In Baring Witness, Holly Welker and thirty-six Mormon women write about devotion and love and luck, about the wonder of discovery, and about the journeys, both thorny and magical, to humor, grace, and contentment. They speak to a diversity of life experiences: what happens when one partner rejects Church teachings; marrying outside one's faith; the pain of divorce and widowhood; the horrors of spousal abuse; the hard journey from visions of an idealized marriage to the everyday truth; sexuality within Mormon marriage; how the pressure to find a husband shapes young women's actions and sense of self; and the ways Mormon belief and culture can influence second marriages and same-sex unions. The result is an unflinching look at the earthly realities of an institution central to Mormon life.
Said to have been dictated by Joseph Smith as a translation of an ancient Egyptian scroll purchased in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1835, the Book of Abraham may be Mormonism’s most controversial scripture. Decades of impassioned discussion began when about a dozen fragments of Smith’s Egyptian papyri, including a facsimile from the Book of Abraham, were found in the New York Metropolitan Museum in 1966. The discovery solved a mystery about the origin of the Egyptian characters that appear in the various manuscript copies of the Book of Abraham from 1835, reproduced from one of the fragments. Some LDS scholars devised arguments to explain what seemed to be clear evidence of Smith’s inability to translate Egyptian. In this book, Dan Vogel not only highlights the problems with these apologetic arguments but explains the underlying source documents in revealing detail and clarity.
Brigham Young was a rough-hewn craftsman from New York whose impoverished and obscure life was electrified by the Mormon faith. He trudged around the United States and England to gain converts for Mormonism, spoke in spiritual tongues, married more than fifty women, and eventually transformed a barren desert into his vision of the Kingdom of God. While previous accounts of his life have been distorted by hagiography or polemical exposé, John Turner provides a fully realized portrait of a colossal figure in American religion, politics, and westward expansion.
After the 1844 murder of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, Young gathered those Latter-day Saints who would follow him and led them over the Rocky Mountains. In Utah, he styled himself after the patriarchs, judges, and prophets of ancient Israel. As charismatic as he was autocratic, he was viewed by his followers as an indispensable protector and by his opponents as a theocratic, treasonous heretic.
Under his fiery tutelage, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints defended plural marriage, restricted the place of African Americans within the church, fought the U.S. Army in 1857, and obstructed federal efforts to prosecute perpetrators of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. At the same time, Young's tenacity and faith brought tens of thousands of Mormons to the American West, imbued their everyday lives with sacred purpose, and sustained his church against adversity. Turner reveals the complexity of this spiritual prophet, whose commitment made a deep imprint on his church and the American Mountain West.
On September 11, 1857, a wagon train of emigrants passing through the Utah Territory on their way to California were massacred at Mountain Meadows. Although today’s historians agree that the principal perpetrators were members of the Mormon militia in southern Utah, how much the central Mormon leadership, especially Brigham Young at the top, knew about the massacre, when and how they learned about it, and the extent of a cover up afterward are still matters of controversy and debate.
In this 12th volume of the Arrington Lecture Series, Thomas Alexander (Lemuel Redd Professor of Western American History, Emeritus, at Brigham Young University), asserts that Brigham Young and the LDS Church’s governing Quorum of Twelve made timely and diligent efforts to investigate the massacre and encouraged legal proceedings but were hindered by federal territorial officials and lied to by massacre participant John D. Lee, preventing Young from learning the full truth for many years.
Bright Lights in the Desert explores the history of how members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Las Vegas have improved the regions’ neighborhoods, inspired educational institutions, brought integrity to the marketplace, and provided wholesome entertainment and cultural refinement. The LDS influence has helped shape the metropolitan city because of its members’ focus on family values and community service.
Woods discusses how, through their beliefs and work ethics, they have impacted the growth of the area from the time of their first efforts to establish a mission in 1855 through the present day. Bright Lights in the Desert reveals Las Vegas as more than just a tourist destination and shows the LDS community’s commitment to making it a place of deep religious faith and devotion to family.