The Bananality of Mormon Studies: A Personal Encounter

Tother day: during a jaunt through a simmering intellectual salon called Facebook, I learned that by adding a flavored pudding mix to ones banana-bread dough, why, the resultant increase in relative moisture renders the final product altogether de-light-ful. Here I too strive by way of personal anecdote and even cultural analysis to add something like that secret pudding mix secret to the banana bread that has become Mormon Studies; or is it reversed? To the Mormon Studies that has become so much banana bread, I mean to say, I hope to mix insight into how it has become rather moister of late, and not, you see, because some priest has cast it upon the waters. Anyway.

Now, that metaphor has some leftover utility, just like spotted bananas my kids sneer at, unless concealed by cake. What should we do with all these belearned Mormons, many with post-graduate education, and many more graduates of professional schools, eager to learn lesser educated Saints how to acquire the baubles of intellect and without concealing the garish flair of faith. These green bananas, lets say. Become a Mormon Scholar! Or, a Mormon who studies Mormons and or Mormonism, historicosociologotheologiphilosophically speaking. Grow ones Faith, and even get published was the basic premise when it all started.

The vast majority of practitioners of Mormon Study are amateurs, I mean to say. Green. And what of it, elitist schmuck, is not this the Age of the Amateur? Indeed. Having devoted the better part of my adult years to the actual study of Mormon culture, language, and history, having even got a PhD for my troubles, from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, let me explain why the Amateur is, in fact, an agent of the Correlated Fruit Company, otherwise called the Corporation. Some call it, wrongly, The Church.

A personal account, then. Before nightly slaving away on the index of my dissertation, I was by day employed to conduct media research for a subsidiary of the Corporation, for the Presiding Bishop, the CPB for those in the know. I worked at the COB, the Church Office Building. I was to assess the cultural and spiritual effects of media produced in the Audiovisual Department. Sounds exciting, I know, but peel back the peel. It was a miserable job, in no small part because I was warned never to do any actual work (or thats how I recall it now), and before I was laid off in December of that year I was creating online surveys that measured the impact of a training film designed to teach Temple Engineers how to check the batteries on smoke alarms. Really.

So, I ended up teaching college for a few years. Then I became a convenient plug for gaps in the departmental budget. Removing me, that is. Yet, while Visiting Assistant Professor I managed to knock out not only a draft of a book about the way grammar shapes speculative imagination, but also got several chapters deep into a novel concerning an 1880s polygamist baseball club in Utah Territory. And I wrote what eventually was titled The Book of Mammon.

Again finding myself unemployed, I dutifully twisted the work into something utterly unpublishable, unning [sic] man and book alike. Sent the manuscript to a Mormon publisher, just to be sure no one would indeed ever publish it (or read it, if published). Thanks but no thanks. I sent the MS to a few friends, and some rather liked it. Having recently dealt with another editor at a quasi-academic press who suggested I play up the coltishness of the religion (I doubt colt was a pun), and another copy editor who changed an academic essay to read antipolygame where I apparently misspelled anti-polygamy, why, I bethought myself, who needs these guys? So I decided to wait, pretend youre a bishop in the Church of Academia, OK? I decided to publish the book. Myself. It feels good to confess that sin. I illustrated it, designed the cover, and so on. Called it an independently published book in hopes that it might borrow something of the cachet of independent film.

Copies were sent to prominent persons of high rank in Mormon Studies Circles. Some held high seats in Bloggernacledom. One replied that though it was fucking brilliant, I had written a book that should never be published. Professional suicide was kindly given and probably fair prognostication. Others ignored it. One threatened to quit a particular blog if a review ran. An undergraduate said it was full of hubris. A legitimate scholar wrote a review, or rather, a review that warned, though I am an Angry Man, and it an Angry Book, Mormons should give me an ear nonetheless. This reviewer forgot to mention that the book was about the culture and recent history of the Church Office Building, where I also worked; but that theme was, I suppose, an oblique sentiment silenced by throbbing invective. A friend with rather better social skills proposed the review not be posted, anywhere. MSM bore similar non-fruits. Mammon was, of course, rejected as altogether unsuitable for discussion at the liberal Salt Lake Tribune, on Utah Public Radio stations, and other media outlets apparently uninterested in the corporate side of Mormonism. I mean, who cares what really goes on in the headquarters of the religion of the majority of Utahns? Here the bananas took on a distinctly yeller, or maybe just jaundiced, cast.

Andrew Ainsworth at kindly interviewed me for four hours, and MSP also posted an interview. Then, the big break. The portal keeper at invited me to submit an essay, off-the-cuff and not too academic, scrying the Future of Correlation. It was for their upcoming Future of Mormonism series, and as I had a (apparently unread) dissertation on the history of Correlation, I was deemed both faithful and credentialed. The essay was sent on a Friday at deadline, its author hoping the Portal Keeper would post it without a glance. I heard nothing other than thanks, and waited until Monday for it to post. Would they really post an essay that suggested the LDS Church would become virtual religion, its Prophet updating His Facebook Status to read Prophesying? The Editor, Supervisor of the Keeper, suggested that day I revise the essay because it was too oblique, and perhaps a bit sly for the presumed readers. Revised, dumbed down, lamed up, altogether crippled of humor, the revised essay was marched out. Much more in line with the others, Editor replied, great work, just a little copy-editing. Next day I was told the essay was too much an angry one-sided rant, its tone not at all in key if it was to sing with the choir there. So I revised, counseled the work, twelve-stepped it, resubmitted. Nothing. Perhaps, I replied, you might indicate the offending passages? No. Perhaps the employment of the Portal Keeper as a half-educated Priestcrafter in the Church Education System has something to do with the sudden turn to tone as the essays irresolvable and unspeakable problem? Editor replied that s/he knew not of what I spoke. I sent a link to the CES catalogue wherein Brother Keeper was listed as teaching Book of Mormon this fall at the local institute. That was the end of our dialogue. Perhaps the authors bio was finally glanced at, and Mammon was noticed. The banana had shown its spots.

So? In the essay about The Future I suggested that online venues not directly funded by the Corporations widows mites would increasingly self-Correlate; that is, conduct discursive surveillance and patrol the borders of the sayable. Why? Correlation is a term for a genre whose contours shift, and thus whose pragmatics as we say in anthropology, whose social effects, are measured in practical ways every Sunday, every home teaching, every FHE. What is appropriate is vaguely defined, and that means those with cultural power get to say what is Correlated; failing that, what is not offensive to ones neighbor, real or imagined, can be the measuring stick of Correlated.

