Cutting-Edge Latter-day Saint Research: October 2023

A monthly piece summarizing all recent, peer-reviewed scholarly articles and books published on Latter-day Saints.

Pond, Vicki. “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also Referred to as the Mormon Church).” In Understanding End of Life Practices: Perspectives on Communication, Religion and Culture, pp. 203-218. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2023.

Abstract: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accept modern medical science and believe in receiving medical treatment along with seeking divine guidance and inspiration. At the same time, situations of life and death can throw people into stressful places they have never been before, bringing challenges even to people of deep faith. Medical professionals can better support Latter-day Saints if they understand how their beliefs answer questions about life and death, including, “Where did I come from? Why am I here on earth? Where am I going after death?” This chapter examines the origin, beliefs, and practices of the Church to give medical professionals a foundational understanding of what is important to members at the end of life. It includes sections on beliefs and practices, including those relevant to medical treatment, end-of-life decisions, death and burial.

Hahne, Madeleine Ary. “From eco-theology to eco-skepticism: How American Latter?day Saint environmental perspectives changed over time, and how they may change again.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change (2023).

Abstract: Modern American members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka LDS or Mormons) are among the most environmentally skeptical American groups, but it has not always been this way. The church has an exceptionally robust eco-theology. In the 19th century, it espoused a strong “ethic of steward- ship.” The review focuses on the story of how and why this shift from eco- theology to eco-skepticism occurred, shedding light on how theology, wider cul- ture, and other forces can influence value creation, and how these changing values can transform the environmental attitudes and behaviors of an entire people. LDS eco-theology shares some principles in common with some other Christian faiths, but also includes a number of unique or unusual beliefs and egalitarian/agrarian practices. In the early church (19th century), eco-theology contributed to a value system which prioritized creation care. However, early LDS community land practices did not necessarily live up to these ideals and the local environment suffered serious consequences. Then, with an influx of exter- nal influences, including a growing population of non-LDS frontiersmen, Latter- day Saint values shifted away from creation care and egalitarianism and toward individualism and capitalism. Church leaders stopped regularly preaching about the earth’s value, instead focusing on individual salvation. Environmental action antipathy and climate skepticism became the norm. This volte-face demon- strates both how theology can influence values and actions, and the inverse.

Roper, Marin Leggat. “Personal reflections on somatic practice and education as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Dance, Movement & Spiritualities 10, no. 1 (2023): 63-72.

Abstract: This article discusses the author’s experience as a Certified Laban Movement Analyst (CLMA) teaching Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals to Dance BFA, BA and Dance Education majors at Brigham Young University (BYU), a private religious university sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located in Provo, Utah. Reflecting global trends, Latter-day Saint Millennials and Gen Z-ers are increasingly disaffiliating from organized religion. Drawing on teaching observations, lived experience, interviews with other self-identifying Latter-day Saint CLMAs, I reflect on this trend in the context of polarities, doctrinal polarities commonly upheld within Christianity and embodied polarities articulated through the Laban/Bartenieff Movement System (L/BMS) system. Change, Knowing and Wholeness frame the reflection. Pedagogical practices, including assignment descriptions and guided movement explorations, provide some contour around the relevance of Laban’s theories within the context of a twenty-first-century religious education.


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