Given all that might be said of Mormonism, it should not come as a surprise that a lot of interesting topics sit pretty much neglected. One of these, I would argue, is the Mormon contribution to building settlements in the United States. Some of these efforts have made their way into the collective Mormon memory: settlements in places like Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and to a lesser extent Utah and particularly Salt Lake City. And, while many Mormons put great weight on the episode of the Saints coming into the Salt Lake Valley, to me it is surprising how relatively little is discussed about the lives of these same Saints after that. This is too bad because it neglects the bulk of the story of how Mormons cooperated to literally try to build a place that was meant to be a Zion.
LDS members often look backwards and ask what the lives of those in the scriptures or those who were numbered among the early Latter-day Saints can offer us today. The question I plan to explore during my time as a guest blogger is the following: what if anything can Mormons learn from the settlement-building phase of Mormon history? I think we can learn a lot. My hope is that looking backwards will teach us something about ourselves and our communities we call home today. And more than this, hopefully, it will give us a glimpse into the sort of community members we ought to be and the types of places we ought to try to build. I look forward to my brief stint here on Times & Seasons. You will be hearing more from me soon.
* In full disclosure, much of these thoughts I plan to introduce as a guest blogger are based on an article I wrote called â€œRevitalizing Zion: Nineteenth-Century Mormonism and Todayâ€™s Urban Sprawl.â€ It recently was published in the Journal of Land Resources & Environmental Law. The article in its entirety can be found here.