History Intellectualism Joseph Smith

Sam Brown on the Words and Worlds of Early Mormonism

Sam Brown takes readers behind the scenes of his latest book, “Joseph Smith’s Translation” (Oxford University Press, 2020).

If you’ve ever wanted to take a deep dive into the cultural, intellectual, and historical implication of Joseph Smith, you may want to consider Sam Brown as your muse. A physician and scientist by day, Brown dives deep into the esoteric metaphysics of the early Latter-day Saint prophet in his Oxford University Press publication, Joseph Smith’s Translation: The Words and Worlds of Early Mormonism.

Who is Sam Brown?

I’m a physician-scientist by day (and some tiring nights) and have found a rich community and intellectual stimulation within Church/Mormon history when I’m not working or spending time with my family. These religious and humanistic endeavors are a soul-nourishing complement to the biomedical science that otherwise dominates my attention.

[LONG ANSWER]: When I was a teenage atheist, I thought Church history was about embarrassing the kind people who were busy trying to tell me how to live my life in small-town Utah.

After I became a believer in 1990, I got curious about the history of our faith community. Like many another LDS geek, I read the multi-volume History of the Church when I was in college. It was weird but fun, like collecting antique curios from estate sales in the country. A few years later, I was reading Mircea Eliade’s books at the same time that I was learning to program for outbreak detection work in Russia, so I wrote some code to classify themes in temple dedication prayers. I was trying to show how Eliade’s ideas about sacred ancestors played out in the early Church.

That led to my first Mormon history paper 15 years ago, which Lavina Fielding Anderson edited so graciously for the Journal of Mormon History. I’d entered Mormon history through the back door.

Then my wife and I decided to move to Utah in early middle age, and—terrible, pretentious me—I decided that I would never get along with “Utah Mormons.” So I figured that I’d have to go inactive. But I wanted to stay connected to the Church even if I didn’t participate locally.

So I decided to write Church history books. I started with In Heaven As It Is on Earth, which came out in late 2011. (After we got to Utah, I realized I’d been a buffoon and have happily stayed active in wards full of wonderful, kind, grace-filled people who aren’t like me but who are united to me in covenant nonetheless.)

Once I’d put in the time for the first book, the friendships I’d made in the Mormon history world became their own justification for continuing on in the discipline. Church history became a nourishing habit, a group of friends, and a source of intellectual stimulation.

In terms of my life in general, I’m a family man raising teenagers with my wife in Salt Lake City. We like to cook and read and go for walks. Professionally, I’m a physician-scientist working on life-threatening inflammatory illnesses like sepsis (serious infection) and ARDS (lung injury) and trying to make hospitals more humane places (I published a manifesto for reform of intensive care units called Through the Valley of Shadows a few years ago).

And I’ve always loved science and religion the way I love chunky brownies and vanilla ice cream. Both are wonderful on their own and exquisite in combination. So I write history and theology as a kind of balance to my day job, which is mostly doing what’s called “clinical and translational” science trying to find treatments for sepsis and ARDS.

(I’m also a doctor in the ICU, although that’s only about 10–20% of my work life.)

What is the backstory for Sam Brown’s new book, Joseph Smith’s Translation?

I’ve always been fascinated by language. I was a linguistics major in college and then a Russian translator/interpreter in medical school. During the writing of In Heaven, I realized there was a related saga around language and connection—with the cosmos and with other humans—present in the early Restoration, and that story deserved to be told. A family health crisis both delayed completion of the book and added texture to the final product.

[LONG ANSWER]: This probably goes all the way back to my first year of college. I was a new believer and I felt clearly that God was calling me to be a physician. But I thought that was a terrible idea.

I wanted to do something more intellectually stimulating than wrapping arms in casts or arguing with people about antibiotics and colonoscopies. So I made a deal with God that I would study something lovely and useless in college in exchange for the practical grind of medical school. I ended up in linguistics, with a focus on “theoretical syntax.”

In retrospect that flavor of linguistics was a fun game superintended by Noam Chomsky, who remains (whatever you think of his politics) the smartest man I’ve ever known. My college major taught me to think rigorously about language and to not be afraid to ask deep questions about things that look simple on the surface. I didn’t pursue linguistics formally after college, true to my pledge to God to become a physician. But I never lost my curiosity about language. In college and medical school I worked as a Russian translator and interpreter, which gave me insights into the ever-shifting maps between language groups. After medical school, the interest in language intersected with my work on religious history.