What can be said about Correlation is also likened unto the phrase Mormon Studies. It has no definition; it has only defenders of an undefined ideal. An ideal even more dependent on uses of language, under assault by imagined enemies: Anti-Mormons, and The Overly Faithful (TBMs?). All three are merely projections, stereotypes, from discursive acts disseminated by identifiable outlets (e.g., ULHM, Deseret Book, Dialogue), and in the future I hope to read an excellent dissertation on their interdependent development. Each genre offers medicines for venal diseases contracted when ones mind lingered too long in a dark alley, the back pew, or some frottageal dorm. Each genre of Mormon discourse seems to engender more disbelievers in, than converts to, its cause. Thus further self-correlation is prescribed, and reactions emerge.

Mormon Studies is something like a half yellow, half green, prematurely spotted banana, when unpeeled reveals bruising enough to be inedible but to the desperatest of apes; or to be no banana at all, but something merely bananal. It is the ape of academia, the hooting jackanapes of the Corporation, and the jack-in-the-box of the AntiMormon. Verily witness the trinity, three in one, one in three. A mystery, without shape or form, passions or art. Like The Church, a name tossed about but which in practice names nothing tangible; only a way that is neither straight nor narrow, but curved and yellow, not forever durable but rather set to expire three days from the date of purchase. These are slogans. Tweet away.

I mean to say this: The name Mormon Studies apes on Cultural Studies, but does so without the architecture of its better angel. There are no tenured professors to train the next generation, rigorously but fairly in the ways of serious analysis, research, and writing. What of the much ballyhooed Chairs in Mormon Studies, or Masters Programs? Chairs are the enemy of Mormon Studies, for Chairs are given to professors preferred by benefactors; the market holds sway there. Without the protection of tenure, and a funding source independent of the subject studied by the Chaired, such positions are to Mormon Studies what Swiftboat Veterans For Truth are to documentary film. Masters Programs without terminal doctoral degrees are akin to banana trees genetically modified to bear no fruit. Look good in a greenhouse, but dont punch the ol meal ticket.

So Mormon Studiers have three options. First, cozening by the Corporation. Need I even say this option merely extends the work of Correlation already done freely by so many bloggers, editors, and essayists? Seekers after COB should sign up with CES and be done with it. There can be no middle ground where God is thought to punch in and hold conference calls; get in line or get out of the way, a social key easy to carry about in such places.

Second, part-timering the Mormon scholarship while buttering ones bread with serious work in other fields: lawyering, selling, knitting, whatever. This is often good enough for God, as Book of Mormon prophets, at least, ate bread earned by sweat rather than got by taxation. But. Half of ones heart being given to a work grows only half-hearted work; no matter how many late nights and early mornings one devotes, it generally remains a hobby. Perhaps one blogs while pursuing degrees in some distantly related fields or paying occupations, attends or even presents at some conference that is not General but nevertheless faith-promoting. The damage done by hobbyists can be seen at the MHA, for example. Tiny obsessions, perhaps ones great-granddaddys milch cow versifications, are allowed so long as they do not disturb The Narrative chanted by the Church History Department and its echoers. Sure, a little controversy is required, but nothing that would question the basic purity of the journal, the conference, or the blog. Hobbyists believe that sincerity, pluck and pure determination supplement a lack of training, earned craftsmanship, and the need for total sacrifice to the discipline. Thus Correlation emerges while hobbyists remain, content to lead lesser Weekenders.

Third, attempting to write serious scholarship with an eye single to Mormonism. Sound promising? Give D. Michael Quinn, no meager scholar, a call. I was asked by a dean during a job interview if I was a Mormon; he being Evangelical noted certain facts on my CV. I was told by a colleague too, that if I only downplayed my research on Mormonism, my attendance at the U of Utah, my last name, I would be on the tenure track. Despite millions spent on PR, Mormons remain a most despised religious group, equally so on the Left and the Right hand. We should content ourselves with the knowledge that the Spirit of Contention flees when these opposed parties slander Mormons. Replace the word Mormon where it occurs in daily conversations around the nations campuses and offices with the word Jew and one has grounds for censure. Otherwise, chortles ensue.

If you can convince academia that Mormons are legitimate subjects for study, and that you can do it without preaching or cryptoconverting, you are a better scholar-actor than I. Or you are clearly not Mormon, say, B. Carmen Hardy, one of the few outsiders who doesnt try to write as an insider (Jan Shipps, anyone?) and who also does brilliant work. If you can convince the Utah State Legislature that your proposed major leading to advanced degrees in Mormon Studies is worth funding, despite the subject-independent stances necessarily taken by your students, your program is already DOA when it comes to respected scholarship. Outside Utah all of Utah is Mormon, and that means rejection letters. Your graduates will adjunct in your department.

There are no options, I mean to say, for Mormon Studies. Its a genre, not a discipline. Mormon Studies is now the ghetto of Correlation, for it is cheaply built (relative to the Corporations expenses) and far away, and not offensive enough for a pogrom. It is often an auxiliary of the Public Relations Department, and getting at the Truth is not really in their job description. Just like the word The Church, or Correlation, it too has no single referent. Thus it gains sense only as a tool: to slap with, to lament its impotency, hardly visible but when extending already existing Powers. It is a word for Unofficially Correlated, for Hobby, for Woefully Nave, and the reasons are obvious. The only groups with real interest, that is, interest enough to pony up for scholarship, are the Antis and the Corporation (and subsidiaries like BYU). They have interests in the conclusions reached, they imagine converts come from your pens. Mormon Studies is a word for not-quite-passionate-enough to be Anti, not quite self-referential enough to be faith-promoting. So, whats the point, you might be asking? Not about this essay, I assume that was asked some time ago, but the point of Mormon Studies?

Bananas pair well with milk, but never with meat. Another slogan, perhaps, but theres religion for ye. The point of Mormon Studies? Just as the phrase refers to many distinct discursive practices, the purposes are likewise varied. To create a faith that seems free of official propaganda, or a community where the mind is valued, in short, to design a falsely secular solution to spiritual malaise; to change the course of the Church, that is, until one gets a Red and High Seat; to enrich the gospel with unofficial resources (Hegel, Whitehead, or Peirce, anyone?) that are all too easy to Correlate; to write a navel-gazing thesis; to be a big fish in a small pond (Given this, let me mention Bakhtin/Kant/Foucault, but not face any terrifying thoughts); to revise our History in the image of the Present (Kathleen Flakes inconceivably championed pamphlet on the Smoot hearings and train rides thereabout provides plenty of evidence contradictory to its thesis, and even captions a photograph of the Joseph Smith Memorial as, ironically, raised to the memory of Joseph F. Smith (pictured, no less; see p.113).

