Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mormons, Folklore, and the Paranormal

Recently I posted an interview with the authors of Paranormal America (NYU Press, 2010) which presented sociological analysis of paranormal adherents based upon the American Religious Identification Survey. This type of research is very helpful as it not only touches on those who accept paranormal phenomena, but also in its conclusions in regards to the paranormal and how it relates or doesn't relate to those within various religious traditions.

One religious group not considered in this survey was the Mormons. Not to worry. There is a forthcoming book that addresses the place of paranormal experiences and folklore in Mormon history.

Between Pulpit and Pew: The Supernatural World in Mormon History and Folklore
W. Paul Reeve and Michael Scott Van Wagenen
5.5 x 8.5, est 256 pages

ISBN 978-0-87421-838-1
paper $21.95 (available April)

ISBN 978-0-87421-823-7
e-book $18.00 (available July)
Cain wanders the frontier as a Bigfoot-like hairy beast and confronts an early Mormon apostle. An evil band of murderers from Mormon scripture, known as the Gadianton robbers, provides an excuse for the failure of a desert town. Stories of children raised from the dead with decayed bodies and damaged minds help draw boundaries between the proper spheres of human and divine action. Mormons who observe UFOs in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries find ways to explain them in relation to the church’s cosmology. The millenarian dimension of that belief system induces church members to invest in the Dream Mine, a hidden treasure that a would-be heir to Joseph Smith wraps in prophecy of the end times. A Utah version of Nessie haunts a large mountain lake. Non-Mormons attempt to discredit Joseph Smith with tales that he had tried and failed to walk on water.

Mormons gave distinctive meanings to supernatural legends and events, but their narratives incorporated motifs found in many cultures. Many such historical legends and beliefs found adherents down to the present. This collection employs folklore to illuminate the cultural and religious history of a people.

Elaine Thatcher, Foreword
W. Paul Reeve and Michael Scott Van Wagenen, "Between Pulpit and Pew: Where History and Lore Intersect"
Matthew Bowman, "A Mormon Bigfoot: David Patten's Cain and the Conception of Evil in LDS Folklore"
W. Paul Reeve, "'As Ugly as Evil,' and 'As Wicked as Hell': Gadianton Robbers and the Legend Process among the Mormons"
Matthew Bowman, "Raising the Dead: Mormons, Evangelicals, and Miracles in America"
Michael Scott Van Wagenen, "Singular Phenomena: The Evolving Mormon Interpretation of Unidentified Flying Objects"
Kevin Cantera, "A Currency of Faith: Taking Stock in Utah County's Dream Mine"
Alan L. Morrell, "A Nessie in Mormon Country"
Stanley J. Thayne, "Walking on Water: Nineteenth-Century Prophets and a Legend of Religious Imposture"
My thanks to aquinas of Summa Theologica for bringing this to my attention.


M. Eric Frye said...

Was this book ever published? I have looked for a copy and don't see one for sale.

John W. Morehead said...

I just updated the link for the book available at Amazon.com.