by Scott Heffernan (bio)
Jerry Seinfeld helped familiarize us with the concept of a non-sexual crush. And we thank him for it. Last year I submitted to you my list of Mormon Crushes. A Mormon Crush is a passionate respect for the way one approaches Mormonism and faith. I like the term crush because it captures the fleeting attraction I sometimes feel after hearing someone speak or reading their words.
I used the same criteria as last time:
• They must be somewhat of a public figure.
• They must be living.
• No general authorities at or above the level of seventy.
While my admiration of last year’s crushes hasn’t gone away, here is a list of people who caught my attention in 2012.
Dan is best known as host of the Mormon Matters podcast. He was also editor of Sunstone magazine for eight years. Dan is a true religious scholar with various degrees in philosophy and religion. Mormon Matters is a fantastic podcast. It has great guests and great discussion. Dan is a good moderator, which is why I sometimes forget how intelligent he is and how much I enjoy his take on things. He has an unabashed passion for Mormon doctrine that I find contagious. His idealistic attitude towards Mormonism and its potential makes me contemplate and appreciate my own faith more deeply.
Kristine Haglund is the editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. She also blogs at By Common Consent and is a noted Mormon historian (and was suggested by a friend on last year's Mormon Crushes). I don't know her very well, but from what I've seen I admire her seemingly low tolerance for bullshit. She is funny, kind, quick-witted, and also fearless—confronting issues head on. I like the following quote taken from her application to Dialogue: "Many, many people long for a way to acknowledge the flaws of the church, to think and speak critically about silly aspects of our culture, and assess the inevitable mistakes of human leaders trying to interpret God's will, while still affirming the essential goodness of Mormonism. I've battled through some of the big issues—gender roles, homosexuality, intellectual freedom, historiography—and managed not just to stay in, but to stay happily." Next on my to-do list is to check out her recent interview on the Feminist Mormon Housewives Podcast.
Philip Barlow is a religious scholar and the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University. He is the author and editor of several books including Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion and A Thoughtful Faith: Essays on Belief by Mormon Scholars. I love that Philip Barlow can have such a humble and gentle demeanor, while still conveying an enthusiastic zeal for religion and truth. I recently saw him speak at a fireside and really appreciated his thoughtful approach to faith. But perhaps what impressed me most was his response to an arrogant, self-serving, and disrespectful comment made during the Q&A after his remarks. I watched him thoroughly put this man in his place, but in the most loving, temperate way I've ever seen. To get to know Mr. Barlow better, watch his interview on Mormon Stories.
Although I look up to these Mormons for varying reasons, I again see some themes emerge. I greatly admire those who are sharp but kind, and passionate but wise. And those who are unafraid to wrestle with the darker parts of our history, culture, and humanity, but ultimately embrace faith and love. That's the kind of Mormon I want to be.
Who are your Mormon Crushes?