In Other Words: Mormons - Fact and Fiction

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Here's your chance to learn more about religion of one of the GOP's front-runners.

Considering we might want to learn something about Mormonism, in light of the upcoming presidential election, here are some titles that explore the Mormon religion, in non-fiction and fiction. 

First from the more factual side:

The Mormon People: the Making of an American Faith by Matthew Bowman: Religious historian Bowman presents 180 years of Mormon history and doctrine, recounting the church's origin and development, and explaining how Mormonism came to be one of the fastest-growing religions in the world.  He then sets the scene for the 2012 presidential election, with its potential to mark a major turning point in the way the faith is perceived by the American public.

Under the Banner of Heaven : a Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer:  Using mostly secondary historical texts and some contemporary primary sources, Krakauer details the history of the Mormon church from its early 19th-century creation to its violent journey from upstate New York to the Midwest and Utah, where, after the renunciation of the church's holy doctrine sanctioning multiple marriages, it transformed itself into one of the world's fastest-growing religions. While Krakauer demonstrates that most nonfundamentalist Mormons are community oriented, industrious and law-abiding, he poses some striking questions about the policies of the religion--and many religions in general.

Understanding the Book of Mormon : a Reader's Guide by Grant Hardy:  Hardy offers a comprehensive analysis of the work's narrative structure, by identifying the book's literary techniques, such as characterization, embedded documents, allusions, and parallel narratives, and shows how the narrators--Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni--each has a distinctive voice woven into an integral whole.

And now some pure fiction:

The 19th Wife : a novel by David Ebershoff: The story of Ann Eliza, the 19th wife of Brigham Young, and her crusade against polygamy is intertwined with a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in modern-day Utah.

The Lonely Polygamist : a novel by Brady Udall: Golden Richards, husband to four wives, father to 28 children, is having the mother of all midlife crises. His construction business is failing, his family has grown into an overpopulated mini-dukedom beset with insurrection and rivalry, and he is done in with grief: due to the accidental death of a daughter and the stillbirth of a son, he has come to doubt the capacity of his own heart. This is a tragicomic story of a deeply faithful man who, crippled by grief and the demands of work and family, becomes entangled in an affair that threatens to destroy his family’s future.

JohnB March 22, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Lyle, I agree. I do not know why anyone would need to read up on the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) as Mitt Romney is running for political office not a religious office. But if Greenfield Patch is going to recommend things to read about the Church I can post my list just as you felt inclined to post your own reading list at 5:51 PM on March 20th. In reply to my post you wrote, “I don't think that this would be the kind of forum to get into an active discussion of LDS doctrine, dogma and veracity.” This is interesting in that four of your six posts do exactly that. For someone that has repeatedly written that you do not care about Mitt Romney’s religious beliefs and that you do not feel this is the appropriate forum to discuss Mormonism, you seem to have a lot to say about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Lyle Ruble March 22, 2012 at 02:50 AM
@John B...If you carefully read the comment thread you will see that I was responding to Don Ormsby, He and I have been going back and forth. Don is the first person who has come up with the proper argument against other Christian faith's criticism of the Church.
Ray Swenson March 22, 2012 at 03:18 AM
You should move the Krakauer book into the "fiction" section, because most of what it reports about general Mormon history is second hand defamation written by an avowed atheist who hates ALL religion and targets Mormonism as an intense strawman for ALL religious beliefs. His thesis mainly consists of the notion that religion causes violence, end of story. But he ignores the violence that has been committed by people who have no religious motives, from inner city drug dealers and pimps to Communist dictators. People don't have to be religious to be violent. As for Mormonism, its basic ethic is the respect of the religious freedom and civil freedom of all people, no matter what their religious beliefs. National research, such as reported in the book American Grace, affirms that Mormons have affirmative feelings towards people of all other religions MORE than any other group, approaching the positive regard denominations have for their own group. Mormons believe 100% that people of ANY denomination can go to heaven. Many other denominations teach that only their own members avoid hell. These and other scientific research totally rebuts Krakauer's atheistic refusal to credit the good faith of Mormons.
Don Ormsby March 22, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Thank you, Lyle. Likewise, I find your point of view cogent and to the point, from your perspective. Methinks any further discussion might be the veracity of some various writings on the subject of LDS history and doctrine. We could have an interesting discussion on that, but perhaps this forum is not the appropriate venue. You would be a great guest on the radio show! For a lively discussion of all things LDS, listen and call in to "Mormon Misc." on Sunday evenings at 5pm MST at: www.k-talk.com - on air number, 801-254-5855
Lyle Ruble March 22, 2012 at 01:53 PM
@Don Ormsby...I used to listen to K-Talk while I lived in SLC. I would occasionally listen to Van Hale and he had some interesting programming. I was one of the few non-Mormons who used to watch or listen to Conference.


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