About this Site
This site is maintained by me, Seth Payne, and I am solely responsible for its content. At this point, most of the essays posted here are in fact authored by me. I imagine this will change at some point as some of my friends, who are also interested in the academic study of Mormonism, post their work as well.
I am a life-long Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and am proud of my heritage as a Mormon. I became interested in Mormon Studies while attending Yale Divinity School, and thanks to my incredible advisor Thomas Ogletree, was allowed to pursue some very interesting aspects of Mormon faith, doctrine and culture.
I suppose I could be called a "liberal" Mormon in that I do not maintain "orthodox" views on many subjects. However, rather than try to delineate what I "do" or "do not' believe, I will simply say that I am comfortable with mystery and paradox and thus do not feel compelled to profess a systematic theology -- either for myself or others. One thing is certain however; I love the Church and its people -- even with, as Richard Bushman might say, "warts and all." I would like to think that my personal focus and commitment is more on the community of Latter-day Saints than on specific doctrinal positions or truth claims. I do maintain a healthy level of academic skepticism; however, and am suspicious of historical and sociological approaches which infuse a level of "psycho-analysis" into interpretations of both current culture of past events. By default, I trust the sincerity of the faith professed by others unless there is compelling evidence to take an alternative view.
I deeply admire scholars such as Richard Bushman, Michael Quinn, Armand Mauss, Teryll Givins, Dan Vogel, Brent Metcalfe and Jan Ships who have been pioneers in this field. I don't pretend to offer anything which remotely approaches the quality of their work but hopefully, readers will see their influence in my approach to questions of Mormonism.
In addition to my Masters Degree in Religion from Yale, I also have a B.S. in Management from BYU.