We have a great lineup of speakers for the 2012 FAIR Conference. Below you will find an overview of each speaker’s credentials and their presentation. If you would like to see the schedule of when the speakers will be addressing the Conference, visit our Conference overview page.
Rosemary Avance is a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, Rosemary Avance studies the intersection of new media, religion, and modernity. Her research focuses on personal and institutional religious narratives, the performance of religious identity online, and processes of institutional meaning-making through an interpretive, cultural studies framework. Although not Mormon herself, Ms. Avance is particularly interested in identity construction among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has published an article on Mormon conceptions of modesty and cosmology in the Journal of Religion and Society. She has accepted the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation Fellowship in Mormon Studies for 2012-2013 at the University of Utah’s Tanner Humanities Center, where she will write her dissertation on the dialogic construction of Mormon identity in the Internet age. She can be reached at [email protected].
Presentation: Seeing the Light: Parallels in Mormon Conversion and De-conversion Stories.
Don Bradley is a writer, editor, and researcher specializing in early Mormon history. Don recently performed an internship with the Joseph Smith Papers Project and is completing his thesis, on the earliest Mormon conceptions of the New Jerusalem, toward an M.A. in History at Utah State University. He has published on the translation of the Book of Mormon, plural marriage before Nauvoo, and Joseph Smith’s “grand fundamental principles of Mormonism” and plans to publish an extensive analysis, co-authored with Mark Ashurst-McGee, on the Kinderhook plates. Don’s first book, The Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Missing Contents of the Book of Mormon, is slated to be published by Greg Kofford Books.
Presentation: Piercing the Veil: Temple Worship in the Lost 116 Pages.
academic background includes work towards a Ph.D. in Mesoamerican Ethnohistory at the State University of New York, Albany. His published works on Mesoamerica include an analysis of classical Nahuatl kinship terminology, an ethnohistoric investigation into the identification of the use of Coxoh to designate a people and language in Southern Mexico, and an examination of the Aztec Legend of the Suns. He has written articles that have appeared in the FARMS Review, and is the author of the multivolume work Second Witness: An Analytical and Contextual Commentary of the Book of Mormon, as well as The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon.
Presentation: From the East to the West: The Problem of Directions in the Book of Mormon.
John Gee (Ph.D., Yale University) is currently the William (Bill) Gay Research Professor of Egyptology and a Senior Research Fellow at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. He formerly taught at Yale University and worked in the Department of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is currently the only Egyptologist from North America affiliated with the Totenbuch-Projekt of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitat Bonn.
Professor Gee has given papers at Egyotological conferences in Atlanta, Baltimore, Berkeley, Bonn, Boston, Brussels, Budapest, Cambridge (Massachusetts), Copenhagen, Giza, Grenoble, Jersey City, Laie, Leuven, London, New Haven, Paris, Philadelphia, Prague, Providence, Reading, Rhodes, San Diego, Seattle, Stevenage, Toledo, Toronto, Tucson, Vancouver, Warsaw, and Washington D.C. He has published Egyptological work with E.J. Brill, Peeters, Praeger, Harrassowitz Verlag, Archaeopress, Styx, Sheffield Press, the Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Near Eastern Studies, the American University of Cairo Press, the Association Egyptologique Reine Elisabeth, the Musee Hongrois des Beaux-Arts, the MEBT-OEB Comite de l’Egypte Ancienne de l’Association Amicale Hongroise-Egyptienne, the Institut Francais d’Archeologie Orientale du Caire, the Bulletin for the Egyptological Seminar, Gottinger Miszellen, the Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, the Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, and the Journal of Egyptian History.
