Program: MSH 2016 Secularisms


Template (Utah) cropBelow you will find the current program draft for our 2016 conference. Some things have changed, but this version should be relatively final now. We are looking forward to an engaging conference!

Thursday, April 7, 7:30 pm

Opening Devotional by Patrick Madden, “Unapologetically, Unannoyingly Mormon”

Co-sponsored by the Brigham Young University College of Humanities

Education in Zion Theater (B192 JFSB) Brigham Young University


Friday, April 8, 9:00–10:30

F1A (CB 101B): “Secularism: Orientation and Invitation”

Chair: Jenny Webb (Independent Scholar)

James Faulconer (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “Several Sides of Secularism”

George Handley (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “The Felt Life of the Mind: Lessons on the Secular from Marilynne Robinson”


Friday, April 8, 10:45–12:15

F2A (CB 101B): “A World without Word: Hymns, Poems, and Parables Beyond Belief”

Panel Organizer: Jonathon Penny 

Panelists: Alex Caldiero, Scott Hales, Bonnie Shiffler-Olsen, Steven Peck, and Merrijane Rice

Respondent: Bruce Jorgensen


Friday, April 8, 12:15–1:45

Lunch Break (meal not provided)


Friday, April 8, 1:45–3:15

F3A (CB 101B): “Secularism and the Religious”

Chair: Alan Goff (DeVry University)

Ralph Hancock (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “Secularism: An Aspect of Christianity, or Its Enemy?”

James Egan (Independent Scholar) • “Hindu Nationalism and Secular Governance: What India’s Debate about Civil Law Means for Secularisms Everywhere”

Nathaniel Givens (Independent Scholar) • “Secularism as Religion”


F3B (CB 308): “Philosophical Approaches”

Chair: James Faulconer (Brigham Young University–Provo)

Adam Miller (Collin College) • “A Radical Mormon Materialism: Reading Wrestling the Angel

Justin White (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “Self-Conception and Self-Deception”

Wade Hollingshaus (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “Aesthetics of Zion”


Friday, April 8, 3:30–5:00

F4A (CB 101B): “LDS Women’s Experiences in Secular Higher Education”

Panel Organizer: Erin Jensen (University of Utah)

Yazmin Elizalde (College of Southern Nevada)

Sherena Huntsman (Utah State University)

Tammie Makely (Arizona State University)


F4B (CB 308): “Lived Applications: Pedagogy and Rhetoric”

Chair: James Egan (Independent Scholar)

Kirk Caudle (Independent Scholar) • “The Secular Book of Mormon: Reading without God in the 21st Century”

Rebekah Crawford (Ohio University) • “Supportive Families, Healthy Children: A Secular Voice Amidst Believers”

Karen Spencer (Independent Scholar) • “Stewardship and Hierarchy in a Secular Age”

Sheldon Lawrence (Brigham Young University–Idaho) • “The Coddling of the Mormon Mind: Spiritual Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces”


Friday, April 8, 6:00–7:30

Conference Banquet (UVU Library, Lakeview Room)

Note: One ticket is included with Registration fee; additional tickets may be purchased ($25)


Saturday, April 9, 8:00–8:45

(CB 101B): Business Meeting


Saturday, April 9, 9:00–10:30

S1A (CB 101B): Keynote Address by Jonathan VanAntwerpen


Saturday, April 9, 10:45–12:15

S2A (CB 101B): “Literary Approaches”

Chair: David Paxman (Brigham Young University–Provo)

Shawn Tucker (Elon University) • “Humility, Pride, and Fear (with reference to King Lear)”

William Silverman (Southern Virginia University) • “Tasting the Fruit: Literary Foundations for Latter-day Scriptures”

Tyler Gardner (University of Notre Dame) • “Rejecting Religious Categorization on a Cosmic Scale: Marilynne Robinson as Neither Religious nor Secular”


S2B (CB 416): “Reading Scripture”

Chair: Kim Berkey (Harvard University)

Christopher Blythe (Joseph Smith Papers, Church History Department) • “The Prophetess and Seer at Endor: Reception of 1 Samuel 28 in Nineteenth Century Mormon History”

Erin Kaseda (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “Parable as Performance: Theatre, Theology, and Thought”

Jenny Webb (Independent Scholar) • “Ether 12 and the Unfinished Faith”


S2C (CB 406): “Revelation’s Relationship with Secularism”

Chair: Brad Kramer (University of Michigan)

Redge Bendheim (Claremont Graduate University) • “Mormons, a Divine Constitution, and Perceptions of Political Participation”

Ben Spackman (Claremont Graduate University) • “Scripture, Science, and Secularism: Questioning Shared Assumptions about Inspiration”

Taylor Kerby (Claremont Graduate University) • “Secularization and Sacred Time: Narrating Mormonism’s Temporal Complexity”


Saturday, April 9, 12:15–1:45

Lunch Break (meal not provided)


Saturday, April 9, 1:45–3:15

S3A (CB 101B): “Philosophy Meets Fiction: Adam Miller and David Foster Wallace”

Panel Organizer: Blair Hodges (Brigham Young University–Provo)

Dallin Lewis (Gonzaga University)

Steven Peck (Brigham Young University–Provo)

Adam Miller, respondent (Collin College)


S3B (CB 416): “Modern Secularisms”

Chair: William Silverman (Southern Virginia University)

Samuel Brown (University of Utah) • “The Burden We Cannot Bear: Humans as Deity in Late Modern Culture”

Brad Kramer (University of Michigan) • “Modern Mormonism and Secularization”

Alan Goff (DeVry University) • “The Modern Social Imaginary (Thought and Unthought), Alternative Social Imaginaries, and Mormon Studies”


Saturday, April 9, 3:30–5:00

S4A (CB 101B): “Secularism’s Multiple Potentialities”

Chair: George Handley (Brigham Young University–Provo)

Jason Kerr (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “Secularism and Consent in Richard Baxter’s Political Theology”

Jonathon Penny (University of Lethbridge) • “A Re(lev)ation: Secular Uses of Apocalypse in Literary Modernism”

David Gore (University of Minnesota–Duluth) • “The Sacred and Secular Toggle”


S4B (CB 416): “Theological Experimentation”

Chair: Adam Miller (Collin College)

Joseph Spencer (Brigham Young University–Provo) • “The Age of the Oath’s Eclipse: An Agambenian Reading of Modernity’s Malaise”

Kim Berkey (Harvard University) • “‘A More History Part’: The Sacred/Secular Divide in the Book of Mormon”

Ben Crosby (Iowa State University) • “The King Follett Address as American Gospel: Rhetoric, Mormonism, and The Secular Sublime”

Jenny Webb


  1. Dear Jenny,

    I am very interested in your conference–it looks wonderful! Just double checking: are the room numbers–414, 101b–at UVU’s classroom building? Whereas the opening Thursday night talks are happening at BYU in the JFSB? Or have I got this wrong. Is registration necessary or can I just show up?

    1. Dear Kim,

      We would love to have you! Yes, the 414 and 101B numbers are for UVU’s Classroom Building, but the opening devotional on Thursday night is being held at the Education in Zion theater in the JFSB at BYU (the devotional is co-sponsored by the BYU College of Humanities).

      Registration is not necessary for public attendees (just those giving papers need to register). But if you’d like to join us at the banquet on Friday evening (which of course we would love) we would need you to purchase a ticket for that event ($25/plate). I don’t believe the current configuration of the online registration system allows for just the banquet to be purchased—if you’re interested in this please contact me directly ( and we’ll work something out!

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