New Anti-Mormon Books
In Search of Truth in Mormon Doctrine -- One Woman's Quest
Contact: Abigail Davidson, Publicist, WinePress Publishing, 360-802-9758
ENUMCLAW, Wash., June 16 /Christian Newswire/ -- Expecting to be a faithful, lifelong Latter-day Saint, Carma Naylor was surprised when she discovered serious inconsistencies in Mormon doctrine. She questioned her own motives -- how could this precious family heritage be false? The story of Carma's initial quest for truth was published in 2006. The "rest of the story" of her difficult journey from deeply entrenched Mormonism to sincere Christianity is now available in "A Mormon's Unexpected Journey, Volume II, Finding the Grace I Never Knew."
From a long line of Mormon pioneers, Carma Naylor learned Mormonism well from church and her father. Because of his powerful, spiritual experiences she hung on his every word. She eventually gained her own testimony of the Book of Mormon. Carma fulfilled a mission to New Zealand, attended BYU, married in the Salt Lake Temple, and attended the temple for nineteen years. Her wish to help a Jewish friend find the truth from the Bible compelled her to question those beliefs and she found that Christianity -- not Mormonism -- had the answers.
This dynamic, personal story is also a powerful study tool that compares Mormon doctrine with biblical Christianity through real-life dialogues and specific references to LDS scriptures and the Holy Bible. Mrs. Naylor also reveals details of secret Mormon ceremonies in an attempt to free those held captive by those beliefs that they might find true freedom in Christ.
Pastor Chuck Smith, Founder, Calvary Chapel Movement, says Carma's book is "...a must read for any who have wondered what Mormonism is all about."
'It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita' by Heather B. Armstrong
A sampling of views about parenthood and modern life from a writer who's turned her blog into a lucrative site on the web.
By Rene Lynch
Los Angeles Times
April 18, 2009
Heather B. Armstrong is
kinda like the Howard Stern of mommy bloggers. Visitors flock to her website
dooce.com to see the former Mormon turn everyday life in Salt Lake City into an
uproarious rant in which few topics are spared -- and no one is left unscathed.
Her devoutly Mormon parents are frequent targets. As are Republicans. Potty humor is big too, whether it's a pregnant Armstrong trying to empty her bladder in a cramped airplane bathroom or her daughter's love of the word "poop." But mostly Armstrong invites the world to watch just how much life has changed for a website designer, live music lover and early-adapter-of-all-things-Web who is now a wife to the saintly Jon and stay-at-home mom to daughter Leta. (Two dogs, Coco and Chuck, have become celebrities in their own right.)
Armstrong has also used that evolution to cast a spotlight on her years-long bout with crippling depression and how medication made it all better. Her new book, "It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita," chronicles her decision to stop taking drugs so that she could become pregnant and her struggles to adapt to motherhood as well as her subsequent descent into postpartum depression. She held off returning to her pre-pregnancy medications because she wanted to continue breast-feeding her daughter -- and did so, until the pangs of anxiety became so disturbing that she feared harming herself, or her family.
"I thought about suicide
every day during those months. I thought about how I would do it; perhaps I
would hang myself with the dog's leash, or maybe I'd grab every single pill we
had in the cabinet and drown them with a couple shots of tequila. I wanted to do
something, anything to stop the pain," she writes.
Ultimately Armstrong checks herself into a mental institution and credits it with saving her life, giving her time to focus on herself and allow a doctor to supervise the administration of a powerful drug cocktail that worked almost immediately: "I felt a difference within two hours, and if you ask Jon he will tell you that when he saw me that afternoon he saw Heather for the first time in seven months, not that awful woman who liked to throw keys at his head."
In the book, like her blog, Armstrong is remarkably at ease with portraying herself in an unflattering light. Letting it all hang out on dooce.com led to Armstrong's firing years ago -- after she wrote some unflattering things about her workplace and her boss. But that dismissal -- which pinged its way around the Web -- only helped boost her following when she returned to blogging and never looked back. (No wonder. It is estimated that she makes $40,000 a month from her website, enough to allow St. Jon to quit his day job and manage his wife's empire.)
She uses her blog to fly in the face of convention, empowering women -- parents -- to raise their families according to their own rules. She's increasingly gaining a platform as the media's go-to quote on "Mommy 2.0," whether it's how new moms can use social networking to feel less isolated or the controversy surrounding early childhood vaccinations.
She gets plenty of flak for her outspokenness, and she routinely bars comments on particular blog posts that she knows will bring out the crazies -- the folks who harshly criticize her decision to blog so openly about her child, how she treats St. Jon and even how she chose to treat her own depression. (Armstrong gives as good as she gets -- some of her best posts round up the more outlandish comments she's received and give her the chance to have the last laugh.)
The uninitiated won't have any trouble keeping up with "I Cried," which is written in the same casual style of the blog, and with her amusing use of punctuation and the caps lock key to convey a sense of two girlfriends talking to each other over a Starbucks. Some fans, though, might be disappointed that the book so closely echoes the blog. (There's already some grousing in the blogosphere that the book feels like a "best of" dooce.com.)
Oddly, "I Cried" can feel too hesitant when it comes to discussing the depths of Armstrong's depression, like it had to be dragged out of her. Even though it's signaled throughout, the darkening cloud still feels like it comes out of nowhere, descends and is just as quickly cast away by the all-knowing doctor. In the acknowledgments, there is a line that suggests what might have been left out: "Thanks to my father . . . especially for being willing to believe that what I went through was real."
Equally real is the tangible, LOL-way in which Armstrong writes about love -- love for her husband, love for her family, her sanity and, most of all, her surprise at how much her love for a little girl named Leta has affected her. Another acknowledgment that did not make the book: Another daughter is on the way.
New book chronicles early polygamy among Mormons
February 11, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY - If the
past is a window to the present, then a new book about polygamy among early
Mormons could be a portal to understanding where some contemporary
Utah polygamists have found inspiration for
their way of life.
From child brides and secret ceremonies to their defiance of marriage laws, the narrative in George D. Smith's "Nauvoo Polygamy" illustrates the development and breadth of polygamy as it was first practiced in the 1840s by the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in Nauvoo, Ill.
"It changes our understanding of a plurality of wives," polygamy historian Martha Sontag Bradley said of the book. "It provides indisputable, quantifiable evidence that the scope of plural marriage was more broad and deep than we had imagined."
In nearly 700 pages, the book weaves the story of church founder Joseph Smith's relationships with the more than 30 women he married and how he persuaded his closest followers that "celestial marriage" was a sacred and essential religious practice.
In addition, more than
70 pages of charts uniquely chronicle Illinois marriages between 196 Mormon men
and 717 women -- about four wives to each man -- including the dates of the
unions and, when available, the ages of husbands and wives.
The records show more than 200 of the brides were 17 or younger. Often they married men 10 or more years older, including 12-year-old Mary Ann Williams whose husband was 43 when they married in 1856.
The data are somewhat similar to marriage and family records seized last year from a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ranch in a raid by Texas
Publicity and rumor have swirled around the FLDS since 2006, when church leader Warren Jeffs was arrested and then convicted in Utah of rape as an accomplice for his role in the 2001 marriage of a 14-year-old follower to her cousin.
In Texas, a dozen FLDS men, including Jeffs, have been charged with crimes ranging from sexual assault of a child to failure to report child abuse. Jeffs, 53, is accused of a sexual assault involving a 12-year-old girl he is said to have married.
"It was all laid out in Nauvoo," said Bradley. "The (book's) view on plural marriage in its earliest and subterranean years suggest that underage marriage has always been a part of the story. The template for the layering of relationships, practice and doctrine was created by Joseph Smith, enriched under Brigham Young and lived under the administration of Jeffs."
The Texas raid in some ways echoes Nauvoo, where polygamy fueled such public anger that Smith was killed and Mormons were run out of Illinois.
