Latin Fever: Race and the Making of Modern Mormon Dance Culture

When we think of Mormon sexuality (if we think about Mormon sexuality), we typically think of it as either a party in the shadows or Really Awkward Party in the shadows: stifled, frustrated Mormons who either 1) become even more uncomfortable in sexual situation or 2) find their destiny as overly-sexual beings.This presupposes, of course, that Mormons only express their sexuality in blatantly sexual situations.  In fact, Mormons’ strict commitment to abstinence has prompted them to find other avenues for the expression of their sexual identities. Indeed, as Mormonism has expanded across the globe, American Mormons (particularly those in the Mormon Corridor) have found new ways of expressing their sexual identity while continuing to uphold the sexual standards of modern Mormonism.

Continue reading

Sons of God, Sons of Empire: Mormons, Scouting, and the Colonial Persuasion

lord-robert-baden-powell[1]

Lord Robert Baden-Powell

*Note: This represents introductory research and makes no claims to exhaustiveness

Mormonism and colonialism have often served as unwitting allies.  For some, this is hardly a surprise; as an Anglo-American religion, it seems only fitting that Mormons would place a high value of expansion of Anglo-American populations and values.   While many mainstream Saints hardly give it a second thought–they have yards to water, casseroles to fix, and soccer stars to shuttle–this relationship ought to give us pause.

Few chapters of Mormon history illustrate (and complicate) this relationship as well as the Mormons’ enthusiastic embrace of Boy Scouting.  The founder of the movement, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, was nothing if not a British imperialist. A veteran of several colonial wars in Africa and central Asia, many of his ideas of manhood developed while fighting through the Bush against Zulus, Ashantis, and Dutch Boers.   Baden-Powell’s primary duty was to provide intelligence about tribal movements: scouting.  Having seen his empire lose South Africa, Baden-Powell grew increasingly concerned about the state of the empire–indeed, about the state of imperial manhood.  To assist fellow soldiers in handling the Zulu, he wrote a manual entitled Aids to Scouting.  The lessons he drew were not derived in military tactics but in personal character.  If the empire was to remain intact, it would require vigilant manhood: preparedness, obedience, and dedication to the Mother kingdom (see the introduction to a scholarly reprint of Scouting for Boys for background on Baden-Powell).

Continue reading

Souls in Waiting: The Embryo and Abortion in Nineenth-Century Mormonism

*Note: All links re-direct to either 1) an easily-accessible secondary source or 2) reputable reproduction of primary source.  Sources in parentheses generally come from databases such as Genealogybank; original images are available to readers upon request. 

Of all the non-dinner-table political topics, abortion certainly ranks near the top.  So charged is it that its mere mention breaks down social gatherings into battling tribes where, they believe, reasonable people don’t disagree. Yet the viciousness with which the better part of Latter-day Saints have fought the issue reveals more about Latter-day Saint relationships with the broader Christian community than it does about Latter-day Saint doctrine. Continue reading

Death Cannot Conquer The Hero: Joseph Smith’s Body and The Evolution of an Icon

*Note: This is introductory research and makes no claims to exhaustiveness

The body of Joseph Smith plays a prominent role in Mormon lore about the early Saints.  The early Saints often commented on how they expected the Prophet to look, walk, or talk.  Yet how the Saints perceived Joseph’s body shape-shifted as the worlds in which they lived changed.   Embedded in Joseph’s body (or the memory thereof) are the fears, insecurities, and hopes for the Mormon community in the 19th-century.

Continue reading

Early Mormons and Anti-Americanism


Happy America day.

General Andrew Jackson, a National Icon in Joseph Smith’s America

The Mormon relationship with the nation-state (particularly, the United States) is a classic example of how the guy/capitalists with the guns/government wins.  The earliest Mormons harbored neutral feelings towards the United States at best, recognizing that the United States would collapse soon enough anyway.   Mormon newsman W.W. Phelps warned that the United States could “well fall to the dust, with the other crumbling nations of the earth.”  Though Phelps appreciated the freedom America provided, he reminded the Saints that the Savior “asked no aid of the governments of the earth to spread the gospel.” While the world chattered on about America’s experiment in free government, the Lord was “setting up his kingdom upon this choice land above all others.”

Continue reading

The Priesthood Ban and Homosexuality: A Comparison with Limits

Disclaimer

This should in no way serve as an argument against recognition of gay marriage.

The comparison between the priesthood ban excluding the blacks and the Church’s opposition to gay marriage is practically begging to be made (see also here and here)–especially if you want the Mormon leadership to change their tune on gay marriage: “If the Church could change on this, then why not?

Why not, indeed?

Continue reading