Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction, Part 1

Richard Lyman Bushman's Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2008) provides a nifty little overview of the history, belief system and community practices of Mormons. It's well worth a gander.

There's so much to delve into here! Let's just pop off a few items for starters.

Mormons do not believe in the Holy Trinity as a three-in-one; rather, they believe in a social trinity -- "meaning the three beings of the Godhead are blended in heart and mind like extremely close friends but are not one being. Even more radically, [Joseph] Smith declared that the Father and Son were persons with human forms" (page 6).

Prior to the American Civil War, Mormons migrated westward in the US from New York, and had already begun international missionary work. They were sporadically attacked along the way, perceived as a threat by some other sects and a hodgepodge of enemies. Joseph Smith, Jr., the man who began the Mormon movement, was murdered by a mob of American vigilantes in Carthage, Illinois, in 1844 -- the "good old days" to some, even in 2011.  

After Smith's death, the Mormons split into factions. Brigham Young led one group (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS) to Deseret/Utah. Joseph Smith III and associates formed the Reorganized  Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS), based in Zion/Independence, Missouri.  Another group (the Strangites) eventually made James Jesse Strang "King of the Mormons" until he was shot in the back on Beaver Island, Michigan, in 1856. Now there's a story worth pursuing, Michiganders. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) continued the practice of polygamy after 1890 (when the bigger groups "renounced" the practice) and continue to do so, where feasible, in the 21st century, just as some Muslims do.

Today's Rune: Fertility.  

1 comment:

jodi said...

Erik, I can honestly say that I do not personally know one single Mormon! I grew up near a village of Amish and Mennonite, altho I realize that they are not even closely related!