"Just looking at Texas it does give you a certain amount of empathy with how Mormons were viewed in the 1840s," George D. Smith said.
Currently, FLDS leaders say the faith does not practice or condone underage marriage.
Whether in the 1840s or today, Mormon polygamists believe plural marriage leads to glory in the afterlife.
Established as church doctrine through revelation, Joseph Smith began the practice in about 1841, secretly marrying at least two women that year. One by one, he taught followers that plural marriage was not optional or arbitrary, but an essential element of being a full member of the church, George D. Smith said.
Some men and women resisted, but entering polygamy "became proof of loyalty and fortitude," said Bradley.
The sales pitch for polygamy was a combination of eternal promises and threats.
"There is this sense that if you don't do this, the afterlife is really going to be bleak," George D. Smith said. "But if you take this chance and accept Smith as a husband and join with these other wives you will have all these rewards and endless glory."
According to "Nauvoo Polygamy," 38 women were sufficiently seduced and married Joseph Smith.
Some were sisters. Some were widows. At least one was pregnant and 11 were already married to other men. authorities. One of Utah's largest polygamous groups, the traditionally insular FLDS closely follow Joseph Smith's original teachings.
The two youngest brides
were 14 and the oldest 58 when they married the 37-year-old Smith in 1843. The
church leader married 20 women that year, typically over the objections of Emma
Smith, his first and only legal wife.
George D. Smith's accounting of marriages adds five to the 33 that most scholars agree can be documented for Joseph Smith. The actual number may never be known.
Ultimately, the Mormon church would abandon polygamy as a condition of Utah's statehood in 1890, forcing the practice underground. An estimated 37,000 self-described fundamentalist Mormons now live across the intermountain West and western Canada, practicing polygamy in organized groups like the FLDS, or independently.
The mainstream Mormon church now excommunicates members who engage in the practice, although Smith's revelatory doctrine remains in scripture. The modern church has tried to distance itself from its polygamous past, by saying only a small percentage of Latter-day Saints were polygamists.
Some church Sunday
school manuals have also eliminated or glossed over references to the plural
wives of 19th century church presidents, including Brigham Young, who by George
D. Smith's accounting had 56 wives.
That denial of history in part drove George D. Smith's curiosity and the book.
"I guess I was intrigued by the obvious forgetting," said the author, whose research is largely based on documents and diaries held in the Mormon church archives.
"Here is something that was so elemental to the organization of the Mormons and yet there is this obvious lack of understanding. So the question is, why is the institution trying to forget?" he asked. "They are really trying to rinse the color out of LDS history."
Brian Evenson writes stories that make you want to sleep with a light on. His work is crafty and creepy and intriguing. He is the master when it comes to language, and before you know it, his stories and descriptions will have taken you hostage from your own moral judgments, allowing you to accept sociopaths, the perverse nature of violent acts being committed, along with a few zealots tossed in for good measure while taking in the psychology and religious ideology that seem to be present in all of his work. If you are a character in an Evenson short-story or novel, you are most likely being drowned, having your mouth (full of bees) stitched closed, or enduring some form of psychological or physical trauma. Evenson’s novels and stories are continually dark and always present to its reader the unexpected.
The Open Curtain is Evenson’s latest work and it reveals a great deal about the rituals and symbolism that have evolved within the Mormon Church since its inception. This novel explores violence in a way that is unsettling and even addicting for the reader. Evenson digs deep to show what happens when you lose the one thing that defines you as a person. The main character of The Open Curtain develops his own schizophrenic way of defining who he is and what he thinks about life and his religion. In his quest to redefine himself, he latches onto the identity of another LDS (Latter Day Saint) member who was accused of performing a violent ritual which resulted in murder some 100 years prior. Evenson shows us how sectarian violence masquerades in a culture where secrets and religious based rituals can take a psychological toll on those who are emotionally vulnerable.
When I spoke with Brian, I realized how passionate he is about storytelling, but also about simply presenting troubling accounts of horrific violence in a thought-provoking way. He has the capacity to write violent and visually disturbing stories and chapters without being too graphic. His unique way with language enables him to give us just enough information to let our imaginations run wild. Brian and I talked on the phone about what it is like to be Mormon, how difficult it will be for him to not write about Mormonism in his next novel, church history involving violence, murder, church rituals and ceremonies, and the pressures that exist in organized religion as well as why he chose to expound on what happens behind closed doors in the wedding ceremony at the LDS Temple in his new novel.
You mentioned having come across the Brigham Young story about his grandson and the murder he was being accused of from the early 1900s. What were you doing at that time when you discovered the information?
I think I was living in Oklahoma at the time, just having left Brigham Young University after controversy surrounding my first book. I don't remember what I was looking for exactly, I think maybe something about another murder, when I stumbled onto a brief mention that a grandson of Brigham Young had ritually murdered a woman in New York in 1903. What surprised me was that, despite growing up Mormon and despite having thought a lot about the relationship of violence to religion, I'd never heard that one of Mormon prophet Brigham Young's grandsons had committed a ritual murder. From there, I began to research it more fully, spending a lot of time paging through microfilms of the New York Times and other newspapers in a way very like how Rudd does in the novel.
I think it’s really interesting when you find something, especially when it is directly linked to your faith and even more so because it’s not just a murder, but it’s linked to something that’s close to you in a weird way.
I'm a strong believer in randomness and coincidence, and a lot of my work seems to come about in this way, just being open to seeing connections between things. I feel like this thing happens all the time. For instance, just a week ago, I was e-mailed by someone whose last name was Brown who wanted me to submit something to her magazine. Funny, I thought, since I go to Brown, to be solicited by someone named Brown. Then I opened the next message and found it to be a note from someone also named Brown asking me to submit to a different magazine. If you're even a little bit inclined toward the irrational, it's hard not to read significance into something like that. If you have a tenuous hold on reality, it can become the launch pad for delusion. When I came across the Hooper Young murder, it was hard not to feel it was something I had to write about; it just fit so remarkably well with my concerns. But it took me a while to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with it, that I wasn't interested in doing a traditional historical novel.
The main character in The Open Curtain is Rudd Theurer, a high school student in Utah who becomes obsessed with the murder that involves Blood Atonement. He chooses to write a school paper about the crime. The research he does refers to or implies that the murder had something to do with the Blood Atonement Doctrine. Did such a doctrine exist in the church? Is there any debate over whether or not it’s real or practiced?
There's a lot of debate about it. The official position of the Mormon Church is that it never existed and was never sanctioned by the Church. The evidence we have about it is partly anecdotal, but there is enough of that to suggest something was going on, whether secretly within the Church or among fringe Mormons, and several deaths that seem consistent with Blood Atonement. Brigham Young, among others, did preach that certain sins can only be atoned for by the shedding of the blood of the sinner, but whether this led to actual practice is difficult to say. Whether it actually happened or not, the idea of it circulates in the Mormon subconscious and definitely has had some effect on how Mormons think, and a startlingly large percentage of Mormons do believe in it.
Do you feel that it’s inherent in Mormon culture to suppress or deny religious history or at least the facts that might blemish the church’s reputation in any way?
I don’t know if it's inherent, but it's certainly been established practice for a number of years. In the 1950s, the Mormon Church had almost no publicity department; now, that's one of the largest departments in the Church's bureaucracy. The Mormon Church has acted more and more like a corporation as time has gone on, and has become incredibly conscious of negative publicity. I do think that too often that leads to suppression of or minimizing of facts from Mormonism's very colorful and to my mind very interesting past. In the last few decades Mormonism has worked very hard to present itself as a Christ-centered Church that fits really snugly into Middle America. But to be able to see it that way, you have to forget a lot of Mormonism's history.
