By Terryl L. Givens
In People of Paradox, Terryl Givens lines the increase and improvement of Mormon tradition from the times of Joseph Smith in upstate manhattan, via Brigham Young's founding of the Territory of Deseret at the shorelines of serious Salt Lake, to the unfold of the Latter-Day Saints worldwide.
through the final century and a part, Givens notes, specified traditions have emerged one of the Latter-Day Saints, formed by means of dynamic tensions--or paradoxes--that provide Mormon cultural expression a lot of its energy. here's a faith formed via a inflexible authoritarian hierarchy and radical individualism; through prophetic sure bet and a party of studying and highbrow research; by means of lifestyles in exile and a craving for integration and popularity by means of the bigger international. Givens divides Mormon background into classes, separated by means of the renunciation of polygamy in 1890. In each one, he explores the lifetime of the brain, the emphasis on schooling, the significance of structure and concrete making plans (so obvious in Salt Lake urban and Mormon temples round the world), and Mormon accomplishments in track and dance, theater, movie, literature, and the visible arts. He situates such cultural practices within the context of the society of the bigger state and, in additional contemporary years, the area. at the present time, he observes, purely fourteen percentage of Mormon believers stay within the usa.
Mormonism hasn't ever been extra trendy in public lifestyles. yet there's a wealthy internal existence underneath the general public floor, one deftly captured during this sympathetic, nuanced account through a number one authority on Mormon historical past and idea.
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Additional resources for People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture
25 His insistence that his pronouncements did not always carry prophetic weight was not just a safety net or a convenient means of prudent retreat if things didn’t work out. It meant that the process, the ongoing, dynamic engagement, the exploring, questing, provoking dialectical encounter with tradition, with boundaries, and with normative thinking should not be trammeled by or impeded with clerks, scribes, and disciples looking for a ﬁnal word, interrupting a productive process of reﬂection, contestation, and creation.
A related tension not always fully visible to outsiders is one in which Mormons publicly express absolute certitude about the great issues of faith and existence, but may privately harbor doubts for which Mormon culture has few avenues of sanctioned expression. All faiths may have their closet doubters. But Mormonism’s lay ministry, congregational participation in sermons, public testimony meetings, and highly social, closely knit communities make personal belief fairly transparent, and it is difﬁcult if not impossible to sidestep expressions of conviction in a culture so saturated in the language of religious certainty.
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain,’’ Joseph said, ‘‘and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, . . the authority of perjured executives . . ’’21 This is not just a description of his character development, but of his intellectual modus operandi: exploring the limits, challenging conventional categories, and dynamic engagement with the boundaries—all in the interest of productive provocation.