The 19th annual FairMormon Conference was held on August 3 and 4, 2017, at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, Utah. Transcriptions of the presentations are available at the links below, and will be added as they become available.
(Mobile devices: Scroll the table left and right to see all the data.)
|“Put Away Childish Things”: Learning to Read the Book of Mormon Using Mature Historical Thought
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|Elizabeth A. Kuehn
|Finances and Faith in the Kirtland Crisis of 1837
|Witnessing the Book of Mormon: The Testimonies of Three, Eight, and Millions
|After the Manner of Their Language: The Key to Wisdom
|Semitic Semiotics: The Symbolic, Prophetic, and Narratological Power of Names in Ancient Scripture
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|Jesus Christ, the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever: A Restoration of Primitive Christianity
|Mormon Temples and Freemasonry
|Truth, Scripture, and Interpretation: Some Precursors to Reading Genesis
|What does the Church believe about evolution?
|Restoring the Tapestry of the Restoration: Early Mormon Women’s Witness
|Book of Mormon Geographical References: Internal Consistency Taken to A New Level
|The Book of Mormon as a Seer Stone: Having Faith In and Through the Book of Mormon
|Lost Teachings of the Prophets: Recently Uncovered Teachings of Joseph Smith and Others from the Council of Fifty Record
|What Difference Does It Make?
Michael R. Ash is the author of Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, Of Faith Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith, as well as Bamboozled by the “CES Letter.” A former columnist for the Deseret News’ Mormon Times, he has also been a frequent contributor to the online blogs, Meridian Magazine, as well as the Mormon Hub. Mike has been published in the Ensign, Sunstone Magazine, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, in the FARMS Review, and most recently contributed a chapter to Kofford Book’s Perspectives in Mormon Theology: Apologetics. Joining FairMormon in the year 2000, Mike delivered a paper at the 2nd annual FairMormon conference and has contributed papers to seven additional conferences (including this one) since. Mike and his wife Chris live in Ogden and are the parents of three daughters and the grandparents of six grandchildren.
Presentation: After the Manner of Their Language: The Key to Wisdom
Matthew L. Bowen is an assistant professor of Religious Education at Brigham Young University–Hawaii where he has taught since 2012. He holds a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, where he also earned an M.A (Biblical Studies). He previously earned a B.A. in English with a minor in Classical Studies (Greek emphasis) from Brigham Young University (Provo) and subsequently pursued post-Baccalaureate studies in Semitic languages, Egyptian, and Latin there. In addition to having taught at Brigham Young University–Hawaii, he has previously taught at the Catholic University of America and at Brigham Young University. Bowen is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles on scripture- and temple-related topics and two forthcoming books on scriptural onomastics. Bowen grew up in Orem, Utah, and served a two-year mission in the California Roseville Mission. He and his wife, the former Suzanne Blattberg, are the parents of three children, Zachariah, Nathan, and Adele.
Presentation: Semitic Semiotics: The Symbolic, Prophetic, and Narratological Power of Names in Ancient Scripture
Gerrit J. Dirkmaat is an assistant professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. He received his PhD in American History from the University of Colorado in 2010 where he studied nineteenth-century American expansionism and foreign relations. His dissertation was titled “Enemies Foreign and Domestic: US Relations with Mormons in the US Empire in North America, 1844–1854.” He worked as a historian and writer for the Church History Department from 2010 to 2014 as historian on several volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers project. Since taking his position at BYU, he continues to work on the Joseph Smith Papers as a historian and writer. He currently serves as Editor of the academic journal Mormon Historical Studies, published by the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation, and on the Church History editorial board for BYU Studies. He is the author of dozens of scholarly articles and is the co-author, along with Michael Hubbard MacKay, of the book From Darkness Unto Light: Joseph Smith’s Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon, published by Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University and Deseret Book, 2015. He and his wife Angela have four children.
