Join us for the closing banquet and enjoy a delicious feast for both body and mind!
Shepherd Student Union — Ballroom C
Weber State University
3848 Harrison Boulevard
Ogden, Utah 84408
The banquet meal includes a green salad, an Italian tossed salad, vegetarian lasagna, chicken saltimboca, roast beef with au jus, Pacific veggie blend, garlic mashed potatoes, wild rice pilaf, rolls, butter, lemonade, with apple pie with cinnamon whipped cream, New York style cheesecake with chocolate drizzle, and a berry parfait for dessert.
Banquet tickets are available primarily through pre-registration, and we recommend that you buy your ticket by July 29, 2011. However, a few dinners will be available for purchase at the Symposium. Ask about banquet ticket availability at the registration desk. Sorry, there is no “lecture only” admission to the banquet session.
A supremely important artifact to early Christians was the cross; slivers of it were cherished as the most valuable of relics. Over time, this object has been repudiated by Utah-based Latter-day Saints, who mark their most sacred buildings with a statue of Moroni rather than the symbol of the cross.
Arguably the most important artifact of Mormonism, the object on which its existence rests, is missing. We do not have the Golden Plates, and only a dozen men claimed having seen them (a servant woman who claimed Moroni showed her the plates was never taken seriously). Valuable because of their material, their age, and their content, the Golden Plates have been replaced by a mass-produced book valuable because of its content. Additional artifacts key to the Book of Mormon’s translation, the Urim and Thummim, are also missing.
Other artifacts and aspects of Mormon material culture were lost or abandoned as the Saints migrated from place to place. In recent years, however, some of these historical edifices have been rebuilt. A temple was constructed on the site of the first Nauvoo Temple; its exterior matches the original, though the interior does not. Historic Kirtland is a meticulous reconstruction of a community that includes a sawmill, a store, a schoolhouse, and an inn.
And while some Latter-day Saints retain and cherish family heirlooms and personal items so imbued with spiritual significance–peep stones, or handkerchiefs or canes blessed with the power to heal–that they become religious artifacts, such items are increasingly sequestered in museums.
What do these missing, rebuilt, repudiated, or sequestered artifacts mean to a people profoundly interested in documenting and preserving their material culture? How is meaning created by these objects? How do we understand the various meanings when the objects we’ve created are damaged by moth or rust, or stolen by thieves? How does meaning shift when those objects are lost and replaced by something else–leather-bound and gilt-edged Books of Mormon replacing the Golden Plates, for instance, or a modern LDS temple built on the site of a much older and very different building? How do these treasures of heaven on earth help us understand both heaven and earth?
Moderator: DR. COLLEEN MCDANNELL is a professor of history and the Sterling M. McMurrin Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Utah and is one of the foremost experts on religion in the United States. Her book Material Christianity urges scholars to look at the “stuff” of religion for new evidence on how people live their faith.
DR. DALE E. LUFFMAN holds a master’s of theology degree from Princeton Theology Seminary and a doctor of ministry degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He has served in the Community of Christ Council of Twelve Apostles since 1994. His research projects include a book on the Book of Mormon. He will speak about the absence of the Gold Plates.
DR. D. MICHAEL QUINN has a PhD in history from Yale University and is the author of more than 80 articles and several award-winning books about Mormon history, including Early Mormonism and the Magic World View. He will speak about personal artifacts and items with religious significance and their common fate of ending up in museums, sequestered away from the use that made them valued objects to begin with.
MICHAEL G. REED has an MA in liberal arts from Cal State Sacramento and has been accepted into the joint PhD program in Christian history at the Graduate Theological Union/UC Berkeley. A revision and expansion of his MA thesis, titled Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo, is forthcoming from John Whitmer Books in 2011. He will speak about the cross as a repudiated artifact in Mormon iconography.