Book Review: People of Paradox

Givens, Terryl L. People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture. Oxford University Press. 2007.

Confession: I didn’t read the whole book.  I tried, but it was a hard read.  I think this book was a few reading levels above me, so I struggled to follow it.  Givens used a lot of words I didn’t really know, and his sentence structure is complex.  I think this book was too smart for me.  So I struggled with it.

Givens proposes four paradoxes within LDS culture & theology within Part I of the book, which I won’t try to summarize here.  I found this part of the book very thought provoking, but also hard to follow.  In Parts II and III, Givens traces the history of Mormon culture in terms of dance, poetry, architecture, literature, theater, and other arts.  I never really understood how Parts II and III related to Part I.

Perhaps the best chapter in the book is called Fomenting the Pot, where Givens traces the history of intellectual freedom within the church.  He discusses how many church leaders have allowed intellectuals within the church much freedom in publishing criticism about the church, while others haven’t tolerated any criticism from church members.  It’s pretty obvious the previous owner of my copy of the book also liked this chapter.  It was full of notes & stuff and the rest of the book wasn’t.

Anyway, I’m gonna stop writing because I only read half the book and skimmed the other half, so I’ve really got no biz writing a book review.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: People of Paradox”

  1. I'm just looking again at this book and I realized the cover art is Walter Rane's. I'm pretty sure that whoever used that doesn't have permission, but it's cool to see it out there.

  2. @Kat – I'd be surprised if Oxford University Press failed to secure copyright laws. Walter Rane is discussed quite favorably in the book, although briefly.

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