When I was writing In Heaven, I grappled with what a seer was in the early Restoration, and I got some glimpses of what Joseph Smith’s Egyptian project might have been doing.

I got the idea to explore translation as both the movement of experiences and stories from one language group to another and also the transformation of human into divine beings. I started writing about this theme immediately after In Heaven was published, starting with some ideas about the various gifts of tongues. A health crisis in the family drew my attention away from Mormon history for several years, but I returned to the book when things felt calmer at home. This pause gave me time to think more carefully about the structure of society and culture, including some careful reading in philosophy and theology. I think Joseph Smith’s Translation benefited from the extra time to ponder and wonder over big questions.  

I also see Joseph Smith’s Translation as a sequel to In Heaven. That first book established the importance of death and mortality to early Restoration theologies, but it was always only part of the story. There was more going on in the early Restoration than just the conquest of death. There was also the perplexity of living in time and space. Joseph Smith’s Translation addresses that perplexity more directly.

To put it all together, this book comes out of a mixture of my training in linguistics, my own experience as a translator/interpreter, ongoing reading in the primary sources, my first Mormon history book, and my experiences with a family health crisis.

A selfie of historian Sam Brown's knee and writing pad as he drafts a book with a view of the valley.
In the summer, Sam Brown hikes into the mountains with a portable chair and writes. Credit: Sam Brown..

Why is Joseph Smith’s cultural context so important for understanding his translations?

I hate to use the language of science here because it is so overused in modern culture. But there’s been growing recognition in science that reductionism can only ever give partial answers to complicated questions, even if reductionist techniques have been very useful for technology.

In my realms of science, we’re moving away from pure reductionism toward “systems” approaches that situate individual entities within the networks where they actually exist. To put it simply, you can learn a lot about an isolated pinecone in a lab, but if you’ve never even heard of a forest, your knowledge of the cone can only go so far. The same is true of Smith’s translations if you rip them out of the actual world they inhabited.

[LONG ANSWER]: We late-moderns have this tendency (not so unusual over the course of human history, if we’re honest) to assume that the world must be precisely as we’ve been taught to see it. That’s good I guess for making sure that the late modern industrial capitalist world works in a specific way. The same can be said for the modern scientific concept of reductionism—that the best way to understand something is to break it into individual parts and test those parts in isolation.

But these related assumptions make us blind to so much richness in and around the world.

So many of the things we assume are foundational to the universe and thus indisputable are in fact recent human creations. Most of the world continues to resist our efforts at reductionism, this wresting things from their contexts that we love so much. Before my editor at Oxford (wisely) overruled me, I wanted to title this book Metaphysics of Translation to call attention to the extra dimension that has been stifled in our recent past.

Even with the punchier title, the book is still working through precisely the metaphysics of translation. There’s been this tendency (across multiple battle lines in various little culture wars) to view Joseph Smith as if he were living and working in the late twentieth century. But he wasn’t, and if we judge him by whether he fits that mold, we’ll misunderstand him and miss what he and his close colleagues have to offer.

I think translation is an excellent test case for this problem (what some call, a bit simplistically, “presentism,” the need to judge the past on how much it looks like the present).

One view of translation has Smith as little more than a Babel fish or Google Translate pointed at an ancient text. In flows a string of words in one language, out flows objectively matching words in another language. If Smith meets those criteria for translation, he’s acclaimed as a miracle worker, quite independent of divine participation in the process and without understanding the meaning of the texts themselves. And if he doesn’t look like a Babel fish, then he’s decried as a fraud and the religious movement he led a hoax or delusion.

At the end of long pondering, I don’t think the Babel fish model is factually true, even as an observer who is also a believer.

In my view, that mechanistic model misses what the early Restoration was about. If our goal is to understand the world and its histories in their splendor, then we’ll have to watch closely and wonder well. That involves being open to the possibility that translation meant something very different in Smith’s hands than we might expect it to now.

I’m aware that the arguments I’m making are a bit subtle and are addressing multiple audiences at once. The book is academic by design. I’m pushing academics to think carefully about the assumptions they bring to bear on historical questions that are concerned with physics and metaphysics. Part of this process is calling attention to the metaphysical richness available to Smith and his friends and family.

