“A Standard Unto My People”: The Book of Mormon as Cultural Touchstone

Terryl L. Givens

in By the Hand of Mormon

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780195138184
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834211 | DOI:
 “A Standard Unto My People”: The Book of Mormon as Cultural Touchstone

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Many facets of Mormon history have shaped the Church's history and identity. Unlike polygamy or pioneer migrations, the Book of Mormon will always be a constant in the faith group, and thus is a prime factor in defining Mormon culture, ethnicity, or religiosity. Assent to Smith's story of its origins is the foundation of faith in the religion itself. Since the Book of Mormon received renewed emphasis under Ezra Taft Benson in the 1980s, the scripture increasingly found a cultural vocabulary that gives cohesion and distinctness to the Mormon people. Heroes, villains, plots, motifs, and objects – from Captain Moroni to Lemuel to the stripling warriors to Rameumpton to the Liahona – provide members with a private language that shapes and defines their collective experience while helping maintain the cultural distinctness that has always been a hallmark of Mormonism.

Keywords: Ezra Taft Benson; culture; ethnicity; Liahona; pioneers; polygamy; vocabulary

Chapter.  3282 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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