Find part one of this essay here.

I’ve had trouble describing this project to my non-Mormon (“Gentile”) friends in Salt Lake City. At least in respectful language. “I’m writing about the Christus-Creation piece down at the LDS Visitors’ Center,” I say, hoping the proper art historical terminology will work (fig.1). It never does. “You know, the eleven-foot marble sculpture of Christ that the Church has in the rotunda at Temple Square? It’s actually a copy of a nineteenth-century work by a Danish artist named Bertel Thorvaldsen, but you know, the one with that big 1960s mural around it?” No dice. Eventually I have no choice but to give in and switch to my native Gentile dialect. “Space Jesus,” I sigh. “I’m writing an article about Space Jesus.” That always does the trick.

I assume Thorvaldsen (ca. 1770-1844) never imagined that a replica of his neoclassical sculpture would one day be identified in such interplanetary terms. The mural’s creator, the Gentile artist Sidney E. King (1906-2002), probably did, though. As we saw in the first half of this article, King hoped his Creation painting would generate “the illusion . . . that you were a spaceman, looking out into space and you see these stars and the planets.”[1] As we also saw, the combination of this illusion and Thorvaldsen’s sculpture gave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exactly what it wanted in 1966: a visual declaration of the Mormons’ commitment to Christ that simultaneously invoked traditional Judeo-Christian conceptions of a cosmos-building God. As odd as it might strike some viewers today, it was a magisterial pairing at the time—a religious installation perfectly positioned, in the words of the LDS leader Marion Hanks, to “make an impact upon the world . . . without creating controversy.”[2]

Shinehah and Olea

What about the controversial nature of the Saints’ own views of the universe and divine creation, however? Specifically, what about the Church’s teachings that righteous LDS men can become deities in the afterlife, joining both God and Jesus in the sacred work of making their own worlds?[3] The doctrine gets complicated here, largely because the first LDS prophet, Joseph Smith, didn’t have much time to refine it. He was murdered less than a year after recording his first revelation on man’s capacity for deification and two months after delivering his most detailed sermon on the subject.[4] Adding to the confusion, the faith’s second prophet, Brigham Young, eventually developed Smith’s principles of human divinization into his own theory of the ontological relationship between the mortal and the divine. According to Young, God and the biblical Adam were the same being. As Young declared, Genesis’s first man “was not the only god of the universe, but he was earth’s god”: a mortal-become-deity who called this world into existence and then kicked off the process of populating it by procreating with Eve.[5] The fact that Mormon authorities eventually rejected this fusion of God and Adam obscures the extent to which it exemplifies precisely the type of deification the Church still offers its male members. At base, Mormon doctrine promises to turn worthy LDS men into their own versions of Adam, their own iterations of Young’s Edenic “God the Father, a resurrected, exalted being whose privilege it had been to create a new world.”[6]

Figure 1: Bertel Thorvaldsen, Christus, 1821 (1959 copy) and Sidney King, Creation, 1966, LDS North Visitors’ Center, Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Mary Campbell.

Substitute the word “planet” for “world,” and you start to see just how potent images of the universe and its endless celestial bodies are in the Saints’ cosmology. According to LDS scripture, God even has his own vocabulary for such astronomical phenomena. “This is Shinehah, which is the sun . . . .Kokob, which is star, [and] Olea, which is moon,” God explains to the biblical patriarch Abraham in the Mormon Book of Abraham, displaying the astral “works which his hands had made.” “Kokaubeam, which signifies stars” also means “all the great lights . . . . in the firmament of heaven,” the Lord continues. According to God, the greatest Kokob in his Kokaubeam is Kolob, the star or planet “set nigh unto [his] throne.”[7] Combined with Smith’s insistence that LDS men “have got to learn how to be gods [themselves] . . . , the same as all gods have done before [them], namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one,” the Book of Abraham conjures visions of endless Mormon man-deities creating their own divine Kokaubeams throughout the universe.[8] In the words of the LDS apostle Bruce McConkie, “We are blessed with the knowledge that ours is not the only inhabited earth.”[9]


Advertisements in space-industry trade journals frequently featured illustrations of astronauts haloed by the sun, flying cross-shaped ships, and reaching their gloved hands across the universe à la Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel God bestowing life upon Adam.