I think often times Mormons are shocked or surprised when violent things bubble up. It’s really difficult for them to fathom how or why violent crimes like the Lafferty murders take place in a religious culture where things can be blatantly disregarded. Mormonism places a lot of pressure on its members to do and be a lot of things. It can be overwhelming.
Yes. I think this is true in any faith that puts a lot of pressure on people to conform. Most people adapt themselves to that pressure and conform or they leave the Church, but a small percentage of people find themselves caught in the middle in a way that either destroys them or transforms them into a kind of juggernaut of violence. I grew up in Provo, Utah, which people referred to proudly and unironically as "Happy Valley." People took great pride in looking on the bright side of life. In addition, we were counseled to only record positive things in our journals so that our memories of things would preserve the good and forget the bad. Well, to be able to do that, you need to repress a tremendous amount, and some of what's repressed is going to bubble up again. The return of the repressed is something that functions both for the individual and for the culture as a whole. After spending a few years looking at violence in Mormon culture carefully, I wasn't surprised that what's repressed causes upswellings of violence, but I was that these up swellings didn't happen more often.
What I find interesting, having grown up around a lot of Mormons, is most times questions that revolve around controversial issues (i.e.: polygamy, temple rituals, etc.) are always answered with a certain vagueness or in a way that blatantly disregards history or fact. Do you feel there is a closed door with some issues in the church?
Yes. Even now that I've been out of the Church for several years if you ask me certain questions about Mormonism it's hard for me not to slip into vague, safe responses. It's much more difficult for me to talk about the sacred and secret elements of Mormonism than you'd think, very hard to turn off the Mormon self-censor, and I think a good part of the intensity of certain scenes in The Open Curtain come from that: I've had to go through an internal struggle to get where I get to on the page, the stakes of which are very high. That self-censor something that you're taught as a Mormon, the presumption being that there are certain things that someone who's been Mormon for a long time will understand but that someone without that commitment won't. But obviously there's something a little cultish about that attitude.
At the same time, I think the vagueness about something like polygamy is indicative of a kind of uneasy truce within most Mormons, a willingness to accept the past that's still partly a denial. At the same time, I don't think Mormons are bad people. Indeed, in my experience exactly the opposite has been the case; they're for the most part good, generous people who really do care about other people and really do want to help. For instance, I'm still Mormon enough that I feel an incredible satisfaction in helping someone move; it makes me happy to help someone in that way, which my girlfriend thinks is somewhat perverse. They're good people but they can be unnaturally gullible (which is what my novel Father of Lies was about) and when you cut through their goodness and gullibility, they're also a very complicated people, simple on the surface but as gnarled as the rest of us when you start to work through that.
In your novel, you touch upon the dismissal and blatant denial some Mormons revert to when confronted with issues or scenarios that are less than positive. In The Open Curtain, Rudd discovers his deceased father seems to have fathered a child with a woman across town. When Rudd comes across letters to his father from the would-be mistress, he confronts his mother about it, who essentially denies any affair or illegitimate child. She tells him, “She was mistaken in the man. We know the truth. There’s no reason to speak of this again.” There’s seems to be a blindness that some members develop in regard to negative situations that would reflect poorly on them as Mormons. Is that common?
I think the extreme quality of her response isn't common, but I do think that some level of denial is very common indeed. I saw it, both as a child and then later when I was in a Bishopric in Seattle (where I was the second of three religious leaders running a large congregation), in the way that Mormons responded to child abuse or infidelity or corruption among local leaders or other things that were difficult to face. I don't think this is particular to Mormonism, by the way, but rather is something quite common to all religions. I just happen to know best how it functions in Mormonism.
In the novel, Rudd and Lyndi get married in the temple and they are right out of high school. The pressure to get married young and to have a temple wedding, especially for the remaining single members of the church is of high importance. There are other expectations the church seems to have for members in numerous other ways that don’t revolve around marriage. Would you agree?
Yes, there's incredible pressure to go on a mission if you're a man and then to get married shortly after you get back. I got married four days after my 23rd birthday, which was actually slightly late in Mormon terms: a lot of my friends were married at 21 or 22. My (now ex-) wife and I were in a class together one fall, where I just began to get to know her. By May of that school year we were engaged, and we were married three months later in August: that, too, was slightly more prudent than many Mormons: I knew people who managed to go from meeting someone to marrying them in under three months. There are lots of pressures to get married quickly and to quickly have a family; it's a way of keeping people involved in the Church among other things, of folding them back into the structure, and also a way of keeping them from looking elsewhere for how to live.
You touch upon some of the things people don’t talk about in The Open Curtain, whether it’s the temple ceremony or the suppression of actions or incidents that reflect poorly on the church. You don’t appear to have any qualms about voicing your opinion on such sensitive issues.
Well, I did actually have some qualms. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I felt I could reveal and what I didn't want to reveal. I tried to be respectful, but since Mormonism doesn't want anything about the ceremony revealed, that's a losing battle. Still, I had to feel for myself that I was doing what I was doing for artistic and mimetic reasons and that there was nothing gratuitous about it. In the original version I'd talked about the Mormon temple ceremony in a lot more detail -- that chapter was probably twice as long and was more than one chapter, but I kept cutting it back, trying to get across as well as possible what it was like to be going through the temple for the first time without making it feel too voyeuristic. The details that you see now all have real resonance in the story that surrounds them. I hope it feels very organically a part of the book. I think if you're Mormon, you could probably skip that chapter entirely and still do very well. But, yes, I did feel that the only way people could really understand Mormon culture is to have some glimpse of its hidden sides. Mormonism looks very different once you see those sides, and any book that wants to take on the culture in a serious way has to acknowledge that somehow. Of course, for me to do so as overtly as I have makes me a heretic in the eyes of most Mormons. There's a lot of talk in Mormon artistic circles about "The great Mormon novel" as being something on the horizon, but I tend to think that as long as Mormonism controls the dissemination of information about it so tightly, the so-called great Mormon novel will have to be an act of heresy.
You mention films like Fight Club and The Matrix in your Author’s Statement about The Open Curtain as being similar in that they cause the reader/viewer to question fantasy versus reality. I think The Open Curtain does that and asks the reader to question what’s real and what’s imagined and where those lines blur.
Yes, especially as the book moves forward the difference between what's real and what's imagined becomes more and more difficult to make out. In some senses the book simulates a mental breakdown; in others, it just uncovers the gap between reality and our perception of it that is always there. I like to think of the book as teaching people how to read my fiction, the first two more conventional parts leading them carefully in to the final part, where all the rules undergo a sea change.
Because Rudd has been living in a religious culture where he’s been told how to think and feel about things for so long, he’s lost the ability to make decisions for himself. He turns to this alter-ego or other “self” to tell him what to do or who to be. Why do you think Rudd has these issues?
I think it's an extreme response to a subculture that has a kind of internalized split. Mormonism in its day-to-day services seems very Protestant; in its temple ceremonies, it's very ritual and almost pagan at times. You talk about the Church in one way among Church members and in another way to outsiders. And then you try to reconcile that to the ideas and attitudes and mores of American society as a whole, weaving yourself carefully into that fabric as well. And then if you've have a religious structure telling you what to do and what to be, what happens if you lose your faith? Who tells you who to be and what to do then? Maybe nobody, or maybe you start hearing from all that that religious structure has repressed. I actually think that this is the basic American dilemma, at least for our age: the kind of tension between religion and capitalism that dominates American culture as a whole right now creates a way of responding to situations that often seems schizophrenic.
When you live in a religious culture where your beliefs are defined for you and where there constant pressure to live up to the image that the church has, it can be easy to crack under that pressure, much like Rudd does.
The more pressure there is, the more likely there is for there to be an explosion. I think religion both can strengthen a person's motivation, reasons for living, reasons for being, that strengthen their sense of themselves and generally make them feel more part of their community and of the world as a whole. But for someone without a core self it can also do the reverse: It can either leave them adrift or can substitute in place of a self and of an ability to choose a rule-bound doctrinaire attitude that ends up feeling very much like fascism.
