectives and Experiences at the BYU Jerusalem Center
Volume 59:4 (2020) - In 1985, my friend and I decided to backpack around the world. I said that if we were doing that, the first thing I wanted to do was get to the Holy Land. We were on a dime traveling, and we just had a Bible in one hand and a Let’s Go Europe in the other. That visit to the Holy Land started a fire within me, a love of that land. I was home about a year and a half when Elder James E. Faust spoke at our stake conference in Australia. He began by noting that “the Jerusalem Center is opening soon.” After conference, I asked Elder Faust, “Really, what do I need to do?” He told me to write to Robert Taylor. Two months later, I was at the Jerusalem Center as a student in the fall 1987 program. I later returned as a faculty member from August 2014 to August 2015.
November 29, 2021
Review of Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volumes 7-9
Volume 59:4 (2020) - Almost fifty years ago, my wife, Patricia, and I had the distinct privilege to work for incoming Church Historian Leonard J. Arrington in combing through the archives of the Church History Library in Salt Lake City for source materials long since shelved, considered lost, or otherwise off-limits. Along the way, we also enjoyed working with a team of other dedicated scholars brought in to work under Arrington’s kind and learned tutorship. Among them was a talented archivist/historian named Dean Jessee, who was an assiduous student of the document, particularly the papers of the prophet Joseph Smith Jr. Owning a passion for the original manuscript and for letting primary sources speak for themselves, Jessee was less the interpreter and more the preserver. The publication of the multivolume Joseph Smith Papers a half century on owes much to the quiet, painstaking, and transformative work of this good man. They are a legacy to his vision, drive, and effort through years of ups and downs too many and sometimes too painful to discuss here. They are also a tribute to the leadership of Elder Steven E. Snow, recent Church Historian and Recorder from 2012 to 2019, who did so much to see these latest volumes published.
November 24, 2021
“If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem” by Jeffrey R. Holland
Volume 59:4 (2020) - Thank you for allowing me to be with you today. In some ways, what I say today could be a precursor to the sermon someone might give at my funeral. Funeral or not, I am going to have these words written on my tombstone: “He did not fight at Hawn’s Mill, he was never incarcerated at Liberty Jail, he never pulled a handcart, but he did work on the BYU Jerusalem Center.” I have all the scar tissue, shared with a lot of other people, to prove that point. I am delighted to have the chance on this thirtieth anniversary to reminisce a little about that experience. A couple of tributes need to be paid right at the outset. Since they would not say it of themselves, honor and integrity demand that I say a word or two about some very devoted people who made the Jerusalem Center happen. Even as I single out a few, so much more should be said about so many more.
November 23, 2021
Connections between the Jerusalem Center and the Local Israeli Academy
Volume 59:4 (2020) - When we first occupied the Center, construction of some of its facilities was not completed. For example, the dining area, which would come to be called the Oasis, was not finished in time for the summer term of 1987, and my students and I had to walk across the street to the Commodore Hotel for our meals. During the first week my student group was lodging at the Center, I was approached by a man who owned the house just across the street from our lower gate and desired to meet some of his strange new neighbors. He invited me to his son’s wedding, to be held in their small patio court that weekend. It was a delightful event for me and several of our students, as we began the process of getting to know the people of our new surroundings. It was not all easy, however, and not always friendly. I also remember being approached by a belligerent man at a tourist site who recognized the students as the “Mormons” whose new Center he felt was a dangerous missionary presence in the Holy Land. He attempted to bait me and some of my students into a religious discussion, which we avoided. It would take quite some time for the fears that some people had about the Center to abate.
November 17, 2021
Review of Make Yourselves Gods: Mormons and the Unfinished Business of American Secularism
Volume 59:4 (2020) - Borrowing its title from Joseph Smith’s far-reaching Nauvoo theology, Make Yourselves Gods is somehow even more provocative than its title. The average Latter-day Saint reader will chafe under its vocabulary, struggle through its detailed contributions to the study of secularism, and be at odds with its use of queer critique. Furthermore, to the average reader’s disdain, this book will be chewed and discussed for a generation to come. It is not likely to be forgotten.
November 16, 2021
Review of The Pearl of Greatest Price: Mormonism’s Most Controversial Scripture
Volume 59:4 (2020) - The Pearl of Great Price is the least intentional of Latter-day Saint scriptures. When British mission president Franklin Richards pulled together a fifty-six-page assemblage of miscellaneous writings in 1851, he showed no signs of thinking that it prefigured an addition to the canon. He thought the items would be useful for instructing missionaries and members in gospel doctrine. The writings were widely distributed as a pamphlet but not considered scripture until canonization was proposed, almost casually, in 1880, in the same meeting where John Taylor was sustained as Church President. Unlike the Book of Mormon, which arrived as another Bible and was instantly treated as scripture, and the Book of Commandments, which was adopted as canonical immediately upon publication, the Pearl of Great Price crept in from the sidelines. Yet when it was proposed, it was adopted without opposition. Within twenty-nine years, it had become a treasured collection that the Saints loved and used.
November 10, 2021
The Jerusalem Center in the Community: From Suspicion and Distrust to Acceptance and Respect
Volume 59:4 (2020) - When I first arrived at the Jerusalem Center in 1994 and assumed responsibility for, among other areas, the Center’s security, I inherited from my predecessor a file with policies for how to deal with potential threats. Here are some of those policies: Procedure to evacuate the building in case of a bomb threat Procedure to deal with riots at the lower gate Procedure to deal with ultra-Orthodox demonstrations at the upper gate These were some of the challenges we had to deal with for years immediately after the opening of the Center. These rules indicated the uncertain status of the Church and Brigham Young University in Jerusalem for a long time after Mayor Teddy Kollek used his influence to obtain approval for a new home for BYU’s study abroad program.
November 09, 2021
Volume 59:4 (2020) - This poem by Daniel F. Teichert won first place in the 2019 Clinton F. Larson Poetry Contest, sponsored by BYU Studies.
November 04, 2021
The Lead-up to the Dedication of the Jerusalem Center
Volume 59:4 (2020) - I’ve been asked to focus on the construction period of the Jerusalem Center rather than the student program that, at this point in time, is the heart and soul of the Center. My wife, Frieda, and I lived for twenty years in Israel, where we also raised our family of five children. We were blessed to witness some marvelous miracles while living there, but none more marvelous than those that were intimately linked to the Center. I had the great opportunity to be personally involved with the story of the Center that follows here.
