As the twentieth century dawned, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remained at odds with the United States, a country that had provided fertile soil for the growth of their faith, but also a country they felt alienated from. Some of the things Mormons did to keep themselves separate from the outside world ended up helping them reconcile with it. In their efforts to build a self-sustaining Great Basin Kingdom, they sent missionaries back to the eastern United States not to preach their restored gospel per se, but to learn at universities, to advance in fields like law and medicine.
In his new book, Thomas W. Simpson argues that American universities played a key role in making Latter-day Saints feel at home in America again. In this episode of the MIPodcast, Simpson joins us to talk about his new book, American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism. It’s a story about the tensions that come along with being a people set apart, and a people trying to fit in.
Show note: See Elder M. Russell Ballard’s recent address to LDS Church educators here.
About Thomas W. Simpson
Thomas W. Simpson is a specialist in modern U.S. religious history. He received a PhD from the University of Virginia and a Master of Theological Studies from Emory University. He’s an instructor in religion and philosophy at Phillips Exeter Academy. His is the author of American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867–1940.
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