Making Zion, Making Media - Technology for Transcending Time and Space in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Gavin Feller, Southern Utah University
Shortly after Joseph Smith began establishing what would become the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon/LDS), he was directed by God to build Zion in America. As both a literal city and a state of being, Zion embodied Smith's most daring ambitions for building a celestial community on earth. Because it required physical and spiritual proximity and unity, Zion is also the core of the Mormon media imagination. Imagining Zion has, from Smith until today, meant using media of all types to transcend time and space, and in the process construct a heavenly city in a hellish world. Alongside the promises of every new medium, however, came threats to power, community, and identity. The story of Zion within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a compelling case study for understanding media fundamentally as infrastructural agents of compromise that continually force cultural institutions to reevaluate their values, their goals, and ultimately their place in this world--and for religious communities specifically, their place in the world to come.