What can be the effect of Mormon Studies? Until a generation of tenured scholars cranks out research read by students in the discipline, and then by natives who may squirm, and journals and Chairs are independent of benefactors, subscription or donation; until there is evidence satisfactory to academia that Mormons can write without ulterior motive about Mormons and Mormonism, the point of Mormon Studies seems to be: to stroke ones ego where Church has left it unattended, or after unattending oneself from Church in mind or in body, to convince oneself that a community, any community, cant be wrong. Either way, call its seed Correlation.

Meat doesnt go with bananas; Cain made an offering of the field, Abel grilled fresh lamb. See where bananas got Cain? The gods, says Roberto Calasso, prefer the incense of burned flesh, and savor the salt wrung in our devotions. So let us return to my personal tale. The Book of Mammon exists, and that is enough for me. Its no masterpiece, but its pretty good, I think. Sorta complex. Id like people to read it, sure, but not people who have in interest in saying it says something it dont say. It aint about bureaucracy, or validating Weberian typology, or an angry hypermasculine rant, or confirming the Divine Mind in Correlation. Its about numbers; how numbers change things, make new things possible, like a new religion. It speaks to believers in some sort of Mormonism who cant seem to find much to believe in at Church, and gives a few reasons for why the Spirit has apparently fled; or to non-believers whod like to learn and laugh at the same time. Whatever. However, the book reveals fractures I never discerned before.

Before my experiment to publish independently, I believed the blogs independent from the Corporation. In truth their dependence is all the greater because the relationship to Official Mormonism, qua Correlation, remains uncertain. Mormon blogs are the eager beaver awkward and paranoid summer intern at the Corporation, trying extra hard because never convinced it will be asked on board, thanked, appreciated. The hard fact, obvious enough, is that blogs are no solution to the structural problems of Mormon Studies; in fact, blogs make its realization perhaps impossible, creating props for the closet unbeliever, stumbling blocks for others, and costuming in priestly robes the Bananarama called, wrongly, The Church.

In the spirit of Mormon Studies at its most facile, let me paraphrase Derrida, who said maybe tongue-in-cheek that weve reached a point in history where only the Messiah can save our asses. In a more defiant spirit, let me mention the opening scene of Thomas Pynchons Gravitys Rainbow. Pirate Prentice after pissing, without a thought in his head and waiting in vain for the German rockets to hit his flat in England, enters a bananery, among the pendulous bunches, among these yellow chandeliers, this tropical twilight. . . . There follows banana mead, banana omelets, banana casseroles, mashed bananas, banana blancmange, waffles, sandwiches, kreplach, croissants, oatmeal and jam, all banana; a sharing of the conjurors secret and more plainly, in the high intricacy of this communion eaten by pals, it is not often Death is told so clearly to fuck off. Until Mormons fear extermination, and this from someone other than our own determined, best of intentions People, Mormon Studies will remain another loaf of mealy bananality. Wrap in foil, share with neighbors; a gesture, bland and not offensive, a gift sometimes welcome; but lacking the good priestly rites, a quickening charity, leavening of flesh and heft of sacrifice that would send its image knocking, knocking on heavens door. Saint Peters first question? Is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just happy to see heaven?

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91 Responses

  1. Andrew S. says:

    I’m very interested in seeing what some of the guys at FPR have to say about this article…I am not in academia, but I’ve seen them discuss some of the issues with “Mormon Studies” (esp. outside of Utah)

  2. Chino Blanco says:

    Speaking of FPR, this post might make for interesting side-by-side reading. No Bakhtin, Kant or Foucault, but plenty of Marshall McLuhan!

    Not to mention, Mormon Studies: Catching the New Wave and Mormonism in the Academy.

  3. aerin says:

    Without the protection of tenure, and a funding source independent of the subject studied by the Chaired, such positions are to Mormon Studies what Swiftboat Veterans For Truth are to documentary film. Masters Programs without terminal doctoral degrees are akin to banana trees genetically modified to bear no fruit. Look good in a greenhouse, but dont punch the ol meal ticket.

    I think this is a particular apt statement, and fits with issues (medical research, energy research) outside of Mormon Studies. Many parts of academia struggle with this dynamic, and I’m not sure where things will end up. I would like to assume that funding does not always corrupt the subject being funded, but I think it does happen (and has happened).

    If you can convince academia that Mormons are legitimate subjects for study, and that you can do it without preaching or cryptoconverting, you are a better scholar-actor than I.Or you are clearly not Mormon, say, B. Carmen Hardy, one of the few outsiders who doesnt try to write as an insider (Jan Shipps, anyone?) and who also does brilliant work.

    Of course Mormons and mormonism are legitimate subjects for study. I say this from a hobbyist perspective. The idea just hasn’t born fruit just yet. This is an American religion founded in the nineteenth century (during “The Great Awakening”) that is still around. Why do historians study civil war battlefields or Andrew Jackson’s plantation? Why not?

    I’ll give an example. For the longest time, clothing/costume was not considered a legitimate source of study or research. It was not collected by museums, or rarely collected and preserved. This has changed. For whatever reason, people are interested in what their ancestors wore – so now you see collections of clothing and research published, etc.

    I believe the “follow the money” approach to this question works. For whatever reason, the research and tenured positions follow the money. This is the trend in academia, and will continue to be the trend. To the point of the original post, however – how to get independent funding of a Mormon studies professor? Good luck on that one.

  4. Alan says:

    The name Mormon Studies apes on Cultural Studies, but does so without the architecture of its better angel.

    My MA is in Cultural Studies, so I know what you mean about the “no-place” in which Mormon Studies exists. But I actually think this is to its benefit. It allows particular scholars to say “I study Mormons” and to fill a niche of their making.

    If you can convince academia that Mormons are legitimate subjects for study, and that you can do it without preaching or cryptoconverting, you are a better scholar-actor than I.

    Isn’t the trick to make Mormonism about more than just Mormonism? You have to make it the example of “bigger” themes in which you’re an expert. For example, correlation as a “historicosociologotheologiphilosophical” notion is quite powerful. Rather than cryto-convert people, you have to convert them to the idea that Mormonism is more important than they think it is because it embodies these larger themes about the human condition — which also means you have to be less angry about it.

    This article about the four future trends of Mormon publishing seems useful. (1) More self-publishing, (2) less centralizing publishing, (3) more non-Mormon publishing of Mormonism (that’s not tied to conversion), and (4) Mormon-only authors will have trouble making a living.

