Thursday, August 9, 2012
The Mormonizing of America (book review)
I have to admit that I've never really read or studied much in-depth about the Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). I was vaguely familiar with some of their beliefs, primarily how those beliefs differ from my own Christian beliefs. With the increase in the number of Mormons rising to prominence in the United States (including a candidate for president), I have heard more and more discussions about these differences. So, when I was approached by Somersault Media and asked if I would like to receive a free copy of Stephen Mansfield's new book, The Mormonizing of America: How the Mormon Religion Became Became a Dominant Force in Politics, Entertainment, and Pop Culture, in exchange for an honest review on my blog, I was definitely interested. (I received a copy from Worthy Publishing a few days later. As always, this review contains my own thoughts & opinions about the book.)
This book is very well written in a way that allows the reader to make his or her own decisions regarding the beliefs and history of the LDS church. The author begins by acknowledging some stylistic preferences of the LDS (for example, they use the abbreviation LDS but never say "the Mormon Church"), and then states that for purposes of the book it is "best to simply state what Mormons believe, having first established that it is not the view of the author."
I learned a tremendous amount about the history and beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as I read about how Mormons view Mormonism, a chronology of Mormonism beginning with their prophet Joseph Smith (who reportedly received visitations and revelations from God, Jesus, Paul, Moses, and a host of others), and the basic beliefs of the church (one very interesting one being the belief in "progressive revelation" which basically means that a president of the church may receive a new revelation at any time and it would be considered truth - even if it contradicts scripture or a previous revelation) . The author also showed how the design of the important components of Mormonism ("centrality of the family, priority of education, calling to achieve, historic Mormon devotion to work, saving, and the free market") have helped individuals rise to prominence in American society.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the Mormon faith. As is my nature, I checked out the official website of the LDS church and read through some of the information on their beliefs and did not find anything that contradicted what I read in The Mormonizing of America. I would like to say that the views of the Mormons, while there are some similarities, are not in line with my personal beliefs as a Christian.
This book was just published in July, so it's practically fresh off the press. I'm wondering if any of you have had a chance to read it or plan to?