Ep. 1: Proxies & Polyester


Our exploration of immortality starts with the Mormon Baptism for the Dead, a controversial ceremony designed to give all people who ever lived the chance to convert to Mormonism. I learn the difference between the spirit and the soul. Also, I discover the Mormon Church’s 24 hour hotline and a hot new fashion trend.  



So you couldn’t get enough about Mormonism? You’ve come to the right place. I’ll point you towards some of the sources I used to write this episode, and you can read to your heart’s content.

Let’s start off with some good general overviews:

  • If you’re just looking for a general overview for the Baptism for the Dead, allow me to point you towards the Most Useful Website on the Internet.

  • If you’re looking for a slightly more in depth discussion of Mormonism in general, check out the Oxford Encyclopedia of Religion entry. The Oxford Encyclopedia is a great place for general information, and is always a great jumping off point for investigating new topics.

Of course, there’s nothing like getting information straight from the source:

  • For selected readings from the Book of Mormon, this is great resource.

  • Mormon.org is the website that offers a 24 hour chat line. Sometime you have to wait a bit for a response. This is also the website we ordered the Book of Mormon from.

  • Also, here is the link to the official LDS store where you can find the baptismal jumpsuit.

I drew this flow chart while I was chatting with the missionaries. It's a little difficult to read, but it helped me organize my thoughts.
I drew this flow chart while I was chatting with the missionaries. It's a little difficult to read, but it helped me organize my thoughts.
A Mormon baptismal font, with the twelve oxen. Both the priest and the proxy would stand in the font for the ceremony.

If you’re looking for some more articles about the baptizing of the Holocaust victims, the bulk of the drama was in 2012.

  • Here is a New York Times article about the Jewish response to this ritual. While many  were genuinely offended by the affront to these victims memory, there are also some deeply, deeply sassy responses.  

  • Mormonism was in the news more than usual, thanks to the scandal, and I found this article in particular to be very engaging.

But if you’re looking for something that’s a little more academic, I’d point you towards Jan Shipp’s Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition. For further academic readings, look into the bibliography of the Oxford Encyclopedia. What’s interesting is that Mormon Studies is such a new field that almost all academic writings on Mormonism have come out in the last twenty years. I guess it makes sense, because Mormonism is such a young religion, but it just struck me as very interesting.

Finally, because I care about you, Listeners, here is the opening number of Book of Mormon the musical. This song gives me life. So even if you don’t like Broadway musicals, if you enjoy this podcast, you might like this too.