Mormons spend a great deal of time in church and participating in various church groups that revolve around the scriptures in the Book of Mormon. Rudd’s character says he finds himself having an “odd relation to words,” where certain phrases from the Book of Mormon circle through his mind. As a writer and as a former LDS member, do you find that words or parts of scripture, like “Lo, verily” still make their way into your head?
Yes, they're still very much there. It's hard for me not to think of certain scriptures in certain situation. That'll always be a part of me. I tend to have very obsessive responses to certain phrases or certain moments in a song, and do get caught up in repetitive cycles not unlike Rudd's.
Jon Krakauer’s book, Under the Banner of Heaven, and your book both deal with a violent undercurrent that seems to exist and often prevail in Mormon culture. When we think of practicing Mormons, we think of family and community-oriented followers. There is also the flip side of that which is where something like the Mormon fundamentalist comes in. People in our culture are not willing to look within our own country and our own cultures to see how and why these types of violent acts take place, and The Open Curtain sheds some light on why certain people become vulnerable to this violence, whether you’re Islamic or Mormon.
I hope that's the case. And I'd hope it'd shed light whether you're Christian of any kind as well. Mormonism has a lot in common with other fundamentalist Christian religions, most of which are full of good interesting people but most of which also have undercurrents of violence to them that make certain attitudes toward things like war and terror possible. I think that looking at the more neurotic fringes of a culture, as I do with the sometimes extreme situations in The Open Curtain, helps us to begin to see things about the larger culture that we might not notice otherwise.
As a Mormon rule, non-members aren’t allowed to witness the temple wedding ceremony. Rules like these cause suspicion among non-members due to the secretive nature involved with this ceremony. You go into great detail about the temple ceremony in The Open Curtain. Do you feel you’ll get any backlash from friends/family members who are still LDS or fellow readers for divulging top secret information?
Since Mormons are generally polite, I think generally there will be very little overt response: they simply won't respond. Certain of my friends who are still Mormon are likely to break off their friendships with me, others will simply pretend like the book doesn't exist. A few friends who feel particularly close to me or family members might say how sad it makes them that I would write about Mormonism in this way, and there will be some public discussion of the book on Mormon e-mail lists and blogs that will probably be upset with the book. I've gotten several weird emails, always from anonymous sources, telling me that if I look hard enough at myself, I will see I am a tool for evil and I'll repent. I've also had several death threats, but they're always very silly and not worth paying attention to.
Your narrative is very precise. You don’t seem to affect the reader with your narrative. By that, I mean you aren’t telling us how to feel about certain issues or how we should judge certain things that you write about. Does that organic quality seem to be inherent with your writing or do you consciously make that decision in advance?
I think that from the beginning I've been less interested in telling readers what or how to think and more interested in putting them into positions in my fiction where they have to make choices about how to respond to what they read. Often by having a kind of blankness of judgment you put the reader into a position where he or she has to make a judgment about what he or she is seeing. I think that the precision is related to trying to create as clear and accurate a world as possible for the reader to inhabit. I think I naturally tend toward that style, though I've written stories in very different modes from that, in different styles. I think each work tends to dictate its own parameters for me.
In the past, you seem to have published with a number of indie presses. Do you feel that due to the type or style of work that you’re doing that indie presses are just a better fit for you as opposed to the bigger houses?
I tend to read more and more books from small and independent presses, fewer and fewer from large houses, and I think that it's the indie presses keeping our literature alive while the big houses with their marketing departments are killing it or processing it into something safe. I've had a much better experience with the smaller presses I've published with than I did with the larger press I published my first book with. At the same time, the big presses have great editors at them; they’re just not always given the room and freedom they need to work. Finally, I'm less concerned with the house and more concerned with who I'm working with and how strongly they believe in my work.
Did you begin working on The Open Curtain when you were working on The Wavering Knife? The last half of the book really ignites and the cadences in the writing keep the reader moving along. I found myself turning each page taking in every word, every sentence without judgment. Did you have any difficulties writing any part of the novel in particular?
I tend to work on several things at once, so a lot of the stories in The Wavering Knife were written while I was working on The Open Curtain, a few beforehand but most during. The first and second sections of The Open Curtain came very quickly, felt very natural, partly because I was thinking of each as a separate novella. I had this notion that I would write a novel out of several novellas -- I kind of have to trick myself into writing a longer novel. That worked fine for the first two sections, but when I got to the third and final section I couldn't figure out how to do something that would make the three parts into a larger whole. At first the third section was about twice as long as it now is and took place in Mexico -- it was radically different -- but it didn't work at all. There's a story in The Wavering Knife called "Moran's Mexico" which salvages certain things from that first draft of the final section. Then I tried it another way, and it still didn't work. Then I tried it another way. I ended up going through a lot of drafts, and spending about four years figuring out how to do that last section. And I think it was Steve Erickson's novels, what he does with disparate worlds that opened up the way for me to do what I finally did.
As far as the writing process goes, how does it differ for you when you sit down to write a novel versus a short-story? Do your short stories evolve when you least expect them?
I feel very comfortable with the short story form and think of myself primarily as a story writer. I like the way things condense in a story and like as well the way a story takes on a particular shape as it progresses. There's more of an immediate satisfaction to me in working in the short story than there is in the novel. I used to write a lot of short-shorts but now almost never do. Every once in a while I still do, but I think I figured out what I wanted to do with that form, so I need to change and evolve more as a person before I'll want to go back to it. I think my short stories have generally been getting longer, and for the last six or seven years I've been most interested in the novella. I like that form in that it has at least some of the strengths of the novel and some of the strengths of short fiction as well. You can keep it tight and focused and taut, but it has a different sort of scope. I felt with The Open Curtain, though, that I had a topic that couldn't be accommodated by a short story or a novel.
The Open Curtain is going to be translated into French and published by Le Cherche-Midi Editeur for 2007. Contagion was also translated into French. Tell me about how that came to be. Why French?
I was contacted by an editor named Claro at Le Cherche-Midi who had just started a line of innovative American fiction and who had had my work recommended to him by another writer. He became very interested in Contagion and translated it himself. The translation is excellent: Claro's done translations of some incredibly difficult writers such as William Gass, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and William Vollman, among others. Claro is a novelist as well as a translator, and I ended up translating one of his books for Soft Skull Press, a book called Electric Flesh which is about the convergences between Harry Houdini, an out-of-work contemporary executioner, and the history of electrocution in America. The Open Curtain, which was translated by a very savvy husband and wife translator team, was actually accepted in France before it was accepted in America, and the translation is complete; it'll come out in January of 2007. They've decided to call it Inversion rather than translating the title directly. I think that the French have a kind of understanding of what I'm doing that sees philosophical and literary influences that American readers don't think about as much. I think my work feels very American to them, but at the same time there's a European strand running through it. It's that combination, I think, that's made me appealing to them.
You mention in the Afterword of The Open Curtain that your next work would not involve Mormonism. Have you begun your next project? If so, has it been tough not to write about Mormonism?
I have some smaller projects I'm doing and I think I'm well on my way to putting together a new story collection. I'm at the stage where I'm trying to decide what of my work to include and what still needs to be written. I'm also trying to write a sequel to a little limited edition chapbook I did called The Brotherhood of Mutilation. I keep getting notes from people who have read The Open Curtain and who insist that there's no way I'm done writing about Mormonism. I really felt I was done when I finished that book but the other day I stumbled onto something that seemed just too coincidentally perfect to me, having to do with a schizophrenic Mormon I know who was keeping bomb parts in a safe and the way that coincides with something that I don't want to reveal at this point (to be evasive in a Mormon way). So I might write about Mormonism again after all. But I'm trying to resist.