Presentation: Lost Teachings of the Prophets: Recently Uncovered Teachings of Joseph Smith and Others from the Council of Fifty Record
Keith A. Erekson is an internationally acclaimed writer, speaker, and public historian. He currently serves as director of the Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Erekson has authored numerous books and articles about public interest in over history, including book-length studies of popular commemoration of Abraham Lincoln and the recent debate over the social studies curriculum in Texas. His work has been published in numerous journals, including the Journal of American History, The History Teacher, the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, the Oral History Review, and various Mormon studies journals. Before leading the Church History Library, Erekson was a tenured associate professor of history at The University of Texas at El Paso, where he also served as executive director of UTEP’s Centennial Celebration and founding director of UTEP’s Center for History Teaching & Learning. He possesses more than a decade of international management experience in higher education, scholarly publishing, and automotive manufacturing. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Brigham Young University, a doctoral degree in history from Indiana University, and a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso. Erekson grew up near Baltimore, Maryland, and now lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and four daughters.
Presentation: Witnessing the Book of Mormon: The Testimonies of Three, Eight, and Millions
Brant A. Gardner holds a Masters in Anthropology from the State University of New York Albany, specializing in Mesoamerican Ethnohistory. He is the author of the six-volume Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon, and Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History, all published by Greg Kofford Books.
He has contributed articles to the journal Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl and to the anthology Symbol and Meaning Beyond the Closed Community. He has presented several papers at the FairMormon Conference over the years, and contributed articles to the FARMS Review and Interpreter.
Presentation: The Book of Mormon as a Seer Stone: Having Faith In and Through the Book of Mormon
Scott Gordon is president of FairMormon and as such has been a writer of several articles and a speaker at firesides. He has a master’s degree in Business Administration from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s in Organizational Communication. He has held many Church callings, including Bishop, and currently serves as the Ward Mission Leader. He is married to Sheri Farnsworth Gordon and has five children.
Presentation: Mormon Temples and Freemasonry
Tyler J. Griffin was born and raised in Providence, Utah in the beautiful Cache Valley. After serving a mission in Brazil Curitiba, he returned home and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical/Computer Engineering. He married Kiplin Crook and began teaching seminary in Brigham City, Utah. After six years in that assignment, he transferred to the Institute adjacent to Utah State University where he worked for the next seven years. One of his assignments there was working in the Seminary Preservice program (teaching and training potential seminary teachers) for four years. He also developed an online home study seminary program. His masters and doctorate degrees are both in Instructional Technology. He and his wife have 10 children (5 boys and 5 girls). He has been at BYU since August 2010.
Presentation: Book of Mormon Geographical References: Internal Consistency Taken to A New Level
Janiece Johnson is a transplanted Bay Area, California, native who loves history, design, art, good food, and traveling. She has master’s degrees in American Religious History and Theology from Brigham Young University and Vanderbilt’s Divinity School respectively. She finished her doctoral work at the University of Leicester in England. Janiece has published work on gender and American religious history—specializing in Mormon history and the prosecution for the Mountain Meadows Massacre. She is a co-author of The Witness of Women: First-hand Experiences and Testimonies of the Restoration (Deseret Book, 2016) and general editor of the recently published Mountain Meadows Massacre: Collected Legal Papers (University of Oklahoma Press, 2017). A visiting professor in Religious Education at BYU-Idaho for the last three years, Janiece will begin as a research fellow for the Maxwell Institute’s Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies at BYU this fall.
Presentation: Restoring the Tapestry of the Restoration: Early Mormon Women’s Witness
Elizabeth A. Kuehn
Elizabeth A. Kuehn is a historian with the Joseph Smith Papers at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is a co-editor on two volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers to be published in 2017: Documents, Volume 5: October 1835–January 1838 and Documents, Volume 6: February 1838–August 1839. She is a PhD. Candidate at the University of California, Irvine. She earned her MA in History from Purdue University and her BA in History from Arizona State University. She specializes in nineteenth-century financial records and women’s and gender history.
Presentation: Finances and Faith in the Kirtland Crisis of 1837
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. He is the Director of the Rome Institute Campus, the S&I Coordinator for Central Italy and Malta, and a Visiting Scientist at the University of Pavia. During the past fifteen years, Ugo has given nearly 200 international lectures on DNA topics related to population migrations, ancestry, forensics, and history (including LDS history). Ugo has also authored and co-authored a number of publications, including: “Ancient individuals from the North American Northwest Coast reveal 10,000 years of regional genetic continuity” (in PNAS USA, 2017); “Finding Lehi in America through DNA Analysis” (in Laura Hales’ A Reason for Faith: Navigating LDS Doctrine & Church History, 2016); “The first peopling of South America: new evidences from the Y-chromosome haplogroup Q” (in Plos One, 2013); “Reconciling migration models to the Americas with the variation of North American native mitogenomes” (in PNAS USA, 2013); “The Mountain Meadows Massacre and ‘Poisoned Springs’: Scientific Testing of the More Recent, Anthrax Theory” (in International Journal of Legal Medicine, 2012); and “Joseph Smith Jr., the Question of Polygamous Offspring and DNA Analysis” (in Craig Foster and Newell Bringhurst’s The Persistence of Polygamy Vol. 1, 2010). A complete list of his publications is available at www.JosephSmithDNA.com.
