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Speaking with the Dead in Early America by Erik R. Seeman Book Summary:
In late medieval Catholicism, mourners employed an array of practices to maintain connection with the deceased—most crucially, the belief in purgatory, a middle place between heaven and hell where souls could be helped by the actions of the living. In the early sixteenth century, the Reformation abolished purgatory, as its leaders did not want attention to the dead diminishing people's devotion to God. But while the Reformation was supposed to end communication between the living and dead, it turns out the result was in fact more complicated than historians have realized. In the three centuries after the Reformation, Protestants imagined continuing relationships with the dead, and the desire for these relations came to form an important—and since neglected—aspect of Protestant belief and practice. In Speaking with the Dead in Early America, historian Erik R. Seeman undertakes a 300-year history of Protestant communication with the dead. Seeman chronicles the story of Protestants' relationships with the deceased from Elizabethan England to puritan New England and then on through the American Enlightenment into the middle of the nineteenth century with the explosion of interest in Spiritualism. He brings together a wide range of sources to uncover the beliefs and practices of both ordinary people, especially women, and religious leaders. This prodigious research reveals how sermons, elegies, and epitaphs portrayed the dead as speaking or being spoken to, how ghost stories and Gothic fiction depicted a permeable boundary between this world and the next, and how parlor songs and funeral hymns encouraged singers to imagine communication with the dead. Speaking with the Dead in Early America thus boldly reinterprets Protestantism as a religion in which the dead played a central role.
Joseph Smith's Translation by Samuel Morris Brown Book Summary:
"Among many remarkable claims, Mormon founder Joseph Smith reported that he had translated ancient scriptures. He dictated the Book of Mormon, an American Bible from metal plates associated with Native antiquity; directly rewrote the King James Bible; and produced a scripture, derived from Egyptian funerary papyri, which he called the Book of Abraham. Smith and his followers used the term translation to describe the genesis of these English texts, which remain canonical for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most commenters see these scriptures as merely linguistic objects; the central and controversial question has been whether Smith's English texts are literal translations of extant source documents. On closer inspection, though, his translations are far more metaphysical than linguistic. These translations express a non-ordinary power of language to connect people across barriers of space and time. Within these metaphysical scriptures, Smith expounded a theology of human deification that he also termed "translation." This one word thus referred to a scripture capable of mediating between the living and the dead and to the transformation of humans into divine beings. Joseph Smith's projects of metaphysical translation place Mormonism at a productive edge of tense transitions later associated with secular modernity, a modernity challenged by the very existence of the Latter-day Saints. Smith's translations and the theology that supported them illuminate the power and vulnerability of his critique of American culture in transition as they set the stage for two more centuries of cultural change"--
Sister Saints by Colleen McDannell Book Summary:
The specter of polygamy haunts Mormonism. More than a century after the practice was banned, it casts a long shadow that obscures people's perceptions of the lives of today's Latter-day Saint women. Many still see them as second-class citizens, oppressed by the church and their husbands, and forced to stay home and take care of their many children. Sister Saints offers a history of modern Mormon women that takes aim at these stereotypes, showing that their stories are much more complex than previously thought. Women in the Utah territory received the right to vote in 1870-fifty years before the nineteenth amendment-only to have it taken away by the same federal legislation that forced the end of polygamy. Progressive and politically active, Mormon women had a profound impact on public life in the first few decades of the twentieth century. They then turned inward, creating a domestic ideal that shaped Mormon culture for generations. The women's movement of the 1970s sparked a new, vigorous-and hotly contested-Mormon feminism that divided Latter-day Saint women. By the twenty-first century more than half of all Mormons lived outside the United States, and what had once been a small community of pioneer women had grown into a diverse global sisterhood. Colleen McDannell argues that we are on the verge of an era in which women are likely to play a greater role in the Mormon church. Well-educated, outspoken, and deeply committed to their faith, these women are defying labels like liberal and conservative, traditional and modern. This deeply researched and eye-opening book ranges over more than a century of history to tell the stories of extraordinary-and ordinary-Latter-day Saint women with empathy and narrative flair.
