Kristine Haglund, a Boston-based essayist widely known among LDS bloggers, has been named editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.
Haglund, who takes over formally on Jan. 1, was chosen Monday from among five "extremely qualified finalists," said Molly McLellan Bennion, head of the board and search committee.
"Kristine wasn't the most academically or editorially accomplished or the most published author, but she has amazing intellectual skills whether it's physics or poetry. It's a very exciting time in Mormon thought, and Kristine is the right person to lead Dialogue for the next five years."
Dialogue, launched in 1966 by a group of young Mormon scholars at Stanford University led by Eugene England and G. Wesley Johnson, is the oldest independent journal in Mormon studies. In the past four decades, the quarterly journal has published scores of significant articles relating to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including groundbreaking work on blacks and the priesthood. It dedicated an entire issue to women's stories, history and concerns, explored the church's positions on evolution and looked candidly at Mormon scriptures and history. It set the standard for all future independent Mormon publications.
Dialogue has had nine editorial teams, which have included almost as many women as men. But Haglund, a single mother of three, will be the first woman running it solo since 1982, when Mary Lythcoe Bradford finished her term as editor.
Haglund was born in Baltimore but lived in several American cities as well as abroad. She earned an undergraduate degree in German studies from Harvard and a master's from the University of Michigan.
Haglund is "a fantastic writer who is also very spiritual and feels deeply connected with the church," said Dan Wotherspoon, editor of Dialogue's sister publication, Sunstone magazine. "She is fully 'in the fray,' so to speak, writing from the perspective of a mother, a musician, a scholar and lover of literature."
In her 30s, Haglund is also the youngest editor in years. And that reflects the journal's need to reach a new generation of Mormon thinkers.
"I feel like a kid who has been hiding under the table listening to the grown-ups' dinner party conversation, and is suddenly invited to sit in one of the big chairs," Haglund said after learning of the appointment, "thrilled, honored and a little scared."
She has big plans to build on the journal's sturdy foundation, and to expand its reach, especially in three particular groups: scholars of religion who bring comparative insights to the study of Mormonism, a broader range of Mormon thinkers than the simplistic divide along "conservative" and "liberal," and "thoughtful young people."
These young people are coming of age in a wholly different climate in the church than those who started Dialogue, she said. "They feel freer to discuss many things that used to seem dangerous or taboo, and are uninterested in some of the issues and questions that have been the staples of the Mormon independent publishing diet."
They are less familiar with the print media, but do regularly revisit many of the old questions in blogs and other electronic outlets.
"Many, many people long for a way to acknowledge the flaws of the church, to think and speak critically about silly aspects of our culture, and assess the inevitable mistakes of human leaders trying to interpret God's will, while still affirming the essential goodness of Mormonism," Haglund wrote as part of her application for the job. "I've battled through some of the big issues - gender roles, homosexuality, intellectual freedom, historiography - and managed not just to stay in, but to stay happily."
* PEGGY FLETCHER STACK can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-257-8725. Send comments about this story to livingeditor@ sltrib.com.