  5. Madame Curie says:

    yay! daymon smith is on MSP!

  6. Hellmut says:

    You have got a lot going for you, Daymon, in this essay. If you pick up the particular topics and explain things a little bit more elaborately, there’s almost a year’s worth of blog posts.

  7. Hellmut says:

    Hellmut loves Cassandra . . . and Daymon Smith.

  8. Chino Blanco says:

    By the way, since you’re here, Aerin, I want to thank you for that thread you started at FLAK about Daymon’s book. It was fun.

    And as long as I’m here, I’m gonna quote a few of my own unguarded responses to Daymon’s book on that thread:

    I think Daymon will be OK. He was very careful in his approach. If you haven’t read the book, it’s fairly sympathetic. For example, in my own case, before picking up The Book of Mammon, I’d always equated the LDS church with Micronesian cargo cults. Now that I’ve read Daymon’s book, I equate the LDS church to a Micronesian cargo cult run by a bunch of Harvard MBAs. Impressive stuff, to hear Daymon tell it.

    The entire superstructure of contemporary Mormon culture is a bizarre syncretic goulash of Christian shame and American corporate management philosophy served with a garnish of western US small-town boosterism.

    Now back to the program …

  9. Chino Blanco says:

    Or maybe not. I don’t want to neglect Madame Curie or this post.

  10. Madame Curie says:

    I have a lot I could say about Daymon’s book. The Mormon Stories podcast with Daymon Smith prompted my husband to purchase The Book of Mammon for me, largely because Smith’s work uncovered issues that made me furious. We also have Smith’s PhD thesis downloaded and saved on our computer’s desktop to refer to.

    Daymon, it baffles me that you were able to publish your book without getting any sort of Church discipline. I found most of the book damning of the Corporation (and, in my mind, this is a good thing).

  11. kuri says:

    Mmmm bananas…

  12. Chris H. says:

    “No. Perhaps the employment of the Portal Keeper as a half-educated Priestcrafter in the Church Education System has something to do with the sudden turn to tone as the essays irresolvable and unspeakable problem? ”

    He is a a complete moron, like most people with graduate degrees from the University of Chicago. He is a volunteer institute instructor. Unpaid.

  13. Chris H. says:

    “Im very interested in seeing what some of the guys at FPR have to say about this articleI am not in academia, but Ive seen them discuss some of the issues with Mormon Studies

    I might, if I did not feel that we are regularly being shit on at the same time around here.

  14. Chino Blanco says:

    Are you sure you’ve got the right thread, Chris H.? Or blog, for that matter? We’re awfully French around here. Why do you think we have such outrageous accents? Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time …

  15. Chino Blanco says:

    Getting back to Daymon’s post … the bits about the future reminded me of a discussion we had over at r/exmormon: What do you think the church will be like in 100 years?

    This was my prediction:

    … public fights over church assets will start to break out among the leadership within the next 25 years. One faction will wind up owning LDS intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, websites, etc.), with a different faction left owning LDS real estate. When that happens, the name on the chapels will change to reflect the new ownership, and the old LDS brand will become completely virtual. Families will be torn apart as members decide to either:

    A) unplug and join the new off-the-grid Chapel Mormon movement, or

    B) install Internet Mormonism v6.0

  16. TT says:

    Andrew S,
    In brief, once you strip away the overwrought analogies, the parts of this essay that aren’t 1) hubristic self pity for just not being appreciated by lesser mortals, 2) thinly veiled vendetta for not being appreciated by specific lesser mortals, and 3) the author’s constant reminder to his readers of his totally awesome PhD, make a few completely obvious points about the problems that Mormon Studies faces, points that those who are interested in this issue have been making for a long time. The rest of his homogenization of whatever the referent he imagines Mormon Studies to be (his own normative discursive construction which he seems unwilling to acknowledge) is more polemic than analysis. FWIW, to whatever extent the author sees himself as a model for what Mormon Studies should be, I sincerely hope that his model loses, not because I am an agent of the “COB” as he so readily dismisses his opponents, but because not since the racists of the 19th c. have I seen a polemicis like this try to pass for anthropology, and I pray for the future of the academy that we never return to this kind of “scholarship.”

  17. Hellmut says:

    Thanks for stopping by, TT. It seems to me that anybody who engages in Mormon studies research will be subject to an extraordinary amount of frustrations. Reasonable readers will allow for that.

    Furthermore, it seems to me that everything that you have to say about Daymon applies so much better to your post, especially the part about polemics short on analysis.

    A little bit of charity can go a long way when we need to expand our horizon. Mormonism is challenging for the most reasonable among the Saints.

  18. TT says:

    How so? I’ve certainly been called a snob before, but I’ve never been so snobby as to feel the need to list my own credentials, for what they are worth, or the credentials of those who negatively or positively evaluated my work. Were I ever to self-publish a work of ethnographic fiction, I’m pretty sure I’d just be grateful that anyone took me seriously enough to review at all.
    As for polemics short on analysis, I don’t think anyone could ever accuse Daymon of being short on anything. My problem is polemics masquerading as analysis, as if it just they way it is. A little bit of charity, indeed, would be called for in the essay that compares every single Mormon studies scholar to either a naive green banana or a rotten one.
    I’ve been meaning to write a response to Daymon for a long time. Maybe I will finally get around to it.

  19. Chris H. says:

    “Ive certainly been called a snob before,…”

    Those have been some fun discussions.

  20. Sanford says:

    Daymon, you really really frustrate me.

    The BCC correlation series was one of the most enlightening things I’ve read in a long long time. Because of it, I was very excited to get my hands on the Book of Mammon. But as I looked through it at Benchmark Books I realized that it was going to be long tedious process to get through it. Plus, I don’t know enough to discern when you are telling it like it is and when you are engaging in some sort of Kafkaesque rant. I choose not to read it so as not be confused by fact and fiction (assuming there is a meaningful difference). It makes me sad because you have what seems to my uneducated and hobbyist eyes, a real insight into the the workings of the Mormon machine. You just seem to be unable to get it out with making it close to incomprehensible — to me anyway. I sense there is a lot of art in how you do your work and that’s cool but come on, can’t you tone it down a bit for amateurs like me? I think you would get better mileage, if you care about that. But maybe your not writing for people like me. If so, good luck. I will keep trying to read your work and hope for some cognition.

  21. chanson says:

    TT — I’d be curious to read your response to Daymon. I’ve found the articles on FPR about Mormon Studies (as an academic discipline) quite interesting, so, naturally, like Chino @2, I was curious about what you guys think of him. Apparently, you must agree on at least some “completely obvious points about the problems that Mormon Studies faces.” As an outsider to the discipline, if you could clarify a bit the points of agreement, that would already help me get the points of disagreement better.