For those who come at these questions from other perspectives than the academic, I’ll be clear that I’m not arguing that Joseph Smith didn’t translate or that he was just a storyteller or that his hoax became religious truth because he persuaded a community to believe him. I’m not suggesting that the Book of Mormon was made up. I don’t believe that we should put scare quotes (or air quotes) around the word translation when we talk about Joseph Smith’s scriptures.

I’m quite persuaded that he was translating and that translating is much more interesting and powerful than we’ve given it credit for.

Nor am I making the “postmodern” claim that truth is all relative and meaning can only be created, that texts can become scripture if we just agree that they will be. Far from it—I’m deeply skeptical of the postmodern turn, which most of the time seems to have taken as true the worst modernist ideas and mashed them up with an idiosyncratic nihilism. (That’s a topic for another day.)

My goal is to find ways to be as true to reality as I can and to admit the rich wildness of reality. But that requires being open to precisely that fulsomeness.

And (speaking now as a believer), I’m convinced that the Book of Mormon is really and truly scripture, Sariah and Lehi are real, Abraham is real. And that reality occurs within and matters because of contexts that are both earthly and heavenly.

What did Joseph Smith mean when he said he believed “the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly”?

I think he always honored the Bible and was pursuing the anciently pure Bible. He had little faith that the Protestants had anything like that pure Bible, so he was marking out the fact of their loss. It would take ongoing prophetic revelation to keep the Bible both alive and true.

I also sort of wonder whether he was referring in a subtle way to the Book of Mormon, which, more than anything else in the early Restoration, translated the Bible.

[LONG ANSWER]: I think he meant that the Bible could be a conduit to the sacred past, that it had come from actual encounters between God and human ancestors. And that you had to have a prophet to develop a living connection with those individuals through scripture.

He was quite convinced that Protestantism had lost its way, and that included its notion of what the Bible was and what its words were.

I can also see him winking as he acknowledges to himself how the Book of Mormon translated the Bible. In other words, that comment could be understood as him talking about the Book of Mormon, which translated the Bible. He was quite clear throughout his ministry that the Protestants had missed the boat when it came to the Bible with all their sola scriptura and attachment to a static canon.

In his mind what Protestants did with the Bible was akin to using the Mona Lisa to wrap a loaf of bread. Theirs was a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the text and what was beyond the text. Joseph Smith as a seer saw a solution to all that confusion, which was also deeply true to the Bible.

I think that’s what he was pointing toward. (It was also probably a subtle way to create room for the expanded canon, by emphasizing that even the canonized Bible required another step called translation.)

How do events in 1 Nephi foreshadow “the fraught relationship between the Book of Mormon and the Protestant Bible”?

Think about the sequence of Lehi’s Bible brought from the future by Jesus and the apostles in 1 Nephi 1, followed by the quest for the Bible from the past (the brass plates) in 1 Nephi 3–4, which leads to the murder of the plates’ unfaithful guardian, Laban.

Something clicked as I was writing my chapter on the Book of Mormon, “To Save the Bible, First You Must Kill It,” where I saw Laban and Nephi as types for the Protestant clergy and Joseph Smith respectively. The Book of Mormon burned the Protestant biblical system to the ground in order to restore a primordially pure Bible.

In retrospect these vivid passages are even more fraught than I had realized.

[LONG ANSWER]: This was one of the surprises for me in researching this book. In 1 Nephi, there’s this juxtaposition of Lehi’s vision (plus Nephi’s angelic relook at the vision) and the Nephi-Laban encounter that proves crucial to understanding the Book of Mormon’s relationship with the Bible.

You start with this moment in 1 Nephi 1 where Lehi is realizing his Noah (or Moses) moment, where the world he has known is coming to a close, and he and his family must find a new way. At that crux moment when the history of Israel splits in two, he has a visionary visit from Jesus and the apostles.

They bring him a book, which is a Bible from the future (this becomes especially clear in Nephi’s revisiting the vision). This Bible from the future, seen to this point only in vision, requires that Lehi and Sariah send their sons back to Jerusalem to obtain a brass Bible from the past.

When they get back to Jerusalem, they realize that an unfit steward, a corrupt relative named Laban, is in charge of that Bible.

