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The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy (Religion in America) [Hardcover]

By Terryl Givens (Author)
Our Price $ 91.20  
Retail Value $ 95.00  
You Save $ 3.80  
Item Number 160287  
Buy New $91.20

Item Specifications...

Pages   232
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.27" Width: 6.32" Height: 0.92"
Weight:   1.05 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1997
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0195101839  
EAN  9780195101836  

Availability  117 units.
Availability accurate as of May 26, 2017 07:06.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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Item Description...
Nineteenth-century American writers frequently cast the Mormon as a stock villain in such fictional genres as mysteries, westerns, and popular romances. The Mormons were depicted as a violent and perverse people--the "viper on the hearth"--who sought to violate the domestic sphere of the mainstream. While other critics have mined the socio-political sources of anti-Mormonism, Givens is the first to reveal how popular fiction, in its attempt to deal with the sources and nature of this conflict, constructed an image of the Mormon as a religious and social "Other."

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More About Terryl Givens

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Terryl Givens is Professor of Literature and Religion and holds the James Bostwick Chair of English at the University of Richmond. Some of his books include Viper on the Hearth, Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy (Oxford 1997), By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion (Oxford 2002), People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture (Oxford 2007), which was named Best Book of the Year by the Mormon History Association for 2007, and, most recently, When Souls Had Wings: Pre-Mortal Existence in Western Thought (Oxford 2009).

Terryl L. Givens currently resides in the state of Virginia. Terryl L. Givens has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Richmond University of Richmond, Virginia University of.

Terryl L. Givens has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Religion in America

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
What weight or legitimacy does a label like heresy have in a Democratic society?  Mar 19, 2007
1. Inquisition: The heretic has always been a much graver threat to spiritual solidarity than the infidel. The fires of the Inquisition scorched the lapsed Christian or deviant believer, not the professing Jew or the Muslim.
2. Authority: If the believer accepts whatever is as origin or primary, then anything else is schism or apostasy from the primal, sanctioned order, and authority may legitimately identify and censure such deviance wherever it occurs.
3. Enlightenment: Doctrines peculiar to the LDS: 1. Miracles can be wrought by faith 2. Special revelations are now being given to men through Prophets, Seers, and revelators. 3. The nature of God is not a mystery. Givens says, "Mystification is a concomitant of such discontinuity and is the very heart of Christian tradition." Charles Dickens says Mormonism can be seen as "the refusal to endow its own origins with the mystic transcendence, while endowing those origins with universal import since they represent the implementation of the fullest gospel dispensation ever." "The typical Mormon conception of a miracle is that the miraculous event, though entirely natural, is simply not understood."
4. Republican values: Given the American tradition of innovation and independence and hostility towards authoritarianism and conformity, the attacks on Mormon heresy seem odd. What weight or legitimacy does a label like heresy have in a Democratic society? In American society every Christian doctrine has been widely debated and discussed. Debate, forums, freedom of speech has been fundamental rights protected by Republican government values. "Christians have argued, often passionately, over every conceivable point of Christian doctrine from the filioque to the immaculate conception" . Stephen Robinson states, Mormons are labeled heretics for "opinions and practices that are freely tolerated in other main stream denominations." Freedom of Religion protected and guaranteed religious tolerance and reduced heretical persecutions by a religious governmental entity.
5. Sphere of religion: George Q. Cannon claimed, "the pure Gospel was lost because of propagation, for centuries, by so-called Christian ministers, of the soul destroying and damnable heresy that God cannot or will not speak to man again from the heavens; that God will not reveal his will, send his angels, or exercise his power in the affairs of earth as much as he did in ancient days." Givens says, "What takes Mormonism out of the sphere of religion may be driven by external than internal factors; the shift may be as much a function of rhetorical strategies and political imperatives as it is a consequence of some morphological or sociological evolution". Illinois politicians feared LDS political power. Missourians feared fictional slave revolt myths. Anti-Mormon paralleled many of the same tactics as anti-catholic strategies in the early 1840s. Governor Boggs executive order read in part, as follows, "Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the state...Their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so, to any extent you many think necessary...You will proceed immediately to Richmond and there operate against the Mormons." At Far West, the mob had 4,000 men camps nearly with orders from Boggs to exterminate the Mormons. A treaty at Far West allowed the saints to surrender and leave the State.
6. The Christian orthodoxy beliefs are as follows: 1. the Bible as inspired scripture 2. God as a creator 3. Christ as divine redeemer of mankind. Mormonism does not challenge these fundamental tenets claiming the Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly, Jesus Christ atoned for sin and broke the bands of death through resurrection and Christ is the creator. What Mormonism did challenge was the notion that God spoke to man through prophets, that a great apostasy removed God's authority from the earth, and that a restoration was required; and God reveal new canonical utterances recorded as modern scripture.

An analysis of the hows & whys of Mormon persecution  Aug 14, 1997
Have you ever wondered at the character of hate and prejudice in a society that claims to revere diversity? Terryl Givens uses the Mormon experience to explain how that happens, and specifically demonstrates the role of fiction in exacerbating persecution.

The book is the result of obvious exhaustive research, and is well put together, the arguments clear and concise. It is, however, a scholarly effort in both approach and language. Keep your dictionary handy. You may need it.

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and recommend the book to Mormons and non-Mormons alike. It's very interesting.

Dorothy Peterson


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