LDS authorities tend to bristle when Gentiles go spelunking in this particular region of their faith. In 2014, the Church published an official statement decrying the ways in which the “Saints’ doctrine of exaltation is often . . . reduced in media to a cartoonish image of people receiving their own planets.”[10] Cartoonish or not, such images do gesture at one of Mormonism’s key theological innovations. When The Book of Mormon musical’s singing missionary Elder Price belts out, “I believe that God lives on a planet called Kolob! I believe that Jesus has his own planet as well,” he has solid doctrinal evidence for the claim.[11] Just as important, as a virtuous LDS “God in embryo,” he can religiously rely on his Church’s representations that he might one day rule over a planet of his own.[12]

As this reveals, outer space isn’t neutral territory for the Latter-day Saints. At least not theologically speaking. For a religion rooted in the belief that “loyal members [will] be able to create ‘worlds without end’ and to people them with beings of their own creation,” representations of the solar system would seem to be an iconographic minefield: a scandalous visual reminder of the Mormons’ deviation from traditional Judeo-Christian understandings of the universe and man’s place within it.[13] Why, then, would LDS leaders ever have hired to King to effectively transform Christus into “a spaceman”?[14] Why, upon viewing the Christus-Creation installation for the first time, would the Mormon prophet David O. McKay have declared it “perfect”?[15] In what Kokaubeam does it make sense for the Saints to have planted a sculpture of Jesus between images of Saturn and the Moon in an attempt to convince Gentiles that they really were Christian?


A few admissions here. First, midcentury non-Mormons don’t appear to have been particularly aware of the Saints’ religious investment in the stars. Unlike LDS polygamy, which ripped through the Gentile imagination (and court system) during the nineteenth century, the Church’s deification doctrine didn’t get much play across the broader twentieth-century nation.[16] In stark contrast to the plethora of polygamy-themed newspaper articles, sermons, novels, and even impotence remedies that shaped the country’s conception of Mormonism during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, exceedingly few cultural references existed to the Latter-day Saints’ plan for man’s interstellar salvation before Elder Price first sang the news to Broadway audiences in 2011.[17] As a result, it would have been the rare Gentile who walked into the newly opened Visitors’ Center in 1967 and declared, “Egads! Kolub!”

At the same time, the Saints weren’t the only Americans to mix religion and galactic imagery during the 1960s. To the contrary, the decade saw the country’s Protestant congregations adopting an entire fleet of rocketeer-worthy hymns, including “Great Ruler Over Time and Space” (1962), “God of Earth and Planets” (1965), and “Bless Thou the Astronauts Who Face” (1969).[18] A year later, “God of Earth and Outer Space” (1970) would have church-goers entreating the “God of rockets firing bright” to “bless the astronauts who fly/as they soar beyond the sky.”[19] In a similar (if secular) trend, aeronautic companies like Douglas Aircraft and Lockheed repeatedly turned to Christian symbolism to sell their products during these years. As the historian Megan Prelinger has shown, between 1957 and 1962, advertisements in space-industry trade journals frequently featured illustrations of astronauts haloed by the sun, flying cross-shaped ships, and reaching their gloved hands across the universe à la Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel God bestowing life upon Adam. “Does [this last image] mean to suggest that we will encounter God out there (and that He will be wearing a spacesuit)? Or that the doings of humans in space will assume aspects of the divine?” Prelinger asks.[20] It’s tempting to answer with a verse from the nineteenth-century Mormon hymn “If You Could Hie to Kolob.”[21]