Americanist Approaches to the Book of Mormon by Elizabeth Fenton,Jared Hickman Book Summary:
As the sacred text of a modern religious movement of global reach, The Book of Mormon has undeniable historical significance. That significance, this volume shows, is inextricable from the intricacy of its literary form and the audacity of its historical vision. This landmark collection brings together a diverse range of scholars in American literary studies and related fields to definitively establish The Book of Mormon as an indispensable object of Americanist inquiry not least because it is, among other things, a form of Americanist inquiry in its own right--a creative, critical reading of "America." Drawing on formalist criticism, literary and cultural theory, book history, religious studies, and even anthropological field work, Americanist Approaches to The Book of Mormon captures as never before the full dimensions and resonances of this "American Bible."
Terrible Revolution by Christopher James Blythe Book Summary:
"Nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints looked forward to apocalyptic events that would unseat corrupt governments across the globe but would particularly decimate the tyrannical government of the United States. Mormons turned to prophecies of divine deliverance by way of plagues, natural disasters, foreign invasions, American Indian raids, slave uprisings, or civil war unleashed on American cities and American people ... Blythe examines apocalypticism across the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints particularly as it would take shape in localized and personalized forms in the writings and visions of ordinary Latter-day Saints outside of the Church's leadership"--
Through the Valley of Shadows by Samuel Brown Book Summary:
Hospital intensive care units have changed when and how we die--and not always for the better. The ICU is a new world, one in which once-fatal diseases can be cured and medical treatments greatly enhance our chances of full recovery. But, paradoxically, these places of physical healing can exact a terrible toll, and by focusing on technology rather than humanity, they too often rob the dying of their dignity. By some accounts, the expensive medical treatments provided in ICUs also threaten to bankrupt the nation. In an attempt to give patients a voice in the ICU when they might not otherwise have one, the living will was introduced in 1969, in response to several notorious cases. These documents were meant to keep physicians from ignoring patients' and families' wishes in stressful situations. Unfortunately, despite their aspirations, living wills contain static statements about hypothetical preferences that rarely apply in practice. And they created a process that isn't faithful to who we are as human beings. Further confusing difficult and painful situations, living wills leave patients with the impression that actual communication with their physicians has taken place, when in fact their deepest desires and values remain unaddressed. In this provocative and empathetic book, medical researcher and ICU physician Samuel Morris Brown uses stories from his clinical practice to outline a new way of thinking about life-threatening illness. Brown's approach acknowledges the conflicting emotions we have when talking about the possibility of death and proposes strategies by which patients, their families, and medical practitioners can better address human needs before, during, and after serious illness. Arguing that any solution to the problems of the inhumanity of intensive care must take advantage of new research on the ways human beings process information and make choices, Brown imagines a truly humane ICU. His manifesto for reform advocates wholeness and healing for people facing life-threatening illness.
Joseph Smith, Jr. by Reid L. Neilson,Terryl L. Givens Book Summary:
Mormon founder Joseph Smith is one of the most controversial figures of nineteenth-century American history, and a virtually inexhaustible subject for analysis. In this volume, fifteen scholars offer essays on how to interpret and understand Smith and his legacy. Including essays by both Mormons and non-Mormons, this wide-ranging collection is the only available survey of contemporary scholarly opinion on the extraordinary man who started one of the fastest growing religious traditions in the modern world.
Rube Goldberg Machines by Adam S. Miller Book Summary:
Reflections on what it means to practice theology as a modern Mormon scholar. Author stakes out his positions on the nature of the Atonement, the soul, testimony, eternal marriage, contemporary politics, humanism, and the historicity of the Book of Mormon.
