“Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo”

 

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(which is rather ironic for a post about iconography)

 

 

A potentially interesting new book is out, from Michael Reed:  Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo.

 

Apparently from the jacket cover:  “Michael Reed’s invaluable study shines new light on Mormons’ complex and ambiguous relationship with the cross. Reed’s research, the most exhaustive ever undertaken on this subject, should help other Christians understand the historic, cultural and religious context out of which Latter-day Saint attitudes toward the cross emerged—and it should help Latter-day Saints find greater spiritual meaning in this most poignant and profound of Christian symbols.”

 

I myself, though I think I’ve heard all or most of the typical Latter-day Saint arguments against use of the cross as a symbol, have never found them overly persuasive.  I don’t feel strongly one way or the other; I’m not calling for Latter-day Saints to use the cross as jewelry or in personal effects, though I see nothing objectionable in such use, and am certainly not demanding that it be incorporated into Church architecture or iconography.  I do, to be candid, dislike crucifixes that sometimes almost seem (to me, at least) to fetishize the suffering and mutilation of Jesus, but the plain cross, symbolic of sacrificial atonement, seems to me a very moving symbol, and one that binds Christians together around the world and across centuries.  I rather like it, for that.  And one could argue that Mormon use of it might make an important statement of solidarity with our fellow Christians, who might appreciate the gesture.

 

I look forward to reading the book.

 

 

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  • Mike Reed

    Thanks for this Dan. I really appreciate the plug.

    • danpeterson

      Happy to have done it. I wish you all the best with the book.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    In my visits to New England, it appeared to me that putting crosses on churches was not a feature of Puritan architecture. On 19th Century churches the.main feature us a very tall and thin steeple. To the extent there are crosses at the top, they are small, less than a tenth of the height of the steeple. My recollection is that until late in the 1800s, Protestants regarded use of the cross in architecture as a specifically Catholic practice.

  • Mike Reed

    Yes. You are correct, Raymond. My book includes a chapter on early 19th century American Protestant attitudes toward the cross.

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