001: Jan Shipps—New History of the Prairie and Mountain Saints; Race and Gender

001_Jan-ShippsJan Shipps is the perfect inaugural interview for the Mormon Studies podcast. She has become the matron saint of Mormon studies (that’s a promotion from her previous role as the den mother of Mormon studies).

She is professor emeritus of history at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and a former president of the John Whitmer Historical Association (2004–05) and the Mormon History Association (1979–80)—a scholar’s scholar who has influenced a generation of students of Mormonism, often reaching across and even narrowing the chasm between believer and nonbeliever.

Over the past several years Jan has laid the foundation for a forthcoming book on the history of Community of Christ (a.k.a. “prairie saints”; formerly RLDS) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. “mountain saints”) from the end of World War II to the present. Explicating 1950s strategic missiology and convert retention to 2010s ecclesiastical polity and women’s priesthood, she has new and trenchant insights that she shares with podcast listeners.

Given her expertise some may find it interesting that Jan is one of an elite body of Mormon scholars who are, in the words of Poe’s raven, “never,” um, “mo…”

Jan Shipps trivia: She is co-instructor of a popular study group in her Methodist congregation; Mr. Darcy is her faithful canine companion and Sally Barringer Gordon is Mr. Darcy’s Godparent.

(Intro and outro music: “History Song” performed by The Good, the Bad, & the Queen from their eponymous album.)


14 comments for “001: Jan Shipps—New History of the Prairie and Mountain Saints; Race and Gender

  1. jeanikins
    November 25, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Thank you Brent and Jan. That felt so inclusive and honest. Do you think we CAN all be one happy family again? I love the way Jan refers to the Mountain Saints and the Prairie Saints and how you talked about being in a CoC meeting Brent and not really seeing any difference with the leadership etc.
    Time to kiss and make up?

  2. November 25, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Downloading right now. What do you have to do yo get the podcast recognized by major podcast apps? I use the PocketCast on Android and I love it.

  3. Booker Preston
    November 25, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Bravo! Great, insightful interview! Thank you Jan Shipps and Brent Metcalfe.

  4. Mario S. De Pillis, Sr.
    November 25, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Wonderful interview, Brent.
    Jan is a great master not only of Mormon history but of LDS psychology.
    And your questions were both careful and cogent.

  5. Martine
    November 25, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Saving it for the drive to Moab Thursday morning! Can’t wait!

  6. Lloyd
    November 26, 2014 at 10:33 am

    This was so good! What a great way to kick off these podcasts. Jan is such a treasure, and I would LOVE to hear much more from her.

    Thanks Brent for doing this, I’m really looking forward to more. (I’m also glad to see that you have your voice back!)

  7. George Windes
    November 26, 2014 at 10:53 am

    I feel like I am in a parallel universe. I have been a Mountain Saints for 55 years and a close friend to the Reorganized/Community of Christ for the same length of time. l joined Mormonism at age 18, but my father’s family were from Missouri and associated with the Prairie Saints. I was a close friend of David C. Martin and know Stephen Shields.

  8. CaCoast
    November 27, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Really good interview. Left me wanting to hear more. I especially liked Jan’s perspective, she gives a 10,000 ft view that we don’t often get.

  9. Dan Vogel
    November 27, 2014 at 6:25 am

    Nicely done, Brent. Jan is always interesting and insightful.

  10. November 27, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    A fine job, Brent, and congratulations on your new undertaking. Jan was the perfect person for this inaugural interview! I was fascinated by her interesting use of the term “truth” in a very liberal sense, as something that gets “created” by religious traditions. In my own mind, this insight clicked with how the official First Vision story took on a life of its own, until now it seems at times unassailable by any considerations of accuracy.

    I also noticed her emphasis on “group mystical experience” in both LDS and RLDS/CoC instances (although the implied spiritual consensus in changing the name of the latters’ church to Community of Christ is perhaps belied – amusingly – in Paul Edwards’ second novel, just out, Murder by Sacrament).

    Most of all, Brent, I appreciated the challenging intellectual character of this first interview, and the high road you took as interviewer, never descending to pettiness. It would be easiest to sustain this quality if there were more Jan Shipps’s in this world to feature, but I’ll watch eagerly to see whatever comes next.

  11. Jeff
    November 27, 2014 at 9:55 pm


  12. Rich
    November 28, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Great podcast! Well worth the wait. What a great introduction to this series too, with a broad view of Mormonism that transcends the “Mountain Saints” and includes a perspective of RLDS and other histories. The interview went by pretty fast considering it was over an hour long.

  13. David Nelson
    November 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Congrdulations on such a great first episode Brent! I’m so excited to see your program up and going and look forward to further episodes. There was so much information and incite packed into this interview by you jan I feel greatful to you both for giving so generously from the store of knowledge you have spent so much of your life gathering. From the bottom of my heart thank you! What a great addition to mormon podcasting.

  14. December 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Brent, how can I get a voice like yours? In the resurrection, I will have a voice like yours. Great podcast. So stoked for future podcasts.

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