Sunday, March 31, 2013

‘In Time and Eternity’: Symbols in Mormon History

I developed an interest in integrating symbolic anthropology and history when I first read Keith Thomas’s brilliant Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971), a book that intellectually and theoretically blew me away and which has had an immense influence on my subsequent intellectual life, in my Folklore and Religion seminar with Roger Janelli at Indiana University, Bloomington, in the early 1980s. This interest continued in my work on ideology, on Quakerism, and here on Mormon symbology.

The origins of this paper lay in a paper I wrote for a seminar on the sociology of ethnicity with Carol Ward and a paper I wrote for my sociology of religion seminar with Larry Young at Brigham Young University in the early 2000s, the first a paper that tried to look comparatively at the symbol systems of Quakerism, Mennonitism, and Mormonism dynamically, the second a paper that tried to delineate, in historical terms, the Mormon symbol system and its dynamics. The first paper sadly no longer exists because of computer issues (the bane of the post ac, after computer, world) though parts of it have found their way into this paper. The second constitutes the framework of this essay.

This paper was originally intended to be the final chapter in my dissertation which argued for a cultural approach to Mormonism. Given History’s wariness of theory and interdisciplinarity, my dissertation had both in spades, however, I was forced to change my dissertation topic from a more theoretically oriented one to the intellectual history of Mormon Studies. Despite this, elements of this paper did make it into my dissertation on the history of Mormon Studies. My intention of this paper was to take the story of Mormonism from its early post-manifesto period, the period I concentrated on, to today and show that, contrary to some academic and intellectual opinion, the Mormon symbol system, while it did change as a result of the manifesto that ended polygamy and the simultaneous decline of Mormon theocracy, of Mormon Zionism, did not change as much as some scholars of Mormonism maintained.

I updated some of the demographics and the bibliography and corrected the infelicities of writing in it in the early 2000s. I apologise for the footnotes in this paper. When I transposed this paper from MSWorks into MSWord--damn you Microsoft--I lost large chunks of my footnotes and had to reconstruct them as best as I could. I haven’t been able to reconstitute the page references because of the time involved. Despite this I hope you won’t damn me and my paper to academic purgatory. Enjoy.

Ideology or ways of seeing are expressed in symbols and rituals and constitute, at least in part, the meaning system of any social group, any group with a common sense of identity. Given this symbols and rituals are crucial to an understanding of any social and cultural group and they are critical to an understanding of countercultural or subcultural social and cultural movements like Mormonism, the focus of this paper. While the group symbols which constitute subcultural and countercultural identities are sensitive to and are impacted by what’s going on in the broader mainstream worlds, the mainstream political, economic, cultural, geographic, and demographic worlds which surrounding them and in which they are embedded, subcultural and countercultural meaning systems, once established, are generally able to adapt to and reconstitute these broader changes within internal meaning systems often in relatively “traditional” ways as this paper hopes to show. Subcultural and countercultural meaning systems are, after all, the filters through which groups view and respond to the impact and influence broader and more mainstream phenomena have on them after all.

The literal beginnings of Mormonism and its symbol or meaning system can be traced to a spring day in 1820 when a young man of fifteen went into the woods near his home in Palymyra, New York, and asked God which of the existing churches were true. According to Joseph Smith, each religious group he came into contact with claimed to be God's true and only Church. Smith reasoned that not all of these “sects” could be equally true since they preached different and clearly inconsistent doctrines. So he decided to ask God which specific church was the true one. To Smith's amazement, God and Christ answered his query. None of the existing churches, he was told, were the one and only True Church of Christ. Such a church did not exist. [1]

It would be through Joseph Smith, or so the faith history story goes, that God would restore the One True Church Smith sought. Smith would be given a book of sacred scripture of a remnant of a “lost tribe of Israel” who had immigrated to the “New World” by the angel Moroni. Over the next several years he would “translate” the Book of Mormon and publish it in 1830, the same year that the Church of Christ was officially incorporated. [2]

It was also during these early years that the Church would begin to engage in intense proselytizing campaigns. Eventually, these would lead to an important mass conversion of a group of Campbellite Christians (including Sidney Rigdon) in Kirtland, Ohio in 1830. This mass conversion more than doubled the size of the nascent Church and Mormons would now begin to “gather for a little season” to that eastern Ohio town and build its first temple. [3]

The “gathering” was a crucial component of the important “Zion” symbol complex of early Mormonism which included “Zion”, the “new Jerusalem”, the “gathering”, the “law of adoption”, the “covenant” the “promised land”, temples, and apocalyptic rhetoric. It was to “Zion” that God's people (the “pure in heart”) “gathered” to build the Temple and prepare for “the day of tribulation and desolation sent forth against the wicked”. [4]

This apocalyptic or end time rhetoric and imagery was also important in early Mormonism and was intimately connected to “the gathering” and to the “voice of warning”. The Mormon version of the millennium, which differed in significant ways from those of its Christian cousins, came complete with signs and tribulations, the “devouring of the “Great and Abominable Church”, the “gathering” of the “righteous to God” and “eternal life” in a new “earthly paradise”, and the departing of the “cursed” to “everlasting fire”. Mormon missionaries were sent out unto the world to warn others of the coming “end times” and to urge them to repent and join God’s true church. [5]

In 1830 Smith received a revelation (Doctrine and Covenants 29:7-8) which revealed that the “new Jerusalem” to which the “Saints” were to “gather” was to be built at a location near the Missouri River. In 1831 Independence, Missouri was “appointed and consecrated” by God for the “gathering of Saints”. “Saints” began to “gather” in the “new Jerusalem” buying as much land as they could. Divine communication between God and the “Mormon Prophet” continued as revelations were received enunciating church organization and church doctrine. Proselytisation continued apace. However, Mormon economic and political communalism, doctrinal novelties, and dealings some would perceive as shady led to tense relations between the growing Latter-day Saint communities in Kirtland and Independence and their neighbors. It would be this continuing tension between Mormons and “Gentiles” that would provide the broader context for so much of LDS history and structure some of its dynamics. Eventually the violence would become so fierce that it would drive the Saints from both Kirtland and Independence to Nauvoo, Illinois, on the banks of the Mississippi River. [6]

The “gathered” Saints learned that they were, through the “Aaronic” and “Melchizedek” Priesthoods, the “sons of Moses and Aaron and the seed of Abraham”. By virtue of their membership in the restored Church they had been adopted into the “new and everlasting covenant” and had become the people of God. They would play a major role in turning Jews, both the Old World and New World varieties, to Christ, and would thus be instrumental in the end time “gathering” of New World and Old World Jews to the New and Old Zion’s. [7]

Mormons were the new Israel, in more ways than one. In the slightly revised “gathering” and apocalyptic scenario of Doctrine and Covenants 101 (1833), God revealed, in a passage that recalls the warnings that the prophets of Ancient Israel spoke to Israel's rulers and people, that he had allowed the persecutions in Missouri because of the “transgressions” of the Saints. Only when the Saints were chastened, God revealed, would he remember his people, show mercy, and redeem “Zion” by pouring out his (apocalyptic) “indignation” on the nations. [8]

Doctrine and Covenants 101 also reveals Smith's attitude toward the American Constitution and the role it played in the restoration of the primitive church. In this “revelation” God “reveals” that he “established” the Constitution of the United States through “the hands of wise men who [he] had raised up”. He used these men to redeem America through the “shedding of blood” establishing a land of liberty which was the only place where the restoration of the one True Church was possible. [9]

After the Saints fled persecution in Missouri and Ohio they “gathered” to a “stake” of “Zion” in Illinois, Nauvoo, where they established themselves in what was to all intents and purposes their own autonomous kingdom. Proselytization continued as the “Twelve Apostles” were sent to administer the conversion of the world to the new faith. In this the Twelve experienced some success for at its zenith fully one-quarter of Nauvoo’s residents were British converts to the church who had been “gathered” to the Mormon Kingdom on the Mississippi. [10]

It was in Nauvoo that the most distinctive of Mormon doctrines and practices were introduced. Smith received revelations on the doctrine of baptism for the dead, the Relief Society, new temple rituals, the doctrine of plural marriage, and, in his famous King Follett Discourse, introduced the doctrine of eternal progression. He announced that he would run for President of the United States, crowned himself King of city, and established the Council of Fifty to govern the coming millennial kingdom. All of this caused dissension within the growing Mormon community and exacerbated the already tense relationship between the “Saints” and their “Gentile” neighbours. [11]

Smith’s doctrine of deity Smith was particularly important for it impacted virtually every aspect of Mormon symbology. This doctrine was anti-trinitarian, polytheistic, and materialistic. [12] It was also evolutionary in that to achieve godhood one needed to follow the doctrines and precepts set out in the revelations given to the Church and take the advice of church authorities, the doctrinal justification for church authority power in everyday Mormon life. [13]

Plural marriage was central to this “eternal progression” from spirit-child to godhood because families were eternal “beyond the veil”. The more wives you had, the more children, and hence the more power you potentially had. Plural marriage accelerated “eternal progression”, the process to godhood. It fulfilled the promise of numerous progeny made by God to Abraham and reunited family members around the Patriarch-God in the afterlife.

