On the recommendation of my sister, I went to the library and picked up Under The Banner Of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. It's a look at a murder of a woman and her baby by two Mormon Fundamentalists who claimed that God told them to kill the victims. But while that's the core premise on the cover, it's really a deeper examination of the Mormon religion and how the Fundamentalist groups have split off over the issue of "plural marriages", or polygamy. I found the book and material interesting and challenging on a number of levels.
I'm not a Mormon, but I can understand how many adherents to that faith would find this book distasteful. It doesn't paint the history of the Mormon religion in a very positive light. On the flip side, this would be like examining evangelical Christianity through David Koresh or Catholicism through the events of the Crusades. It's not hard to see how the narcissistic tendencies of a single charismatic individual can lead people down a path that eventually leads to corruption and abuse of power. It also forced me to look at my faith and belief system in a more critical light.
Krakauer writes a very clean and factual account of the events he covers. Into Thin Air was a riveting account of mountain climbing deaths, and this book follows in the same style. I might have structured the last third of the book a little differently, in that he jumps way back into Mormon history as a break in the telling of the story about the killing. By the time you got through all that, there was a bit of continuity loss. But still, it's a book well worth reading...
The brutal murders of Brenda Lafferty and her infant daughter by Ron and Dan Lafferty are at the center of this examination of Mormon fundamentalism. If your only exposure to the writing of John Krakauer has been his personal account of an ill-fated Mount Everest expedition (Into Thin Air), you'll be pleased to discover that his abilities as a writer stretch much further than the first person narrative. Under the Banner of Heaven is an engrossing inspection of religious zealotry focusing on Ron … more
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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In 1984, Ron and Dan Lafferty murdered the wife and infant daughter of their younger brother Allen. The crimes were noteworthy not merely for their brutality but for the brothers' claim that they were acting on direct orders from God. InUnder the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer tells the story of the killers and their crime but also explores the shadowy world of Mormon fundamentalism from which the two emerged. The Mormon Church was founded, in part, on the idea that true believers could speak directly with God. But while the mainstream church attempted to be more palatable to the general public by rejecting the controversial tenet of polygamy, fundamentalist splinter groups saw this as apostasy and took to the hills to live what they believed to be a righteous life. When their beliefs are challenged or their patriarchal, cult-like order defied, these still-active groups, according to Krakauer, are capable of fighting back with tremendous violence. While Krakauer's research into the history of the church is admirably extensive, the real power of the book comes from present-day information, notably jailhouse interviews with Dan Lafferty. Far from being the brooding maniac one might expect, Lafferty is chillingly coherent, still insisting that his motive was merely to obey God's command. Krakauer's accounts of the actual murders are graphic and disturbing, but such detail makes the brothers' claim of divine instruction all the more horrifying. In an age where Westerners have ...