Five Jesus Books

There are quite a few different ideas about the “Historical Jesus”. I run into people who know just one of them and think it’s the only one. Almost always they’re surprised and disappointed that this is an open question. Reza Aslan. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Random House, 2013. John Dominic … Read more

Laurasian Novel

Have you ever had the feeling that the religious stories we have might be older—far older—than anyone imagines? “Focusing on the oldest available texts, buttressed by data from archeology, comparative linguistics and human population genetics, Michael Witzel reconstructs a single original African source for our collective myths, dating back some 100,000 years. Identifying features shared … Read more

Talking about Mormons

I’ve been waiting for the dust to settle on this madcap idea of not saying “Mormon” when you mean “Mormon”. That’s President Nelson’s personal demon. My gut says be polite and look the other way. Now, we have some guidance from the Associated Press, via the Salt Lake Tribune, and in my case found on … Read more

Quitting Mormon

I don’t remember exactly when I left the Mormon church. 1982 or 1983, probably. I was living in the Avenues area of Salt Lake. The Home Teachers stopped by for the first time ever. I tried to put them off. They weren’t having it. They got pushy. I pushed back. We got to the point … Read more

Christian Identity

The Christian Identity movement has its roots in British Israelism. Amazing. So does Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God. And so do some of the ersatz genealogies connecting medieval Europe to the Bible. “The history of the Christian Identity movement reveals its startling foundations — which posit that both Christians and Jews are God’s chosen … Read more

Early Black Mormons: Joseph Ball

When I was first researching the early Luce converts to Mormonism, I wanted to focus on primary sources rather than just repeating the same stories. I already knew the Luces were converted to Mormonism by Wilford Woodruff during his 1838 mission to Maine. And that’s almost true. Actually, when Wilford Woodruff arrived at Vinalhaven, Maine … Read more

Book Burnin’ Mormons

Mormon Jesus

John Larsen at Sunstone has this new Facebook group. The idea is to bring Mormons and ex-Mormons together in a way that will promote healing and reconciliation. Cool idea, or so I thought. I turned to be much uglier in reality. I think the basic problem there is that people who have suffered religious abuse … Read more

Lazy Man’s Guide

Golas quote

I wonder how many people remember Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment? I think I bought my first copy when it was brand new, at the head shop on North Avenue in Grand Junction. I would have been 16. Over the years I’ve bought and given away so many copies I’ve lost track. This passage has … Read more

Ethnic Mormons

I tell people I’m an “ethnic Mormon”. The label confuses almost everyone, and that’s why I do it. It gives me a chance to explain. My experience is that when you’re a Mormon you’re a Mormon whether you believe or not, and whether you belong to the Church or not. I was excited to see … Read more