The Aigyptos Datenbank lists him as having published on Amasis, archives, art, British Museum EA 10416, Book of the Dead, Book of the Dead 31, Book of the Dead 69, Coffin Texts, Coptic language, Coptic studies, daily ritual, Demotic papyri, Demotic studies, Greek papyri, Greeks in Egypt, hypocephali, initiation, lamps, language, Late Period documents, Late Period hieratic papyri, Late Period iconography, Late Period tomb equipment, law, Louvre E 7846, love, marriage, marriage contracts, Mesopotamia, Middle Kingdom literature, Middle Kingdom titles, Near East, New Kingdom documents, New Kingdom hieratic papyri, oaths, oracles, philology, phraseology, priest, prosopography, Ptolemaic Period iconography, Ptolemaic period tomb equipment, religion, ritual, Roman period tomb equipment, Romans in Egypt, seals, Shipwrecked Sailor, social structure, society, society and culture, text, Thebes, title, verbal system, and wab-priest.
Professor Gee serves on the Board of Trustees of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities and as editor of the Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities. He also serves on the program committee for the Egyptology and Ancient Israel Section of the Society of Biblical Literature.
Presentation: Book of Abraham, I Presume.
Darius Gray was educated at Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, and Columbia University in broadcast journalism, and worked for many years at KSL television. He continues to freelance for such programs as KBYU’s Questions and Ancestors. He joined the LDS Church in 1964, before the priesthood was available to him as a person of African descent. Darius is a past president of the Genesis Group, an official arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organized in 1971 to meet the needs of Black members, with the hope of reactivating those who had left the Church and of supporting new converts of African descent. With Margaret Young he wrote a trilogy of award-winning books about African American Latter-day Saints called Standing on the Promises. The two are currently completing special features for their documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons.
Presentation: No Johnny-Come-Lately: The 182-Year-Long BLACK Mormon Moment.
Brian C. Hales is the author of Setting the Record Straight: Mormon Fundamentalism and also Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto, which received the “Best Book of 2007 Award” from the John Whitmer Historical Association. In addition he co-authored the 1992 publication The Priesthood of Modern Polygamy: An LDS Perspective, and is webmaster of mormonfundamentalism.com. Brian works as an anesthesiologist at the Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton, Utah, where he serves as Secretary of the Medical Staff. He also served as President of the Davis County Medical Society in 2009.
An active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brian has fulfilled many Church callings and is a former full-time missionary. He has presented at the Mormon History Association meetings, Sunstone Symposiums, and the John Whitmer Historical Association meetings on polygamy-related topics. His articles have also been published in Mormon Historical Studies, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and the Journal of Mormon History. In addition to his historical works, Brian has authored three books on doctrinal themes entitled The Veil (Cedar Fort, 2000), Trials (Cedar Fort, 2002), and Light (Cedar Fort, 2004). Brian is currently writing a two-volume treatise of Joseph Smith’s polygamy to be published by Greg Kofford Books in 2010.
Presentation: Joseph Smith’s Sexual Polyandry and the Emperor’s New Clothes: On Closer Inspection, What Do We Find?
Joshua Johanson is an outspoken advocate for Mormons with same-gender attraction (SGA). His life experiences have been featured in the Mercury Times and were published in the book Gay Mormons?: Latter-day Saint Experiences of Same-Gender Attraction. He has been involved in several groups dealing with SGA, including Evergreen, Exodus, People Can Change, and most heavily in North Star, where he has contributed a significant amount of website content. He got his start in apologetics through writing and editing Wikipedia articles and became involved with FAIR in 2009. He has written extensively on the FAIR wiki about homosexuality and has recently finished working on an eight-segment podcast series dealing with issues surrounding Mormonism and homosexuality. He was actively involved with Proposition 8 while living in the Bay Area. He received his MA from the University of Washington in Computational Linguistics.
Joshua lives in San Diego with his beautiful wife and son. He currently serves as a ward choir
Presentation: Navigating the Labyrinth Surrounding Homosexual Desire.
