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Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930 Paperback – October 1, 1996

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Alexander's clearly written history covers a period of Mormonism's development not usually examined despite its importance. The book, aptly titled, is essential to an understanding of the evolution of modern Mormonism. Portraying the turn-of-the-century church in a state of flux, Alexander demonstrates the process of solidification of its organizational structure, external affairs policy, and cultural institutions over the 30 years that followed. Thoroughly documenting his arguments, he answers many questions about the origins of contemporary Mormon practices. Recommended for college and university libraries. David S. Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A new bibliography and foreword expand this volume and reinforce its importance. "A classic study of an influential American religion... Provides both the specialist in religion and the general reader a thoughtful history of this complex religion." -- Colleen McDannell, University of Utah "A must read for any serious student of this 'peculiar people' and Western history." -- Stanley B. Kimball, Journal of the West "Thoughtful... An objective examination of the church's changing position on political involvement, plural marriage, business relations, administrative reorganization, doctrinal redefinition, missionary work, and education." -- N. J. Bender, Choice "Will be required reading for all historians of Mormonism for some time to come." -- William D. Russell, Journal of American History "This is by far the most important book on this crucial period in LDS history." -- Jan Shipps, author of Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition "A work of careful and prodigious scholarship." -- Leonard J. Arrington, author of Brigham Young: American Moses "Clearly fills a tremendous void in the history of Mormonism." -- Klaus J. Hansen, author of Mormonism and the American Experience [PROOFED] "A splendid example of Mormon historical scholarship at its best." -- B. Carmon Hardy, Utah Historical Quarterly

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; Rep Sub edition (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252065786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252065781
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,270,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Anyone even slightly familiar with the beliefs, practices and culture of the LDS church in the time of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and with LDS beliefs, practices and culture today will note a number of differences.
It turns out that the period from 1900 to 1930, which is the subject of this book, was a watershed of cultural change for the Church. Before 1900, polygamy was a pillar of the social organization of the Church. Women were widely believed to acquire the priesthood authority of their husband through endowment and marriage. The Word of Wisdom was counsel, not systematically enforced -- and more than one early prophet thought that the most important element of the Word of Wisdom was the injunction not to eat meat! And so on. By 1930, in all these (and other) respects, the Church looked like the Church of today.
Whatever you think of the changes (personally, and polygamy aside, I find the Church of the nineteenth century pretty seductive), the history is interesting. The book is well written, the authors' viewpoint objective (i.e., not hostile to or critical of the Church, and also not fawning salvation history). Add it to your Church History library today.
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Format: Paperback
My daughter bought this book for a church history class at BYU. When she was done with it, I began to browse, and got hooked. It provides an "institutional memory" for the interworkings of politics, social events, and the church at the turn of the century. That institutional memory applies amazingly well to the present time of rapid growth and change in the church.
Thomas G. Alexander is a Lemuel Hardison Redd Jr. Professor of American History at Brigham Young University, and Stephen J. Stein is a Chancellors' Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University.
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"From a persecuted, apocalyptic, polygamous sect in the nineteenth century, the Latter-day Saints had become an increasingly respected church".

This book focuses mainly on the post polygamy period with all the difficult problems that resulted from the many issues the church was facing: Manifesto #1, the U.S. government, tithing + debt, the differing views of the Apostles, Manifesto #2, and politics at all levels. All of this resulting in an isolated, insular Mormonism gaining acceptance as it enters mainstream Christianity. This contrasting significantly from a relatively recent past of isolation and denouncing of the other Christian sects.

Interesting topics covered:

* "Only 2% of the population practised polygamy". However, this population included children. When applied to just the adults, this number rises to 23%.
* The process of the Word of Wisdom becoming compulsory - Aside, back in 1917, the church took a stance against Coca Cola as being part of the Word of Wisdom (and the debate has raged ever since). In Aug 2012, the church officially published a statement that caffeine is *not* mentioned in the Word of Wisdom and hence cola drinks are fine.
* A significant section covered the raging debate in the early 1900's regarding evolution.
* The Church authorities debate regarding the Biblical accounts being literal or figurative e.g. Adam & Eve, the Flood, Jonah.
* Members were often re-baptised for health reasons (in place of a priesthood blessing today).
* The decline of the Pentecostal practice of speaking in tongues - gradually replaced by the Fast and Testimony meeting.
* The de-emphasis on the Second Coming being imminent.
Read more ›
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