The Mormon Culture of Salvation by Douglas J. Davies Book Summary:
The Mormon Culture of Salvation presents a comprehensive study of Mormon cultural and religious life, offering important new theories of Mormonism - one of the fastest growing movements and thought by many to be the next world religion. Bringing social, scientific and theological perspectives to bear on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Douglas Davies draws from theology, history of religions, anthropology, sociology and psychology to present a unique example of a truly interdisciplinary analysis in religious studies. Examining the many aspects of Mormon belief, ritual, family life and history, this book presents a new interpretation of the origin of Mormonism, arguing that Mormonism is rooted in the bereavement experience of Joseph Smith, which influenced the development of temple ritual for the dead and the genealogical work of many Mormon families. Davies shows how the Mormon commitment to work for salvation relates to current Mormon belief in conversion, and to traditional Christian ideas of grace. The Mormon Culture of Salvation is an important work for Mormons and non-Mormons alike, offering fresh insights into how Mormons see the world and work for their future glory in heavenly realms. Written by a non-Mormon with over 30 years' research experience into Mormonism, this book is essential reading for those seeking insights into new interdisciplinary forms of analysis in religion, as well as all those studying or interested in Mormonism and world religions. Douglas J. Davies is Professor in the Study of Religion in the Department of Theology, Durham University, UK. He is the author of many books including Death, Ritual and Belief (Cassell, 1997), Mormon Identities in Transition (Cassell, 1994), Mormon Spirituality (1987), and Meaning and Salvation in Religious Studies (Brill, 1984).
First Principles and Ordinances by Samuel M. Brown Book Summary:
In First Principles and Ordinances, Samuel M. Brown begins the work of outlining a relationship-grounded theology by highlighting continuity between the gospel's first principles and ordinances and the highest ordinances of LDS temple worship. After encountering Brown's tapestry woven of personal stories, scripture, LDS history, and perspectives of other religious traditions, you'll never read the Fourth Article of Faith the same way again.
The Book of Mormon by Grant Hardy Book Summary:
Regarded as sacred scripture by millions, the Book of Mormon -- first published in 1830 -- is one of the most significant documents in American religious history. This new reader-friendly version reformats the complete, unchanged 1920 text in the manner of modern translations of the Bible, with paragraphs, quotations marks, poetic forms, topical headings, multichapter headings, indention of quoted documents, italicized reworkings of biblical prophecies, and minimized verse numbers. It also features a hypothetical map based on internal references, an essay on Book of Mormon poetry, a full glossary of names, genealogical charts, a basic bibliography of Mormon and non-Mormon scholarship, a chronology of the translation, eyewitness accounts of the gold plates, and information regarding the lost 116 pages and significant changes in the text. The Book of Mormon claims to be the product of three historical interactions: the writings of the original ancient American authors, the editing of the fourth-century prophet Mormon, and the translation of Joseph Smith. The editorial aids and footnotes in this edition integrate all three perspectives and provide readers with a clear guide through this complicated text. New readers will find the story accessible and intelligible; Mormons will gain fresh insights from familiar verses seen in a broader narrative context. This is the first time the Book of Mormon has been published with quotation marks, select variant readings, and the testimonies of women involved in the translation process. It is also the first return to a paragraphed format since versification was added in 1879.
Concepts of Conversion by Lars Kirkhusmo Pharo Book Summary:
There has not been conducted much research in religious studies and (linguistic) anthropology analysing Protestant missionary linguistic translations. Contemporary Protestant missionary linguists employ grammars, dictionaries, literacy campaigns, and translations of the Bible (in particular the New Testament) in order to convert local cultures. The North American institutions SIL and Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) are one of the greatest scientific-evangelical missionary enterprises in the world. The ultimate objective is to translate the Bible to every language. The author has undertaken systematic research, employing comparative linguistic methodology and field interviews, for a history-of-ideas/religions and epistemologies explication of translated SIL missionary linguistic New Testaments and its premeditated impact upon religions, languages, sociopolitical institutions, and cultures. In addition to taking into account the history of missionary linguistics in America and theological principles of SIL/WBT, the author has examined the intended cultural transformative effects of Bible translations upon cognitive and linguistic systems. A theoretical analytic model of conversion and translation has been put forward for comparative research of religion, ideology, and knowledge systems.
