Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Bradley, Martha Sonntag ; Roberts, Allen Dale
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96 Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought of the First Presidency, and church financial records remained sesquestered, available only with special appproval, many other valuable resources were opened to scholars during the Arrington era.9 Perhaps Mormon leaders had come to realize they had less to fear from professional history than they once believed. Perhaps image-conscious Latter-day Saints wished to project a more tolerant, democratic posture for their church. Perhaps Arrington's appointment was merely one of many moves in the late 1960s and early 1970s to reorganize church institutions by placing them in the hands of experts. Whatever the motives for this move, according to Davis Bitton the history division during the Arrington tenure was never altogether free from criticism. Although efforts to professionalize Mormon studies won praise from academicians, revisionist history evidently stoked smoldering fears and resentments in some Mormons opposed to secularized, humanistic treatments of their church's past. Arrington's optimism regarding honest discussion of Mormon history was tested in 1974 when Reed Durham, director of the LDS Institute of Religion at the University of Utah, presented a presidential address at the annual conference of the Mormon History Association in Nauvoo, Illinois. In his paper, Durham explored Joseph Smith's links with Masonry and his possession of a magical Jupiter talisman. Negative repercussions following Durham's appeal for an open discussion of the influence of folk magic and Masonry on Mormonism led to his public apology and reaffirmation of faith.10 The backlash which caused some Mormons to question Durham's faith continued in a number of public speeches made by Ezra Taft Benson in 1976 during which he criticized efforts to revise traditional interpretations 9. Arrington discusses the problem of availability of historical sources in Davis Bitton and Leonard J. Arrington, Mormons and Their Historians (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987), 163-67. Other sources which discuss tensions over historical research include: Lawrence Foster, "New Perspectives on the Mormon Past," Sunstone 7 (Jan.-Feb. 1982): 43-44, and "A Personal Odyssey: My Encounter with Mormon History," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 (Autumn 1983): 87-98. Martin E. Marty comments on these tensions from the point of view of religious history in "Two Integrities: An Address to the Crisis in Mormon Historiography," Journal of Mormon History 10 (1984): 3-19. One of the best defenses of revisionist history is Thomas G. Alexander, "Historiography and the New Mormon History: A Historian's Perspective/' Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 19 (Fall 1986), 25-49. Marvin Hill contributes to the discussion in "'The New Mormon History' Reassessed in Light of Recent Books on Joseph Smith and Mormon Origins," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 21 (Autumn 1988): 115-27. 10. Mormon critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner discuss Durham's speech in their 1980 The Changing World of Mormonism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 88-91. For reaction to his address, see Patricia Lyn Scott, James E. Crooks, and Sharon G. Pugsley, '"A Kinship of Interest': The Mormon History Association's Membership," Journal of Mormon History 18 (Spring 1992): 156n.