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Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith [Format Kindle]

Jon Krakauer
4.7 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)

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In 1984, Ron and Dan Lafferty murdered the wife and infant daughter of their younger brother Allen. The crimes were noteworthy not merely for their brutality but for the brothers' claim that they were acting on direct orders from God. In Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer tells the story of the killers and their crime but also explores the shadowy world of Mormon fundamentalism from which the two emerged. The Mormon Church was founded, in part, on the idea that true believers could speak directly with God. But while the mainstream church attempted to be more palatable to the general public by rejecting the controversial tenet of polygamy, fundamentalist splinter groups saw this as apostasy and took to the hills to live what they believed to be a righteous life. When their beliefs are challenged or their patriarchal, cult-like order defied, these still-active groups, according to Krakauer, are capable of fighting back with tremendous violence. While Krakauer's research into the history of the church is admirably extensive, the real power of the book comes from present-day information, notably jailhouse interviews with Dan Lafferty. Far from being the brooding maniac one might expect, Lafferty is chillingly coherent, still insisting that his motive was merely to obey God's command. Krakauer's accounts of the actual murders are graphic and disturbing, but such detail makes the brothers' claim of divine instruction all the more horrifying. In an age where Westerners have trouble comprehending what drives Islamic fundamentalists to kill, Jon Krakauer advises us to look within America's own borders. --John Moe




For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.
Deuteronomy 14:2

And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God.
The Doctrine and Covenants, Section 85
revealed to Joseph Smith on November 27, 1832

Balanced atop the highest spire of the Salt Lake Temple, gleaming in the Utah sun, a statue of the angel Moroni stands watch over downtown Salt Lake City with his golden trumpet raised. This massive granite edifice is the spiritual and temporal nexus of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which presents itself as the world's only true religion. Temple Square is to Mormons what the Vatican is to Catholics, or the Kaaba in Mecca is to Muslims. At last count there were more than eleven million Saints the world over, and Mormonism is the fastest-growing faith in the Western Hemisphere. At present in the United States there are more Mormons than Presbyterians or Episcopalians. On the planet as a whole, there are now more Mormons than Jews. Mormonism is considered in some sober academic circles to be well on its way to becoming a major world religion--the first such faith to emerge since Islam.

Next door to the temple, the 325 voices of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir swell to fill the tabernacle's vast interior with the robust, haunting chords of "Battle Hymn of the Republic," the ensemble's trademark song: "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord . . ."

To much of the world, this choir and its impeccably rendered harmonies are emblematic of the Mormons as a people: chaste, optimistic, outgoing, dutiful. When Dan Lafferty quotes Mormon scripture to justify murder, the juxtaposition is so incongruous as to seem surreal.

The affairs of Mormondom are directed by a cadre of elderly white males in dark suits who carry out their holy duties from a twenty-six-story office tower beside Temple Square.* To a man, the LDS leadership adamantly insists that Lafferty should under no circumstances be considered a Mormon. The faith that moved Lafferty to slay his niece and sister-in-law is a brand of religion known as Mormon Fundamentalism; LDS Church authorities bristle visibly when Mormons and Mormon Fundamentalists are even mentioned in the same breath. As Gordon B. Hinckley, the then-eighty-eight-year-old LDS president and prophet, emphasized during a 1998 television interview on Larry King Live, "They have no connection with us whatever. They don't belong to the church. There are actually no Mormon Fundamentalists."

Nevertheless, Mormons and those who call themselves Mormon Fundamentalists (or FLDS) believe in the same holy texts and the same sacred history. Both believe that Joseph Smith, who founded Mormonism in 1830, played a vital role in God's plan for mankind; both LDS and FLDS consider him to be a prophet comparable in stature to Moses and Isaiah. Mormons and Mormon Fundamentalists are each convinced that God regards them, and them alone, as his favored children: "a peculiar treasure unto me above all people." But if both proudly refer to themselves as the Lord's chosen, they diverge on one especially inflammatory point of religious doctrine: unlike their present-day Mormon compatriots, Mormon Fundamentalists passionately believe that Saints have a divine obligation to take multiple wives. Followers of the FLDS faith engage in polygamy, they explain, as a matter of religious duty.