Smith believed that in the afterlife the whole process began anew as the Patriarch-God and his wife or wives (Mothers in Heaven) gave birth to spirit children. These spirit children, in turn, cycled through the life stages from pre-fleshly existence to godhood and worshipped as God the one who had given them life. [14]

All of these doctrines came together and were expressed in the “endowment” and “sealing” rituals and ceremonies Mormon men and women performed in the Temple. “Endowments” in which individual Mormons were washed and anointed in oil were of a couple of types, the endowment of “power from on high” mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 109, which prepares disciples for their missions on earth, prevents them from being overcome by evils, and enables them to secure the “fulness” of the “blessings” prepared for the Church, and “endowments” for the “baptism of the dead” which began in the Nauvoo period though they may have earlier precedents. In Nauvoo this first endowment created both a temporal and a spiritual elite within the Mormon community which met in secret quorums made up of the anointed. A second endowment in which the “fulness of the priesthood” was bestowed on these secret few provided these elites with even greater status in the Mormon community. They now had the opportunity to become Kings and Queens and gods of the celestial kingdom (Doctrine and Covenants 124). [15]

“Sealings”, on the other hand, had to do with proper priesthood power. This power allows one to perform certain activities on earth and have that recognized in heaven. Marriage, including plural marriages, for instance, could be and were sealed in the Temple in Nauvoo. Like the endowments “the Principle” created an elite within the Mormon community since those who “practice” “the Principle” were the same elites who constituted a secret quorum of the endowed. [16]

The importance Latter-day Saint leaders and members alike placed on these rituals Saints is foregrounded by the fact that even after their prophet’s death they continued work on the Temple and performed “endowment” and “sealing” ceremonies before they began their trek westward to the Great Basin. Both sealings and endowments, particularly the endowment of the baptism for the dead, created an extended family network among Latter-Day Saints and particularly among Mormon elites in both this world and the presumed next one. These regularly recurring ritual enactments gave to Saints a strong sense of identity through covenantal bonding that was Judaic in its sense of choseness and tribalness. [17]

Tension between Mormons and Gentiles and within the community of Saints reached a fever point in June of 1844 and resulted in the assassination of the “Mormon prophet” on 27 June. Left without their leader the majority of Saints would reorganize under the leadership of the “Quorum of the Twelve Apostles” and it’s “President” Brigham Young. After completing the Temple in Nauvoo and performing their “sealing rituals”, these Mormon Israelites (the “Camp of Israel”) would begin their “exodus” to the American West in 1846 in search of a safe sanctuary from persecution. They would reach “the place” as Brigham Young was reputed to have said, the Great Salt Lake in Utah in 1847, and begin building the Mormon Kingdom of Deseret. The Saints tried to make this “desert bloom” through irrigation projects, colonization temple building, farming, industrial work, and the establishment of cooperative institutions. Young also made a reinvented notion of Mormon apocalypticism bloom, one which delayed the end times and transferred it to a new geographical sacred space, Deseret. [18]

In “Deseret” missionary work would continue apace as more and more “consent” Saints were “gathered” to this “stake of Zion”, this sanctuary in the heart of the Great Basin Desert. They came by boat, by wagon train, by handcart, and by railroad. They began to spread out across the territory and the region in a kind of Mormon manifest destiny into present-day Idaho, Arizona, and California building what they and their leaders hope would a widespread Mormon Kingdom in the West. [19]

The Mormon exodus westward, however, did not bring an end to tensions between Mormons and their neighbors, however. In 1850, as a result of the Mexican War, Utah became a part of the United States and was granted territorial status. Mormons tried to obtain statehood but LDS political and economic control of the territory (“Zionism”) and the official announcement of the practice of polygamy in 1852 made for difficult relations between the Church and the United States government. Federal attempts to end both Mormon Zionism and polygamy and to establish its control of Utah Territory resulted in the Utah War of 1857. While the practice of polygamy and the Mormon dominance of the territory were not ended, the United States did finally, and with some difficulty, manage to establish its hegemony in Utah. [20]

In Utah the Church continued to dominate the politics, the economics, and the daily life of the territory. By 1852 it felt so comfortable in this position that it officially announce the practice of “the Principle” of polygamy. Both its political dominance of the territory and its practice of plural marriage came in for condemnation and attacks from both the federal government and a number of reform minded interest groups who saw plural marriage along with slavery as a “barbaric” practice.

The cold and hot war over Mormon polygamy and theocracy was traumatic. Both Jan Shipps and D. Michael Quinn have argued that the demise of Mormon theocracy and plural marriage associated with the manifesto is the critical moment in Mormon symbolic history and Mormon history in general. Quinn, in fact, has likened it to the roles Western and especially American political, economic, and cultural imperialism have played in the Third World arguing that with the issuance of the manifesto by President Wilford Woodruff which ended the practice of “the Principle” Mormons became a colonized people who began to think, look, and act like exaggerated versions of the very people who colonized them. But was it as significant a transformation in the Mormon meaning system as both Quinn and Shipps seem to think? [21] In the wake of the “Manifesto” the Mormon Church was integrated into American politics, the American economy, and into American political culture. Putting “United Orders”, Mormon communalism, into practice would now be difficult if not impossible while building the Mormon “Zion” in “Deseret became extremely difficult if again not impossible. [22]

While these symbolic changes were traumatic they were not the sea changes that Quinn and Shipps seem to imply. Symbolic changes did take place but by and large changes in Mormonism were more demographic and institutional than cultural.
Perhaps the most striking change in the Church was its growth. Between the years 1890 and 2004 the Church grew from 205,000 members in 1890 to 268,000 in 1900, 1.6 million in 1960, and to over 8 million today, ceasing, in the process, to be an American regional religion while becoming an international one. [23] This growth inevitably made the Church more bureaucratic and necessitated greater routinization in the name of greater efficiency. However, “Correlation”, as these changes were officially called, has come with a price. The campaign against polygamists has been expanded to encompass “dissident” intellectuals and political “extremists” while women's groups like the Relief Society lost their autonomy as were brought even more fully under the control of an aged and aging male hierarchy. And, of course, the internationalization of the Church brought with it its own set of problems as a peculiarly American institution which sanctified both the geography of the United States as well as its Constitution tried to adapt to new realities. [24]

Ideologically and symbolically, however, post-manifesto Mormonism remains, in many respects, similar to pre-manifesto Mormonism. Yes changes have occurred in Mormon symbology and ritual. The “gathering to Zion” has, as I mentioned earlier taken on a somewhat different color. Between 1849 and 1930 over 103,000 plus mostly European Saints “gathered to Zion” while in 1930 one out of every two Mormons lived in Utah (an additional 30% lived in the American West). By 1960 only 10% lived in Utah (40% in the West). [25] Polygamy is now practiced only by those few Mormon Fundamentalists and anyone who practices “the Principle” or who becomes an ideological fellow traveler with these groups risk punishment or even excommunication if caught. [26] As Shepherd and Shepherd note in their study of the changing rhetoric of General Conference discourses or speeches references to and emphasis on plural marriage, the Kingdom of God (a measure of Mormon apocalypticism), and persecution (a measure of Mormon distinctiveness) declined over the years and were replaced by an increasing emphasis on family, the “Word of Wisdom”, and “Jesus”. [27]

The “Word of Wisdom” has, as Gordon and Gary Shepherd note, became particularly important in the post-manifesto period. [28] What had been unenforced counsel in Smith’s time now became an important defining maker in post-manifesto Mormon identity. Instead of urging Latter-day Saints to move to the Mormon Culture Region, though many still come of their own volition if only to attend BYU, the church no longer urged them not to drink caffeinated and alcoholic beverages but urged them instead to work to build “Stakes of Zion” wherever there are enough Saints to constitute a “stake” or a Church region. And increases in the number of “stakes” there were. “Stakes” of “Zion” can be found all across the North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Polynesia though Mormon density in the culture region remains high. Today, few “mainstream” Saints speak of building “Zion” in Independence, Missouri. The hope that one day Saints will “gather” to this Midwestern “Zion” and build a temple among its broad avenues may still exist in the hearts and minds of some Mormon leaders and some Mormon intellectuals (and especially in its sectarian groups), but it is no longer one of the central impulses embodied in Mormon lives. [29]

Despite these changes, however, “Eternal Progression” remains as central to post-manifesto Mormon symbology and ritual as it was to pre-manifesto Mormon symbology and ritual. Yes it has been somewhat revised but this revised version of “eternal progression” did not appear out of nowhere.

“Eternal progression” is, as I mentioned earlier, the life cycle that all human beings go through either partially or fully. This life cycle consists of pre-existence, earthly existence, death, resurrection, judgment, and finally immortality (in one of three degrees of nearness to God—the “celestial”, “terrestrial”, and “telestial”). “Gathering to Zion” and practicing “the Principle” were simply two important life cycle choices “worthy Saints” made along the path to the “Celestial Kingdom” in the early days of the faith. Today these aren't as important and have been given revised meaning. [30]

In contemporary official LDS ideology all human beings are literally the children of God. Humans were created in his spiritual, yet material, image. In order for “Heavenly Father's” children to become like him and to take part in the gift of procreation they must take on a physical body and become residents of earth. Once on earth humans have the choice of either following the plan of our “Father in Heaven” or of not doing so. Those who do decide to continue on the path of “eternal progression” “covenant”, or promise to abide by certain “laws” and to perform specific “ordinances”. In this attempt they are, of course, helped by “Jesus Christ”, “the One True Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints” (i.e., Church Authorities), and the “Holy Ghost”.

