I finished reading this today.
Krakauer’s Into The Wild got a lot of attention, particularly after the Sean Penn directed movie adaptation, but I think this is a much more important book. Krakauer tells the story of brutal murder by Mormon fundamentalists in the name of God and juxtaposes1 it with the formation of Mormonism in the 1800s.
When this book was originally published the Bush administration was in power and criticized by the left for letting religious doctrine influence politics. Here it is, 2011, and a Mormon is likely to get the Republican nomination for president in the 2012 election. But the republicans know that if they run the Mormon he will not win, which is why they are going through every other possible option before settling. In the same way that many Americans will not vote for an atheist, they also will not vote for a Mormon. I think that’s interesting.
Under The Banner of Heaven isn’t just an analysis of Mormon fundamentalism. It’s a look at religious belief, God’s Law vs. Man’s Law, and the struggle between church and state in America.
Juxtapose is my new favorite word. ↩