The Mormon Land newsletter is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Support us on Patreon and get the full newsletter, exclusive access to Tribune subscriber-only religion content and podcast transcripts.
Knight’s big day
The world’s most famous Black Latter-day Saint has received yet another award.
Gladys Knight, the “Empress of Soul,” received a Kennedy Center lifetime achievement award this month in a prerecorded program televised nationally by CBS on Wednesday night.
“I am still in awe,” the seven-time Grammy winner said in a Kennedy Center YouTube video tribute. “I don’t take anything like that for granted.”
“The great ones endure,” stated the iconic performing arts center in Washington, D.C., on its website, “and Gladys Knight has long been one of a very few at her vocal level — truly an icon in the music industry.”
Besides recognizing her long list of professional successes, the center also noted her personal accomplishments.
“She is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother,” the website explained, “… with a spiritual outlook on life keeping her young at heart and admired by millions.”
For Mormon Land readers, do NOT miss Knight’s soul-stirring rendition of “Somewhere” from “West Side Story” at the 2018 “Be One” celebration.
Each lyrical line — “we’ll find a new way of living, we’ll find a way of forgiving” — was laced with fresh meaning in that setting commemorating the 40th anniversary of the end of the church’s racist priesthood/temple ban, making it a night (and a Knight) to remember.
The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: The year’s biggest stories
The church made national and international headlines during the year — and The Tribune and “Mormon Land” were there for all of them — from the purported discovery of the only known photograph of founder Joseph Smith to a heinous abuse case in Arizona and the church’s stunning support of the federal Respect for Marriage Act.
There were many other developments as well: employee layoffs and unease at Brigham Young University campuses; flattening and, in some cases, shrinking church membership; the release of “Under the Banner of Heaven”; more revelations about church wealth; an apostle’s advice on Heavenly Mother; a high-ranking leader’s apology for controversial remarks on the former priesthood/temple ban; a new book about Joseph Smith’s wives; a Latter-day Saint influencer’s push for men to use condoms; and, finally, 98-year-old Russell Nelson becoming the faith’s oldest-ever church president.
On this week’s show, we discuss some of these stories — what they meant at the time, why they were significant, and how they may shape the future. Listen to the podcast.
Other noteworthy 2022 items
• Religion writers and editors voted the church’s endorsement of the Respect for Marriage Act the 10th biggest U.S. religion story of the year.
In a news release, the Religion News Association said the new law represents a “revolutionary cultural shift toward support of same-sex marriage.”
At the top of the tally: The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion.
• Religion New Service included Latter-day Saint author Rachel Rueckert’s new memoir, “East Winds: A Global Quest to Reckon With Marriage,” on its list of “most intriguing” religion books of 2022.
You can hear Ruecker talk about her adventure on this widely heard “Mormon Land” podcast.
From The Tribune
• Prayers — preferably “brief, simple and directed by the Spirit” — are back for the start of all second-hour meetings during Sunday services.
• Religion News Service columnist Jana Riess is not convinced prayers need adhere to the thees, thines and thous found in the King James Version of the Bible.
• Take a Christmastime journey in search of the baby Jesus of yesteryear in the Bethlehem of today.
• Tribune columnist Gordon Monson reminds members and those outside the faith that not all Latter-day Saints talk, walk, act and dress alike — nor should they be expected to do so.
• The haunting Arizona case that pointed to shortcomings in the church’s abuse help line is making more headlines. Turns out a video of the horrific rape of a 9-year-old girl is still floating around on the internet. You can hear Associated Press reporter Michael Rezendes of “Spotlight” fame discuss his investigation on this “Mormon Land” episode.