Those “worthy” Saints who abide by the laws and ordinances are, upon death, judged by “Jesus”. With “resurrection” the physical bodies that had separated from their spiritual bodies at death, are reunited. Those who are most worthy gain “exaltation” or “Godhood” and reside nearest to “Heavenly Father” in the “Celestial Kingdom”. Those “worthy” Mormons who were not married in the Temple reside in the “Celestial Kingdom” but at a greater distance from “Heavenly Father” than do the “exalted”. [31]

The dependent symbols of “eternal progression” are themselves often quite complex. One of these, “the Christ-like life”, for example, encompasses several dependent symbols itself: “perfecting the Saints”, i.e., the willingness to receive divine guidance (from the “proper authorities” of the “One True Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”), performing the “gospel ordinances” (“baptism”, “set prayers”, “priesthood”, “sacrament”, and “temple”), “fellowship[ing] with other church members”, “serving others”; “sharing the gospel with others”; i.e., accepting responsibility for sharing the Gospel with others via missionary work, testimony, and so on, “redeeming the dead”, i.e., performing genealogical or family history research, and “performing ordinances for the dead” in the Temple.

“Temple Ordinances” are an important aspect of leading the “Christ-like life”. Within the sacred space and time of the Temple, “worthy”, “Christ-like” Saints receive “ordinances” for themselves and perform them for others. The “endowment ordinance” reveals God's plan of “eternal progression” to the initiate. “Pre-existence”, “creation”, “the fall”, “Christ's atonement”, and the “Gospel” are ritually presented in dramaturgical fashion. “Sealing ordinances” allow the “worthy” to bind their marriages and their families together for “time and eternity”. They also allow one to perform “ordinances for the dead”. [32]

“The Gospel” involves “believing in Jesus”, recognizing him as the literal “Son of God”, “repenting of sins”, seeking to become more “Christ-like”, and being “baptized in his name”, thereby promising to keep his “commandments”.
The dependent symbol or sign “Jesus Christ”, has given humankind the opportunity to continue along the “path of exaltation”. “Heavenly Father” sent his literal son “Jesus” to fulfill his “divine plan”, the plan allowing all his children to become like him. It was he who overcame “the Fall” of Adam and Eve through his “atonement” and his “sacrifice”. By his “perfect example he has removed all obstacles from the path of “eternal progression” and has thereby allowed Saints the opportunity to return to live with “Our Father in Heaven” in the “Celestial Kingdom”.

The “commandments” the “worthy” are to keep include the “divine law of chastity”, whereby believers agree to have sexual relations only with our spouse, the “divine law of procreation”, by which Saints agree to share in the creation of life, after all, wasn't the first commandment “be fruitful and multiply”, and the “divine law of health”, the “Word of Wisdom” (Doctrine and Covenants 89), by which Mormons agree to abstain from harmful foods, drinks, and intoxicants.

In order to help us keep his “commandments”, “Jesus” has conferred upon the worthy the “Holy Ghost”. When Mormons receive the “ordinance” of “baptism” they not only re-enact the “death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus”, but they also shed their old sinful lives of replacing them with new lives grounded on “repentance”.

With baptism Saints also receive the gift of the “Holy Ghost”. The “Holy Ghost” helps believers to keep the “commandments”, “cleanses and sanctifies” Saints, and keeps them on the road to “eternal progression”. Lastly, it “testifies” to believers that “Jesus is the Son of God” and that “Joseph Smith is and was the Prophet of God”.

The testimony of the “Holy Ghost concerning Joseph Smith points to another dependent symbol, that of “the One True Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”. Mormons believe that their Church is the only church with the “restored gospel”. For them the existence and testimony of The Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and “continuing revelation” through the “Living Prophet” are proof of it. For Mormons, the Mormon Church is the “vehicle” through which the “children of Heavenly Father” achieve “eternal life”. It alone vouchsafes the “ordinances”, “commandments”, “practices”, and “knowledge” one must do, keep, and obtain if one is to become “like Heavenly Father”.

Clearly symbols like “Jesus Christ”, “the Gospel”, and the “commandments” are dependent upon the key Mormon symbol of “eternal progression”. It is “Jesus” who allows us to find our way along the path of “eternal progression”. It is “the Gospel” which shows us, in part, what we need to do to traverse this road, and it is the “commandments” which specify how this is done. Without the key symbol of the life cycle, these secondary symbols would have no meaning in and of themselves. [33]

The Mormon symbol system, a system of signs or meaning units that stand for something other than themselves, is, in sum, a system of communication. It communicates to Mormons (and potentially to “Gentiles” living or dead) the means by which one can progress through life from pre-existence to an exalted “eternal life”. In that progression one has the possibility (if one has made the right choices) of becoming like God and thereby populating a new world.

The key symbol of “eternal progression” and its various dependent symbols are also a logically interrelated and integrated whole. Each sign or word-ideology unit within the symbol system has meaning on two levels. We have to look at a key symbol in relationship to other signs within the system itself (“Aaronic priesthood”, for example, has meaning via its differentiation from “Melchizedek priesthood”), and secondly, we have to look at it in relationship to similar signifiers from other religious meaning systems in Mormonism's environment. “Jesus Christ” and “the Christ-like life”, for instance, mean something entirely different in Mormon contexts than what they do in Catholic and Protestant symbolic traditions. The words may be the same but the meanings (signifieds) are different. [34]

As I said earlier the Mormon symbol system is an integrated one. Each meaning unit within the symbol system is integrated and intertwined with every other in, as was noted before, an extraordinarily systematic and dense way (exactly what one would expect in a rationalized and routinized authoritarian system). Each dependent symbol is integrated into the key symbol of eternal progression. For instance, the dependent symbol, “continuing revelation”, and its dependent symbol, “the One True Church”, are integral aspects of the process of “eternal progression”. Part of this life cycle is, for instance, following the directives and “ordinances” vouchsafed by the Mormon Church because these are the products of divine revelation. The system is, in other words, a tautologous one in which each symbol within the system gives credence to every other one. It is system of ever broadening concentric symbols, a system in which there are symbols within symbols within symbols within symbols and meanings within meanings within meanings within meanings.

One of the most interesting aspects of Mormon symbology concerns Latter-day Saints conceptualizations of sacred and profane. Social scientists have often noted that this distinction is generally fundamental to symbol-ritual domains cross culturally. Victor Turner, for instance, has suggested that the rituals of modern industrial society are underlain by a sacred/profane dichotomy in which leisure has been codified as sacred relative to the mundane, profane categorization of work. Since so much of LDS symbology, especially its dominant symbol of “eternal progression”, has to do with progressing through this world while recognizing that one is not of this world, the passing of the worthy Saint and/or his family through the life cycle in this world gives a certain sanctity to the world. [35]

There is not a clear marking off of the world as evil as in the Swiss-Anabaptist symbol system. Nor is there a marking off of sacred places and times in a hard and fast way. While “home”, “family”, “ward” and “Temple”, are points marked by sacredness, the processural aspect of the life cycle marks even everyday life as part of this sacred traversal toward godhood. The daily life of the worthy Saint, his or her actions and thoughts in the world, are sacred almost as much as are ward and Temple spaces and the “ordinances” performed within these.

Questions, of course, can be raised about my delineation of the “eternal progression” life cycle as the key or core symbol in the Mormon symbolic complex (what would academia be without controversy?). I am convinced, however, from my exploration of official literature and through the historical and fieldwork explorations and interviews I conducted that the delineation of this symbol as the core one within Mormonism is accurate. In interviews several informants have emphasized the importance of “eternal progression” to understanding what they do and why they do it. This is particularly true for Mormons in the state of Utah where Mormons comprise approximately seventy percent of the population and the Mormon Church is the dominant actor in political, economic, social, and cultural life. [36]

While it is clear that Mormon culture is multivocal and that meanings are negotiated in that culture, the authoritarian nature of Mormonism limits multivocality and negotiation, particularly on the official level. Still individual Saints do give nuances to Mormon doctrines over time and within geographical space. Informal interviews I have conducted as well as my intuition make me think that those who have converted to the LDS from other Christian groups are more likely to bring the ideological baggage from their pre-Mormon days with them. Many tend to interpret “Jesus in more traditional “Christian” fashion, as one aspect of the Godhead who came to earth to die for the sins of humankind and in the process made it possible for men and women to gain “eternal life” not through a process of “eternal progression” toward godhood but by believing in him and trying, however imperfectly, to follow his “example”. Some Mormon feminists “violate” hierarchical counsel by praying collectively to “Mother in Heaven” and giving nuances to the meaning she has for them that the male hierarchs wouldn't. Still, such multivocality is an anomaly particularly in the Mormon Culture Region where the ideological control of the hierarchy is strongest. [37]

Sherry Ortner has distinguished two kinds of symbols, summarizing and elaborating symbols, symbols which respectively sum up and make ideas and feelings comprehensible. The Mormon symbolic complex and its key symbol, the notion of “eternal progression”, is both a summarizing and elaborating one, but it goes beyond this. “Eternal progression”, for instance, represents what Mormon culture means to most Mormons. Through embodiment via experience and memory it gives definition to the idea that there are certain practices of which one must partake in order to progress to “exaltation”, and “eternal life” with “Heavenly Father”. [38]

Embodiment of symbols and ideology occurs in a variety of ways. Our experiences are sedimented in our memories, in our nervous systems, and in our minds. Our experiences throughout “childhood”, “adolescence”, and “adulthood”, our interactions with our environments, our interactions with parents, relatives, friends, the media, authority figures, important institutions like schools and religious gathering places, become part of us and motivate us both consciously or unconsciously to act and think in certain ways. [39]

