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Thoughts on Sunstone, MHA, and FAIR

From Thursday to Saturday is the Sunstone Conference in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah, and here is the conference program.  Sunstone, Mormon History Association, and the FAIR Conference have always been very interesting to me because it is a time to get more serious discussions that you get in Sunday School.  As I’ve reflected on my time at these conferences, it occurred to me that the environment of the three is different.

Sunstone usually has a more open, liberal flavor.  Presentations range more wildly than the other venues.  Some can be faith-promoting, while others can be down right antagonistic.  I’ve learned better which presenters are antagonistic and I do a better job of avoiding them.  It does seem to me to be more diverse.  Some presentations are very academic in nature, and some are very personal and non-academic.

Mormon History Association generally has much better overall quality than Sunstone, and the antagonism is much less.  While you will hear from non-Mormons and non-believers, they generally aren’t so openly hostile as some of the presenters at Sunstone.  Once criticism I have heard from some attendees is that the LDS Church has recently dominated the board, and this has led to less diversity.

FAIR can be interesting, but I don’t like the format.  While both MHA and Sunstone allow Q&A from audience members, FAIR requires the audience to write the questions down, and it seems that the speakers can choose whether or not to answer the tough questions from critics.  It seems like a cross between a church meeting, and a forum, and just seems much more stiff than the other meetings.  (Their meeting is the following week, and you can peek at their program here.)

Have you attended?  What are your thoughts?  Are there any upcoming presentations you would like to attend?

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