A graduate of Yale University and a native of New York City, Neylan McBaine is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Mormon Women Project, a 501(c)3 non-profit website which features weekly interviews with LDS women from around the world at www.mormonwomen.com. Additionally, Neylan is associate creative director at Bonneville Communications, the creative agency of choice for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the agency responsible for the “I’m A Mormon” campaign. Neylan comes to Bonneville with extensive experience in online and retail marketing from several Bay Area companies including Walmart.com and Tea Collection clothing.
As a religion writer and personal essayist, Neylan has been published in Newsweek, The Washington Post, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Segullah, Meridian Magazine, Patheos.com and BustedHalo.com. She is the author of a collection of personal essays—How to Be a Twenty-First Century Pioneer Woman (2008). She lives with her husband and three daughters in Salt Lake City.
Presentation: To Do the Business of the Church: A Cooperative Paradigm for Examining Gendered Participation Within Church Organizational Structure.
Dr. Ugo A. Perego received a BS and a MS in Health Sciences from Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) and a PhD in Genetics and Biomolecular Sciences from the University of Pavia (Pavia, Italy) under the mentorship of Professor Antonio Torroni. During the past decade, he has given nearly 200 lectures on DNA topics relating to population migrations, ancestry, forensics, and history (including LDS history). Ugo has also authored and co-authored a number of publications, including the recent: “Joseph Smith, the Question of Polygamous Offspring, and DNA Analysis” (in Craig Foster and Newell Bringhurst’s The Persistence of Polygamy, 2010); “The Initial Peopling of the Americas: A Growing Number of Founding Mitochondrial Genomes” (in Genome Research, 2010); “The Book of Mormon and the Origins of Native Americans from a Maternally Inherited DNA Standpoint” (in Robert Millett’s No Weapon Shall Prosper, 2011); “The Mountain Meadows Massacre and “Poisoned Springs”: Scientific Testing of the More Recent, Anthrax Theory” (in International Journal of Legal Medicine, 2012); and “Rapid Coastal Spread of First Americans: Novel Insights from South America’s Southern Cone Mitochondrial Genomes” (in Genome Research, 2012).
Ugo is married to Jenna and they are the parents of four boys and a girl. They live in Rome, Italy.
Presentation: Book of Mormon Genetics: A Reappraisal.
Daniel C. Peterson
A native of southern
California, Daniel C. Peterson received a bachelor’s degree in Greek and philosophy from Brigham Young University (BYU) and, after several years of study in Jerusalem and Cairo, earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at BYU and founder and the editor-in-chief of the University’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (METI). He is a past chairman of the board of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) and, until very recently, served as Director of Advancement for its successor organization, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. From 1988, when he founded it, through mid-June of 2012, he edited the FARMS Review, which was renamed the Mormon Studies Review in late 2011. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on Islamic and Latter-day Saint topics, including a biography of the Prophet Muhammad (Eerdmans, 2007). A former bishop, Dr. Peterson served in the Switzerland Zürich Mission, and, for approximately eight years, on the Gospel Doctrine writing committee for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He currently serves as a Gospel Doctrine teacher in his home ward. He is married to the former Deborah Stephens, of Lakewood, Colorado, and they are the parents of three sons.
Presentation: Of ‘Mormon Studies’ and Apologetics.
Royal Skousen is Professor of Linguistics and English Language at Brigham Young University. In 1972 he received his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He has published four books on linguistic theory, including three on exemplar-based linguistics: Analogical Modeling of Language (1989), Analogy and Structure (1992), and Analogical Modeling: An Exemplar-Based Approach to Language (2002). He has also taught at the University of Illinois, the University of Texas, the University of California at San Diego, and the University of Tampere in Finland as a Fulbright lecturer. In 2001 he was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute in the Netherlands. More recently, he has published on the quantum computing of analogical modeling, notably “Quantum Analogical Modeling” (2005) and “Quantum Analogical Modeling with Homogeneous Pointers” (2010), both available at www.arXiv.org.
