Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-Day Saints, 1890-1930

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University of Illinois Press, 1996 - Religion - 399 pages
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A classic study of an influential American religion....Provides both the specialist in religion and the general reader with a thoughtful history of this complex religion.
 

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Mormonism in transition: a history of the Latter-Day Saints, 1890-1930

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Alexander's clearly written history covers a period of Mormonism's development not usually examined despite its importance. The book, aptly titled, is essential to an understanding of the evolution of ... Read full review

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"From a persecuted, apocalyptic, polygamous sect in the nineteenth century, the Latter-day Saints had become an increasingly respected church".
This book focuses mainly on the post polygamy period
with all the difficult problems that resulted from the many issues the church was facing: Manifesto #1, the U.S. government, tithing + debt, the differing views of the Apostles, Manifesto #2, and politics at all levels. All of this resulting in an isolated, insular Mormonism gaining acceptance as it enters mainstream Christianity. This contrasting significantly from a relatively recent past of isolation and denouncing of the other Christian sects.
Interesting topics covered:
* "Only 2% of the population practised polygamy". However, this population included children. When applied to just the adults, this number rises to 23%.
* The process of the Word of Wisdom becoming compulsory - Aside, back in 1917, the church took a stance against Coca Cola as being part of the Word of Wisdom (and the debate has raged ever since). In Aug 2012, the church officially published a statement that caffeine is *not* mentioned in the Word of Wisdom and hence cola drinks are fine.
* A significant section covered the raging debate in the early 1900's regarding evolution.
* The Church authorities debate regarding the Biblical accounts being literal or figurative e.g. Adam & Eve, the Flood, Jonah.
* Members were often re-baptised for health reasons (in place of a priesthood blessing today).
* The decline of the Pentecostal practice of speaking in tongues - gradually replaced by the Fast and Testimony meeting.
* The de-emphasis on the Second Coming being imminent.
* Sisters were authorised to give healing blessings to other sisters, as this power was granted to them in the endowment ceremony.
* Discusses the changes to the lengthy Temple endowment ceremony (to reduce it down from 8+ hours) and the alterations to the temple garments.
Conclusion: This book, even though the author is pro-Mormon, demonstrates significantly that the organisation, administration and evolution of LDS structure, procedures and doctrine are a result of the good intentions of men. As such, the state of Mormonism in the 1930's varies so much from the state of affairs in the 1830-50's as established by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, as to highlight to all but the blind believer that Man, not God is running this organisation.
 

Contents

The 1890s and the Challenge to the Mormon World View
3
The Search for a Pluralistic Political System 19001911
16
The Politics of Change and Reconciliation 191230
37
Recurrent Encounters with Plural Marriage
60
The Temporal Kingdom
74
Administrative Modernization 19001918
93
New Directions in Church Administration 191830
116
The Church Auxiliary Organizations
125
The Church and Its Missions
212
Reshaping the Latterday Saint Image
239
The Adoption of a New Interpretation of the Word of Wisdom
258
Definition and Explication of Church Doctrine
272
Epilogue
307
Appendix
311
Notes
317
Selected Bibliography
371

Definition of a Role for the Church Educational System
157
Cooperation and Individualism in Mormon Society
180

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About the author (1996)

Thomas G. Alexander is Lemuel Hardison Redd Jr. Professor of Western American History at Brigham Young University.

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