Former TNRer Ryan Lizza's piece on Mitt Romney in this week's New Yorker frames the former governor's Mormon problem in an interesting new way. Here's a scholar of Mormonism, as quoted in the article:

"Mormonism was a cult, just as Christianity was a cult in the beginning," she told me. "But a cult, when it grows up, becomes a culture, and the people who are a part of it take on an ethnic identity, a peoplehood. Romney is not Mormon the way, say, Ted Kennedy is Catholic. Romney is Mormon the way Ted Kennedy is Irish. That's the difference. And, when it's that much a part of who you are, it's very hard to explain it to other people, because you can't figure out why they can't see it. He can't do a J.F.K., because when J.F.K. did his thing on the Catholics there were people who knew that they were afraid of Catholicism, but at least they knew what it was."

In short, theology isn't the problem; rather, it's what Ryan calls Romney's "cultural Mormonism."

Read the whole thing.

--Isaac Chotiner