November 02, 2021
The Road to Dallas
Volume 59:4 (2020) - On November 21, 1993, the world dozed in watery light and I felt off-balance as the northern hemisphere listed away from the sun. Seasonal blues made watching PBS all day seem like a reasonable choice. Onscreen, a Ford Lincoln Continental zipped through Zapruder’s frame. Tomorrow would be the thirtieth anniversary. Old news footage aired to commemorate the assassination, and I watched as if America’s end of innocence were happening live along with my own. Seeing Jackie statuesque in bloodied nylons, I mourned like I’d discovered the thirty-fifth president was my long-lost grandfather. I was thirteen and had never heard of Camelot when I became a believer. A few years later, I went to college and roomed with Mak, a high-school friend who went by her initials. Greaves Hall sported a rusty fallout shelter sign—a relic from before Kennedy told Kruschev to point his Cuban missiles the other way. Now our basement could host movie nights and block the noise of a timer wailing upstairs like an air-raid siren as the oven incinerated Mak’s forgotten tater-tots.
October 28, 2021
Outside Perspectives
Volume 59:4 (2020) - I think most of us are familiar with a recent trend in storytelling to revisit and tell a traditional tale from the perspective of the antagonist. The live-action Disney movie Maleficent, for example, provides an empathetic backstory to the terrifyingly evil, but otherwise flat, character of Maleficent in the iconic animated version of Sleeping Beauty. The popular musical Wicked, by Stephen Schwartz, does the same with the character Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. Even children’s books have gotten in on the postmodern storytelling action. In The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Alexander T. Wolf tells his side of the story, in which he explains that a simple sneeze and the need to borrow a cup of sugar to make Grannie a birthday cake have been misunderstood and blown way out of proportion, leading to the erroneous conclusion that he is the bad guy. It is my aim here to do something similar: I hope to explore the story of the creation of the BYU Jerusalem Center from the perspective of those usually seen as the antagonists. But I also hope to bring out the voices of others, perhaps not antagonists so much as interested but confused onlookers and even firm supporters but, nonetheless, voices we don’t hear from nearly as often.
October 26, 2021
Peace Offering
This essay by Elena Jarvis Jube tied for first place in the 2020 Richard H. Cracroft Personal Essay Contest, sponsored by BYU Studies. The author was confronted with the possibility of the death of her fourteen-year-old son. The teenager suffered for days or weeks before being treated for a cyst in his skull. As she watched her son’s suffering, she cried for the suffering of all children, all mothers, and all humanity. Although her son lived, she still felt immense grief. She draws meaning from the words of Dostoevsky and finds in Jesus’ beatitude “Blessed are they that mourn” a reminder of the connection between grief and love, that all our sorrow for another person matters.
October 21, 2021
The Restored Church of Jesus Christ and the Holy Land
Volume 59:4 (2020) - It is a privilege to be with you as we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the dedication of the Jerusalem Center and the impact it has made on the lives of so many students, faculty, administrators, members of the Church from around the world, and those who currently reside in the Holy Land. A heartfelt welcome to all. The Jerusalem Center and the events leading to its completion and dedication in 1989 may best be summed up by a response given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland during an interview with a well-known Utah news anchor. When asked about the acquisition of property and construction of the Center, Elder Holland said, “It was nothing short of a miracle. It was a miracle!” Seeing that this conference revolves around Jerusalem, a land of miracles, Elder Holland’s statement seems apropos for much of my own presentation. My assignment is to share in brief the “beginnings” of the Church and its involvement in the sacred land where our Savior lived, died, and was resurrected. While the majority of this presentation will focus on Orson Hyde, the first portion of it is devoted to shedding light on Joseph Smith and his prophetically motivated influences on Hyde’s mission and the gathering of dispersed Israel.
October 19, 2021
BYU Jerusalem Center Timeline
Volume 59:4 (2020) - A timeline of important events beginning with the first mission call to the Holy Land in 1840 and ending in the year 2020.
October 14, 2021
Editor’s Introduction to BYU Studies Quarterly 59, number 4
Volume 59:4 (2020) - The Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies was dedicated on May 16, 1989. Located on Mount Scopus, the Center offers an amazing view of Jerusalem and puts the Center’s students in the heart of Jerusalem within easy walking distance of the Mount of Olives and the Old City. During the past thirty years, the Jerusalem Center has made a significant impact on Jerusalem as well as on all those who have studied and worked there. Known locally as “The Mormon University,” this beautiful building with its many arches provides an inspiring venue for studying history, culture, and scripture; for community outreach; and for promoting the concept that Israelis and Palestinians can work harmoniously together. The thirtieth anniversary of the Center’s dedication provided a good vantage point from which to assess and commemorate this wonderful building and the study-abroad and other programs it houses. As the anniversary neared, several individuals approached the Jerusalem Center Provo Office suggesting something be done to celebrate it. We express gratitude to them for their interest in the Center and particularly note the encouragement received from Grant Underwood, Amber Taylor, and Jeffrey R. Chadwick.
October 14, 2021
Our Lady of the Unicorn Blanket-Cape
Volume 59:3 (2020) - A poem by Tyler Chadwick.
October 13, 2021
Hope in a Time of Fracture: Turning the Tide
Volume 59:3 (2020) - In the spring of 2015, I encountered two worlds within twenty-four hours—worlds yoked by creed but divided by demographic and disposition. On a crisp Wednesday evening in May, I was invited to attend a cocktail reception at the New York Yacht Club for a celebration among Jews, Catholics, and Evangelicals honoring the legacy of a man named Dietrich von Hildebrand, a philosopher and anti-Nazi hero during World War II. The room was filled with intellectuals, politicos, bankers, and think-tankers, and they were largely male and all Caucasian. These were true believers, and yet they felt isolated in their faith amid a secular elite, beleaguered as well by a mainstream culture that seemed increasingly hostile to some fundamental principles. … Not twenty-four hours later I was sitting in the front row of Bethel Gospel Assembly Church in Harlem, waiting for graduates of Nyack College to walk down the aisle and receive their hoods. Nyack is a Christian university whose campus in Battery Park draws from the hundreds of storefront churches that line the boroughs beyond Manhattan. The pews were overflowing with immigrant families, Asians, Latins, and African Americans hailing from Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and beyond, with the bulk of the international students coming from the Majority World. I watched a seventy-nine-year-old grandmother ascend the stage and collect her diploma for the first time, followed by a Chinese woman in a wheelchair, followed by a single mother, followed by an ex-offender.
