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Posted 26 Mar 2001   For week ended March 23, 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 23Mar01

By Rosemary Pollock

Jan Shipps' Writes as an Outsider Looking In

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- After forty years among the Mormons, Jan Shipps, a professor emeritus of history and religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, has written "Sojourner in the Promised Land." Shipps' interest in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was piqued in 1960 when she moved to Logan, Utah, with her family for nine months. A lifelong Methodist, Shipps has been an outsider looking in.

"Sojourner in the Promise Land" is a compilation of her essays, that range from an evaluation of the early years of hardship in The Church to a current ability to stand shoulder to shoulder with traditional Protestant denominations, whose congregations are dwindling. Shipps' analysis is the sharpest as she covers the journey from the building of Zion to the current status of Mormons in the mainstream of religious life.

Her working thesis is that the church survived since its founding in 1830 because of a belief system, an ethnicity, a culture of a "peculiar people" that was created through revelation and the experience to survive persecution and shared hardships. Mormons emerged from being polygamous oddballs into the tumultuous 1960's as the media darlings of Middle America. They were considered "neat, modest, virtuous, family-loving, conservative and patriotic people."

Shipps claims the current changes of emphasizing the words "Jesus Christ" in the redesigned logo, show that after more than 125 years the Church is holding to its separateness, expanding it's sense of identity and self-confidence. "Mormonism is a legitimate way to be a Christian; it is just not my way of being Christian," Shipps said.


Mormons' Long, Strange Trip to the Mainstream
Los Angeles Times 17Mar01 A2
By Ralph Frammolino: Times Staff Writer


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See also:
Sojourner in the Promised Land
More about Jan Shipps' "Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years Among the Mormons" at

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