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“To Be Learned is Good”

Essays on Faith and Scholarship in Honor of Richard Lyman Bushman

Spencer Fluhman Kathleen Flake Jed Woodworth

What does the future hold for Mormonism in the academy? How does personal faith impact one’s scholarship? How might scholarly women and men speak of faith in secular places and times? This volume contains vibrant exchanges on these and other questions from the memorable scholars’ colloquium held in honor of historian and Latter-day Saint Richard Lyman Bushman.

I think we all feel some tension between our religious convictions and the secular times in which we live.  In one way or another, modernism invades and unsettles our thinking, perhaps our thinking about our fields, perhaps our personal beliefs.  What I hope we all realize is that this tension is not to be suppressed or regretted.  Unanswerable as some questions are, we need not lament the discomfort they bring.  The strain of believing in unbelieving times, is not a handicap or a burden.  It is a stimulus and a prod.  It is precisely out of such strains that creative work issues forth.  And we can take satisfaction in knowing that we are in this together.” —Richard Lyman Bushman

Videos of each presentation from the scholars’ colloquium are available here.

About the Editor

Spencer Fluhman

J. Spencer Fluhman is executive director of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and associate professor of history at Brigham Young University. He is author of “A Peculiar People”: Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America (University of North Carolina Press, 2012) and editor-in-chief of the Mormon Studies Review.

Table of Contents

  • Editors’ Preface
  • SECTION 1: HISTORIANS ARE NEVER INNOCENTS

    Introduction: What Constrains Our Understanding of the Past?
  • “We Gain Knowledge No Faster Than We Are Saved”: The Epistemic Dimension of Character
  • The Poetics of Prejudice
  • Truth, Community, and Prophetic Authority
  • SECTION 2: ANXIETY AND OBLIGATION IN SCHOLARSHIP

    Introduction: Anxiety and Obligation in the Practice of History
  • Prophetic Biography: The Universal, the Particular, and the Almost-Amazing Grace of Context
  • Above, Beyond, and in Between: A Teacher’s Role
  • Saving History: The Perquisites and Perils
  • SECTION 3: REENVISIONING MORMONISM

    Introduction: Reenvisioning Mormonism: Looking Forward and Looking Back
  • Christo-Fiction, Mormon Philosophy, and the Virtual Body of Christ
  • Becoming Equal Partners: Latter-day Saint Women as Theologians
  • The Perverse Core of Mormonism: The Book of Mormon, Genetic Secularity, and Messianic Decoloniality
  • SECTION 4: CAN HISTORIANS QUEST AFTER RELIGIOUS TRUTH?

    Introduction: Mormonism in the Academy: Scholarship, Teaching, and Faith
  • Richard Bushman and the Future of Mormon Teaching
  • The Role of the Church History Department in Mormon Scholarship: A Reflection on the Leonard J. Arrington Era and the Present
  • The Second Vatican Council and Mormon Correlation from the Pulpit and the Pew
  • SECTION 5: SCHOLARSHIP IN ITS PUREST AND BEST FORM?

    Introduction: Mormonism in the Academy and in the Secular Study of Religion
  • On Being Epistemically Vulnerable: Mormonism and the Secular Study of Religion
  • “Mormonism in the Academy”: Reflections on Its Meaning
  • A Modern Religion
  • SECTION 6: IT IS MUCH BETTER TO ERR ON THE SIDE OF GENEROSITY

    Introduction: Smooth Stones Rolling: Reflections on Critical Belief in Scholarship
  • The Personal and the Historical
  • Acts of Faith … and Reason
  • My Life among the Scholars
  • BENEDICTIONS

    Blessing of—and for—the Academic Life
  • Finding the Right Words: Speaking Faith in Secular Times
  • Appendix

    The Academic Achievements and Publications of Richard Lyman Bushman
  • Contributors

  • Index

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Publication Information

  • Publication Date: December 2017
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-8425-3022-4
  • Page Count: 349
  • Illustration(s):
  • Binding: hardcover
  • Price: $ 24.95
  • Imprint: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
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The views expressed here and in Maxwell Institute publications are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Maxwell Institute, Brigham Young University, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118)