D. Michael Quinn (1944–2021) was one of Mormonism’s greatest historians, though his books have profound relevance to Utah and western history as well. After completing his doctorate in history at Yale University in three years, he taught at Brigham Young University from 1976 to 1988. His treatment of difficult themes in Mormon history drew controversy, which led to resignation from his academic position and to his eventual excommunication from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His large, elaborately documented books, such as his three volumes on the Mormon hierarchy and his Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, set a new standard for Mormon historical scholarship.
The Danish-Mormon migration to Utah in the nineteenth century was, relative to population size, one of the largest European religious out-migrations in history. Hundreds of thousands of Americans can trace their ancestry to Danish Mormons, but few know about the social and cultural ramifications of their ancestors’ conversion to Mormonism. This book tells that exciting and complex story for the first time.
In 1849, after nearly a thousand years of state- controlled religion, Denmark’s first democratic constitution granted religious freedom. One year later, the arrival of three Mormon missionaries in Denmark and their rapid success at winning converts to their faith caused a crisis in Danish society over the existential question: "How could someone be Danish but not Lutheran?" Over the next half-century nearly thirty thousand Danes joined the LDS Church, more than eighteen thousand of whom emigrated to join their fellow Mormons in Utah. This volume explores the range of Danish public reactions to Mormonism over a seventy-year period—from theological concerns articulated by Søren and Peter Christian Kierkegaard in the 1850s to fear-mongering about polygamy and white slavery in silent films of the 1910s and 1920s—and looks at the personal histories of converts.
Honorable Mention for Best International Book from the Mormon History Association.
This volume seeks nothing less than to shift the focus of Mormon studies from its historic North American, Euro-American “center” to the critical questions being raised by Mormons living at the movement’s cultural and geographic margins.
As a social institution, Mormonism is shaped around cultural notions, systems, and ideas that have currency in the United States but make less sense beyond the land of its genesis. Even as an avowedly international religion some 183 years out from its inception, it makes few allowances for diverse international contexts, with Salt Lake City prescribing programs, policies, curricula, leadership, and edicts for the church’s international regions. While Mormonism’s greatest strength is its organizational coherence, there is also a cost paid for those at the church’s peripheries.
Decolonizing Mormonism brings together the work of 15 scholars from around the globe who critically reflect on global Mormon experiences and American-Mormon cultural imperialism. Indigenous, minority, and Global South Mormons ask in unison: what is the relationship between Mormonism and imperialism and where must the Mormon movement go in order to achieve its long-cherished dream of equality for all in Zion? Their stories are both heartbreaking and heartening and provide a rich resource for thinking about the future of Mormon missiology and the possibilities inherent in the work of Mormon contextual theology.
On the high desert plateau of northern Mexico, outsiders have taken refuge from the secular world. Here three Anglo communities of Mormons and Mennonites have ordered their lives around male supremacy, rigid religious duty, and a rejection of modern technology and culture. In so doing, they have successfully adapted to this harsh desert environment.
Janet Bennion has lived and worked among these people, and in this book she introduces a new paradigm—"desert patriarchy"—to explain their way of life. This perspective sheds light not only on these particular communities but also on the role of the desert environment in the development and maintenance of fundamentalist ideology in other parts of the United States and around the globe.
Making new connections between the arid environment, opposition to technology, and gender ideology, Bennion shows that it is the interplay of the desert and the unique social traditions and gender dynamics embedded in Anglo patriarchal fundamentalism that accounts for the successful longevity of the Mexican colonies. Her model defines the process by which male supremacy, female autonomous networking, and religious fundamentalism all facilitate successful adaptation to the environment.
More than a theoretical analysis, Desert Patriarchy provides an intimate glimpse into the daily lives of these people, showing how they have taken refuge in the desert to escape religious persecution, the forced secular education of their children, and economic and political marginalization. It particularly sheds light on the ironic autonomy of women within a patriarchal system, showing how fundamentalist women in Chihuahua are finding numerous creative ways to access power and satisfaction in a society structured to subordinate and even degrade them.
Desert Patriarchy richly expands the literature on nontraditional religious movements as it enhances our understanding of how environment can shape society. It offers unique insights into women's status in patriarchal communities and provides a new way of looking at similar communities worldwide.
In the brief time between when the alarm clock rings and the start of the day, we usually cherish those few extra moments of warmth in the sheets. However, soon enough we’re happy to be up and about, exploring the world around us. Similarly with religious studies, we may cling to the comforts of the past—what we find familiar in our faith—but then curiosity and conscience pull us to new revelations and sources of knowledge.
In these seventeen articles on things Mormon—prominent people, religious experience, memory, media, literature, and investigative theory—there is an obvious respect for the past and simultaneous desire to get to the bottom of things, to test the boundaries of knowledge. For instance, Jonathan Stapley and Kristine Wright look at the history of ritual healing within Mormonism, including the use of magic handkerchiefs and blessings performed by women. Matthew Bowman’s essay on “A Mormon Bigfoot” looks at the story retold in Sunday school and elsewhere about an early Church apostle who saw the biblical Cain. Brian Stuy examines Church President Wilford Woodruff’s account of the American founding fathers reaching from beyond the grave—a summons the prophet responded favorably to—requesting temple baptisms on their behalf. Unknown to Woodruff, this ordinance had been performed the year before. And Kathleen Flake looks at how the First Vision and other founding narratives were not emphasized in the Church until the twentieth century.
Other contributors include Gary James Bergera, Martha Bradley, Newell Bringhurst, Samuel Brown, Claudia Bushman, Brian Cannon, Douglas Davies, Rebecca de Schweinitz, Lawrence Foster, Reinhold Hill, and Jacob Olmstead.
A new and exciting era in Mormon studies has emerged from a confluence of factors: an academy more attuned to the significance of religion, the increased public prominence of Mormons and Mormonism, and an increasing number of scholars applying ever-more sophisticated methods to the study of Mormonism. Directions for Mormon Studies in the Twenty-First Century captures this fruitful time by bringing together some of the most influential voices across the generations of Mormon studies. Neither a survey of the field nor a mere recapitulation of dominant themes, this volume charts out areas for exploration and modes of inquiry that reflect the maturation of the field and help set the agenda for the next generation of Mormon studies scholarship.
In previously unpublished essays, the volume’s distinguished authors offer new insights on a number of essential themes: a (re)assessment of twentieth-century Mormonism; the dynamic interplay of Mormonism’s American roots with its international expansion and encounter with global diversity; the ways Mormonism has shaped and been shaped by modern theories and discourses of race; new modes of thinking about the individual Mormon subject; and reflections on theory and method in Mormon studies. These essays display Mormon studies in its emergent interdisciplinarity, with contributions from religious studies, history, economics, literary criticism, sociology, and anthropology. Simultaneously erudite and accessible, the collection will help readers ask new questions and discover new answers.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormons), often heralded as the fastest growing religion in American history, is facing a crisis of apostasy. Rather than strengthening their faith, the study of church history and scriptures by many members pushes them away from Mormonism and into a growing community of secular ex-Mormons. In Disenchanted Lives, E. Marshall Brooks provides an intimate, in-depth ethnography of religious disenchantment among ex-Mormons in Utah. Showing that former church members were once deeply embedded in their religious life, Brooks argues that disenchantment unfolds as a struggle to overcome the spiritual, social, and ideological devotion ex-Mormons had to the religious community and not out of a lack of dedication as prominently portrayed in religious and scholarly writing on apostasy.