Monday, July 21, 2008

Under The Banner of Heaven

June 26th we gathered together at Heathers to discuss Under The Banner Of Heaven, A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer. Before we could get to the book we had to celebrate the addition to our book group family, baby Rees. Greatly anticipated and very early we are all thrilled for his arrival, and to see mom up and around and off bed-rest.

UTBOH tells the story of a brutal murder of a woman and her infant daughter whose lives were ended by the brothers of her ex-husband. They believed that God told them what they needed to do and thus are not guilty of any crime.

In telling this story, Krakauer presents the history of the Mormon church and how some of the more radical branches came about. It is not an entirely unsympathetic view of the main Mormon church but the offshoots aren't so easily presented. Krakauer describes the marriages of men to young girls (14/15) and rituals associated with that as "rape" - which it very much appears to be from an outsiders perspective.

He also highlights some of the more incongruous 'laws' handed down from God as convenient. Men may marry as many women as he is attracted to, because God has made the attraction, but a woman may only be with her husband. (a paraphrase.) So, if he's hot for some other woman it has been divined by God, but if she is attracted to another man it is a sin worthy of severe punishment. Sweet! Sign me up.

Krakauer devotes most of the book to the non-traditional Mormon groups and our book group was left with wanting more information on the primary church. Our discussion was robust and covered many topics including the nature of religion, how people just accept what is presented to them as facts and the "indoctrination" of children into all religions.