From the Outside Looking In: Essays on Mormon History, Theology, and Culture

Oxford University Press
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This book contains fifteen essays, each first presented as the annual Tanner Lecture at the conference of the Mormon History Association by a leading scholar. Renowned in their own specialties but relatively new to the study of Mormon history at the time of their lectures, these scholars approach Mormon history from a wide variety of perspectives, including such concerns as gender, identity creation, and globalization. Several of these essays place Mormon history within the currents of American religious history--for example, by placing Joseph Smith and other Latter-day Saints in conversation with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nat Turner, fellow millenarians, and freethinkers. Other essays explore the creation of Mormon identities, demonstrating how Mormons created a unique sense of themselves as a distinct people. Historians of the American West examine Mormon connections with American imperialism, the Civil War, and the wider cultural landscape. Finally the essayists look at continuing Latter-day Saint growth around the world, within the context of the study of global religions. Examining Mormon history from an outsider's perspective, the essays presented in this volume ask intriguing questions, share fresh insights and perspectives, analyze familiar sources in unexpected ways, and situate research on the Mormon past within broader scholarly debates.
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About the author

Reid L. Neilson is Assistant Church Historian and Recorder/Managing Director in the Church History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Matthew J. Grow is the Director of Publications in the Church History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Oct 1, 2015
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9780190244675
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Christianity / Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
Religion / Christianity / Denominations
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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After Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt was the most influential figure in early Mormon history and culture. Missionary, pamphleteer, theologian, historian, and martyr, Pratt was perennially stalked by controversy--regarded, he said, "almost as an Angel by thousands and counted an Imposter by tens of thousands." Tracing the life of this colorful figure from his hardscrabble origins in upstate New York to his murder in 1857, Terryl Givens and Matthew Grow explore the crucial role Pratt played in the formation and expansion of early Mormonism. One of countless ministers inspired by the antebellum revival movement known as the Second Great Awakening, Pratt joined the Mormons in 1830 at the age of twenty three and five years later became a member of the newly formed Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which vaulted him to the forefront of church leadership for the rest of his life. Pratt's missionary work--reaching from Canada to England, from Chile to California--won hundreds of followers, but even more important were his voluminous writings. Through books, newspaper articles, pamphlets, poetry, fiction, and autobiography, Pratt spread the Latter-day Saint message, battled the many who reviled it, and delineated its theology in ways that still shape Mormon thought. Drawing on letters, journals, and other rich archival sources, Givens and Grow examine not only Pratt's writings but also his complex personal life. A polygamist who married a dozen times and fathered thirty children, Pratt took immense joy in his family circle even as his devotion to Mormonism led to long absences that put heavy strains on those he loved. It was during one such absence, a mission trip to the East, that the estranged husband of his twelfth wife shot and killed him--a shocking conclusion to a life that never lacked in drama.
After Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt was the most influential figure in early Mormon history and culture. Missionary, pamphleteer, theologian, historian, and martyr, Pratt was perennially stalked by controversy--regarded, he said, "almost as an Angel by thousands and counted an Imposter by tens of thousands." Tracing the life of this colorful figure from his hardscrabble origins in upstate New York to his murder in 1857, Terryl Givens and Matthew Grow explore the crucial role Pratt played in the formation and expansion of early Mormonism. One of countless ministers inspired by the antebellum revival movement known as the Second Great Awakening, Pratt joined the Mormons in 1830 at the age of twenty three and five years later became a member of the newly formed Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which vaulted him to the forefront of church leadership for the rest of his life. Pratt's missionary work--reaching from Canada to England, from Chile to California--won hundreds of followers, but even more important were his voluminous writings. Through books, newspaper articles, pamphlets, poetry, fiction, and autobiography, Pratt spread the Latter-day Saint message, battled the many who reviled it, and delineated its theology in ways that still shape Mormon thought. Drawing on letters, journals, and other rich archival sources, Givens and Grow examine not only Pratt's writings but also his complex personal life. A polygamist who married a dozen times and fathered thirty children, Pratt took immense joy in his family circle even as his devotion to Mormonism led to long absences that put heavy strains on those he loved. It was during one such absence, a mission trip to the East, that the estranged husband of his twelfth wife shot and killed him--a shocking conclusion to a life that never lacked in drama.
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Until his death in 1877, Brigham Young guided the religious, economic, and political life of the Mormon community, whose settlements spread throughout the West and provoked a profound political, legal, and even military confrontation with the American nation. Young first met Thomas L. Kane on the plains of western Iowa in 1846. Young came to rely on Kane, 21 years his junior, as his most trusted outside adviser, making Kane the most important non-Mormon in the history of the Church. In return, no one influenced the direction of Kane's life more than Young. The letters exchanged by the two offer crucial insights into Young's personal life and views as well as his actions as a political and religious leader. The Prophet and the Reformer offers a complete reproduction of the surviving letters between the Mormon prophet and the Philadelphia reformer. The correspondence reveals the strategies of the Latter-day Saints in relating to American culture and government during these crucial years when the "Mormon Question" was a major political, cultural, and legal issue. The letters also shed important light on the largely forgotten "Utah War" of 1857-58, triggered when President James Buchanan dispatched a military expedition to ensure federal supremacy in Utah and replace Young with a non-Mormon governor. This annotated collection of their correspondence reveals a great deal about these two remarkable men, while also providing crucial insight into nineteenth-century Mormonism and the historical moment in which the movement developed.
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