Book Four: Mormon Country

Mormon Country, Wallace Stegner



I love Mormons. Let me rephrase that, I am fascinated by Mormons. What a strange, and curious group of people. I mean, in general I probably summed up my feelings about Mormons and religion in general here, but this book discusses more tangible, day-to-day aspects of Mormonism. It isn't so much a history, as a collection of essays about the Mormons and gentiles that populate that particular large expanse of the West.

I also love Wallace Stegner. If anyone can write, he can. What I never knew about him is that he spent time growing up in Salt Lake City. A gentile among the Mormons. And what's clear from this book is that he has a clear respect for Mormons and their culture. The essays in here cover everything from the United Order to polygamy to the strength of Mormon communities to the lost Deseret Alphabet to the various industries in the area and more. All told simply but beautifully, personally but knowledgeably.

I honestly do share a lot of Stegner's admiration for Mormons. I find it so amazing that a group can be so united together and constantly work so hard toward collective goals. Since they first settled Salt Lake--actually, since they made their way across the horribly desolate expanse of the midwest in order to settle in Utah--they have been a consistently united group. Hence the Deseret analogy: the honeybees working for the good of the hive. But what I wonder is, can you have that kind of togetherness if you are not united against something else? Meaning, it's us vs. them? Because the "them" in Mormonism seems to be anyone who is remotely different from the straight, white, God-believing norm. I really do wish I had any inclination to believe in god, because I am quite envious of people who have a group that they can depend on, who support them. I just wish there didn't have to be a cuckoo nutso* religion behind it.

*Again, I am not singling Mormons out with the cuckoo nutso thing. I am including all religions here. All of you! I love you all, but find you all equally crazy!

2 Comments:

Anonymous bellcurves said...

Hey did you see the "Polygamy in America" in the latest issue (Feb 2010) of National Geographic? As you can guess, is about the FLDS (not LDS). I recommend it.

So. I, too, am fascinated by Mormons. The object of my 8th grade crush was an LDS boy (who later dated a Jewish girl at my h.s.)! I chose to read a book about their culture for a "multicultural" counseling class I took about 10 years ago. The requirement was: "read two books--each about a group of people different from yourself". (The other book I chose was about Amish teens).

Many many things intrigue me--and I have no religion. Also there's one blogger I follow who goes by WholeFoodsVeganMomma (veganmotheringatblogspot). I discovered it randomly, I think whilst trying to find out why they don't drink hot beverages, and what dietary restrictions if any they have. (And of cours, "is it true that they eat lots of Jell-o at their ward gatherings?"). Their Word of Wisdom would make you think their faith might endorse a plant-based diet, but Mormon vegetarians are...not numerous. Anyway, go keep reading about Mormons and write about it here!

February 3, 2010 at 12:27 PM  
Anonymous bellcurves said...

Hey did you see "Polygamy in America" in the latest issue (Feb 2010) of National Geographic? As you can guess, it's about the FLDS (not LDS). I recommend it.

I, too, am fascinated by Mormons. The object of my 8th grade crush was an LDS boy (who later dated a Jewish girl at my h.s.)! I chose to read a book about their culture for a "multicultural" counseling class I took about 10 years ago. The requirement was: "read two books--each about a group of people different from yourself". (The other book I chose was about Amish teens).

Many many things intrigue me--and I have no religion. There's one LDS blogger I follow who goes by WholeFoodsVeganMomma (veganmotheringatblogspot). I discovered it randomly, I think whilst trying to find out why they don't drink hot beverages, and what dietary restrictions if any they have. (And of cours, "is it true that they eat lots of Jell-o at their ward gatherings?"). Their Word of Wisdom would make you think their faith might endorse a plant-based diet, but Mormon vegetarians are...not numerous. Anyway, go keep reading about Mormons and write about it here!

February 3, 2010 at 12:32 PM  

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