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Mike Reed

Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo

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It is horrible that Christ was brutally killed on the cross. We rejoice that though that cross would have been justice for us, Jesus willingly suffered on our behalf. He suffered so we might be healed. He died so we might live. I care not whether LDS embrace the cross as their own heartfelt icon. On the other hand, I would like to believe most understand why so much of the Christian world does.

Edited by prisonchaplain

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"...and it should help Latter-day Saints find greater spiritual meaning in this most poignant and profound of Christian symbols.” (apparently from the jacket cover)

Sounds like an agenda to me.
Hi Vort. This is a blurb that appears on the back caver of my book, written by Robert Rees. This was not my agenda. My book will help readers to understand the basis of the cross taboo in LDS culture (ie. that is was sort of a historical accident, rooted in a desire to disassociate the Church from Catholicism). By understanding that the taboo has no authoritative revelatory or doctrinal basis, I think some Mormons may feel persuaded to reconsider any negativity they may have towards the symbol. My book will also undermine the assertions of critics, who insist that the absence of the cross in Mormon culture proves that they aren't Christian. This wasn't my agenda either, however. What was my agenda? Simply to trace the development of Mormon attitudes toward the visual/material symbol of the cross.

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My problem is not that the agenda is malicious, but that it's pedantic and overbearing. Why not present evidences about the symbol of the cross and how it has been used (and rejected) in LDS circles, then let ME decide the appropriate response?

This is precisely what I do.

In general, I mistrust any book or author who presumes to instruct the Saints or their leaders on how they ought to be doing things.

As do I. Good news is that it doesn't instruct the Saints or their leaders on what they should do. It simply traces the complex development of LDS Attitudes toward the cross.

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The following link seems to confirm your suspicions and suggest that Brother Reed has an agenda definitely opposed to the expressed purpose of this site:

Cultural Mormon Cafeteria

Of course, I welcome clarification from Brother Reed.

Many LDS readers have helped me to be objective and neutral in my book. My blog has never gone through this process. Moreover, much in my life has changed since I last posted on my blog. And FWIW... I am actively attending Church again.

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Hi Vort. This is a blurb that appears on the back caver of my book, written by Robert Rees. This was not my agenda... What was my agenda? Simply to trace the development of Mormon attitudes toward the visual/material symbol of the cross.

Thanks for the clarification.

This is precisely what I do.

As do I. Good news is that it doesn't instruct the Saints or their leaders on what they should do. It simply traces the complex development of LDS Attitudes toward the cross.

I should have made it clear that I was not passing judgment on your book, since I have not read it; rather, I was taking the cover blurb at face value and judging the book as if the blurb were accurate. I did not take care to make this distinction clear, for which I apologize.

Many LDS readers have helped me to be objective and neutral in my book. My blog has never gone through this process. Moreover, much in my life has changed since I last posted on my blog. And FWIW... I am actively attending Church again.

Good to hear. Hope all goes well for you.

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Many LDS readers have helped me to be objective and neutral in my book. My blog has never gone through this process. Moreover, much in my life has changed since I last posted on my blog. And FWIW... I am actively attending Church again.

You sound like someone LDS and traditional Christians can learn from. Two here have expressed interest in a Kindle edition of your book...is it in the works?

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Two here have expressed interest in a Kindle edition of your book...is it in the works?

The plan is to first publish pb, then a month or so later HB, and finally... if there is a significant demand for it, a Kindle edition. A kindle edition would require a lot of work and money on my part, since I'd need to get permissions for republishing the photos I use digitally.

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It is horrible that Christ was brutally killed on the cross. We rejoice that though that cross would have been justice for us, Jesus willingly suffered on our behalf. He suffered so we might be healed. He died so we might live. I care not whether LDS embrace the cross as their own heartfelt icon. On the other hand, I would like to believe most understand why so much of the Christian world does.

I hope I wasn't being offensive. When I'm stuck between laughing or crying, I try to laugh whenever possible. I forget that can come across badly.

I can understand intellectually (we'll take this horrible and disgusting thing and turn it into a symbol of solidarity & 'can't keep us down' ... Like the N-word in the black community... Transmuting hatred into something good), just not emotively. On a gut level, well, I'm not there, yet.

::blushes:: I have a little difficulty switching gears from reality to symbolism, sometimes. If what I said at any point was disrespectful, I apologize.

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In the area of the US that I live in, I see an abundance of the use of the cross. People put it on their cars, their clothing, purses, wallets, tattoos, motorcycles, etc. Many see themselves as a 'Christian" as long as they place that symbol on their possessions, regardless of their choices and actions. In fact I was nearly run off the road by someone who was pulling out of a bar parking lot at full speed, wheels spinning, dust flying, and a fish symbol on the back of thier SUV with a cross for the eye. Nice.

Many proclaim their love for Jesus just before and just after they do something horrendous. How do we prove that love? Well, by having a t-shirt with a cross on it, and by painting the cross on the back window of my truck of course!

I don't have any problem with anyone (including church members, and in our ward there are several) wearing a cross in any way. A symbol only has the meaning you give it. I'm pretty sure that while we humans might judge one another on whether or not we belong in the Christian in-group by the wearing of this particular symbol or not wearing of it as the case may be, we will actually be judged by our works.

