Thursday, February 14, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

I read Under the Banner of Heaven this weekend, after running into a lot of recent references to it in online discussions of Mormon polygamy. What a disappointment! I don't believe I've ever encountered an allegedly mainstream book of nonfiction wherein the author thought it appropriate to accuse the founder of a religion of being a practitioner of "necromancy". Furthermore, the book is totally lacking in footnotes, and suffers heavily from "stuff some pissed-off ex-polygamists told me which I will now regurgitate".

Don't get me wrong, I suspect the premise of the book - that polygamy, and specifically patriarchal religious polygyny, is inherently destructive of societies, families, and individuals - is basically true. I'd like to read a balanced, well-researched examination of the thesis in the Mormon context. Instead I got a shrieking exemplar of "moral panic" journalism.