A book by Jon Krakauer< read all 2 reviews
Krakauer augments his story with a basic history of Mormonism that does well to explain it's growth from inception to a religion of prominence in less than two centuries. At the same time, he shines a perceptive light on some of the idiosyncrasies within Mormon theology that may have contributed to the existence of fundamentalist splinter movements promoting polygamy, misogyny and pedophilia. There are plenty of simple questions, none of which are met with clear or straightforward answers. Did the oppression of the early Mormons lead to the development of a subculture of violence in later years? Was Joseph Smith a prophet, charlatan or religious genius? And what of the other self-proclaimed prophets, have they truly received revelations from God, are they delusional or mentally ill?
One interesting facet of Krakauer's writing here is that he forgoes an aggressively journalistic style of writing in favor of a more direct approach. By that I mean that he doesn't qualify pieces of narrative by writing that Ron Lafferty "allegedly" or "might" have received a revelation, he simply writes that "God spoke to Ron." That might foster disagreement with those of us who might question whether or not Lafferty is a creative liar or some form of schizophrenic, however it makes for a much lucid read; and in any case, Krakauer seems more interested in offering enough evidence to allow the reader to reach their own conclusions within the context of their personal faith.
I learned a great deal from this book. Compared to other religions, Mormonism is a relative newcomer with its inception in the 1820's. The history of how this religion has grown and sprouted splinter movements of its own is fascinating. It's these offshoots that have become the most problematic for mainstream Mormons, sowing the seeds for the Lafferty murders, along with the more recent kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart.
With this effort, John Krakauer (an agnostic) has produced a fascinating work of history, crime, psychology and theological discussion that will affect you in one way or another.
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