October 11, 2021
Review of An Apostolic Journey: Stephen L. Richards and the Expansion of Missionary Work in South America
Volume 59:3 (2020) - In their work An Apostolic Journey: Stephen L Richards and the Expansion of Missionary Work in South America, authors Richard E. Turley Jr. and Clinton D. Christensen have compiled a documentary history of the 1948 journey of Apostle Stephen L Richards and his wife, Irene Merrill Smith Richards, to South America. Turley is a former assistant Church historian and former managing director of the Department of Public Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Christensen has spent much of his career at the Church History Department collecting Latter-day Saint history from Latin America. An Apostolic Journey recounts how Richards inspected missionary work in Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil and offered suggestions to missionaries, to mission presidents, and later to General Authorities of the Church about the growth of missionary work in the postwar era. His journey marked the first visit of a General Authority to South America in over two decades.
October 06, 2021
A Treasure Trove of Research Resources about Historical Latter-day Saint Women
Volume 59:3 (2020) - Even considering the fine books and articles on the history of Latter-day Saint women that have been written in the last fifty years, there are still innumerable questions about early Utah women to be explored. For example, how did the votes of women in territorial Utah from 1870 on affect local and territorial elections? Who were the first female politicians in Utah, and what did they accomplish? In what ways were Latter-day Saint women involved in the national suffrage movement in the United States? How did Kanab, Utah, come to have an entire slate of female city officials, and what did they achieve during their service? In addition, there are questions specifically related to the Relief Society: What did the sisters achieve in their work of saving wheat, raising silkworms and spinning silk, and training midwives? Furthermore, beyond a purely academic or historical interest, individuals yearn to know more about the lives and experiences of their own foremothers, actual and spiritual. There are many resources that can provide insights into these and other questions about historical Latter-day Saint women. Some materials are focused on Mormon studies, but others are much broader. All the resources described in this article are open access, which means they can be searched for free anytime from anywhere. Some resources provide just references, while others include the full text of various documents. This article will be a journey through the world of libraries, archives, and publications of all types.
October 04, 2021
Learning to Touch
Volume 59:3 (2020) - A poem by Marilyn Bushman-Carlton
September 29, 2021
Making the Acquaintance of Eliza R. Snow: An Interview with Her Biographer, Jill Mulvay Derr
Volume 59:3 (2020) - This is half of an interview conducted by Cherry B. Silver on August 8, 2019, in the BYU Studies offices. The other half will be published in a later issue. Many thanks to Laurel Barlow for transcribing the recording. When, as a young woman living in the Boston area, Jill Mulvay Derr heard a lecture by Maureen Ursenbach Beecher about Eliza R. Snow, she immediately felt a great desire to become involved in researching historical Latter-day Saint women. She got her first job as a researcher in the Church History Department at Church headquarters, locating and compiling the poetry of Eliza R. Snow; four decades later she retired from the department as a senior research historian. In her long and prolific career, Derr has also pursued research, writing, and teaching at Brigham Young University in the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, where she eventually served as associate director and then director, and also as an associate professor of Church history. She was president of the Mormon History Association and helped organize the Mormon Women’s History Initiative Team. Derr has published a number of landmark books, including Women’s Voices: An Untold History of the Latter-day Saints (with Kenneth W. Godfrey and Audrey M. Godfrey); Women of Covenant: The Story of Relief Society (with Maureen Ursenbach Beecher and Janath Russell Cannon); Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry (with Karen Lynn Davidson); The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (with Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook, and Matthew J. Grow); and The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow (with Karen Lynn Davidson). Throughout her career, she has studied the life and contributions of Eliza R. Snow and is writing a scholarly biography on this important figure in Church history.
September 27, 2021
Psalter for the Eternal Mother
Volume 59:3 (2020) - A poem by Tyler Chadwick
September 22, 2021
Belva Lockwood: The “Nerviest Woman in the United States,” Who Became the Latter-day Saints’ Irrepressible Advocate and Friend
Volume 59:3 (2020) - In August 1889, a number of newspapers ran an article that began with this sentence: “Belva Lockwood has long been considered the nerviest woman in the United States.” At the time, Belva Lockwood had been a household name in the U.S. for many years. By 1889, she had also established herself as an outspoken advocate who unabashedly defended the legal rights of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A well-known Washington, D.C., lawyer and activist for various causes (such as women’s suffrage, gender and racial equality, Native American rights, temperance, and international peace) and the first woman ever admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court bar, Belva described herself as having a mind of “extreme practicality.” Belva’s biographer describes her as a woman who “exuded ego,” who “reveled in public notice, and offered herself as a model of female accomplishment and independence.” And Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg describes Belva as “principal among way pavers,” a person whose life and work reveals that “resilience, wit, and good humor . . . can turn put-downs and slights into opportunities.”
September 20, 2021
My Life in Art
Volume 59:3 (2020) - My father, Ted Bushman, was an artist. He worked his way through BYU in the 1920s painting signs and drawing cartoons. Before he graduated, he worked as a fashion artist in Los Angeles for a short time. After he married my mother, he made his living as a freelance artist for Salt Lake department stores, especially Auerbach’s. When work dried up during the Depression, he took a position at Meier & Frank in Portland, Oregon, as a fashion artist for the store’s multipage newspaper ads. Gradually, he migrated to the management side and eventually took a position with an ad agency in Portland where he handled the Pendleton Woolen Mills account. In 1950, our family moved back to Salt Lake City for Dad to work at ZCMI as head of their advertising and public relations department. His real life in art began after he retired from ZCMI. He almost immediately took lessons and began to paint. It was as if a dam had broken. He painted continually, first oils and acrylics and then watercolors. Wherever he went, he took pictures and then painted in his studio—a few still lifes, but mostly landscapes and seascapes. He was always working on two or three canvases. We have more than a dozen of his paintings on our walls, and my brother and sister even more. Our grandchildren have Ted Bushmans too, sharing in the extensive legacy of his art. As I write, I look up at a New England fishing vessel coming out of blue mist and above it a brown-toned watercolor sketch of a Western cabin against a clouded sky. He may not have finished the cabin—it has no signature on it, which he added only when a work was complete. But I like his unfinished work as well as the signed pieces.
