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Short fishing trip, Dave!

I imagine that the letters pages of Newsweek may fill up with some pretty angry Mormon-haters. Just putting myself in their shoes for a moment: this article is pretty much following the Mormon line. But as the writer is a Mormon, that's not surprising.

Evangelical gripes (playing devil's advocate) would probably be:

- Mormonism is not the "fastest growing religion," at least not in any meaningful ways.

- What Joseph Smith has left behind in terms of records suggests the man a fraud, not just a "complicated man." Book of Abraham, anyone?

- Joseph Smith the author of "family values"? Give me a break, the man was an adulterer. (At least the CoC guy admits this.)

Boy, the SBC is gonna be ticked.

I think "what gives" is that the writer of the piece, Elise Soukup, is a mormon BYU grad. Here's an interview with her.

Thanks for the link, Ed. Not to argue with good press, but it seems a little disingenuous of Newsweek to not disclose somewhere in the story or the byline that the author of the article was LDS.

Dave they did in the editor's intro.

BTW, just want to make sure that people understand that the evangelical gripes above are not my own! I'm just anticipating the backlash.

Welcome Back, sir. Nice write-up. I appreciated the reflective nature of the post. This is the best article from such an outlet I have ever read.

Reading through the interview, I thought she did say it was disclosed. Like her, I think it reasonable to expect that writers on many topics have an intimate knowledge of that topic. For instance the gay teen article she cited was written from that background, so perhaps her being a mormon was just as appropriate. I think the balance portrayed was the most decisive factor in the appropriateness though. The article seemd to steer away smugness which is usually the aspect of bias that puts me off. I thought it was a very well balanced article. In fact it was remarkably well done. It doesn't force readers one way or another, simply gives logical possibilities for both sides of the debate.

Elise Soukup writes in her talk transcript that the printed edition says in some editor's note at the front that she is a lifelong member of the church.

Okay, I went and read the MSNBC interview of Ms. Soukup, the article's author. I thought she did a terrific job fielding questions. The interview was as interesting and informative as the main Newsweek article! I didn't catch the "Editor's Note" blurb in Newsweek — I'll go back and read it tonight. That probably is the right place to disclose the author's affiliations or biases regarding the story and it is nice Newsweek did so.

I was disappointed she included the "As man is God once was, as God is man may become."

In various interviews GBH has strongly affirmed the second part, while distancing us from the first. I believed he said something like "its more a couplet than anything" on Larry King. He goes to say that we don't know much about that and he hasn't heard it preahed in a very long time. I think the the idea of man becoming like God is much easier to defend than God once being a man, and I think the latter idea will turn a significant amount of non-mormon people off.

I'm so used to getting my news online that I did not hear about the article for days. Need to leave my computer wired hut more often.

From what I've read it is balanced. It did not gloss over some issues like DNA, and yet was also not an attack article. From what I've heard.

The most interesting thing about the article, to me, is that the Newsweek editors let a junior reporter who is a lifelong, believing Mormon write a cover article about her own faith. I don't think I would give much credibility to a Newsweek article on Scientology written by, say, Tom Cruise, even if it did quote the occassional critic and give lip service to the well-publicized controversies. But hopefully Newsweek readers are more trusting than me, because it was quite a PR coup for the Church.

Newsweek is crap. "A PR coup for the Church" is absolutely accurate, far more than any statement describing this thing as journalism. Again, not to complain about good press, but from a journalistic point of view this article was meaningless. How can you publish a cover story that breaks absolutely no new ground? And more or less regurgitates the subject's party line with no exploration of any of the conflictive issues? Just lip service?

I read a post from a guy who is supposedly in the writer's NYC ward, saying she was worried about backlash from the church and its members. I can't see why. With the exception of "rabble-rouser," "DNA," and that bit about doubt being encouraged (HUH?), it reads like a pamphlet.

Any Mormon who complains about this is absolutely NUTS.

Any Mormon who complains about this is absolutely NUTS.

Call me nuts then. I complain about it because it sucks. As was said above, it doesn't go anywhere, and man, this thing is bona-fide too stinkin' nice. I know all those counter-cult folks are fuming at reading this article. "Rabble-rouser"? C'mon, that's like saying "occasionally naughty."

Isn't the "fastest growing religion" comment qualified by the words "one of the"? If it isn't, then I'm REALLY upset.

Newsweek has not been a genuine news publication for years. The problem with this article wasn't that it was too postive on Mormons or not negative enough, but that it could have been written in 1995 (except for the DNA point), and contains nothing about current church trends. This is the letter that I sent to the editor, which I presume won't be published there:


Editors,

Your lead article on Mormonism ("The Mormon Odyssey," Oct. 17) was surprising for its shallowness, in fact your writer does not seem to have done anything more than a cursory review of recent events relating to the church. The idea of a blossoming church that is growing by leaps and bounds at home and abroad yet which faces continuing questions over its past could have been written in 1995. The reality today is this: the LDS church has acheived no substantial growth outside the Western Hemisphere, its membership in Latin America has collapsed with no more than 20% of its official membership active, and research in the U.S. has shown that in this country it has had no net growth over the past decade because as many people left the church as joined it.

Moreover, the point about DNA evidence contradicting the Book of Mormon undermining the claim to "no error in the revelations" shows a superficial knowledge of the relevant debates. This is because Mormons do not claim that the Book of Mormon was a revelation - it was allegedly a translation, with the revelations of Joseph Smith coming later.

I am not complaining that you are insufficiently critical of the Mormons — in fact, I think that your critical focus on Joseph Smith's polygamy was disproportionate and culterally anachronistic. The problem is that there is a really big story here - the stagnation and, in come cases, collapse of the Mormon church over the past decade - and your article missed it. This is a story of great significance to other religions, given that many Mormon converts come from their ranks. You need to publish another story on this subject.

KHS

Those who criticize the Newsweek article because the bylined writer, Elise Soukup, is LDS overlook the fact that the article was reviewed, revised, vetted and verified by a number of senior editors, none of whom are LDS.

So Mr. Sowell ... I suppose you have some references to back your figures up?

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