I’m currently in the middle of reading B. F. Skinner’s utopian novel Walden Two (1948), so when by coincidence I discovered the following discourse by George Q. Cannon, it gave me an unexpected view on utopias. Cannon’s remarks, spurred by Edward Bellamy’s popular utopian novel Looking Backward (1887), portray not only a religious criticism of many of the utopian proposals, but also demonstrate that religion itself is, in a way, about creating a utopia or preparing for a utopian hereafter. And these remarks are particularly interesting given Mormonism’s own experimentation and involvement with utopian efforts well before Cannon made these remarks.
The exodus of most of the Mormons in the United States to a part of “Upper California” (now Utah) starting in 1846 interrupted publishing by Mormons throughout that country. Of the Church’s three official publications, the Times and Seasons closed down that year, as did the New York Messenger (successor to the Prophet). This left the LDS Church, under the leadership of Brigham Young, with just one official publication, the Millennial Star, published in Manchester, England.