September 15, 2021
The “New Woman” and the Woman’s Exponent: An Editorial Perspective
Volume 59:3 (2020) - Economically, politically, socially, and theologically, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were known for being insular and cohesive at a time when the United States was stretching its boundaries and developing unifying communication and transportation networks across the continent. The concept of Manifest Destiny was imbibed by the young republic, and rugged individualism became a symbol of the adventurous entrepreneurs who saw a bounteous future in the great American West, especially with the addition of Mexican territory in 1848 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. The Church was clearly out of sync with the path the nation followed, instead wrapping itself in the encircling “wagons” of distance and cohesion that promised security and sanctuary against the barbs and threats and abuse by those who drove them to the western frontier of the United States and then followed them there. But when polygamy was introduced in 1852 as another “peculiar Mormon practice,” the limits of religious, social, and political tolerance were reached. Polygamy was an affront to Victorian sensibilities, irrespective of its religious foundation, and every effort was exerted to stamp it out. Several congressional antipolygamy acts, a U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring polygamy unconstitutional, and nearly thirty years of effort were required, however, to force the Church to capitulate. In 1890, Church President Wilford Woodruff issued a “Manifesto” suspending the practice of plural marriage, and with it went a primary obstacle to statehood, which seven attempts and nearly half a century had failed to achieve. When statehood was granted in 1896, Utah in many respects joined the mainstream of American life. Against this well-known background of Utah history, the Woman’s Exponent emerged in 1872 to speak for Mormon women, who were often the target of antipolygamy diatribes. Several factors contributed to the birth of this semimonthly journal for LDS women. Prior to the June publication of the Woman’s Exponent’s first issue, the newly founded Salt Lake Herald (whose editor, Edward L. Sloan, had originated the idea of a woman’s paper) announced that “the women of Utah are today unquestionably more the subject of comment than those of any other portion of the country, or indeed of the world. As they have long exercised the right to think and act for themselves, so they claim the right to speak for themselves through the potent medium of the types.”
September 13, 2021
Volume 59:3 (2020) - People ask from time to time how Richard and I met. I have told the story in various ways for different occasions. It all began in 1952, some sixty-eight years ago at this writing. I call the man I eventually married Dick in this account. He later, about 1992, became Richard. After Dick Bushman had been at Harvard for two years, he was called on a Latter-day Saint mission to the New England states. At that time, the mission home was immediately adjacent to the Latter-day Saint ­chapel in Cambridge on Brattle Street, both located in old houses built by the Longfellow family. Dick was very active in that small church group and acquainted with the mission personnel who had offices next door. He knew the mission president, J. Howard Maughan, well. Sister Hattie Maughan always called him Dick, even as a missionary. Dick was serving his second year in the mission when I came from San Francisco to Boston to attend Wellesley College. He had begun college three years before me, and so after his two-year mission, he would be only a year ahead. I began to hear about him from young people at church as soon as I arrived. He was a fabled figure, spoken of with awe. The two most memorable stories were that in running for the student council as a freshman at Harvard, then an all-male university, he had knocked at the door of every classmate and asked for his support. Could I imagine such a driven person? The other story was that after election to the student council, he had been asked by another, older Mormon member to nominate him for the council’s presidency. This Dick refused to do, telling his friend that he preferred to support the other candidate. I thought that Dick must be a hard man, a frightening person, one to avoid. Our actual fateful meeting that year is a blur. A group of Latter-day Saint students gathered one Sunday evening in a Harvard room. Elder Bushman arrived, alone. Why, we can never remember or determine. He must have had a reason. He was not one to break rules. He turned up in this forbidden place, and we met. He says it was passionate love at first sight. I have suspected that he had heard about me, as I had heard about him, and that he knew that my father was a Latter-day Saint stake president and that I had a scholarship to Wellesley, suggesting that I was a more serious student of religion and academics than I actually was. The meeting was soon over. I don’t remember any conversation on that occasion. Later, I wrote, “During the first month of school back in 1952 I met a young elder named Richard Bushman. The group I was with had spoken more than highly of him and I was not disappointed. He was both thoughtful and articulate. However, his reddish hair grew down over one eye in the manner of a romantic poet and my impression was, ‘What a lovely boy; I wish he’d cut his hair.’”
September 09, 2021
A Harmony of Voices: Negotiating Latter-day Saint Unity on Women’s Suffrage
Volume 59:3 (2020) - On a snowy April morning in 1895, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gathered within the walls of the Salt Lake Temple and unanimously declared themselves committed to women’s suffrage.1 That same day, a large group of Relief Society women gathered nearby in the Salt Lake Assembly Hall and unanimously stood in favor of including women’s suffrage in Utah’s newly designed state constitution.2 In that defining moment, such unified support for the most pressing women’s rights issue of the day by both the governing body and the official women’s organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was noteworthy. Anomalous circumstances years earlier had stimulated broad support for women’s suffrage among both leaders and lay members of the notoriously patriarchal Church of Jesus Christ. Widespread cooperation between men and women—and the endorsement of the territory’s predominant church—made the suffrage experience of Utah women unique within the national suffrage movement. While this support inevitably varied among individuals in both intensity and motivation, the blending of those distinct voices during Utah’s fifty years of suffrage activism reveals an instructive alliance among Latter-day Saints.
September 06, 2021
Why Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History
Volume 59:3 (2020) - Although it is a bit disconcerting to admit it, I am most widely known today not for my books, but for a single sentence. You’ve probably seen it: Well-behaved women seldom make history. I don’t get royalties when somebody prints my words on mugs, T-shirts, bumper stickers, greeting cards, or any of the other paraphernalia sold in gift shops or on the internet, but I sometimes get thank-you notes or snapshots of fans carrying hand-lettered signs in marches. One of my favorite examples of the latter shows a bright pink poster in a crowd near Wellington Arch in London. On the right, a traffic light registers yellow for caution. Above the fray, the winged goddess of victory appears in silhouette, holding aloft a wreath of laurel. I don’t know why so many people find my words appealing. Perhaps it is the ambiguity of the term well-behaved. Without a fixed definition, it evokes whatever anxiety a woman might feel about behavioral codes that constrain her power to act. The slogan works because it simultaneously acknowledges and defends misbehavior as a necessary consequence of making history. Yes, well-behaved women can make history. But when they do, they often lose their reputation for being well-behaved. I am thinking of the words of Anne Bradstreet, colonial New England’s first published poet.