Ultimately the sons have to kill their kinsman to set the Bible free—it’s that horrifying moment when Nephi decapitates Laban in 1 Nephi 4. The more I read and explored the Book of Mormon in the context of translation, the more I came to see Laban as a type for the Protestants who had themselves become unfit curators for the Bible. In a sense the Book of Mormon is Nephi, beheading Protestantism as Laban. This relationship is why I named the chapter on the Book of Mormon “To Save the Bible, First You Must Kill It.”

Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon really do destroy the Protestant Bible in order to recover a primordial Bible hidden within it. If we don’t get that fact, we won’t I think be able to understand the Book of Mormon.

That’s why I reject the old argument about how the early Saints didn’t pay any attention to the Book of Mormon as scripture because their preaching was from Bible texts. The Book of Mormon transformed the Bible. When the early Saints preached from the Bible, they were preaching the Book of Mormon.

How does the Book of Abraham interweave the Chain of Being and Chain of Belonging?

Our little Book of Abraham packs a big punch. It’s showing how harmony exists in the cosmos, both in the realm of planets (and angels) and in the realm of humans, and it insists that those realms join in the person of Jesus. So far, this is just the ancient principle of the Chain of Being, expressed in a Christian idiom.

But then the Book of Abraham also shows that the human realm—through an essence called priesthood—becomes genealogical, with the Chain of Belonging built one relationship of Christian love (modeled on parenthood) at a time.

[LONG ANSWER]: This theme seems to me to be at the center of the Restoration. Back when I was writing In Heaven, I realized that Joseph Smith had done this impressive thing with what was one of the most important and long-lasting scientific principles of antiquity, the Chain of Being or Scale of Nature.

The Chain of Being was basically a tree of life that put all forms of being into relation with one another. Angels were above humans, who were above horses, who were above fish, themselves above inanimate objects of varying splendors. And they were all inter-related within a Divine harmony. It was a notion of an overarching harmony and fullness—the funky sea anemone was seen as proof of this fullness because it seemed to fit between a plant and a worm.

We’ve lost track of this sense of fullness and harmony, having exchanged it for a strain of resurgent Epicureanism we associate with Darwinism and Western capitalism. But this sense of harmony was foundational to the Restoration.

As I was reading the sources, I realized that Joseph Smith had taken this ancient classification system and made it genealogical. The Tree of Life had become a family tree. Just as all forms of life were interrelated in the Chain of Being, Smith bound all of the past present and future of humanity in his Chain of Belonging.

That seems to me to be the plain sense of the meditations on planetary and human hierarchies. And this points to the really fulsome sense of priesthood that we find in the temple endowment, which includes priests and priestesses in the dance of exaltation, which it turns out is bringing all of humanity into family relations.

It’s easy to imagine that this is only biological, that only married parents matter here. But that’s not what Smith taught in his adoption theology. Everyone—male or female, married or single, fertile or infertile—can participate in this vast priesthood family.

The Book of Abraham and related manuscripts (what I call the “Egyptian Bible”) show pretty clearly both the power of women and the cosmic harmony as part of this Chain of Belonging. I have to plug Dr. Kathleen Flake’s writings and presentations here—she’s done phenomenal work to make sense of the interwoven nature of priesthood as nested hierarchies within the Restoration, a dynamic merger of democratic and hierarchical principles.

There’s a lot more here than first meets the eye.

How do Latter-day Saint temple rites provide a context for understanding Joseph Smith’s translations?

This was the big surprise for me, that the temple was itself scripture and that in the temple worshipers entered scripture directly. The intimate relationship between the Book of Abraham and the temple endowment was important to that realization, especially as I delved into all the documents associated with the Egyptian project.

[LONG ANSWER]: This was the big surprise in researching this book for me. I knew I wanted to explore Charles Taylor’s writings about the modern world and its philosophical foundations to think through Joseph Smith’s translation projects.

I knew that I was interested in the fact that one word—translation—meant both (a) movement of stories, experiences, and teachings from one language to another and (b) the transformation of human beings to allow them to tolerate the presence of God.

So I mapped out all the scriptural translations and the story of Enoch and the early patriarchal blessings with their interest in human translation. That was all well and good.

But the Nauvoo temple kept staring at me, asking me what I was going to do with it.

I honestly didn’t know.

But then as I was working on the chapter on the Book of Abraham, it became clear to me that the Book of Abraham was above all a temple text. Which opened up for me the image of temple as scripture, but not just scripture.

It was a scripture into which worshipers were themselves written as they brought to life the ancient encounters with God.

It just clicked.

