Monday, June 1, 2009
Good Morning, Monday
I finally finished a book entitled Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer (the author of Into Thin Air). This is another one of my inherited books and I started this book prior to my many weddings and travels last month. It's not such a good travel book, I'd say, but it was interesting. It begins with the story of a murder carried out in a small town in Utah. A woman and her infant daughter were murdered by her husband's brothers who had received a message from God saying that they were to murder her and her daughter. The book then goes on to explore the culture of the Mormon religion, delving into Mormon history, looking at the formation of fundamentalist sects and the eventual convening of the "School of the Prophets", where men receive prophecies directly from God himself. This book was fascinating for a number of different reasons, namely that it talked about Mormonism, which has always been something I am interested in, though know little about. It talked about the founding of the religion by Joseph Smith as well as about some of the historical occurrences the Church itself has tried to "sweep under the carpet". Because of my experiences in Christian and Catholic schools, I am always fascinated by the hypocrises and aberrations in religions (meaning, they aren't all as perfect as they want you to think they are). Krakauer is a thorough and detailed author, but he tends to jump around subjects, not staying with one particular subject long enough for the reader to fully appreciate the points he is trying to get across. His basic thesis, that from the beginning of the Mormon Church, there lies within a tendency towards fundamentalism and fanaticism which ultimately has led to several horrible incidences throughout it's short history, is supported quite well with his arguments and illustrations, but I don't know that this is anything new or particularly unique. The story is bizarre, right down to the murderer believing he is the prophet Elijah, who will herald in the second coming of Christ (from his jail cell???) and reads somewhat like In Cold Blood, although it does show some bias and is not nearly as "journalistic"-for lack of a better word. I'm not sure this book is one I would recommend. It's not really a "true crime" book, and it's not really a history book, it's a combo of both genres that might not necessarily be done very well. It is disturbing and fascinating to think people are so ridiculously religious as to think God would order them to commit murder, but perhaps it sheds some light on the religious fanaticism we see all over the world.