Friday, February 1, 2013

Book: The Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks

So obviously there have been no new Qur'an (or any other kind of) posts for a while. I've been busy, sorry. Work. Always with the wanting me to actually work. :p Bah.

And now I'm on a little mini-break, taking a four day weekend to just basically not go to work. Ahhh...

In order to not feel like a *complete* slacker, have a post!

I picked up The Book of Mormon Girl because I saw an interview that Joanna Brooks did was either Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. I'm gonna go with Jon Stewart at this point, but I won't swear to it because it was a little while ago. Anyway. I saw the interview, enjoyed it, and I've read some of her posts on ReligionDispatches and her own blog. I like her style and I thought hey, the book would be interesting and informative.

And it was interesting. So there's that.

This is something of a strange position for me to be in, but here: I enjoyed this book, but I didn't *like* it. Maybe it's because I had certain expectations for it that it simply wasn't designed to meet?

I expected to learn something of Mormonism from this book and I didn't. Everything that was touched upon, and I feel touched upon very briefly, was something that I was already aware of. And I honestly don't think that I know all that much about Mormons. I don't, to my knowledge, know any Mormon's in real life. I live in a small Southern town. I don't even know if we have...hang on. To the Google!

Hey, lookit that. We have Mormons! Who knew? Okay.

Small, small town. I'm not even kidding.

Still. Without ever having met a Mormon, I feel like I live in a realm of relative ignorance about them. Joseph Smith, golden tablets, Jewish tribes that became Native Americans, bees, seagulls, polygamy, driving across the country to try and find someplace they could practice their faith, the US government cracking down on them, no African American priesthood (until recently), 'traditional' male/female roles, something about eternal pregnancies in the afterlife and getting to heaven through plural marriage. "Secret" (read sacred) temple ceremonies.

Baptism for the dead. All the dead. Even my ancestors, theoretically, I guess. If I have a relative who's a Mormon and does that.

 photo blanche_zps977fea25.gif

PS, theoretical Mormon relatives: Don't.

And nothing in this book made me think any differently about Mormons or taught me anything I didn't know. It was a really easy read and like I said I did enjoy it but I came away feeling like it was a beach read. Girl grows up in fairly conservative, sheltered environment. Goes away to college, meets real world. Finds that she doesn't agree with everything her childhood culture taught her. Abandons much of it, feels guilt, waffles back and forth. Finds true love, marries. Babies, career, pretty good life. The end.

I'm seriously, honestly, left with only one thought or question.

Are these purity pledge things a real, actual, *thing*? Because I must have missed that somehow. I'm not saying it's a Mormon thing, because Rachel Held Evans mentioned that she signed a purity pledge at one point as well. But I just don't recall anyone ever coming up, even in my Southern Baptist run middle/high school, and telling us that we needed to pledge our virginity to God or our fathers or even ourselves. Every time I hear about them I'm just...confused.

Are these seriously a thing? REALLY? In the current century?

And then I remember that purity balls are a thing. And it just all becomes terribly depressing. And disturbing.

Mostly disturbing.


  1. *snickers* purity balls *snickers*
    I have no idea what those are, but that's probably the funniest name anyone could give them. (Yes, I have a juvenile sense of humor sometimes.)

    I can't say that I've heard them called "purity pledges," but I know there seemed to be a bit of a Christian-culture-craze at my high school, like, 10 years ago that involved promise ring kind of stuff. I guess they were tyring to say, "if I wear this ring, you know I'm not going to have sex with you."

    You actually know a fair deal about what Mormons believe. There are some folks out there who still think we have horns and/or tails. Not sure what you mean by getting to heaven through plural marriage, though. The simplest way to describe it is that in order to obtain life in the celestial kingdom (the highest of the 3) is to be married in the temple to someone you can procreate with by a man who holds the Priesthood. There's provisions for unique circumstances, including people with more than one spouse or people who never had the chance. We don't know all the provisions, but we believe God does.

    Oh, and I'm pretty sure it was Jon Stewart because I think Brooks posted a link to the video on her blog a while back.