There are more than thirty thousand FLDS polygamists living in Canada, Mexico, and throughout the American West. Some experts estimate there may be as many as one hundred thousand. Even this larger number amounts to less than 1 percent of the membership in the LDS Church worldwide, but all the same, leaders of the mainstream church are extremely discomfited by these legions of polygamous brethren. Mormon authorities treat the fundamentalists as they would a crazy uncle--they try to keep the "polygs" hidden in the attic, safely out of sight, but the fundamentalists always seem to be sneaking out to appear in public at inopportune moments to create unsavory scenes, embarrassing the entire LDS clan.

The LDS Church happens to be exceedingly prickly about its short, uncommonly rich history--and no aspect of that history makes the church more defensive than "plural marriage." The LDS leadership has worked very hard to persuade both the modern church membership and the American public that polygamy was a quaint, long-abandoned idiosyncrasy practiced by a mere handful of nineteenth-century Mormons. The religious literature handed out by the earnest young missionaries in Temple Square makes no mention of the fact that Joseph Smith--still the religion's focal personage--married at least thirty-three women, and probably as many as forty-eight. Nor does it mention that the youngest of these wives was just fourteen years old when Joseph explained to her that God had commanded that she marry him or face eternal damnation.

Polygamy was, in fact, one of the most sacred credos of Joseph's church--a tenet important enough to be canonized for the ages as Section 132 of The Doctrine and Covenants, one of Mormonism's primary scriptural texts.* The revered prophet described plural marriage as part of "the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed to man on earth" and taught that a man needed at least three wives to attain the "fulness of exaltation" in the afterlife. He warned that God had explicitly commanded that "all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same . . . and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory."

Joseph was murdered in Illinois by a mob of Mormon haters in 1844. Brigham Young assumed leadership of the church and led the Saints to the barren wilds of the Great Basin, where in short order they established a remarkable empire and unabashedly embraced the covenant of "spiritual wifery." This both titillated and shocked the sensibilities of Victorian-era Americans, who tended to regard polygamy as a brutish practice on a par with slavery. In 1856, recognizing the strength of the anti-polygamy vote, Republican candidate John C. Frémont ran for president on a platform that pledged to "prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism--Polygamy and Slavery." Frémont lost the election, but a year later the man who did win, President James Buchanan, sent the U.S. Army to invade Utah, dismantle Brigham Young's theocracy, and eradicate polygamy.

The so-called Utah War, however, neither removed Brigham from power nor ended the doctrine of plural marriage, to the annoyance and bafflement of a whole series of American presidents. An escalating sequence of judicial and legislative challenges to polygamy ensued, culminating in the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887, which disincorporated the LDS Church and forfeited to the federal government all church property worth more than $50,000. With their feet held fast to the fire, the Saints ultimately had no choice but to renounce polygamy. But even as LDS leaders publicly claimed, in 1890, to have relinquished the practice, they quietly dispatched bands of Mormons to establish polygamous colonies in Mexico and Canada, and some of the highest-ranking LDS authorities secretly continued to take multiple wives and perform plural marriages well into the twentieth century.

Although LDS leaders were initially loath to abandon plural marriage, eventually they adopted a more pragmatic approach to American politics, emphatically rejected the practice, and actually began urging government agencies to prosecute polygamists. It was this single change in ecclesiastical policy, more than anything else, that transformed the LDS Church into its astonishingly successful present-day iteration. Having jettisoned polygamy, Mormons gradually ceased to be regarded as a crackpot sect. The LDS Church acquired the trappings of a conventional faith so successfully that it is now widely considered to be the quintessential American religion.

