United Brethren has retired.

Dialogue's "International" Series

Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought has made a call for papers on "international Mormonism" (deadline January 2006).

Guest edited by Ethan Yorgason, this series of papers intends to answer these questions:
What are some of the possible cultural-geographic distinctions in Mormonism that might assume doctrinal and practical significance?

How might the Church respond to an impetus toward varieties of Mormonism? How do these distinctive varieties of Mormonism contribute to the relationship of Mormonism to the host society/culture?
Dialogue is also interested in "the interpretations given Mormon history by both members and nonmembers within cultures beyond the Anglo-American sphere."

If I can parse in more straighforward terms what they want to explore it would be this:

1. Can/Should African Mormons play drums in Church? If not, why not?
2. How do you excite a Frenchman about Jesus visiting America?
3. Will there be more non-American general authorities? Will Area Offices ever gain semi-autonomy from Salt Lake?
4. Do Thai Latter-day Saints relate at all to the Pioneers and their handcarts, or do they prefer their own local stories?

I look forward to reading what Dialogue publishes, and hope that some of it comes from "internationals" and not just American Mormon Malinowski's primed to study mission-field Trobianders. That is not meant as a denigration, by the way, just a hope that us international Mormons can continue to muster the confidence to stand up to the Mormon Studies plate. (I hear that the Editor of Archipelago is an Englishman, by the way, but it may be just a rumor. Sometimes his spelling gives the game away. And quite why he is promoting a CFP for another journal right now is beyond me.)

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Anonymous Anonymous said ... (August 31, 2005 7:40 AM) 

I simply wanted to point out that the Community of Christ 'permit' their members to partake of tea and coffee if they so wish. Perhaps the LDS Church just might be taken a little more seriously in Europe (and Australia etc.) if it were to adopt a similar attitude.

On a rather more serious note, is it not of earth-shattering consequence that we have now taken a 2-1 lead in the Ashes?  

Posted by Jonathan M.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (August 31, 2005 8:50 AM) 

If England win the Ashes, I for one call for all LDS chapels in England to have their cultural halls fitted with cricket nets. Now, that  would be progress....! 

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (August 31, 2005 3:04 PM) 

Perhaps the LDS Church just might be taken a little more seriously in Europe (and Australia etc.) if it were to adopt a similar attitude. 

Perhaps the Church will be taken more seriously if we abandon prophetic counsel and say "never mind, it wasn't really a commandment after all"? Are you serious? Church members are "permitted" to do whatever they want, but that doesn't mean it's not a sin, and no amount of European disdain is going to make it less sinful. Are you suggesting that we repeal the commandments due to them being unpopular? Or that perhaps the scriptural admonition against tea was a mistake? Or are you suggesting that the Word of Wisdom is not in fact inspired?

Lastly, you're implying that Europeans take the Community of Christ seriously. I really don't think we want to lump ourselves together with them. C'mon, their prophet RESIGNED last year. Their church has been trying hard for the last several years to become mainstream Protestant... they're even backing away from the Book of Mormon as being scripture. If you're saying we need to become more Protestant in order to baptize more Europeans, I'm thinking you're missing the point. 

Posted by rob


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (August 31, 2005 3:24 PM) 


Aside from a minor quibble about not drinking tea to be a "scriptural admonition" (it says "hot drinks"; "tea" is an authorized interpretation), you make good points. The Church of England - which requires NOTHING of its members - is not doing too well in its own country. LDS growth in England is fairly static, but not diminishing (I don't think).

The slightly tongue-in-cheek questions I raised had to do with "cultural" accommodation, not "moral," and the public strategy the Church chooses to pursue outside of America.

(So, for example, if the Church ran Book of Mormon TV ads in France, what would they choose to emphasize? Its American-ness ? Maybe not, but who makes that decision, a French Area Authority or Salt Lake? This may be a hypothetical, but knowing the answer would be interesting, I think.)

Anyway, they don't drink much tea in France, so that isn't a problem....  

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (August 31, 2005 9:50 PM) 


As you are no doubt aware the WofW was not given the same emphasis that it now has until the 19th century.
As with the question of blacks and the priesthood I believe there is sufficient reason to regard the WofW as a practice, not a doctrine.

Regarding the issue of 'Protestantization' of the Church, that, emphatically, would not logically follow as a result of changes to policy concerning the WofW. I for one certainly do not wish to see the Church become all things to all men. I would, however, like to see it become more accepting of divergent views and treat doubt as something potentially valuable and not merely a 'tool'of Satan.

Similarly, are you suggesting we can learn NOTHING from other churches? This seems to be the implication of your remarks about the CofC.

I want to see the Church grow but I also want to see it mature as an institution...a growing maturity to me is at the very heart of the doctrine of eternal progression.

Posted by Jonathan M


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (September 01, 2005 9:43 AM) 


I agree that it is a challenge as the Church becomes more and more global to separate out "church culture" from "American culture." If I remember right, Elder Scott gave a talk on this very topic in Conference 5 or six years ago. It would be tricky to decide whether, for instance, the drums were appropriate in an African Sacrament meeting. Glad I don't have to make those calls.


My difference with you is that I view the Word of Wisdom as a commandment from God, not a church policy instituted by men. Regardless of how it was viewed in the 19th Century, it is canonical now, and in my view has the same status as the Law of Chastity, the Law of tithing, etc. These are not policies which can be adapted to local attitudes. Otherwise "chastity" would have a vastly different meaning in Amsterdam than in Arizona.

And yes, I am suggesting that the one true Church does not need to turn to other churches to learn how to do things; our instruction comes from above, not from below. Now i'm not saying that as an individual I can't learn anything from a non-mormon. But I'm saying we don't change doctrine merely to win new converts (unlike the CoC), and I'm saying that backtracking on doctrinal issues to "keep up with the times" is NOT a sign of maturity, it is a sign of decadence.

Doubt is the antithesis of faith, and as such, I do not see any positive value to it. Divergent opinions about policy are appropriate as long as we are not murmuring against the Lord's anointed. Divergent opinions about established doctrine are not going to get you kicked out of the Church, necessarily, but The Church is not going to change because someone disagrees. The Lord is the only one that can authorize a doctrinal shift. 

Posted by rob


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (September 01, 2005 10:52 AM) 

To answer some of your other questions, Ronan:

2. How do you excite a Frenchman about anything non-French?
3a. Sure
3b. Probably a little, but not much. The hierarchy of the church keeps things in line so that regional variations in doctrine don't creep in (see last post).
4. probably about as much as they relate to Hebrew slaves leaving Egypt for the promised land, a couple of families leaving Jerusalem for their own promised land, etc. Sure we all would like to have home-grown stories of miraculous faith, and we do, but that doesn't mean we can't learn from those of another nation and culture.  

Posted by rob


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (September 01, 2005 4:36 PM) 

Point 4 is a good one, Rob. Dialogue wants to know how international LDS view Mormon history differently. African slaves identified with Hebrew slaves, and so they were able to co-opt a foreign story and make it their own. But I have not yet seen Mormon history similarly co-opted. Mormons outside of Utah do not celebrate Pioneer Day. 

Posted by Ronan


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