September 01, 2021
First to Vote: Utah’s Unique Place in the Suffrage Movement
Volume 59:3 (2020) - February 14, 1870, was election day in Salt Lake City. Citizens might have gathered with more than the usual excitement that day to cast their ballots because this was the first election in which Utah women citizens could vote. Seraph Young (later Ford), a twenty-three-year-old schoolteacher and grandniece of Brigham Young, was the first to exercise her new right and became the first woman in the United States to cast a ballot under a women’s equal suffrage law. It makes sense that Seraph would arrive early at the polls—she had a long workday ahead of her at the University of Deseret, where she taught in the primary school. So, like many voters today, she would have gone to City Hall before work to cast her ballot. However, unlike voters today, she would have had to navigate her way through stump speeches and the Tenth Ward Brass Band to do so. Seraph’s historic vote made local and national news, but then her life went on quietly. She never ran for public office or led an organization, but she made history by simply fulfilling her civic duty. Seraph’s role in history faded from public memory, but her vote paved the way for women’s voting rights to spread across the United States from west to east. The national women’s movement was already under way, but it would take fifty years after Seraph’s historic vote to pass a women’s suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
August 30, 2021
Emmeline Wells and the Suffrage Movement
Volume 59:3 (2020) - In 1909, Susa Young Gates listed Emmeline B. Wells, along with Elmina S. Taylor and Eliza R. Snow, as one of the three greatest women The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had produced. Biographer Carol Cornwall Madsen attests to the spread and durability of Emmeline’s influence, reminding us that “she was the most widely known Mormon woman of her time, in and outside” the Church and Utah. She was bright, observant, and articulate, with a keen memory. She was an outspoken representative of her people, meeting with presidents and national suffrage leaders, and she left a voluminous record of noteworthy events, Relief Society business, and her interactions with and impressions of prominent members of her community.
August 25, 2021
Working for a More Divine Model
Volume 59:3 (2020) - When Bethany’s daughter Simone was almost three, she and Bethany were reading a popular LDS children’s book of scripture stories. At the end of it, Simone turned to her mom and demanded, “Where are the girls? I want to read about the girls!” Not unfamiliar with this question herself, Bethany was still surprised. She picked up the book, flipped through, and found the authors had not chosen to tell the story of even a single woman. Children ask lots of questions, which means parents answer a gazillion questions a day. But Simone’s question, and Bethany’s search for answers, would spark a decade of pivotal books. For many people, this exchange would have been the end, but Bethany’s talent is not only to spot holes—she also dives in and fixes them. (It must have been a genetic trait for Simone to spot the hole too!) In this case, she called me—she knows I think stories matter.
August 23, 2021
In Memoriam, Armand L. Mauss (1928–2020)
Volume 59:3 (2020) - I was saddened but not surprised by the recent passing of Armand L. Mauss, an esteemed scholar, BYU Studies editorial board member, and a kind mentor to me. When I saw him last, he neither expected nor particularly wanted to live much longer. He had long since tempered his expectations for this life. His sights were set on the next one, especially after Ruth’s passing in 2018. There are few mentors and advisors I admire as much as Armand. To me he was a consummate combination of intellectual and spiritual, academic and advocate. Several fitting tributes have already been published. Much attention has been appropriately paid in them to his seminal books. I’m inclined, therefore, to draw a little attention to two of his lesser-known articles that have also profoundly shaped my thinking.
August 18, 2021
Editor's Introduction to BYU Studies Quarterly 59, number 3 by Katherine Kitterman
I study the history of women’s voting rights in Utah. For the past two years, I’ve been the historical director for Better Days 2020, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to popularize Utah women’s history. The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of Utah women’s first votes, the centennial of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, all important parts of the long struggle for equal suffrage in the United States. So this anniversary year is a golden opportunity to learn about women in history who fought for equality, spoke out on a national stage, and improved their local communities. Better Days 2020 has created several resources available to anyone who wants to explore the story of suffrage in Utah. Our team worked with local historians, community leaders, and educators to develop educational resources that highlight Utah women’s role in the national suffrage movement and feature Utah women who made a difference in other ways. We also commissioned Utah artist Brooke Smart to illustrate fifty Utah women’s advocates from history. She brought the stories of a diverse range of Utah leaders to life in vivid color, collaborating with subjects’ descendants to represent the women authentically. The illustrations are available at along with biographies, primary sources, articles, and other materials. Additionally, two books by our team members share stories of leading Utah women: Champions of Change: 25 Women Who Made History and Thinking Women: A Timeline of Suffrage in Utah.
August 17, 2021
Editor's Introduction to BYU Studies Quarterly 59, number 3 by Susan Elizabeth Howe
Volume 59:3 (2020) - It is with pride and gratitude that we present this issue of BYU Studies Quarterly—pride in recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution giving women the right to vote and the 150th anniversary of the granting of that right to the women of Utah, and gratitude to the excellent historians, other writers, and artists who have contributed to the issue.
August 17, 2021
Notice about Salt Lake School of the Prophets, 1867–1883
Volume 58:3 (2019) - Book notice about Salt Lake School of the Prophets, 1867-1883 by Devery S. Anderson
August 18, 2020
Notice about Alexander Campbell and Joseph Smith: Nineteenth-Century Restorationists
Volume 58:3 (2019) - Book notice about Alexander Campbell and Joseph Smith: Nineteenth-Century Restorationists by RoseAnn Benson
August 18, 2020
The Office of Church Recorder: A Conversation with Elder Steven E. Snow
Volume 58:3 (2019) - Elder Steven E. Snow served as the Church Historian and Recorder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from August 1, 2012, to July 31, 2019. During this time, he oversaw significant developments in the work of Church history, from record keeping to publishing to developing historic sites and exhibits. The conversation in this article, between Elder Snow and Keith A. Erekson, director of the Church History Library, opens with reflections on Elder Snow’s service and how he learned about the office of Church Recorder. A brief history of Church record keeping is given, followed by discussions on the modernization of record keeping during the twentieth century, the years spent without a Church Recorder, the work in the twenty-first century, and recent efforts that define the work of the Church Recorder today.
August 17, 2020
Naturalistic Explanations of the Origin of the Book of Mormon: A Longitudinal Study
Volume 58:3 (2019) - Joseph Smith and his followers declared the Book of Mormon’s supernatural origin—that it was a divinely inspired translation of an ancient-American record, acquired by Joseph through visions and the help of an angel. This explanation, however, was widely rejected by outsiders from the outset. Within weeks after the Book of Mormon’s first pages came off the press, critics promoted “naturalistic explanations”—so called because they are based on scientific observation or natural phenomena—that rejected the possibility of a divine, supernatural origin of the Book of Mormon. To varying degrees, these naturalistic theories continue to be perpetuated today. This article examines the most popular naturalistic explanations for the Book of Mormon longitudinally, which will enable readers to better understand them and why they have waxed and waned in popularity over time.