Mormon Fundamentalists, however, believe that acceptance into the American mainstream came at way too high a price. They contend that the Mormon leaders made an unforgivable compromise by capitulating to the U.S. government on polygamy over a century ago. They insist that the church sold them out--that the LDS leadership abandoned one of the religion's most crucial theological tenets for the sake of political expediency. These present-day polygamists therefore consider themselves to be the keepers of the flame--the only true and righteous Mormons. In forsaking Section 132--the sacred principle of plural marriage--the LDS Church has gone badly astray, they warn. Fundamentalist prophets bellow from their pulpits that the modern church has become "the wickedest whore of all the earth."

Mormon Fundamentalists probably cite Section 132 of The Doctrine and Covenants more than any other piece of LDS scripture. Their second-most-popular citation is likely Section 85, in which it was revealed to Joseph that "I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong . . . to set in order the house of God." Many fundamentalists are convinced that the one mighty and strong is already here on earth among them, "holding the scepter of power in his hand," and that very soon now he will lead the Mormon Church back onto the right path and restore Joseph's "most holy and important doctrine."



Extreme and bizarre religious ideas are so commonplace in American history that it is difficult to speak of them as fringe at all. To speak of a fringe implies a mainstream, but in terms of numbers, perhaps the largest component of the religious spectrum in contemporary America remains what it has been since colonial times: a fundamentalist evangelicalism with powerful millenarian strands. The doomsday theme has never been far from the center of American religious thought. The nation has always had believers who responded to this threat by a determination to flee from the wrath to come, to separate themselves from the City of Destruction, even if that meant putting themselves at odds with the law and with their communities or families. . . . We can throughout American history find select and separatist groups who looked to a prophetic individual claiming divine revelation, in a setting that repudiated conventional assumptions about property, family life, and sexuality. They were marginal groups, peculiar people, people set apart from the world: the Shakers and the Ephrata community, the communes of Oneida and Amana, the followers of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
Philip Jenkins,
Mystics and Messiahs

Snaking diagonally across the top of Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a stupendous, 277-mile rent in the planet's hide that functions as a formidable natural barrier, effectively cutting off the northwestern corner from the rest of the state. This isolated wedge of backcountry--almost as big as New Jersey, yet traversed by a single paved highway--is known as the Arizona Strip, and it has one of the lowest population densities in the forty-eight conterminous states.

There is, however, one relatively large municipality here. Colorado City, home to some nine thousand souls, is more than five times as populous as any other town in the district. Motorists driving west on Highway 389 across the parched barrens of the Uinkaret Plateau are apt to be surprised when, twenty-eight miles past Fredonia (population 1,036, the second-largest town on the Strip), Colorado City suddenly materializes in the middle of nowhere: a sprawl of small businesses and unusually large homes squatting beneath a towering escarpment of vermilion sandstone called Canaan Mountain. All but a handful of the town's residents are Mormon Fundamentalists. They live in this patch of desert in the hope of being left alone to follow the sacred principle of plural marriage without interference from government authorities or the LDS Church.

Straddling the Utah-Arizona border, Colorado City is home to at least three Mormon Fundamentalist sects, including the world's largest: the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. More commonly known as the United Effort Plan, or UEP, it requires its members live in strict accordance with the commandments of a frail, ninety-two-year-old tax accountant-turned-prophet named Rulon T. Jeffs.* "Uncle Rulon," as he is known to his followers, traces his divinely ordained leadership in an unbroken chain that leads directly back to Joseph Smith himself. Although his feeble bearing would seem to make him poorly cast for the role, the residents of Colorado City believe that Uncle Rulon is the "one mighty and strong" whose coming was prophesied by Joseph in 1832.

"A lot of people here are convinced Uncle Rulon is going to live forever," says DeLoy Bateman, a forty-eight-year-old science teacher at Colorado City High School. Not only was DeLoy born and raised in this faith, but his forebears were some of the religion's most illustrious figures: his great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were among the thirteen founding members of the Mormon Fundamentalist Church, and his adoptive grandfather, LeRoy Johnson, was the prophet who immediately preceded Uncle Rulon as the leader of Colorado City. At the moment, DeLoy is driving his thirdhand Chevy van on a dirt road on the outskirts of town. One of his two wives and eight of his seventeen children are riding in the back. Suddenly he hits the brakes, and the van lurches to a stop on the shoulder. "Now there's an interesting sight," DeLoy declares, sizing up the wreckage of a television satellite dish behind some sagebrush off the side of the road. "Looks like somebody had to get rid of their television. Hauled it out of town and dumped it."