The “reality” of this embodiment of symbols can be seen in Mormon lives, particularly in the Mormon culture region. Official Mormonism places great attendance on church attendance and church activities. In 1890 the territory of Utah had a church attendance rate of 61.2%, second only to New Mexico (68.9%). Recent data has similarly found that Mormon Church attendance in the United States (including that outside the Mormon culture region) is significantly higher than that for “Gentiles”. In the 1980s Rodney Stark and William Simms Bainbridge found that Utah had the highest rates of church attendance of any state in the US (836 per 1000) and that three of the top ten American cities in church attendance rates were in Utah (Provo (number 1 at 966 attendees per 1000), Ogden (number 9 at 820 per 1000), and Salt Lake City (number 10 at 808 per 1000). [40]

Additionally, official Mormonism places immense ideological emphasis on marriage and childbirth, both crucial components of “eternal progression”. In Utah (and beyond) LDS marriage rates and birth rates, particularly for regular church attendees (often used, if problematically, by sociologists as a measure of religiosity) are higher than those of “Gentiles”. 97% of Saints over 30 have married while 81% of Catholics, 87% of Protestants, and 83% of Jews have. Mormons also tend to marry early. 74% of LDS women and 49% of LDS men are married by age 21. This is considerably higher than the figures for Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish men. Mormons have lower percentages of interfaith marriage than do non-Mormons. Mormon intermarriage rates in the Mormon culture region are a low 5%. Mormon divorce rates are higher than those of Catholics and Jews: 14% for men, 19% for women compared to 11% for Catholics and 10% for Jews have divorced. However, divorce rates for Mormons married in the temple are 6%. Remarriage rates for Mormons are 67% for men and 57% for women married in the temple and 71% for men and 55% for women married outside the temple. Finally, marriage rates for Mormons in the Mormon culture region are higher than those outside of the culture region, divorce rates are lower, and remarriage rates are higher than those outside of the culture region. [41]

Mormon fertility rates are higher than those of other religious groups. More than 50% of LDS women have three or more children compared to 37% of Protestant women and 36% of Catholic women. 20% of LDS women have five or more children compared with 2% of Jewish women. Fertility rates for Saints married in the Temple (the ideal) are even higher as are fertility rates for Mormon women in the Mormon culture region: Utah women had a birthrate of 22% per 1000 women. Utah’s number of live births per 1000 for women age 15-44 was 41% higher than the national average. [42]

Mormon ideas about sex, gender roles, and alcohol and cigarette use also foreground the important role Mormon culture and ideology plays in shaping Mormon attitudes. In 1990 Utah had the lowest number of unwed mothers and out of wedlock pregnancies in the United States: 17% compared to the national average of 33%. In 1970 it was 4%. 58% of Mormons say that pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, and homosexuality are wrong. 34% of Protestants and 25% of Catholics say they are wrong. When you look only at homosexuality, 90% of Mormons said homosexuality was wrong. 75% of Catholics thought it was wrong. 22% of Mormons said that a pre-school child is likely to suffer if his or her mother works compared to 16% of Catholics and 13% of Protestants. In 1990 Utah had the lowest rates of teen pregnancy and the lowest abortion rates in the United States. Less than 29% of Mormons favored abortion in cases where money or desire was an issue compared to 33% of Catholics. 7.3% of Utahns smoke compared to 14% of LDS nationally, 38% of Catholics, 36% of Protestants, and 28% of Jews. The national average is 17%. Finally 28% of LDS drink alcohol compared to 65% of Protestants, 85% of Catholics, and 86% of Jews. [43]

These demographic characteristics clearly show that the closer Saints are to Mormon power centers, the more their life cycle choices reflect those promoted by official LDS doctrine. This points to the fact that the central pivot around which all Mormon symbology and ideology moves, whether primitive or contemporary is “proper authority”.

It is, as I implied earlier, these “proper authorities” who guide each Saint along the path of “eternal progression” by virtue of their charisma, their ties to the divine and their reception of “continuing revelation”. In the past the authorities urged Saints to “gather to Zion” and to practice “the Principle”. Today they urge male Saints to become priesthood holders. They make sure Saints have access to Mormon history and doctrine through wards, through seminaries and through Institutes of Religion which serve as institutions of enculturation and socialization for Mormons even outside the Mormon Culture Region. They urge Saints to go on missions. They urge Saints to get married and have lots of children. They urge Saints to be active in ward meetings and other church activities (be this scouting or athletic activities in wards). They counsel Saints about the evils of the world. They excommunicate “unworthy” Saints in a “paternalistic” spirit when necessary. They urge Saints to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment. It is, in other words, through the embodiment of Mormon symbols and the embodiment of notions of “proper authority” that Saints become Saints. [44]

Mormonism has its own language (e.g., “eternal progression”, “Heavenly Father”, “Prophet, seer and revelator”, “anti-Mormons”, “family home evening”, “the MTC”, and “weird returning missionaries”), its own institutions (e.g., “wards”, “stakes”, “Temples”,” ZCMI” (sadly now deceased), the “First Presidency”, festivals in Manti and Palmyra, Deseret Books, Deseret Industries, the Church Welfare System, “seminaries”, and “institutes” which provide education to Saints all around the world), and its own cultural forms (e.g., garments, revelations, the “Word of Wisdom”, folklore, literature, humor, music, poetry, cosmology). These are embodied in individual Mormon lives as each Saint moves through the life cycle.

Each Mormon Family is supposed to get together for conversation (often on LDS subjects) and films every Monday evening. At BYU an equal number of males and females from a BYU ward are formed into family home evening groups. One of the things BYU family home meetings do is pair off males and females for possible future marriage. “The MTC” is the “Missionary Training Center” in Provo. Those going on missions, at home and abroad, are trained in languages, cultures, Mormonism, strategies for evangelizing, and fashion tips at the sprawling complex north of the BYU campus (which I visited). While one doesn't have to go on a “mission” to be a “worthy Saint” it is becoming more typical for college age Saints to do so (Almost fifty percent of LDS males do so; the percentages are less for women and may reflect their subordinate role in Mormon culture). This distinct language, this distinctive culture, and these singular institutions make Mormonism, Mormonism, and Mormons, Mormons. [45]

This identity is replicated constantly in Mormon lives and is expressed in the sacrifices, investments, and commitments individual Mormons make to Mormon ideology, Mormon rituals and ceremonies, and Mormon institutions in their everyday lives. These ideologies, rituals and ceremonies, and institutions link Mormons to one another in both time and eternity. It is to this cultural and social embodiment and the ideologies and commitments that they entail that we need to look if we are fully to understand how identities are formed regardless of whether they are totemic, tribal, racial, national, religious, or whatever form identities take. The study of Mormon culture and its embodiment and institutionalization is just one means through which we can explore the symbolic or cultural construction and embodiment of identity through culture and ideology. And at least one of the things such a study shows is that while Mormons may be Americans their culture is a far more complex than a simply generic American one. They are a genuine American counterculture if not a genuine American subculture. [46]

End Notes
1. There are numerous works on LDS history and culture. I have been helped immensely by a number of them. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism (NYC: Macmillan, 1992) edited by Daniel Ludlow is an indispensable source of LDS history, culture, doctrine, and demographics. Other useful sources on Mormonism include Whitney Cross, The Burned Over District: The Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800-1850 (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1950), James Allen and Glen Leonard; The Story of the Latter-day Saints (SLC: Deseret, second edition 1992), Leonard Arrington and Davis Bitton; The Mormon Experience (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, second edition 1992), Lyndon Cook and Donald Cannon; A New Light Breaks Through: Essays in Mormon History (SLC: Hawkes Publishing, 1980), Klaus Hansen; Mormonism and the American Experience (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), Jan Shipps; Mormonism: The Study of a New Religious Tradition (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985), Shipps; Sojourner in the Promised Land, Richard Bushman; Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), Dean L. May; “Mormons” in Stephen Thernstrom (editor), Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 1980), Lawrence Foster, Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, the Mormons and the Oneida Community (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981), Foster; Women, Family, and Utopia: Communal Experiments of the Shakers, the Oneida Community, and the Mormons (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1991), Dan Vogel; Religious Seekers and the Advent of Mormonism (SLC: Signature, 1988), Marie Cornwall, Tim Heaton, and Lawrence Young; Contemporary Mormonism: Social Science Perspectives (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), and Gordon Shepherd and Gary Shepherd; A Kingdom Transformed: Themes in the Development of Mormonism (SLC: University of Utah Press, 1984). On LDS symbols and rituals see David John Buerger; The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship (SLC: Signature, 1994), and Jerald and Sandra Tanner; Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony (SLC: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1990). For excellent discussions of Mormon identity see Moore; Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans (NYC: Oxford University Press, 1987), Patricia Nelson Limerick; The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West (NYC: Norton, 1987), and Douglas Davies “Mormon History, Identity, and Faith Community” in Elizabeth Tonkin, Maryon McDonald, and Malcolm Chapman; History and Ethnicity: ASA Monograph 27 (London: Routledge, 1989). An excellent collection of primary documents can be found in William Mulder and A.R. Mortensen (eds.); Among the Mormons: Historical Accounts by Contemporary Observers (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1958). A standard documentary collection is Joseph Smith; History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, edited by James Mulholland, Robert Thompson, William Phelps, Willard Richards, George Smith, and B.H. Roberts, seven volumes, (SLC: Deseret, second edition, 1951) (hereafter DHC). Mormon scriptures include the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price all published by the church and all essential for an understanding of Mormon history. On the first vision see Milton Backman; Joseph Smith's First Vision (SLC: Bookcraft, second edition 1980), Richard Howard; “Joseph Smith's First Vision: the RLDS Tradition”, Journal of Mormon History, 7 (1980), pp. 31-42, James Allen; “Emergence of a Fundamental: The Expanding Role of Joseph Smith's First Vision in Mormon Religious Thought” in Journal of Mormon History 7 (1980), pp. 43-67, Dean Jessee; “The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision”, BYU Studies, 9:3 (Spring 1969), pp. 275-294, Marvin Hill; “A Note on Joseph Smith's First Vision and its Import in the Shaping of Early Mormonism”, Dialogue 12:1 (Spring 1979), pp. 90–99, and Hill; “The First Vision Controversy: A Critique and Reconciliation”, Dialogue 15:2 (Summer 1982), pp. 31–46. For contemporary texts on the first vision see Joseph Smith; The Papers of Joseph Smith (hereafter cited as Papers 1); Volume 1; edited by Dean Jessee (SLC: Deseret, 1989), Smith; The Papers of Joseph Smith; Volume 2 (hereafter cited as Papers 2); edited by Dean Jessee (SLC: Deseret, 1992), and Milton Backman; Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration (Orem, UT.: Grandin, 1983). This last is a harmony of the various accounts. Primary sources for the first vision include the “1832 Autobiography and History”, the “1839 History of the Church”, and the “Wentworth Letter”. Another version of the first vision is contained in an account written by Joseph's scribe, Warren Cowdery, in the “Kirtland Diary, 1835”. The official version is contained in the Pearl of Great Price and in the DHC, Volume 1.