    Regarding the disagreement: In a nutshell, it’s that his fictionalized account of working at the COB is a polemic, and shouldn’t be considered academic research, right? What about his research on the history of correlation? Do you have the same opinion of that?

    Didn’t someone on your blog write about how difficult-to-impossible it is to get an academic position in Mormon Studies? (I can’t find the link.) At least you can empathize with his frustration even if his way of expressing it rubs you the wrong way, can’t you?

    Chris H. — shit on around here? What the…? I have to echo Chino’s confusion @15. Too many windows open again or something? 😉

  22. Daymon says:

    Thanks to those who’ve read the essay.
    TT, I look forward to your review.

    I guess part of my non-concern over textually distinguishing b/t ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’ is that it’s a contrivance I didn’t want to burden the book with. Readers can decide, and do decide anyway, often on the flimsiest of reasons (“feeling” or style or book design). Anyone who hasn’t realized that probably won’t get so much from the Book of Mammon. Where would one shelve the Book of Mormon, for instance? Fact or Fiction? There are many genres which don’t fit easily into either one, in part because that categorization has become reader-dependent; and there’s plenty of Mormons who search out the Steeds’ homestead.

    With respect to having nothing to say that hasn’t been said, and otherwise ranting that no one understands me, if that’s what you get from this essay, I see no point in responding.

    For others asking for clarification: Mormon Studies is a phrase, it names something not at all like Cultural Studies; the problem is not solved by expanding Mormonism, or studying Mormonism, because the problem is not due to a limitation of Mormonism to Mormonism. The problem is that the phrase was invented by analogy with emerging academic identity politics, and yet the minters of the name didn’t really do the work to make it more than a textual analogy. Incomprehensible drivel? I don’t think so, but let me announce yet again my credentials…

    I’ve read some who are angry about the analogy to bananas, but I’ve not heard anyone cite a Mormon Studies author that doesn’t fit with the analysis (yes, there is analysis there). Am I wrong in the argument, or just irritating for writing the way I do? “Tone” perhaps is the sticking point?

  23. TT says:

    We agree that the lack of doctoral programs in Mormon Studies poses a problem for the future of the field. We agree that graduate students who do enter this field may face difficulty finding employment, whether they study at fancy schools or come out of official Mormon Studies programs (though this account is greatly exaggerated and ignores all the people who have done it). We also agree to a certain extent that scholarship on Mormonism is a little suspect for some in the academy, though this too I think is greatly exaggerated. We agree that there is some disagreement about what exactly Mormon Studies is.

    We disagree that Mormon scholars, amateur or professional, are agents of Correlation. We disagree that one can just dismiss the Claremont Chair of Mormon Studies because of who funded it as another agent of the Corporation. We disagree that all of the work of non-professional scholars of Mormonism is “half-hearted” and definitionally inferior to professional scholarship. We disagree that Mormon Studies is rooted in Cultural Studies (frankly, I’ve never heard this claim before), but rather that it parallels Jewish Studies, Buddhist Studies, Islamic Studies, etc. (In general I think that Smith’s persistent avoidance of religious studies is one of his biggest methodological problems.) We disagree that the limitations that Mormon Studies faces now spells its inevitable doom.

    Most seriously, we disagree on the ethics of scholarship and the position that one who seeks to be called a scholar should have vis a vis his or her object of study. When you ask about distinguishing Smith’s scholarship from his polemic, the problem is that he has crossed an academic line. Let’s be clear. Smith is not simply offering a critique, but a full blown polemic where Mormons are automatons and the Church is reducible to the biggest evil for liberal-arts students: a Corporation! (We all know humans aren’t parts of corporations…). To invoke the example he offered above, if a scholar of Judaism persistently dehumanized Jews in is polemical writings, you wouldn’t much trust him or her with regard to their scholarship. The same point holds here as well. Besides, he is the one who insists that his polemic is the result of his scholarship, not something separate from it.

  24. TT says:

    I guess we were typing at the same time. I did write up a review last night. It was way too mean. I am still deciding what to do, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t make it public. In any case, I am interested in why you think that “tone” is somehow separate from the argument itself. While I find your writing obnoxious, the real reason is ultimately because I think you have serious methodological and ethical problems as a scholar. Tone is part of that since it signals both a methodology (polemic vs. analysis) and a ethics (antogonistic vs. sympathetic).

  25. chanson says:

    TT — Thanks for clarifying, you make some good points.

    The one point I’m a little leery on is conflating his critique of the COB with “dehumainzing” the average Mormon on the street. The COB and the leadership may well function not merely as a corporation but as an incredibly incompetent corporation without that being any kind of statement about the lay Mormons who have no say in its operations. (Regardless of whether Daymon’s particular critique is valid or academically rigorous.)

  26. TT says:

    yes, except that in order for his claim that Correlation is a totalizing discourse which draws bloggers, scholars, etc under its domain, he has to argue that it is a normative discourse that reaches beyond the walls of the COB (which is his down discursive construction). His account of the power of discourse is that it only works from the top down.

  27. Hellmut says:

    Thanks a lot for your response, TT. I am sorry if you or your friends are on the receiving end of Daymon’s frustrations. I don’t know what is exactly going on but it seems to me that this is primarily not a personal but an institutional problem.

    If I were to express my frustrations about my field of studies then it would make sense to mention my efforts to master the field. I don’t think that Daymon was bragging. He was just providing context for his feelings and conclusions.

    His claim that Mormon studies does not sustain independent scholarship is certainly correct. It’s probably also true that Internet Mormonism does not provide enough support.

    On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to be fair to blame anyone for that but if we cannot sustain the efforts of someone like Daymon to improve his research and scholarship then there is something institutionally wrong.

    Daymon, of course, takes it personally, which is not entirely fair but given the price he is paying, I think that’s understandable.

  28. Hellmut says:

    We understand the political economy of patronage pretty well, TT. We is pretty much everyone except for Nate Oman. 😉

  29. chanson says:

    TT — fair enough; we’ll see what Daymon responds.

    I would guess that scholars who are members of the CoJCoL-dS are more likely to self-correlate than other Mormon scholars (just because of the spectre of getting ex’d and/or fired from BYU). As for the bloggers, it seems to me that there’s a wide range of independent voices — which is why I like the Bloggernacle so much more than I like the CoJCoL-dS. I have a vague impression that they some tendency to police each other on who is speaking for/against the brethren, but I can’t really say how faithful Mormon bloggers compare to other categories of bloggers.

