Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Church Likes Our Dummies Book!

An interesting post by a blogger on my Mormonism For Dummies coauthor Jana Riess:

Ex-Kentuckian is leading Mormon expert

Jana K. Riess, who lived in Winchester, Kentucky, until a few weeks ago, is making a big splash at the Religion Newswriters Association's annual convention in Salt Lake. Riess, who joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when she was a 23-year-old student at Princeton, is the co-author of Mormonism for Dummies and Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained.

Here in Utah's capital, church public relations officials are distributing free copies of Mormonism for Dummies to religion reporters from across the United States. Riess, 36, is pleased, but surprised, that the church has embraced the book.

The church did not cooperate when she was writing it, Riess said. She's been told that a high-ranking church official objected to the book because of its title. "I guess they didn't understand that it was a series and that there was Taxes for Dummies and Poker for Dummies and Microsoft Word for Dummies and everything else. They thought (we) were singling out Mormonism as a religion for dumb people. After that the public affairs department couldn't help us because the word had come down from above."

It's rare for the LDS church to tout female theologians such as Riess. "If you look at the ranks, for example, of what's published in Mormonism, women write about marriage and the family and health. And men write about theology," she said.

That's slowly beginning to change said Riess, who now lives in Cincinnati.

Riess, who has a Ph.D in religion from Columbia University, is the religion book review editor for Publisher's Weekly. She was the only Mormon at Princeton Theological Seminary (where she earned a Masters of Divinity). She's also the only Mormon to write a religion book about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Bible Belt Blogger
Religion reporter Frank Lockwood's spirituality blog

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