Ugo is married to Jenna and they are the parents of four boys and a girl. They currently live in Rome, Italy.
Presentation: What does the Church believe about evolution?
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, where he has taught Arabic language and literature at all levels, Islamic philosophy, Islamic culture and civilization, Islamic religion, the Qur’an, the introductory and senior “capstone” courses for Middle Eastern Studies majors, and various other occasional specialized classes. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on Islamic and Latter-day Saint topics–including a biography entitled Muhammad: Prophet of God (Eerdmans, 2007)—and has lectured across the United States, in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and at various Islamic universities in the Near East and Asia. He served in the Switzerland Zürich Mission (1972-1974), and, for approximately eight years, on the Gospel Doctrine writing committee for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also presided for a time as the bishop of a singles ward adjacent to Utah Valley University. Dr. Peterson is married to the former Deborah Stephens, of Lakewood, Colorado, and they are the parents of three sons.
Presentation: What Difference Does It Make?
Scott is the Executive Director of the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology at BYU. Under his leadership the program has been ranked in the top five of all collegiate entrepreneurship programs for each of the past seven years, ranking #2 in 2016. He is also the Founder and Chairman of Omadi, Inc., a venture backed SaaS mobile CRM platform for workforce management, serving the towing/transportation markets. Scott is a long time entrepreneur having co-founded or partnered in building seven companies (harvesting four), including several current ventures. Additionally, he serves on several business and private foundation boards. In 2005, Scott published a significant work, titled Where Have All The Prophets Gone?, a historical, theological book on early Christianity using the Bible, the Pseudepigrapha, the Apocrypha, the Dead Seas Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi Library, and all of the extant early Christian writings. In 2014 Scott published his second book, Do the Mormons Have a Leg to Stand On?: a Critical Look at LDS Doctrines in the Light of the Bible and the Teachings of the Early Christian Church. Scott and his wife Marilyn are the parents of 5 married children and they have 15 grandchildren. Scott serves as Stake President of the Provo Utah YSA 4th Stake.
Presentation: Jesus Christ, the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever: A Restoration of Primitive Christianity
Neal Rappleye is the Research Project Manager at Book of Mormon Central and has published on the Book of Mormon in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture. He has presented at the 2014, 2016, and 2017 Book of Mormon Conferences.
Presentation: “Put Away Childish Things”: Learning to Read the Book of Mormon Using Mature Historical Thought
Ben Spackman received a BA from BYU in Near Eastern Studies and a MA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago, where he did several years of further work towards a PhD. He then studied general science at City College of New York. Currently a PhD student in History of Christianity at Claremont Graduate University, Ben’s general focus is the intertwined history of science, religion, and interpretation of scripture. In particular, he studies how shifting worldviews drove changing interpretations and understandings of Genesis, from its ancient Israelite/Babylonian origins through the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution, eventually generating today’s conflict between Young Earth Creationism and well-established evolutionary science. Ben taught volunteer Institute and Seminary for a dozen years in the Midwest, New York, and California, has also taught Biblical Hebrew, Book of Mormon, and New Testament at BYU, and recently TA’d a course on God, Darwin, and Design. Ben has published with BYU Studies, Religious Educator, the Maxwell Institute, Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, and Religion&Politics, and blogs occasionally at Timesandseasons and Benjamin the Scribe. He has presented lectures, firesides, and papers at various conferences, this year including the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology (March), the Mormon History Association (June), the Maxwell Institute Seminar on Mormon Culture (August), and the Sperry Symposium at BYU (October). He is currently writing a book on Genesis 1 for an LDS audience and intends to write his dissertation on some aspect of the scripture/evolution conflict in Mormonism. You can help Ben pay his tuition here.
Presentation: Truth, Scripture, and Interpretation: Some Precursors to Reading Genesis
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