Sunstone is beginning an aggressive initiative to commission ‘framing articles’ on topics that challenge serious students of Mormonism. These articles will deliver reliable information about these difficult aspects of LDS history, theology, and Church administration in a fair, balanced way. The Mapping Mormon Issues initiative will also make these articles and supporting materials available in multiple formats.
Over a period of more than thirty years, independent Mormon studies journals, Sunstone included, have published a wealth of scholarship on issues such as polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, folk magic, the translation of the Pearl of Great Price, and the relationship between Mormonism and Freemasonry?¢Ç¨Äùissues that often trouble Latter-day Saints who encounter them. One problem with the current state of discourse on these and other difficult subjects is that in most cases, the scholarship has been presented in bits and pieces. It is therefore hard for someone coming to the issues for the first time to get an easy yet substantive orientation to the discussion?¢Ç¨Äùits history, major findings, and arguments. As the discussions have unfolded, the main groups currently engaged in discussing these issues are either anti-Mormon organizations or LDS apologetic foundations, which results in presentations shaped by the group’s overarching agenda to lead people out of Mormonism or keep them safely within the fold.
Sunstone feels that it is uniquely positioned to fill the void left by these competing agendas by providing fair, reliable, and comprehensive windows into these issues. As a well-established, independent organization whose mission is to sponsor open forums about all aspects of Mormonism and foster an environment of free and respectful inquiry, Sunstone can use its magazine, symposia, podcasts, blogs, and other forms of outreach to frame challenging issues in ways that will be helpful to thoughtful Latter-day Saints who encounter them, but without pushing inquirers toward a particular outcome regarding their faith journey.
The Mapping Mormon Issues (MMI) project will commission articles that can orient students within the ongoing discourse about various difficult issues. These articles will strive to be dispassionate summaries of the issues?¢Ç¨Äùhow the debates have unfolded over time, what the main arguments are for this position over that one?¢Ç¨Äùinstead of actually weighing in on the debates themselves. Each completed article will be published in Sunstone magazine and online through the Sunstone website, a new version of which is just weeks away from launch. In addition to written text, MMI will offer interviews with experts and key players in the discussions of each topic, as well as other audio and visual helps to students of the issue. The project will also offer links to free versions of past and current Sunstone symposium discussions about each topic and will actively seek permission to provide links to the best scholarship in other journals and forums.
To be successful, the Mapping Mormon Issues project will require considerable commitments of time, effort, and money. MMI will be administered by a group of people consisting of the Sunstone editor, two Sunstone board members, and several people outside the formal Sunstone organizational structure who are committed to the serious study of Mormon issues and the project’s success.
We are thrilled to announce that the fundraising campaign has begun with a bang as long-time Sunstone friends Mike and Ronda Callister have pledged to match up to $5,000 in donations others send to the Mapping Mormon Issues project. They invite you to join them! Will you pledge your support today?
We look forward to partnering with you in providing this window into vital discussions for those seeking to better understand Mormonism’s past and present.