Make Yourselves Gods
Mormons and the Unfinished Business of American Secularism
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Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
From the perspective of Protestant America, nineteenth-century Mormons were the victims of a peculiar zealotry, a population deranged--socially, sexually, even racially--by the extravagances of belief they called "religion." Make Yourselves Gods offers a counter-history of early Mormon theology and practice, tracking the Saints from their emergence as a dissident sect to their renunciation of polygamy at century's end. Over these turbulent decades, Mormons would appear by turns as heretics, sex-radicals, refugees, anti-imperialists, colonizers, and, eventually, reluctant monogamists and enfranchised citizens. Reading Mormonism through a synthesis of religious history, political theology, native studies, and queer theory, Peter Coviello deftly crafts a new framework for imagining orthodoxy, citizenship, and the fate of the flesh in nineteenth-century America. What emerges is a story about the violence, wild beauty, and extravagant imaginative power of this era of Mormonism--an impassioned book with a keen interest in the racial history of sexuality and the unfinished business of American secularism.