Mar. 26, 2007
A ministry opposed to Mormonism distributed
18,000 copies of a DVD to homes across the state on Sunday as part of a
nationwide effort to convince members to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of
The distribution of 15,000 DVDs in Mesa, Gilbert and Tempe was timed for the last weekend before the church holds its General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday and Sunday, said Jim Robertson, executive director of Concerned Christians, an organization largely made up of former Mormons.
Another 2,000 copies of Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith were distributed in LDS-heavy Snowflake and Taylor, and 1,000 were distributed in Tucson.
"We've found this works very well. We need to step out in faith to do it," said Robertson, an ex-Mormon who founded the organization 35 years ago. "We're not against the Mormon people. If we hated the Mormons, we'd let them stew in their own juices."
But Don Evans, an LDS church spokesman in Arizona, said Robertson is on a lifetime crusade to attack his church.
"It won't phase members of our church one iota," Evans said. "They're strong enough in their own beliefs. It's water off their backs."
Dave Udall, a Mesa attorney and former church spokesman, said Concerned Christians were denounced in the early 1980s by the National Conference of Christians and Jews and by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith after showing the film The God Makers at the Mesa Convention Center.
"I'm disappointed. We need tolerance in our community and religious tolerance is one of those things we need to do," Udall said.
He said Concerned Christians pickets the annual Easter Pageant produced at the church's Arizona Temple in Mesa, handing out literature, but the LDS church opposes religious conflict. This year's pageant begins tonight.
"The attitude of the church is there is freedom of religion," Evans said. "Our church would not go after another religion."
But Robertson said the DVD was produced in response to aggressive Mormon missionary work, saying, "they're stealing sheep" from other religions.
"I don't like the fact that they lie to people to get them into the church," he said. "They're not telling people what the church is all about until after they have them hook, line and sinker."
Utah-based Living Hope Ministries coordinated the nationwide distribution of the DVDs, Robertson said.
Bob Betts, Concerned Christians' office manager, said the DVD contrasts the teachings of Jesus Christ with those of Joseph Smith. He said about two dozen Southeast Valley residents upset by the DVD called the ministry's office Monday morning to complain.
He said about 100 volunteers, mostly from churches, distributed the DVD but another 35,000 were not distributed because of a lack of manpower.
"The Mormons are madder than hornets," Betts said.
Evans said that Mormons believe in Jesus Christ, but also believe that church founder Joseph Smith was a prophet.
Satirical newspaper on Mormon culture now available in paperback
Sunday, November 26, 2006
SAM VICHHRILLI - The SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
SALT LAKE CITY - In the beginning, former Ensign news editor Christopher Kimball Bigelow created The Sugar Beet, a bimonthly satirical newspaper on Mormon culture, in the likeness of The Onion.
And it came to pass that after The Sugar Beet stopped production, a Gentile publisher named Susan Vogel contacted Bigelow with the idea to turn the best of The Sugar Beet into a bound volume called "The Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer."
The involvement of Vogel pleased Bigelow, but didn't surprise him. "I knew that a lot of non- and semi-Mormon people enjoyed (The Sugar Beet)," he said in phone interview. "(Vogel) found it real therapeutic after growing up in this pressure cooker we have in Utah."
As for readers within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bigelow is the first to acknowledge his satirical compilation is "definitely not for everybody. It appeals to people who really value having a sense of humor about ourselves. LDS people who enjoy 'Saturday Night Live' and 'The Simpsons' will get a kick out of it."
Not that the book contains anything to cause "lightning bolts coming down on me," Bigelow adds.
Stories in the 165-page volume range from the innocuous ("Studies Show Cheerios May Cause Restlessness and Crying") to the naughtily subversive ("Man's Addiction to Wife Destroying Relationship with Porn") to the outright strange ("Provo Temple Liftoff Successful"). But mostly, it's clean humor ("BYU Offers Scrapbooking Degree") that Bigelow hopes will elicit communal smiles and not rampant protest.
"We haven't had as many complaints as we could have had. A few people have called us irreverent, but we fed them that. Not too many have consigned us to hell," he said, noting that positive feedback outweighs the negative. "A lot of people have said, 'What a relief to be able to laugh at our foibles.' We've heard some LDS bishops have cut out certain articles and put them on their office doors."
One strategy Bigelow and his team of writers (an online assembly of Mormons in varying degrees of church activity) used to keep sacrilege to a minimum was to localize the stories.
"Instead of saying the whole church is doing this crazy thing, we'd say that this particular congregation was doing it, so it's less of a general slight."
His efforts to keep the book's content somewhat soft haven't worked on the big Mormon outlets such as Deseret Book, though he remains optimistic. "We are trying, but they haven't been jumping all over it."
Amador County resident writes book about life as a former Mormon
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Carol Harper recently released
her debut book, "Through the Eye of a Needle" with the intent and focus of her
life as a former Mormon turned born-again Christian being to bring people to an
understanding of the commonalities and differences between the two religions.
"Religion can be a very sensitive, controversial, even political subject," Harper said. "The purpose of this book is not to create waves, although I know that it very well may in both Mormon and Christian camps. I hope not." Her intent is to not to single out a religion or point fingers, but to make aware the issue of organized religion in today's society. "I just happen to identify with the Mormon religion, since it was the one I was raised in. But the application is broad, no matter what your religious affiliation," she said.
Harper, an Amador County resident, was raised an active member of T he Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was nearly 30 years old when she left the religion. In "Through the Eye of a Needle," Harper relates the story of her departure from the religion and her spiritual journey after the harrowing experience, including how she became a born-again Christian.
Harper said that the book was four years in the making. "During that time I looked around for a Christian publisher - any publisher - that would be willing to take on something that could evoke a little controversy," she said. After considering publishing the book herself, she found Tate Publishing "after seeing their name in several writer's books and online Internet searches," she said.
Pre-release copies of "Through the Eye of a Needle" can be purchased through Tate Publishing. National/international release and distribution is slated for Sept. 11.
Harper said that the last chapter of the book, entitled "Unorthodox Christianity," is the title of the sequel, which she is currently in the middle of writing. "I call myself a 'Jesus-believing,' not a 'Bible believing' Christian. There's a difference," she said. "There was a time that I wasn't affiliated with any religion or church at all, for several years. I just wanted to spend time walking my own spiritual journey - I'm very happy doing that. I think both Mormons and Christians need to know that it's OK to do that, to step out of comfort zones, to really live and learn to walk in faith."
The release of her book recently caused some upheaval in her family, who are very active members of the LDS church. "My sister is not very happy at all about the book," she said. "My dad and I have had some talks. They're all pretty apprehensive about its release. I think they're worried it's going to be anti-Mormon, when that's not the case at all. I don't pad things, and there may be some poignant things in it."
Along with book signing events, Harper offers two classes that are a part of her ministry called Common Grounds. One class invites Mormons and Christians to share what each have in common with the other, as well as examine some of the differences. The other class is geared to help Christians help Mormons who may be in transition from their religion. "Leaving a religion - especially one you've been raised in - can be devastating," she said.
"Through the Eye of a Needle" is now available for purchase at www.carolharper.com, or through Tate Publishing's online bookstore at www.tatepublishing.com. On Sept. 11, it will be available at other major online distribution such as www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.walmart.com, and www.target.com.
"I hope that an age of faith can be ushered in," Harper said. "Faith, hope and love never go out of style. I just so happen to believe they can be found in the words of a pretty unorthodox Jewish Rabbi. It's a 2,000 year-old message, one is as controversial now as it was then. And as an 'unorthodox Christian' - at least by mainstream Christianity standards - I'm excited to spread such good news. Again."
To order a pre-release copy of "Through the Eye of a Needle," visit www.tatepublishing.com.