Members of the religion, he explains, are forbidden to watch television or read magazines or newspapers. The temptations of the outside world loom large, however, and some members of the faith inevitably succumb. "As soon as you ban something," DeLoy observes, "you make it incredibly attractive. People will sneak into St. George or Cedar City and buy themselves a dish, put it up where it can't easily be seen, and secretly watch TV during every free moment. Then one Sunday Uncle Rulon will give one of his sermons about the evils of television. He'll announce that he knows exactly who has one, and warn that everyone who does is putting their eternal souls in serious jeopardy.

"Every time he does that, a bunch of satellite dishes immediately get dumped in the desert, like this one here. For two or three years afterward there won't be any televisions in town, but then, gradually, the dishes start secretly going up again, until the next crackdown. People try to do the right thing, but they're only human."

As the TV prohibition suggests, life in Colorado City under Rulon Jeffs bears more than a passing resemblance to life in Kabul under the Taliban. Uncle Rulon's word carries the weight of law. The mayor and every other city employee answers to him, as do the entire police force and the superintendent of public schools. Even animals are subject to his whim. Two years ago a Rottweiler killed a child in town. An edict went out that dogs would no longer be allowed within the city limits. A posse of young men was dispatched to round up all the canines, after which the unsuspecting pets were taken into a dry wash and shot.

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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Edifiant 25 mars 2009
J'ai trouvé ce livre passionnant. A partir de ce qui aurait pu n'être qu'un fait divers, l'auteur nous fait découvrir les origines et le développement du Mormonisme. Une religion (secte?) récente mais très puissante dont les textes officiels sont d'une rare violence. Une religion qui tente de se refaire une virginité en changeant ses textes mais surtout en niant les pages sombres de son histoire.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Ou comment la religion devient meurtrière 23 juin 2014
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
L'auteur fait ici l'étude du Mormonisme. Et va plus loin encore, en cherchant ce qui a poussé deux frères au meurtre sous couvert de la branche la plus extrême de cette religion.
Brillamment écrit, on comprend dans la première partie cette religion qui pour nous Français, nous est quasi-étrangère. Pleine de subtilités et avec une histoire riches en rebondissements, avec une culture complexe, elle n'est pas seulement la religion des polygamistes, comme souvent on peut faire le raccourci.
Elle est une religion très jeune qui est maintenant très puissante, très riche et produit via sa propre université notamment des notables dans la politique et l'économie américaine grâce à un système et une culture de l'excellence bien rodés.

