The Devil Sat on My Bed: Encounters with the Spirit World in Mormon Utah (Paperback)

The Devil Sat on My Bed: Encounters with the Spirit World in Mormon Utah By Erin E. Stiles Cover Image
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In the mountains of beautiful, bucolic northern Utah, many Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are visited by spirits. Local folklore is filled with stories of uncanny encounters of all kinds, and Latter-day Saint scripture and prophetic teachings emphasize the reality and the importance of the spirit world. Spirit encounters are common in this community. People report visits from the benevolent spirits of kin offering aid and also from evil spirits who tempt and harass. Combining folklore research with ethnography, the book examines many types of spirit encounters and shows that such experiences must be understood as particularly Latter-day Saint phenomena.

Spirit encounters take place within a larger cultural and religious framework that emphasizes the important relationships between living and non-living beings. For Mormons in northern Utah, spirit lore and experiences are interpreted and understood with reference to Latter-day Saint cosmology and particularly Mormon conceptions of the nature of the person, the spirit, and the family, and the nature of righteousness, evil, and spiritual power. The book also explores how people in Utah differentiate between "Mormon culture," the institutional church, and how they understand the "true" meaning of the religion, which has relevance far beyond understanding of people's relationship to the spirit realm and spirit power, and speaks to key issues of concern--and polarization--among Latter-day Saints today.

About the Author

Erin E. Stiles is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her primary interests are in the anthropology of religion and law, and she has worked in East Africa and in the western United States. She has conducted extensive ethnographic research on the everyday workings of Islamic courts in Zanzibar, Tanzania, with a particular focus on marital disputes. Her more recent work focuses on Latter-day Saint experiences of the spirit realm in northern Utah, where she grew up.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780197763759
ISBN-10: 0197763758
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: February 16th, 2024
Pages: 224
Language: English