It’s here that we start to see just what the LDS church might have gained by surrounding Thorvaldsen’s sculpture with a scene of planets and stars rather than something like Harris Weinberg’s “cloud and sky rendition.”[22] As the country’s hymns and advertisements both indicate, outer space was all the rage during the 1960s. Indeed, the original Star Trek series premiered less than two months after King and Capson finished Creation, joining Disneyland’s “Rocket to the Moon” attraction (1955), The Jetsons (1962-1963), and Tang (first released in 1959 but popularized by John Glenn in 1962) as manifestations of the Space Age. Roger Vadim’s Barbarella and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey would both follow in 1968, the same year Buckminster Fuller published Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. “We are all astronauts,” Fuller’s short text famously declared.[23]

Figure 8: The Mercury 7, 1960

“The Space Age, of course, is in one sense as old as historical time,” Emily Rosenberg writes. From the Ancient Egyptians to H.G. Wells, “humans have long looked to the heavens for meaning.”[24] During the late 1950s, however, this millennia-long fascination with the stars intensified exponentially as the technological lessons of two World Wars converged with geopolitical tensions to render human spaceflight not simply a possibility but rather a national imperative. According to the science writer Ron Cowen, the Space Age proper began on a specific date: October 4, 1957, the day the Soviet Sputnik I became the first man-made satellite to successfully orbit Earth.[25] “Sphere Tracked in 4 Crossings Over U.S.” the front page of the New York Times announced the next morning, fanning American fears about what exactly the Russians’ “man-made moon” might be doing some 560 miles overhead. “[Moscow] said in its announcement that people could now see how ‘the new socialist society’ had turned the boldest dreams of mankind into reality,” the Times continued, underscoring Sputnik’s affront to the country’s ego as well its sense of security.[26] Four years later, the U.S.S.R. repeated this trick, beating the United States to another crucial interstellar milestone when, on April 12, 1961, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space.[27]

With American safety and pride both on the line, the country threw itself into the Space Race. In 1958, President Eisenhower founded the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with a budget of $100 million. Within four years, this number had skyrocketed to $1.72 billion.[28] Americans wanted more than engineering breakthroughs for such enormous sums; they wanted international dominance. Or at least the appearance of it.[29] “[The] Soviets are ahead of the United States in world prestige attained through impressive technological accomplishments in space,” Vice-President Johnson warned President Kennedy on April 28, 1961. “Dramatic accomplishments in space are being increasingly identified as a major indicator of world leadership,” he continued:

If we do not make the strong effort now, the time will soon be reached when the margin of control over space and over men’s minds through space accomplishments will have swung so far on the Russian side that we will not be able to catch up, let alone assume leadership.[30]

As Johnson recognized, outer space wasn’t a purely physical location during the 1960s. Instead, it was also psychological terrain, a concretized dreamscape, the expanse of “men’s minds,” in Johnson’s words, where Americans could demonstrate the superiority of their way of life by crushing the godless, communist Soviets amid the stars. “If we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny . . . this nation [must] take a clearly leading role in space achievement,” JFK proclaimed the month after Comrade Gagarin sailed so gloriously around the earth. In order to combat “the impact of [the Russians’ interstellar] adventure on the minds of men everywhere,” he insisted, America needed to definitively defeat the Soviet Union in the space game by becoming the first country to land a man on the moon.[31]

And not just any man. In the fight for “men’s minds” as well as actual galactic terroir, only a particular type of American rocketeer would do. On April 9, 1959, NASA introduced the country to the Mercury 7, the seven former jet test pilots who had survived extensive physical and mental screening at the Lovelace Clinic in New Mexico to become the nation’s first astronauts (fig. 8). The Mercury 7 were many things, including, in certain cases, reckless, hard-drinking philanderers. One thing they weren’t, however, was diverse. In the famous words of Tom Wolfe’s 1979 novel, they had the “right stuff,” a set of qualities that in midcentury America invariably translated to college-educated, military-trained, Protestant, married, straight, white, and, of course, male.[32]


Ultimately, the nation relied on the country’s first astronauts to act out a version of the strenuous masculinity that people like Theodore Roosevelt had extolled some sixty years before.