2. Dan Vogel; Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon (SLC: Signature, 1986). On the Book of Mormon see Dan Vogel and Brent Metcalfe (eds); American Apocalypse: Essays on the Book of Mormon (SLC: Signature, 2002), Brent Metcalfe (ed.); New Perspectives on the Book of Mormon (SLC: Signature, 1993), Terry Givens; By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Created a New Religion (NYC: Oxford University Press, 2002), and B.H. Roberts; Studies in the Book of Mormon, edited by Brigham Madsen and Sterling McMurrin (SLC: Signature, 1992).

3. Doctrine and Covenants 51:16 (1831), 82:13 (1832), 94:1 (1833) (where Kirtland is referred to as a “stake” of “Zion”).

4. Ether 13:3, 3 Nephi 22 (both 1830), Doctrine and Covenants 97:16, 21 (1833), 10l: 18 (1833), “Articles of Faith” verse 10. The “Articles of Faith” can be found in the Pearl of Great Price. The “Articles of Faith” were Smith's response to a Chicago reporter in answer to his query about the nature of Mormon doctrine. On “the gathering” to “Zion” see William Mulder; Homeward to Zion: The Mormon Migration from Scandinavia (Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press) and P.E.M. Taylor; Expectations Westward: The Mormons and their British Converts in the Nineteenth Century (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1965). In a letter from “Brigham Young to Amasa Lyman and Saints in the British Empire” the “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” demanded that all Saints “gather to Zion” “at the earliest possible opportunity”. The letter can be found in the “Brigham Young Notebooks” at the LDS Church Archives in SLC.

5. Richard Hughes and Allen; Illusions of Innocence: Protestant Primitivism in America, 1630-1875 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988) and Doctrine and Covenants 29 (1830) and 101(1833). On contemporary accounts of Mormon apocalypticism see Parley Pratt; “The Millennium” and “Letter to the Queen” in Pratt; The Writings of Parley Parker Pratt, edited by Parker Pratt Robertson (Salem, UT: Pioneer Press, 1837), and Key to the Science of Theology (Salem, UT.: Pioneer Press, 1855. Pratt's work are amongst the earliest published explications and defenses of Mormon doctrine, On Mormon apocalypticism see Grant Underwood; The Millennial World of Early Mormonism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press,1999) and Hughes and Leonard; Illusions of Innocence. Early Mormon documents, such as the aptly named Mormon newspaper the Millennial Star, are full of stories concerning the signs of the times be these earthquakes, floods, epidemics, railroad accidents, or steamship explosions. Such stories were regarded as signs of the end times.

6. On Kirtland and the bank scandal see Milton J. Backman, Jr.; The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio 1830-1838 (SLC: Deseret, 1983). For contemporary accounts of Mormon life in Kirtland see Fred Collier (ed.); Kirtland Council Minute Book (SLC: Collier Publishers, n.d). On “Saint”-”Gentile” conflict see Stephen C. LeSueur; The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987), and BYU Studies 13:1, 14:4, and 26:2. For contemporary accounts of Mormon life in Missouri see Donald Cannon and Lyndon Cook (eds.); Far West Record: Minutes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1844 (SLC: Deseret, 1983). For contemporary accounts of Gentiler Mormon tensions in Missouri see Clark Johnson (ed.); Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833-1838 Missouri Conflict (Provo, UT. BYU Religious Studies Center, 1992) and Vinson Knight's letter to William Cooper, 3 February 1835, Typescript, Harold B. Lee Library, BYU. On Mormon communalism see Leonard Arrington, Feramorz Fox, and Dean May, Building the City of God: Community and Cooperation among the Mormons (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, second edition, 1992).

7. Doctrine and Covenants 84 (1832) and 3 Nephi 20 and Ether 13.

8. Revision, at least theoretically, isn't a problem for Mormonism since Mormonism is a historical and processural religion. Revelations not only “restored” the True Church both doctrinally and organizationally, but dealt with particular situations at particular moments in time. Smith, on occasion, addressed specific questions to God and got specific answers. Doctrine and Covenants 101, to take one example, was a response to persecution in Missouri.

9. Also see 2 Nephi 1.

10. Doctrine and Covenants 124:2 (1841). On the Nauvoo period in LDS History Robert Flanders; Nauvoo: Kingdom on the Mississippi (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965), Roger Launius and John Halwas (eds.); The Kingdom on the Mississippi Revisited (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996), David and Della Miller; Nauvoo: The City of Joseph (SLC: Peregrine Smith, 1974), Richard and Jeni Holzapfeel; Women of Nauvoo (SLC: Bookcraft, 1992), BYU Studies 15:4 (Summer 1975). 18:2 (Winter 1978), 19:3 (Spring 1979), and 31:1 (Winter 1991), the special issue of Dialogue on Nauvoo: 5:1 (Spring 1970), and John Bennett's sensationalistic expose History of the Saints (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1842). Nauvoo, putatively from the Hebrew word for beautiful—Smith studied Hebrew in Kirtland—was the name Smith gave to the city that had once been known as Commerce. Under the Saints it grew into the largest or second largest city in Illinois (depending on who you read). The Illinois legislature granted a great degree of autonomy to the Saints in Nauvoo apparently salivating over the block votes they might provide to those running for electoral office. They not only governed the community but maintained their own militia.

11. D. Michael Quinn; “The Council of Fifty and its Members”, BYU Studies 20 (Winter 1980), pp. 163-197 and Klaus Hansen; Quest for Empire: The Political Kingdom of God and the Council of Fifty in Mormon History (East Lansing, MI.: Michigan State University Press, 1967). The first hand accounts of Smith's Nauvoo teachings are conveniently collected in Lyndon Cook and Andrew Ehat (eds.); The Words of Joseph Smith (Orem, UT.: Grandin, 1991). The King Follett Discourse was recorded by Willard Richards, Wilford Woodruff, Thomas Bullock, and William Clayton in their journals and diaries. These are reprinted in the Cook and Ehat compilation noted above. A version of it was also printed in the Mormon newspaper Times and Seasons 5 (15) August 1844. The King Follett discourse reveals a lot about Smith. It points up his intelligence, his creativity, his ever expanding mind (his study of Hebrew and German, for instance), his certainty of his own authority (expressed, in part, in his jibes at Alexander Campbell), the importance he placed on the Bible, and his style of biblical exegesis and hermeneutics (almost Talmudic), something also evident in many revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants which are also talmudic like commentaries on biblical texts. The King Follett discourse justifies baptisms for the dead, asserts that intelligence is self-existent, argues for religious toleration, asserts the possibility of human perfection, and argues that God was once a man and that men can become Gods (eternal progression). On doctrinal developments in Nauvoo, including the doctrines of “eternal progression” and “celestial marriage” see Cook and Ehat (eds.); Words of Joseph Smith and Thomas Alexander; “The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine: From Joseph Smith to Progressive Theology”, Sunstone 10:5 (May 1985), pp. 24-33. The revelations can be found in Doctrine and Covenants sections 124 through 134. Harold Bloom's The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation (NYC: Simon and Schuster, 1992) is also a brilliant (if flawed) analysis of Smith's thought. Bloom is one of the few “Gentile” analysts who understand the creative genius that Smith clearly was. Controversy has raged over how novel the doctrines that become apparent in Nauvoo were. Marvin Hill in “The Shaping of the Mormon Mind in New England and New York, BYU Studies; 9:3 (Spring 1969), pp. 351-372, argues that the doctrines that became explicit in the Nauvoo period were present, sometimes in incipient form, in the New York Church and in the Puritan mentality that early Mormon leaders shared given their New England backgrounds. Mario DePillis, on the other hand, draws on Frederick Jackson Turner in his “The Social Sources of Early Mormonism”, Church History 37 (March 1968), pp. 50-79, to argue that Mormonism's novel doctrines that come to fruition in Nauvoo, were the products of the rural frontier of New York and Ohio.

