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Between Pulpit and Pew

The Supernatural World in Mormon History and Folklore

edited by W. Paul Reeve and Michael Scott Van Wagenen

Publication Year: 2011

Mormons gave distinctive meanings to supernatural legends and events, but their narratives incorporated motifs found in many cultures. Many such historical legends and beliefs found adherents down to the present. This collection employs folklore to illuminate the cultural and religious history of a people.

Published by: Utah State University Press

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pp. vii-x

It is significant that historians, whose work is to gather facts to chronicle and interpret the past, have chosen to better understand the history of Mormons in Utah by looking at their folklore, including their expressions of the supernatural. This interdisciplinary approach, combining the methods of history and folklore studies, adds a new...

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1. Between Pulpit and Pew: Where History and Lore Intersect

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pp. 1-16

In 1995, astronomer Carl Sagan wrote the best-selling book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. According to Sagan, the modern world could yet be set free from its enduring state of ignorance through the rejection of irrational belief and the acceptance of the scientific method.

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2. A Mormon Bigfoot: David Patten’s Cain and the Conception of Evil in LDS Folklore

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pp. 17-39

In the spring of 1835, while serving a mission in Tennessee and staying with the family of Abraham O. Smoot, a future stake president in and mayor of Salt Lake City and Provo, the LDS apostle David W. Patten, claimed to have seen Cain. Lycurgus Wilson’s 1900 biography of Patten reprinted a letter Smoot sent to Joseph F. Smith in...

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3. “As Ugly as Evil,” and “As Wicked as Hell”: Gadianton Robbers and the Legend Process among the Mormons

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pp. 40-65

On a spring day in 1874, carpenter Charles Pulsipher busied himself putting the finishing touches on a new home in the town of Hebron in southwestern Utah. Things were likely calm and pleasant as Pulsipher went about his work in this small Mormon ranching community, rooted in the south end of the Escalante Desert...

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4. Raising the Dead: Mormons, Evangelicals, and Miracles in America

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pp. 66-96

The power to raise the dead was among the gifts Christ gave his twelve apostles. The Gospel of Matthew records that he “commanded them, saying, Go . . . and as ye go, preach, saying ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils; freely ye have received, freely give.’” Later, Paul...

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5. Singular Phenomena: The Evolving Mormon Interpretation of Unidentified Flying Objects

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pp. 97-124

For all of its modern-day resonance, the above narrative is not a description of a human-alien encounter from the twenty-first century. Instead, this is an 1841 article from Times and Seasons, the official newspaper of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Purported to be the visionary dream of a “believer in the...

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6. A Currency of Faith: Taking Stock in Utah County’s Dream Mine

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pp. 125-158

In May 2007, a crowd assembled in the convention hall at the veterans’ center in Spanish Fork, Utah, for the Relief Mine Company’s annual stockholders’ meeting. An almost festive air preceded the official meeting, as about one hundred people gathered, investors in the company who had come to hear the annual financial report...

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7. A Nessie in Mormon Country

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pp. 159-167

The twenty-seven-year-old son of Mormon apostle Charles C. Rich further explained that the local Indians believed in a “monster animal” that had been known to capture and carry away individuals who swam in the lake. Although the Indians had not seen the monster in several years, they described it as being serpentine with legs about eighteen...

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8. Walking on Water: Nineteenth-Century Prophets and a Legend of Religious Imposture

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pp. 168-212

“The Biblical statement from John 4:44, ‘A prophet hath no honor in his own country,’ is certainly true of Joseph Smith.”² So spoke Charles J. Decker, town historian of Afton, New York, during a lecture sponsored by the Presbytery of Susquehanna Valley in 1977, nearly 150 years after Smith had left the area. Like most...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 213-228


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pp. 229-230


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pp. 231-243

E-ISBN-13: 9780874218237
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874218381

Page Count: 170
Illustrations: none
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1st Edition