August 12, 2020
Sex and Death on the Western Emigrant Trail: The Biology of Three American Tragedies
Volume 58:3 (2019) - Who would be more likely to survive in a wilderness setting, beset by starvation and extreme cold? Women or men? Single individuals or families? Would age make a difference? In Sex and Death on the Western Emigrant Trail, Donald Grayson looks at who died and who lived in three mid-nineteenth-century emigrant groups. An emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Washington, Grayson began looking at patterns of death in the Donner Party, publishing his findings in 1990 and 1993. Curious if those same patterns of death were manifest in another emigrant group, Grayson began looking at the 1856 Willie handcart company. Grayson acknowledges my help with his research at the Church Historical Department in the mid-1990s, and he published his findings about mortality in the Willie handcart company in the Journal of Anthropological Research in 1996. In Sex and Death on the Western Emigrant Trail, Grayson re-examines his earlier analyses, adds new ones, and in some instances, reaches different conclusions than his earlier studies. He also looks at death in the Martin handcart company, an entirely new analysis for him. While his earlier publications were written in technical form, in this book, the statistical analyses are woven into the fabric of the story of the tragic disasters. This makes Sex and Death suitably readable for anyone curious about the differences in death and survivorship among groups entrapped in situations like those faced by the unfortunate members of the Donner Party and Willie and Martin handcart companies.
August 06, 2020
The Nauvoo Music and Concert Hall: A Prelude to the Exodus
Volume 58:3 (2019) - Although it is little known today, the Nauvoo Music and Concert Hall was an important part of Nauvoo’s cultural history. Joseph Smith designated a spot for it near the temple, the spiritual landmark of the city. The Saints completed the building after Joseph Smith’s death, with funds raised by the Nauvoo Music Association. Many musical concerts were given to packed crowds, and the building was used for meetings of the Apostles, the Seventies, and women’s groups. That the Saints living on the American frontier would care to build a large hall that was acoustically designed for music performance is evidence of the value they placed in cultural refinement. The Saints had to abandon Nauvoo, but the events in that hall affirmed the Saints’ love of music that continues today.
August 04, 2020
Voice from the Dust: A Shoshone Perspective on the Bear River Massacre
Volume 58:3 (2019) - Darren Parry is the chairman of the Northwest Band Tribal Council of the Shoshone Nation. On January 29, 1863, the U.S. Army attacked and killed 250 to 500 Shoshone people encamped at the Bear River, near present-day Preston, Idaho, in what was later named the Bear River Massacre. Parry tells how the Native American perspective of this history as he learned it from his ancestors has been ignored but deserves to be represented and respected. Part of the cause of the massacre was that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints settled in Shoshone land, consumed scarce resources, and complained to the army when the Shoshone took food. Despite that animosity, many surviving Shoshone joined the Church about ten years later and eventually chose to assimilate into a changing community. Parry shows how we can remember and honor the past but not let a tragic past prevent us from success in the future.
July 30, 2020
She Will Find What Is Lost: Brian Kershisnik’s Artistic Response to the Problem of Human Suffering
Volume 58:3 (2019) - When Cris and Janae Baird first saw the painting She Will Find What Is Lost, by Brian Kershisnik, Janae felt a deep connection to it because it portrayed what she had felt when she had a severe illness: that God loved her and that ministering angels were with her, extending above her and caring for her. This essay tells how she became ill and dealt with that illness, and how they met with the artist, purchased the painting, and loaned it for display at the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. They are delighted that so many people also feel the spiritually important and universally applicable message of the painting: that God loves us, and we are never truly alone. “I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken.” (Ezek. 34:16)
July 24, 2020
Burning the Couch: Some Stories of Grace
Volume 58:3 (2019) - Robbie Taggart tells of the couch he and some youthful friends found one day and decided to burn. When the fire got out of control, a fire truck showed up fortuitously, and a firefighter with a large extinguisher put out the flames. “So. What’s going on here?” he then asked. “I, uh,” the young Taggart stammered, “we were just being idiots.” The firefighter smiled broadly and said, “Well, sometimes being an idiot catches up to you.” He then walked away. Taggart and his friends, relieved that they were not going to be arrested, drove away at exactly the speed limit, laughing and astonished. This is his first example of grace, a concept he brings to life with two other stories, one about a friend who was rescued from drug-addicted and abusive parents by a caring second-grade teacher. This essay was awarded first place in the 2019 Richard H. Cracroft Personal Essay Contest.
July 21, 2020
The History of the Name of the Savior's Church: A Collaborative and Revelatory Process
Volume 58:3 (2019) - Despite all the historical resources now available to members of the Church, it may still come as a surprise to many that, since its founding in 1830, the Church has had three official names (not including the fine-tuning of punctuation that came with the final refinement). Initially, it was the “Church of Christ,” then “The Church of the Latter Day Saints,” and then—as with so many other aspects of the Restoration—a line-upon-line process led to the name “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” This article charts the refining process by presenting a timeline of the Church’s official and unofficial names and explores the nature of human and divine collaboration along the way.
July 06, 2020
First Argument
Volume 58:3 (2019) - This poem won second place in the 2018 Clinton F. Larson Poetry Contest sponsored by BYU Studies. This poem focuses on Adam and Eve and their big decision.
June 09, 2020
Review of Joseph Paul Vorst
Volume 58:2 (2019) - The discovery of a Latter-day Saint artist from a former era, who had almost been forgotten to the vicissitudes of history, is a noteworthy event in the annals of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph Paul Vorst’s prolific painting career spanned two continents and two world wars during his short lifetime. Vorst excelled in a variety of techniques and media, producing a significant body of work. Glen Nelson’s painstaking research has resulted in an eminently readable monograph compiled from multiple sources in Germany and the United States. It is the first book to explore Vorst’s life and art. Nelson’s monograph is a valuable addition to the cannon of Latter-day Saint art. The book is a fitting tribute to an artist who produced a wealth of paintings, drawings, watercolors, murals, etchings, and sculptures that prominently reflect the social realist movement of his day, but who was almost forgotten in the onward rush of modernism.
June 03, 2020
Book notice about Moramona: The Mormons in Hawai‘i, second edition
Volume 58:2 (2019) - Moramona is the quintessential history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints in Hawai‘i. The book journeys from the first missionaries arriving on the islands in 1850 and their initial struggles to maintain a foothold there to the eventual success of the Church on the islands. The book concludes with a summary of the current prosperity of the Church in Hawai‘i, including the successes of Brigham Young University– Hawai‘i, the Kona Hawai‘i Temple, and the rich culture of faith among today’s members. Moramona is recommendable to those interested in the Church and its history in the Hawaiian islands. The book accommodates casual reading with its easy-to-read language, elegant organization, and narrated personal histories, but also facilitates detailed study with its glossary, a Hawaiian pronunciation guide, and statistical reports.
May 26, 2020
Book notice about The Expanded Canon: Perspectives on Mormonism and Sacred Texts
Volume 58:2 (2019) - If you are looking for excellent scholarship and insights into Latter-day Saint scripture, you might want to start with this new compilation from Greg Kofford Books. The authors of the fourteen essays in this volume explore a wide range of topics related to the Latter-day Saint canon and offer a surprisingly consistent level of discourse. Usually, anthologies include a few weak links, but that is not the case with this volume.
