Monday, February 11, 2008

Mormons in the Media

With Romney out of the race, I wonder how much the media attention on our faith will die down. So far, it has been fascinating to reflect on all the perceptions, or misperceptions, that we have had about our "image" and now to be confronted with a surprising wake-up call. Here are some "must reads" that have put us in the spotlight recently. You're welcome to leave behind links in the comments section if you come across other articles you feel are worth reading.

Romney, Mormons, and Me -- I love the thought provoking reflection and the final question: "In this the 21st century, how do we strike a balance between melting pot and assimilation on the one hand and the maintenance of ethnic or religious identity on the other?"

Mormons Dismayed by Harsh Spotlight
-- "I don't think that any of us had any idea how much anti-Mormon stuff was out there," said Armand Mauss, a Mormon sociologist who has written extensively about church culture, in an interview last week. "The Romney campaign has given the church a wake-up call. There is the equivalent of anti-Semitism still out there." And I loved the quote from Elder Ballard in an interview about encouraging members to share their faith through blogging and other "new media: "I just felt we needed to unleash our own people." This was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal

Missionaries Spread the News, but Don’t Read It -- New York Times profile of two LDS missionaries who didn't even know Romney had withdrawn from the race 50 hours later. Nothing too special or unique, but timely and relevant.

How to Bury a Prophet -- Great insite into the importance of family in our faith by writing about President Hinckley's funeral. Written by Kathleen Flake, an LDS associate professor of American Religious History at Vanderbilt University. (She was interviewed extensively in PBS's "The Mormons"). "Though the requisite list of Hinckley's ecclesiastical accomplishments was given, it was subordinated to his success as a courageous and amusing friend and a successful husband and father." Just like my dad always said: There are no wards and stakes in heaven--just families.

What is it about Mormonism? -- very insightful, sympathetic, and reflective piece printed in the New York times by a Jewish professor at Harvard, Noah Feldman

Mormons Confront Negative Ideas About Their Faith
-- "Mormons had come to the conclusion that their religion was pretty much accepted," says Richard Bushman, a visiting professor of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University in California. "But these horrendous poll results that indicate that Mormons are not first-class citizens because of their religion were terribly shocking."

Mormons and Idiosyncrasy--Religious scholar and historian Martin E. Marty provides a "retrospective" on some of the extreme statements directed at the Church, asking "what went wrong, what goes wrong, when in a United States where so many good things are happening on the inter-religious, racial, ethnic, and gender front, this underground of ‘anti’s so frequently emerges.” I love the common sense in this article; it rings so true.


JAMIE COOK~ said...

I still feel somehow that him being mormon is why he wasn't voted. If that is the case..that is devastating..and stupid to say the least. It shouldn't be a strike against you...What do you think?

Sally said...

Good articles, Spence. I knew in the back of my head that Mormons were still thought of badly in many places (all my Faith Center friends in high school)but living in Utah for 13 years made me forget how prevalent those opinions are! Although I haven't come across much discrimination down here yet. Have you?

Kelli W. said...

I'll go read these, then get back to you.

Clean Cut said...

By the way, our local PBS station just did a re-broadcast of "The Mormons". I decided to go back and get some of the bloggernacle's reaction about them. It generally seems that we all liked Part Two much better than Part One. Hated the eerie music. Disliked the disproportionate amount of time spent on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. (Great article about that by the way in the September 2007 Ensign). I echo Mormanity's comment about enjoying "the comments of Betty Stevenson, the African-American convert who said that the missionaries "came in and told me the most preposterous story I have ever heard in my life. They told me about this white boy, a dead angel and some gold plates. And I thought, 'Mmm. I wonder what they on?'" What a wonderful influence the Church has had on her life. She's my kind of saint. I loved her testimony, and her singing, and would love to be in her ward. If you know Betty, tell her thank you from me!"

Clean Cut said...

I want to echo what Joel Campbell said over at the new "Mormon Times" site. He said that all this media coverage, positive and negative, "has opened a door of opportunity. Latter-day Saints do have our work cut out for us. We can no longer circle the wagons in grand pioneer tradition and hope the media goes away. Latter-day Saints need to reach out in our communities, on the Web and in the nation’s media and be part of the discussion and dialog."