Making Space for the Mormons by Richard L. Bushman Book Summary:
Joseph Smith configured a new kind of space for his followers. Strangely, Mormon space in Nauvoo most resembled the commercial space in Chicago. Chicago centered its energy and attention on the market, whereas, Nauvoo centered energy and attention on the temple.
Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction by Richard Lyman Bushman Book Summary:
Beginning with a handful of members in 1830, the church that Joseph Smith founded has grown into a world-wide organization with over 12 million adherents, playing prominent roles in politics, sports, entertainment, and business. Yet they are an oddity. They are considered wholesome, conservative, and friendly on one hand, and clannish, weird, and self-righteous on the other. Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction explains who Mormons are: what they believe and how they live their lives. Written by Richard Lyman Bushman, an eminent historian and practicing Mormon, this compact, informative volume ranges from the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the contentious issues of contemporary Mormonism. Bushman argues that Joseph Smith still serves as the Mormons' Moses. Their everyday religious lives are still rooted in his conceptions of true Christianity. They seek revelation to solve life's problems just as he did. They believe the authority to seal families together for eternity was restored through him. They understand their lives as part of a spiritual journey that started in a "council in heaven" before the world began just as he taught. Bushman's account also describes the tensions and sorrows of Mormon life. How are Mormons to hold on to their children in a world of declining moral standards and rampant disbelief? How do rational, educated Mormons stand up to criticisms of their faith? How do single Mormons fare in a church that emphasizes family life? The book also examines polygamy, the various Mormon scriptures, and the renegade fundamentalists who tarnish the LDS image when in fact they're not members. In a time when Mormons such as Mitt Romney and Harry Reid are playing prominent roles in American society, this engaging introduction enables readers to judge for themselves how Mormon teachings shape the character of believers. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.
U.S. History by P. Scott Corbett,Volker Janssen,John M. Lund Book Summary:
Published by OpenStax College, U.S. History covers the breadth of the chronological history of the United States and also provides the necessary depth to ensure the course is manageable for instructors and students alike. U.S. History is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of most courses. The authors introduce key forces and major developments that together form the American experience, with particular attention paid to considering issues of race, class and gender. The text provides a balanced approach to U.S. history, considering the people, events and ideas that have shaped the United States from both the top down (politics, economics, diplomacy) and bottom up (eyewitness accounts, lived experience).
Revelation by N.A Book Summary:
The final book of the Bible, Revelation prophesies the ultimate judgement of mankind in a series of allegorical visions, grisly images and numerological predictions. According to these, empires will fall, the "Beast" will be destroyed and Christ will rule a new Jerusalem. With an introduction by Will Self.
The Power of Godliness by Jonathan A. Stapley Book Summary:
A church's liturgy is its ritualized system of worship, the services and patterns in which believers regularly participate. While the term often refers to a specific formal ritual like the Roman Catholic Mass, events surrounding major life events - birth, coming of age, marriage, death - areoften celebrated through church liturgies. By documenting and analyzing Mormon liturgical history, Jonathan Stapley is able to explore the nuances of Mormon belief and practice. More important, he can demonstrate that the Mormon ordering of heaven and earth is not a mere philosophical or theologicalexercise. Liturgy informs and reinforces believers' behavior, he shows, and we find a complete religious world, incorporating women, men and children, all participating in the construction of the Mormon universe.This volume casts analytically difficult and historically incongruous concepts such as priesthood, authority, and gender in new and coherent ways. Stapley uses previously untapped documentary and archival sources to elucidate new narratives in each chapter, tracing concepts from the beginning of theLatter-day Saint movement to the present. The Power of Godliness is the first work to establish histories for these unique liturgies and to provide interpretive frameworks for them.