Joseph Smith’s translated scriptures were the basis for the temple (this is part of why the notion of Masonic plagiarism you ask about next is so confused and misleading), and in the temple Church members were themselves translated into the divine presence.

Why is it a mistake to view the temple endowment as a plagiarism of freemasonry?

Sam Brown: That view requires a highly constrained model of the temple endowment that isn’t true to the historical documents. There’s definitely a thread of repurposed Masonic ritual in the endowment, but the Masonic component is more like several pieces of brightly colored string in a robin’s nest rather than the entire structure. We shouldn’t confuse components with the whole; nor should we take a flat view of translation.

[LONG ANSWER]: It’s been so interesting to watch the history of the way we Latter-day Saints tell this story—what historians call historiography.

At first it was a pretty simple story: Freemasonry was a corrupted version of an ancient ritual system, and Joseph Smith recovered the ancient source in Nauvoo.

Then the story was that there was no real connection between Freemasonry and the Nauvoo endowment.

Then there was this conspiratorial sense that there really were similarities between Freemasonry and endowment, which came to be seen as proof that the temple endowment wasn’t inspired. That was the whole drama about Reed Durham’s 1974 Mormon History Association presidential address, which in retrospect was a fairly sophomoric treatment of the topic but at the time ignited a firestorm.

As people got increasingly modernist in their sensibilities, there was a sense that if there were substantial aspects of the Nauvoo endowment visible in Freemasonry, then Smith’s endowment was just plagiarism. End of story.

This to my eye obviously incorrect view of the situation then drives defenders of the faith into a mode of denying any connection, ceding the crucial logical error to the critics. The error is the belief that if there is anything of Masonry in the endowment then the endowment can’t be revealed, restored, or true.

Part of what I’m exploring in this book is the physicalist notion that mechanism is meaning. In other words, if you can see how something seems to work, if you can describe its molecular structure or its electrical flow, then you know everything about it.

A classic example would be the claim that if you can see “religion” in a brain on an MRI, then religion isn’t a relationship with a being actually present. But this idea that if you know the atomic structure of a human body then you know the person is clueless, and Smith knew it. Smith was looking beyond the physics to the matrix in which the physics has its being—that’s metaphysics, the context within which the physical takes place.

And his approach to metaphysics was not to ignore the physics, not at all, but to bring the physics into fullness.

Only in a flat reductionist, physicalist model, does the plagiarism story even have a shot at working in my view. And there are plenty of physicalist models in which the plagiarism story doesn’t work either. One classic expression comes from the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, whose theory of bricolage is a secularist way of getting at this sense that there’s more going on than first meets the eye when older traditions are reused and recontextualized in the present.

One set of words can have radically different senses when it’s brought into a new network of other words. That’s the nature of language, history, and ritual and always has been. They interconnect. They hold us in systems of meaning and belonging. They point us beyond themselves.

Which is a long way of saying that to call the temple endowment a Masonic plagiarism is to beg the question. The claim can only be true once you’ve made a crucial error of judgment through physicalist reductionism. And even so, there’s no guarantee that physicalism will make the plagiarism story work.

How conscious was Joseph Smith of the paradigms he was creating through his translation efforts?

I think he had a sense for some—but not all—of what he was up to, much like the rest of us. We all mean more than we say and contribute to efforts that are greater than we are. And I think that balance of knowledge—some of Restoration theology he was fully aware of, some less so—matches his theology well. Like all good things we have unmediated access to, Restoration theology is a co-productions of God(s) and humans.

[LONG ANSWER]: Phil Barlow asked me a very similar question at a conference where I had introduced some of the arguments from the book. It’s a fair and important question.

It’s a variant of the ancient question when an interpreter approaches an old text: how much is the interpreter reading into the text as opposed to reading out of the text? There’s even fake Greek terminology for it: exegesis vs. eisegesis. The former is good, the latter is bad.

Phil’s question was whether I had remade Smith in my own image, sprucing him up for a modern audience. (Of course translation reminds us that there is always a relationship between the text and the author, as well as a truth beyond them.)

This line of questioning is also part of a much more interesting question in my view, one that speaks to the heart of the Restoration project and my own academic project. Specifically, what’s the choreography for the dance between the human and the beyond-human?

There are at least two answers to the question, one academic and the other devotional.

The academic response

Since this is an academic book, I’ll start with an academic answer.

