Sunstone 2013: Mormon Bodies: Literal, Metaphorical, Doctrinal
Sunstone 2013 will be held Wednesday, 31 July through Saturday, 3 August, on the Weber State Campus. The theme will be “Mormon Bodies: Literal, Metaphorical, Doctrinal” and the description published in the program reads as follows:
One of Mormonism’s most distinctive attributes is the emphasis on embodiment, including the belief that “everybody ought to have a body,” and that embodiment is not merely a condition of mortality but a crucial step in the journey to becoming like God, who “has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s” (D&C 130:22). Bodies are a primary way we learn about the world, a source of pleasure and temptation, something to be both enjoyed and tamed. How do LDS ideas about sex, sin, illness, disability, food, pleasure, procreation, parenthood, obligation, gender, and godhood affect their experiences of their bodies? How do LDS doctrines of embodiment affect the way Latter-day Saints think, feel, and talk about their bodies?
Jesus had a mortal body, but we don’t like to talk about its suffering, preferring to dwell on his resurrected form. Heavenly Mother has a body, but we are officially discouraged from talking about it. The Holy Ghost, bodiless, is nevertheless constantly making our bosoms burn, or calling tears to our eyes, or standing us up and walking us to the podium during testimony meeting.
What metaphors are hidden in our obsession with bodies? How does our bodily approach to the world both expand and constrain our view of the divine? What is the relationship between spirit and body (is it only the body that must be tamed)? What paradoxes does our view of bodies force us to live in?
Furthermore, the “body of Christ” is a metaphor for the church, but Mormons avoid emphasizing the literal body of Christ, eschewing not just crucifixes but crosses. Why are some literal bodies more important than others? What bodies matter most?
Mormonism also encompasses many different collective bodies: various traditions tracing their roots back to Joseph Smith, and various governing bodies overseeing different communities or texts or enterprises. Finally, in its relatively short history, Mormonism has produced a remarkably rich and diverse body of thought and scripture. How do all these bodies collide against, control, nurture, or support one another?
The deadline for proposals hasn’t been set, but it never hurts to submit early.