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Fascinating and probably on the money account of how we got so screwed up, why Mormonism is so hard to peddle now, why we send out missionaries in silly period clothing, etc. So, does this mean a shift away from anachronism and a return to serious missionary efforts in the not too distant future?

Steve, there is the other side of the coin to the brief summary I've given, of course: the growth of the Church requires some centralization, some standardization, and some professional management of LDS assets and programs. Mauss does mention this rejoinder at points in the book. The trick is to get some understanding of how the institutional factors affect the Church without becoming blindly anti-institutional.

I hope to read this book this year sometime.

Does Mauss say anything about the trend in the past few decades to call people from the fields of big business, law, academia, medicine, etc. into the Q12 and Seventy? And what effect this has on the assimilation/retrenchment divide?

On the one hand, such people with more experience "in the world" might lead one to conclude that they'd be an influence for more assimilation; on the other hand, if such people are "fundamentalist"-minded, maybe they'd use their considerable academic/legal/business skills to effect even greater or more effective institutional retrenchment.

What does Mauss say?

By the way, Illinois Press never released this in paperback. Maybe they would if Mauss wrote an additional chapter that considered his thesis over the past 13-14 years since it was originally published.

Matt, yes that topic receives several pages of attention in the book.

Let's be grateful: from the point of view of science or the academy, it's much easier to be a Mormon than an Evangelical.

For some reason I find this claim very difficult to swallow and don't see how it is argued for. It may be true that certain evangelical movements are more "difficult" to be a part of, but by and large I don't see much of a difference. But, as always, I am interested to see what your response is.

It seems that the focus on education is motivated by a desire for professionalism. Since this is a lay church it is very efficient to have educated professionals running it. However, from my experience education in the humanities or liberal arts is strongly discouraged. Also, even though contemporary church leaders have not weighed in on the debate, but the previous leaders have and they are often referenced with authority if the subject ever comes up.

Evolution debate that is.

Johnny, yes professionals are often put to work as local leaders in the LDS lay ministry, but I don't think it is true that there is a bias against the liberal arts or social science as areas of study. And I'm not aware of any systematic guidance given by LDS leaders to college-age Mormons regarding areas of study.

This isn't to say that parents or individual leaders might not give advice to this or that student, just that there is no programmed advice being dispensed that is based in LDS doctrine or Mormon culture.

You may be correct in stating that there is probably not an official church position on areas of study, Dave, but you should have heard the deafening silence from my stalwart family when it was announced one of my daughters would major in anthropology at Boston University. You would have thought she was a demon. Pretty funny, actually.

Dave :

Thanks for plugging my 1994 book, The Angel and the Beehive (better late than never!). Did you know that your review started a conversation on the Purim blogsite? See the link: http://www.purimblog.org/2007/01/are_mormons_fun.html

If you liked my 1994 book, you might also like my 2003 book, All Abraham's Children!

Best wishes :

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