Meaning isn’t restricted by the horizons of the physical tissue of a single human. No matter how strenuously the Enlightenment agitators insist, it has never been biologically true that meaning inheres in the atoms of a single brain. This is true even in a world utterly bereft of divine presence. Brains are part of bodies are part of minds are part of communities are part of histories. One needn’t be so factionalist as Richard Dawkins and his famously selfish “genes” to acknowledge that there are biological forces larger than individual humans that shape the ramifications and broader meanings of their lives.

So there will always be interactions and reconnections, even if you’re an ardent atheist.

The devotional response

The devotional approach (and here I’ll acknowledge that I’m a happily and wholly devoted Latter-day Saint) is that a prophet isn’t a prophet in a vacuum. Prophethood is the communion of a person, God, and a community.

As a human being, Joseph Smith was pretty darn earthy. He fought, he cussed, he practiced polygamy, he got pulled into a civil war or two, he never went to traditional school. Even his earthiness, though, had multiple sides.

He was also a warm-hearted visionary who had a view for what lay at the center of things. And his openness to God and to his friends and family meant that he could be more than he was.

I think we have this tendency now to want things to only be what they seem to be at a superficial, physical level. It’s part of these modernist sensibilities that I write about in the book.

But Smith as a prophetic figure was also God and the community of Saints. Smith didn’t have to carry the awareness all by himself. So the question of what he knew when risks the suffocating reductionism that has made it so difficult for us to understand human life in the last half-century or so.

Which is my long way of saying that I really do think that I’m describing how Smith and the early Restoration worked, while it’s also reasonable to think that Smith didn’t necessarily have all this language on hand to describe what he was up to.

He need not have been an academic commenting on what he was up to in order to have been up to it, in other words.

What do you think Joseph Smith would think of your book?

I hope he’d like it. I think it’s fair to the early Latter-day Saints as it explores their worldviews carefully. This all depends on whether he saw me as a pompous professor or not.

[LONG ANSWER]: That is a great question, and I don’t know the answer to it. It depends on whether he would think I was a high-falutin’ scholar posturing in front of less-learned compatriots.

If so, he’d have had no patience with me or the book I wrote.

But if he were willing to look past the academic trappings, I think he would find the portrait in this book true to his religious quest. I try when I write history to imagine the world from the perspective of the people involved so that I can better understand them and their worlds.

I’m hopeful that I’ve been able to do so in this book and that from their vantage in the afterlife, the early Saints will feel that I have heard and understood them.

What’s next for Sam Brown?

A collection of devotional essays is due out from Maxwell Institute/Deseret Book in summer 2021, and I’m hoping that I’ll have my brief intellectual biography of W. W. Phelps for University of Illinois out maybe 6 months later. I’m also working on a non-academic treatment of these themes of translation that I hope is on a similar time frame to the Phelps biography. If this accursed coronavirus will calm down soon, I’ll be able to make faster progress.

[LONG ANSWER]: Since March 2020, I’ve been working constantly on medical research to find and test treatments for COVID-19. This focus has made it hard to keep my heart and mind alive to the range of human experience the way I usually like to. Too much science makes me exhausted and brittle.

Unfortunately, next on my plate is more in the scientific fight with COVID-19.

But I also know that this awful pandemic won’t last forever, and one day (I hope soon), I’ll be able to get back to my religious writing.

I finished a collection of devotional essays (Where the Soul Hungers) that’s due out early Summer 2021 from Maxwell Institute and Deseret Book, and I’ve agreed to write a short intellectual biography of W. W. Phelps (I call him “Wild Bill”) for University of Illinois’ Mormon thinkers series that Matt Bowman and Joe Spencer are editing. That’s about halfway done—I finished reading his deliciously strange Deseret Almanacs from the 1850s just before COVID-19 struck. I think that’s probably due out in 2022.

For the Faith Matters Foundation, I’m about halfway done with a devotional book on translation topics (Minds and Bodies: Translating the Restoration is the provisional title) that I think would probably be out in late 2021/early 2022, depending on when this horrible pandemic quiets down.

(Your questions have helped me plan some improvements for that book.)

I guess I’m also sort of whittling away at a memoir called Mad Love (about love and mental illness) and a book on modern atheism (a playfully serious response to Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am not a Christian).


Recommended resources

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By Kurt Manwaring

Writer. History nerd. Latter-day Saint.

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