Dans la seconde partie, on comprend petit à petit comment deux paumés peuvent s'accrocher à des croyances, aussi folles soient-elles, pour donner un sens à leur vie et en arriver à l'impensable. Une étude de l'extrémisme qui peut s'appliquer à toutes les religions et qui permet d'expliquer en partie les comportements fous et irrationnels de ces extrémistes.
Passionnant et enrichissant!
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Efficient and good quality 1 décembre 2013
Par Maria
The delivery was fast and the book I received was new and of good quality!
About the author, I really like the way John Krakauer describes the story adding other related fatcs!
I recommend!
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.2 étoiles sur 5  1.386 commentaires
330 internautes sur 357 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Faith and Murder 16 juillet 2003
Par Brian D. Rubendall - Publié sur
"I was doing God's will, which is not a crime." - Dan Lafferty
The above quote is from a man who brutally murdered his fifteen month-old niece and her 24 year-old mother in their home while his younger brother was at work. Lafferty's older brother Ron convinced him to commit the crime by claiming that God had spoken to him and instructed that it should be that way. Both men were born and raised Mormons, but turned to radical Mormon fundamentalism as adults. Through their horrific story and the history of the Mormon church in genral, author Jon Krakauer examines the larger issue of how relgion leads some people to commit unspeakable acts.
"Under the Banner of Heaven" is not an anti-Mormon diatribe, as anyone who has actually read it can attest. Krakauer, who had such a massive success with "Into Thin Air," should be applauded for taking a risk following up that work with a potentially controversial project well outside his area of expertise. Part travelog and part history, "Under the Banner of Heaven" is a very unique true crime book as the various narrative threads are wound together by the author. The simple yet forceful narrative style that made Krakauer's Everest such compelling reading are very much evident here.
Overall, "Under the Banner of Heaven" is an outstanding true crime book that raises some disturbing theological questions.
848 internautes sur 959 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant synthesis of history, religion, and abuse 26 septembre 2003
Par Maddi Hausmann Sojourner - Publié sur
Jon Krakauer admits he has become obsessed with extremes. It takes one form of extremism to go on an Everest climb, as he shows with "Into Thin Air." Now he returns to the West of his youth. Yet this is not the book he planned to write. Krakauer admits he wanted to describe how today's LDS Church, with their clean-cut, do-good approach, is at odds with its founding history.
Instead, he decided to write about fundamentalist Mormons. While the LDS Church declared polygamy illegal in 1890, it took time for the practice to end in the official church. Those who would not accept the changes continued polygamy, with groups moving to Mexico and Canada. And there are those who continue this practice today. Krakauer is determined to understand how this came to be. In order to do this, he must retell the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.
While polygamy is no longer accepted by the current LDS authorities, the average Mormon seems less inclined to stamp it out. Krakauer shows several cases of gung-go district attorneys who go after polygamous families, and how these white knights are subsequently removed from office in the next election. He introduces us to small towns where everything and everyone in it answers to one man, the head of the Fundamentalist LDS church (FLDS). All property is owned by their church's corporation. And the girls are married by age 14. Krakauer finds many of them married to men who are already related to them, and at least a generation older. Women are seen as transferrable property, with marriages cancelled should any church member run afoul of the church leader.
And remember Elizabeth Smart? Here was a case of a modern Mormon family running into another FLDS wanna-be. Krakauer contrasts her case with another 14-year-old, a FLDS community member, who was hidden in another FLDS community when her sister tried to rescue her from an early marriage she didn't want. The difference between the media treatment of the two kidnap victims is horrifying.
All this is merely background for a shocking murder case, where two LDS members who moved toward FLDS decided to kill their sister-in-law for being a bad influence, and her two-year-old as well. Both men insisted they were acting on revelations from God. Krakauer turns this into the Court's unease with discussions of religious belief and sanity.
The negative reviews of this book appear to come from LDS members who are unhappy with Krakauer's history of their church. It's a pity they missed his important points on the danger of revealed religion (where anyone can justify anything), or the welfare fraud committed by FLDS communities (subsequent wives declare themselves single parents and don't identify the father, while living in a trailer in his backyard), or the uneasy relationship between mainline Mormons and latter-day polygamists. It's a shame they are unwilling to look at their own church's rapidly mutating scriptures, where Krakauer shows how doctrinal racism was not removed from church teachings until the 1970s. One might ask how many of them actually read the book rather than took the advice of their stake president to publicly condemn it.
Read it for yourself, then let us know. It is a fascinating, disturbing, insightful, and important book.
