Tag Archives: religion

What Were the Origins of Mormon/Non-Mormon Conflict in 1840s Nauvoo?


The non-Mormons of Hancock County, Illinois, in the early 1840s probably disliked the Mormons from the first, in the same way that most Americans have generally disliked what they have viewed as religious fanaticism, but they were initially disposed toward toleration … Continue reading

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The Latter-day Saint Movement and the Concept of a “Chosen People”


Perhaps the single most important tenet of Joseph Smith Jr.’s (1805-1844) theology in founding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)  was the identification of his followers as a “latter-day Israel.” This identification drove much of the rest of … Continue reading

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Mormon Nauvoo in the Context of Post-Colonial Studies


To an extent underappreciated by historians, the Mormon experience in Nauvoo between 1839 and 1846 represents an expression of colonialism and its antithesis. The field of post-colonial studies has been gaining prominence since the 1970s. While historians and others debate the … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Junk Science”


Junk Science: How Politicians, Corporations, and Other Hucksters Betray Us. By Dan Agin. New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2006. I love these type of books because they allow me to feel superior. I and the author, at least … Continue reading

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The Conspiracy Motif and the Nineteenth Century RLDS Church


While the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) emerged from elements in the early Mormon movement that accepted more mainstream American religious and social ideals its membership also spun its own formidable conspiracy theory. An early and … Continue reading

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Joseph Smith, Mormonism, and the Idea of Apostasy and Restoration


Virtually since the beginning of the Latter-day Saint church in 1830 its founder, Joseph Smith Jr., had made strong linkages between ancient Israel and the modern Mormon era. Gathering a small group of stalwart followers in upstate New York, Smith sent … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “Faith, Science, and Understanding”


Faith, Science, and Understanding. By John Polkinghorne. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000. This book is a collection of lectures and essays pieced together to explore the themes exemplified in the title. At sum, each essay considers the relationship … Continue reading

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Wednesday’s Book Review: “The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844”


The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844. By John L. Brooke. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994). 421 pages, $35.00, hardcover. Now twenty years old, this work is still a stunningly significant book. It is a classic in Mormon … Continue reading

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The Assassination of Joseph Smith Jr.: Meanings and Interpretations


  I was at a local party the other night and ended up in conversation with a professor who teaches early nineteenth century history about Joseph Smith Jr. and early Mormonism. Our conversation turned to Smith’s assassination at Carthage, Illinois, … Continue reading

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The Conspiracy Motif in Early Mormonism


A persistent theme in American history is the belief in conspiracy, whether it is justified or not. Conspiracy ideas shape our modern society, casting doubt on many areas of public and private life. From the denial of the Moon landings … Continue reading

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