The Viper on the Hearth by Terryl L. Givens Book Summary:
In 1997, Terryl Givens's The Viper on the Hearth was praised as a new classic in Mormon studies. In the wake of Mormon-inspired and -created artistic, literary, and political activity - today's "Mormon moment" - Givens presents a revised and updated edition of his book to address the continuing presence and reception of the Mormon image in contemporary culture. "The Viper on the Hearth by Terryl L. Givens is a remarkably lucid and useful study of the patterns of American prejudices against the Mormon people. It provides also a valuable paradigm for the study of all religious 'heresy'." - Harold Bloom "A well-researched and insightful book...He illuminates the phenomena of religious heresy and persecution generally. The book is thoroughly documented, and Givens writes with a graceful style. This is an excellent example of both historical and literary scholarship." - American Historical Review "Contains provocative insights into American culture, LDS identity, nineteenth-century literature, rhetorics of oppression, and religious formation. The narrative is short, subtle, and crisp; Givens rarely wastes a sentence. A work to be read with patience and care. I highly recommend this book." - Religious Studies Review "The book is sophisticated, long on analysis...He has read widely in the vast secondary literature...and produced a study worthy of its prestigious publisher." - Church History "Widely researched, theoretically informed, and gracefully written, this work is a model of significant interdisciplinary study." - Western American Literature "It could influence American religion studies the same way Bauer's Orthodoxy and Heresy challenged and changed perceptions. Intelligently conceived,...skillful textual analysis,...exemplary scholarship...It illuminates dilemmas and paradoxes central to American religion and culture generally. The prose, illustrations, and overall construction of the book are aesthetically pleasing. The exemplary scholarship significantly enriches Mormon historiography....Few books succeed, as this one does, in stimulating thought far beyond their own scope." - Journal of Mormon History "A subtlety and sophistication that will delight and enlighten readers. The most detailed and sophisticated study to date of patterns of representation in 19th c anti-Mormonism." - BYU Studies "A powerful and compelling thesis...[an] ingenious reading... Chapter five should become a classic in Mormon Studies. For a great reading experience in thoughtful and independently conceived religious and cultural thinking rare in Mormon studies, turn to this addition in the excellent 'Religion in America Series,' published by Oxford University Press." - Journal of American Ethnic History "Well-researched and illuminating study...Gives us a fresh understanding of the process of myth-making...Locates it arguments in a carefully constructed historical context." - Journal of the Early Republic "In this fascinating study, he examines how Mormons have been constructed as the great and abominable 'other.' Interestingly, although the religion was once scorned for its 'weirdness,' it is now because Mormons occupy what used to be the center that they fall into contempt." - Utah Historical Quarterly "A wonderfully thought-through look at the interrelationships between fiction, religion, and the culture of humor/hostility....It represents a significant contribution to our understanding of literary relations." - Larry H. Peer, Brigham Young University "This is the first full explanation of why Mormons have been demonized by a nation that prides itself on open toleration of all faiths. Givens carefully appraises every past explanation for the printed attacks and physical persecutions that occurred from the 1830s onward, as newspapers, novels, and satires convinced a 'tolerant' public that Mormons should not be tolerated. He then makes a convincing argument that the primary affront the Mormons offered was theological: their anthropomorphic picture of God and of his continuing personal revelations to the one true church. The book is thus an impressive achievement that should interest not just Mormons or other religious believers but anyone who cares about how 'freedom-loving,' 'tolerant' Americans turned 'heretics' into subhuman monsters deserving destruction." - Wayne Booth, University of Chicago (Emeritus)
The Anthropology of Christianity by Fenella Cannell Book Summary:
