JI Summer Book Club 2017: A House Full of Females, Chapter 5

By July 2, 2017

The Nauvoo Temple Liturgy, the killings of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the “succession crisis,” and the Nauvoo Temple. There are justifiably entire books and dissertations on each of these. And despite coming in at 26 lean pages, Ulrich still manages to surprise.

Loved
With Zina at the heart of the narrative, the succession crisis isn’t the political positions and power plays of the Twelve, James Strang, Sidney Rigdon, and company.  It is the deep and personal trauma of a believer (multiplied by thousands).  Joseph Smith’s angel was sharp and cut asunder just as it stitched their hearts up.  Millennialistic hope, love, and loss.  Beautiful stuff. Brigham Young then brings this all into vivid contrast, investing in some trauma of his own.

Intriguing
Ulrich’s suggestion that plural wives were sealed together as well as being sealed to their husband.  Lot’s to explore here, but wonderfully provocative.

Helpful
Elaborate heart wreaths and handicrafts appear in Woodruff’s diary and Brigham Young’s collection, and Ulrich does her accustomed work in contextualizing and unpacking what they mean.

Criticism
Ulrich frequently uses the term “Anointed Quorum” to refer to the group that assembled both during and after JS’s life to administer the temple liturgy and pray.  It is a Utah era term, and I generally think people have invested meaning into it that isn’t particularly evident from the contemporaneous documents.  Similarly (as in chapter 4), she does a great job at pointing to the “priesthood” connections to the temple liturgy and plural sealings, but doesn’t really explain what those connections are.

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