Thursday, November 08, 2007

I Love Mormons

I swear on Joseph Smith's grave I must've seen at least twenty people reading "Under the Banner of Heaven," by Jon Krakauer last week on the subway. I was #21. I don't know what was in the air: either the premiere of Into the Wild suddenly had people interested in Krakauer's work in general, or perhaps something major had just happened on Big Love . Whatever it is, New Yorkers were very interested in Mormons last week.

I, however, have always been interested in Mormons. I met my first Mormon when I was about thirteen. I remember going to her house and seeing the picture of the Temple in Salt Lake and the strange pastel rendering of Jesus, thinking her Mom was too young for her dad, and wondering why she had so many siblings. She (her name was Jessica) told me the story of Joseph Smith and how he had found the gold plates, about the angel Moroni, and how everyone thinks Mormons have multiple wives but "real Mormons almost never do."

Which brings me, of course to Big Love .

I feel the same way about Mormons and Big Love as I do about Virginia Woolf and The Hours . But wait, let me backtrack.

My lovely friend L. happens to be a Mormon. She and I met when we found out we were both on our way to Indiana University back in the day, and lived in the same dorm once there. We were both Voice Majors. (L. stuck with her major, like a trooper, I gave-up and went the English major-route). One day, I cornered L. in her dorm room and asked the tough questions. I wanted to know about Mormonism.

"Is it true that you guys can't drink hot liquids?"
"What? Where did you hear that?"
"Well, you can't have coffee . . ."
"I can't drink caffeine. That doesn't mean I can't have hot liquid! You see me drink herbal tea all the time!"
"Oh, yeah, I guess that is true."

She went on to give me a short run down of the history, and the texts "the Quad," and marriage ceremonies. I have to admit, L., that the whole "fusion," "sealing" (Ah, MEA CULPA!) idea still seems pretty quirky to me. The idea is (and please, Mormons and Mormons experts, feel free to correct me on this) that not only are you "married," (think traditional christian marriage ceremony here, folks) but then you are "fused" "sealed" to your spouse in a ceremony. This is to make sure that when you die, you are able to find each other in the afterlife. (Mormons suppose heaven is pretty crowded, I guess). From what I understand, you can also fuse your children to you, as well, or other members of your family. I think that's a little strange. What if you don't want to be found in the afterlife? What if you just want to sit around and read and hang out with Oscar Wilde? I guess Oscar wouldn't make it to Mormon heaven, anyway.

But all this is really beside the point. Talking to L. made me realize I had no idea what Mormons believed. I felt fairly confident after speaking to her that I did.

Enter, "Under the Banner of Heaven."

Now, this is the book that everyone cites in a conversation where you reveal that you love Mormons. It goes something like this:

"I don't know what to think about that new HBO show."
"What, Big Love? It's great! I love Mormons!"
"WHAT. How can you love Mormons? They're a cult! It's a cult! They hate women and gay people! They force fourteen year olds to marry their fathers!"
"Wait, wait, wait. Are you talking about the FLDS?"
"No! I'm talking about MORMONISM. Haven't you read "Under the Banner of Heaven?"
"Well, no, but isn't that about the FLD--"

So finally, last week, I read "Under the Banner of Heaven."




m said...

i know we've already talked about a love of mormons and "under the banner of heaven," but i don't know if we've talked about a love of big love yet. i find mormonism fascinating, as i find all strict (and typically, strictly adhered-to) religions fascinating. there is something in utter submission to an organization larger than yourself, be it your big immediate mormon family, or your big immediate mormon church that i am totally into.

anyways, read the book. then we'll talk.

Anonymous said...

Random FYI: it's "stake" not "steak." And marriage in the temple is called "being sealed." It's basically a Mormon idea that families are forever and you are promising to be with that person for all eternity, not just in this life. But from now on I'm totally calling it fusion.

from yr acquaintance, a DL recovering Mormon.


Snobber said...

hey, anonymous, thank you! apparently i need to brush up on my terminology, yes? i think i've corrected everything. hah, i'm glad you liked my fusion term, though.

do i know you?

Anonymous said...

yep -- sj's jenny.

Snobber said...

jenny! i didn't know you were a recovering mormon. thanks for the corrections and thanks for reading!

Weston Krogstadt said...

If you are having real issues with Mormonism, please visit my blog:

Snobber said...

i certainly don't hate mormons.