For more information about the author, go to www.carolharper.com.
One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church by Richard Abanes
First, let's talk about bias. As any halfway responsible writer knows, it's impossible to escape it -- everyone has an angle, and the best any journalist can do is to own up to it. Richard Abanes, author of this critical history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), is no different. A former Broadway singer/dancer, Abanes now makes a living as an evangelical Christian author and inspirational musician. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but his biography immediately telegraphs the fact that he's not going to be a huge fan of the LDS church. There's nothing wrong with that, either, but it probably would have been better for the publisher to make Abanes' religious affiliation a little clearer -- the only hint readers of this book get about the author's right-wing Christianity is in the dedication ("To my God, my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer...").
So what? You're either a Mormon or you're not, and if you're waiting for the LDS faithful to pen a candid history of their faith, you'll be waiting an awfully long time. And One Nation Under Gods is nothing if not candid, the author's lack of disclosure about his own faith notwithstanding. Drawing from a wealth of primary sources, Abanes presents what might be the most well-researched criticism of LDS this country has ever seen. But it is criticism, and not, I think, history. This book was apparently conceived as a counterpoint to books by Mormon apologists, it does the reader well to remember that Abanes might be more interested in "witnessing to" (read: converting) Mormons than writing a purely objective history of an admittedly odd church.
That being said, it's nearly impossible to fault Abanes' scholarship -- although this book is clearly more journalistic in tone than historical. Abanes backs up his assertions with an exhaustive bibliography, and there are almost 150 pages of endnotes. He's made it difficult for peeved Mormons to dispute some of his more controversial claims -- such as the ones he makes in Chapter 16, with the self-explanatory, if heavy-handed, title "Mormon Racism: Black Is Not Beautiful." It's also hard to find fault with Abanes' prose style, which is understated, level-headed, and enviably clear. It doesn't exactly read like a novel, as some breathless Amazon.com readers claim, but it's as absorbing as a nonfiction book on religious history can be.
But Abanes' bias inevitably gets in the way. The penultimate chapter, "Is Mormonism Christian?", presents a pretty good argument that LDS is quite far removed from "mainstream" Christianity (if, indeed, there is such a thing). But why was it included? The only people who this might interest, it seems, are fundamentalist Christians looking for yet another religious group to exclude. Interesting, sure, but it's difficult to see how this fits into a supposedly objective history. It's also hard to ignore Abanes' repeated warnings that Mormons are trying to take over the American government. He quotes both LDS leaders and Mormon politicians (like his fellow songwriter Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah), all of whom offer some variation on the well-known Mormon prophecy that LDS members will save the U.S. when "the Constitution is torn and hangs by a thread." A suitably horrified Abanes concludes:
"But what would such a scenario mean for America? Continued freedom? Greater liberty and prosperity? Widespread pluralism? That is doubtful. The history of Mormonism is rife with nefarious deeds, corruption, vice, and intolerance. So far the fruits of Mormonism have included lust, greed, theft, fraud, violence, murder, religious fanaticism, bribery, and racism."
All this as opposed to fundamentalist Protestantism? Whether Abanes is right in his conclusion is debatable -- based on the few Mormons I've met, I think he seriously overstates his case here -- he should know he's setting himself up big time. Abanes' own religion has given us plenty of lust (Jimmy Swaggart), greed (Jim Bakker), intolerance (Pat Robertson), and religious fanaticism (take your pick). And it's hard to maintain an air of objectivity when your own oeuvre includes Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menace Behind the Magick. That's not to say One Nation Under Gods is without merit -- indeed, it's beautifully written, well-researched, and cogently argued. But Abanes' own history suggests that he has (pardon the cliche) one hell of an axe to grind, and he and his faithful readers shouldn't be too surprised when the rest of us take this book with a grain from the Great Salt Lake.
One Nation Under Gods: A History of the
Mormon Church by Richard Abanes
Published by Four Walls Eight Windows
Former Mormon Takes an Inside Look at LDS Church
Attempts to bring other Mormons to an understanding of Jesus' grace.
Longwood, FL (PRWEB) December 8, 2007 -- As a former Mormon who spent almost twenty years of his adult life as a member of the LDS Church before becoming a born-again Christian, Ed Decker knows what drives other Mormons to be gods, how they are manipulated by their leaders, and how to reach them with biblical truth. My Kingdom Come ($21.99, paperback, 978-1-60477-378-1) is the culmination of more than 50 years of involvement and research on the subject of Mormonism from an insider's perspective. Says Decker, "This book details and proves that the core goal of every Mormon is to become a god or goddess to people and control an earth like ours, to be equal to the god of the Christian worship."
Perhaps most relevant to Americans today is the chapter called "The Mormon Plan for American and the Rise of Mitt Romney," which lays out the LDS plan to turn this country into a theocracy run by the prophet of the church from the Washington, D.C., temple. With the rapidly approaching election, readers will want to know about the tremendous impact a Mormon president would have upon this nation.
A serious crisis in Decker's life in 1975 led him to discover the real love of God in Christ and rededicate his life to actively bringing other Mormons into an understanding of how the law and the prophets ended with the advent of grace through Jesus. It has been his heart's cry ever since then that every Mormon be born again, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Ed Decker is the author of the bestselling books The God Makers and Unmasking Mormonism, The God Makers II, Fast Facts on False Teachings, What You Need to Know About Mormons, What You Need to Know About Masons, and The Dark Side of Freemasonry.
Xulon Press, a part of Salem Communications Corporation, is the world's largest Christian publisher, with more than 4,000 titles published to date. Retailers may order My Kingdom Come through Ingram Book Company and/or Spring Arbor Book Distributors.
Once considered myth, former Mormon's writings are published
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
Once upon a time,
the McLellin collection was nothing more than Mormon mythology, a rumored set of
writings and documents from an influential 19th century church apostle who was
close to founder Joseph Smith but fell away.
The papers of William E. McLellin, however, are not a myth. His letters,
sermon-like essays and journals have been published for the first time in a
570-page book released this week by Signature Books.
The originals are at the University of Utah's Marriott Library and in the
archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"It provides the opportunity for a snapshot into early LDS history," said
Stan Larson, one of the book's editors and curator of manuscripts at the
McLellin joined the church in 1831, just after its creation. He quickly rose
in Smith's regard and was an original member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles,
the second most-powerful group of Mormon men.
But McLellin left the church in 1836 - some claim after looting Smith's home
and stealing important church papers - and was excommunicated in 1838.
Despite attempts to bring him back to the fold, McLellin wrote in an 1854
letter to apostle Orson Pratt that "aside from the principles you learned in the
first three years of Joseph Smith's public ministry, I know of no principles or
practices of that people now, which they have learned since, that I believe or
McLellin's struggle was with Smith and a changing church, not Mormon
theology, said book co-editor Sam Passey, director of the Uintah County Library
and Regional History Center in Vernal, Utah.
"He bought onto Mormonism as it was preached by Joseph Smith in the early
1830s and as it changed he really didn't," Passey said. "A train was in motion
and he couldn't stay on it anymore. He had certain boundaries in his faith."
Letters between McLellin and confidant John Traughber, who inherited the
collection upon McLellin's death, reveal a Mormon story far different than the
one believed today by most church members.
He writes of never hearing the story of Smith's "first vision," the visit by
God and Jesus Christ to a young, prayerful Smith in a grove of trees that led to
the church's founding in New York state.
Nor was McLellin familiar with the angel Moroni, who led Smith to buried
gold plates that became the foundational text, the Book of Mormon, or the story
that John the Baptist had appeared to Smith on the banks of Pennsylvania's
Some will wonder whether Smith was adding to the church story as he saw fit,
or McLellin was so embittered that his recollections were intended to undermine
"We're never going to find the answer," said Larson, who admits to having
his own suspicions.