12. DHC, Volume 6, pp. 473-479 and 302-317.

13. Doctrine and Covenants 28:7 (1830) specifies that the “authorities” had been given “the keys to the mysteries”. The polytheism inherent in Smith's doctrine of deity led Brigham Young and others, perhaps even Joseph, to speculate about whether “Adam” was the god of this planet (the Adam God doctrine). “Anti-Mormons” today make much of this “heresy” in their struggle against Mormonism. On the Adam-God doctrine see David Buerger; “The Adam-God Doctrine” Dialogue 15 (Spring 1982), pp. 14-58.

14. “Eternal salvation” inscribes identity construction and reconstruction into the very pattern of a Mormon's life. It provides a pattern of socialization, enculturation, and social control that is related to the specific life choices one makes at specific points in one's life. These life cycle choices are tied to the Church hierarchy via the belief that it is the hierarchy alone which knows the correct choices that “worthy Saints” must make in order to reach the “Celestial Kingdom”. On plural marriage see Carmon Hardy; Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992), Kathleen Daynes; More Wives than One: The Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910 (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2001), and Doctrine and Covenants section 132. Ironically the Book of Mormon had condemned plural marriage (Jacob 1:15, 2:24), and Bennett's History of the Saints. There are a number of contemporary first hand accounts of polygamy in Nauvoo. Bennett’s book is an expose of the “scandals”, particularly the scandal of plural marriage, occurring in Mormon Nauvoo. While a prominent Mormon Bennett engaged in plural marriage without the permission of authorities. He turned to writing exposes of the faith after his excommunication. Phoebe W. Carter Woodruff's (first wife of the fourth Mormon “Prophet, seer, and revelator, Wilford Woodruff) “Biography” (Woodruff; “Biography” in Edward Tullidge; The Women of Mormondom (NYC: Tullidge and Drandall, 1877)) shows the process through which many Mormon women came to grips with “the Principle”. Woodruff writes that at first she was troubled by the idea. As she came to believe that the doctrine originated as a revelation from God (through Smith), however, she made her peace with it.

15. On the temple and temple ceremonies see Buerger; The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, Colleen McDanell; “Mormon Garments, Sacred Clothing, and the Body” in McDannell; Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America (New Haven, CT.: Yale University Press, 1995), Paul Conkin; American Originals: Homemade Varieties of Christianity (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997), Jerald and Sandra Tanner; Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony, and, for a first hand contemporary account of temple rituals, William Clayton; An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, edited by George Smith (SLC: Signature, 1991). As studies make clear the temple ceremonies and modern “temple endowments” differ somewhat from earlier ones. Current temple ceremonies are, for one thing, much shorter.

16. D. Michael Quinn; The Mormon Hierarchy: The Origins of Power (SLC: Signature, 1994).

17. Colleen McDanell; “Mormon Garments, Sacred Clothing, and the Body” in McDannell; Material Christianity.

18.For Brigham Young’s version of the millennium see his sermon in Journal of Discourses XII (SLC: Deseret, 1903).

19. Brigham Young; Manuscript History of Brigham Young, edited by William Harwell (SLC: Collier Publishing, 1997), and Fred Collier (ed.); Unpublished Revelations, two volumes (SLC: Collier Publishing, 1981, 1993). On Deseret as a “stake of Zion” see Doctrine and Covenants 136 especially verse 10. Robert Wiebe in his Who We Are: A History of Popular Nationalism (Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 2002). Wiebe argues that Mormons violated all of the basic principles governing early nineteenth century American ethnic behavior. Instead of separating American and ethnic identities and possibly acting on both, Mormons had a totalistic identity grounded in notions of the church as family. Instead of celebrating American democracy, Mormons were theocratic, authoritarian, obedient to proper authority, and sought to establish a nation of their own. This Mormon Kingdom (Deseret) was to stretch across what is today all of Utah and parts of Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, and California. Wiebe's analysis while insightful is also problematic. Most importantly it fails to explore the ambiguous love/hate relationship the Mormons had with the United States. Mormons did conceive of the US as a sacred land. Smith received a revelation from God which stated that the US Constitution was divinely inspired and had prepared the way for the “restoration”. However, he also received revelations which damned the United States and predicted that apocalyptic destruction would come upon it and be replaced by a Mormon kingdom ruled from “Zion” (as did later LDS “Prophets”). As I noted earlier, this apocalyptic rhetoric declined in the wake of the “war” between the Mormons and the US, a “war” “won” by the Americans.

20. Edward Leo Lyman; Political Deliverance: The Mormon Quest for Statehood (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986). On the Utah War see Norman Furniss; The Mormon Conflict, 1850-1859 (New Haven, CT.: Yale University Press, 1960). It's worth noting that the federal attacks on Mormonism were amongst the first instances where the federal military apparatus was used against someone other than “savage” First Peoples. The notion that slavery and polygamy were “barbaric” probably aided the feds and others in rationalizing their actions and receiving public backing for them. For presidential speeches on the evils of Mormon polygamy see Ulysses S. Grant; “Annual Message to the Congress of the United States” (4 December 1871) in James Richardson (ed.); A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1709-1908 (Washington, DC: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1909), Rutherford B. Hayes; “Annual Message to the Congress of the United States” (2 December 1879) in Richardson (ed.); A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1709-1908, James A. Garfield; “Inaugural Address” (March 1881) in Richardson (ed.); A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1709-1908, Chester A. Arthur; “Annual Message to the Congress of the United States” (1 December 1884) in Richardson (ed.); A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1709-1908, and Grover Cleveland; “Annual Message to the Congress of the United States” (8 December 1885) in Richardson (ed.); A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1709-1908.

21. Shipps and Quinn offered their views on the great transformation at a Sunstone Conference. I heard a taped copy of this symposium.

22. Alexander; Mormonism in Transition

23. For information on Church membership see Tim Heaton; “Vital Statistics” in Ludlow (ed.); Encyclopedia, pp. 1518-1537.

24. Lavina Fielding Anderson; “The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology”, Dialogue 26 (Spring 1993), pp. 7-64 and issues of the journal Case Reports of the Mormon Alliance. The Mormon Alliance is a group of dissident intellectuals who monitor Church “disciplining” or “abuse” (depending on your point of view) of Church members. Lavina Fielding Anderson was one of the Mormon intellectuals (“The Six”) excommunicated by ward excommunication courts in the mid-1990s. Many Mormon intellectuals believe that the campaign against dissidents is led by the Church hierarchy in Salt Lake. The General Authorities deny any involvement in ward disciplining and excommunications.

25. Heaton; “Vital Statistics” in Ludlow (ed.); Encyclopedia.

26. D. Michael Quinn; “Plural Marriage and Mormon Fundamentalism” in Martin Marty and R. Scott Appleby (eds.), Fundamentalisms and Society: Reclaiming the Sciences, the Family, and Education (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), pp. 240-293.. I understand that those who attend BYU have to affirm that they have never had anything to do with Fundamentalist during their yearly bishop interviews.

27. Shepherd and Shepherd; A Kingdom Transformed. General Conference is held twice a year in April and October in SLC. Church leaders give speeches at these conferences on a variety of church related issues.

