The Best of Last Week

And . . . we’re back. Hope you weren’t holding your breath.

While there was plenty of coverage of Romney-religion issues during our week of posting silence, we might as well use the comeback post to highlight the best entry. That award goes (by a long shot) to A Mormon President, by Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp writing in the Christian Century. Several readers sent emails regarding this story while I spent last week mostly in a drowsy haze, and I’m glad to have seen it.

This piece should serve as the authoritative reference on the topic of “How Would Romney’s Religion Influence His Politics as President?” The treatment of Mormonism is surprisingly fair, but even more unusual, it is full of depth and nuance that is possible only for someone deeply familiar with this religion.

Ms. Maffly-Kipp’s writing is especially interesting for one of its repeating themes– the idea that for all its moral absolutism and hierarchical authority, Mormonism is absolutely bristling with emphasis on individual autonomy. While this element of the faith is admittedly easy to overlook in favor of the flashier doctrines, it is absolutely crucial to an understanding of what motivates the average Mormon, particularly in political life. You could even go a step farther and say that Mitt Romney himself is undoubtedly motivated by Mormon concepts of agency, free will, and spiritual humanism (that’s my own term– the LDS-inspired idea that human individuals are beings of enormous value and potential).

Kudos to Ms. Maffly-Kipp for her piercing insights and willingness to get the Mormon faith right. Further compliments for the ability to analyze Mormons as a unique set of people while also refusing to assume that Mitt Romney must be exactly like every other Mormon. Needless to say, this article is highly recommended.