Joanna Brooks Brings Book of Mormon Girl to Jon Stewart and the Daily Show

Edward J. Blum

Jon Stewart has had a lot of wonderful and not-so-wonderful scholars of religion on his program. Stephen Prothero was featured in 2007 for his religious illiteracy book, and David Barton was featured for his historical illiteracy. One of my favorite moments was Randall Balmer discussing why we care about politicians' faiths. 

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This Thursday, Stewart will feature one of the most literate religious historians in all the land: Joanna Brooks.

J.B. has two main scholarly identities. First, there is the incredible scholar of religion and literature. Her American Lazarus: Religion and the Rise of African-American and Native American Literatures won the Modern Language Association's William Sanders Scarborough Prize (which Eddie Glaude had won only a few years earlier for Exodus!). It is striking how often American Lazarus is either referenced by historians without being understood or ignored outright. In it, Brooks offers a compelling read about how the figure of Lazarus, who is mentioned twice in the Bible but neither time as an agent of change, became an important metaphor for the "civilly dead" African American and Native American communities who were seeking resurrections for themselves. While the "Exodus" motif gets the lion's share of attention, the Lazarus images were there too and deeply complicated.

Her other identity is as Religion Dispatches senior correspondent for politics and all things Mormon. This is why she'll be on The Daily Show. Her memoir, The Book of Mormon Girl explores her experiences growing up Mormon, the anxiety she felt encountering Coke products at birthday parties, and how to relate feminism to her faith. It's an incredibly moving book from an incredibly moving person. CNN did a feature on her for this and so did The Daily Beast. Politco named her one of the top 50 political bloggers to watch.

We're going to have some discussions on Thursday about Joanna's book and appearance. If you are on twitter, use the hashtag #MoJo. If you want to discuss it on facebook, just befriend me at Edward J. Blum.


Paul Harvey said…
Ed, let's not forget an incredible work of scholarship Joanna edited that I relied on heavily for a few paragraphs of The Color of Christ: Collected Writings of Samson Occom, with annotations and footnotes that were a monument to erudition in a subject.
John G. Turner said…
I read Book of Mormon Girl a few weeks and loved it. Regardless of whether one shares Brooks's faith (or her particular views about Mormonism), it's a fantastic read. She's an artful story-teller, and the narrative is carefully and sometimes playfully constructed. It's a rare book that should have been longer.

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