28. Shepherd and Shepherd; A Kingdom Tranformed.

29. Shepherd and Shepherd; A Kingdom Transformed. Though polygamy and the gathering have declined in contemporary Mormon rhetoric it is important to remember that they have not disappeared. On this see Kendall White; Mormon Neo-orthodoxy: A Crisis Theology (SLC: Signature, 1987), Shepherd and Shepherd; A Kingdom Transformed, Buerger; The Mysteries of Godliness, and Tanner and Tanner; Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony.
While Mormons made peace with America after 1890 this doesn't mean that the tension between “Mormons” and “Gentiles” has disappeared. Sociologist Armand Mauss argues that tension between the two remains and that these can be summarized by reference to the angel (Mormon distinctiveness) and the beehive (Mormon “assimilation”). Mauss; The Angel and the Beehive: The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994).
Mauss’s discussion, of course, draws on and critiques dominant social science and historical models of secularization. The most prominent sociologist of secularization, British sociologist Bryan Wilson, maintains that the Western world has experienced a decline in religion and a simultaneous rise in secularism over the last century. He sees this decline in evolutionary terms. As the West has experienced the varying forces of modernity (e.g., industrialization, professionalization, bureaucratization, and privatization) religious explanations of the place of humankind in both nature and the universe have been replaced by secular or naturalistic understandings in their stead. As this decline is a phenomenon of a specific geographical location, the Western world, the part of the earth that has supposedly experienced the greatest degree of modernization, this decline is also geographical in nature (though it is seen as spreading to other parts of the globe). These geographic-evolutionary notions of assimilation and secularization have been challenged by scholars who point to these two phenomena, religion and secularization, as behavioral patterns rather than as evolutionary opposites in decline and ascent. Nathan Glazer and Daniel Moynihan argued that ethnic culture had been transformed in the American environment but that this didn't mean that ethnic groups had become less identifiable. The fall of communism in Europe in the latter part of the twentieth century and the reassertion of ethnicity, nationalism, and ethnic and nationalist violence likewise shows that reports of ethnicity's demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Jeffrey Haddon and Anson Shupe, Roger Finke, Rodney Stark, and Samuel Heilman have shown that religion in the United States is more cyclical than evolutionary. While there has been a decline in mainstream religious faiths in the United States, there has also been a corresponding rise in evangelical, Orthodox Jewish, and new religious faiths. So clearly there have been changes in Mormonism over the years the question remains, however, as to whether these changes are measures of “assimilation” or whether they are indicators of the sacralization of symbolic changes. I tend to take the latter position as this essay indicates.
For discussions which assert that modernity and secularism were and are the main forces impacting religious cultures see the various volumes of the Fundamentalism Project including Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (eds.); Fundamentalisms Observed (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (eds.); Fundamentalisms and Society: Reclaiming the Sciences, the Family, and Education (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (eds.) Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militancy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), Martin E. Marty, and R. Scott Appleby (eds.); Accounting for Fundamentalisms: The Dynamic Character of Movements (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (eds.); Fundamentalisms Comprehended (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), Will Herberg; Protestant, Catholic, Jew (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956), Bryan Wilson; Religion in Secular Society (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966), Phillip Hammond (ed.); The Sacred in a Secular Age (Berkeley: University of California, 1985), and Larry Shiner "The Concept of Secularization in Empirical Research" in William Newman (ed.); The Social Meanings of Religion: An Integrated Anthology (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1974). For discussions of the impact of modernity and secularism on specific religious communities see James Davidson Hunter; American Evangelicalism: Conservative Religion and the Quandary of Modernity (New Brunswick, NJ.: Rutgers University Press, 1983), Leo Driedger and Leland Harder (eds.); Anabaptist-Mennonite Identities in Ferment (Elkhart, IN.: Institute of Mennonite Studies, 1990), Calvin Redekop (ed.); Mennonite Identity: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Lanham, MD.: University Press of America, 1988), Beulah Hostetler; American Mennonites and Protestant Movements: A Community Paradigm (Scottdale, PA.: Herald, 1987), Donald Kraybill and Carl Bowman; On the Backroad to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren (Baltimore, MD.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), Donald Kraybill; The Riddle of Amish Culture (Baltimore, MD.: Johns Hopkins University Press, revised edition, 2001), John Hostetler; Amish Society, (Baltimore, MD.: Johns Hopkins University Press, fourth edition, 1992), Steve Nolt; A History of the Amish (Intercourse, PA.: Good Books., 1992), Paton Yoder; Tradition and Transition: Amish Mennonites and Old Order Amish, 1800-1900 (Scottdale, PA.: Herald, 1991), John Hostetler; Hutterite Society, (Baltimore, MD.: Johns Hopkins University Press, second edition, 1997), Donald Kraybill and Marc Olshan (eds); The Amish Struggle with Modernity (Hannover, NH.: University Press of New England, 1994), and Thomas Hamm; The Transformation of American Quakerism: Orthodox Friends, 1800-1907 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988). For critiques of the secularist hypothesis see Jeffrey Haddon and Anson Shupe; Secularization and Fundamentalism Reconsidered (NYC: Paragon House, 1992), Roger Finke and Rodney Stark; The Churching of America: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992), Jenna Weissman Joselit; The Wonders of America: Reinventing Jewish Culture, 180-1950 (NYC: Hill and Wang, 1994), Steven Cohen; American Modernity and Jewish Identity (London: Tavistock, 1983), Samuel Heilman; Defenders of the Faith: Inside Ultra-Orthodox Jewry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), Heilman; Synagogue Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), and Heilman; People of the Book: Drama, Fellowship, and Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1987).
One could also raise questions about the similar linear logic underlying analyses in other topical areas as well. The notion that immigrants moved to settler societies like the United States and assimilated to the broader culture of the United States by the second generation is based on similar linear assumptions to that which underlies notions of secularization. "Assimilation" does not mean that identity distinctives disappear. Ethic identity markers are generally simply transformed and remain as one identity marker among many others. In this context even the left traditions of Jews can be interpreted as "secularized" and sanctified variants of the biblical prophetic tradition with its condemnation of wealth and power.

30. My reading of contemporary Mormon symbology is also based on official documents of the Church used for instructional purposes. These include Come unto Christ through Temple Ordinances and Covenants (1987), the Melchizedek Priesthood Leadership Handbook (1990), the Stake Mission Handbook (1988), the Sunday School Handbook (1990), the Primary Handbook (1985), the Young Women Handbook (1989), the Relief Society Handbook (1988), and the Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel which includes Flipcharts, Instructions for the Discussions, The Plan of Our Heavenly Father, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Restoration, Eternal Progression, Living a Christlike Life, Membership in the Kingdom (all 1986) all of which are part of the missionary training packet, Missionary Guide (1988) and Missionary Handbook (1990). All of these are published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and published Salt Lake. I am also drawing on fieldwork, fieldnotes, and interviews undertaken in Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah between 1990 and 1993. Much of what follows is based on these documents and my fieldwork. My reading of contemporary Mormon symbology is also based on official documents of the Church. These include Come unto Christ through Temple Ordinances and Covenants (1987), the Melchizedek Priesthood Leadership Handbook (1990), the Stake Mission Handbook (1988), the Sunday School Handbook (1990), the Primary Handbook (1985), the Young Women Handbook (1989), the Relief Society Handbook (1988), and the Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel which includes Flipcharts, Instructions for the Discussions, The Plan of Our Heavenly Father, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Restoration, Eternal Progression, Living a Christlike Life, Membership in the Kingdom (all 1986) all of which are part of the missionary training packet, Missionary Guide (1988) and Missionary Handbook (1990). All of these are published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and published Salt Lake. I am also drawing on fieldwork, fieldnotes, and interviews undertaken in Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah between 1990 and 1993. Much of what follows is based on these documents and my fieldwork.
While those who only partially traverse the path of “eternal progression” are offered immortality, at least potentially, these individuals can only progress to the two heavenly domains farthest from God, the “Heavenly Father”, the “terrestrial” and the “telestial”. The former realm consists of honorable individuals who are not Mormons. The latter is populated by the “wicked of the world”. Even here further progression toward “exaltation”, nearness to “Heavenly Father” is possible, however. “Worthy Saints” are able to perform rituals on behalf of the dead in the Temple thus allowing them the opportunity to become members of the church. Mormon doctrine maintains that several sons of God rebelled against “Heavenly Father” in the pre-existent spirit realm. As a result of their actions they were cast out of Heaven and became the forces of evil on earth. These personages, including Satan, have no chance to obtain a physical body and continue on the road to exaltation. With the “Last Judgment” they will be locked into a world of total darkness.

31. While those who only partially traverse the path of “eternal progression” are offered immortality, at least potentially, these individuals can only progress to the two heavenly domains farthest from the “Heavenly Father”— the “terrestrial” and the “telestial”. The former realm consists of honorable individuals who are not Mormons. The latter is populated by the “wicked of the world”. Even here further progression toward “exaltation”, nearness to “Heavenly Father” is possible, however. “Worthy Saints” are able to perform rituals on behalf of the dead in the Temple thus allowing them the opportunity to become members of the church. Mormon doctrine maintains that several sons of God rebelled against “Heavenly Father” in the pre-existent spirit realm. As a result of their actions they were cast out of Heaven and became the forces of evil on earth. These personages, including Satan, have no chance to obtain a physical body and continue on the road to exaltation. With the “Last Judgment” they will be locked into a world of total darkness.

32. On Temple rituals see Buerger; Mysteries of Godliness, and Tanner and Tanner; Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony. Interestingly, the rituals performed in Mormon temples, though they are sacred rites of passage, are not marked by a communitas stage with a beginning and an end that Victor Turner sees as a universal aspect of the ritual process. Rather in the Temple dramaturgy and ritual, one continues to learn about eternal progression and to undertake ordinances that will further one's progress toward exaltation. Unlike other rites of passage which mark off one's previous status from one's post-ritual status, temple rituals replicate and reinforce the important aspects of one's worthy status. If one is in a betwixt/between state in Mormonism, it is on which is constant and which sanctifies the acts of “worthy Saints” in the process. On this see Victor Turner; From Ritual to Theatre (NYC: PAJ Press, 1982).

33. Shepherd and Shepherd; A Kingdom Transformed. The addition of a subtitle to the Church's official 1981 edition of The Book of Mormon, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” is indicative of this increasing emphasis, if for no other reason than evangelical. For an analysis of the transformation of Mormon symbols from more collectivist to individualist, see Shipps; Mormonism and Alexander; Mormonism in Transition.

34. Roland Barthes; Mythologies (NYC: Hill and Wang, 1972).

35. Emile Durkheim; The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (NYC: Free Press, 1969).

36. According to Thomas K. Martin, Tim Heaton, and Steven J. Bahr; Utah in Demographic Perspective: Regional and National Contrasts (SLC: Signature, 1986) Utah has the highest regional (Rocky Mountain area) and national levels of fertility in every category and variable considered (p. 47).

