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Isn't it interesting that while the country was infused with Jacksonian democracy stressing the individual, that the church started growing with an authoritarian, anti-individual bent. Leadership from the top down instead of the bottom up. Why did it go against the prevailing mood at the time?

It took a few years for Mormonism to shake off its early revivalist influences, though. Joseph's early connections to Methodism (possibly as an exhorter), the charismatic experiences of early converts, and the Kirtland Temple dedication all come to mind, and these seem to contrast with the general character of LDS worship in Nauvoo and certainly the Utah church.

Nathan Hatch, in his Democratizing American Christianity, approaches the same period but spins a slightly different narrative. He sees the Second Great Awakening as the religious aftershock of the political and social revolutions of the late 18th century. Once the hierarchy of the political world was turned on its head, it followed that the American people would mistrust the religious elites--the heads of the 'Eastern' churches with their fancy degrees from Harvard and Yale and Princeton. The new breed of American preachers needed no such earthly validation, and traced their authority to interpret scripture straight back to God. Hatch traces the enduring strength of populist Christianity in the U.S. (in contrast with our European neighbors) back to this period.

You might like the book, if you haven't read it (I have it if you want to borrow it). Hatch dwells on the impoverished backgrounds of Smith, Young and prominent early converts to Mormonism, and presents them as men of the people.

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