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Monday, July 11, 2011

Richard Bushman: An Interview



by Seattle Jon (bio)








Richard Bushman, one of my personal heroes, recently gave an off-set interview to CNN’s In the Arena. Here are some highlights, but I encourage everyone to read the entire interview.

About The Book of Mormon musical…
Mormons experience the show like looking at themselves in a fun-house mirror. The reflection is hilarious but not really you. The nose is yours but swollen out of proportion.

On blacks and the priesthood…
For over a century, the Church did deny the priesthood to blacks for reasons Mormons themselves did not understand: perhaps there was a doctrinal basis, perhaps it was a policy adopted by Brigham Young in an era when blacks were commonly excluded from many white activities… The Church is conservative in the classic sense of changing slowly, but it does change deliberately in its own good time.

About his testimony of the book of mormon…
I studied everything and prayed hard for some kind of light. In time I arrived at a rational explanation that allowed for a miracle in the book’s production, but along the way I experienced something more important than the book itself. I caught a glimpse of a higher form of human flourishing, something forceful and ennobling which I can only call sacred. It was this encounter with a kind of elevated goodness in the book that won me over.

About the upcoming election…
I am one who is pleased to have Mormonism in the spotlight. I don’t mind the ribbing we get, or the attacks from skeptics, or the evangelicals’ objections to Mormon presidential candidates. I like the feeling that we are all in this together, trying to reconcile religious belief, politics, and our conflicted views of policy. We all want to know how they can work together for the public good.

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