    1. *lol* I know, but that's honestly what they're called. Here's a link to one article about them, but googling it brings up a *ton* more.

      They're seriously, seriously creepy. Sort of like a party/ceremony that involves a purity pledge.

      still think we have horns and/or tails.

      Not gonna lie, people are cool just for being people, but they'd be *much* cooler if they had horns. And/or prehensile tails.

      Not sure what you mean by getting to heaven through plural marriage, though.

      This is why I shouldn't type things at 1 am. I don't explain myself.

      My understanding of this, and it could very well be wrong, is that in order to get into the highest level of heaven a woman has to be married to a man who makes it in. And since there are expected to be more worthy women than men, that means that men will have multiple wives in heaven even if they don't have them on earth. So that's what I was thinking of.

    2. From my perspective, it's more that men "can" have multiple wives rather than "will." But, yeah. I wasn't sure if that's what you meant or if you were under the impression polygamy is required. (It's not.)

    3. *nods* Okay. I was under the impression that polygamy was...I guess not *required* but that it would be common in the afterlife due to women being more awesome than men. :D

      Personally I'm not against polyandry as a concept. I know that it does work for some people, and as long as everyone entering into such a relationship is an adult and knows what they're getting into then I say go for it. I just know that I'm a terrible share-er and it wouldn't go well at all, in the end.

  2. Yay! You're alive! How dare they make you work at work!!!

    I'll read this soon. Just wanted to say hello and glad to see you. I remembered you said something about a Quran post so I was worried when you were silent for several days.

    Now I know why, but still...

    Have a nice vacation!

  3. All the Mormons I've read really like this book. I guess they can relate to her feelings on many things and recognized a lot of the Mormon cultural stuff. I thought "Leaving the Saints" was interesting, but the Mormons who read it, thought it wasn't accurate and/or the author was mentally disturbed at best. I think Mormonism is rather interesting to read about. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book!

    1. I liked the book. Really, I did. I'd recommend it to people who are looking for an interesting, short memoir. It just wasn't...deep enough for me, I guess.


    All the answers are here. I have many friends who are Mormons. I didn't realise until my school friends all started getting married very young. Garments and all.

    There is something about them that does set them apart. I cant put my finger on it. other than they seem more content than other married people I know, who are also Christian.

    Other than Muslims and Jews, I am not sure I know any Christian denominations that have such a strict set of rules. I think that is why it might attract converts. it isn't as wishy washy. People find comfort in order and rules. it give boundaries that are clearly defined.

    I can see why it is attractive. it seems to have more traditional standards and with life how it is now, yep, that could be quite good.

    I have no idea about other countries and faith. But on the whole where I work, out of the 40 ladies in my office, I would say 2 go to church. one of them myself, even if only very rarely these days. I would say that goes for most of the UK.

    Brian Cox is hot! LOL I will go to something like the below just to see him.

    1. I've been to the Mormon website. :) I know the basics of the faith, but I think there's a significant difference between knowing the technical aspects of a faith and knowing the faith. Without, say, conversion, the best way to my mind is to speak to people of that faith, to get to know them. Barring that, a distant second is reading about believers' experiences in memoirs or blogs. Since I'm not about to go hunt down Mormons (or any other faith) and make friends to fill a quota I content myself with reading. :)

      Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy have fairly strict sets of rules. I think the difference is that more people don't follow the rules to the letter than perhaps do in Mormonism. I know that the rules are one of the things that attracts me to them. I think part of what attracts people to Mormonism, at least in the US (which is all I can speak for) is that it is a uniquely American religion. It's familiar enough to the Christianity that we grow up with that it doesn't feel 'weird' but it's *ours* as opposed to something that was born in Europe or the Middle East thousands of years ago.

      In my department (I can't speak for the entire office) there are 10 women. Out of that group, I know of three (not including myself lately) who attend church on a regular basis. But we're in the South and the South tends to be more religious than other parts of the US. So I'm not sure how indicative that is of the rest of the nation.

      *looks up Brian Cox* Hello. Brains and looks. That's just... unfair.


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