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    “How Firm A Foundation”: California Mormons Negotiating Inclusivity, Politics and Place


    Flynn-Curran, Amy E. (2017) “How Firm A Foundation”: California Mormons Negotiating Inclusivity, Politics and Place. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Abstract

    This thesis is the result of 18 months of fieldwork inside of a Mormon congregation in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Oakland First Ward. It depicts a community of Mormons in “progressive country”, as they work to maintain their local ward as a place simultaneously rooted in distinct LDS traditions, but which serves people embedded in their local context. Out west in the radical, urban, and ever-changing Bay Area, this affluent, family-centered, Christian community is working to sustain their local flavor within a large top-down organized religion. Supporting a community of diverse experiences and political leanings often involves pushing for a church-culture that embraces broader social movements, calling for inclusivity, acceptance, and an embrace of new (and sometimes disruptive) ideas about how to move Mormonism into the future. This process of negotiation between change and the maintenance of sacred traditions is predicated on the material and embodied ways that Christian faith evolves in diverse contexts. Framing my analysis in terms of materiality, this research unfolds the story of the First Ward through an investigation into the tangible and objectified ways religion is embodied and lived. Creative engagement with these symbolic boundaries creates the context in which members to negotiate with emergent discourses on tolerance, progress and ritual. During my time in the field, Mormon feminists called for more opportunities for women to lead in the church, and advocates for LGTBQ acceptance inside the LDS church grew their digital networks and increased their visibility. These movements were at the forefront of the progressive/traditional ideological divide, as members wondered in what ways they could promote inclusivity and consider these viewpoints while ‘staying the path’ of righteousness. These mediations demonstrate the dynamism of religion in a distinctive social context.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: California; Mormons; Negotiating Inclusivity; Politics; Place;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Anthropology
    Item ID: 11010
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2019 10:27
    URI:

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