I’m not a Mormon. However, the American religion fascinates me more than most. Mormonism is uniquely American, and uniquely something that is younger than many other religions that utilize Judeo-Christian resources. One of the interesting aspects of the religions is their lack of diversity for many years. We’re not talking about a few years here and there, we are talking about original racist elements to the point where it was unheard of for an African American to rise to high rankings within the Mormon Church, or get the priesthood. To this day, the history of racial elements within the church is one of debate, and hotly contested among religious scholars and historians alike. It’s for that reason why, “Your Sister In The Gospel” by Quincy D. Newell is so fascinating to me.
I may be the only one that was excited about the prospect of this book. Jane Manning James is a freed slave that wanted to be part of the church and dedicated herself to the service of Joseph Smith, and the church’s migration westward. She went from being a free woman in Connecticut to follow the prophet of Mormonism, and the followers after the fact. She was a faithful religious person, and yet the LDS church would try to stop her from moving upwards and onward within the church. They blocked her from getting the priesthood, blocked her from sealing, and eventually would seal her as a servant for eternity instead of part of a celestial union.
Quincy throws down a concise and exploratory work about Mormonism, race relations, American history, and much more. It’s smart, it’s cunning, and it doesn’t hold back the construction of history while being able to have a sense of levity. This is not a long book, but the information is deep, and it creates a long lasting legacy of scholarship, and interest in the Mormon church’s early history. This is truly American History, and it is bigger than the story that is on the cover.
“Your Sister In The Gospel” is an interesting read, that flew by for me. I couldn’t put it down, as I’m a historian, and this is an excellent example of how you can create something for scholars and larger audiences, on a subject that seems esoteric at best. I loved it.