Need a good summer read? I picked up a couple at the Sunstone Conference that are both timely and on topic for the broader LDS Community. Here’s what I wrote about them on Amazon:
Could I Vote For A Mormon For President?An Election-Year Guide to Mitt Romney’s Religion
Ryan T. Cragunand Rick Phillips
Wallace Stegner wrote, “It is almost impossible to write fiction about the Mormons, for the reasons that Mormon institutions and Mormon society are so peculiar that they call for constant explanation”
As a writer and former member of the LDS Church, I understand Stegner’s dilemma. In spite of their existence for over 150 years, the Mormons remain a mystery to many. Nevertheless, America is poised to elect one as its president. That is why “Could I Vote For A Mormon For President?” by Ryan T. Cragun and Rick Phillips is such an invaluable work.
Written with wit and clarity, this short and timely book covers all of the basics. The authors who are both professors of sociology and former Mormons tackle topics such as polygamy, the Mormon temple ceremony, whether or not the Mormons are Christians, the Mormon view of the afterlife, and the church’s stand on feminism, homosexuality, and race relations.
Cragun and Phillips’ observations are direct, at times humorous, and fair to both Mormons and their critics.
For example, on the topic of polygamy: “There’s really no other way to say it: Joseph Smith was a horny guy.”
On whether or not the Mormon underwear is weird: “We don’t think so. From an anthropological perspective, many religions prescribe ritual or symbolic clothing for their members.”
On the church’s view of women: “…men are the ultimate authority in Mormon families, and that’s the way God wants it. Men might be enjoined to be benevolent rulers of the household, but they rule nonetheless.”
On LDS approved sexuality: “No premarital hanky-panky and no masturbation of any kind is ever allowed. The church does not recognize the validity of gay marriage…hence gay people cannot have orgasms…(unless a sham-marriage spouse somehow manages to get them off).”
In the end, the authors portray the Mormon Church as an unusual, authoritarian, and staunchly conservative institution that is ideologically aligned with the right wing of the Republican Party. Could you vote for a Mormon for president? Read this book and draw your own conclusion.
The Collapse of Belief:What To Do When Your World Comes Crashing Down
Kurt Hanks and Barbara Hanks
This slim and efficient volume is a must read for anybody who has let go of a cherished relationship. Using interesting analogies and clever illustrations, the authors effectively explain the thought processes involved in going from believer to non-believer. With a slight emphasis on the loss of religious belief, the book also addresses other types of loss, such as death and divorce, as well as the trauma that comes from giving up unhealthy work environments, toxic relationships, and faulty assumptions or “world views.” It is hard to imagine that there is anyone who would not benefit from this readable and engaging work. It is especially relevant today in our polarized, religiously-infused political climate. I highly recommend this book.
–Don’t let the brevity of my review ofThe Collapse of Beliefdissuade you. It’s a great read, and the illustrations alone are worth the cover price.
They’re both great reads. Enjoy!