137 internautes sur 152 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Required reading for every American--and every Mormon 11 septembre 2003
Par Un client - Publié sur
As an individual raised in the Mormon church who was repeatedly exposed to various Fundamentalist groups operating in and out of the mainstream LDS church I found this book to be invaluable and deeply vindicating.
Mormons are wonderful people with a strong and deep committment to the universal ideals of Christianity. However, they are often reluctant to be self-critical, especially about the more controversial aspects of our history.
The reason Fundamentalist groups have continuously splintered from the mainstream LDS church is the simple fact (as beautifully illustrated by Krakauer) that the modern LDS church bears little resemblance to it's radical, theocratic and chaotic origins. This fact should be embraced and celebrated by mainstream Mormons, not rejected and villified.
The mainstream church was wise and prescient to change it's position on many of the controversial teachings of it's early leaders. Just as most modern Christian faiths have done to balance their responsibility to society and the spiritual needs of it's members.
The goal of the Fundamentalists is to return the mainstream church to it's less than noble roots. This is why they are successful at recruiting otherwise devout Saints into their ranks. They preach a twisted, politicized, radical doctrine which (contrary to the vehement protestations of Mormons) are entirely consistent with many of the less-known but nevertheless regretably true ideas of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and others.
It is this literalist interpretation, along with the mindset that all things must remain unchanged no matter how much society and the role of the church has changed, that breeds Fundamentalism.
If Mormons want to rid themselves of these parasites and malcontents, they need to come to terms with the realities of early Church history and the necessary evolution of the faith from those early years.
Just as devout Muslims have watched in horror as their faith has been infested and bastardized by Fundamentalist parasites who would return Islam to the decadence of some of it's early leaders, Mormons must recognize that these groups are trying to do the same with their beloved Church.
Just as Christian Terrorists like The Army of God have done it to other Protestant Faiths.
Its time to recognize Fundamentalism for what it is. Part of that realization is recognizing the ugly aspects of our past and present.
Fundamentalism has no place in Mormonism nor any other religious faith. It is an afront that must be vigorously opposed and clearly identified. That cannot happen if Mormons continue to refuse to recognize scandals of the past nor the coddling of such groups in the present.
Even as we speak, I know young men and women in the mainstream Chruch who are being preyed upon by Fundamentalist groups. This is not fiction, it is a dire warning to be heeded.
249 internautes sur 286 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Not Anti-Mormon...just Intelligent 25 septembre 2003
Par Missing in Action - Publié sur
This is an extraordinary book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Though the Mormon Church has expressed it's hostility toward the book, as with all ostriches, they are simply sticking their head in the sand and asking the rest of us to follow suit. Thank goodness for people outside the Church who look in, and tell us what they see.
This is not an anti-mormon book, and the fact that Latter-day Saints and their leaders are so worked up about it seems to me to be a recognition that Krakauer is hitting pretty close to home. Ironically, he handles the modern LDS church with kid gloves, and is very careful to make the distinction between the Mormon Fundamentalits and the Mormons themselves. However, and this is the point that should be lost on no one, both churches hail from the same "common ancestors," and have evolved rather organically from those early prophets, most importantly Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and John Taylor. At the time of Wilford Woodruff the world saw a split, and those familiar with the paradigms of biological evolution will recognize exactly what was going on. Today we see two radically different organizations with radically different messages...but they came from the same place.
Here's another juicy item that must drive the Church nuts. The fundamentalists are perfectly justified in their position on polygamy, extreme patriarchy and racism. After all, if those were the "revealed word of God" back in the early days of the church, then who are the modern day leaders to deny that word of God today? Just because wicked governments :-) refuse to cooperate should be no reason to back away from the most important points of doctrine. If it was good enough for Daniel to not back down (resulting in being cast into the lions den) then it should be good enough for modern prophets to not back down, either. (Okay, it's pretty darn important for me to state that I'm simply pointing out the fundamentalist argument, not my own opinion...)
At the end of the book you are treated to the prosecution team's argument that religious thinking is NOT insane, even it is, on the face, irrational. Any religious person should be moved, not disturbed, by the thoughtful arguments made by the prosecution's witnesses, many of whom were Mormon.