    Naturally, I’m way outside my field here, so I can’t really analyze the validity of Daymon’s research. Note, however, I have a Ph.D. too (Mathematics, Rutgers 1998). Just thought I’d mention it in case anyone in this discussion was doubting my awesome academic credentials. 😉

  30. Alan says:

    It seems silly to me to speak so negatively about Mormon Studies when Smith is trying to build himself up as a Mormon Studies scholar. Perhaps he’s not. Perhaps he’s done trying, as he feels burned too many times, or that it’s impossible. That’s what I took from this post, anyway.

    I can kind of see where he is coming from when it comes to trying to get Mormon studies published, and that it rests on the idiosyncrasies of people at the gates. If they’re tied to the Church, they’ll correlate consciously/unconsciously/subconsciously. And even if they’re not, they’ll correlate with what they think are the boundaries of Mormonism. As a case in point, reviewers from a University of California journal that reviewed my queer theory/Mormon studies essay questioned the “Mormon Studies”-ness of it. One reviewer said: “We will see people living on Mars before the Church budges on this issue.” I could have mistaken the reviewer for a conservative Mormon, but I doubt he was (he was obviously a “he,” in any event). I’m just glad that Kristine Haglund at Dialogue is more open to movement (though it’s not for sure my essay will end up in there). Sometimes insiders view a need for a voice at a given moment that outsiders think puts that voice on the “outside.” My point is, I don’t see how this gatekeeping is so different from correlating to a discipline or a subdiscipline, like sociology or sociology of religion that has “truths” to navigate and paradigm shifts that are required — in fact, I find “Mormon Studies” to be quite freeing because it is like Cultural Studies (my background) in which scholars carve their own niches and can be taken seriously as long as they’re respectful and grounded methodologically. I agree with TT@17 that Smith is guilty of setting down a “normative discursive construction” of Mormon Studies deeply tied to correlation and he hasn’t demonstrated that this exists except anecdotally — which can be a word of caution for future scholars, but it also makes him sound like he’s finished.

    A lot of what Smith says about, say, convincing others that Mormons are worthy of study, or that Americans vilify Mormons (in the academy?) doesn’t sound right to me. People thought I was odd in my program for studying Mormonism, but folks catch on quickly that the culture is a case study with rich potential across a variety of lines of inquiry. Maybe I’m just naive, but maybe the academy has changed a little bit in the last decade? More room for interdisciplinarity, perhaps?

  31. Chino Blanco says:

    Alan – Re that first sentence in your last graf, I’d guess that whether one is “out West” or “back East” might also lead to different experiences. This is an ancient anecdote, but twenty years ago, when I was planning my undergrad transfer out of BYU (post mission, in response to the new mandatory church attendance rule), I flew out to New York to visit Fordham, Columbia and NYU before deciding where to enroll. Nothing mean-spirited and not instigated by anything I said particularly – other than that I was transferring in the hopes of finding an academic and campus experience different from BYU’s – but there were some chuckles shared during those NYC campus interviews that I don’t think would’ve been considered appropriate if we’d been discussing my upcoming transfer out of Yeshiva U.

  32. Chino Blanco says:

    By the way, I’ve gone back and taken a second look at Seth Perry’s contribution to that Future of Mormonism series, and I’ve got to say, it does leave me curious to hear an explanation for why Daymon’s piece was rejected.

    Snippets from Seth’s post that caught my eye:

    The Church that began with God’s personal appearance now carries out His work with more bureaucratic efficiency than prophetic aplomb …

    The greatest advantage of the staid bureaucracy that will define the Church’s immediate future has been its facilitation of international growth.

    Someday … there will be a sudden, dramatic, and permanent increase in non-American faces in the global Church leadership … greater autonomy afforded to local Church leaders; and tacit acceptance of local idiosyncrasies in worship …

    As descriptions, assessments and predictions go, these seem as debatable and controversial as anything on offer in the rejected essays.

  33. g.wesley says:

    Hi Daymon,

    We dont know each other, of course, and I dont feel personally invested in Mormon Studies. But I am a Mormon who studies some things sometimes. I also occasionally blog at FPR (yes, it was from Chris H that I learned of your post). So I guess I fall within the ranks of your intended audience.

    Though I am not a very imaginative reader and dont do well with extended metaphor, I can see that you raise some important issues. If they have been raised before, the issues will no doubt continue to be complex and require perennial attention.

    What I am wondering is whether you think the situation with Mormon Studies is all that different from any other program, track, or emphasis in the Humanities and Social Sciences? And if so, why/how? You seem to want Mormon Studies to become independent of benefactors, subscription or donation. That would be ideal, to be sure. But I doubt it will ever happen, as I sense you do too.

    In fact, my skepticism (or is it ignorance?) runs so deep that I doubt there are any programs, tracks, or emphases in the Humanities and Social Sciences that are financially self sufficient and therefore free from the compromises of ideology.

    Take Islamic Studies, for instance, since the comparison has already been made. Exhibits A-E, from the conspiratorial to the advocatory:

    Yale, Mohammed cartoons and the ghost of Saudi funding,_get_sharia-backed_gold

    Islamic Studies programs and the problem of funding in the UK

    Harvard chair debacle

    State of Islamic Studies in American Universities

    Dont miss these paragraphs:

    American Muslims Should Step Forward and Fund More University Programs
    American Muslims are a significant part of the American social landscape. Therefore it is in their best interests to organize themselves effectively for the specific task of gaining a more favorable image in the academy. The time has come for both individual Muslim philanthropists and Muslim communities in various parts of the U.S. to come forward and finance university chairs, teaching fellowships, students scholarships, and specialized programs for the study and teaching of Islam and Islamic civilization. A few attempts have been made in this regard but community leadership should plan to fund at least five more chairs in major universities and ten chairs in second-tier universities and reputable liberal arts colleges. In addition, named scholarships for graduate students in Islamic studies and fellowships for dissertation research on topics related to Islam, should be sponsored by the community through the schools that already have established programs in Islamic studies. Furthermore:
    Muslim community funding for academic programs in Islamic studies should be
    allocated to several campuses so the community has a stake in several places
    rather than a few campuses. At the same time, however, if funds are distributed
    too thinly over too many campuses, there will be no discernable impact. A
    balance has to be struck between the two, that is the creation of as wide a stake as
    possible across many American campuses, and the assurance that funds allocated
    have some positive and tangible impact on the quality of teaching and research in
    Islamic studies that exists or takes place.
    Muslim philanthropists and communities should finance Islamic studies programs
    funding those schools that already have certain elements set in place including
    established infrastructure, a rudimentary program, a measure of commitment, and
    some interested faculty members in the fields of Islamic studies/religious
    studies/Middle Eastern studies. Only then will the school be able to make good
    use of funds to improve upon their already existing programs and facilities.
    Preference should be given to those schools that have a highly regarded liberal
    arts and humanities orientation in their undergraduate education thereby providing
    a very hospitable environment for an Islamic/Arabic studies program to develop.