It was those contradictions that Mark Hofmann exploited when he first
circulated rumors about the collection in 1985.
Hofmann, who claimed to have discovered McLellin's works in Texas, said it
contained bombshells that would unravel the worldwide church.
It turned out that Hofmann was a forger who never had the collection, nor
knew what it contained. But his lies generated interest. He promised a sale to
more than one collector, including the Mormon church, and borrowed tens of
thousands of dollars from a Salt Lake City bank for its alleged purchase.
"It was a big deal," said Brent Ashworth, a Utah collector who unwittingly
bought other forgeries from Hofmann.
"People wanted it because it was going to be controversial and interesting.
I don't know if anybody on either side thought it would damage the church, but I
think they thought it would be fascinating, entertaining and probably valuable,"
Deadlines to repay the $185,000 loan and deliver the papers passed and
Hofmann's desperation rose.
To deflect the attention of bankers and buyers, he built pipe bombs, killing
two people and wounding himself. In 1987, Hofmann pleaded guilty to two counts
of second-degree murder and remains in the Utah State Prison.
After the bombings, much of the collection was found in the Texas basement
of Otis Traughber, son of John Traughber. Another set of journals scripted while
a faithful McLellin served a church mission were discovered in the church
archives, where they had been stored since 1908.
The McLellin collection falls short of discrediting a church that claims
some 13 million members.
"There was nothing there that hadn't been said already by other apostates," Passey said. "No big bombshells."
Revelation Press Publishes Blockbuster Expose: Mitt -- Set Our People Free
A Former TV Business Editor/Reporter and Decorated War Hero 'Swift Boats' Presidential Hopeful Mitt Romney -- With Well-Documented Facts
WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In 2004, John Kerry faced opposition from an unexpected quarter -- his fellow Swift Boat veterans from Vietnam. In 2008, it's Mitt Romney's turn to be "Swift-Boated" -- but this time, instead of unsubstantiated innuendo, Romney is "Swift Boated" with a comprehensively-researched, solidly fact-based book -- Mitt, Set Our People Free! Like Toto in Oz, this book tears away the curtain and reveals the truth behind the Mormon Church and its beliefs about the U.S. Presidency -- and what that will mean to "President" Mitt Romney.
This exciting new book -- Mitt, Set Our People Free! -- published by Revelation Press, reveals just how Mitt Romney's sacred oath to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, known as the Mormons or the LDS -- including a vow of obedience to the "Living Prophet," the President of the LDS Church -- will impact his ability to govern as President of the United States.
Jesus said that man cannot serve two masters -- but if Romney is elected President, he will have to serve two conflicting oaths. American Presidents swear an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. However, this Presidential Oath is in direct conflict with Romney's sacred oath to his Mormon Church -- a blood oath which puts Romney's life, fortune and obedience at the unrestricted service of his Church. This obedience is defined by the Church's Living Prophet, the President of the Mormon Church and -- as they believe -- the literal Voice of God on earth.
According to author Mike Moody, "One of the LDS Church's basic tenets is a prophecy from founder and First Prophet Joseph Smith that in the latter days, the U.S. Constitution will 'hang by a thread as fine as silk fiber' until a Mormon leader rides in on his White Horse to save the U.S. and the Constitution -- then use his control of the United States to set up a world-wide theocracy, one based on the clearly unorthodox beliefs of the Church of Latter Day Saints."
Author Mike Moody, himself a 7th Generation Mormon from a family of Church-founding patriarchs - men who served Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as they created this remarkable "church" -- uses his both insider knowledge of the LDS Church and his long-time personal ties to his one-time college fraternity brother, Mitt Romney, to point out the essential conflict between Romney's sacred Oath to the Church and the oath he seeks to take as President.
Moody also details -- chapter and verse -- the many compromises and less-than-candid and frequently inconsistent positions Romney has taken to bring himself from successful venture capitalist to one of the leading contenders for the Republican nomination for Presidency.
Mitt -- Set Our People Free! includes a glossary of "insider" terms that define the Mormon experience, as well as ten full pages of insightful, fully-sourced end-notes. Each bold assertion in Moody's book is validated by credible third-party sources, many of them official -- though essentially secret -- LDS church documents. This book, published by Revelation Press and available through Amazon.com, rips away the veil of secrecy to expose the Mormon Church and Mitt Romney for what they really are -- and what they really could become if they take control of the American government.
Mitt -- Set Our People Free! is a controversial book by a controversial author, written for those who support Romney -- and those who fear him. Author Mike Moody, a twice-decorated US Army war hero and ten-year veteran TV business news editor and reporter, is also a maverick Republican who, four years ago, was the Nevada Coordinator of Republicans for Kerry.
SOURCE Revelation Press
Daryl Toor, +1-770-777-9489, firstname.lastname@example.org, for Revelation Press
New Book "The Conversion Conspiracy" Explains What Mormons Believe About UFOs
(using fiction to expose Mormon mythology)
The Conversion Conspiracy is a fictional thriller about a college student who uncovers a conspiracy to use Mormons in preparing Earth for acceptance of religious extraterrestrials, is pursued by sinister forces and bargains for his life by keeping the secret and not exposing the Mormon presidential candidate.
Evanston, WY, January 25, 2008
The Conversion Conspiracy by Shane Lester is a fictional thriller about a conspiracy to use a Mormon presidential candidate to prepare Earth for acceptance of religious extraterrestrials.
Recently the UFO question has gained major attention due to mass sightings of strange objects in the skies over Texas. Even before these UFO reports the question of extraterrestrial contact seeped into the presidential debates resulting in the press labeling Dennis Kucinich “The UFO Candidate”.
The Conversion Conspiracy offers a unique glimpse into what Mormons really believe about UFOs and explores what would happen to our economy, our political system and organized religion if extraterrestrial life came to Earth.
Though fiction, The Conversion Conspiracy has its roots in Mormon mythology. Like books and movies that exploit the murky history and mysticism of Catholicism, this book reveals obscure folk stories from Mormon culture that become the centerpiece of the plot. Lester is a student of Mormon theology for more than fifteen years and has successfully used Mormon mythology as a plot structure in his first book, Clan of Cain: The Genesis of Bigfoot. Because these stories are not well known, the book is fresh and unpredictable.
Shane Lester Books
Author's journey on Road to Emmaus reaped wealth of godly insight
Longwood, FL (PRWEB) March 16, 2008 -- On the third day after the crucifixion, two disciples met Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, where they both had their eyes opened to the truth and professed their belief in Him. Xulon author Paul Cramer met Jesus on this same road, and He opened his eyes to all the things he had believed as a Mormon. After walking through miles of Scriptures, Cramer could no longer deny that the religion he formerly practiced was composed of half-truths. His debut book, A Mormon on the Road to Emmaus: An Eye-Opening Walk with Jesus Christ (paperback, 978-1-60477-686-7), clearly defines what God says about all of the following: priesthood, eternal marriage, the triune nature of God, where man is from, who Jesus is, and what His relationship is to Lucifer. Whatever the doctrine or teaching of the Mormon Church, the Bible has spoken on the subject; this book reveals what the Bible has said.
Says Cramer, "This book may be [the greatest help to those on their way out of Mormonism. Those in the Christian faith looking for understanding as to the beliefs of Mormons will be amazed at how much truth there really is within the Mormon teachings; however, the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been twisted into a lie."
Within months of the author's arrival in Salt Lake City, the capital of Mormonism, he began the journey that would compel him to leave the faith of his fathers and lead to a divine encounter with Jesus Christ. That encounter, he says, left him with a vision to help other Mormons see the coming destruction that is just ahead of them. "My mission field is the Salt Lake Valley of Utah, the field with the greatest potential of un-harvested souls in North America," he explains. "The field is ripe and ready to harvest!"
