Under the Banner of Heaven

Posted by Ryan Jerz on Monday September 10, 2007.

Under the Banner of Heaven Author(s): Jon Krakauer
Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 0385509510
Amazon | Shelfari
My slowness in reading is starting to bother me. Here is the latest in what I’d have to call a series at this point, the short book review. It’s Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven.

Under the Banner of Heaven looks at two distinct thing: the Fundamental Latter Day Saints FLDS and the creation of the Mormon Church (LDS). They’re distinct because the FLDS broke off from the regular LDS due to the extreme nature of the FLDS views. Krakauer is careful to make sure the readers understand that there is a difference, despite the closeness of the views of both churches. It is also his responsibility as a writer to do so.

Here is my Shelfari post:

The way Krakauer weaves the stories of the creation of the Mormon church and the murders in the book together makes for a very engaging tale. This was my first real look into what drives religion, and the Mormon church was probably one of the best possibilities for modern society to understand how a lasting religion is formed.

With that said, it’s pretty scary for a person who doesn’t follow any religion, and has no real tie to God. I found myself asking the question over and over while reading: do these guys actually believe this? As for the formation of the church, it just seemed like so, so many of the proclamations that supposedly came from God were also incredibly self-serving. It could be cherry picking on the author’s part, but that doesn’t make the proclamations any less true.

The purders themselves are horrifying. It’s pretty easy to just step back and proclaim the guys who committed them crazy, but the trial of the two murderers made me reconsider that position. Calling them crazy could well excuse the actions, but they’re inexcusable. Are all religious people crazy? I’m sure there are people who would argue that, but that just relegates them to the same class of faithful believers in whatever principle they’re preaching. So I can’t do that.

All in all, if this book just makes you dismiss religion as insanity, then you’re not thinking. It should make you consider your own beliefs, what drives them, and how committed you are to them. Ultimately, maybe that’s the difference between religious people and non-religious people—their commitment.

There is a lot more to breach on the topic of religion. But this is the “short” book review feature, so I will stop at that. If anyone dares, I’m cool to talk more in comments.

Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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