Since 1988 Skousen has been the editor of the Book of Mormon critical text project. In 2001 he published the first two volumes of the project, namely, typographical facsimiles for the original and printer’s manuscripts of the Book of Mormon. From 2004 through 2009 he published the six books that make up volume 4 of the critical text, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. This work represents the central task of the Critical Text Project, to restore by scholarly means the original text of the Book of Mormon, to the extent possible. In 2009, using the results of volume 4, Skousen published with Yale University Press the culmination of his critical text work, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text. He is currently writing volume 3 of the critical text, The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon. The third part of that volume, covering the grammatical editing of the Book of Mormon, has now been written and typeset. The first two parts—one dealing with the history of the manuscripts and the editions and the other with the nature of the original text—are in preparation. The entire volume, it is planned, will be available in about three years.
Presentation: Do We Need to Make Changes to the Book of Mormon Text?
John L. Sorenson
John L. Sorenson is professor emeritus of anthropology at Brigham Young University. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in archaeology from BYU, a master’s degree in meteorology from the California Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California at Los Angeles.
He originated the program in anthropology at BYU, heading it for fourteen of his twenty-four years of faculty service. His primary academic and professional emphasis was in sociocultural anthropology, including many years as an applied anthropologist. Among other positions, he served as director of social sciences at General Research Corporation in Santa Barbara, California, in the 1960s and later founded Bonneville Research Corporation in Provo, Utah. He is the author of more than 200 publications.
Despite following a variety of other professional interests throughout his career, Dr. Sorenson never lost his strong interest in Mesoamerican archaeology, the subject that first drew him to anthropology. Since his retirement from BYU in 1986, he has concentrated his research and writing in that area.
One of the key figures in the early development of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (now part of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship), Dr. Sorenson served for several years as the editor of its Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. His 1985 book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, published by FARMS and Deseret Book, has become the most influential treatment of Book of Mormon peoples and history in their Mesoamerican context.
Dr. Sorenson and his late wife, Kathryn, reared nine children. In 1993 he married Helen Lance Christianson, mother of nine. They reside in Provo, Utah.
Presentation: Reading Mormon’s Codex.
John W. Welch is the Robert K. Thomas Professor of Law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, where teaches courses on tax exempt organizations, ancient laws in the Bible and Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith and the law. He was educated at Brigham Young University with a B.A. in History and a M.A. in Classical Languages. He served a mission in South Germany (during which he discovered chiasmus in the Book of Mormon), studied Greek philosophy at Oxford University as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, earned his law degree at Duke University, and practiced law in the Los Angeles firm of O’Melveny and Myers.
He is well known as the founder of FARMS (the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies) and since 1991 he has served as the editor-in-chief of BYU Studies Quarterly. He also was a Director of Special Projects for the BYU Religious Studies Center, the general editor of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, a member of the board of editors for Macmillan’s Encyclopedia of Mormonism, and on the steering committee of the Biblical Law Section of the Society of Biblical Literature.
A number of his recent publications presenting striking discoveries concerning Joseph Smith and the law, the Sermon on the Mount, the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Trial of Jesus, King Benjamin’s speech, the Book of Mormon as a handbook of Church administration, and the nature and roles of evidence in law, science, and the nurturing of faith.
He is married to Jeannie Sutton. They have four children and sixteen grandchildren. He has served twice as bishop and also as counselor in a stake presidency.
Presentation: Forty-five Years of Chiasmus Conversations, Criteria, and Creativity: What Chiasmus Proves and Does Not Prove.
Hartt Wixom is a retired BYU professor and investigate reporter for the Deseret News. He has both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications from BYU and earned fifty post-graduate hours in history from the University of Utah. He is the author of several books, including Critiquing the Critics of Joseph Smith and Profiles in Mormon Courage. Hartt and his wife, Judene, live in Ivins, Utah, and Cokeville, Wyoming. They have seven children.
Presentation: Perception and Reality: Then and Now.