(And BadWolf, you actually seeing someone treated like that makes me wanna barf. How did you not lose your guts seeing that? Ew really. That is freaking me out. Nightmares are on the way for me, I'm sure. :\ )

And Mr. Reed, while I know you must have been exposed to a great deal of 'Mormon' culture, I have not. I do not wish to be lumped in with a bunch of other people saying I am afraid of the cross or something ridiculous like that, or that I have been made afraid of it through church leaders in history. I have been a member, and a ward missionary, for 12 years. I have even seen women wear a cross on a necklace in the temple, and the temple president did not have any problem with it. I simply do not feel the need to prove my faith to others by wearing it. I do the best I can and let the Savior decide if I am one of His or not.

I also did not wear one when I was a Methodist, for the exact same reason. Regardless of what church I belonged to at the time, I did not automatically trust someone wearing one while I was growing up. I let their trustworthiness be determined by their words and actions...Nothing at all to do with anything in history. What we should be wondering is what the Lord thinks of it, and what He thinks of our words and actions, books and blogs, not some scholarly community.

Tell the world why Mormons don't wear crosses, well this particular one was not raised in the culture and still does not wear one. Most of the church members I know are adult converts, almost all of the adults I know in fact. A ward in the middle of nowhere, not worried about cultural influence of wearing or not wearing and there you go. The ones that do wear one are not behaving or being treated differently than the ones that don't....and vice versa. In fact, I can only name for sure two sisters that wear them, though I know I've seen loads at church, and I don't recall who they all are because it doesn't matter one iota to me. The term "Banishing" is dramatic to me, and seems like sensationalism.

While I am glad that you are attending church, your blog does make me a little nervous about your trustworthiness concerning matters of faith. The person that made an illegal video inside the temple and posted it on youtube was also active, after all.

Edited by jayanna

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I have been Mormon all my life. I wear a cross. The cross I wear was found during low tide on the banks of the Don River in Russia. It is pretty old. It was given to me by someone while I served there. I don't wear it obviously, but I do wear it every day, the same way someone might wear a CTR ring. To me, it is a symbol of Christ and a reminder of my mission and the things I did there.

Thank you for posting the link to the book; I may have to read it. I have heard a lot of the history before (in a history of Christianity class at BYU, actually), but it would be interesting to read the details.

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It is horrible that Christ was brutally killed on the cross. We rejoice that though that cross would have been justice for us, Jesus willingly suffered on our behalf. He suffered so we might be healed. He died so we might live. I care not whether LDS embrace the cross as their own heartfelt icon. On the other hand, I would like to believe most understand why so much of the Christian world does.

PC, I respect people using the cross as a symbol. Truth is it was used long before any of us were alive and the tradition continues.

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In case you haven't yeard... the first review of my book is in, and I am pleased to say that it is overwhelmingly positive:

Michael Reed aptly demonstrates in his new book "Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo" this history is much more recent and quite complex.

......

One of the most wonderful aspects of Reed’s book is its bountiful supply of illustrations, and chapter five, “Mormon Crosses before the Institutionalized Taboo,” provides plentiful documentation that Mormons once embraced the cross as a symbol of faith. Reed provides photos of crosses in quilts, in the stained glass in LDS chapels, in funeral arrangements (at John Taylor’s funeral, no less!), and in jewelry worn by prominent Mormons (one of Brigham Young’s wives and two daughters). It was even emblazoned on the spine of an 1852 European edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. The images throughout the book, especially in this chapter, were so good, so important to the thesis, I wished for better production values. I would love to have an over-size coffee table edition of this book. Any reader unconvinced by Reed’s argument, would find it difficult to remain unconvinced when confronted with his visual evidence.

..........

With contemporary Mormonism's more ecumenical focus, a tremendous lessening of anti-Catholic rhetoric, and greatly improved relations between all denominations of Christinanity and the LDS Church, it is not hard to imagine a world where Mormons can once again embrace the symbolic power of the cross. Reed’s book is a wonderful addition to Mormon history and a helpful guide in rethinking our contemporary aversion to the central symbol of Christianity.

For the entire review see the link below:

Reed, "Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo" (reviewed by Boyd J. Petersen) - Written Works - AML Discussion Board

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Congratulations on your positive review.

Petersen seems to think that you're aiming toward an LDS "revival" of the use of the cross as a symbol of Christ. Is this so? If it is, why?

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Congratulations on your positive review.

Thanks!

Petersen seems to think that you're aiming toward an LDS "revival" of the use of the cross as a symbol of Christ. Is this so? If it is, why?

It may end up being that my research helps facilitate such a revival. But no... this was not the aim of my book. My aim was simply to explain how and why the cross taboo emerged in Mormon culture, and does not take a position on what I may or may not think Mormons should or shouldn't do.

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I have been Mormon all my life. I wear a cross. The cross I wear was found during low tide on the banks of the Don River in Russia. It is pretty old. It was given to me by someone while I served there. I don't wear it obviously, but I do wear it every day, the same way someone might wear a CTR ring. To me, it is a symbol of Christ and a reminder of my mission and the things I did there.

Thank you for posting the link to the book; I may have to read it. I have heard a lot of the history before (in a history of Christianity class at BYU, actually), but it would be interesting to read the details.

Wait, you served in the Rostov mission? That is where I served! I even spent seven and a half months in Rostov itself. A long seven and a half months...

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Wait, you served in the Rostov mission? That is where I served! I even spent seven and a half months in Rostov itself. A long seven and a half months...

I did. I spent around that amount of time there, too, mostly in Severny (knocked nearly every dom there) and Center (in the office).

I did vaguely wonder about your name a while ago. When were you there?

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