This collection provides vivid ethnographic explorations of particular, local Christianities as they are experienced by different groups around the world. At the same time, the contributors, all anthropologists, rethink the vexed relationship between anthropology and Christianity. As Fenella Cannell contends in her powerful introduction, Christianity is the critical “repressed” of anthropology. To a great extent, anthropology first defined itself as a rational, empirically based enterprise quite different from theology. The theology it repudiated was, for the most part, Christian. Cannell asserts that anthropological theory carries within it ideas profoundly shaped by this rejection. Because of this, anthropology has been less successful in considering Christianity as an ethnographic object than it has in considering other religions. This collection is designed to advance a more subtle and less self-limiting anthropological study of Christianity. The contributors examine the contours of Christianity among diverse groups: Catholics in India, the Philippines, and Bolivia, and Seventh-Day Adventists in Madagascar; the Swedish branch of Word of Life, a charismatic church based in the United States; and Protestants in Amazonia, Melanesia, and Indonesia. Highlighting the wide variation in what it means to be Christian, the contributors reveal vastly different understandings and valuations of conversion, orthodoxy, Scripture, the inspired word, ritual, gifts, and the concept of heaven. In the process they bring to light how local Christian practices and beliefs are affected by encounters with colonialism and modernity, by the opposition between Catholicism and Protestantism, and by the proximity of other religions and belief systems. Together the contributors show that it not sufficient for anthropologists to assume that they know in advance what the Christian experience is; each local variation must be encountered on its own terms. Contributors. Cecilia Busby, Fenella Cannell, Simon Coleman, Peter Gow, Olivia Harris, Webb Keane, Eva Keller, David Mosse, Danilyn Rutherford, Christina Toren, Harvey Whitehouse
Mormon Enigma by Linda King Newell,Valeen Tippetts Avery Book Summary:
Winner of the Evans Biography Award, the Mormon History Association Best Book Award, and the John Whitmer Association (RLDS) Best Book Award. A preface to this first paperback edition of the biography of Emma Hale Smith, Joseph Smith's wife, reviews the history of the book and its reception. Various editorial changes effected in this edition are also discussed."--back cover.
The Refiner's Fire by John L. Brooke Book Summary:
Presenting a new and comprehensive understanding of the roots of Mormon religion, this study contends that the origins of Mormonism lie in the fusion of radical religion with occult ideas. It demonstrates the survival of these ideas and explains how they were manifested in Mormon doctrine.
The Marrow of Human Experience by William Wilson,William Albert Wilson,Jill Terry Rudy,Diane Call Book Summary:
Composed over several decades, the essays here are remarkably fresh and relevant. They offer instruction for the student just beginning the study of folklore as well as repeated value for the many established scholars who continue to wrestle with issues that Wilson has addressed. As his work has long offered insight on critical matters—nationalism, genre, belief, the relationship of folklore to other disciplines in the humanities and arts, the currency of legend, the significance of humor as a cultural expression, and so forth—so his recent writing, in its reflexive approach to narrative and storytelling, illuminates today’s paradigms. Its notable autobiographical dimension, long an element of Wilson’s work, employs family and local lore to draw conclusions of more universal significance. Another way to think of it is that newer folklorists are catching up with Wilson and what he has been about for some time. As a body, Wilson’s essays develop related topics and connected themes. This collection organizes them in three coherent parts. The first examines the importance of folklore—what it is and its value in various contexts. Part two, drawing especially on the experience of Finland, considers the role of folklore in national identity, including both how it helps define and sustain identity and the less savory ways it may be used for the sake of nationalistic ideology. Part three, based in large part on Wilson’s extensive work in Mormon folklore, which is the most important in that area since that of Austin and Alta Fife, looks at religious cultural expressions and outsider perceptions of them and, again, at how identity is shaped, by religious belief, experience, and participation; by the stories about them; and by the many other expressive parts of life encountered daily in a culture. Each essay is introduced by a well-known folklorist who discusses the influence of Wilson’s scholarship. These include Richard Bauman, Margaret Brady, Simon Bronner, Elliott Oring, Henry Glassie, David Hufford, Michael Owen Jones, and Beverly Stoeltje.