Author: Ivan Wolfe

If you’ve been following the LDS blogging world for the last 20 years or so, you’ll recognize Ivan Wolfe from posts and comments at various blogs. Ivan lives in Arizona, where he teaches writing at ASU. He has published essays on several topics, including Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy, The Princess Bride and Philosophy, and others.

A Book worth tracking down: “Drat! Mythed Again”

Drat! Mythed Again: Second Thoughts on Utah by: Steve Warren Most people, I find, have never heard of this book, but it’s one I referenced often growing up, as we had a copy in my house. My parents weren’t sure exactly when they picked it up, but it’s 1986 copyright date indicates it had to be after they moved to Alaska.

Book Recommendation: Satan is Real

The Country Music history podcast Cocaine and Rhinestones called this book “everything a Country Artist’s autobiography should be.”  Even if you aren’t into this particular genre (I was not and have no plans to read any anytime soon), this is a worthwhile read.  And despite the (content warning) constant cussing (including many “f-bombs”), I even felt the Spirit at one point.  Let me explain:

Idiosyncratic ranking of the “Let’s Talk About” series from Deseret Book

This is, I think, the best thing to come out of Deseret Book in a long while. I somewhat wish these books had existed when I was much, much younger, but the expertise (and, frankly, spiritual maturity of many members) likely didn’t really exist in the right forms until recently. What follows is my totally idiosyncratic, personal ranking of the series. Every book is excellent (how often can you say that about a book series like this?), so this is not “best to worst” but more “what Ivan enjoyed or found most useful”  This may or may not help you. Also, some volumes have either not been released or I haven’t read them, so they are absent from the list:

Cowboy songs about Mormons?

Many people have said there’s a gigantic hole in Western US studies/histories. Outside of the realm of “Mormon Studies” very few scholars or historians want to touch Latter-day Saints (except for polemical reasons – Jon Krakauer and Sally Denton have tackled “Mormons”, but for polemical and intellectually suspect reasons). I’ve noticed this as well.  In a book I reviewed for the AML many years ago Class and Race in the Frontier Army, the only real mention of Utah was the Salt Lake Tribune objecting to a Black army officer on fairly racist grounds.  “Mormons” as such are barely acknowledged. Similarly, there are few Cowboy or Western songs about Mormons; “The Mormon Cowboy” is one happy exception.  However, I have recently discovered an artist that does fill this gap: Stan Bronson (a chance find – I bought a copy of his CD “Songs of Old San Juan” at Deseret Industries). 

The Princess Bride (As You Wish)

The Princess Bride’s relationship to the scriptures. Bear with me here.  This is not one of those “William Goldman [the author of the book and screenwriter for the movie] was LDS” things (like “Yoda is President Kimball” or whatever from other franchises). When I first read the book (which came before the movie), it shocked me.  I did not expect what I found. Almost everything from the movie was in there (although often in different ways – the famous “life is pain” quote comes from Fezzik’s parents in passing during a flashback, for example), but there was so much more.  There was a lot on “his” [scare quotes on purpose] dysfunctional family life, his career, his childhood, and a lot more plot in the actual tale of Buttercup.

Sherlock Holmes, “Mormons”, and Canon

The only other “And Philosophy” essay of mine that mentions the Church is in Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy, though I don’t discuss the obvious thing: the second half of “A Study in Scarlet” where evil Mormons use Danites to terrorize women in marriages with lecherous older men (incidentally, when a young’un, I read a version of “A Study in Scarlet” that cut out the “Mormon” bits as unnecessary, and – at the time – I didn’t even notice they were missing; it wasn’t until much later in life I found out about the evil Mormon/Danite section).

(Almost) Everyone Gets Battlestar Galactica Wrong….

The most cited article I’ve ever written was also my first professional publication: “Why Your Mormon Neighbor Knows More About This Shows Than You Do” in Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy from Open Court Press (not to be confused with the Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy from Blackwell Press). One reason I wrote that article was that while there were a few scattered articles, websites, and other venues that acknowledged LDS/Mormon influence on the original show (and the faint traces of it in the more recent version), nearly all of them got something wrong – often egregiously so.

Semi-Random Thoughts in No Particular Order

I’ve participated with the “Bloggernacle” since before it was called that (I recall the whole Banner of Heaven debacle, which shows my age somewhat).  I have never served as a power player or all that prolific, and I mostly just lurk these days as I find most of the arguments the same old same old; you can only have the same arguments about authority, obedience, scripture, etc. before they get really tiring. However, I do have a few random thoughts/reflections (in no particular order) on the ‘Nacle based on my many years hanging around.  Your mileage will definitely vary about whether my insights make any sense or not: