Recreating Utopia in the Desert: A Sectarian Challenge to Modern Mormonism

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SUNY Press, 1988 - Social Science - 225 pages
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Recreating Utopia in the Desert: A Sectarian Challenge to Modern Mormonism is the account of a millenarian sect, officially known as the Aaronic Order, one of the main splinter groups of the Mormon Church. Their story tells us much about the social tensions, particularly along class lines, that have emerged in Mormonism.
The Aaronic Order, or Levites, emerged as the Mormon Church evolved from a religious utopia in the Midwest, to a near nation-state in the Intermountain West, to finally an international theocratic corporation. Drawing upon the concept of revitalization movements, the Levite sect is viewed as an attempt by working-class Mormons to resurrect the communitarian ideals they perceived as characteristic of earlier nineteenth-century Mormonism. From their beginnings in the Depression, the Levites have developed a series of cooperative and communal ventures in Utah, based upon the revelations of Maurice Glendenning.
We see in the Levites the seemingly inevitable processes of institutionalization and fission characterizing revitalization movements that survive. By explaining the impetus for the development of sectarian groups such as the Levites, the author offers important insights for the discussion of religious communitarianism and schizmatic movements in contemporary religion.
 

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Contents

The Rise and Institutionalization of Mormonism
1
The Aaronic Order as a Modern Revitalization Movement
43
The Levite Conversion Experience
90
The Levite Community The Search for Gemeinschaft
119
The Eskdale Commune An Enactment of Levite Ideals
139
The Development of the Aaronic Order as a Mormon Sect
165
Epilogue
191
Appendix
201
Notes
205
References
207
Index
221
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About the author (1988)

Hans A. Baer is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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