In a zero-ideology environment, NASA might have looked to women as ideal candidates for astronaut duty. Generally smaller, lighter, and able to survive on fewer calories, women seem like a natural pick for an endeavor that hinges, first and foremost, on questions of weight.[33] Moreover, in space travel’s high-vibration, high-radiation environment, internal genitalia can be a serious boon.[34] During the late 1950s and early 1960s, a handful of scientists and flight surgeons pointed to such factors to argue that women should be the first Americans in space.[35] In February of 1960, Lovelace researchers even put the female pilot Jerrie Cobb through the battery of tests used to select the Mercury 7 (fig. 9). Cobb passed the Lovelace examinations, as would another dozen women the following year. [36]

Figure 9: Jerrie Cobb, ca. 1960

Regardless of such evidence of female fitness for space flight, the “girl astronaut program,” as it was sometimes called, didn’t last long.[37] “Sending a woman to do a man’s job would not project the image of international strength that [President] Kennedy desired,” the historian Margaret A. Weitekamp observes.[38] At a time when so many Americans envisioned space as “the final frontier,” the task of exploring it seemed to require a twentieth-century version of the hard-as-nails man’s men who had supposedly settled the Wild West. “Having the right stuff meant possessing skill, daring, and an unwavering belief in one’s own abilities,” Weitekamp writes:

It meant working in an all-male environment where a certain coarseness complimented the dangers ever present in the work. It meant dealing with death. Having the right stuff meant exhibiting the particular brand of masculinity needed to strap oneself into an unproven aircraft for the express purpose of pushing that airplane to its limits.[39]

Having the right stuff, in other words, meant being able to do something much more than survive the ride out into orbit and back. Ham the Chimpanzee had that covered (fig. 10).[40] Ultimately, the nation relied on the country’s first astronauts to act out a version of the strenuous masculinity that people like Theodore Roosevelt had extolled some sixty years before.[41] In this cultural context, female astronauts just wouldn’t fly.

Figure 10: Ham, aka “Astrochimp,” 1961

John Glenn said as much in 1962, when he testified before a special House subcommittee on the issue of women in space. “I think this gets back to the way our social order is organized really. It is just a fact,” he explained of his opposition to female astronauts. “The men go off and fight the wars and fly the airplanes and come back and help design and build and test them. The fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order.”[42] The fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order. As a law professor of mine once joked, “What’s wrong with circular arguments? They’re so tidy.” With his repeated appeals to “facts,” Glenn obscured the ways in which men (and to a much lesser extent, women) worked to “design and build and test” the social order that so benefited him—the social order that ensured that NASA wouldn’t send either a woman or a person of color into space until 1983, a full twenty years after the Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova had boldly gone where no woman had gone before.

Of course, the world of 1950s and 1960s America wasn’t nearly as tidy as Glenn would have had Congress believe. To the contrary, these years saw tremendous social upheaval. The decade between 1954 and 1964 alone witnessed the beginnings of both second-wave feminism and the Civil Rights Movement. Brown v. Board of Education, the Pill, the Equal Pay Act, Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, the Civil Rights Act—these milestones in the history of America’s fight for gender and racial equality all date to this period. Add the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia and the 1969 Stonewall riots, and you get a sense of just how deeply the tectonic plates of American power relations were grinding at this point, just how urgently certain groups were working to redefine the all-white, all-straight, all-male status quo that men like Glenn represented. Locked to the top of a missile, however, Glenn and his fellow astronauts could blow themselves past the pull of such historical change and out into a weightless expanse where old fantasies of American identity—and with it, American masculinity—reigned supreme (fig. 11).


Even as figures like Timothy Leary and David Bowie used metaphors of intergalactic travel to describe counter-cultural journeys that ranged from the pharmacological to the sexual, the Mormons’ interstellar Christus pointed to the common patriarchal fantasies that fed both the LDS faith and the 1960s Space Race.


