Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Eclectic Mormon Women Ethnography Paper: Beyond Morwics and Mormo-Pagans

I recently completed my ethnography project paper for the Mormon Culture course at Salt Lake Seminary. The paper is available for download, and it is designed to tell the stories and provide the cultural background of my informants who represent a signficant subculture. The title, abstract, and thesis are below.

"Daughters of the Moon: Eclectic Mormon Women and Their Search for a Place in the Light of the Sun"

The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun. - Isaiah 30:26

Abstract: Eclectic Mormon Women combine active LDS membership, beliefs, and practices with various forms of “alternative spirituality,” whether Neo-Paganism, the New Spirituality, or other forms of nature-based spirituality, esotericism, and mysticism. They connect their religious synthesis to aspects and precedents in Mormon history, cosmology, and practices, and yet find their spirituality at odds with LDS leadership. Their quest finds fertile ground in the post-modern shift to self orientations in spirituality in opposition to external and institutional authority. They represent a significant subculture within the LDS faith and a continued challenge to traditional expressions of authority and conceptions of the Divine.

Thesis: To most Mormon women religious life is defined in the ward, in the temple, at home, and in the local Mormon community. But for Eclectic Mormon Women the situation created from their spiritual synthesis is more complex, and as a result, they face continued struggles with a sense of place in the LDS Church. This paper will examine the basic themes that arise from their stories, and will consider the social, cultural, and spiritual developments in the twenty-first century Western world that provide an atmosphere conducive to their quest while providing continuing challenges to opposition to this eclectic synthesis from LDS leadership.

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