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The Mormon People: The Making of an American…
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The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith (2012)

by Matthew Bowman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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A very objective history of a religion that many Americans simply don't know too much about, stereotypes, politicians, and musicals notwithstanding. Filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge.

Crams a good deal into some 200 pages - from the early historical struggles of the church and how it gradually became more integrated into American life. Discusses its controversies (polygamy, early territorial clashes) as well as its similarities to 'main-stream' Protestant Christianity - ethics, family life, missionary work, etc.

Also has a very nice bibliography, from which I will gleefully steal further suggestions. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
The history of the church from the beginning until today gives the reader a solid footing in understanding the church. Fairly easy to read for the lay reader, I found I understood the people and the faith better. Recommended for those wanting to develop a better understanding.
  oldbookswine | Sep 22, 2012 |
Typically, when popular publishers venture into Mormonism, it is to reveal salacious or scandalous Mormon secrets (e.g., Laake's Secret Ceremonies; Beck's Leaving the Saints, Davis' Sins of Brother Curtis, Naifeh's Mormon Murders, or Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven). This Random House title brings a scholarly, non-judgmental history of Mormonism that, if not for the possibility that Mormon Mitt Romney might win the Republican nominee, might have landed the author a spot in an academic press. Indeed, Bowman is a professor, and while some of the history has been said before (notably the work of Jan Shipps or Fawn Brodie), his unique perspective is to study how the fundamental tenets of Mormonism have been refocused, redefined, and reprioritized over time in the hands of specific men in response to changes in American religious, political, and cultural beliefs. As Mormon beliefs transition from polygamy to self-determination to obedience, Bowman shows how those ideas set the LDS church either in opposition to or in harmony with American society. Particular attention is given to Mormonism in the time of the Progressive Era, an often-underexamined era of LDS history. Bowman, who hails from Bountiful, Utah, and serves as associate editor for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, has created a meticulously researched, emotionally-neutral story of the coming of age of America and its largest homegrown religion. Recommended. (42) ( )
  activelearning | Feb 5, 2012 |
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Matthew Bowmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deakins, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On a Monday morning in November 1835 a slendar man in his middle forties, curiously dressed in a sea-green coat and pants and sporting a curling grey beard, picked his way into the muddy frontier town of Kirtland, Ohio, twenty miles northeast of Cleveland along the Chagrin River.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679644903, Hardcover)

With Mormonism on the verge of an unprecedented cultural and political breakthrough, an eminent scholar of American evangelicalism explores the history and reflects on the future of this native-born American faith and its connection to the life of the nation.
 
In 1830, a young seer and sometime treasure hunter named Joseph Smith began organizing adherents into a new religious community that would come to be called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (and known informally as the Mormons). One of the nascent faith’s early initiates was a twenty-three-year-old Ohio farmer named Parley Pratt, the distant grandfather of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. In The Mormon People, religious historian Matthew Bowman peels back the curtain on more than 180 years of Mormon history and doctrine. He recounts the church’s origin and development, explains how Mormonism came to be one of the fastest-growing religions in the world by the turn of twenty-first-century, and ably sets the scene for a 2012 presidential election that has the potential to mark a major turning point in the way this “all-American” faith is perceived by the wider American public—and internationally.
 
Mormonism started as a radical movement, with a profoundly transformative vision of American society that was rooted in a form of Christian socialism. Over the ensuing centuries, Bowman demonstrates, that vision has evolved—and with it the esteem in which Mormons have been held in the eyes of their countrymen. Admired on the one hand as hardworking paragons of family values, Mormons have also been derided as oddballs and persecuted as polygamists, heretics, and zealots clad in “magic underwear.” Even today, the place of Mormonism in public life continues to generate heated debate on both sides of the political divide. Polls show widespread unease at the prospect of a Mormon president. Yet the faith has never been more popular. Today there are about 14 million Mormons in the world, fewer than half of whom live inside the United States. It is a church with a powerful sense of its own identity and an uneasy sense of its relationship with the main line of American culture.
 
Mormons will surely play an even greater role in American civic life in the years ahead. In such a time, The Mormon People comes as a vital addition to the corpus of American religious history—a frank and fair-minded demystification of a faith that remains a mystery for many.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:55 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

With Mormonism on the verge of an unprecedented cultural and political breakthrough, an eminent scholar of American evangelicalism explores the history and reflects on the future of this native-born American faith and its connection to the life of the nation. In 1830, a young seer named Joseph Smith began organizing adherents into a new religious community that would come to be called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known informally as the Mormons). Here, religious historian Matthew Bowman presents more than 180 years of Mormon history and doctrine. He recounts the church's origin and development, explains how Mormonism came to be one of the fastest-growing religions in the world by the turn of the 21st century, and sets the scene for a 2012 presidential election that has the potential to mark a major turning point in the way this faith is perceived by the wider American public--and internationally.--From publisher description.… (more)

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