Chapter

“Melancholly Reflections”

Samuel Morris Brown

in In Heaven as It Is on Earth

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199793570
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932511 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199793570.003.0002
“Melancholly Reflections”

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This chapter places Joseph Smith within the context of the “beautiful” or “good” death culture of antebellum America, what this book terms the “holy death” to emphasize its highly religious nature. This chapter also reviews Smith's early exposures to sickness and death, demonstrating the interfaces between holy death culture and the Mormon prophet's personal life. The chapter draws particular attention to the failings of holy death culture, especially the Providentialist worldview and Protestant doctrines that underlay it, to solve the fundamental problem of death for many participants. The chapter points toward the ways Smith came to terms with the problems of the holy death in his religious career.

Keywords: beautiful death; Providentialist worldview; bereavement; antebellum American religion

Chapter.  8271 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Christianity

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