LDS in the USA
Mormonism and the Making of American Culture
Publication Year: 2012
From the politics of Glenn Beck to reality television's Big Love and the hit Broadway show The Book of Mormon, Mormons have become a recognizable staple of mainstream popular culture. And while most Americans are well aware of the existence of Mormonism—and some of the often exaggerated myths about Mormonism—the religion's public influence has been sorely understudied.
Lee Trepanier and Lynita K. Newswander move beyond clichéd and stereotypical portrayals of Mormonism to unpack the significant and sometimes surprising roles Mormons have played in the building of modern America. Moving from popular culture to politics to the Mormon influence in social controversies, LDS in the USA reveals Mormonism to be quintessentially American—both firmly rooted in American tradition and free to engage in the public square.
Trepanier and Newswander examine the intersection of the tension between the nation's sometimes bizarre understanding of Mormon belief and the suspicious acceptance of the most well known Mormons into the American public identity. Readers are consistently challenged to abandon popular perceptions in order to embrace more fully the fascinating importance of this American religion.
Published by: Baylor University Press
Half Title Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Although our names are listed as the authors, this book is the culmination of the shared efforts of our families, friends, and colleagues. To all of these people we certainly want to extend thanks for their support, patience, and good graces while we worked to complete this book. ...
Introduction: For Another Thousand Years
The role of Mormonism in America has been simultaneously both exaggerated and undervalued. On the one hand, Mormons are seen with suspicion as part of a secret organization that seeks domination over the United States; on the other hand, they are marginalized and often excluded from national conversations about religion, culture, and politics in America. ...
1. Mormons in the American Imagination
The portrayal of Mormons in American mainstream popular culture has followed two extremes: they are seen either as the epitome of all-American and wholesome values of family, clean living, and material success or as secretive, strange, and suspicious, with sacred temple rites, special garments, and a murky past that includes polygamy. ...
2. An American Marriage
The portrayals of the Mormon family in popular culture are schizophrenic: either a prosperous and proud, self-congratulatory nuclear family (like the Osmonds) or a secretive cult in which the husbands lead double lives of public monogamy and private polygamy (as in Big Love).1 ...
3. The Political Kingdom of God
As Mitt Romney ran for the 2008 Republican nomination for the presidency, Damon Linker of the New Republic and Richard Lyman Bushman of Columbia University conducted a provocative exchange about whether the American public has anything to fear from a Mormon president. ...
4. An American Theology
The contemporary importance of religion is evident in the abundance of religious organizations active in American politics and in attempting to define American culture. The political scientist Eldon J. Eisenach describes two cases where religion plays a role in both American politics and culture.1 ...
5. Mormonism as the American Narrative
When Alexis de Tocqueville arrived in America in 1831, he was immediately struck by its intense “religious atmosphere.”1 He had the luck to arrive in New York City at the height of the religious activity known as the Second Great Awakening, and he observed the democratic nature of American religion from one extreme to another as he traveled across the nation: ...
Conclusion: The Most American of Religions
After reviewing the contributions that Mormonism has made to American civilization in such areas as popular culture, national politics, and social controversies, one could argue that Mormonism is the most American of all of the American religions—not only because it is indigenous to this country and cedes a special place to America in its theology, ...
Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2012
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