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Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of…
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Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (2003)

by Jon Krakauer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)
I read this long ago, which means I found it interesting enough to get through it, so it must deserve at least four stars. ( )
  Chickenman | Sep 12, 2018 |
This is certainly as frightening a tale as I care to read! We just moved to Utah so that adds to the fright. I'm slowly learning about the whole Mormon scene since we moved here. This was a valuable step in the process. I didn't find any of Krakauer's perspectives to be extreme at all. Surely he picks and chooses evidence and interpretation, but it is all well within the bounds of reasonableness.

I am a Buddhist of mainly the Tibetan Vajrayana variety. We've certainly got beliefs and practices that are about as nutty as anybody else's. There are lots of warnings and tales about the dangers of an overly literal interpretation. I'd like to think that'll inoculate us against the kinds of abuses portrayed here, but probably not. Too many of those tales are non-fiction, and too many too recent.

Where Krakauer's book falls short - he really doesn't analyze the tale in any depth. These days there is a lot of anti-religious sentiment around. Krakauer asked Dan Lafferty if he could see the parallel between his violence and that of Islamic terrorists. But what, after all, is religion? For example, is Buddhism even a religion? Or, might we ask, can science, hmm, become an object of religious faith? Krakauer includes some nice epigraphs from William James, but he doesn't really engage with the matter. It's OK, it is an excellent book as it is. The book poses a crucial question for our time, but doesn't really attempt to answer it. That'd take a whole other sort of book. We may not be ready for that yet. It's like, Montaigne wrote decades after Luther. We're just entering the Savonarola era. Fasten your seat belts! Yeah, how about a book like this about the Bundy family? ( )
1 vote kukulaj | Aug 16, 2018 |
Ecellent, troubling read ( )
  dasam | Jun 21, 2018 |
Ostensibly an account of a 1984 grisly murder in a Utah community, by alternating chapters of the present with those of the past Krakauer also provides a detailed history of the Mormon faith and its connection to the crime.

This book is simultaneously educational and horrifying. My heart breaks for the FLDS women, whose sole value in life and in their communities is as reproductive chattel. It also caused me to wonder any number of times throughout the text how anyone practicing religion can describe the more outlandish tenets and history of their faith with a straight face.

These two quotes in particular are worth noting:
"Although the prophecy of this father, Uncle Rulon, that the world would be swept clean in a hurricane of fire by the year 2000 did not come to pass, the events of September 11, 2001, have renewed Warren's [Jeffs] optimism."

"I remember wondering about contradictions between what the religion taught and scientific truth. But Uncle Roy told us that the way to handle that was just to avoid asking certain kinds of questions. So I trained myself to ignore the contradictions."

Let both of those sink in. ( )
  ryner | Jun 14, 2018 |
Revelation. Removed. Two words with killing impact in Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven. In this book, some heinous individuals use those two words together. If you hear them used along with your own name, get out of town fast.

The events Krakauer recounts he relates to the faith of the Mormons, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). He covers:
• Mormonism’s origin, move to Utah, and certain events in its history
• Fundamentalist LDS compared to mainstream LDS
• Crimes committed by Fundamentalist LDS adherents in service to revelations from God.
The starting point and axis of the book are the murders immediately presented in the Prologue, in which a young wife and her baby are savagely “removed.”

The young wife’s husband knew in advance that two of his own brothers were planning to kill his wife and his baby girl, their sister-in-law and baby niece. He never warned his wife about it.

The husband’s own mother knew in advance that her two eldest sons talked of killing their sister-in-law and their niece, her own daughter-in-law and granddaughter. She never warned her or anyone else about it.

Why? The question certainly stirred my interest.

In pursuit of answers, Krakauer engages in a sociological and historical exploration of a religion and its gender roles. Much of that effort is directed to the divide between mainstream Mormonism and followers who split from the Church after the doctrine of “plural” or “celestial” marriage (polygamy) officially lost Church sanction in 1890. The account has considerable narrative interest. It might also pain mainstream Mormons. It’s easy to imagine they’d want to dispute how the book presents their religion, or the association with polygamists who properly belong only to splinter sects. The murderers in this book are Fundamentalist LDS, inspired by their faith’s founder, Joseph Smith, whose response to raids by anti-Mormon Missouri settlers was, “I will be to this generation a second Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was ‘the Alcoran [Qur’an] or the Sword.’” How often has your mind been set at ease by anyone to whom that label “FUNDAMENTALIST” is attached?

Jon Krakauer’s journalistic abilities go far toward giving this story as much interest as is possible. His true crime book with a lurid religious slant is in its best chapters riveting. ( )
  dypaloh | May 23, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 177 (next | show all)
His project is ambitious: With Mormon fundamentalism as his chief illustration, he seeks to understand why religious extremism flourishes in a skeptical, postmodern society. . . . The result is a book that is both insightful and flawed.
 
SINCE Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have talked a lot about the dark side of religion, but for the most part it isn't religion in America they've had in mind. Jon Krakauer wants to broaden their perspective. In ''Under the Banner of Heaven,'' he enters the obscure world of Mormon fundamentalism to tell a story of, as he puts it, ''faith-based violence.''
added by mikeg2 | editNew York Times, Robert Wright (Aug 3, 2003)
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jon Krakauerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
We believe in honesty, morality and purity; but when they enact tyrannical laws, forbidding us the free exercise of our religion, we cannot submit. God is greater than the United States, and when the Government conflicts with heaven, we will be ranged under the banner of heaven and against the government... Polygamy is a divine institution. it has been handed down direct from God. The United States cannot abolish it. No nation on earth can prevent it, nor all the nations of the earth combined, ... I defy the United States; I will obey God.
JOHN TAYLOR (ON JANUARY 4, 1880),
PRESIDENT, PROPHET, SEER, and REVELATOR,
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS
No western nation is as religion-soaked as ours, where nine out of ten of us love God and are loved by him in return. That mutual passion centers our society and demands some understanding, if our doom-eager society is to be understood at all.
HAROLD BLOOM,
THE AMERICAN RELIGION
Prologue
Almost everyone in Utah County has heard of the Lafferty boys.
PART 1
The schisms that shattered Mormonism time and again, more critical tha inroads from without, only attest its strength. They were signs of the seriousness with which converts and dissenters took their salvation, ready to stake their souls on points of doctrine which a later, less Biblical generation could treat with indifference. WILLIAM MULDER AND A. RUSSELL MORTENSEN, AMONG THE MORMONS
Dedication
For Linda.
First words
Almost everyone in Utah County has heard of the Lafferty boys. That's mostly a function of the lurid murders, of course, but the Lafferty surname had a certain prominence in the county even before Brenda and Erica Lafferty were killed.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0330419129, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:45 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Jon Krakauer's literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. He now shifts his focus from extremes of physical adventure to extremes of religious belief within our own borders, taking readers inside isolated American communities where some 40,000 Mormon Fundamentalists still practice polygamy. Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God. At the core of Krakauer's book are brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a commandment from God to kill a blameless woman and her baby girl. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this appalling double murder, Krakauer constructs a multi-layered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, and unyielding faith. Along the way he uncovers a shadowy offshoot of America's fastest growing religion, and raises provocative questions about the nature of religious belief.… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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