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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Reviews I i6g and D. Michael Quinn, and a generally balanced and well researched investigation of "The Mormon Search for Community in the Modern World/' by James B. Allen. Concentrating on the twentieth century challenge "to be 'in the world but not of it/ " Allen rightly stresses the success of the Church's struggle to develop a truly international frame of reference. His treatment of Black Americans and their relationship to twentieth century Mormonism leaves much to be desired, however. After stating that race relations and opposition to Vietnam were the two major social issues of the previous decade, Allen expends half a page on race and Mormonism followed by three pages on Vietnam and the Church. The content of the remarks on race is little better. Following the statement that the Church continues withholding the priesthood from "the Negro race," Allen patronizingly comments, the result was "that zealous reformers throughout the country found in this explosive issue a continuing basis for attacks upon the Church." Allen's further comments are more balanced but given the critical nature of the problem for a major religious denomination with nearly two million American members, more extensive treatment of the issues involved could reasonably have been expected. The terrible abuse and prejudice endured by earlier generations of Mormons in America tinges this matter with tragic irony. These remarks are meant less as criticism of Allen's otherwise fine essay than as a reminder of the necessity for greater sensitivity. Of the remaining five essays, three are devoted to internal divisions. "The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Moderate Mormons," by Alma R. Blair, is an intriguing study, mainly from primary sources, of the formation of the Reorganized Church focusing on the role of Joseph Smith III in shaping the nature and direction of the Church. "Theocratic-Democracy: Philosopher King in the Reorganization," by Paul M. Edwards, continues the story of the Reorganized Church by following the career of Joseph Smith Ill's son, Frederick M. Smith, beginning with his unanimous request to accept the Presidency of the Church by the 1915 Conference. "King James Strang: Joseph Smith's Successor?" by William D. Russell is a fascinating biographical sketch of James J. Strang (1813-56), the founder of the Strangite wing. The text of his alleged "letter of appointment" to succeed Joseph Smith is included as an appendix to the essay. The remaining two essays—one by Davis Bitton and one by Klaus Hansen—are with Flanders' the best essays in the collection. Bitton's "Early Mormon Lifestyles; or the Saints as Human Beings" is a straightforward probe of the life of "the common people" of Mormonism, accenting place, food, shelter, family, work and play, and worship. Hansen's introduction to the volume, "Mormonism and American Culture: Some Tentative Hypotheses," is a provocative attempt to locate the place of Mormonism within the larger cultural geography of nineteenth century America. Reminiscent of a number of recent interpretations of a variety of groups, Hansen sees Mormonism as attractive to those people "who were left out of the hierarchy of values in the larger American society." Overall, this is a very good collection of essays and provides a convenient summation of much of the best of recent scholarship on Mormonism in the nineteenth century. The title is a bit misleading, given the existence of Alexander Campbell and his followers. It would have been helpful to have an index, and more importantly a bibliography would truly have been a significant contribution, precisely because so many of the studies relied upon by the authors are unfamiliar to most