Now that it’s available, what’s in vol. 3 of the Mormon Studies Review?

11.20.2015 | Morgan Davis

msr3-coverI’m pleased to announce that volume three of the Mormon Studies Review is now available in print and digital formats. Digital-only subscriptions include access to the MSR in addition to the Maxwell Institute’s other periodicals, the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies and Studies in the Bible and Antiquity. That’s three subscriptions for the price of one! Please read, enjoy, and tell your colleagues and friends. As with previous volumes, our third addresses a wide variety of topics and reviews a selection of great new books. Here’s a brief overview of what’s inside. You’ll notice we’ve included links to two pieces that are available free of charge to everyone right away.

Forum: Lived Mormonism

Volume three opens with a collection of essays about “lived Mormonism”—that is, the way that both institutional and grassroots notions and practices interact to produce the full experience of Mormonism. As editors, our aim was to give our readers a taste of the variety of ways that our understanding of Mormonism can be enriched by paying attention to people’s lived experience. Though it would have been impossible to be comprehensive, we are excited about what these essays show. Stacilee Ford’s essay on lived Mormonism in Hong Kong, for example, displaces what is too often the default (Utah-centric) view of the faith. Ford provides a window on the Mormonism of Filipino, Indonesian, and Nepalese hospitality and domestic workers in Hong Kong, as well as the political and cultural dynamics that emerge from their interactions with more Western-oriented members on the island. Next, in one of two preview essays,  Megan Sanborn Jones returns our attention to the Western U.S. to explore the intersection of scripture and sacred history, ritual, and theater as these play out in the pageants that many Latter-day Saints participate in every year. You can download a free copy here. Josh Probert discusses the deep significance that can be read off of even the most mundane, “non-language-based” material objects in order to tell the story of Mormonism. Kate Holbrook discusses leadership patterns and practices, and Danille Elise Christensen considers how scholars of living cultures can expose and explore assumptions and stereotypes that are often unacknowledged but which can lead scholars to relevant points of tension and dynamism within a religious community.

Essays and Review Essays

Next we have two very different essays. The first is the transcript of a fascinating exchange between Ann Taves and Steven C. Harper at the 2014 conference of the American Academy of Religion in San Diego about the nature and status of the gold plates in the story of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. The other is an authoritative “state of the literature” essay by George B. Handley on Mormon environmental scholarship. Three review essays of particularly significant recent titles in Mormon studies follow: Michelle Chaplin Sanchez evaluates Terryl L. Givens’s history of Mormon theological thought, Wrestling the Angel; Sylvester A. Johnson reviews W. Paul Reeve’s Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness; and Cristine Hutchison-Jones reviews J.B. Haws’s The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception. We decided to make the review of Reeve’s book available outside the subscription paywall as a way of encouraging more people to read and subscribe. Download it here and pass the word along.

Review Panel

It is unusual to do a multi-author book review, but then again, Reaching the Nations by David Stewart and Matthew Martinich is not your average book. It is a massive undertaking that aspires to compile statistical and demographic information about the worldwide membership and operations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Recognizing that no solitary reviewer was likely to have the area expertise to competently assess all aspects of this project, Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye assembled an international team of scholars to comb through the information and offer what we hope will be received as a fair appraisal of this important resource’s strengths and weaknesses.

Book Reviews

Finally, we include reviews of seven significant recent works, including Michael Hicks, The Mormon Tabernacle Chior: A Biography (reviewed by Stephen A. Marini), Craig Harline’s Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Life Mormon Missionary (reviewed by Anne Blue Wills), and Adam Jortner’s review of Jedediah S. Rodgers, ed., The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History. Thanks are due once again to the contributors, editorial board, editors, and production staff. You’ll notice this volume includes DOIs (digital object identifiers) for the first time. This is a small but significant accomplishment (thanks to the work of Don Brugger and Blair Hodges) that will make our articles easier to find online and crosslink to other scholarship in the future. We hope you enjoy volume three! You can subscribe here.
D. Morgan Davis is the director of the Maxwell Institute’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative and an associate editor of the Mormon Studies Review.