The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormons in the United States

The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormons in the United States

Terryl L. Givens
Reid L. Neilson
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 480
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  • Book Info
    The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormons in the United States
    Book Description:

    This anthology provides rare access to key original documents illuminating Mormon history, theology, and culture in the United States from the nineteenth century to today. Brief introductions describe the theological significance of each text and its reflection of the practices, issues, and challenges that have defined and continue to define the Mormon community. These documents balance mainstream and peripheral thought and religious experience, institutional and personal perspective, and theoretical and practical interpretation, representing pivotal moments in LDS history and correcting decades of misinformation and stereotype.

    The authors of these documents, male and female, not only celebrate but speak critically and question mainline LDS teachings on sexuality, politics, gender, race, polygamy, and other issues. Selections largely focus on the Salt Lake--based LDS tradition, with a section on the post--Joseph Smith splintering and its creation of a variety of similar yet different Mormon groups. The documents are arranged chronologically within specific categories to capture both the historical and doctrinal development of Mormonism in the United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52060-7
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-XIV)
    (pp. XV-XVIII)
    (pp. XIX-XXII)
    (pp. 1-51)

    The church of jesus christ of latter-day saints (hereafter referred to asthe church) took shape amidst a flood of other-worldly phenomena. Visitations of God and Christ, miraculously preserved golden plates and seerstones, along with Old Testament prophets, New Testament apostles, ancient American kings and warrior-priests, all appearing now as holy angels, converged on a young seeker named Joseph Smith. Even by the standards of an age prone to supernaturalism and folk magic, the restorationist movement popularly known today asMormonismunfolded as a spectacular effusion of the miraculous. To the church’s early faithful, this manifold merging of heaven and...

    (pp. 52-102)

    Early opposition to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arose in a variety of contexts and for an array of reasons. Joseph Smith claimed that while yet a young man, his story of being visited by divine beings and angelic messengers brought intense and prolonged persecution upon his head. As leader of the fledgling church, he asserted not just prophetic gifts, but also the authority to direct followers in temporal as well as spiritual matters. When thousands of Latter-day Saints settled in Missouri, their rhetoric of being chosen by God and their intimations that they would inherit lands...

    (pp. 103-154)

    “It was the design of the councils of heaven before the world was,” Joseph Smith taught, “that the principles and laws of the priesthood should be predicated upon the gathering of the people in every age of the world.” At least two purposes were accomplished by the physical congregating of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in one area. First was the mustering of resources necessary to engage in the daunting undertaking of temple building. Smith explained a second reason as well: “Intelligence is the great object of our holy religion,” he declared. And intelligence, he...

    (pp. 155-221)

    The church of jesus christ of Latter-day Saints has the distinction of being the religious group most systematically persecuted by state and federal governments in America’s history. Ironically, Mormons are also generally seen as among the nation’s most patriotic citizens in the twenty-first century. This paradox is a function of their history and theology alike. Joseph Smith and subsequent Mormon leaders were emphatic in considering the U.S. Constitution an inspired document and the American experiment in liberty a providential preparation for the restoration of the gospel. Time and again they saw their sufferings as revealing inadequate regard for constitutional principles...

    (pp. 222-276)

    From the founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830, its membership perceived the world and its ethnic groups in terms of the Bible and Book of Mormon narratives. Related nineteenth-century Mormon conceptions of lineage played a major role in Latter-day Saint self-understanding and evangelism priorities. The origin of the Native Americans had long been a subject of speculation in the New World, with many writers positing a connection to the House of Israel. The Book of Mormon made the case explicitly—tying them not to the Ten Tribes lost with the Assyrian conquest, as many...

    (pp. 277-335)

    In a 2007 pew forum on religion and public life national survey, Americans offered “polygamy” and “family values” as their leading impressions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.¹ The paradoxical juxtaposition of these seemingly conflicting comments is not lost on insider and outsider observers of the Mormon tradition. An examination of twentieth-century Mormon attitudes toward gender characteristics and roles, alternative household structures, sanctity of family life, homosexuality, feminism, and the role of sexuality within marriage sheds light on important ways in which Latter-day Saints both mirror and depart from mainstream American culture.

    Although Joseph Smith apparently took...

    (pp. 336-385)

    A signal characteristic of joseph smith’s ministry at the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was his synthesis of the two poles of knowledge acquisition. He was at one and the same time a visionary, given to rapturous epiphanies, angelic visitations, and the gift of seership, and an enthusiastic and devoted student of languages, history, and culture. Joseph Smith’s liberal eclecticism was marked by a confidence that worldly and spiritual learning were mutually reinforcing, and he initiated both a School of the Prophets and a university in Nauvoo to bring his vision of such a happy...

    (pp. 386-434)

    “What the mormons do,” British author Charles Dickens wrote in 1851, “seems to be excellent; what they say, is mostly nonsense.”¹ Filtering out the satirist’s bite, an important insight remains true: The norms of worship and praxis of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are unexceptional and often admired. Mormon theology—especially in its early, more speculative dimensions—is more prominent in the public imagination than in LDS consciousness. Media coverage of Latter-day Saints and popular understanding tend to focus on unorthodox conceptions of the godhead, additional scriptures, peculiar notions of the soul’s pre-mortal existence, or the possibility...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 435-438)
    (pp. 439-446)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 447-458)