Christine Durham was the first-ever female Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court. In this Dialogue podcast she discusses how she has dealt with stereotyping and bias based on religion, from outsiders, and occasionally on gender and ideology, from insiders. From the Miller Eccles website:
"Christine Durham graduated from law school in 1971, when fewer than two percent of lawyers in the United States were female. She has spent a large part of her professional and personal life working on gender equality and trying to address the damage done in society by stereotypes and biases. As a Mormon woman, she has also dealt with stereotyping and bias based on religion, from outsiders, and occasionally on gender and ideology, from insiders. These challenges have motivated many national, local, and personal activities over the years addressing gender fairness, particularly in the law and the courts. Most recently, she has focused on the effects of implicit bias on our gender and racial divisions in this country, and how this can also affect our religious experience. She will discuss her own history and experience in the context of evolving understanding about how we make choices, and what we need to make better ones.
States of Deseret. William Morris, editor. Peculiar Press, 2017. Alternative history short story anthology. 109 pages, $3.00.
Reviewed by Barrett Burgin
Last year I presented this scenario to my classmates: what if the Civil War had never ended and Deseret had become its own nation? This idea of an alternate Mormon history really took hold on a classroom of BYU Media Arts students. Later, I found myself similarly fascinated while reading the new alternative history story collection States of Deseret. There is, perhaps, something inherently interesting to Mormons about reimagining our own brief history. Whether it's a Zionistic yearning for our unfinished theocracy or a regretful wish to rewrite past wrongs, States of Deseret taps into our cultural dance with history and uses it as a platform to entertain, educate, and inquire.
Lapsing into Daredevilry
Shawn Vestal. Daredevils
. New York: Penguin Press, 2016. 308 pp.
Reviewed by Julie J. Nichols
It’s a hard truth: you have to be damn smart to be a writer of good fiction. If you’re dumb, forget it. You have to hear words in your head—and who doesn’t? But you also have to know how to put them together in a sentence that’s not only grammatical but original in its context, truer than any other sentence could possibly be. Then you have to do that with paragraphs and chapters in the service of a whole whose shape knocks readers right out of unconsciousness, makes them alive, blasts their eyes open so they see the world new.
Shawn Vestal is smart. He’s so smart he could write Daredevils
, which is about three daredevil kids on the run, two of the daredevil bad guys they’re on the run from, and Evel Knievel, who was the quintessential iconic daredevil of the United States in the 1970s. He figures just enough in this story to be real. Or almost.
The Fruit of Knowledge
Thomas F. Rogers. Let Your Hearts and Minds Expand: Reflections on Faith, Reason, Charity, and Beauty
. Provo: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2016. 349 pp.
Reviewed by Mahonri Stewart
As a book of short, religious, and academic non-fiction, Thomas F. Rogers’s Let Your Hearts and Minds Expand
is extremely valuable to the Mormon intellectual community; but as a reflection of a devoted disciple and a soulful artist, it goes beyond even that to be authentically moving. In a modern world where spirituality and religious belief is a place of tension and contention, Rogers has written from his place of the faithful agitator—pushing our culture’s boundaries where needed and then turning around to help the Mormon community reach inward and pull the wagons around shared principles.
Part two of Bryce Cook's "What Do We Know of God’s Will for His LGBT Children? An Examination of the LDS Church’s Position on Homosexuality." Note that this is a recording of his version found on Mormon LGBT Questions
although it is very similar to his Dialogue article. The recording has been split into two pieces for ease of listening. Enjoy!
As a companion to Bryce Cook's Summer 2017 article "What Do We Know of God’s Will for His LGBT Children? An Examination of the LDS Church’s Position on Homosexuality" we bring you a recording of his article for Dialogue podcasts #35 and #36. Note that this is a recording of his version found on Mormon LGBT Questions
although it is very similar to his Dialogue article. The recording is split into two pieces for ease of listening. Enjoy!
Asking the Questions
Julie J. Nichols. Pigs When They Straddle the Air: A Novel in Seven Storie
s. Provo: Zarahemla Books, 2016. 148 pp.
Reviewed by Emily Shelton Poole
In her full-length debut, Pigs When They Straddle the Air: A Novel in Seven Stories
, Julie J. Nichols presents the interconnected lives of various women living in Salt Lake City over a span of thirty years, mostly during the 1970s and 1980s. Each of the seven stories focuses on a different main character until their lives become so entangled that the narratives converge in tragedy, heartache, and eventual healing. Some of these stories appeared previously in other publications, including Dialogue
Nichols wrote the stories as part of her dissertation for a PhD in English from the University of Utah. Two of the stories were controversial enough that Nichols lost her position as a creative writing instructor at Brigham Young University. I speculated, briefly, about which stories could have brought about Nichols’s dismissal from BYU—was it the lesbian teaching Primary or the woman calling on Heavenly Mother to bless a nearly-drowned child? The reference to abortifacient herbs? Or the faith healing without the official exercise of the priesthood? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Each one touches, to some degree, on the fringy edges of Mormonism, and while the stories are ction and easy to dismiss in an academic way, the existence of actual people on those fringes is a far different matter to consider. In their first iterations, she says, they were unrelated, but many explored “the difficulties of being an educated, unorthodox woman in Utah Mormon culture.”