In this respect, NASA launched the Mercury 7 into a secular version of Mormonism’s own vision of outer space. Were you to hie your way to Kolob, after all, you’d land at a single point in an infinite regression of stars and planets, each created and peopled by a hyper-virile Mormon man-god. Although such innumerable fathers in heaven and their offspring “would seem to imply the existence of complementary mother gods,” LDS doctrine remains vague here.[43] Moreover, Mormon culture has never made much room for the idea of female goddesses in heaven.[44] “Certainly, we have not brought this concept [of female deities] centrally into our teaching and thinking,” the LDS bishop Robert A. Reese observed in 1991. “What we are left with,” Reese continued:

is an image of our Heavenly Mother staying at home having billions of children while the men—the Father and his sons—go off to create worlds, spin galaxies, take business trips to outer space. She is happy, it would seem, to let them have all the recognition, all the glory.[45]

Unlike the Mercury 7 wives, who at least got a spread in Life magazine, the LDS Mother in Heaven is a deeply private creature.[46] She demurely occupies herself with the domestic work that apparently follows female Saints even to heaven while her deity husband exerts his “control . . . over [mortal] men’s minds through space accomplishments.”[47] “In the culture of The Right Stuff, each masculine warrior needs a feminine worrier at home to make his heroism complete,” the space writer Margaret Dean Lazarus observes.[48] Just like these midcentury rocket warriors, the LDS church imagines the cosmos as a place that relegates women—and until relatively recently, African-Americans—to the largely invisible role of support staff.[49] Sacred or secular, the social order of this final frontier is largely the same.

Figure 11: John Glenn in orbit, February 20, 1962

Returning to the Christus-Creation installation, we can now see it as something much more nuanced than a visual token of the Saints’ Christianity. In addition to “remin[ding] us that Christ is the center of the [Mormon] universe,” in the words of one LDS missionary, the sculpture and its mural originally signaled the Church’s ongoing investment in a conservative worldview that, by 1966, had come under open assault. Even as figures like Timothy Leary and David Bowie used metaphors of intergalactic travel to describe counter-cultural journeys that ranged from the pharmacological to the sexual, the Mormons’ interstellar Christus pointed to the common patriarchal fantasies that fed both the LDS faith and the 1960s Space Race. In the process, the work made the Saints look profoundly American. A mammoth white spaceman most commonly referred to as “powerful” and “muscular,” the Salt Lake City Christus invoked the Mercury 7’s patriotic commitment to protecting the country from Soviet attack and, beneath that, colonization by upstart women and minorities.[50] It was a relatively new set of associations for a people who had spent the better part of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries branded as a polygamous cancer on the national body politic.[51] It was, in other words, just what the post-polygamy Church needed: a towering view of modern-day Mormonism enthroned in the all-Americans heavens of space-age masculinity.

Mary Campbell is an associate professor of art history whose research focuses on the intersections of American visual and legal culture. Her first book, Charles Ellis Johnson and the Erotic Mormon Image (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016) examines the work of a little-known Mormon photographer whose images of prophets, temples, and half-dressed vaudeville actresses worked in concert to mainstream the Latter-day Saints into the nation after the scandal of polygamy. A lawyer as well as an art historian, Campbell clerked for Judge Sharon Prost of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and continues to publish in legal journals, including the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism. Her work has received the support of the American Council of Learned Societies, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the University of Tennessee Humanities Center.



[1] Oral history interview with Sidney E. King, circa 1980-1983. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution (hereafter cited as King Oral History), unpaginated.

[3] For an excellent discussion of LDS conceptions of man’s deification and consequent creative powers, see Turner, The Mormon Jesus, pp. 153-83.

[4] I refer here to Joseph Smith’s revelation on LDS polygamy, first recorded July 12, 1843, and the sermon he delivered at the April 7, 1844 funeral of the Mormon elder King Follett. See Doctrine and Covenants 132:32; Joseph Smith Jr, discourse delivered on April 6, 1844, reprinted in Brigham Young, George D. Watt, and J. V. Long, eds., Journal of Discourses (Liverpool and London: Asa Calkin, 1859) (hereafter cited as King Follett Sermon), 6:1-11. Smith and his brother Hyrum were both murdered on June 27, 1844.

