In early June, the Deseret News published a list compiled by Leonard J. Arrington in 1969 of the “most eminent intellectuals in Mormon history.” As you can imagine, the feature generated a lot of discussion both on the newspaper’s website, as well as in many corners of the Mormon bloggernacle. Who among those listed still belong in the Top Ten? Who should be on there now? Why aren’t any women listed, and which women should have made that list then or if a new list were compiled today?
In this Mormon Matters episode, host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Joanna Brooks, Kristine Haglund, and Boyd Petersen discuss this list and various issues it raises, but then launch into a both serious and fun examination of the oftentimes uncomfortable relationship that Mormonism has had with its intellectuals. Among the topics they hash out are what makes someone an intellectual, why being “learned” is often seen with suspicion and denounced by certain church leaders and members, what positive roles do intellectuals play within the LDS tradition, and what advice might the panelists give to those with an intellectual temperament who find themselves struggling for a comfortable home within Mormonism? It’s a great discussion that raises issues faced by many of this podcast’s listeners. We hope you’ll listen and then join in the discussion below!
Additional reading listeners might enjoy:
Leonard J. Arrington’s 1969 article, “The Intellectual Tradition of the Latter-day Saints,” in which the list first appeared
Follow-up article in 1993 by Stan Larson in which he reports on the results of a new survey
Blog thread at LDSWave discussing eminent women intellectuals
Armand L. Mauss essay with ideas for successfully navigating a fulfilling and engaged life within Mormonism as an “alternate voice” (with his suggestions just as easily a fit for “intellectuals”)