Posts by Jason A. Kerr

The Book of Mormon

Politics and the Book of Mormon

Cross-posted from Historicisms. One of the more uncomfortable aspects of the “Mormon Moment” for me was seeing LDS scripture deployed against the candidate on whose behalf I chose to exercise my franchise. Wish though I may that the Book of Mormon could be safely sequestered from the sordid world of politics, I have to acknowledge […]

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"What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they'll keep being wrong!"

Reflections on Social Media and Politics

Note: this essay draws on material originally published in two posts on my personal blog, Historicisms. Having just read Mark McCormack’s post, “Dialogue in the Age of Unfriending,” I felt that I should share my own experience with social media in the run-up to the election. As I’ve written elsewhere, the last few years have […]

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Henry Jessey

Of Mormons, Baptists, and Liberty of Conscience

On 7 October, Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, was speaking to reporters outside the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC, where he had just introduced Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry. Taking aim at Perry’s rival for the nomination, Mitt Romney, Jeffress said that Romney, a member of the Church of Jesus […]

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Of 9/11 and Learning to Love the Other

For me, 9/11 began with religion: after my clock radio alarm gave me the first hint that something had gone terribly wrong, I knelt by my bed to pray that God would watch over the affected people. Then I went and turned on the TV just in time to see the first tower fall. Religion […]

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Psalm 137 and Religious Violence, Part V: Milton’s Allusive Abuse

For Part I of this series, click here; for Part II, click here; for Part III, click here; for Part IV, click here. If Stephen Marshall’s literalism makes his reading of Psalm 137 easy to interpret as a call to real-world violence, what of readings like John Milton’s, where the language is certainly abusive, but […]

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Psalm 137 and Religious Violence, Part IV: No Neuters

As the cases of Digby and Smectymnuus illustrate, the Israel/Edom metaphor does not readily admit of middle ground. Indeed, in a famous sermon given on the occasion of a Parliamentary fast day on 23 February 1642, Stephen Marshall (the “SM” in Smectymnuus) argued “that all men are blessed or cursed according as they help or […]

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Psalm 137 and Religious Violence, Part III: Bishop Hall and the Smectymnuan Hydra

The invocations of Psalm 137 got uglier when Hall addressed a new tract to Parliament in the wake of the Root and Branch Petition. This tract drew responses from adversaries in his first category, the ones he had condemned to “darke lodgings, and Ellebore.” Prominent among these was a group of ministers—Stephen Marshall, Edmund Calamy, […]

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Psalm 137 and Religious Violence, Part II: Root and Branch

Like Jacob and Esau after the episode of the pottage, the family relationship of the English Church had gone quite sour by 1640, and this bitterness gave Psalm 137 its potency in the church-government debates. During the 1630s Archbishop Laud and a group of like-minded divines had advanced a “High Church” program of reform that […]

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Psalm 137 and Religious Violence, Part I: “Down with it, down with it, even to the ground”

7 Remember the children of Edom, O Lord, in the day of Jerusalem: how they said, Down with it, down with it, even to the ground. 8 O daughter of Babylon, wasted with misery: yea, happy shall he be that rewardeth thee, as thou hast served us. 9 Blessed shall hee be that taketh thy […]

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Muslim-Americans and “We the People”

The recent events in Egypt produced many stirring images, among them those of Muslims joining hands so that Coptic Christians could hold Christmas mass unmolested in the wake of a suicide bombing outside a church in Alexandria. Not quite a month later, in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Coptic Christians returned the favor by joining hands so […]

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Jason A. Kerr

Jason A. Kerr recently completed a Ph.D. in English at Boston College. He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Twitter: @jakerr35


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