November 19, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture

People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 0195167112

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In People of Paradox, Terryl Givens traces the rise and development of Mormon culture from the days of Joseph Smith in upstate New York, through Brigham Young's founding of the Territory of Deseret on the shores of Great Salt Lake, to the spread of the Latter-Day Saints around the globe.
Throughout the last century and a half, Givens notes, distinctive traditions have emerged among the Latter-Day Saints, shaped by dynamic tensions--or paradoxes--that give Mormon cultural expression much of its vitality. Here is a religion shaped by a rigid authoritarian hierarchy and radical individualism; by prophetic certainty and a celebration of learning and intellectual investigation; by existence in exile and a yearning for integration and acceptance by the larger world. Givens divides Mormon history into two periods, separated by the renunciation of polygamy in 1890. In each, he explores the life of the mind, the emphasis on education, the importance of architecture and urban planning (so apparent in Salt Lake City and Mormon temples around the world), and Mormon accomplishments in music and dance, theater, film, literature, and the visual arts. He situates such cultural practices in the context of the society of the larger nation and, in more recent years, the world. Today, he observes, only fourteen percent of Mormon believers live in the United States.
Mormonism has never been more prominent in public life. But there is a rich inner life beneath the public surface, one deftly captured in this sympathetic, nuanced account by a leading authority on Mormon history and thought.

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‘Mormon.’ ’’60 But what was true in 1881, when to be LDS meant to willingly affiliate with the small, besieged, and most reviled religious group in America, is not true in the twenty-first century, with Mormonism a prosperous, respected church, touted as a burgeoning world religion. Clearly, control and regimentation will increasingly contend with size and global dispersion, perhaps eliciting growing signs in the LDS community of chapter 1 the iron rod and the liahona v 19 independence and

varieties of mormon cultural expression hall free of expense, the Bible being the rule of evidence, and where is there one that dare do it?71 With the removal of the church to Nauvoo in 1839, the educational agenda became even more ambitious. At the time of Mormon settlement there, only one in six children in the upper Mississippi Valley had access to public education; in Illinois, as few as one in fourteen actually attended school.72 The availability of free schools, the costs of private ones,

University’s first president does not even appear to have been LDS). True, in both cases, LDS faculty and students occupied all—or virtually all—of the spots. And the lack of official LDS sponsorship might be thought to make little difference in a virtual theocracy (as both Nauvoo and Utah Territory were). But the decision could also be seen, in the latter case especially, as a forward-looking embrace of public education and an educational system free of religious control. As an explicit gesture of

description: 102 v part ii the varieties of mormon cultural expression [There will come a time when] the Saints of God will be gathered in one from every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue, when the Jews will be gathered together into one, the wicked will also be gathered together to be destroyed, as spoken of by the prophets; the Spirit of God will also dwell with His people, and be withdrawn from the rest of the nations, and all things whether in heaven or on earth will be in one,

creatures.17 And that God is the source of all things in existence, no orthodox Christian disputed (‘‘He is the alone fountain of all being,’’ as the Westminster Confession puts it). Or as one philosopher has put the case more simply: ‘‘an omnipotent God could have prevented all sin by creating us with better natures and in more favorable 8 v part i paradoxes in mormon cultural origins surroundings. . . . Hence we should not be responsible for our sins to God.’’18 The entire problem of a

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