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Summer Reading

I'm about halfway through the book Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. The core of the book is the story of a young woman and her child who were murdered by Mormon Fundamentalists because God told them to do it. There's a lot of history and background information about Joseph Smith and Mormonism and the fundamentalists and polygamy.

I'm trying to look at Mormonism in a detached way. It's a relatively young religion in comparison to the other big ones, like Christianity, Islam, et al. I'm sure it took all those other established religions several hundred years to become established and many people certainly felt threatened by Jesus and thought he was a crackpot. So maybe the Mormons just seem so weird to observers in this day and age who don't have the luxury of so much time removed. But I can't get over the fact that Joseph Smith had a pretty good reputation as a con artist before he decided he was a prophet. And every time somone points out a mistake in his orders, "oh, wait, here it comes,... God just gave me another prophecy. We should definitely do this instead of what I just said." How can people actually believe Smith's fairy tales?

I guess part of my, hmm, not skepticism so much, as I feel something stronger than that... I definitely have a problem with Mormonism but I think it has a lot to do with my problems with religion in general. The faithful believe anything they are told by an authority-, father-figure. And a lot of those faithful end up being major hypocrites. ("Sex is for reproductive purposes only. Let me just molest these young children... Oh no! I must have been tempted by Satan!")

The Mormon Fundamentalists are the ones who practice polygamy. The official Mormon church does not endorse it. I suppose that in general, polygamy shouldn't bother me. On some level, it's a personal preference for a man to have sex with several women and for those women to be okay with it. The part that is abhorrent is when those "women" are 14-year-old girls being forced by their fathers to marry old men, oftentimes uncles, stepbrothers, or other male relatives. Attorneys general are not spending enough time prosecuting these sick men and protecting those children. Freedom of religion can only be argued so far. It's still illegal to abuse children.

Also, Mormonism, both fundamental and "regular" is patriarchal to the point that women (and men) are brainwashed to believe that men are in charge and women are property. I feel so bad for the children who will never know another way of life.

In other religion news, I there are two articles about the Amish at
Christian Science Monitor today. One is a book review on Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish by Tom Shachtman. Rumspringa is a period of time, starting when a child is 16, when you leave the Amish community and experience the “English” world. The Amish can only be baptized as adults who choose the religion. Children are set free and given the choice to return (it must be nice to have that choice). And about 80 percent of the teenagers return. The Amish community is so far removed from the rest of the modern culture that kids find they can’t deal with the different world. Rumspringa was also brought to mainstream attention a few years ago in the documentary Devil’s Playground. It’s definitely worth watching to see what these kids get in to while they’re experimenting with English tempation.

The other Amish article on
Christian Science Monitor is a column by an author of Amish mystery novels. I’d really like to read some of those and see what sort of mysteries the Amish get themselves into.

Totally unrelated: Ken Mehlman is on CNN right now. I can't stand that jerk.

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