    Donor Options
    Several options are available for Muslim donors to promote Islamic studies. Donors
    include individuals, communities, Muslim multinationals, and Muslim governments.
    Establish chairs of Islamic/Arabic Studies in selected campuses
    Establish programs, centers, or committees of Islamic studies within the existing
    departments or set of departments
    Fund the introduction of courses on Islam and the Arabic language
    Provide funding for faculty research in Islamic studies
    Provide funds for students scholarships for M.A.s and Ph.D.s in Islamic studies
    Provide funds to colleges and universities to establish regular lecture series on
    Provide funds to American students studying Islam for travel to Muslim countries
    and undertake courses at universities in the Muslim world as exchange students

    The IIIT

    This is not to say that because funding and ideological entanglement is a problem elsewhere (everywhere?) it should be accepted as a fact of life in Mormon Studies and left unconsidered, unquestioned, and unchecked. It shouldnt. But when you say that the COB/Correlation/Corporation not only controls Mormon Studies but all church members, from the business professionals and academics to bloggers, you sound to me like the conspiracy theorists who think that Islamic terrorists are behind all things Muslim.

    As I said, I think you raise important issues. But your approach does more to exacerbate than ameliorate, in my opinion. I dont think the problem is unique to Mormonism or Mormon Studies. This makes the issues all the more important while at the same time less sensational, because universal. Perhaps I am missing something, having not read your dissertation or the Book of Mammon.

  34. Hellmut says:

    TT, of course, correlation is a totalizing discourse. At least, that’s the intent of the institution’s leadership.

    That’s why we have been reenacting Galileo Galilei since the eighties in over a hundred documented cases.

    Mormons enforce conformity on each other by deploying those endless check lists from the Ensign against each other, so mush so that many of us do anything they can to keep other Mormons out of their homes.

    The enforcers are not only in the COB but they include our spouses, our parents, our children, our peers, and our neighbors. Felix Dzerzhinsky has got to be jealous.

    The most interesting phenomenon in Brighamism is perhaps the role of silence, the self-censorship that we apply to ourselves. Almost every blog on the ‘nacle openly censors what can and cannot be said, usually, to achieve compliance with official and semi-official norms or to avoid sanction in Church courts.

    There are laudable exceptions. FMH has been very courageous for many years now. Exponent II is a bulwark for liberty and dignity but, in general, the trend goes the other way.

    Having said that, many blogs like BCC, deserve credits for regularly but episodically asserting the liberty of conscience but those episodes are always accompanied by anxiety and hand wringing.

    I don’t mean to judge anyone in particular, but on the whole, it’s a pretty sad state for a people that ought to be free.

  35. TT says:

    All discourses are “enforced” to some degree, be it medical, academic, or ecclesiastical. That doesn’t make it “totalizing.” The problem with a purely top down model of discursive power is that it can not account for change. If you assume that power runs multidirectionally, and may be mobilized in different ways, you end up with a completely different model for how discourses come to be, and come to be enforced.

    I guess I don’t really believe in a pure form of “liberty of conscious” as a space that is free from discursive constraint and neither can anyone that really understands how discourses work. It’s all discourses, all the way down. Even, gasp, discourses of discontent and of departure are “policed.”

  36. Chino @33: I haven’t read through Smith’s essays, but there is a difference between “controversial” statements and “angry” ones. I think it’s up to the scholar to access where this line is rather than ask where it is, whereas Smith above indicated that he asked.

    I didn’t find Perry’s article to be controversial at all. The old white men can’t rule an international church forever, but they will probably rule through 2030.

  37. Chino Blanco says:

    I havent read through Smiths essays.

    Sorry to hear that. This is me posting the link for the third time. I think it’s up to commenters to access that link before assuming any characterizations of the essays are accurate. Personally, I think it’s the zaniness that drives the gatekeepers bonkers. I’ve seen more anger on this thread from the FPR crew than anything I’ve ever read in Daymon’s work.

  38. MoHoHawaii says:

    Daymon writes:

    Am I wrong in the argument, or just irritating for writing the way I do? Tone perhaps is the sticking point?

    I’m sympathetic to your argument, but here’s what baffles me. Why is it that people who study semiotics seem to lose the ability to write anything without clumsy, unfunny wordplay and a shield of ironic cleverness? Is it a feature of a particular occupational subculture? Just as many pilots take on the macho folksiness of Chuck Yeager, literary and cultural analysts seem to adopt the trickster persona and prose style of their profession’s own founding heroes. (If the goal is to sound as if you’ve been translated from the French, you’ve succeeded.) I guess it’s like the pilot from suburban New Jersey who comes on the PA and says, “Well, folks, I reckon we’re pert’ near two hours from when we can get this bird on the ground in Dee-troit….”

    I have read your dissertation and liked the information you unearthed about LDS bureaucratic history. The story of Correlation and the example of its application to the John Taylor manual were interesting. I’ve read your Future of Correlation essay, which as Chino Blanco says was zany but annoyingly so (see above). I’m sorry to say that issues of prose style have so far put me off from reading The Book of Mammon. It’s a shame because I’m sure I am dead center in your targeted demographic. Maybe I’ll succumb eventually, but for now I’ve been deterred.

    Best of luck to you. I look forward to more posts from you. I’d love to read your comments about the recent General Conference, for example.

  39. Daymon says:

    I agree that other Cultural Studies have similar problems. But, just because the subject of one’s study happens to be what one considers Mormon, that doesn’t make it “Mormon Studies”. My neighbor writes diet books, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct to say she publishes in Nutrition Studies. I do linguistic anthropology, and I’ve never considered it Mormon Studies. Mo St is simply a genre, not a discipline (or even sub). As a genre it is easily patrolled (even more easily when imagined as a discipline), and set off from Anti-Mormon and Faith-Promoting (to repeat the blogpost). That’s it. To study Mormons is rather different than to have Mormon Studies.

    My evil-speaking of the Hobbyist is not a sign of a personal grudge, but rather a way to flag a false ‘discipline’, and then to track out how that genre is bounded by certain parties with rather more interest and capital.

