Book Three: The Refiner's Fire

The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844, John L. Brooke

Nope, I haven't gone missing or forgotten about this blog. What I have been doing for the past month is reading this book (and then, for the next month, trying to figure out how to write about it). Yup, one month, one book. Yipes! Was it incredibly dense and slow? Absolutely! Was it totally worth it? You bet! I love this stuff. Specifically, I love reading about Mormons, and this book takes on all the elements--social, religious, political, mystical & magical--that had a part in shaping the formation of the Mormon religion. For example, most people know that Freemasonry was pretty influential in Mormon ritual and cosmology, but this book argues that Mormonism's roots go all the way back to hermeticism. Crazy!

There's a bunch of stuff I never knew about in regards to the basic tenets of the religion at its outset, things that have since been abandoned. Such as the idea that Adam was considered a God (the idea of Adamic perfection has ties to alchemy and the search for the philosopher's stone), that you could only get into the celestial kingdom via celestial marriage (i.e. polygamy) but once that was thrown out it was replaced with the whole baptizing of the dead, because they needed family members to populate the celestial kingdom with them now that they couldn't have wives up there with them, natch, or that some of the temple endowment rituals are taken directly from Freemasons. Or that those said rituals used to include some blood atonement stuff in relation to Joseph and Hyrum Smith's death, but they got rid of that . For reals!

Bottom line: for crazy people like me this book is the shit. For everyone else it might be a little dry.