May 19, 2020
Book notice about Utah and the American Civil War: The Written Record
Volume 58:2 (2019) - There are two schools of thought about Utah’s participation in the Civil War: it was de minimis, unworthy of comparison to the blood-soaked contributions of nearly all other American states and territories; or, it was larger than the size of its troop commitment to the Union Army and has a record more complex than is often understood. With this book, Utah and the American Civil War, Kenneth L. Alford is squarely in the latter camp, arguing that “the common belief that Utah Territory ‘sat out’ the Civil War is incorrect. Although the territory was removed from the war’s devastation and provided only one active-duty military unit . . . , the war deeply affected Utah and its inhabitants—from pioneers and Union soldiers stationed in Utah to the Native Americans they clashed with throughout the war” (15). What follows to support this assertion is a mammoth, 864-page collection of military documents, ancillary material, and analysis. Because of its clarity and orderliness, Alford’s study is unquestionably valuable to professional historians needing the details of what happened in Utah Territory during 1861–65, but the book also has merit for serious nonacademic readers. A wide range of students will find in these documents a useful, objective account of Utah’s role in the Civil War. Alford’s sense of balance is a good one to have alongside other recent narrative accounts by other historians who view Brigham Young’s leadership during both the Utah War and the national fratricide that soon followed in terms of conspiracy theories and unpatriotic motives.
May 12, 2020
The Day Joseph Smith Was Killed: A Carthage Woman’s Perspective
Volume 58:2 (2019) - Years after the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith on June 27, 1844, Amanda Benton Smith, a resident of Carthage, Illinois, and non–Latter-day Saint, recorded an account of the events of that day. Twenty-eight years old and a mother of six, Amanda was the wife of Carthage Grey captain Robert F. Smith—the militia officer responsible for protecting the Latter-day Saint prisoners in Carthage jail and defending the town. In her reminiscence, Amanda describes learning of the Smiths’ deaths and draws a vivid picture of the vacant city as local citizens fled to the countryside in anticipation of the Latter-day Saints’ retaliation, which never came. This account, reproduced in full in this article, presents an alternative viewpoint articulated with courage and even a little humor. If accurate, her sketch also suggests that the leader of the Carthage Greys may not have been complicit in the attack on the jail.
May 08, 2020
Brigham Young’s Newly Located February 1874 Revelation 
Volume 58:2 (2019) - This article presents the text of a recently located revelation from Brigham Young: “The word of the Lord that was revealed to his people, by his servant the Prophet seer and Revelator, President Brigham Young, February 1874” (spelling modernized). This revelation, commanding the Saints to live the united order, is all the more remarkable since Brigham Young dictated so few revelations in the voice of the Lord while he was a prophet, seer, and revelator of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Blythe examines the historical context of this revelation and explains why Young was often hesitant to place revelations in the language of the Lord and even more hesitant to place them in writing.
April 28, 2020
The Nauvoo Temple Bells
Volume 58:2 (2019) - The bell that hung briefly in the first Nauvoo Temple was removed when the Saints left and carried to Winter Quarters and then to Utah. During the harsh winter of 1849—1850, the bell cracked and could not be repaired; it was most likely destroyed in an attempt to recast it. The bell that was installed on Temple Square in 1939 and labeled as the “Nauvoo Bell” was not the temple bell but was instead a bell purchased by Michael Hummer that had hung in a church in Iowa City. Hummer’s bell has a fascinating history of it’s own. This article traces the history of both bells by looking at foundry records, steamship bells, journals, newspapers, and the Temple Square bell itself.
April 21, 2020
Review of Revelations and Translations, Volume 4: Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts, facsimile edition
Volume 58:2 (2019) - Volume four of the Revelations and Translations series presents for the first time a transcription and complete photographic reproduction of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ holdings of all the manuscripts, grammars, lexical aids, and other resources that were produced in the process of creating the book of Abraham. The publication of these materials comes at a timely moment for the Church and scholars working on the book of Abraham. The internal dynamics that are obvious in the Church’s Gospel Topics Essay on the book of Abraham are less determinative for this publication; the essay includes the claims that some translations “were not based on any known physical records” and that Latter-day Saint and other Egyptologists “agree that the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the book of Abraham,” but it offers no cogent explanation of how this could occur. The publication of the grammar and alphabet materials alongside the text of the book of Abraham, however, represents a process by which Smith explored an unfamiliar language and sought to interpret it even though the language remained unknown to him. For decades, the grammar and alphabet have remained largely on the sidelines, as unwanted byproducts that were potentially produced by scribes who worked on their own. Now, these products are situated within Joseph Smith’s translation process without discrimination, and that will prove to be one of the most important contributions of this new volume.
April 09, 2020
Is Not This Real?
Volume 58:2 (2019) - The question at the heart of the exchange between Korihor and Alma in the Book of Mormon concerns knowledge, what Alma calls the real. This essay probes Korihor’s appraisal of the Nephite’s Christian devotion, sorting out the basic stakes of his argument, and then looks at how Alma slowly and belatedly develops a full response to Korihor. Deviating from traditional interpretations of the parable of the seed of faith, Spencer illustrates that Alma effectively displaces knowledge as a core value, arguing that faith not only is not lesser than knowledge but also goes beyond knowledge and produces something of infinitely more value. Although one can know the truth of Christ and know it perfectly, faith continues beyond knowledge because faith aims not at acquiring knowledge, but at eternal life.
April 02, 2020
Review of Martyrs in Mexico: A Mormon Story of Revolution and Redemption
Volume 58:2 (2019) - While not described as such, Martyrs in Mexico is a continuation of the story that author F. LaMond Tullis gave us in Mormons in Mexico, a classic work, first published in 1987, detailing the growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the country just south of the United States. Martyrs in Mexico, however, has a narrower scope, focusing on one community—San Marcos, Hidalgo—from which would come well-known individuals of the Church in Mexico. Why did Tullis choose San Marcos? The obvious answer is that this community holds an important place in Church lore. San Marcos was the place of one of the Church’s most remembered (though not necessarily among American Saints) martyrdoms: that of Rafael Monroy and Vicente Morales, who were killed by a firing squad of Mexican revolutionaries for, the story goes, refusing to renounce their faith. The value of Martyrs in Mexico is that it tells more than has been told before about Rafael Monroy’s life and family and how they became a dynastic family in the Church in Mexico. It also tells us more about Vicente Morales, who has been the forgotten man in this story of martyrdom.