    I speak of a Corporation, and am deemed blustery or inflamatory. I refer to what is legally incorporated. I’m fine with people talking about “the Church” so long as they realize they refer to some melange of vagaries. I prefer precision in reference when possible.

    TT, to suggest I am guilty of bad ethics is a claim I find both confused and ridiculous. All you mean is that you find me unworthy in some undefined way. Again, thanks for performing exactly the amateur/correlationist knee-jerk reactionist that I only believed to be caricatured here.

    Thanks to TT for all the “we disagree”, as though some committee voted on an initiative. I now know there are we’s who disagree. I don’t really care that you can list what you find disagreeable; I’d rather hear why. To say I say Correlation is a “totalizing” institution makes no sense. Why not merely quote what I say, say, from the dissertation, or the Book of Mammon, rather than insert some more or less meaningless jargon (that always sounds ‘bad’; maybe I’m ‘dichotomizing’ too?) that grad students pick up as part of the ritual of education.

    There’s no way to take apart what I mean by Correlation here. And as far as anecdotal evidence goes, I have written over a thousand pages on the subject of Correlation, all of it accessible to anyone willing to read. That I can put myself into my own research subject is no different than any other anthropologist who would use her own experiences as a way to understand some culture. That is how an anecdote is transformed, magically, into ‘data’.

    The problem with “tone”? No definition. It’s only a metaphor, and as I am accused of employing absurd metaphors, perhaps I know one when I see one. “Tone” merely allows the reader/editor to refuse the argument without engaging it, to do so without any statement of principles, and so is a fault line in anything that aspires toward Mormon Studies. Call it ‘power’. Give me a definition, something practically useful for discriminating good from bad tone, and I’ll listen.

  40. Daymon says:

    yes there is ‘gatekeeping’ in any academic discipline. That’s an old chesnut. But to suggest that Anthropology is guarded by those we study is to say something false. It was tried in the 80s and 90s, and failed. We need permission to study, but not to publish. Otherwise it’s a version of PR (see above). Is Sociology guarded by its subjects (of course, it speaks largely of statistical profiles, but you get the point)? Of course, the problem is more pronounced in the Humanities than even Social Science, which is perhaps one reason why they are so fragmented right now. There are generalizations too easily tossed around about academia (see “TT” above), but these rarely apply to what is called Mormon Studies. Look to what is said about genre, and I think MoStu is described.

    The difference is one of ‘design’, as it were. Could one be opposed to Correlation as a Mormon, and as a scholar (that is to say, on grounds relevant in these different cultural fields) and consistently get away with calling one’s work “mormon studies”? I don’t think so, and for reasons that are argued in the post, not merely from anecdote.

  41. TT says:

    “we” in my response to chanson refers to you and I.

    I’m not surprised by your insults in lieu of an actual response. I think it illustrates perfectly the fact that you take “amatuer” and “correlating” to mean just disagreeing with you. I explain exactly what I mean by my charge that you have ethical lapses in your aholarship. If you want me to elaborate, just ask. You don’t need to make assumptions about how I fit into your schema of Mormons, which has nothing to do with my point.

    I have suggested that tone is a key part of what an argument is. You just said what you said before. Besides, I did respond to your arguments. You can’t keep pretending I fit your stereotypes.

  42. Daymon says:

    thanks for including me in your pronoun.

    You take response as an insult, and yet you’ve not said anything substantial in reply to the basic question of ‘tone’, your apparent default. I suspect you’re something other than an amateur, but who nonetheless enjoys the daily banana.

    In other words, let me speak simply. You don’t understand anything I’ve said.

  43. Hellmut says:

    To be fair to TT, Daymon, your material is so rich, some of your arguments have to be more explicit.

    I have the same problem. There’s a lot more there than is on the page.

  44. TT says:

    If I don’t understand it, I doubt anyone does. Why don’t we start over? How about you just make arguments, and I will respond. I’ve made the first round and am still waiting for your response. Explain what I’ve misunderstood.

    Speaking of misunderstanding…how many times do I have to say that my credentials, or lack thereof, are completely irrelevant? Please stop trying to catalogue me.

    I never raised the question of tone. You did. I responded. I raised the question of genre (polemic vs. analysis). The relationship of tone to argument is really not the certerpeice of my argument at, not even a little, and you are the one who simply repeated a position rather than answering mine.

    For someone who seems so obsessed with people dismissing him on the basis of “tone” (even though I haven’t done that), you sure seem preoccupied with dismissing people on the basis of credentials, another convenient way of avoiding actually dealing with the issues, especially since you think it usually cuts in your favor.

  45. Daymon says:

    Thanks for the compliment. I know there’s much in the post that presumes a background in certain disciplines, but as long as readers approach the text with an eye to understand, rather than to refute before they understand, I think the main points will get through. Often readers simply dismiss what they don’t grasp, and call it some other name. If you’d like clarification, please ask and I’ll do my best to clarify.

    Again, TT, if I’ve not met your definition of ‘argument’ I’ll not try again. Please read and argue against a point, with evidence or at least generally accepted rules of logic. And Polemic and Analysis are not genres, generally speaking. They are what we call metapragmatic terms, words for different kinds of speaking/writing which have capacity to characterize the subject described.

    As I’ve said three times now, I don’t give a fig about credentials. But there is a difference between amateur / armchair analysts and professionals, believe it or not. Get the proper ‘credentials’ (is that a dirty word now?) and you too will notice the differences. But, If an amateur can argue (I mean ‘argue’ and not ask me to defend points you’ve not argued against so much as dismissed) and write and do all the work, great. But . . . I guess I don’t see what’s wrong with being called an amateur, when in fact that name correctly depicts one’s status.

  46. Daymon says:

    If I can clarify any points or claims for readers, please let me know.

  47. Daymon says:

    if you could repeat just one of your arguments, then I could respond.

  48. TT says:

    I appreciate your efforts here, but it seems that you’ve decided that I’m not worth engagement. I will just post my review of your work a little later. While I appreciate your fig leaf about not giving a fig about credentials, it’s not covering much. I will take your condescension under advisement. Hey, how’s the job search going?

    Oh, and given your use of “genre” to define “Mormon Studies,” to define something which is not “generally speaking” considered a genre, I thought I’d stay closer to the traditional meaning of genre as stylistic differences that separate things like yellow journalism from scholarly essays. Neither, I’m sure, appears in some rigid taxonomy someplace, but no doubt come closer to how this contested term is generally speaking, deployed.

  49. TT says:

    Sorry, we posted at the same time again. I will put up my review a little later which, hopefully, can advance our conversation. Cheers!

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