Xulon Press, a part of Salem Communications Corporation, is the world's largest Christian publisher, with more than 5,000 titles published to date. Retailers may order A Mormon on the Road to Emmaus through Ingram Book Company and/or Spring Arbor Book Distributors.
Polygamists' family ties
Book on Bountiful, B.C., community delves into Mormon splinter sect's U.S. links and Alberta origins
Richard Helm, The Edmonton Journal
April 13, 2008
As police swept through a secretive religious retreat in Texas this week, Daphne Bramham watched the TV images and wondered how long it will take before Canadian authorities crack down on a similar polygamist settlement in southern British Columbia.
The veteran Vancouver journalist is the author of The Secret Lives of Saints (Random House, $32.95), an exhaustive account of the founding and flourishing of the breakaway Mormon sect in Bountiful, just outside Creston, B.C. The Bountiful community has direct ties to the group at the Yearn For Zion Ranch in west Texas, the site of police raids this week that saw the removal of 416 children from the compound.
The massive investigation was triggered when state child protective services received a call from a 16-year-old girl at the ranch who reported she had been sexually and physically abused. Bramham, a Vancouver Sun writer who has reported on Bountiful for eight years, thinks some kind of similar complaint will have to surface in B.C. for that community to finally get the sharp scrutiny it deserves.
"It needs one brave person," Bramham said in an interview. "It's very difficult for them to come forward because not only does their earthly life, but also their salvation, depend on being loyal to the prophet and to their families and to the group."
The closed communities of Bountiful and Eldorado are part of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a splinter sect not recognized by the mainstream Mormon Church, that practices a form of plural marriage. Polygamy has been illegal in Canada and the U.S. since 1890.
Warren Jeffs, the current FLDS prophet who exercises absolute control over an estimated 10,000 followers across North America, is now in a Utah prison, serving two consecutive terms of five years to life as an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl -- one of the sect's forced brides.
In Bountiful, an enclave of about 1,000 followers, the self-appointed spiritual leader is Winston Blackmore, a man who has said it's God's will that he has 22 wives and more than 100 children. Canada's most outspoken polygamist insists his faith left him no choice but to marry and impregnate nearly a dozen teens, and he has publicly admitted marrying girls as young as 15.
Other books, including Jon Krakauer's bestseller Under the Banner of Heaven, have probed American polygamous communities and their leaders, but Bramham's book is the first to examine the web of connections between fundamentalist Mormons in Canada and the U.S. And it is certainly the first to dig so deeply into the history of polygamy in Canada -- including the movement's Alberta origins.
"There are still polygamists in Alberta," Bramham said. "There are quite a few FLDS and Blackmore lumber companies working in Sundre. And they send the boys there to work."
One fascinating passage in Bramham's book recounts the history of Charles Ora Card, the Mormon who arrived in what is now Alberta in 1886, fleeing charges of polygamy in the U.S., and founded the settlement of Cardston. Two years later, Card and two other Mormon leaders travelled to Ottawa to meet with Sir John A. Macdonald and asked him to legalize polygamy so that Canada might become a sanctuary for Mormon men and their multiple wives. Macdonald refused, and afterwards instructed the North West Mounted Police to watch out for any men practicing polygamy. That was to be only the first of many such cautions to go unheeded.
Bramham presents a compelling case that generations of Canadian politicians have not only ignored the law-breaking polygamists, but for more than 100 years have allowed them access to government funds, appointed them to government boards and helped them gain local acceptance and a modicum of respectability.
Bountiful has operated with impunity for more than 60 years, despite allegations of forced marriages of underage girls and the trafficking of wives across the Canada-U.S. border, while successive governments in Victoria have fretted over whether Canada's polygamy ban would survive a challenge under the Charter of Rights. A multi-year RCMP investigation continues to sit with the B.C. Crown prosecutor without action, and B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal has a second special prosecutor now working the Bountiful file, after rejecting the findings of the first special prosecutor he assigned.
"The RCMP finished their investigation a year and a half ago, so it's starting to get stale-dated," Bramham said. "If there was a chance that there were people who were willing to be witnesses a year and a half ago, there's a good chance that they won't be now. But there's just a complete lack of political will ....
"Of course, we know politicians never do anything without putting their fingers up and seeing which way the wind is blowing. Unless Canadians, and people in British Columbia and Creston stand up and say, 'This is unacceptable to us,' the politicians aren't going to do anything."
Bramham says it's difficult not to see a double standard when liberal tolerance and religious freedoms somehow trump polygamy laws at home while at the same time the country is absolutely fearless in attacking human rights atrocities abroad.
"If we're going to go waltzing into Afghanistan to defend the rights of women and children there, we better be defending them at home."
Polygamist 'prophet' exposed
When Men Become Gods: Mormon Polygamist Warren Jeffs, His Cult of Fear, and the Women Who Fought Back
By Karen Algeo Krizman, Special to the Rocky
May 22, 2008
* Nonfiction. By Stephen Singular. St. Martin's Press, $24.95. Grade: A-
Book in a nutshell: With polygamists in the news nearly every day lately, Singular couldn't have picked a more timely topic. Documenting the rise and fall of Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints leader Warren Jeffs, this book offers an intriguing look inside the very same polygamist Mormon sect that is making headlines for the recent raids in Texas.
As a self-styled Mormon prophet, Jeffs ruled his followers with an iron fist. Television, radio and newspapers were banned. Dancing, basketball and water sports were forbidden. Families were ordered to throw away their Bibles. Business owners had to turn their assets over to the prophet. And underage girls were forced into polygamous marriages with much older men. Anyone who disobeyed Jeffs or who in any way posed a threat to his reign was banished - along with all dogs, laughter and the color red.
Jeffs' tyrannical ways ultimately led to his downfall. As he began kicking more followers out of the fold and as more women escaped their polygamous marriages, word began seeping out about what was happening in the sect. What had been Arizona's and Utah's "dirty little secret" suddenly began making national headlines.
Charged with rape for his role in arranging marriages with underage girls, Jeffs went on the run for two years and landed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List before being arrested in 2006.
Best tidbit: When Jeffs was arrested, he was wearing shorts and a T-shirt and was riding in a red Cadillac loaded with lottery tickets, high-tech gadgets and money - clothes, colors and things he had long since banned his followers from having.
Pros: Exploring thousands of followers living on compounds in Utah, Arizona, Texas - and even Colorado - this book gives a thorough look at a far-reaching issue.
Cons: Every other person in the book has the surname Barlow, Jessop or Jeffs, and the author keeps introducing more people long after it's necessary. Good luck keeping everyone straight.
Final word: With thousands of church members - many still loyal to Jeffs - we haven't heard the last of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints.
Book Cellar hosts Mormon history author
August 20, 2008
ST. GEORGE -- The Book Cellar will host a pre-release book signing and discussion with author Charles Larson, discussing his new book, "Destroying Angel."
Larson is an artist, a lifelong student, aficionado of history and a writer. This is his third book. His previous writings include the award-winning "Numismatic Forgery."
This new-release is a historical thriller weaving fictional characters and Utah history, including polygamy and the Mountain Meadows Massacre. This historical book exposes one of America’s most obscured tales of murder and scandal.
“We are pleased that Mr. Larson selected our store to begin his book discussion tour,” states Margi La Porte of The Book Cellar. “His new book is very timely and relevant.”
Blood Atonement? Terrorism? Fundamentalist revenge? "Destroying Angel" propels the reader headlong into the fascinating and little understood world of Mormonism and its polygamous subculture as it exists in the American West. In this fast-paced tale of murder – both modern and historical -- is found a critical contribution to the understanding of Mormon history in what one critic has called “the first accurate portrayal that both sides may accept.”
Intense and relevant to contemporary events, this book not only thrills and intrigues, but leaves the audience enriched by the experience. This discussion will be the first in a series of many, and the only one in Southern Utah.
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