March 26, 2020
Agency and Same-Sex Attraction
Volume 58:2 (2019) - This essay begins with the author’s twenty-six-hour drive from Tucson, Arizona, to Everett, Washington, seven years after he had come out to his parents that he was gay. He was miserable, and his life had become unmanageable. His parents assured him that they would love and accept him, no matter what he decided to do. During his visit in his parents’ home, he arrived at the decision that he would drink his own bitter cup and remain faithful to the covenants he had made. He makes clear in the essay that this is his own decision, not one he is recommending to anyone else. “I am not able to choose whether to have opposite-sex attractions, but I do have a multitude of other choices. As a gay Latter-day Saint, the choice I make again and again is to seek out God’s will for me and then to do it.”
March 24, 2020
Review of On Fire in Baltimore: Black Mormon Women and Conversion in a Raging City
Volume 58:2 (2019) - In her thought-provoking book, On Fire in Baltimore: Black Mormon Women and Conversion in a Raging City, Laura Rutter Strickling captures the complex conversion narratives of fifteen Latter-day Saint women who found space for themselves within a “historically White church”. The book provides powerful accounts of individual spiritual journeys while also grappling with the racial tensions that implicitly and explicitly influence black and white interaction within and without The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Strickling has written a compelling book that encourages readers to consider the forgotten and the overlooked in order to understand religious belief, practice, and experience within the Church of Jesus Christ. Even though Strickling focuses more on sharing the stories of why these women chose to become Latter-day Saints than she does on interpreting and analyzing the historical meaning and significance of these stories, her work does, both implicitly and explicitly, pose the question: what does it mean to be a Latter-day Saint?
March 19, 2020
The Bread of Life, with Chocolate Chips
Volume 58:2 (2019) - When the author’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, he came face to face with his failure as a husband to be her full partner. “The simultaneous, stark revelation of her mortality and my personal failure left me wanting to sit alone in a room and cry my way through the smothering chaos rather than accept the painful transformation that beckoned. But there was no time to stare, heartbroken, at my pitiful soul, dithering about whether I could be remade, whether we could be made whole. I would have to man up. I would need to keep house.” Hereafter follows an account of the author’s adventures in learning to cook and even to bake, as well as his observations on the Last Supper, the sacrament bread, and the priesthood. After being called to serve in an elders quorum presidency, he learned, with his wife’s tutoring, how to bake what he calls the cookies of the priesthood, to share with his quorum members.
March 17, 2020
Review of The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church
Volume 58:2 (2019) - When the author’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, he came face to face with his failure as a husband to be her full partner. “The simultaneous, stark revelation of her mortality and my personal failure left me wanting to sit alone in a room and cry my way through the smothering chaos rather than accept the painful transformation that beckoned. But there was no time to stare, heartbroken, at my pitiful soul, dithering about whether I could be remade, whether we could be made whole. I would have to man up. I would need to keep house.” Hereafter follows an account of the author’s adventures in learning to cook and even to bake, as well as his observations on the Last Supper, the sacrament bread, and the priesthood. After being called to serve in an elders quorum presidency, he learned, with his wife’s tutoring, how to bake what he calls the cookies of the priesthood, to share with his quorum members.
March 17, 2020
“You Had Better Let Mrs Young Have Any Thing She Wants”: What a Joseph Smith Pay Order Teaches about the Plight of Missionary Wives in the Early Church
Volume 58:2 (2019) - “On a cold, blustery day in 1839 in Commerce, Illinois, a small skiff appeared on the Mississippi River. As rain poured from the sky, a woman huddled in the vessel, trying to protect a two-month-old baby in her arms. She was trying to reach Commerce from Montrose, Iowa, hoping to procure a few potatoes and some flour for her six children. The woman was Mary Ann Angell Young, wife of Brigham Young, who was serving a mission in England. Her plight illustrates the difficulties of the wives of early missionaries in the Church, who were often left to fend for themselves and their children when their husbands left to serve missions. This article details some of the challenges these women faced, as well as later policy changes that helped alleviate the suffering of those left behind when their husbands and fathers served missions for the Church.”
March 11, 2020
Ed's Slot, Provo River
Volume 58:2 (2019) - The oil painting Ed’s Slot, Provo River is 34″ × 40″ on linen canvas and was completed in 1994.I had painted a few fly-fishing paintings prior to this one. I was interested in capturing the brilliant light of sunset as it shines up Provo Canyon at the height of autumn color. I asked my friend Sean, who fishes the river a lot, if he would model for the painting. He eagerly agreed and then bought the original painting. I wanted my painting to be authentic, so Sean taught me a little bit about currents and the textures they make on the river and where to cast a line.
March 03, 2020
The Creator Praises Birds
Volume 58:2 (2019) - The Creator Praises Birds, a poem by J.S. Absher. This poem won first place in the 2018 Clinton F. Larson Poetry Contest sponsored by BYU Studies.
March 03, 2020
Rod Tip Up!
Volume 58:2 (2019) - “The figure of a well-known and beloved fisherman is missing from the Provo River. When I turn off of U.S. Highway 189 in Provo Canyon, Utah, and cross the bridge to enter Vivian Park, I look upstream and downstream for him, but he isn’t there.” The missing fisherman is President Thomas S. Monson, who passed away in 2018. This reminiscence by his son tells of an avid and successful fisherman who also devoted his life to being a fisher of men. This essay chronicles the adventures of Tom Monson fishing the Provo River, as well as the influence he had on this son and many others who happened to meet him while he was engaged in his favorite pastime.
March 03, 2020
Winter Rail Yard
Volume 58:2 (2019) - This poem won honorable mention in the 2018 Clinton F. Larson Poetry Contest sponsored by BYU Studies.
March 03, 2020
Pilgrimage to Palmyra: President B. H. Roberts and the Eastern States Mission's 1923 Commemoration of Cumorah
Volume 58:2 (2019) - In September 1923, all the missionaries of the Eastern States Mission gathered in Palmyra, New York, for a conference commemorating one hundred years since Joseph Smith had a vision of Moroni and first saw the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon came. Before that date, the elders of the mission had spent the summer doing “country work”: preaching in rural areas without prearranged lodging, patterned after the ministries in the New Testament. The conference was held under the direction of mission president B. H. Roberts and was attended by President Heber J. Grant, other Church leaders, and local members of the Church. This article tells this history and tells how this event reinforced the Church’s emphasis on its founding story, reaffirming the importance of the Book of Mormon.
February 25, 2020
BYU Studies Podcast Introduction
Introduction to the BYU Studies audio journal project
February 20, 2020