37. This multivocality, of course, is, in part, a product of variations between official versus popular or non-official interpretations of Mormonism and negotiations between these. The former refer to the ideologies and practices of the religious elite and part are part of the enculturation and socialization aspect of any organized religion. The latter refers to individual Church members who evidence non-official readings of church symbols and doctrine. Of course, there are internal and external limitations placed on hermeneutic variability. There are always social, political, economic, cultural, and ideological boundaries in any social and cultural environment. For a collection of essays that attempts to explore the negotiations between hierarchs or intellectuals and laity in religious groups see David Hall (ed.); Lived Religion in America: Toward a History of Practice (Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1997). On cultural negotiation also see Hall; “Narrating Puritanism” in Harry Stout and D.G. Hart; New Directions in American Religious History (NYC: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 51-75. On the non-official Mormon feminism which characterizes some Mormon intellectual elites see Maxine Hanks (ed.); Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism (SLC: Signature, 1992).

38. On key, core, or dominant symbols see Sherry Ortner; “On Key Symbols”; American Anthropologist, 75:5, October 1973, 1338-1346; Ruth Benedict; The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (Tokyo: Tuttle, 1967), the various essays of Clifford Geertz; The Interpretation of Culture (NYC: Basic, 1973), Victor Turner; “Symbols in African Ritual”; Science, vol. 179, no. 4078 (March 1973), Victor Turner; The Forest of Symbols (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1967), Turner; From Ritual to Theatre, Marshall Sahlins; Critique of Practical Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1976), David Schneider; American Kinship: A Cultural Account (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), Aileen Kelly; “In the Promised Land”, New York Review of Books, 29 November 2001, Jeffrey Alexander (ed.); Durkheimian Sociology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), Richard Mulch and Neil Smelser (eds.); Theory of Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), and Donald Kraybill and Carl Bowman; On the Backroad to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren (Baltimore, MD.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).

39. Victor Turner; From Theatre to Anthropology, Gene Halton; “The Cultic Roots of Culture” in Richard Munch and Neal Smelser (eds.); Theory of Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), pp. 29-63, Pierre Bourdieu; Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984), and James Clifford; The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 1988). Personally, I am more sympathetic to Alexander's de Saussurean brand of unmotivated cultural sociology that Halton's motivated Peircean pragmatism. That said I do find Halton's discussion of the embodiment of culture more compelling that Bourdieu's as the latter underplays conscious culture. I also admire Halton’s emphasis on human creativity.

40. D. Michael Quinn; “Religion in the American West” in William Cronon, George Miles, and Jay Gitlin (eds.); Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past (NYC: Norton, 1992), pp. 145-166 and Rodney Stark and William Simms Bainbridge; The Future of Religion: Secularization, Revival, and Cult Formation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985). Utah is about 72% LDS. 27% of Idahoans are LDS. Stark and Bainbridge "Religious Regionalism" in The Future of Religion, pp. 68-96, especially pp. 70, 71, 73-78, found in 1980 that 72.2% of Utahns belonged to a church, mostly the Mormon Church, second only to Rhode Island (75.5%).

41. James Duke (ed.); Latter-Day Saint Social Life (Provo, UT.: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1998), Tim Heaton, Kristen Goodman, and Thomas Holman; “In Search of a Peculiar People: are Mormon Families Really Different” in Cornwall, Heaton, and Young (eds.); Contemporary Mormonism, pp. 87-117, Tim Heaton and Kristen Goodman, “Religion and Family Formation,” Review of Religious Research 26 (1985), pp. 343-359, Martin, Heaton, and Bahr; Utah in Demographic Perspective, Utah Governors Office of Planning and Budget; Utah Demographics Understood: Where We Are, Where We’re We’ve Been, and Where We’re Going (SLC: State of Utah), David Steward; “News About Mormons and Mormonism and the LDS Church” Mormon News 24 April 2001, Statistical Abstract of Utah, 1990 (SLC: University of Utah Bureau of Economic and Business Research, 1990), Utah State Data Center; Utah Data Guide: A Newsletter for Data Users (SLC: Utah Offfice of Planning and Budget, various).

42. Duke (ed.); Latter-Day Saint Social Life, Tim Heaton, Kristen Goodman, and Thomas Holman; “In Search of a Peculiar People: are Mormon Families Really Different” in Cornwall, Heaton, and Young (eds.); Contemporary Mormonism, pp. 87-117, Tim Heaton and Kristen Goodman, “Religion and Family Formation,” Review of Religious Research 26 (1985), pp. 343-359, Heaton “Vital Statistics” in Ludlow (ed.); Encyclopedia, Thornton; “Religion and Fertility: The Case of Mormonism”, Martin, Heaton, and Bahr; Utah in Demographic Perspective, Utah Governors Office of Planning and Budget; Utah Demographics Understood, Steward; “News About Mormons and Mormonism and the LDS Church”, Statistical Abstract of Utah, 1990 (SLC: University of Utah Bureau of Economic and Business Research, 1990), Utah State Data Center; Utah Data Guide.

43. Heaton, and Bahr; Utah in Demographic Perspective, Statistical Abstract of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1990, Utah Governors Office of Planning and Budget; Utah Demographics Understood, and Thomas Alexander; “The Emergence of a Republican Majority in Utah, 1970-1992” in Richard Lowitt (ed.); Politics in the Postwar American West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995), pp. 260-267. Alexander argues that Utah’s swing to the right parallels that of other Western states, though the Great Depression and its liberalizing effect on Utah electoral patterns may be the exception rather than the rule. While this may be accurate he proceeds to point out how “peculiar” Utah is on a number of demographic and political criteria. In other words, Alexander makes clear the critical role Mormon ideology has played in making Mormons a “peculiar people”.

44. On Institutes of Religion see Stanley Peterson; “Institutes of Religion” in Ludlow; Encyclopedia, pp. 684-685. On seminaries see Joe J. Christensen; “Seminaries” in Ludlow; Encyclopedia, pp. 1295-1296.

45. More and more “going on a mission” is being seen by LDS youth as a necessary life cycle choice (unofficial or popular Mormonism). I suspect that the number of Mormons in the culture region going on missions is higher than the numbers from outside the culture region going on missions though I don’t have the statistics to back this up. Again, this is likely emblematic of the fact that the power of the Mormon hierarchy is greater in the culture region than outside of it. “Weird returning missionaries” is a term LDS culture region women use to refer to extremely devoted LDS males returning from their mission. Cultural semantics are important. Jacobsen and Bahr found that there were high rates of church attendance among LDS youth (over 60%). Undoubtedly part of this is a result of the effort the church leaders have made to make it possible for Mormon youth to attend “seminaries” in their pre-college years and “Institutes of Religion” (or BYU, BYU-Hawaii, or BYU-Idaho) in their college years. In “seminaries” and “institutes” students learn about Mormon history, Mormon scriptures, and Mormon doctrine. They have become, especially for those in the Mormon culture region, one important point in a Saint's life cycle. On garments see McDanell; “Mormon Garments, Sacred Clothing, and the Body” in McDannell; Material Christianity. On Mormon folklore see Austin and Alta Fife; Saints of Sage and Saddle: Folklore Among the Mormons (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1956), William Wilson;“The Study of Mormon Folklore: An Uncertain Mirror for Truth,” Dialogue, 22(4), 1989, pp. 95–110, Hector Lee; The Three Nephites: Substance and Significance of Legend in Folklore (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1949). On Mormon music see Michael Hicks; Mormonism and Music: A History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989). One Mormon composer wrote an oratorio based on texts from the Book of Mormon. On Mormons and science see Robert Paul; Science, Religion, and Mormon Cosmology (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992). On Mormon literature see Eugene England and Lavina Fielding Anderson; Tender is the Garden: Essays in Mormon Literature (SLC: Signature, 1996). While much Mormon fiction and poetry is written for the Mormon market, particularly in the Mormon Culture Region, some Mormon writers, like Orson Scott Card, one of the most prominent science fiction writers today, have found a market in wider American culture. Needless to say, Card’s science fiction books are liberally peppered with references to Mormon history and culture. The television SF series Battlestar Galacta was created by a Mormon and is full of references to Mormon ideology (for example, twelve tribes, twelve leaders, a group of people in search of a sacred homeland). On LDS humor see the writings and cartoons of Bob Kirby, Pat Bagley, and Calvin Grondahl amongst them, who write and draw primarily for the LDS market. There is a famous cartoon by Bagley (I think it's Bagley) which is indicative of how you have to know Mormon culture before you can get the Mormon humor. The cartoon is in three panels. The first panel consists of a Mormon elder looking at a coke machine. In the second panel he “lays his hands” on the machine and says “heal”. In the third panel the soda machine has been healed and now contains only decaffeinated Cola. The “Word of Wisdom” prohibits the drinking of caffeinated cola. There are no caffeinated beverages on the BYU campus.

46. Rosabeth Moss Kanter (Commitment and Community (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 1972)) argues that commitment to communes can be seen in individual expressions of sacrifice, investment, renunciation, communion, mortification, and transcendence. Donald Kraybill (The Riddle of Amish Culture (Baltimore, MD.: Johns Hopkins University Press, revised edition, 2001)) stresses decisive leadership, comprehensive socialization, controlled interaction with outsiders, social sanctions, and symbolization of core values. Finke and Stark; The Churching of America, stress the role membership requirements play in religious groups. They suggest that in a pluralistic environment the more a church requires of its members, the greater its growth. Most of these factors are present in Mormon culture and many Mennonite, Amish, Hutterite, Quaker, and evangelical communities and cultures. Asking more of its members, by the way, has not led to growth in Anabaptist and Quaker communities. Being countercultural may be hazardous to group growth.

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