There are those who review this book who claim that the history is all wrong because it isn't always consistent with the "faithful history" that Elder Boyd K. Packer et al promote, and which is often the only history Mormons are familiar. Krakauer has consumed a great deal of history, and has drawn some really important conclusions. To throw out his book as "inacurate" because of a few minor disagreements on interpretation of facts would be like throwing out the quantum theory because we can't actually "see" a quark. The viewer, or the reader, interprets what they see or read and comes to rational conclusions based on their assessment. I want to read what other people DECIDE ON THEIR OWN after doing the research, not the same, tired old stories that have been approved and fed to the sheep year after year after year. I 've read a ton of Church history, and nothing that Krakauer said raised any red flags for me. But if there is a mistake in his "facts" somewhere (and if it's there, it's tiny), then it is still immaterial. The conclusions that the reader draws as they read how religious zeal CAN lead the faithful far, far astray is dead-on, pun intended.
This is an excellent, excellent book, and no one, Mormon or otherwise, should be "afraid" to read it, or afraid to consider what the implications might be.
223 internautes sur 263 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Better titled: Into the Fanatical Fringes of Faith 31 juillet 2003
Par Un client - Publié sur
This book is disturbing, troublesome and provocative. Having read Into Thin Air front to back twice without stopping (the only book I ever did that with) and having been a devout Mormon for 35 years (now inactive), I was eager to read the book. Like Thin Air, I couldn't put it down, read it all in one day. So, Krakauer's style and means of unfolding a story are still strong and compelling.
But there is much about this book that troubles: the mixture of facts, quotes from questionable sources, rumors, speculations, and unfounded conclusions leaves a reader who knows the Mormon Church well noting lots of errors in each. Members are likely to be offended, friends of the Church surprised, and those who know little put off by the apparent conclusions of this unfortunate mixture. The central premise that the fanatical fringes of a society are products of that society and therefore condemn that society is a logical leap I am not prepared to make. Having a PHD in human behavior, I believe this premise to be farfetched. The My Lai massacre does not describe most Americans, the 9/11 attack does not describe most Muslims, and the Lafferty killings do not describe most Mormons or former Mormons or even Mormon splinter groups.
That said, there ARE several attempts in the book to deal with major, basic issues of living today that everyone should read and think about, if NOT in the context of the Mormon Church, but in the context of modern society: These seem to me to be the following:
How does one discriminate between one man's inspiration and that of another? (Islam, Christianity, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, etc.) Who's to say which inspiration is "right?"
What's the role of obedience in a society? What are the consequences of total obedience and its opposite total anarchy? When does one say, I must trust my own insights, not yours no matter how much I esteem your views?
What is the natural coupling behavior of humans? Virtually all the animal and bird species are not monogamous. Clearly, Old Testament prophets were not. Divorce rates today are high. What is the role of marriage in today's society?
How do we define insanity in a religious world? If one hears voices and espouses non-traditional doctrine, and is judged to be crazy, then most zealots would be deemed the same.
What's the role of child abuse on adult behavior? This aspect of the Lafferty killings seemed way underplayed to me in the book. But it's an important issue and process that needs more illucidation in today's world. The book certainly does that.
What's the role of truth telling and honesty in leadership and among powerful privileged? Is there such a thing as sacred secrets and insider privileged behavior? Where's the oversight? Declaring that one answers only to God above the society in which one lives seems too convenient, yet, people all over the world do this.
How should significant others and spouses treat each other? Where's the balance between "she wears the pants" and "he's a dictator?" Many couples might recoil at the descriptions of relationships here yet if examined more closely see the seeds in their own interactions.
How can the nation manage its welfare fund distribution, now about half of the national budget? How can our society provide for defenseless children born without two or two functioning parents without encouraging more of the same behavior? That these communities survived largely on welfare was news to me.
As I said, this book is troublesome, provocative, and disturbing. One could read it as focused on the Mormon Church. I found too many factual errors and conclusions built on shaky data to take the central premise seriously. But I didn't view the book as an attack on Mormonism. Rather, it's an essay on societies in general and explores very powerfully the themes I mentioned above as well as others. For that reason, I think the title should have been (and Krakauer admits he wrestled with the title) "Into the Fanatical Fringes of Faith"--and noted at the end, that he could have written this book about ANY religion or community in the world. He just happened to pick Mormonism. Every community has stories like these--to pick them out and then declare that they represent the mainstream I thought missed the point--namely that every society has to deal with its fringes and some do so better than others. You should read this book, but not as commentary on Mormonism, rather as commentary on your part of the Human Community.
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