Well, my earlier prospective discussion of the Sunstone session on the Bloggernacle went so well, I'll try one on "inoculation." That's shorthand for the idea that if active Mormons get a stronger dose of an "unsanitized" presentation of LDS history, they are less likely, when confronted with a presentation on Mountain Meadows or polygamy or peepstones/seerstones, to run from the building screaming "I've been duped! I feel so betrayed! I want a refund on my tithing!" Here's my position in one sentence: Inoculation looks good on paper, but the devil is in the details, little things like who, what, where, when, and how.
Who gets inoculated? Teenagers? Right. Just select a teenager you think is a good candidate for a dose of historical inoculation and try to get them to read Story of the Latter-day Saints or Rough Stone Rolling. Go ahead, give the teenager in your family a copy of American Moses or By the Hand of Mormon for Christmas and see if they actually read it. History just doesn't click for teenagers. They are too busy being teenagers: high school, homework, youth programs, incessant socializing, college and mission plans. No wonder they don't read books.
So when does it happen: In college? When you hit some magic age like 21 or 30 or retirement? Seriously, what is the target demographic for inoculation such that pushing LDS history on people who aren't that interested does more good than harm? If your position is that only people who develop concerns about historical or doctrinal issues need to go dig up books and read about the subject, then you're talking about treatment, not inoculation.
What does inoculation consist of? I think they should have made Story of the Latter-day Saints part of the LDS curriculum, a semi-official replacement for Essentials in Church History. And it is still the single volume I would recommend to any active Latter-day Saint who came to me with a question like, "I'm suddenly interested, and maybe a little concerned, about LDS history. What can I read to learn more and get some questions answered?" But that book was marginalized, not adopted. The official curriculum (whatever comes out of the black box called "Correlation") is part of the problem, not part of the solution, and they're the ones who control the materials that would support any sort of sponsored inoculation program. So the "what" of inoculation remains a problem. Best solution: Marlin K. Jensen takes the bull by the horns and makes something happen. My suggestion: Double his budget.
When? Seminary is too early: they're not really listening. College would work, except that CES has the market cornered for LDS college students and I see CES, like Correlation, as part of the problem, not part of the solution. Again, unless Elder Jensen makes something happen, but I doubt Elder Packer is going to let him fire three thousand instructors and start from scratch. In fairness, most CES instructors do a nice job with LDS youth, but if "sanitized" LDS history is the problem that inoculation is supposed to solve, well, CES is the last place you're going to find a push for desanitization. [There's also a good argument that you have to teach the orthodox or "sanitized" version of LDS history, the Sunday School version, before it is even possible to talk about inoculation.]
My view is that "when" happens whenever someone gets interested in LDS history. There is no identifiable target demographic at which an inoculation program can focus. So the best thing to do is to make sure you have a good selection of "unsanitized" LDS history on the shelves at Deseret Book, and hope there are enough LDS blogs and websites out there that when an interested LDS searcher Googles "unsanitized Mormon history" they come up with something better than the permanent gripe sessions on display at various boards. And while we're at it, yes, I think you can add Deseret Book to the list of problems.
How and Where. This is just a matter of getting people who need it to read a couple of general books on LDS history written from a faithful but informed perspective. I guess RSR and Story of the Latter-day Saints would be the top two, except that RSR is so darned long I hesitate to recommend it as a first biography of Joseph Smith. Do any CES courses have these books as required texts? Since Institute (and BYU Religion) is the best candidate for inoculating our youth, that's a serious question to pose. Why are they pumping out CES manuals rather than assigning texts written by bona fide historians?
I guess my bottom line is that inoculation is trickier than it looks. It's one thing to make a general claim that inoculation would be a good thing if it just means that people ought to read a book or two on LDS history. But if you try and spell out the details of some "inoculation program," you have to confront the difficulties I allude to above, which present real challenges to any sort of program. Institutionally, however, there are some very promising developments: The appointment of Marlin K. Jensen. RSR being (reportedly) well received by LDS leaders. The official sponsorship of the new Mountain Meadows book that is coming in 2008. No historians excommunicated lately. All of this bodes well for the future.
[Note: Kevin at BCC, one of the presenters at the session on inoculation, posted notes on the session, in four comments starting at comment #102.]