Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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continue its remarkable career of developing man's potential or whether it and many of its most precious human values will vanish from the scene. These books ought to be read in conjunction with one another. Both are must reading for those who desire a better understanding of the situations surrounding man's religious efforts at dealing with this crisis. Both books are well written, employing a clear and lucid style, remarkably free from technical jargon given the fact that they were written from a sociological vantage point and that the author says he has employed the conceptual tools of the social scientist. How Lovely was the Morning Dean C. Jessee Joseph Smith's First Vision: The First Vision in its Historical Context. By Milton V. Back-man, Jr. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, Inc., 1971. 209 pp. $3.50. Dean C. Jessee is on the staff of the Church Historian's Office, Salt Lake City. Intensive research in the area of Mormon origins in New York in recent years has resulted in a significant addition to the source material available to scholars. One who has contributed significantly to this effort — having done much field work in the area — is Dr. Milton Backman, Jr. of Brigham Young University. In six chapters and an extensive appendix, his latest book, Joseph Smith's First Vision, presents valuable information on the historical setting of Mormonism and a synthesis of much that has been written about Joseph Smith's First Vision. Two chapters trace the expansion of American settlement into western New York from the time of its habitation by the Iroquois Indians to the arrival of the Smith family in the Palmyra area in 1816. One of the main contributions of the book is the detailed picture of the Genesee frontier civilization that became the birthplace of Mormonism. In "Awakenings in the Burned-Over District," the author considers the religious revivalism that began with the Methodists and spread "among all the sects in that region of country." He observes that "it is difficult to determine precisely what Joseph Smith meant when he said that there was unusual religious excitement in the place where he lived," but he presents evidence to show that there were "substantial increases in church membership in many sections of western New York at the time of the First Vision." In analyzing the theological arguments that divided Christian churches and precipitated the "war of words and tumult of opinions," as described by Joseph Smith, Dr. Backman identifies the main issues contributing to the conflict under the headings of Baptism, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, The Bible vs. Modern Revelation, Trinitarianism vs. Arianism, and Divine Authority. Chapter five, entitled "Recitals of the First Vision," contains a brief consideration of the Hurlbut-Howe-Turner charges against the integrity and character of Joseph Smith and his family. The author points to the incon- 85