Thursday, November 30, 2006
And Welcome to December
Phew. I'm here.

So I went to Italy and that was nice. You can see photos, over there on the right, at Flickr. We went to Rome, and Positano. I saw the Pope. Really. Then there was more improv, more retreat planning, and then I organized some improve training for my office. And a big dinner and happy hour. It was fun. Then Thanksgiving. OK so we're all caught up.

Today I'm home, sick, and watched an amazing show called "Cash Cab." It's on Discovery Channel. You should watch it. I'd rank it right up there with "Elimi-date" which is fine late night TV. Here, you can read about it: Cash Cab

Hmm and then the other thing to talk about is the book "Under the Banner of Heaven." It's about Mormon Fundamentalism. I had a whole entry worked out in my head the other night, but I think having watched too much ellen, Green Acres, and Martha may have made me forget most of it. I probably shouldn't bring it up, since its touchy, and its opening a virtual can of worms. But, here goes...

Under the Banner of Heaven
I take some issue with Jack Krakauer's decision to closely juxtapose the life and times of the father of Mormonism (Joseph Smith) with the events that unfolded regarding the Lafferty brothers. For those who have not read the book, the history of the Mormon faith is explained, in a fairly indepth fashion. Interspersed with the chapters of the history of this American religion is the story of Ron and Dan Lafferty, who brutally murdered their sister in law (Brenda) and her 18 month old baby (Erica). They carried out these murders based on a supposed revelation from God that they should both be removed from the planet. Ron and Dan had recently become involved with a Mormon Fundamentalist group, and a group that was following the tenets of polygamy.

I'm certain that the author wanted to try and associate the lives of Smith and the Lafferty brothers closely, somehow suggesting that Smith may have been as much of an unusual thinker in his time as the Laffertys in ours. Yet, this seems wrong, and presumptious, and I feel the author approached this book (although he argues vehemently otherwise) having already judged Smith and his eventual followers. There is a sense that he has started writing the book with an end very much in mind, and that the reader is left to follow his (not so well written) story as he chooses to unfold it.

Krakauer disturbingly justifies his examination of the current LDS Church by stating he grew up with Mormons, has lived near them, that they are his friends and have been his teachers (page 336). This is faulty reasoning, and doesn't qualify him for understanding the group, being able to dissect them, and allowing him to make associations amongst two groups that are no longer associated with one another. In fact, he shows his own complete lack of understanding the Church or its Followers in his simple minded, and continued association of the Mormon Fundamentalists, and current LDS Church. Certainly, the groups have a similar history, that much is a fact. However, his grouping LDS with the Mormon Fundamentalists is an amateur mistake, missing the basic premise that these two groups (like any mainstream group and their fundamental or extremist counterparts) characteristically interrept similar core teachings in a fundamental and completely alteringly different way, thus creating two totally distinct belief systems and sets of religious practices.

I do have more to write, based on some other thinking that came of out this book. I'll work on that for some other time.