For four days each year, the Sunstone Symposium gathers scholars, historians, novelists, feminists, activists and anyone intellectually curious about Mormon culture, history and literature. It’s an open forum where free discussion is encouraged by a broad range of personalities, from the believer to the atheist to the heretic and even the oddball polygamist, to explore the far boundaries of multiple interpretations of Mormonism.
This year’s theme, “Maturing Faith,” is broad enough to let the free discussion ensue. The program promises the usual topics on feminism, inter-religious dialogue and lots of history you won’t get in Sunday School. Along with a wide variety of thorny theological and historical debates, the symposium isn’t afraid of tackling the increasingly important social, gender and political issues.
Potential highlights include a panel on Glenn Beck’s rise in the political media machine, a roundtable response to the documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition and even a workshop on Asana Yoga for Mormons. Wednesday night offers the free opening lecture with eminent scholars Jan Shipps and Jon Bulter discussing the fate of new religious movements.
Thursday night promises a double feature performance featuring LGBT activist Charles Frost, aka Sister Dottie S. Dixon (voted City Weekly’s Best Utahn 2010), along with YouTube and podcast sensation “Mr. Deity” Brian Dalton, exploring in his comedy shorts such questions as “What kind of evil will be allowed?”
The Sunstone Symposium offers a unique experience for the adventurous and those curious enough to challenge their mind—and maybe stretch their soul.
Sunstone Symposium @ Salt Lake City Sheraton, 150 W. 500 South, Aug. 4-7. Registration and ticket prices vary. SunstoneMagazine.com