Danish but Not Lutheran: The Impact of Mormonism on Danish Cultural IdentitySalt Lake City
: University of Utah Press
Danish but Not Lutheran: The Impact of Mormonism on Danish Cultural Identity
In keeping with the title Danish but Not Lutheran, I will begin by saying what Julie K. Allen’s book is not. It is not a history of the Latter-day Saint mission to Scandinavia; see Andrew Jenson’s 1927 History of the Scandinavian Mission for that. Nor is it a history of the mass emigration of Latter-day Saint Danes to Utah; see William Mulder’s 1957 Homeward to Zion for that. Rather, as the subtitle advertises, it is a history that studies “The Impact of Mormonism on Danish Cultural Identity”—that is, this book uses The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints to understand Denmark, not the other way around.
Allen’s book is compellingly argued and well sourced, drawing on fascinating archival materials that illuminate her topic. Switching the focus from Latter-day Saints to Danish culture is a salutary corrective to the American-centric perspective that often colors scholarly treatments of the broader Latter-day Saint movement and (it must be said) the mindset of missionaries, who may be more concerned with the message they bear than the cultures in which they are called to live during their periods of service. Danish but Not Lutheran will appeal to people interested in questions of religious liberty and secularity (although it could have engaged more with recent theoretical work on the subject), but it will also appeal to the many Latter-day Saints who, like me, descend from Danish emigrants and find their hearts turning back to the place from which their fathers and mothers came.