[5] Turner, Mormon Jesus, 168, quoting Brigham Young discourse of 9 April 1852, General Church Minutes, CR 100 318, Box 2, Folder 37, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[6] Turner, Mormon Jesus, 168.

[7] Book of Abraham 3:12-13. This text is codified in the LDS scripture Pearl of Great Price.

[8] King Follett Discourse, 4.

[9] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1st ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 154.

[10] “Becoming Like God,” February 2014,

[11] Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone, The Book of Mormon: The Complete Book and Lyrics of the Broadway Musical (New York: Dey St./William Morrow, 2011), 70. As Elder Price declares earlier in the number, “I believe that God has a plan for all of us. I believe that plan involves me getting my own planet.” Ibid., 68.

[12] Erastus Snow, discourse delivered on March 3, 1878, reprinted in Brigham Young, George D. Watt, and J. V. Long, eds., Journal of Discourses (Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1854–86), 19:271.

[13] Roger D. Launius, “A Western Mormon in Washington, D.C.: James C. Fletcher, NASA, and the Final Frontier,” Pacific Historical Review 64 (May 1995): 217-241. 232.

[14] King Oral History.

[15] Capson Oral History, 7.

[16] Cf. “What Religious Leaders Believe,” January 17, 1960, noting Mormons “believe God actually dwells on a glorious planet.” A Parade magazine article, this ran in at least fifteen newspapers, including the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Arizona Daily Star, and Detroit Free Press.

[17] For a discussion of such pop cultural images of LDS polygamy during the nineteenth century, see Mary Campbell, Charles Ellis Johnson and the Erotic Mormon Image (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), passim.

[18] Book of Worship for United States Forces: A Collection of Hymns and Worship Resources for Military Personnel of the United States of America, 1st ed. (The Armed Forces Chaplain Board: 1974), 71 (“God of Earth and Planets”); 83 (“Great Ruler Over Time and Space”); 197 (“Bless Thou the Astronauts Who Face”). A compilation of Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant devotional materials, the Book of Worship gives a sense of broad trends in mainstream American ecclesiastical practices at the time, including the popularity of space-themed hymns.

[19] William J. Reynolds, ed., Baptist Hymnal, 6th ed. (Nashville, TN: Convention Press, 1975). My thanks to UTK law professor Lucille Jewel for calling my attention to these space-themed hymns.

[20] Megan Prelinger, Another Science Fiction: Advertising the Space Race, 1957-1962 (New York: Blast Books, 2010), 68, 91-94.

[21] G. Careless et al., The Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody: A Collection of Original Tunes (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1896), 196.

[22] See supra, note 17.

[23] Richard Buckminster Fuller, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1969), 46.

[24] Emily Rosenberg, “Far Out: American Culture in the Space Age,” in Remembering the Space Age, ed. Steven J. Dick (NASA History Division, 2008), 157.

[25] See Ron Cowen, “Sputnik + 50: Remembering the Dawn of the Space Age,” Science News 172 (October 6, 2007): 216.

[26] “Soviet Fires Earth Satellite into Space,” New York Times, Oct. 5, 1957.

[27] April 1961 wasn’t JFK’s best month. Five days after the Soviets launched Gagarin into orbit, the Bay of Pigs invasion failed.

[28] Prelinger, Another Science Fiction, 13.

[29] As Margaret Lazarus Dean so sagely observes, “The debate over whether it’s important for humans to go to space is a debate about the dream lives of taxpayers.” “A Brief History of Spacefarers,” The Paris Review, May 19, 2015.

[30] Lyndon B. Johnson memo to John F. Kennedy, April 28, 1961 in Jussi M. Hanhimäki and Odd Arn Westad, eds., The Cold War: A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 294 (emphasis added).

[31] “Special Message to Congress on Urgent National Needs,” delivered in person before a joint session, May 25,1961, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1962), 403 (emphasis added).

[32] Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff, 2nd ed. (New York: Picador Publishing, 2008).

[33] See Margaret A. Weitekamp, Right Stuff, Wrong Sex: America’s First Women in Space Program (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 64-65.