Exploring the Unfamiliar Realm of Religion in Young Adult Literature
Julie Berry. The Passion of Dolssa
. New York: Viking Books for Young Readers, 2016. 496 pp.
Jeff Zentner. The Serpent King
. New York: Crown Books for Young Readers, 2016. 384 pp.
Reviewed by Jon Ostenson
Modern young adult literature traces its roots to 1967, when S. E. Hinton’s book The Outsiders
was published and subsequently devoured by young readers who were desperate for literature that spoke to them and reflected the realities they saw daily. In the ensuing years, young adult literature has bravely explored controversial topics like class struggle, mental illnesses, drug abuse, and sexuality, all in the name of allowing teen readers a chance to explore the “real” world. One element of teens’ lives, however, that has often been overlooked in the literature is religion and spirituality. Despite the results of the recent National Study of Youth and Religion showing that nearly forty percent of teens report actively participating in organized religion, religious characters and explorations of spirituality are rarely treated in young adult literature.
The two titles I review here, The Passion of Dolssa
by Julie Berry and The Serpent King
by Jeff Zentner, counter this trend, presenting characters who wrestle with issues of faith and belief as they navigate the challenges of their world.
Faith, Family, and Art
Jack Harrell. Writing Ourselves: Essays on Creativity, Craft, and Mormonism
. Draper, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, 2016. 156 pp. Paperback: $18.95. ISBN: 978-1-58958-754-0.
Reviewed by Jennifer Quist
The back cover of Jack Harrell’s new collection Writing Ourselves: Essays on Creativity, Craft, and Mormonism
describes the book as a continuation of “a conversation as old as Mormonism itself.” It’s a fraught phrase, bringing to mind the image of an academic, artistic, and social in-group that has been conversing among themselves for a very long time. It isn’t the in-group’s fault that the conversation happens in the absence of non-members and newcomers to the Church, neither is it their fault that it goes on without writers, readers, and scholars unconnected to the American Mormon heartland. None of this is the in-group’s fault, but perhaps all of it is their problem. Many in the in-group strive to, in Harrell’s words,“giv[e] the church and its religion a human and literary face” (99). However, we can’t understand what our own faces look like without relying on the re ections and perceptions of people and objects outside ourselves. Perhaps Jack Harrell, as a previous outsider to not just the Mormon literary world but the Mormon world altogether, is especially well-suited to put himself forward to articulate what Mormon letters are and what they ought to be and become.
Stanton Harris Hall. Just Seeing. Self-published, 2016. 109 pp.
Reviewed by Mary Lythgoe Bradford
Stan Hall was one of Dialogue’s most enthusiastic volunteers back in the ’70s when I was its editor. We published some of his poetry then and were sorry when he moved back to his home turf in the Northwest. I was therefore happy to see that he had continued to hone his poetic gift in his privately published collection Just Seeing. The quality of this work causes me to hope that it will be read beyond his family circle, extending even into a second volume, perhaps entitled Just Saying.
Hall is a poet on whom nothing is lost—whose gimlet eye misses little in nature or in human nature. His ne brush strokes recall the Japanese masters of the haiku. He is adept at sketching the place where nature meets its creator as it dreams of “taking the soul in hand / and twisting / like lime or sassafras / release the dry corona-white spirit / from the body’s moist darkness / the spirit freed / the child reunited” (50).
In the newest Dialogue podcast Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and Harvard University professor, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, discusses her new book A House Full of Females – Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835 -1870.
From the Miller Eccles website
In January 1870, three or four thousand Latter-day Saint women gathered in the old tabernacle in Salt Lake City to protest federal anti-polygamy legislation pending in Congress. To the astonishment of outsiders, the Utah Territorial Legislature soon granted women the vote, an action that eventually brought them into the most radical wing of the national women’s rights movements. Then, as now, observers asked how women could simultaneously support a national campaign for political and economic rights while defending marital practices that to most people seemed relentlessly patriarchal.
Walter B. Rudolph, retired general manager of Classical 89, KBYU-FM will be the featured guest for Utah State University’s 2017 Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture
on Thursday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., at the Logan LDS Tabernacle. He will discuss “Opera and its Voices in Utah” and it will include a performance by American tenor Stanford Olsen. The lecture is free and open to all. The annual lecture honorsArrington, whose papers were donated to Utah State University’s Special Collections and Archives, a division in USU’s University Libraries. Part of the gift agreement was to offer an annual lecture on some facet of Mormon history.
The Salt Lake Tribune printed this important "Commentary: Putting our shoulders to the wheel to end racism and white supremacy in Mormonism
." Here is an excerpt:
As Mormons, we raise our voices to decry as wholly immoral the forces of white supremacy, racism, and neo-Nazism that are becoming more visible and emboldened in the United States.
We raise our voices to denounce as an affront to our faith the abuse of LDS scriptures, doctrines, and images of apostles and prophets to advance white supremacy and racism.
White supremacists have comfortably used LDS scriptures and quotes from apostles — even the image of Joseph Smith — to support their cause on social media, seemingly without fear of being held accountable...
hose of us who grew up in the LDS Church Young Women’s program pledged every week to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places.
We stand now, in our time, on this issue, and in the places where we live, and we say that there is nothing of God in racism, white supremacy, or neo-Nazism.
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