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Revisiting Thomas F. O’Dea’s The Mormons

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Copyright: 2008
Trim: 6 x 9
Pages: 488 pp.


Revisiting Thomas F. O’Dea’s The Mormons

Contemporary Perspectives

Edited by Cardell K. Jacobson, John P. Hoffmann, and Tim B. Heaton

Mormon Studies

Fifty years ago, Thomas F. O’Dea, a Catholic sociologist who taught at the University of Utah from 1959 to 1964, published a landmark study titled simply The Mormons. It remains one of the most widely cited social science treatments of Mormon society and culture.

Now, after five decades of additional scholarly inquiry, this volume revisits O’Dea’s life and work, while offering new insights about the LDS Church and its members. Scholars from the U.S. and Europe contribute to an examination of the interplay between contemporary social issues and the church, including such topics as civil rights, the women’s movement, homosexuality, rising divorce rates, and childbirth outside marriage. The relationship of the church to the nation is considered. Finally, issues relating to the international church are also discussed.
Drawing from diverse fields such as sociology, economics, theology, psychology, and anthropology, each contribution offers a reflection of O’Dea’s The Mormons while considering the persistent themes and contemporary issues that face the church today.

Cardell K. Jacobson is professor in the department of sociology at Brigham Young University
John P. Hoffmann is professor in the department of sociology at Brigham Young University
Tim B. Heaton is professor in the department of sociology at Brigham Young University


Barry J. Balleck, Georgia Southern University; Brent D. Beal, LSU; Janet Bennion, Lyndon State College, VT Douglas; J. Davies, Durham University, UK; J. Lynn England, BYU; Terryl L. Givens, University of Richmond; Henri Gooren, Utrecht University, Netherlands; Melvyn Hammarberg, Penn; David Clark Knowlton, Utah Valley State College; Loren D. Marks, LSU; Armand L. Mauss, professor emeritus, WSU; Carrie A. Miles, George Mason University; Michael Nielsen, Georgia Southern University; Sarah Busse Spencer, College of New Jersey; David G. Stewart Jr., Pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Las Vegas; O. Kendall White Jr., Washington and Lee University

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Situating O'Dea among The Mormons

Part I. Engaging O'Dea
1. Thomas F. O'Dea: The New Spirit and Science of Mormon Studies
2. Thomas F. O'Dea and Mormon Intellectual Life: A Reassessment Fifty Years Later
3. Mastery and Mystery
4. "Common Sense" Meets the Book of Mormon: Source, Substance, and Prophetic Disruption

Part II. Contemporary Social Issues
5. LDS Family Ideals versus the Equality of Women: Navigating the Changes since 1957
6. Mormon Women's Issues in the Twenty-first Century
7. The Peril and Promise of Social Prognosis: O'Dea and the Race Issue
8. The Current Crisis in the Formation and Regulation of Latter-day Saints' Sexual Identity
9. Mormons and the State
10. Preserving Peculiarity as a People: Mormon Distinctness in Lived Values and Internal Structure

Part III. The International Church
11. From Near-Nation to New World Religion?
12. Growth, Retention, and Internationalization
13. The Mormons of the World: The Meaning of LDS Membership in Central America
14. Go Ye to All the World: The LDS Church and the Organization of International Society
15. "That Same Sociality": Mormons and Globalization in the Twenty-first Century

Appendix. Biography of Thomas F. O'Dea

Praise and Reviews:

"Collectively, the chapters in this volume make a meaningful contribution in their own right to an enhanced understanding of the religion and culture of contemporary Latter-day Saints."
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

"Written by a stable of scientists, most not part of the LDS Church, Revisiting Thomas F. O'Dea's 'The Mormons,' already has spurred a daylong university symposium and is likely to provide fodder for those who study the church—and more directly, its members—for some time to come."
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