[34] Ibid., 65: “Scientists speculated that a woman’s internal reproductive system would be more protected than men’s external sexual organs were, and therefore less susceptible to damage from vibration or violent shaking.”

[35] See ibid., 63-65.

[36] Ibid., 63, 77, 106.

[37] Ibid., 73.

[38] Ibid., 121.

[39] Ibid., 42.

[40] Nicknamed “Astrochimp,” Ham became the first primate in space on January 31, 1961. Ham was, for the record, male.

[41] On space travel and the strenuous life, see James Spiller, “Nostalgia for the Right Stuff: Astronauts and Public Anxiety about a Changing Nation,” in Spacefarers: Images of Astronauts and Cosmonauts in the Heroic Era of Spaceflight, ed. Michael J. Neufeld (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2013), 58.

[42] John Glenn, quoted in Weitekamp, Right Stuff, Wrong Sex, 151.

[43] Campbell, Erotic Mormon Image, 152.

[44] For a discussion of the doctrinal and cultural silence surrounding the Mormon Mother in Heaven, see Campbell, Erotic Mormon Image, 152-53.

[45] Robert A. Rees, “Our Mother in Heaven,” Sunstone 15 (April 1991), 49-50.

[46] “Astronauts’ Wives: Their Inner Thoughts, Worries,” Life, September 21, 1959.

[47] See supra, note 69.  

[48] Margaret Lazarus Dean, “Warriors and Worriers: Risk, Masculinity, and the Anxiety of Individuality in the Literature of American Spaceflight,” in Spacefarers: Images of Astronauts and Cosmonauts in the Heroic Era of Spaceflight, ed. Michael J. Neufeld (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2013), 210.

[49] More than a decade after the Civil Rights Act officially outlawed race-based discrimination, the Church continued to insist that African-American men couldn’t hold the LDS priesthood. “The Negro and others of Negroid blood cannot hold the Priesthood, in this stage of life, apparently because of a lack of valor in the pre-mortal existence,” the LDS book Mormonism and the Negro explained in 1960. “The fact that God would allow those spirits who were less worthy in the spirit world to partake of a mortal body at all is further evidence of his mercy,” the text continued. John J. Stewart, Mormonism and the Negro: An explanation and defense of the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in regard to Negroes and others of Negroid blood (Orem, UT: Bookmark Division of Community Press Publishing Company, 1960), 34, 50. Under the direction of this supposedly merciful God, the Saints also refused to allow African-Americans to marry in the temple or marry white members of the Church. See ibid., 8: “nor are they eligible for marriage in an LDS temple; Negroes and non-Negroes should not intermarry.”

[50] On the racial implications of the Church’s enormous white Christ, see Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey, The Color of Christ: The Son of God & The Sage of Race in America (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2014), 254. On Christus’s muscular masculinity, see ibid. (describing the Salt Lake City Christus as “gigantic and muscular” with “a powerful physique”); Turner, Mormon Jesus, 273 (“In Thorvaldsen’s statue, the savior is a strong and muscular man”); Richard G. Oman, “‘Ye Shall See the Heavens Open’: Portrayal of the Divine and the Angelic in Latter-day Saint Art,” Brigham Young University Studies 35 (1995-96): 121 (““This is the commanding, triumphal Christ of the Resurrection. The muscular, outstretched arms and the strong masculinity of the figure give the sculpture power.”

[51] As Jan Shipps writes, “The contrast with the radical Left made the image of the Saints even more appealing than it had been in the fifties, making this a time when at least middle America’s perceptions of the Saints would be overwhelmingly positive. I am convinced that it was the dramatic discrepancy between clean-cut Mormons and scruffy hippies that completed the transformation of the Mormon image from the quasi-foreign, somewhat alien lines that it had in the nineteenth century to the more than 100 percent super-American portrait of the late sixties and early seventies.” “Surveying the Mormon Image since 1960,” in Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years among the Mormons (Urbana: University of Illinois Press: 2006), 100.


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