Contemporary Mormonism: Latter-day Saints in Modern America

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Overview

Much misunderstood, Mormonism had a colorful beginning in the 19th century, as a visionary named Joseph Smith founded and built a community of believers with their own unique faith. In the late-20th century, the church had to come to terms with its own growth and organization, as well as with the increasing pervasiveness of globalization, secularization, and cultural changes. Today Mormonism is one of the major religions in America, and continues to grow internationally. However, though the church itself remains strong, it is elusive to those of other faiths. Here, a seasoned author and third-generation Mormon sheds light on the everyday lives and practices of faithful Mormons. Bushman's readers will come away with a more thorough appreciation of what it means to be Mormon in the modern world.

Much misunderstood, Mormonism had a colorful beginning in the 19th century, as a visionary named Joseph Smith founded and built a community of believers with their own unique faith. In the late-20th century, the church had to come to terms with its own growth and organization, as well as with the increasing pervasiveness of globalization, secularization, and cultural changes. Today Mormonism is one of the major religions in America, and one that continues to grow internationally. However, though the church itself remains strong, it is elusive to those of other faiths. Here, a seasoned author and third-generation Mormon sheds light on the everyday lives and practices of faithful Mormons. Bushman's readers will come away with a more thorough appreciation of what it means to be Mormon in the modern world.

Following Brigham Young into the Great Basin and founding communities that have endured for over 100 years, Mormons have forged a rich history in this country even as they built communities around the world. But the origins of this faith and those who adhere to it remain mysterious to many in the United States. Bushman allows readers a vivid glimpse into the lives of Mormons—their beliefs, rituals, and practices, as well as their views on race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and sexual orientation. The voices of actual Mormons reveal much about their inspiration, devotion, patriotism, individualism, and conservatism. With its mythical history and unlikely success, many wonder what has made this religion endure through the years. Here, readers will find answers to their questions about what it means to be Mormon in contemporary America.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A Mormon herself, Bushman describes contemporary practices in the religion through her own experiences, the experiences of others, and church documents. She explains the organization of the church, its services, beliefs, ideas about family structure, missionary endeavors, temples, genealogical activities, and issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation. She also discusses the church in public life, its intellectual activities, and Salt Lake City."

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Reference & Research Book News

"[T]his book is a welcome addition to the already burgeoning literature about the Mormons. Claudia Bushman allows Mormons themselves to speak as she looks at such topics as identity, families, missionary experience, temples, race, gender and sexual orientation, and intellectual activities. In treating such commonplace worship as fast-and-testimony meeting, Bushman brings a refreshingly straightforward style."

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Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

"Bushman offers a usable, essentially popular introduction to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with unique attention to the character of the church today. Bushman covers familiar historical and theological ground (dealt with more completely in other books), but uses interviews with church members and very recent news items to retain a focus on today's church throughout the book. Few books are as able to contextualize aspects (mundane, practical, political) of the contemporary church against the historical/theological backdrop in a way that is accessible and fair to the uninitiated. Bushman is a believing Mormon and aspects of the book are perhaps informed by this fact; the diversity of the church she emphasizes is real, for example, but her typical congregations would likely appear quite unusual to the average American Mormon and basically parallel the church's public relations materials. However, she manages to deal with a wide variety of often controversial subjects in an honest way….Recommended. General and undergraduate collections."

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Choice

"The text is readable, and the chapters cover almost everything that one would want to know about contemporary Mormonism….Overall this is an excellent book for someone trying to gain a balanced understanding of Mormonism as it is today."

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Catholic Library World

"This book is a welcome addition to a growing list of solid introductory works on the Latter-day Saints….Claudia Bushman is among the most productive and knowledgeable scholars in the field of Mormon studies today….This is a truly engaging introduction to real life among today's Mormons in the United States. It deserves widespread adoption in college classes, and it will inform general readers from a grassroots perspective…."

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BYU Studies

"Written by a leading Mormon historian, this book provides insight into attitudes, policies, and beliefs of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

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VOYA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275989330
  • Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

CLAUDIA L. BUSHMAN is Professor of American Studies at Columbia University and the author of Mormons in America, Building the Kingdom: A History of Mormons in America, and other books and articles. She is the former director of the Delaware Heritage Commission.

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Table of Contents

1 Encountering the Mormons 1
2 Identity, beliefs, and organization 13
3 Families 37
4 The missionary experience and the International Church 57
5 Temples and genealogy 75
6 Race, ethnicity, and class 91
7 Gender and sexual orientation 111
8 The public faces of Mormonism 131
9 The intellectual activity of recent years 147
10 The city of Zion 163
11 The Church at one hundred and seventy-five 177
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